Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

were back...

Today was the first time in a month the fellows gathered around the table to share our experiences. I will summarize some of the points discussed, relating some of them to what we saw in our internships.
  • Caring atmosphere - essential and a vital part of the nucleos
  • leadership: delegation vs. micromanaging = what is a healthy in between?
  • staff challenges: crowd control
  • organization quick to adapt to change = great when crisis hits
  • staff = begin small with a group that is egoless and can collaborate. Nurture the teachers artistic endeavors (sharing their personal events, retreat, seminarios)
  • get passionate board members
  • engage the stakeholders face to face. This increases their opportunity to donate
  • parent classes are fantastic (community impact)
  • how to nurture/challenge excelling students; avoiding unhealthy competition between students
  • think of retention strategies
  • what drives the learning (social outcome, repertoire, note reading)
Eric Booth had us reflect on a couple of points
- most successful hiring happens if there is an extended activity retreat/workshop (2-3 days)
- create an "internship" position before fully hiring (collegiate support, encourages learning)

What are promising practices in "El Sistema-esque" culture?
  • everyone (board, staff, kids, janitors) know the mission and the core values of the organization. Building curriculum together (Hola, LA)
  • no limits on learning - (Renaissance Arts Academy )
  • have clear lines that every decision has to be driven on the impact over the children. That means leaving egos behind and learning to collaborate.
  • professional development - seminarios with leading artists in the field (accomplished with partnerships)
  • high priority in teacher quality. Using peer-peer teacher assessments, self assessments, video taping, etc., in order to establish a learning culture for the teachers as well
  • different relationship to the job (for teachers). Not just coming in to clock it and take off, but to invest in the kids and building trust with the families. For this money has to come off the table.
This last point triggered a 3 hr. discussion with Liz about equal pay and why people engage in meaningful work. In order to have invested/motivated teachers, money has to be fair pay, and they have to have ownership. I will leave you with this cool talk...

Monday, March 7, 2011


Cultivo una rosa blanca
en junio como enero
para el amigo sincero
que me da su mano franca.

Y para el cruel que me arranca
el corazón con que vivo,
cardo ni ortiga cultivo;
cultivo la rosa blanca.

por José Martí

I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly.

And for the cruel person who tears out
the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose.

José Martí's Rosa blanca and the White Rose student resistance (1942, Germany) bare a lot of similarities. Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, and Christoph Prost were executed by guillotine for "high treason" because they spoke up against the atrocities the Nazis were committing and stood by their convictions in court.

Martí fought in the Cuban revolution against Spain. In midst of battle he disobeyed orders to retreat, yelling: "a la carga!" riding his horse into enemy lines. Some think its a romanticized tale, but regardless, the idea of giving up your life for something you believe in has often been seen as stupid.

Yo quiero salir del mundo
por la puerta natural:
en un carro de hojas verdes
a morir me han de llevar.
No me pongan en lo oscuro a morir como un traidor:
yo soy bueno, y como bueno
moriré de cara al sol.

I wish to leave the world
  • By its natural door;
    In my tomb of green leaves
    They are to carry me to die.
    Do not put me in the dark
    To die like a traitor;
    I am good, and like a good thing
    I will die with my face to the sun.
  • A Morir [To Die] (1894) - J. Marti

To die facing the sun is what the students in the White Rose did. Standing up against what they believed to be wrong. Young people don't talk about revolutions anymore. They are busy texting, playing games in their cellphones, watching mindless TV shows to feel numb. Then I think the whole world could be rotting and we would prefer to continue entertaining ourselves.

DQ:Dost not see? A monstrous giant of infamous repute whom I intend to encounter.
SP: It's a windmill.
DQ : A giant. Canst thou not see the four great arms whirling at his back?
SP: A giant?

Idealists... where would we be without them?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wanna talk about unemployment?

One of my most vivid memories as a 6 year old was staying up late, sneaking at night, hiding under the kitchen table with my german sheperd Jack to watch the twilight zone. I've always admired Rod Serling - he always had a very clear view of our present "future"
you can find the rest on youtube.. twilight zone rules!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Corpus Callosum 2

This was a video presented by Dr. Schlaug

This video blew my mind - I've always heard that music is very powerful, especially with Alzheimer and Parkinson patients, but seeing it is very moving.
I am looking to collaborate with music therapists in my future nucleo. They have amazing training that as a music educator you only brush through in class.
This is my summary of Dr. Schlaug presentation.
  • Music is a multisensory/motor experience, because it changes functional brain networks.
  • Music can improve neurological impairments and disorders
  • singing changes the brain - melodic intonation is being used to treat aphasia. These patients cannot string words very well, but they can do so in a singing voice.
  • This is possible if there are two different system that support auditory output [how to sound]
  • if there is a minor injury, the brain reassigns other parts of the brain to take over (only with small lesions)
  • with a large injury, most of the brain is affected, so there are no neighbor areas the brain can reassign
  • with speech therapy the other part of the brain can be trained to performs those functions (brain plasticity) here is a video on brain plasticity
  • In the 70 in Boston melodic intonation therapy emerged.
  • The elements used are melodic intonation (engages the right hemisphere) and tapping (engages motor system). Mapping sound to actions activates Broca's regions [language are of brain].
  • After training there is more activation of the right side of the brain [frontal gyrus], and connections between temporal and frontal regions change. There is a rudimentary system on the right side of the brain that connects with the temporal lobe.
  • Melodic training is not magic - we could argue that any type of intense therapy improves speech in these patients.
  • Currently studies are comparing other therapies with melodic intonation with control and experimental groups.