Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I Turn My Camera On
i usually don't talk about what i do on this blog because it doesn't seem like it would be so fascinating to anyone (apparently i believe mundane photo stories about what we made for dinner and how i spent my weekend are endlessly engaging--i think i have everything backwards) -- and what i mean by "what i do" is attempt to direct plays and not temping. because if i ever say "i'm a temp" in response to the question "what do you do?" please hunt me down, tie me up and make me eat my weight in marshmallows while reciting the "pledge of allegiance" for i will have officially surrendered the last bit of hope i have left.
but what i am doing right now is so exciting, different and challenging to me i simply have to write it:
i am making a short documentary.
there. i said it. out loud. on a keyboard.
see that teeny, tiny camera that isn't really up to the task of capturing my genius on film? that's the camera i'm using. see this:
that's the humongous shotgun microphone i'm using that makes my camera look like it was crocheted by nuns.
but shaygo? what are you making a documentary about?
i am so glad you asked fictional person who may be reading this blog!
it's about education. and children. in other words -- our nation's future.
ok, not quite so lofty but it is about children and education and, more specifically, p.s. 29 in brooklyn where koogs teaches 3rd grade.
here's what happened long story short -- koogs' kids were studying africa and got really into it and then one of them brought in this picture
from the new york times and said "isn't it intense that kids go to school like this?" and all the other kids responded with "yeah. let's do something to help them." and the next thing you know these kids are telling koogs that maybe she should start with UNICEF and getting her in touch with people they know at the U.N. (ok, so one of them has a mom that works there but whatever) and conquering our world's hunger problem and brokering peace deals between israel and hezbollah. 3rd grade has changed my friends.
so what? you're asking -- kids do stuff like this all the time. except that they don't. and i rarely hear of kids motivating entire fundraising projects themselves or turning a unit of study into a classroom obsession.
and you might be tempted to say that it is this class in particular but the whole school has amazing things going on it. teachers who volunteer to teach free e.s.l. classes to the parents of children taking e.s.l. teachers who bring in non-profits such as Border Crossers to work with their class. and they still have time to meet all the state and national requirements and benchmarks put forth by state and national boards of education.
so how does this school do it? well, that's what i'm trying to figure out. the principal hires teachers that she trusts, believes in knows to have a clear and distinct love for education and then she lets them do their thing. it helps that the teachers are motivated enough to begin diversity initiatives and internal think tanks to teach their students how to address taboo topics like homosexuality, race, eating disorders, religious conflict and so on. it helps that the teachers collaborate with their students by remaining flexible enough to let the student's excitement inform their teaching and to talk to the students with respect and empower them to shape their own education. and it helps that kids are kids and respond so successfully when they know that they have a voice.
all of this is to say that i have put in my notice at this temp job so that i can spend the last 2 weeks at the school without interruption and interview other teachers and get as much footage as possible of the kids in koogs' class discussing how roald dahl reinforces gender stereotypes of women as being weak and dependent on men.
no joke. that really happened.