Saturday, July 06, 2019

Almost bookends

Hello again! Here are more artifacts from the recent purging in the garage. I am very, very happy to have them. I also found a piece of paper I've been missing, and worried was gone for good, for almost a decade. So I'm grateful for (infrequent) cleaning, purging, and consolidating.

These two photos form an almost bookending of my elementary school experience.

Photo one is of my grade two class. The teacher, Mrs. Campbell, was also half-time my teacher in grade one (and beginning when I was in grade three, our school's teacher librarian). The principal of my school didn't believe in letting students skip a grade, but acknowledged that I was a troublesome presence in grade one, with its focus on learning letters and reading. So I spent mornings with the grade twos, then returned to grade one for afternoons. In retrospect, it would have been better if I'd been allowed to skip completely into grade two, because being in grade two Language Arts a second time amplified my "troublesome" issues with "distracting other students." But at that point we had a different principal, one who was firmly against skipping (and lots of other things, as I discovered later). Still, I was OK with this, because Mrs. Campbell was my favourite teacher to that point. She let me write stories and poems and read A LOT when I was finished my seat work.

Fast forward to 1980....

Photo two is of my grade six class. The teacher, Mr. Beechey, was also part-time my teacher in grade five: he taught social studies and phys ed (and spent the rest of his time that year teaching grade two — we were the first class that was entirely his). I was still a trouble-maker and we still had the anti-skipping principal, and at this point I had basically given up any interest in learning, but school was still much better than home, so I made the best of it. (Not so much in grade seven: I skipped A LOT in grades eight and nine.)

I like the continuity between these photos, as well as the obvious (and the subtle) changes. With the exception of one person, I do not know where any of the other grade sixes ended up (but have heard numerous rumours).

As for me ... well, the less said ...

Thursday, July 04, 2019

One night in Vancouver

At the beginning of June, at the end of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, I had the absolute pleasure of attending an Amanda Palmer concert at the Chan Centre on the UBC campus. The tickets were "the best birthday present ever" and I have to say they lived up to their billing.

The concert started a few minutes after 7:30 and continued (with a short intermission) until 11:30. I was spellbound for all of it. She could have played for another hour or longer (except the venue wouldn't permit that). Wow! AFP delivers performance as art.

Amanda's current tour is organized the experience of abortion. As she explores this topic from a deeply personal perspective, she tells numerous stories about her life. One of the themes that emerges from her stories is radical empathy, or radical compassion. At one point she talked about the idea that there are people for whom our society argues we should not feel empathy or compassion. This point has resonated for me. I think our society is experiencing a crisis of empathy. And since we know how a loss of empathy can play out, from any number of events of the twentieth century, we need to take this crisis serious — or even just acknowledge that it's a crisis.

This concert impressed me on so many levels. I am grateful to have had the chance to attend it (and with my research assistant, Rebecca, as a bonus!). Amanda is not for everyone — but she is for me, and I am for her.

(Oh yeah, I tried to take actual photos of AFP, but with my phone they all turned out fuzzy. Ah well ...)