These are awesome!
I really should have done more to celebrate Black History this month, but I try to do that as often as I can, and not just in February.
Today, we continue our discussion with Shanaya Fastje, author of Bully in the Mirror: Making Hate Stop When You Don’t Think You Can.”
We’ve already had quite the discussion so far. If you want to go back and read Part 1 of the transcript, you can do that now. You can also stream the entire interview with the player at the bottom of this post, or you can download the podcast to listen to whenever you’d like.
Without further ado, let’s continue the interview.
Chase: “I think part of the problem is the television programs that kids are consuming these days. When I was a kid, Family Channel was pretty tame. They showed Disney cartoons and family oriented films.
Nowadays, they are showing teenage sitcoms all the time. I’ve watched some of them recently and it’s quite horrible the way the characters treat each other. They name call, they backstab, there’s disrespect, they put each other down, there’s conniving and mischief, and all this other stuff. I just wonder, if that is the role model they are seeing and that is the kind of programming they are consuming, it’s got to have some kind of effect on them.”
Shanaya: “Kids revolve around pop culture and whatever they are looking at, they are going to transpose into their own lives. I work out of Los Angeles, California. I’m working with my production company to produce a few series and films right now. I am trying to change that part of the industry.
It’s very true. Kids are learning to become more negative and more mischievous by watching all these TV shows. It should change and it’s able to change. But it’s getting larger and larger and every minute we wait, it’s going to get more difficult. It’s very important to act now. That is what I am currently working on every day.
It didn’t necessarily used to be this way. Everybody knows about bullying. It has a lot to do with, ‘Okay, this is in the media now, let’s put this into a TV show.’ And they kind of use this type of character because it’s funny, but it is not funny. It’s hurtful.”
Chase: You have some advice in your book about how we can help change things. On page 119, you talk about an anti-bullying pledge. We actually have one of those in our school board up here. The kids all took it at the start of the year.
But if you don’t have one at your school, you give some advice about how you can go about writing one and how you can format it. You also talk about setting up anti-bulling teams.”
Shanaya: “I also have an exercise in the book about talking to yourself in a mirror and setting goals for yourself. When you look in a mirror and set a goal for yourself, you subconsciously soak up what you are saying to the mirror and what you are saying to yourself, you are basically going to do it without thinking about it.
Anti-bullying teams are great because, like I said, when one person does something, another person will follow in their footsteps. Eventually when a few kids get together, it can be a team. They can then work together on finding new ways to stop bullying in their school. We can start with one school at a time because it does take time. It’s one person at a time, one step at a time, one school at a time.
When it works in a handful of schools, it will slowly disseminate to other schools. It is basically all about starting. Someone needs to begin. Someone needs to start the change. I want to be a part of that.
I’m starting that change. And then there has to be a middle where you work on that change and continue to change. At the end, when there has been success and there are fewer bullies in one school than there were a month previously, that’s a positive change.
People sometimes want to rush into things, but you can’t really rush. It’s a cautious, one step at a time ordeal.
Chase: “Wow, you are an inspiration. You are doing so many things, you’ve written quite a few books, you have film and television series in the works, and you even have speaking engagements. So hopefully you are inspiring and educating the youth. That is really cool to see.”
Shanaya: “Thank you so much. Pretty much every single day I get phone calls, text messages, and emails from kids saying they need my help. They tell me that they are suffering from bullying. They want advice or they want to tell me their stories. Some are suicidal. It’s definitely a job all on its own. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with it but I really love doing it. It does not bother me that I get all these phone calls.
I want kids to come to me because I want them to feel that they are not alone. I want them to know that I am here and that somebody is there. I’ve gotten calls from kids that I’d visited their schools two years previous and they’ve kept my card every since.
There is on particular story. I think it was about a year and a half ago. I went to a elementary / middle school to give a presentation. The counselor came up to me and said that there was a boy that was being bullied very severely. She wanted to see if I could speak with him for a few minutes, give him some inspirational words, and just help him a bit.
I met him after my presentation. We sat in the auditorium and I ended up spending over an hour with this young boy. He was only nine years old and he’d already tried committing suicide twice. He had been to a rehabilitation centre about four times. He was bullied because he as a very, very good student. He’s an “A” student. He has bright, bright red hair and would get made fun of for that. He was a little bit overweight and he felt so in pain. He was only nine years old but felt so much pain that he felt he had to commit suicide.
I spent over an hour with him, talking to him, helping him work through his problems, helping him to realize I was there to help him. At the end of the session I had with him. I gave him my business card with my email and phone number on it. I told him that if he needed any more help, he could get a hold of me. It didn’t matter what day or what time it was, I’d be there. He said, “Okay.”
I thought of him for days after that. I decided to sign a book and to design a composition book for him. A few years ago, I used to make jewelry and make composition books for charity. I wrote him a letter and went back to the school the next week and asked the counselor if I could see him again. We talked in the hall and I gave him the package.
At the end of class, the counselor came up to me and she gave me a letter that he had written for me. She said that he had been such a happier kid since I’d spoken to him. He was focusing more in school in his classes. He was smiling, he was laughing again, and he was trying to make friends again.
I went home and opened the letter and read it. He basically wanted to thank me for helping him. He said he didn’t think about killing himself anymore because I helped him. I kept that letter.
I read every single letter that is sent to me. I have thousands and thousands and his letter is very, very special to me.
Chase: “I think the power of talk is a very important and powerful thing. Kids sometimes don’t have anyone they can talk to for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t have someone they can confide in or they don’t know how to bring up the topic. I just want my students to know that, as a teacher, and I’m sure most teachers are like this too, you can come to teachers with your problems, and we will be here to listen.
It’s also encouraging to know that there are people like you for them to talk to as well. Talking through a problem is sometimes one of the best ways to get around it and to solve it.”
Shanaya: “I believe that victims and kids can be so scared to talk because they don’t know who to trust. Some teachers and parents don’t know what to do. I just hope that kids realize that they are not alone. If you see that anybody is having trouble or if you see someone is sad, or depressed, or a little bit mad, it’s important to get down to their level. Get eye level with them.
I’ve given workshops to parents and teachers about how to address little kids and middle schoolers. It is intimidating for them to see an adult towering over them. They are scared, they are being bullied, they don’t know who to trust. But when somebody gets down to their eye level, they feel more of a connection and they feel safer.
That’s also why I have been able to have such success with kids. I am a kid. I know what kids go through. I’ve had friends on the verge of suicide and I’ve helped them. So, I’ve had experience with kids. I think kids feel a connection with me because they know I understand them. I think a lot of people are able to understand them.
For kids to feel safe, they need to have a connection with someone.
Chase: “I like how you talk about teachers in your book as well. Some people your age wouldn’t have anything good to say about teachers. They are quick to put down their teachers and complain. But you have some respect and praise and admiration for teachers in this book and it was quite refreshing to see.”
Shanaya: “I think that teachers are fantastic! They are great! Teachers are doing their job!
I have a lot of respect for teachers and human teaching and human development. I believe that everybody has something to learn from anyone they come across. Whether it’s from a mistake, to not act a certain way, or to learn something positive, to learn a new thing. I think teachers are very important in doing that. They are teaching kids every single day and it’s constant.
I want to let kids know that teachers aren’t there to hurt anybody, they aren’t there to make you feel small, they are there to help you. Hopefully kids will realize that.
Same with parents. Parents just sometimes don’t know what to do. It’s not necessarily that parents don’t care, sometimes they just don’t know what to do. It’s all about education..
So once kids realize that it’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know what to do. Once they realize that and start to speak up, we have a better chance of solving the problem.”
Chase; “We are speaking with Shanaya Fastje, author of ‘Bully in the Mirror: Making Hate Stop When You Don’t Think You Can.’ Can you tell people how they can find out more about you and how they can get your books?”
Shanaya: “I have a website – shanyafastje.com. You can go to Barnes & Noble or Amazon to get the book. You can contact me directly from my website. There is a contact form where I receive emails directly and I am able to respond. I love hearing from people. My book is available all around the world.”
Chase: “Thank you so much for talking with me today. You are an amazing person and very inspiring with all of the things you are doing from the writing to the production aspect to the speaking engagements. It’s nice to see that you are not just sitting on your couch watching TV. You are actively out there creating things. It is so easy, in this day and age, with the computer technology we have to get out an do something creative.”
Shanaya: “It’s very simple. Kids just need to find something that they are passionate about. Everybody loves to do something and everybody is good at something. Kids just need to find what thy love doing. Also, on top of everything else I am doing, I’m working on music. I put out two singles on iTunes and I’m going to film a new video. I’m working on an album and I have my own label. I’m working on music, film, television, and writing. They are all passions of mine and I’m honored to be given the opportunity to work on all of them.
Chase: “Well, I wish you nothing but success and good luck in all your endeavors.”
Shanaya: “Thank you, that is exactly what I hope as well.”
If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here
Chase: “All right everybody, this is Chase March. I have a special guest on the program right now, author of “Bully in the Mirror: Making Hate Stop When You Don’t Think You Can,” Shanaya Fastje.
You can read the transcript of the interview, stream in with the player below, or download it to listen to later.
So, Shanaya, I read your book cover to cover. I know there are some people out there who think bullying is completely natural and that it is just part of childhood.”
Shanaya: “There is nothing natural about it. Most people say, ‘Bullying is natural, it happens all the time, everybody goes through it.’ But it is not in any way, shape, or for, normal. It becomes not normal when kids feel mental pain with or without physical pain. Parents have to see what they believed was normal is no longer normal.
It’s about a lack of education on the subject. People need to educate themselves about the realities of bullying and living in this society as a kid or a teenager. It causes pain, and anything that causes pain is not normal.”
Chase: “This book is incredible and based on the conversation we’ve had up to this point, I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that you are a teenager.”
Shanaya: “I get that often. I’m only thirteen. I just graduated high school last year. People don’t really comprehend that I’m actually thirteen, but I’ve definitely gotten used to it.”
Chase: “It’s pretty impressive and inspirational what you have already been able to do. And ‘Bully in the Mirror’ isn’t even your first book.”
Shanaya: “This is my fourth book. I’m currently working on my fifth book which is going to be my first fiction. It’s a mystery / suspense novel. I am currently negotiating piloting out my fifth book for film. I’m also negotiating my fourth book for film because I just opened up my own production company. I have a license and I’m working on producing different projects. I would love to produce any of my books into some kind of film, television, or series.”
Chase: “Wow, that is incredible. Just to make a personal connection here, on page 85 of your book you mention reading another book, ‘Psycho-cybernetics.’ I remember reading that book at your age too.”
Shanaya: “How interesting.”
Chase: “The title of that book alone would scare most people off, but it was a good read. And so is your book, “Bully in the Mirror.”
I started a Facebook page this year because I wanted to open up the lines of communication between school and home. I thought it would be a good tool to stay in touch with students and parents, but just recently, I was cyber-bullied on it.”
Shanaya: “Bullying itself has become a social epidemic. It used to be that kids would fight physically and there’d be some name calling. Now, it’s gotten to the point that cyber-bullying is now in existence. Kids are now bullying each other using social media – Facebook, Twitter, email, and texting.
It’s okay for kids to go on Facebook and Twitter, but sometimes it becomes an obsession. It becomes an addiction. This addiction goes a step further and these kids sometimes think they are superior because they can always disguise themselves using anonymous names. It becomes very dangerous.
It is now getting to a point where kids are, more and more, committing suicide because they are being cyber-bullied. Sometimes it can be by their own friends. Next to physical bullying, cyber-bullying is one of the more dangerous forms of bullying.”
Chase: “When I got cyber-bullied last week, I was able to shake it off for the most part. But I look at what some of the kids are doing online, I see that this is a regular way that kids are talking to each other on these platforms. They are on Facebook putting down people. If I was a kid living in this day and age, and I had to go through that on a daily basis, I don’t know how I’d handle it.”
Shanaya: “Verbal harassment over the Internet can cause the same exact damage as any other form of bullying. It can even lead to suicide. Any form of bullying can lead to suicide and any form of bullying can lead to depression. And it goes a step further. Kids don’t’ keep it in the boundaries. They always go a step further and this step further is what’s dangerous.
Kids do have a hard time handling it. I’ve been bullied but I don’t like comparing my bullying stories to other kids because it hasn’t necessarily been severe. I’ve learned to grow self-confidence and self-esteem from a very young age. I’ve been cyber-bullied and it’s very ridiculous the way kids now talk to each other. It’s like there are no morals, respect, or dignity. I want to help bring some of those morals back into kids’ lives.”
Chase: “I wanted to use it as a teachable moment as well. I want kids to know that it is not okay to talk like this online, and that you should watch carefully what you say, and don’t press send if you think it is going to hurt, belittle, or demean somebody. But when I brought this to my principal, his first response was to shut it down, to close the Facebook page. So I had to shut down the site. Part of the problem, he said, is that this is the culture of Facebook. This is what they do and this is how kids are talking on Facebook and that is not something we are going to change.”
Shanaya: “It’s become like a lifestyle. But bullies are not born bullies. It’s a learned behaviour. Since bullies have learned to act ugly to others, they can also learn to change. The world is constantly changing and I believe there is always room for change. There is always room for better. And it starts with one person.
When somebody sees one person doing something good. Let’s say someone is being cyber-bullied on Facebook. If one person comments, ‘That’s not right’ or “Stop’ or “I’m going to report you,’ then another person is going to step in, and then another. It’s a chain reaction. It’s the same with physical and verbal bullying as well. People can’t give up too easily because quitting means stopping the chain reaction and we can’t really end that. It’s important for the sake of this generation of kids and their safety.”
Chase; “We have this program in our school called “Be an Upstander.” It basically means that you shouldn’t stand by and watch something happen when you can do something about it. Don’t be a bystander, be an upstander and do something about it.”
Shanaya: “Of course, one of the main keys to reduce bullying is the bystander. Some people might be afraid to tell an adult or they might feel threatened by the bully. But it is the bystanders’ job to go and get help and to tell.
Victims have true power but they sometimes mistake it that they don’t have any power and the bully has all the power over them. In reality, the bully is pretending to use the victim’s power as their own to trick the victim into thinking that they are powerless. Bullies are actually weak-minded. Since they are so weak, they can learn to build the strength of their own mind just like victims can.
Everybody needs to work hand-in-hand in the situation. It’s not just the victims that need to work on their self-esteem and self-confidence. I think parents have to have a bog part in making this happen. Parents need to talk to their children and help them get through whatever issue is going on, no matter what time they get home from work. The parents are the role models and if the kids see that their parents are willing to help, they will know that they’ll feel that they are not really alone because that’s what victims often feel. They feel alone and that’s why they are so scared to go an tell if they are being bullied or hurt.”
Chase: “You have some good advice in this book. On page 84, you write about how we can sometimes be a little too hard on ourselves and then you write, ‘If you can think it, you have the power to think it differently. Every negative thought can become a positive one. If you think it, you can do it.” Very wise words there.
Shanaya: “Thank you. I believe that every problem has a solution. I like looking at things not as problems but as problems that need solutions. Instead of focusing on the negative, I like to focus on the positive and how I can fix this. Nothing is going to change and nothing is going to get fixed if you keep dwelling on a problem and keep dwelling on negativity. There is always a way to switch it around.
People just need to take a moment, take a breather, and to think the right way. Once people learn to think in a more positive way, then we’ll learn how to act in a more positive way.”
We’ll continue this interview tomorrow. If you can’t wait that long, listen to the entire interview right now with the player below, or download it to listen to at your leisure.
See you tomorrow. Thanks for tuning in!
If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here
Tony Hawk is the greatest skateboarder the world has ever seen. But he didn’t get there without some pain, hard work, and lots of effort.
He recently posted this on Facebook and I think it serves as food for thought.
In everything we do, there is a learning curve.
Tony Hawk didn’t fail with this painfully landed trick. It was merely his first attempt in learning it.
Remember that the next time you don’t succeed at something in your first attempt.
You should keep trying until you do.
Thomas Edison had a lot of failures leading up to his invention of the light bulb. He didn’t let himself get discouraged “because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
There’s some motivation for you today as you go ahead with trying to learning something new.
Do you have a story of failure that lead to success?
Please share it below in the comment section.
Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. I’m your host Chase March and today I want to look at the first rap song ever.
This is the transcript of the radio show. You can download the podcast or stream it with the player below. And if you like what you hear, subscribe to the podcast or check the Mixcloud feed for weekly episodes.
A lot of you are probably nodding your head right now, listening to the track in the background and saying, “Yep, that’s it. ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by The Sugarhill Gang.”
But you’d be wrong. That wasn’t the first rap song. It was the first one that many people heard. It was the first one to achieve commercial success. But it was by no means the first rap song.
Finding the first rap song can be a bit tricky though simply due to the definition of what is and what isn’t rap. I don’t like to think about rap music outside of the culture of hip-hop. And if you are a fan of this show, you already know that hip-hop started to solidify as a culture in the early 1970s. It didn’t start out as rap music either. It started with the deejay. Rappers weren’t even around at the start of the culture. That’s something that is often forgotten in this day and age where it seems like rap music has just always been around. Maybe it has been.
The first commercially recorded rap songs started to emerge in 1979, fairly recently if you think about it. But there are songs that predate this recording that sound rather rap-like.
In fact, there is even an athlete who is often credited as being the first rapper. He didn’t record any songs but we have quite a few audio tracks of him saying rhymes that could easily fit to a beat. He probably could have been a rapper instead of a boxer.
I’m talking about Muhammad Ali. Here is one of his famous speeches.
Was that rap? I don’t know. We can definitely see comparisons of what we know about rap music with what Muhammad Ali did in that brief rhyme. He tells a story. It rhymes. It has some rhythm to it. He has a larger than life image behind the words. They evoke a feeling. But isn’t that what poetry does.
Muhammad Ali was an athlete. He liked his wordplay as much as his fancy footwork and punch combinations in the ring. He was a poet, but I don’t think we can call him a rapper.
I was watching a documentary recently and there was a quote in it that said, “You can’t become what you do not see.” In terms of hip-hop, seeing a black man being confident, using words creatively, and excelling in his sport probably did have an impact on the first rappers that we would probably agree upon.
But right now, I want to go further back in time. Muhammad Ali was in his boxing prime in the 1960s. I’d like to go back another ten years and look at this record. It’s called “Big John” and it’s by Jimmy Dean.
This is Chase March and we are exploring the roots of rap music today in this edition of Know Your History. Perhaps this is the first rap song.
What do you think? Is “Big John” by Jimmy Dean the first rap song?
It has some elements of modern rap music in it. And unlike the Muhammad Ali clip I played earlier, this one is set to music. It wasn’t merely a poem or a recited rhyme. The music and the vocals work together. They are intertwined. They are one.
In his book, Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop, Adam Bradley writes, “rap is not speech exactly, nor is it precisely song, and yet it employs elements of both.”
An exact definition of rap music is pretty hard to come by. It is not simply talking over a backing musical track. Rappers can use cadences, rhymes, and all sorts of poetic devices in their music. The key word here is music. Big John is music. Is it hip-hop? I don’t think so.
I think we need to look at the birthplace of hip-hop. It was born in New York in the 1970s. Some people peg the official birthday as August 11, 1973. On that historic day, DJ Kool Herc threw his first party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. Hip-hop still didn’t have a name at this point but I definitely agree that this was the start of the rich culture we all love and enjoy today.
Still though, some of the elements of hip-hop were around well before this. Five years earlier, a group was just coming together in Harlem. They dropped their debut album in 1970, nine years before the first commercially recorded rap song. Let’s play a song from that album right now. This is “New York, New York” by The Last Poets. Maybe this is the first rap song.
Woah, that was heavy. That record was socially conscious. It was politically charged. In that way, it was ahead of it’s time. It foreshadowed what was to come content wise within hip-hop much later.
The Last Poets are definitely pioneers in what would become rap music. We just heard “New York, New York” and we can probably draw comparisons, pick out parts of that recording that were rap-like. That being said, I don’t consider that to be the first rap song.
We are getting closer to it though. I promise.
Let’s jump back in time 50 years . This track is called “Kinesiska Muren” and it is by Evert Taube. Maybe this is this first rap song?
That record came out in 1958. It is about the construction of the Great Wall of China. According to online sources, it is a poem. However, it sounds quite rap-like. It is set to a beat, the rhymes are spoken in a cadence and they are on time. That being said, it is not a rap song.
I know, I know. I keep teasing you, telling you that I am going to play the first rap song and I keep playing stuff that quite simply falls a little short. The songs and poems I’ve been playing have a lot in common with rap music, but they are not rap.
So what is the defining characteristic of rap? What have all these tracks been missing?
Adam Bradley writes, “Rhyme is the music MCs make with their mouths . . . Everyone knows rhyme when they hear it, but few stop to examine it. Rhyme is the concordance of sound. It works by establishing a habit of expectations in listeners’ minds, conditioning them to identify patterns of sound, to connect words the mind instinctively recognizes as related yet distinct. All rhyme relies on the innate human impulse to recognize patterns and to anticipate what will follow. A skillfully rendered rhyme strikes a balance between expectation and novelty.”
I love Adam Bradley’s book. It shows how artistic rap music is. It explores the poetics of it. It looks closely at the music. That’s what I try to do every day. That’s why I work at producing documentary hip-hop radio each and every single month here on the program.
That was King Tim III with The Fatback Band. The song is called “Personality Jock” and it’s often considered to be the first rap recording. It is a rap song as much as it is a funk song. It has an MC saying rhymes with a cadence. The rhymes are on time. It is hip-hop. It came out in 1979 a few months prior to Rapper’s Delight.
But we can actually go back another forty years to find the first true rap song. This track originally came out in 1937. It’s called “The Preacher and the Bear” and it’s by The Golden Gate Quartet. So here it is, quite possibly the very first rap song ever.
You can see how similar the cadences are and where the rhymes are falling when you compare this song with Rapper’s Delight. Check out the mash-up Darrin Jackson did to hear it quite clearly.
There you have it, the first rap song as recorded in 1937. We heard the 1941 re-issue of it and then the 2005 mash-up of it.
That is an incredible record by The Golden Gate Quartet called “The Preacher and The Bear.” Apparently it was a folk song that people used to sing. These creative musicians did it in a rap style in 1937. My goodness!
This Chase March, thanks for tuning in to Know Your History!
If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here
What exactly is a “Flipped Classroom?”
Why do I keep coming across this term from different blogs and articles I am reading?
Is this something I should try to do?
These are all questions I have been asking myself over the past few weeks as I have been coming across the term “flipped classroom” more and more.
At first, I just dismissed the idea. I didn’t see how it could possibly work in an elementary school. But after some further research, I could see this concept working in a Grade 8 classroom.
Here’s a handy infographic I found on Larry Ferlazzo’s site. I think it’s worth sharing and considering.
This infographic makes some great points and has almost convinced me to try flipping my class. Of course, instrumental music is a unique subject area where this concept may not work. But as I think about this, I could make videos specific to each instrument. I could offer practice tips or other useful information.
It’s something to think about anyway.
Let’s hear from you
Have you flipped your classroom?
Know anyone that has?
Have any thoughts about it?
Please leave a comment below and add to the discussion
Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
The premise of this novel was so scary that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to read it.
It starts when a single mother receives a missing child flyer in the mail. The picture on the flyer looks exactly like her adopted son, Will. The reporter in her needs to start digging and uncover the truth. The mother in her wants what’s best for her son. But she just wants to keep her family together.
I was captivated by this book every step of the way. It’s a great read, well-paced, and full of suspense.
I borrowed the audio book version of this novel from the public library. I was pleasantly surprised to hear an interview with the author at the end of the story. I like when this kind of stuff is included in audio books. It’s nice to be able to hear the author’s real voice, to get an insight into the writing process, and to enhance the overall experience of a great read.
Dear Zoe by Philip Beard
Far removed from the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, a smaller tragedy occurred. A family lost a three year old daughter in a senseless accident. They have a really hard time coping with their loss, especially when it seems that everyone else is focusing on a different loss.
To help her cope, fifteen year old Tess writes a letter to her deceased sister. The entire story is told through this one-sided correspondence.
It’s a touching narrative and we learn a lot about Tess and her sisters through this letter. She learns a lot through the process as well. It just goes to show the power of writing.
There are a few scenes in here that are so vivid and real. A couple of them even brought a tear to me eye. I don’t want to spoil the story for you here so I won’t get into the details. Suffice it to say, this was a great read.
More Great Reads
Once again, I am keeping track of everything I read over the course of the year.
My 2013 Reading List
This is where I will be tonight.
It’s more than a rap concert on a Friday night. It is a networking event designed to bring together different members of the hip-hop community in the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada area.
It will be a great opportunity to meet artists, deejays, radio personalities, journalists, promoters, photographers, and many other people working in the hip-hop field.
This show is put on by Beat Binjaz. Follow them on Facebook because they are doing a great job of bringing top level artists to Hamilton.
If you come, make sure you bring some business cards so you can make some connections and earn some prizes.
And don’t forget to find me and say, “Hi!”
I’ll be wearing a press pass so you’ll be able to spot me easily.
See you there!
I got over a 1,000 hits on my blog today.
Most of which for were for a poem I wrote and posted as a Valentine’s Day surprise for my girlfriend two years ago.
I wonder if I inspired any other love poems today?
That would be a good thing if I did.
I like being able to express myself and I think I did a pretty good job with that poem. Back then, we had been together for a few months and everything was fresh and exciting. I was still determined to take it slow since I had been hurt a few times before. I really didn’t want to get hurt again. I think I captured that well in that piece.
I took our relationship for what it was, or more aptly, what I thought it was. Unfortunately, she and I didn’t seem to ever get on the same wavelength.
Maybe things just weren’t meant to be between us. Maybe I screwed everything up by not committing to her more fully. I never cheated on her but I did keep certain parts of my life separate and boxed away. And that wasn’t fair. I know that now.
I decided to keep all of this off of my blog, partly because she asked me to, but I know she still reads it from time to time, and this silence isn’t conveying what I would like to convey to her.
I want her to know that I still think of her, that I want nothing but the best for her, and that the best for her probably never was me. For that I apologize.
We had some good times and when I recall them I smile. She opened my eyes to things I’d never seen before and I am a better person because of her influence.
Some times I play those mixtapes I made just for her and I can hear her in and between the songs.
Valentine’s Day is a Strange Beast.
When you are alone and hurt, everything seems to be amplified and the sorrow is hard to avoid. When you are in a relationship, the pressure to live up to a perfect romantic ideal can be worrisome.
Sometimes, everything can just be perfect, when two people are truly on the same page. If that happens more than once and more often than not, hold on to it, write a poem, make a mixtape, take some photos, and look back and remember those times and do your best to never let that flame get extinguished.
I once had this fleeting connection with someone through a window while I was at working at a fast food restaurant.
I always hoped fate would find a way for us to meet again at some other time, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
This short film reminds me of that encounter so much.
It’s really cute and simple but strangely compelling.
This is what I need.
A good story.
A story that I can tell my grand kids.
A story about how I met the love of my life.
Please tell me that this sort of thing happens outside of beautifully told fiction.
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!
Today, I am talking to Dr. Richard Selznick, author of School Struggles: A Guide to Your Shut Down Learners Success. This is Part 2 of the transcript of our radio interview and podcast. You can go back to read the first part of the transcript now, stream the entire show with the player below, or download the podcast now for free.
Chase: “In this book, you take a little bit of a shot at the parents that have a case of NBD – No Backbone Disorder.”
Dr. Selznick: “I’ve have had a bunch of interviews about this book, but your the first person to look at how I’m taking a bit of a swipe here and there. I try to inject good humour into the book. Just a little teasing, ya know?
I recently wrote a blog post about parenting resolutions and talked about No Gumby-parenting. Gumby was a rubber toy with no backbone, that’s where NBD comes from. I find that a lot of parents try to be overly nice. They have no backbone or no spine when it comes to kids. You don’t want to go all 1950s on them, no Mad-Men-parenting either. There’s a middle ground.
So many parents are overly nice and syrupy. They have to have a little bit of teeth in there.
Chase: “I don’t think we can give our kids everything too. You mention this in the book about having times where you unplug. Don’t just play video games or watch TV all the time. Go outside and do things. And let your kids know that they have to work for things.
There is this instant gratification in this day and age. It’s how we live now. When I was a kid, if I wanted to find out something I had to look in a card catalog, and then go find the book, and then find the passage or page I needed, and sometimes that wouldn’t be what I wanted so I had to do it all again. Now, we can have an answer within seconds from wherever we are with our smartphone of computer by Googling something. It just goes to show that in this day and age we have instant gratification.
The way school is built too, and you mention this in the book. is that it’s built around the sense of a delayed gratification. You got through school for however many years, and then you’ll get a job, and then you’re life can start. You have to wait, you have to wait, and kids aren’t used to waiting.”
Dr. Selznick: “You raise so many great topics. I’d love to talk more with you. We could focus on just one topic. The electronic stuff is interesting though. I say this as I’m on an iPhone with an iPad in front of me. I’ll go on the computer later.
I see kids come into the office, little kids, like 5, 6, and 7 years old who come into the office and it makes me sad. It used to be that I could hand them some old school toys while I was talking to the parents. Stuff like little figures for them to play with and set up a scene. The kids look at me like, ‘What is this junk you’re giving me? I have Angry Birds on my iPhone. Why do I want to play with this junk?’
It saddens me. There was a time when playing with those figures was creative and you had a little imagination in there and you might have thought about going outside after school. I don’t see that much anymore.
Chase: “When I was a kid, I was playing outside on my own. It’s weird that now it feels safer if you are with them. So I can maybe understand why some kids aren’t out doing anything because if they are inside sitting in the basement playing video games, at least you know they are safe.”
Dr. Selznick: “I guess. I didn’t grow up in a difficult area but I did grow up in New York in a relatively nice area. Staten Island. I can remember going out the door on Saturday morning and eight hours later with one interruption – ya know going inside to grab a sandwich, eight hours later we were coming back in reluctantly. There was no parental steerage or involvement, no one telling us what to do or how to do it. I think we’re really missing something from that these days.”
Chase: “You talk about a couple of things we are losing, one of which being social interchanges. When we were kids, if we wanted to call on our friend, we had to knock on the door and a parent would answer. We could call on the phone, a parent would still answer and we’d have to say, ‘Hello, Mr. So and So’ and have that pleasantry. But kids don’t do that any more because everyone has their phones so they just automatically text or talk to each other. You call it a sense of social invisibility.
Dr. Selznick: “I have two kids and we went through effectively eight years of high school with them, a time where you are supposed to be calling your friends. I’m sure you remember doing that. I think the phone rang here during that time, maybe 3 times. I joke, bypass the middleman. Why bother with the annoying parents?
It’s like “Leave it to Beaver” where you had to say, “Hi, Mrs. Clever, it’s Eddie Haskell.” You can to lay it on a bit and learn that skill.
For eight years the kids were called directly, so we never really said hello to them on the phone.
People can blame us, ‘Well, why give them cell phones?’
That’s just how it is.”
Chase: “We are totally in a different age. I think we kind of have to roll with it.”
Dr. Selznick: “I think that’s true. We can’t just keep bemoaning it. But I do think we need to recognize that there are these loses and we need to be realistic about what those things mean, both academically and we as inter-personally.”
Chase: “I agree but there are a lot of things we can teach. One of the most important things a teacher can do is to be a good role model. Address other teachers by name, use Mr. and Mrs, be polite, and show those interactions that people should see.
You have a couple of rants in the book, one of which we’ve already discussed, but one of my rants right now is about Family Channel. When I was a kid, Family Channel was pretty tame. But now I watch it and they have these teen-type sitcoms on all the time. My beef with these programs is that they feature characters that are genuinely mean to each other, underhanded, backstabbing, and quite frankly rude. If that is the role model and that’s what they are seeing so they think it’s normal and that you don’t need to be polite and you can get away with this kind of thing.”
Dr. Selznick: “The thing that used to concern me was the sexual undertones and innuendos. I’m far from a prude but I like that protection of childhood from ages 4 to 12. They shouldn’t be watching R-rated movies because they are for older people. But I find a lot of what they call “family entertainment” has a fair number of innuendo and double entendre jokes with sexual themes. Do you find that?”
Chase: “I certainly do, and it’s a shame. It’s like the media is making these programs for adults. I find a lot of the adult humour is immature to begin with. It’s not adult to me. It’s just so immature.
I was bored the other day and I put TV on something I wouldn’t normally watch. I left it on and watched three sitcoms in a row. I swear I could feel myself getting stupider.”
Dr. Selznick: “I know what you mean. I watch Family Guy and I think it’s a funny show but it blows my mind that 7 and 8 year olds watch it. They shouldn’t be exposed to that kind of content.”
Chase: “I think there is content out there for every age group. I think we should monitor that closely. I believe it’s a parent’s responsibility. And as a teacher, I ask my students, ‘Why do you watch that?’ I call them out on it. I wouldn’t even watch that, but I guess I can understand people having different tastes. It’s an interesting position that we are in, trying to guide the youth and help them learn through our experiences as well.
It’s cool that you wrote this book. I hope people will check it out. It’s called School Struggles: A Guide to Your Shut Down Learner’s Success and it’s by Dr. Richard Selznick.
Thank you for talking with me.
Dr. Selznick: “Thank you, Chase!”
If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here
Chase: “All right everybody, this is Chase March. I have Dr. Richard Selznick on the phone right now, author of School Struggles: A Guide to Your Shut-Down Learner’s Success. It’s quite the read. I underlined passages and took all sorts of notes as I read it. As a teacher, I think it is important for use to reach every student, especially students who have shut down.
You have some interesting tips in this book. One of which is to not go by a child’s age as a signpost of what he or she should be able to do. Here’s a quote from the book, “… when talking to children at school, it is essential to set aside their real age and to view them instead as being much younger than that in their maturity level.” What do you mean exactly by that?”
Dr. Selznick: “Keep in mind that I am talking about kids with learning disabilities and ADHD, not all children. A number of years ago when I got my first job in a private school for kids with learning disabilities, the learning director told the staff to make sure they had their age adjustment correct. Let’s say a 15 year old, as to the level of maturity and what they should be able to do at that point in their life. The director’s caution to us was that we needed to be very careful with that because many of the children are not yet there. They have difficulty with independent functioning, thinking skills, and even social maturity.
I distinctly remember talking to a 15 year old girl and it was almost like she was 11. And by looking at her like she was 11, not talking down to her, but by thinking of her like she was 11, it helped to see where she was developmentally. I find that a lot of parents and teachers, quite frankly, they’ll use a lot of that should language. ‘They should be able to . . .’ and I have the child in front of me, I’ve evaluated the child, and they’re not even close to that level of what the school or parents think they should be able to do. By adjusting that, I find it takes some of the heat out of the interactions between the child and parent and child and school. It doesn’t mean going soft on the child. It means looking at him or her with a more realistic set of eyes or lenses.
Chase: “I think it is important to know your child, whether it is your biological child or your student. It’s important to know that but part of the problem, you address it in your book, is the curriculum ship. We’re expected as teachers to get this across and for the students to have this kind of a response. I actually have something called exemplars that show you what a level B should look like for this great. And quite frankly, not every students B-level work will look like that. It makes it tough because it feels like I am supposed to report things a certain way for a certain level.
Dr. Selznick: “I’m sure you feel that way a lot. That notion of the curriculum ship going forward. It must go forward. It’s leaving the dock in September and it’s going to arrive at port in June. And no matter what, we’re getting there. That’s great for about 60 percent of the population but for the 40 percent of the other kids, they’re not able to stay with that boat. They can’t keep up with it.”
Chase: “Another great quote from the book is, ‘One of my rants was triggered by a line in a report on a learning disabled / dyslexic child that said, ‘Frank must learn to accept responsibility for his reading comprehension and to develop his own strategies.
Frank is seven! He’s a weak reader! He’s not going to accept responsibility for his reading comprehension or develop his own strategies.’
That really spoke to me because I know that I’ve written a report card comment almost like that one.”
Dr. Selznick: “It’s a very real quote. What happens to me at work or in my office is that I will have an experience or a moment like that where I have to write it down. That came across my desk and I’m looking at this child who has reading problems, attention issues, and stuff like that, and I’m reading this comment from a teacher about how he has to take responsibility for his learning. How can he begin to do that? He has to do it? He’s about ten years away from maybe being able to do it. I don’t want to be seen as somebody who is purely enabling them, but how can that be?”
Chase: “We’re talking about struggling kids here, because there are some kids who understand what school is about. They play the program. There are some other kids who are fairly smart and flexible and they can take whatever you throw at them. And then there are those other kids who really are having a hard time.”
Dr. Selznick: “You’ve seen it in the book. I call it the smooth road and the rough road. 60% of the population is on the smooth road and since kindergarten they’ve been moving down that road. There aren’t that many problems. Things are moving along. But then there’s that other group, which is who we are talking about. It’s a rougher road and much tougher for those kids.”
Chase: “I think we are doing a better job in education these days. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this and we have bump it up walls and strategies and learning goals now. We start with the end in mind and think about ways in which we can move kids up from a C to a B. We think about these kinds of things.
A quote on page 70, of your book, School Struggles reads,
‘As a general rule, I feel that we need to look at the task being given, and if it is over the child’s head, we have to back up and make it simpler, more digestible. Sure, trying harder (a frequent request from parents and teachers) may help some, but over time this wears the child down and cannot be sustained. It is up to us, as adults, to examine what we are asking the child to do and see if the task truly falls within the child’s zone of competence.’
I like that quote. It’s something we really need to think about. The days of one-size-fits-all education are over. We can’t expect everyone in the class to be performing at the same level and reading the same texts. It is not going to give them success in school.”
Dr. Selznick: “It’s the old school concept of instructional levels. If the task truly is beyond their level, it is just frustrating. What I see a lot are kids getting worksheets that are above their level. If the words are beyond their true independent or instructional level, how can they manage it? It’s beyond their zone.”
Chase: “Exactly. So, I’m reading this book and I’m going along, nodding my head in agreement with most of it, and then I come across this passage,
‘If you have a spouse, get him (yes, I know I am making an assumption here)’
I guess, mothers more often read this kind of book. Or perhaps, this is a stab at teachers as well. Most teachers do seem to be women and I guess moms might be more concerned about this than dads. But I felt that I had to point that one out to you.”
Dr. Selznick: “It’s funny because my most recent blog was ‘Moms, Listen Up. Trust Your Judgment’ and I put it in parenthesis (Dads too.)
Interestingly, today I had a dad come into the office with his child. But 90% of the time, it’s a mom by herself or the dad is being dragged in by the mom. That dad do tend to, I’m generalizing, be a little more, ‘Well, he’ll grow out of it. He’s fine. I was just like that. What’s the problem?’ Ya know, that kind of talk.”
Chase: “Ya know, to a point, that happens. Just speaking personally here. I have one younger brother. And I was good in school. I was the smart one who would answer every single question. And the next year, the teacher would get my brother and kind of expect the same thing, and he struggled through school.
What is amazing now, we’re both in our thirties, and he is reading incredibly scientific stuff all the time. He’s a better student now that he’s no longer in school. He’s always reading and telling me all sorts of interesting things. I’m not so much into science. I’m more into humanities and literature. But, it is interesting to see how he’s become a good student now.”
Dr. Selznick: “I’m putting a plug in now for my first book called The Shut Down Learner. That book was about children and also adults who are what I call “Lego Kids.” They are more science-brained and not so great early on with reading and writing. So they might read better, like your brother, later on for more technical reading or reading in their field. But during the early years, there was a lot of struggling and many of those kids were shut down. So, you might want to read that one too.”
Chase; “For sure. This was an interesting read. School Struggles: A Guide to Your Shut Down Learners Success and your earlier books sounds just as interesting. We’re talking to Dr. Richard Selznick and we’re only just getting started here. Please come back tomorrow to continue reading the rest of the transcript, or you can listen to the entire interview right now with the player below. You can also download this podcast for free.
Thanks for tuning in. See you here tomorrow for the conclusion of this interview.”
Download the interview as an MP3 or stream it with the player below.
If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here
The Amazing Spider-man: The Fantastic Spider-man
There are two stories in this graphic novel collection of the monthly Spider-man comic. I really enjoyed the second story that had Spider-man filling in as a substitute teacher at the Avengers Academy. It was a touching story with a lot of humour and heroism. Just what I expect in a Spiderman story.
The cover art shows the New Fantastic Four costumes. The Human Torch died in the comics and the super-hero team enlisted Spider-man to join their ranks. FF no longer stands for Fantastic Four, however. They are now The Future Foundation and Spider-man is part of the team.
Very cool read!
Jack of Fables: The Bad Price and Americana
Jack of Fables is a great graphic novel series that takes the world of the Fables to new heights. It’s based around one character but many of our favourites make appearances or come along for the ride. These are the third and fourth graphic novel collections of the monthly comic.
So many great titles to read, so little time!
Last week, I released my Superman-themed mixtape.
I wanted to have a version of the mix that I could play anywhere I wanted to without having to worry about offensive lyrics. So I made a clean version of the same tape by removing two songs and censoring one other.
01. Radio Intro
02. The Clique – Superman
03. REM – I am Superman
04. Goldfinger – Superman
05. The Kinks – Wish I could Fly Like Superman
06. Johnny Guitar Watson – Superman Lover
07. Big Head Todd & The Monsters – Resignation Superman
08. Sufjan Stevens – The Man of Metropolis Steals Out Hearts
09. Crash Test Dummies – Superman’s Song
10. Joe Brooks – Superman
11. Aaron Tippon – Honky Tonk Superman
12. Firewater – So Long Superman
13. Newcleus – Jam On It
14. 3 Doors Down – Kryptonite
15. Eric Clapton – Superman Inside
16. Lazlo Bane – I’m No Superman
17. Five for Fighting – Superman
18. Flaming Lips – Waitin’ for Superman
19. Our Lady Peace – Superman’s Dead
20. John Williams – Movie Theme
Enjoy the tunes!
If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here
Time for some street art on a whole ‘nother level!
This is awesome!
It looks just like my old school Game Boy. . .
and is practically just as large.
I love how this street artist flipped it too.
Look closely, it’s a Game Girl!
Here’s another great one.
It’s a skateboard half-pipe painted like a football pitch (or soccer field)
Does that make this a pitch-pipe?
This last one takes the metaphor a bit too literally. It’s a skatepark on a skateboard.
It’s street art on a skateboard.
I tried to get a rap career started in the late 1990s. This was before the days of YouTube. But I have old video cassettes of some of those performances and I just uploaded a few.
This is one of the best beatbox routines that we ever did. Yep, that is me on the beatbox and my brother Rime-On rapping the song.
I hope you enjoy this blast from the past. This footage was recorded at our CD Release Party on August 14, 1998 at the Corktown in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
If you like what you heard, you can download those old albums for free from our Bandcamp page.
At the start of the school year, I had a good idea on how to open up the lines of communication between home and school.
To use the social media sites that people already use on a regular basis.
As such, I entered into the world of Facebook.
Three months into the school year, I reported on my progress and was happy to see that it was working.
When I post something on Facebook, it gets read and quite often discussed. I regularly have parents of my students “liking” posts. It’s a great communication tool and I was happy to see it working so well.
Last week, something happened to derail the entire communication tool.
It started out simply enough. One student commented on a post and described something as “gay.”
I pointed out how that was inappropriate and not welcomed at all. This is what the student immediately responded with.
So I wrote back.
I thought that I had made point and that would be the end of it.
Of course, some people called him out for suggesting that I was a bully. He then started swearing at them further down in the comment thread, even after agreeing to watch what he posted.
And then it got really messy.
People chimed in who I didn’t even know. A grade six student from another school started ripping into me. He said all sorts of sexually explicit stuff that was really upsetting and definitely not something I wanted on my teaching page whatsoever.
I didn’t know the student who started to cyber-bully me either, which was really frustrating. A few of my students tried to get him to stop. More people I didn’t know started adding to the comment thread to say that kind of language was inappropriate as well.
Some people swore back and forth at each other and it looked like this just wasn’t going to end. I blocked the offensive account so he couldn’t post anything further but the damage had been done.
This happened during my “office hours” as well. It was 8:30 on a school night and students know that they can expect to find me online for half an hour at that time.
First thing in the morning, I told my principal about the whole affair. He suggested that I shut down the Facebook page, which I have since done.
The student who started the trouble with his negative use of the word “gay” and then continued to swear on the page lost computer privileges at school. The other Grade 6 student lost computer privileges at home (his aunt contacted me on Facebook prior to me shutting down the site)
I think this whole thing is just a shame. I lost a good communication tool between school and home because of one incident.
I wanted to use this as a teachable moment. I am sure many of these kids talk like this on a regular basis in the online world of Facebook. They need to know that this sort of thing is not okay.
I started a new teacher website using the school board’s platform. It doesn’t seem as intuitive and it’s a new tool students and parents are going to have to get used to using now. I hope it takes off. I hope it becomes as popular as my Facebook account was, but I have my doubts.
This whole thing was very upsetting.
Has anything like this every happened to you?
What tools do you use to communicate with parents and students?
I bought a book recently that I was planning on reading after I’d finished working my way through this graphic novel.
It’s Gareth Malone’s Choir and I was excited to learn more about what went into the television series “The Choir”
But I didn’t want to start this book until I finished this one that I was going to review for the blog.
It’s called Bully in the Mirror and from teenaged author Shanaya Fastje. I’m halfway through it now and hope to have it finished soon.
I”d also started this book over the Christmas Holidays . . .
But then I saw other books that I wanted to read and put it aside . . . just for a little while. I fully planned to get back to reading it. Honest!
Then last week when I was at the library, I picked up this title.
Tony Hawk is an amazing athlete and has managed to expand his empire to many other things. He’s done more for skateboarding than any other skater in history. So this book definitely called to me. I had to pick it up.
This book moved up to the “Read Next” position since I own Choir and could read it at my leisure. Library books need to be read within three weeks.
So with all of these books pretty much waiting for me, I had no plans to pick up another one when I was at the library this weekend.
But then this book called to me.
The title of it caught my attention right away. When I opened the front cover and read the summary, I knew I had to get this book.
It’s about a girl named Emily March who mysteriously gets transported into the classic Little Women novel. She’s a middle sister in her actual family and now the middle sister in this fictional one.
When I got home, I immediately began reading it and didn’t want to put it down.
This book is now on the top of my list. Hopefully I can whip through it quickly, and it looks like I can. After that, I’ll get back to tackling the rest of the books in this list.
Has a book ever called out to you and you just had to put everything aside to read it?
Please leave a comment below.
It’s Groundhog Day – the day where we trust a small rodent to forecast the weather for the next six weeks.
I wonder what Wiarton Willie will predict today.
If you ever wondered what this day is all about, this infographic is a great starting place.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Let’s jump back in time and look at what was happening right here on Silent Cacophony at this time last year.
or just these super-amazing ones.
Play and Learn With Lego – Lego is quite possibly the best toy ever created. It allows kids to be endlessly creative and it has some great educational value as well. I use it the classroom and move beyond simply having a free time bin.
Tracking a Mixset -If you make a DJ mix using your computer, it’s easy to divide up your wave or MP3 file into separate tracks so you can skip through songs at your leisure. Here’s an easy way to do it for free.
The Help: Excellent Movie – I love this movie. I even read the book after it watching it. It’s an amazing story.
Transformers Autographs – I love collecting autographs from comic book artists. Here are a few of my Transformer ones.
Their They`re There – The English language is a crazy entanglement of confusing rules and spelling patterns. That being said, I think we actually need all three versions of there. I get really upset when I see the wrong spelling being used.
The Internet is full of people using the incorrect form of “there, their, or they’re,” and it frustrates me to no end. That is why when I saw this image on Tumblr, I laughed out loud and knew I had to share it with you.
Valentine`s Day: DOPEfm Style – I made this mix of romantic hip-hop songs for the radio program last year. There are some classics on here as well as more modern ones that show respect and admiration for the loves in our lives. Stream this mix or download it for free.
4 Hip-Hop Memoirs Worth Reading – These were great books about some amazing hip-hop artists. Highly recommended!
Thanks for Chasing Content with me!
Remember we do this at the start of every month to highlight what was happening last year on the blog at this time. But you don`t have to wait, you can use the sidebar and search through my old posts any time by using the “Blog Archive.”
You can also check the Chasing Content Archive to find these “Best of” posts for every single month that I have blogged.
Thanks for reading!