Friday, February 22, 2013

Koyczan and the Pork Chops

Our school has a special memory of Shane Koyczan -- he came to D.P. Todd a couple of years ago in the wake of his performance at the 2010 Olympics opening ceremonies. He was funny, edgy, personable, and provocative. I loved that he gave us a raw outpouring of his art, from the stuff he was experimenting with to the finished work that he has published online. This was a great contrast to the slick productions and "heartstring" speeches we sometimes get for full-school performances. To each their own, but I found Koyczan and his unique slam-prose/poem style delightful because so many students were inspired to keep struggling through their creative writing process, keep struggling through their "being" and place in the school and world. Many students were affirmed in their belief that being different or original was something to celebrate, and that their unique qualities were something to develop, to get better at, not make slave to the ordinary. The personal appeal for me is not so much the style but the honed storytelling and Koyczan's focus on identity... both national/communal and individual/personal. This is a theme, or theme device, that I try to place at the core of curriculum and instructional design in Social Studies.

I am excited to see that Shane Koyczan has made a beautiful new piece called TO THIS DAY PROJECT. I found it difficult to watch -- so much to process, to weigh and judge. I'm not sure yet what I take from it, but it has stuck with me since I watched it last night and I'm thinking about the challenge embedded in the video-poem. Isn't that what at should do?  Great fit as an anti-bullying message and for use in a secondary Planning, Leadership, English, or Social Studies class:

or you can see the video with a bit of context:

I think the discussion questions will arise on their own... feel free to leave a comment about how this video went over with a class.  I'd like to think more about how bullying fits into the larger social justice contexts we wrestle with as teachers.  There are definitely some connections to be made between how kids are treated in school and the culture of narcissism, violence, and porn that lurks on the edge of the student experience at all times.

Another good video I watched recently that challenged my thinking and relates to the anti-bullying and diversity week at our school (Feb. 25 - Mar 1) was "50 Shades of Gay"