26 May 2010

Final bell (and other shorts)

Spring cleaning with students

Presentation of awards

Every Little Step: last film of the year
for the third year class

Last chance for glory

Tomorrow (Friday) we'll gather for this year's Final Bell--the assembly marking the end of the school year (except for exams!), the presentation of awards, and a farewell to the graduating students. I have mixed feelings about the school year ending. During the summer months, we will try to spend more time outside Elektrostal, and especially to see some of the historic areas in the Moscow region. For the next month, we'll also be spending a lot of time taking an English teachers' course. And I want to move forward with some of my curriculum-writing ideas.

But life just isn't the same without students! In our final classes, we're going to discuss strategies for keeping English alive during the long summer vacation. Maybe I'll do a newsletter or blog just for the students. [I did!] We'll see what social events might be possible--I know that at least one musical group composed of students is planning to make their public debut in a couple of weeks; I hope to be there to cheer them on.

The hardest part will be saying goodbye to the graduating fifth-year students, some of whom I've known since their first year. Last summer I had to be in Oregon at the time of the Final Bell; this year, at least I can say goodbye in person.

Not all of my classroom ideas turn out to be perfect. Occasionally I show films, and of course I want those films to be educational, not just entertaining. But as much as I personally loved The Fog of War, for example, I'm not sure that the students caught my enthusiasm for the film and its excellent English! (The fact that I worked half an hour to get the external subtitles to work with the DVD may have cooled their eagerness, too.) But I think I more than made up for it with Every Little Step, a fantastic documentary about the origins of the Broadway show A Chorus Line, and the process of recruiting and rehearsing a whole new cast for its revival in 2006. We'll see the second half of the film tomorrow.

Inevitably, I'm thinking about the passage of time. As I get older, two opposite things happen: I know more and more people, and I knew fewer and fewer people. I get a lot of comfort from both! The longer I live, the more interesting people I come to know--and it is simply wonderful how we can be helpful to each other across oceans and borders and languages. I get a secret thrill when I can connect two people to each other, knowing that each will gladly give something that the other needs, and I had the honor of making the introduction!! This I could rarely do a quarter century ago.

On the other hand, as I survey the world of Quaker activism (among evangelicals, liberals, everywhere), there are so many names I don't recognize! Some of them are young enough to be my children!! And many of them are saying excellent things, giving every evidence that their contribution to the world of Friends, and the vital cross-fertilization of evangelism and social justice, will be marvelous.

I also think about people who are no longer with us. The Internet has completely changed our expectations about access to information--but not all information becomes automatically accessible. I've become accustomed to being able to supplement a letter about some subject with hyperlinks to more information, but, honestly, when Gordon Browne died, it was a shock to find how little there was online to link to, in comparison to the floods of data available about people alive today who are unlikely to do 10% of what Gordon did for the world. Maybe it's time to revive and enhance the old Quaker tradition of the memorial minute, with encouragement to make them available online somehow.

Just to name one example: I really miss Howard Segars of Beacon Hill Meeting, and I wish there were more about him online. [UPDATE, ten years later: Here's Howard's memorial minute.]

Final bell for "hello, I'm a Mac" and "I'm a PC." (Compilation here -- and cued to start at my favorite ad.)

Young Adult Friends gather in Wichita, Kansas, USA.

"If someone asked you to define the Gospel concisely, what would you say?" (Also see Scott McKnight's "Viral Gospel.")

"I want justice, I want fairness, that's all I want."

"I am the only Quaker I know who talks about a return of the military draft in a positive way."

Ask the U.S. Congress to give the Red Cross access to detainees.

The new Linux Mint 9: a review and responses. My main reaction--everything seems faster.

Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks visit KGON in Portland, Oregon. [Video deleted from Youtube; I substituted the following video from a more recent Tedeschi Trucks visit to Portland.]

1 comment:

Jeremy Mott said...

Hello Johan, J.E.McNeil did a fine obituary for Gordon Browne in her
blog on the website of Center on Conscience & War. There is an obit in Friends Journal for June.
Since he was a member of
New England Y.M., I'm sure that
the yearly meeting will do a memorial minute for him. I imagine
that the yearly meeting minutes will be published on the web, as
most yearly meetings do that now.
He was a very fine Friend
indeed. He introduced many new
Friends to our Society, though
he was a new Friend himself.
We need someone else like him.
Peace, Jeremy Mott