So does anyone give a shit?

Rusty volunteered to take our granddaughter Sara from Mom’s to Dad’s, via McDonalds, and asked me if I wanted to come along. I hadn’t seen her without her braces; hadn’t seen much of her at all, really, since she became 13 and too cool. So we got fed (No more Asian salad!! So I do the fish deal, on a feast day…does that count against the meat I eat on Friday?)  and I was trying to make small talk:
“Doing anything musical?”
“Just chorus.”
“Singing anything interesting?”
“No.” [pause]. “We ‘re singing [List of 2nd rate pop tunes].”
“Wow, you’re right, you aren’t singing anything interesting. Are you reading Harlequin romances in English Lit?”
It takes her a minute to understand what I’m asking. “No”
“Then why do they teach that material in chorus?”
“History is worse. Mr. X never teaches anything; he just has us copy timelines and notes. And he has the answers on the board during the tests.”

And thus goes education in the hometown of President McKinley. I can excuse incompetence; I can’t excuse not caring. This is the sort of thing that gives educators a bad name. There are effective and ineffective ways of teaching, so pedagogy courses aren’t a complete waste of time. But when nobody seems interested in applying what they’ve learned, one is tempted to conclude that it’s just another organized-labor trick to restrict access to the trade.

Afterwards, we check out Severstal (the Mill Formerly Known as WCI, where Rusty used to work). Not a sign of life in the place, except for a few cars around the blast furnace. Hank Rearden probably isn’t in there.

Earlier, after church, I’d stopped at City View, the foreclosed mall. Out at the end were several uncompleted buildings, and then a blocked off road to nowhere, going up a hill. One of the abandoned stores was becoming a dollar store. That’s better than at Randall Park, where there’s a flea market, and “Church ‘n the mall” in the old Lerner’s.

There are bits of hope though, always. A solid 4 story brick building in Warren, which Rusty had had fantasies of renovating, has been bought and is being renovated. Steelyard Commons in downtown Cleveland seems to be doing fine. I was there after church at the Wal-mart, to buy a new coffeepot and some vise-grips (to be stamped with my initials so my wife won’t disappear them). They’re downhill from the barrio, so they stock certain sorts of prepackaged meat for the Hispanic trade (tripe etc.) . I bought 4 lbs of beef heart at $.86/lb, which will make a dandy stew tomorrow.

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4 Responses to So does anyone give a shit?

  1. kishnevi says:

    I wouldn’t be so hard on them about the music. Just getting them interested in music and the fundamentals of reading music may be more than enough at that age.
    Also remember that a chorus director for that age group has to contend with the fact that an certain number of his sopranos and altos will, over the course of the year, turn into baritones and tenors almost overnight.
    (BTW, I was once told that boys who are soprano voices always become basses and baritones, while boys with alto voices will always become tenors. Do you know if that is really true? Certainly was true in my case.)

    The history teacher, however, is inexcusable. But I bet he’s “teaching to the test”. I presume Ohio has some version of what we call the FCATs here in Florida–tests which the individual student must pass in certain grades to be able to advance to the next grade, and which give a cumulative grade for the school–so the school has a direct incentive to get the students to do well on the test, which is done by teaching only what the test questions and pretending everything else doesn’t matter. And since Florida had it before Bush and his No Child Gets Ahead Act, can’t even blame Dubya, or even Jeb!, if I remember the dates correctly.

  2. jeffreyquick says:

    Sara isn’t a classical head. This strategy should work for her. But it obviously doesn’t. I didn’t ask her (and should have) “what they’re learning”. But pop music is not generally transmitted through literacy. I’ll bet they aren’t actually learning anything, they’re “singing songs” as a bonding experience, as opposed to getting some elementary vocal chops, musical literacy, and learning the highlights of Western music (not all of which are “classical”… the great folks songs have their place too.)…which do not include Kelly Clarkson tunes.

    I never heard of your rule. It seems like “late changers” more often become tenors though (that’s anecdotal).

    BTW, this morning I not only joined the Clean Asshole Club but, better, the Healthy Asshole Club too!

  3. kishnevi says:

    Congratulations on the health. Of course, they’ll be hitting you up for another one according to whatever schedule is in use.

    I was, by the way, an early changer. Also the first one in my grade level to have enough of a beard to make it worthwhile to actually shave. Which is actually earlier than it sounds, since I was younger by almost a year than anyone else in my grade level. And I’m a baritone, so I’m not the exception that probes either “rule”. (Did you know that’s the original form of the saying, btw?)

  4. jeffreyquick says:

    I’d heard that the confusion came from an Elizabethan use of “prove” to mean “test”. Certainly, the usual way it’s stated doesn’t make any sense at all.

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