Yesterday I visited a school here in Santiago de Cali that is about 50 years old. My first session was with 16 and 17 year olds. Mornings are usually a rough start for performers at most schools and I’m no exception. The first group, early in the morning is often still feeling the effects of “sleepy-head.” The juniors and seniors were great. They bought in early and stayed with me throughout the entire session. I’ve chosen to go a different route than I had planned initially when thinking of visiting Colombia.
Initially I had planned on simply entertaining with stories, a little music and giving students here in Colombia an overview of what I do. After encountering the first few upper grade classes a few weeks ago, I decided to alter my approach. I found the youth, not only engaging, but extremely perceptive as well. I chose to blend an informative presentation about the depth of storytelling with a few interactive, entertaining tales.
I know when my audience is grasping the meaning of what I am attempting to convey. It is one of the underused principles of antiphony (call/response). Artists typically use antiphony as a tool for engaging. That is only one level of the it, another involves measuring the responses of your listeners. There are a ton of measurement tools I employ when performing but I think I’m digressing into workshop mode here. I apologize.
Anyway, I was able to delve into some very abstract concepts such as subliminal influence and targeted marketing. The response of the teens has been overwhelming. Not only are they able to assimilate the information, but they are contributing to the conversation as well. I am actually having meaningful dialogue with teens (something a number of highly-influential academics had deemed impossible). I love doing the impossible.
Oh, an aside…. Do you know that every school I have visited has its meals prepared onsite? The cooks are actually cooking. I know this might sound trivial to most of you but if you’ve visited many schools in the U.S. then you know why I’m bringing this issue up. I don’t want anyone to think that we don’t have schools in the U.S. that prepare wonderful meals, that is not what I’m saying. Let me give you an example. I sat down at a table of the one of the schools and the headmaster’s wife came over and asked me if I was enjoying the food. It turned out that she and the children of the school maintain an actually garden on the campus. This is where the vegetables on my plate came from. She was proud to tell me that “no” pesticides were used. I found out that this practice is common in a number of schools here in Colombia.
Can you imagine if our children had to maintain gardens on their campuses? Wow! Just a thought but what educational value could digging one’s hands into the soil, measuring sun/water consumption, etc.? Hmmmm… just a thought.
I know I’m all over the place here but I thought I should write something. I didn’t want to get anymore emails asking, “Hey what’s going on, why haven’t you written anything in 2 days?”
Well, I’ve got a school to get to in about an hour. Our host has invited us to dinner this evening and I am really looking forward to it.
Oh! One more thing! I just remembered something. I keep having these amazing conversations with educators here. I should be blogging more about those interactions but there is so much going on that there are obviously going to be things I miss. Here’s an example: A week ago I met a colleague of Howard Gardner’s who sat in on my session with a group of teens and critiqued my presentation. It was awesome. Yesterday I conversed extensively with a teacher who has interests in Rudolph Steiner’s theories on education. Who knew? I come to Colombia and am inundated to wonderful, meaningful exchanges that feed me on so many levels.
I know, I know… all over the map I am but this is a blog not a dissertation. Right?