Saturday, April 25, 2015

, Which Makes Them Poetic

Yesterday Duff and I were returning from a party that turned out to be pretty boring. Most of the people there, in fact all of the ones we didn't know beforehand, were the weird kind of twenty-something hippyish/hipster/activist that seems to have become the new lifestyle du jour for people my age who interested in counter-culture ideas in any way.

These people kind of rubbed me the wrong way and seemed like they really sucked right off the bat, but it was more a result of me getting a general vibe from them than anything one thing they did in particular. Something that I pride myself on is my judge of character; I am very rarely wrong about the type of person someone is. I can give you loads of examples of me immediately disliking a person, but keeping it to myself until later being proven right.

Anyways, the people we were at this party with were the worst kind of "activists" in that they were trying to just accommodate everybody in the world, took the softest possible view on everything and reserved most of their ranting for when they were in a group such as the night before. I forget how, but the topic of recycling came up and everybody extolled the virtues of recycling. Nothing wrong with that! Nothing at all! Most people recycle and it is something that is generally good. Duff and our friend Dan made a "Recycling is dumb." joke in "bro-voice" and almost everyone in the room took it to be a real sentiment. Immediately everybody there was trying to come up with different ways that recycling is flawed and bad, despite saying how much they did it not a second before.

This example is small and petty, but I really wanted to show how quickly all of these people would flip-flop on an issue just to make sure they help the general opinion in a group of people they considered smart, to make sure they would be in the right.

Fuck that. Fuck saying things just to agree with people. Say things because you mean them, not because you know that other people will agree with you. Say things that you believe in, not things that others act like they do.

That last paragraph sounds so cliché and shitty it kills me, but it needs to be said, especially today.
Having just finished a semester of school that was entirely focused on critical theory, I've really come to realize how much a strong critical opinion matters.

This made me think of all the things I've written about music on this blog and strong or critical my opinion has been. I think not very, but I'm not going to go back through the entire thing to verify that. I plan to write a lot this summer, since I'll be by myself in Guelph and it will give me something to do that is not getting inside my own head while trying to finish my thesis, and strengthening and distinguishing my critical opinion musically will be my main goal during that time. I need to give myself a voice that will separate me from every other music blogger and something that will give the blog and an ethos.

While racking my mind for something I truly believe about music to base my opinion on, I, again, thought of a conversation I had with Duff yesterday (I guess we're the Shanley School, or something?) and how much I truly appreciate when a band has a central theme or idea and they stick to what they want to do and music they want to make and experiment just for the sake of making something new. This doesn't have to mean that every band should be a Brand New or a Ceremony, but that even if you're a dumb punk writing songs about doing cocaine and drinking beer, then take pride in that! Be the dumbest band you can!

Believe in your fucking band and believe in what you're fucking saying.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Nope, definitely not using a quote from Dead Poet's Society for this blog

I've always felt like I've been good at teaching.

I noticed in high school that I was really good at making and doing presentations. A humble brag here, but it just came naturally. I didn't work at it and I didn't think about it, it just sort of happened as soon as I got up to talk. This has been a skill that I've relied on heavily for my entire life.

When I had my first job, a swim instructor for the City of Toronto, I noticed that the kids I taught really took to me, because I'm a good teacher I guess? But when I really noticed that teaching was something I excelled at was when I started volunteering and work at Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. The kids went crazy for me the entire time I worked there.

I started TAing at the University of Guelph last year as part of my master's degree. I worried that the skills I developed while teaching 10-14 year-olds rudimentary art techniques wouldn't translate to smarter and sharper university, but that was all for naught, as I transitioned well and the kids really took me. I got to talk about things I loved and got to design my own class once a week and it was the best.

When you get really good at teaching you develop an interesting relationship with the students. As much as teaching them and giving them the tools to learn matters them, you start to develop an addiction to seeing them develop as students. The feeling of breaking through and helping a student work their way through something that they assumingly wouldn't have on their own gives you a tremendous amount of satisfaction because it lets you know that you are doing your job and doing it well.

I was really excited to teach tutorials for an art history survey class this year, but it turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought it would. Whereas in my last class the obstacle was teaching a group of people with no idea about contemporary art contemporary art.

You know how hard it is to teach people like that about Chris Burden? It's a little tough.

This time around, it was just the opposite. Instead of a room full of students who had no idea about contemporary art, I was teaching people that were totally tuned into it, but was stuck extolling the virtues of Renaissance painting to them. WOE IS ME, RIGHT?

Eventually, I think I started to get through to them, though it could be tough to see it in the class room sometimes.

I had my last tutorials of the year and for the foreseeable future yesterday and was completely taken aback by the reception I got from the kids in the last class. I don't want to post the quotes verbatim, because that would make this blog seem more masturbatory than it already is, but the stuff they said to me once the class ended really hit me right in the chest.

Experiences like this are why I know that I want to be a professor and nothing else. This is what I was meant to do.

To quote what I said to my classes yesterday, ":')". Good job this year guys.