kitchen table


straddling adulthood, or something like that
August 30, 2006, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Darn Kids, Growing Up

This morning before work I took my brother out to coffee. Well, he got some ridiculous strawberry-shake drink and I got tea so coffee in the atmospheric sense, not the literal. We had a bit of banter about the worth of classical music: he took the “it’s outdated” argument while I insisted that respect for the likes of Beethoven and Mozart was essential for a musician. It is a clear example of my getting older, of gaining significant distance from the youthful inclination to dismiss the accomplishments of those that came before. But it’s also evidence of a trait I’m not eager to embrace: the inclination to argue on behalf of people for whom or ideals for which I don’t really care about just for the sake of pointing out to a young person what they should respect, what they should know.

I like to think that I redeemed myself somehow though as I spent the rest of the conversation, and the ride to drop him off at home, asking him what he thought made a good teacher. Picking his brain, I was reminded that if I want to know what makes a great teacher and if I want to be one, I need to listen to some of their greatest fans and critics: their 15 year old students. At times it’s hard to get my brother to talk about anything passionately besides his music but when I asked him that simple question–what do you think makes a good teacher?–he was practically tripping over his words, they were coming out so fast.

This straddling of adulthood and youngin’-life is a funny thing. In any given day I feel hypocritical, responsible, wise, and compromised. Or contradictory, sold-out, and doing-the-best-I-can. Just the other day I read through my journals from the first couple years of college and I hardly recognized the girl who must have held the pen, the girl who must have written the words. And again I felt those mixed emotions: embarrassed by her ignorance and yet moved–inspired–by her innocence.

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2 Comments so far
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My God, I am going to relate something Tori Amos at you that your post reminded me of. She was talking about her time at Peabody, if I remember correctly, and how she was supposed to be learning about the masters of music and how it was basically impossible to have that kind of respect at such a young age and how she eventually grew into it. Which I thought was interesting because… you’d think that kind of thing would occur to Peabody and that they’d first be trying to open an appreciation to music to their younger students anyway they can so that they can respect and understand the contribution made by composers like Beethoven and Mozart. It also reminds me of Laurie Halse Anderson encouraging schools to get rid fo the classics and give kids literature they can connect to so they can discover the classics. I find it really interesting.

And again I felt those mixed emotions: embarrassed by her ignorance and yet moved–inspired–by her innocence.

I think that’s wonderful. I’m still waiting to move beyond the embarrassment part.

Comment by Courtney

I need to reread that Anderson essay, it’s such a great point. It directly affected the way I nagged my brother about his own reading (I tried constantly to get him away from war/Vietnam fiction but that’s what he liked to read). Perhaps I should apply it to my nagging about his music tastes…

Comment by whitney




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