Monday, May 11, 2020

Social Studies

I've been teaching The 6 year old social studies, homeschooling in this covidious time.

Yesterday's lesson: The Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi) is third in line of succession.

Today's lesson: Martin Luther King, Jr's I have a dream speech


I. Civics

What? I can only talk about MLK for one day in January and during Black History month? It's ancient history is it? He fought for freedom and all he got was one lousy holiday - post-mortem (a holiday that many corporations, and certain states, ignore). I beg to differ, it's a living history. Billie Holiday's rendition of Strange Fruit speaks to all of us doesn't it?

I've got the homemade mask The Wife sewed at the ready and I'm about to go jogging.

Jogging in my backyard, that is.

America's social studies syllabus teaches some of us mandatory lessons in civility. There's a harsh grading curve I should note. You've got to study hard to pass those classes. The teachers can be so arbitrary sometimes, no matter how well prepared you are.

Remember also, these lessons are optional for a chosen crew, they get to study that other lesson plan, that one that is sometimes called privilege by some naysayers - they're an argumentative lot, son, you can safely ignore them. Always ignore the naysayers, everyone starts on the same starting line in the United States.

Right, we'll be skipping the section on privilege today. You can't get too uppity. Move on okay.

II. Identity

Coming from a shame society, it's hard to watch bad behavior tolerated with benign neglect, or even rewarded.

I know my place in America (at the intersection of Tenuous St and Hired Immigrant Worker Alley) and accordingly keep a low profile.

Also civility.

Strange Days and Trend-surfing Alacrity

You know, kids, you can aspire to be essential workers in this country or even to be President. As you know, my dears, any old idiot can become President in America (some examples? Okay, here's a meditation on knowledge and ignorance On George W. Bush - it's easy reading, and, well, The Donald is a singularity, you were making jokes about him in the playgrounds even in kindergarten, nuff said).

In short, my children, the sky's the limit for you.

III. Civility

You are truly your father's son
You never, ever, jump the gun
"Remember: anger and the African man."
Pragmatism born of painful experience

There's even continuing historical evidence
That lesson of the United States of America
Always defuse tense moods with quiet laughter
And, above all, maintain that calm, level-headed posture

Still, it's really a curious situation
How one responds to real, and potential, provocation
The option is denied of righteous indignation
The fallback civility, a source of frustration.

Your tribe's peculiar daily dilemma:
Better neutered than six feet under.
Or, perhaps, with a little less drama,
In the twilight of this, the age of Obama:
The poorhouse, or staring at ceilinged glass.

Trouble Ticket

Remember, Paul Simon's Graceland? It was one of your favourite albums. It speaks to an idyllic place and moment. Recall what he sang, there are no glass ceilings under African skies.

You're getting an education in the school of hard knocks.

IV. Social Sciences

At some point in our curriculum, we have to bring in other facets of education, and in this pandemic, we are all learning about epidemiology, probability and all manner of faulty biology. Don't drink the disenfectant of those false idols; risk assessment and statistical thinking are essential skills. Let me give you some suggested reading to point you in the right direction. It's really all about The Mosquito Principle. Oh, you're in a hurry? Yes I know it's almost recess, and the backyard beckons - but desperate people are hawking gold nuggets on the front yard these days. Your uncles and aunts are working in the emergency room front lines some without adequate PPE (that's Personal Protective Equipment, this country doesn't make enough). Let's stay in the backyard today, we can always look at the front door, you can't be too careful.

Okay, I'll give you a soundbite, in advertising you have to cater to short attention spans, in venture capital, and book publishing they call it, the elevator pitch. You can't be long winded, Get to the point okay:

Mosquitos don't discriminate.

Some call it globalization; I know it as The Mosquito Principle.

The kindly Doctor Fauci said apropos the current pandemic that "the virus sets the timeline" - that was before he had to go into self isolation but it is timeless advice.

Learn from your ancestors, young man:

Today we have a band of leaders, some of them so anxious to strain for the big buildings, big cars and motor cycles and destructive weapons that they have forgotten that the one important contribution that the African can make to the world is to keep reminding everyone that it is out of sympathy and the love for one another that we can build eventually what is valuable and peaceful.

The Prospects For Democracy In Africa by Kofi Abrefa Busia
A wise man's song was my soul inspiration, he sang about a way of life in the same vein:
Takes behavior to get along.
Lots of behavior to get along.
Do you know Social Living is the best.

V. Creative Arts

We'll study music tomorrow, son. Was thinking about starting with Tomorrow from Annie (I love that musical, I saw it on the stage in London you know, it was a better version than the movie or the later remake, remember we saw that one in the park before coronavirus time).

"Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow, you're only a day away."

Social Studies a playlist

A soundtrack for this note (spotify version)

Previously: Social Living, a playlist

I hope you're enjoying these enrichment lessons from the home school of hard knocks

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