Friday, March 26, 2010

a bank street girl at heart

"Explain how the curriculum is aligned with Maryland Content Standards and the voluntary state curriculum."

Hermanadad / Brotherhood

Soy hombre: duro poco
y es enorme la noche.
Pero miro hacia arriba:
las estrellas escriben.
Sin entender comprendo:
tambien soy escritura
y en este mismo instante
alguien me deletrea.

~Octavio Paz

I am a man; little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.

~Octavio Paz / translated by Eliot Weinberger

"Most of what we learn--about ourselves, about the physical world and about our place in it--we learn through our relationships with or in the company of other people. At GGPCS social studies holds a special place in the curriculum, because its focus on people and their relationships with each other and the environment mirrors children's learning through their interaction with people in the environment...."

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is at The Drift Record with Julie Larios.

Friday, March 19, 2010

all that we remember

Happy Poetry Friday: share the love at Some Novel Ideas, a middle-school focused blog that I'm happy to discover.

Since my last post I've participated to my great benefit in two poetry stretches and the public charter school application has passed the Technical Review--and of course, while the district was doing their checkthrough to see if anything was missing, so were we. I-yi-yi we found some glaring omissions! So yesterday I stood in the Asst. Superintendent's office with one of the stalwarts of the project and replaced or added to 20 binders eight pieces that had gone wrong somehow, and crossed out a really important "not" on every page 95.

More interesting for you all in the Poetry Friday audience is page 29. Here is where I included the following perfect poem by Countee Cullen, a move which many considered too risky for a charter school supplication (which may be a better word than application, since if approved we would be the first public charter school in our district ever).


Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue and called me, "Nigger."

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.

~Countee Cullen

This poem leads the section about how, in addition to "what children know and can do," our schools must address what children feel, value and demonstrate as attitudes towards each other and the planet. This, to me, is what reading is for (among a few other important things), and what poetry is particular is useful for crystallizing.

"But, the word "nigger"?!" some said.
I said, "That's precisely the point."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

signed, sealed, delivered

On Monday morning my partner-in-charter Janet and I drove to the Central Office to deliver 15 binders, each full of 350 pages of public charter school application. It was finally completed at 11:30 the night before with the substantial participation of about 40 teachers, parents and general citizens and included 100 pages of public support letters and petition signatures. Working on this project was an exhilarating experience of grass-roots collaboration, and yet what also kept me going as the lead writer on the project (I came as close as I ever will to "pulling an all-nighter") was working some carefully selected poetry into the Academic Design section.

Here are the first two: an epigraphical gem that opens the whole application, and a really fine, serendipitous summary of what it is we want children to learn at our school--a poem from Marilyn Singer's Footprints on the Roof.

Lyric from Ancient Arabia

Our children
are our hearts
developing feet
and walking.

~Hattan Ibu Al Mu'alla

(incorrect formatting; I still haven't learned to make blogger obey my indents)

Ask me where is home
and I will tell you
a house
a street
a neighborhood
a town
Someplace safe and solid
where I eat
I run
I sing
I nap
Someplace I can pinpoint
on a map
But what if I were an astronaut
with the world dangling below me
like a yo-yo from a giant's hand
and home was the whole planet?
Would I be wise enough to understand
the worth
of my new address: Earth

~ Marilyn Singer