Bob Dylan: The Early Years

That’s Bob Dylan, c. 1963, playing the anthemic “Blowin’ in the Wind” on TV. He’s in full folksinger mode. Clearly.

Here’s a link to an NPR interview he did forty years later, when his memoir, Chronicles: Volume One came out. The first chapter of the book is excerpted there as well.

Lastly: here are a couple of links to Dylan’s web site, specifically to the lyrics for two of his albums:

Just click on the song titles to get to the lyrics.

Peruse all of that — the video, the NPR interview/excerpt, and the lyrics — and we’ll discuss it tomorrow. Next week, we’ll watch I’m Not There. I’d also like to bring Beyonce into the discussion as well, if only to sample a few songs/images from various stages of her career and compare it to the personas Dylan has adopted over the years.

Here’s our schedule for this week:

  • Monday: Independent work. Read/watch/listen to the Bob Dylan stuff.
  • Tuesday: We’ll listen to a little bit of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and then we’ll start watching Don’t Look Back.
  • Wednesday: Finish and discuss Don’t Look Back.
  • Thursday: I’ll give you your first Critical Response prompt, and Juniors can practice for their reading in the lecture hall.

The Key to the ASFA Curse?

As if on cue, an ASFA alum this morning (last night?) posted a link on Facebook referencing the NYT (aka: NY Times) article below. Said alum attached this one-line gloss: “Sort of the key to the ASFA curse.”

Dramatis Personae + Pull Quotes from the NYT Article

First let me give you a few important players from the piece:

All of these folks kind of gravitated toward each other because they are all interested in education and they all believe that there’s more to successful human development than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Broadly defined, they’re interested in the role of character/mind-set in contemporary teaching and learning.

Here’s an interesting pull quote:

Duckworth’s research convinced Levin and Randolph that they should try to foster self-control and grit in their students. Yet those didn’t seem like the only character strengths that mattered. The full list of 24 [character strengths and virtues in Peterson’s book], on the other hand, felt too unwieldy. So they asked Peterson if he could narrow the list down to a more manageable handful, and he identified a set of strengths that were, according to his research, especially likely to predict life satisfaction and high achievement. After a few small adjustments (Levin and Randolph opted to drop love in favor of curiosity), they settled on a final list: ZEST, GRIT, SELF-CONTROL, SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE, GRATITUDE, OPTIMISM and CURIOSITY.

(I added the caps and boldface for emphasis.)

And here’s another:

When I asked Randolph to explain just what he thought Riverdale students were missing out on, he told me the story of his own scholastic career. He did well in boarding school and was admitted to Harvard, but when he got to college, he felt lost, out of step with the power-tie careerism of the Reagan ’80s. After two years at Harvard, Randolph left for a year to work in a low-paying manual job, as a carpenter’s helper, trying to find himself. After college, he moved for a couple of years to Italy, where he worked odd jobs and studied opera. It was an uncertain and unsettled time in his life, filled with plenty of failed experiments and setbacks and struggles. Looking back on his life, though, Randolph says that the character strengths that enabled him to achieve the success that he has were not built in his years at Harvard or at the boarding schools he attended; they came out of those years of trial and error, of taking chances and living without a safety net. And it is precisely those kinds of experiences that he worries that his students aren’t having.

“The idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure,” Randolph explained. “And in most highly academic environments in the United States, no one fails anything.”

The ASFA Curse: What I Don’t Know

Let me go on record as saying A) I don’t know exactly what particular key this alum is focusing on here. This is a long article with a lot of complex interrelated assertions about teaching, learning, and the culture at large — it’s not simply about failure, nor is it solely about school or one particular kind of school. Then there’s also the fact that B) I can’t even say for sure what “the ASFA curse” is, though I guess I can put two and two together and surmise it has to do with the perception that a notable number of ASFA graduates hit a wall when they leave ASFA and don’t fulfill the promise they displayed when they were here.

What I Do Know + A Little More of What I Don’t Know

I do know this alum to be extremely intelligent, talented, observant, and insightful, and I’m pretty sure this alum had a successful college career. I don’t know as much about what this alum is up to these days or the extent to which this alum feels affected by said curse.

What I Want You (Us) to Do

I want you to read the article and then I want us to discuss it in the context of Howard Gardner’s ideas of Multiple Intelligences and the Five Minds for the Future, and in the context of Seth Godin’s ideas about teaching, learning, school, and obedience.

  • Here’s the link to the Gardner/Godin post from a week ago.

Some Key Questions

  • What is school supposed to do?
  • What is ASFA supposed to do?
  • What are you supposed to do? And why? And how?

Tuesday Is the Cultural Capital! — Howard Gardner, Seth Godin, and the Idea/Practice of Learning

This one’s a three-parter for you.

Part I


First off, watch the above little clip. (If you’ve got headphones, you can do it in class. If not, you can do it at home.) It’s a short interview with Howard Gardner, the Harvard psychology professor who pioneered the concept of “Multiple Intelligences.”

Here’s a link to an overview of the theory, but basically Gardner believes there are nine different kinds of intelligence, two of which — Linguistic and Logical-Mathematical — are privileged over the others in most conventional educational settings. Gardner believes that  — the 2/9ths-ness of it — is a pretty major shortcoming in the way we understand and approach teaching and learning.

In other words, according to Gardner, it’s not so much if you’re smart or not and whether there’s a single standardized test that can measure how smart you really are. It’s more about how you are smart and how the different ways of understanding the world interact and intersect, both within and between individuals.

Part II

Then, below, you’ll find a longer video of Gardner talking about a more recent concept he’s been working on: Five Minds for the Future. Here’s a complementary interview in which Gardner discusses the concept and its implications for teaching and learning. Both the interview and the talk are really interesting (to me, anyway).


Part III

And then there’s this:

Read these two blog posts, written by Seth Godin (someone I’ve mentioned in passing before), about what he thinks about teaching and learning:

We’ll talk about all of this next Tuesday (which, if you’re scoring at home, is one week from this very day.) I’d like for you to think about two larger questions as you watch and read and consider:

  • Where do you fit yourself in all this? (That is: what are your intelligences? Which “frame(s) of mind” are you drawn to? Are you better at obedience or self-control (or none of the above)?)
  • How do these ideas influence your approach to teaching and learning? (And/or if they don’t influence your approach to teaching/learning now, do you think they will in the future? How/why/why not?)

Tuesday Is the Cultural Capital! — The Clash

This is what is sometimes referred to as an “iconic image.” (It’s actually featured in the Birmingham Museum of Art’s “Who Shot Rock and Roll?” exhibit. That’s how come I know it’s an officially iconic image.)

You might ask: of whom is this an “iconic image?” First I would say: how come you’re talking funny like that? And then I would say: why, it’s The Clash, of course! Specifically bassist Paul Simonon. Smashing his, well, his bass guitar. On stage! Which is a very punk rock thing to do! And The Clash is/was (were?) arguably the quintessential punk band of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Thus, the equation looks something like this:

Quintessential punk band × bassist doing something quintessentially punk ÷ (nearby photographer + camera) = iconic image.

Today in 8th period, we’ll be watching a documentary about The Clash and about punk music and about how those things influenced and were influenced by their Cultural Moment. Then on Thursday the right honorable polymath, Mr. Slatton, will lead the lucky 8th-period-folk in a discussion of these and other related matters as he sees fit.

If you’re in the 9th period class, you’ll be lucky in a different way: you’ll get to see the actual photo above in the Who Shot Rock-and-Roll exhibit on Thursday afternoon! Just remember to bring your $8 admission for a ticket.

Good. times.


Regardless of whether you’re in the 8th period class or the 9th period one or neither one at all, here are a couple of items of interest to fill in some of the details re: The Clash.