Saturday, March 28, 2015
Atwell says she wouldn't recommend teaching as a career to young people, that the CCSS and emphasis on standardized testing as turned teaching into a robotic scripted exercise antithetical to good reading and writing instruction.
I understand Atwell's comment. On the one hand, teachers want excellent young peoe to enter the profession. On the other hand, the art and craft if teaching has been hijacked by test prep and the so-called accountability movement. Why would we wish that on our best and brightest.
More about that later.
For now, we've arrived in Rome, Italy. Yesterday we went to the beach in Barcelona and learned more about the market as part of a cooking class. The kids now know how to make Risotto. The main ingredient is love and a feel for the fool.
Friday, March 27, 2015
We spent the day shopping in Barcelona and touring the city.
My shopping adventure included impeccable customer service from a sales associate who literally sprinted to find a pair of shoes for me. Our communication was hindered only a little by my broken Spanish but not so much that I couldn't get a selfie. Regrettably, I forgot to ask her name.
On our afternoon bus tour, we visited two "unfinished masterpieces, the Cathedral de Familia and a park (can't recall the name but will tag it later). We also learned about Barcelona hosting the '82 Olympics and more about Antonio Gaudie, the famous modernist architect.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Along route, we saw a glimpse of the Pyrenees, rolling countryside, vinyards ready to bloom, and the seedy underbelly of Europe, a reminder that the Euro is at a near all-time low as Spain continues to suffer from the global financial crisis.
Our ever-informative guide reminded us that not so long ago Spain was under the rule of a dictator, General Franco and that the Catalonia region of Spain still seeks its independence.
Barcelona is a beautiful city with streets lined with Neolithic architecture, open-air markets, and flower stands.
A view of the city from our hotel:
Scene in the market:
The Gaudie House:
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Extremes and binaries. These two words embody my thoughts about today's visits to the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Catacombs.
I've long been fascinated by the Treaty of Versailles and the concessions France demanded and received as WWI ended. Today, however, focused on Versailles as the seat of France's government beginning w/ Louis XIV. His decision to relocate the center of government strikes me as similar to Czar Nicholas retreat to his summer palace, where he, as well as Louis XVI lived in opulence.
If the Palace of Versailles represents ostentatiousness, the Paris Catacombs is more reverent and humble in tone. It's not eerie. The catacombs suggest reverence for life, a spirituality of respect that grew out of the Romantic movement. Throughout the catacombs are placards of poetry. Since I dong speak French, I'll get them translated later.
The Catacombs are over a mile long and took over 20 years to relocate the bodies from graveyards to the Catacombs. Initially the bones were just stacked, reflecting the neoclassic belief that the spirit found another resting ace after death. Only after the Romantic movement w/ its emphasis on man's relationship to nature were the bodies treated in a more respectful manner.
Joining us on a city tour of Paris, Valerie repeatedly emphasized iconic moments in France's history and the over through of the monarchy by talking about the French constitution, the storming of the Bastille, and the power of common folks in a democratic government.
We visited Fragard Perfume factory and learned how the French revolutionized the fragrance industry.
In the Artist district, a different revolution took place as Paris gave birth to French Impressionism. Artist still work there today.
Our day ended w/ a trip up the Eifel Tower and a boat cruise along the Seine. Both the tower and the iconic bridges down the Seine remind us that revolutions in architecture also have a lasting impact on our lives.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Today's SOL begins in England and ends in France.
"It's not every day you get to wake up in England and go to sleep in France." Our guide Nucki's sage comment motivated 45 teens and adults to rise up and load the coach at 5:45 am for our Eurostar train ride through the Chunnel, for what was the best international point to point trip I've taken, excluding cruises.
Today we visited the Roman Baths in Bath. I'll never teach "The Wife of Bath's Tale" the same way again. I wander what the Wife would say about the Roman bath houses. We owe our roads, sewer systems, government, and so much more to the ancient Romans.
Visiting Stonehenge was a spiritual experience. From every angle the stones offer a unique point of view. They make me think about how amazing and unique each student is and how we all see things just a little differently.