I’m reading this book right now called “Everything Bad Is Good For You.” Unfortunately, it says nothing about a recent scientific discovery that a diet consisting primarily of chocolate cake, gin and tonics, and ice cream can actually contribute to weight loss and lower your risk of developing cancer, but it does raise some rather interesting points about popular culture, especially video games and television, and how, contrary to popular belief, it is actually making us smarter.
In one particular passage the author, Steve Johnson, refers to John Dewey’s idea that “Perhaps the greatest of all pedagogical fallacies is the notion that a person learns only that particular thing he is studying at the time. Collateral learning in the way of formation of enduring attitudes, of likes and dislikes, may be and often is much more important than the spelling lesson or lesson in geography or history that is learned. For these attitudes are fundamentally what count in the future.”
It is with Dewey in mind that I taught 80 (yes, 80), 14-year-olds (yes, self-conscious/awkward 14-year-olds) a lesson on the American cultural tradition of Halloween and subsequently introduced them to some pretty sweet moves from Thriller at school on Wednesday. It isn’t exactly that I wanted them to memorize the history of Halloween, nor that I expected them to develop the dancing skills of Michael Jackson himself, but I do hope they left with a greater appreciation and understanding of the Halloween holiday and the ability to understand the talent required to “walk like a Zombie.” At least they had fun, which I was able to judge by the cheers from the “audience” as the selected 20 students performed the dance at the end of the workshop (included in the group: three boys who actually volunteered to play the part of Jackson himself…hip thrusts, spins and all). It was one of the more rewarding days I’ve had at school. I’m really looking forward to further daily interaction with the students next term.
As for the rest of the week, it was post-exam activity week this week at school. This means the students have finished their exams for the term and came back to school this week to celebrate with various learning journeys or field trips and workshops (hence the Michael Jackson dance party). In addition to a tribute to the King of Pop himself, I also accompanied the students to Singapore Repertory Theatre’s production of “Lord of the Flies”, helped to monitor a spelling bee, played some general knowledge games, and went to the end of the year awards ceremony/play/dance performance.
The performing arts have been a predominant aspect of my week, as on Monday evening I attending “A Ballet Gala Evening with Paloma Herrera” at the Esplanade. The famous American Ballet Theatre dancer shared the stage with two dancers of the Tokyo Ballet, two from the Staatsballett Berlin, a principal dancer from the New York City Ballet, two dancers from the San Francisco Ballet, and (my favorite part) Sascha Radetsky of American Ballet Theatre and also the star of the movie “Center Stage.”
It was a truly magical evening, as going to the ballet always is for me; finding myself caught up in the whirl of the movement but unblinkingly still, holding my breath while at the same time pacing my breathing with the dancers themselves, feeling every emotion so acutely yet feeling nothing at all. I’m always exhausted after a ballet performance, as if I’ve actually been the one on stage performing Sleeping Beauty Act III Pas de Duex, the White Swan Pas de Deux, or Raymonda Act III Solo, though I’ve done nothing at all. Mentally, physically, emotionally it captivates me. Nothing is comparable. I would try to describe it like this: It’s like one of those rare, intense, amazing workouts at the gym when you catch a runner’s high and just can’t stop. The endorphins come in such large, powerful quantities that before it’s even over you’re already planning the next time, because you know the feeling will inevitably end and you just can’t wait until it happens again.
Thus, it is still in this exhausted state that I find myself Tuesday evening, eating hummus, couscous, and falafel on the floor in an Arab street restaurant with most of the other PiAers, Leslie, and, PiA’s director, Anastasia, who happened to drop-in for a visit. Despite being tired, and maybe because the beer tower (yes, it is as sweet as it sounds) was constantly being refilled, I truly enjoyed catching up with everyone, learning about some of the “first week horror stories” that are still happening in the sixth week, and also, happily reliving some of the amazing memories we’ve already made. I mean, there isn’t really a better way to spend time when you’re tired than sprawled out on pillows colored in rich maroon and gold, sharing food, stories, advice, and the bottomless beer tower with your friends who are practically family in Singapore.
The rest of the week flew by in a sort-of whirlwind of post-exam activities, grocery shopping, planning a future trip to Cambodia, and, of course, preparing the all-important Halloween costume for the weekend. For now, Stephanie and I have a brilliant, but secret, idea that will be revealed in full tomorrow at our Halloween party and subsequently in pictures on this blog. Hint: It is the symbol of Singapore and hilarious.
Besides the Halloween extravaganza that will certainly ensue tomorrow evening, the weekend plans include a co-workers birthday party tonight, which I am really looking forward to as I am always thrilled for the opportunity to get to know my co-workers outside of the cubical-and-business-pants setting in which I typically interact with them. Also on the agenda: Saturday morning dance class, a Spinning event for the Breast Cancer Foundation in the afternoon, a costume party/club-filled evening, and a double-feature movie day with Jenny on Sunday (showing: “My Sister’s Keeper” and “Love Happens”).
Off to slather on a face mask and bask in the warm, glowing happiness of Friday afternoon.
TIA, Cheers and Happy Halloween!