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Ceci n’est pas un blog post! March 23, 2006

Posted by nebulon in Uncategorized.
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I fell in love with this piece when I first saw it in an art book at my uncle Jean Marie’s house. I must have been10 or 11. The unavoidable cognitive tension it produced sent me into a fit of giggles. I certainly wasn’t able to put it into words at the time, but it was as clear then as it is now. The painting invites us, quite abruptly, to deal with our perception of reality, the “genuineness” of it, the hierarchy of it. Which is more real? The painting? The meaning of the words? Or is it the idea of “pipe” in our minds? We are, most of us, predisposed to a certain arrogance concerning the real. This painting does what LSD should do, except better. It’s subtle and doesn’t leave that horrible metallic after-taste in your mouth while you grind your teeth for hours.
I am not at all sure what made me think of this tonight as I was getting ready to comment
on Mark’s last post and further developments on my side of things. Yes, I care about my work, which is something I didn’t do for many years. I feel like I’ve got some catch-up to do which explains why sometimes I do things with a certain…fever. A fever which is rarely shared by my co-workers. I try to put myself in their shoes, but they never quite fit.
Last week, the other teacher who has some CALL classes (I am the coordinator for this department) came up with a good assignment for 2nd year students: A PowerPoint presentation on one or more environmental issues. This will be the 2nd PowerPoint presentation this year. I immediately thought it would be an even better idea if the presentation by the students is done during one of their ESL classes.
The students use up precious CALL class time over the next 3 weeks–which is only 1 class a week–to get it all done, then use up 2 of the 6 weekly ESL hours some time in the future to do it in the swank audiovisual room, with a big screen,mike and dim lights. All the ESL teacher has to do is sit there and give them a grade. They can use it as their oral grade, which counts for 10% of some portion of their final grade (for a class whose grades everyone knows are meaningless, but my CALL class grades are even more meaningless…) This way, the kids will be motivated 10% instead of their usual 5%, and the teachers wont have to do those meaningless passage readings masquerading as an oral test.
Well, the grumbling that ensued. Even the teacher who thought up the assignment grumbled, thinking she would get “stuck” having to help the other teachers set up in the audiovisual room. But, to give her credit, she did come round and help me “sell” the idea at our weekly staff meeting. So, as you can see, I am far from reaching my goal of implementing anything, except, it would seem, a hot poker up my co-workers’ pipe.
Just like in the painting.

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