Living through Literature

by Matthew Koslowski on October 7, 2009
in Essays

In This Essay

Don Juan DeMarco
Don Juan by George Gordon, Lord Byron
Mozart’s Don Giovanni by Sir Charles Mackerras and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

I first saw Mozart’s Don Giovanni while studying at an Italian language institute in Rome during the summer of 2004. That summer was my introduction to opera. I saw both Carmen and Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni stuck with me, however.

That first performance piqued my interest, both in opera and the Don Juan legend.

Since moving back to Massachusetts, though I am not sure what triggered it, I have become increasingly more interested in the Don Juan legend. I saw the opera again when the Boston Lyric Opera performed Don Giovanni last season. I purchased a recording of Mozart’s Don Giovanni by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and have listened to it almost to the exclusion of all else since I bought it. I have reread Molière’s Don Juan. I read Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell as well as Baudelaire’s. I reread most of the first Canto of Byron’s Don Juan, and despite my renewed interest found Byron’s poetry dry. Next I want to read Tirso de Molina’s El Burlador de Sevilla which is thought to be the first written version of the Don Juan legend.

While looking at the works of the Don Juan legend, I stumbled across Don Juan DeMarco. I was intrigued by the description on Wikipedia. I ordered it from the public library and watched it this weekend.

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Children Left Behind: Statistics and Abstractions

by Matthew Koslowski on September 23, 2009
in Essays

In This Essay

No Child Left Behind and the Spirit of Democratic Education”, Why School? by Mike Rose
Monday Metaphor: Growth, Learning with Impact by John Spencer
“Why Our Standards-Based Grading Sucks”, Learning with Impact by John Spencer
“MCAS scores fall shy of target”, Boston Globe, by James Vaznis
“Charter schools see more attrition”, Boston Globe by James Vaznis
“The next chapter on education reform”, Boston Globe by Gov. Deval Patrick
“Critical thinking? You need knowledge”, Boston Globe by Diane Ravitch
“These test-score jitters are a sign of high standards”, Boston Globe

Ideals and Realities

I had some great conversations about education and public policy with a friend. She would take the pragmatic side of the argument while I would take the idealistic side. While I would speak of sweeping visions of what education should be, she would want specific plans on implementation.

Our arguments usually ended with me saying that so much depended on implementation, that what I thought could really have a great impact, and her saying that no implementation would be perfect and I needed to get my head out of the clouds.

Implementing High Stakes Testing

Last week saw the publication of the test scores for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS. Part of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, this standardized test fulfills the requirements of No Child Left Behind.

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Are Students Sponges?

by Matthew Koslowski on September 2, 2009
in Anecdotes

When I told my co-worker, Bill, that I wanted to be a teacher, his memory of Mr. K– jumped to his mind. As I listened to him recall Mr. K–, I thought that I could be and hope to be Mr. K– for someone some day. I’ve at least got the right initial. I could see that this man had really moved him.

“I remember,” he said and his eyes lit up, “one history teacher that I had in high school, Mr. K–. He was like a father to me: I fixed him in my memory, the age he was when he was my teacher. I bawled when I learned that he died.”

What Bill said next stunned me.

“I’ll never forget what he said to us.” Bill paused and shook his head. He shifted in his seat and it I could see him calling up the way Mr. K– had carried himself. “Mr. K– looked at us and said, ‘You want to be sponges!’ he said, ‘You want to sit there, receive knowledge as if it were water, and wait for me to squeeze it out of you with some test! C’mon guys, you need to think for yourselves.’”

How relevant in our climate of high-stakes testing and teaching-to-the-test.

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