I made another covers video for my YouTube channel. This time, John Hartford's "Gentle on my Mind."
"Gentle on my Mind" is simply one of the finest songs ever written. It's sentimental and chock-full of imagery. I think I've always loved it, always known it, that it was part of the ether growing up.
It surprises me sometimes how much songs like this fade from mind from pop culture, how something that seemed ubiquitous can become somewhat ephemeral. But the song's still out there, getting covered now and then by the likes of R.E.M. and Alison Krauss.
My uncle, Monte, wrote a comment on the bottom of the YouTube video:
There’s a personal connection to this particular song. My late aunt Lil, was John Hartford’s book keeper, when she & Uncle Evert lived in Sherman Oaks. John continued to send her Xmas cards yearly, after they retired to Redding [California].
So there's a weird little family connection to the song too, which I wouldnt've known if not for posting this video. Neat.
I know that things are rough on the other side of the border, and that we've been dealing with a pandemic, but I don't really have anything to add to the conversation there. Although I listen to the news constantly and it fills me with both trepidation and anger, I have nothing to say about it. I hope for some meaningful peace on American streets soon.
I've been working from home for the last month. I've found it difficult; sometimes I feel like I'm floundering. The things that make teaching worthwhile—joking with students, a-ha moments, problem solving—just don't come off the same through a computer screen. Some of my students have produced some really excellent work in this quarantine; still, it's tough to internalize it when mediated through a screen.
This may be the way of the future in education, but it seems inefficient. Education is already an inherently inefficient system—packing a bunch of kids into rooms isn't exactly practical—but keeping everyone behind a screen, well, it just doesn't seem to work as well. It feels less like I'm teaching the content, more like I'm teaching the platform. I find this uncomfortable because it muddies the waters between content and training. I know we all need to be confident when we move from platform to platform, but it also seems a little hard on the brain, which seems to tire as it bounces between platforms, sorta' like flipping channels too quickly on a television set.
I'd like to believe that, if we'd started the year with the assumption that online education would be the norm, we'd do better. Our school is already accustomed to Google Classroom for the students, which is acceptable, but limited. As soon as the pandemic hit, we had to lean far too heavily on Google Classroom. Albeit robust, it's also a limited mode. Perhaps more importantly, it makes me an agent of Google's advertising: I, the teacher, use Google Classroom, and thereby suggest that Google/Alphabet, the corporation, is good. When activities cannot be easily created and submitted through Google Classroom, students get discouraged, and this discouragement reinforces that Google is good; they feel that assignments that can be completed on Google Classroom are easier, and therefore better. I don't like being a vector of corporate propaganda in this way. I hope we can adopt a better, less corporate, system soon.
Many people, at the beginning of quarantine, said "What will we do with all this time?" They had big goals to learn new things, to use the time in productive ways. I aimed to restart my self-directed piano and French lessons. However, admittedly, this hasn't worked as well as I'd hoped it would. I've played piano, but not very much; I've done some French, but I certainly haven't made it a daily habit. When I likely have time during my work-from-home workday, it's also hard to focus on personal goals when I know I'm supposed to be working at my job. And then I apply some more guilt on myself for not using my time more productively, even for myself. I feel very tired a lot; motivation has been hard to muster.
A few years ago, I finished my Masters In Educational Leadership, with the intention to find my way into school administration. However, I haven't found my way into that field yet. I realized at the beginning of this quarantine that this could be a good opportunity to find some ways to capitalize on this unique opportunity. But instead I got kinda' bogged down in the process, and now I wonder if I'm administrative material at all. As the school year starts to close, I still wonder if I've mis-aimed my goals. It wouldn't be the first time.
But overall things are ok. Not having to drive to school has saved hundreds of dollars in gas costs. I'm getting by and hope to enjoy teaching again soon.
And really, I can't complain about anything.
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