Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Childish Gambino and the Classroom

If you've never listened to Childish Gambino then I highly recommend giving him a listen. It's Donald Glover's stage name, he also plays Troy Barnes on Community. There's one particular song that's struck me lately: That Power. A YouTube link. Also, a link to the lyrics.

The whole song is wonderful but one part in particular seemed relevant for something that I realized today:

[T]his is a story about how I learned something and I'm not saying this thing is true or not, I'm just saying it's what I learned. I told you something. It was just for you and you told everybody. So I learned cut out the middle man, make it all for everybody, always. Everybody can't turn around and tell everybody, everybody already knows, I told them.

I realized I was slowly adopting a related sentiment in the classroom, particularly in the Spanish classroom. There are people in there who speak Spanish much better than I do. My writing is better than my speaking since the Internet enables one to write anything to any audience at any time. Anyhow, I try to take every chance I get to volunteer to do things like read even though that then gets critiqued. Similarly in another classroom, when the professor asks a question and everyone is silent then I'll volunteer an educated guess if I have one. I've noticed that we all know the people who have no idea what's going on. It's sort of like a perversion of Abraham Lincoln's (?) maxim:

"Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt"

Fellow students seem to think that if they're silent then they're perceived as being wise. But that's not the truth - we're all pretty much aware of how much material each person knows. Particularly in the Spanish classroom! When one is called upon to read the word "ciudad" (roughly: see-yoo-dth-a-dth) and they pronounce it "key-ooh-dad" it's pretty freaking obvious their Spanish speaking skills need a lot of work. And they won't get better by keeping silent.

So I've realized that's better to make my Spanish failures "for everybody, always" because A) that's how we actually get better and B) "then everybody already knows, I told them". I didn't intentionally decide on this strategy, rather I think the song helped me subconsciously choose it. Either way, I care for it and for the music of Silvio Rodriguez.