Tag Archives: Albert DeGrasse
7th graders in Albert DeGrasse’s classes are about to begin reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
Today they read Chinua’s recent NY Times obituary from March, 2013. Albert asked them to consider this quote from the article:
“I grew up among very eloquent elders,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2008. “In the village, or even in the church, which my father made sure we attended, there were eloquent speakers.” That eloquence was not reflected in Western books about Africa, he said, but he understood the challenge in trying to rectify the portrayal.
“You know that it’s going to be a battle to turn it around, to say to people, ‘That’s not the way my people respond in this situation, by unintelligible grunts, and so on; they would speak,’ ” Mr. Achebe said. “And it is that speech that I knew I wanted to be written down.”
They also watched 24 minutes (from 13:00 – 37:00) of An Evening with Chinua Achebe which commemorated his birthday and the book’s 50th anniversary in 2008. The video is available on the Library of Congress YouTube channel and embedded below. Considering the quote above, it is particularly interesting that in the video, Chinua specifically chose to read a passage where the protagonist, Okonkwo, is offered advice from an eloquent elder, Okonkwo’s maternal uncle. Before reading the passage aloud, Chinua says that the words have a very different meaning for him now than it did 50 years previously, probably as he is now an elder. Meta, indeed.
One of the many things that make The School at Columbia University special is our Integrated Projects Week (IPW). Students break up into small groups with faculty advisors and explore something in depth for a week. On the last day of the last week before Spring Break, there is a showcase of all the projects. This year, teachers actively tweeted with the hashtag #IPW2013 on Twitter. A variety of tweets were shared or retweeted from The School’s Twitter account (@The_School).
Over the years, I’ve led Haunted New York, Black Rock Forest Leaders, Digital Archivists, Paper and Book Making, and Minecraft (this is the 2nd year of Minecraft). I partnered with 7th grade English teacher, Albert DeGrasse, to explore the geography and architecture of New York City in order to inspire the virtual world our 4th-7th graders built on our private MinecraftEdu server. We visited the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum of Art, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and the High Line Park. Our Google site with our collected reflections, images, and videos is here.
Today is the showcase, and tomorrow I will sleep late.