On Tuesday, September 24, 2019 I gave the first public presentation of my Dr. Seuss style poem “The Ball and The Wall: A Tale of Tolerance,” to my Tolerance and Diversity class at the American University in the Emirates (AUE).

The poem shares the story of a grandfather who, while fishing with his grandson, uses an unexpected encounter to tackle a teachable moment concerning compassion for others in addition to accepting people with different perspectives.

In invite you to watch a slightly edited version below (via YouTube) of the original Facebook Live video I broadcast while performing the poem; you can watch the original recording here.

I was first inspired to write this poem during the last meeting of my History 4C class at UC Santa Barbara in March 1996. At the conclusion of the class, the professor, Harold Marcuse, PhD, invited his teaching assistants to share any closing remarks. My teaching assistant, Kimber M. Quinney, PhD, asked us all to imagine that a large ball was floating over the lecture hall in the Isla Vista Theater (where the lectures for our class took place).

Encouraging us to accept that people have different perspectives, she explained how one side saw that the ball was red and the other side of the class saw that the ball was blue. Moving forward she asked us to accept that a perception that was not the same as our wasn’t necessarily better or worse, but that it was just different, and that was perfectly acceptable.

That last lesson stuck with me and marinated in my mind until 2003 when I wrote the first draft of what would become “The Ball and The Wall.” It has undergone edits and updates since, and will likely continue to be refined, but overall the intent and the idea are intact. It is my plan to publish this as an illustrated children’s book — for adults.

I hope you enjoy this spoken word performance and welcome any ideas it might inspire!

To blog, or not to blog: that is the question.

Edutopia: Teachers Shake Up Shakespeare with Digital MediaSince William Shakespeare died on this date in 1616 — and is widely thought to have been born on the same date in 1564 — it seemed fitting for today’s Music Monday post to shine the spotlight on the famous Bard of Avon.

After some searching, I discovered the TEDxTalk Video below that features hip-hop artist and founder of of the The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company, Kingslee “Akala” Daley.

While not entirely music in the true sense of Music Monday, in the video, Daley connects modern hip-hop music with Shakespeare’s melodic rhymes and also discusses the wider cultural debate about the power of language.

Similarly, a recent Edutopia article titled “Teachers Shake Up Shakespeare with Digital Media,” explores how teachers are now using digital technology and social media to help their students understand and embrace Shakespeare. In response to a subject students typically bemoan as boring, they are eagerly creating raps, podcasts, and short films.

According to the article, “Teachers are finding that allowing students to emulate the playwright and make the text their own gets them more excited to learn the plays…Having students perform is the key to learning Shakespeare effectively, and video and audio tools enhance that performance for today’s learners.”

Given the above, it is only fitting to proclaim: if music be the food of love, play on!