Thursday, August 01, 2013

KAFE 2013/Lesson Plan

Daniel,

Given the tight September 1st deadline for lesson plans (and a caffeine inspired case of insomnia tonight), I've gone ahead and generated this initial lesson plan for how to teach the genre of sijo. Please review and let me know if this meets your requirements. If it is satisfactory, let me know as well. I'll get it into a MS Word document. If not, please let me know what to fix.

This is not to say I will not be creating the "Our Twisted Hero" lesson plan I discussed in the notice I wrote, but THAT will require a bit more time, use of additional resources, etc. I imagine that might be finished between Labor Day and Columbus Day sometime. 

Please note I've placed my notice about KAFE2013 on FB and my blog www.richardsasso.com. A draft of this is there as well. 

KAFE 2013/Lesson Plan

Audience: High School Seniors
Class: World Literature
Unit: Pan-Asian Poetry

Sijo 

I. Introduction

Note on Korean language, hangul, and syllabary language: Ancient Korean language was once written using Chinese characters, which required years of training to learn, which often left women and peasants out. King Sejong the Great (May 15, 1397 – April 8, 1450, r. 1418–1450) wanted to expand literacy skills, so he developed the Hangul writing system, which reflected the syllabary system of Korean consonants and vowels. Syllables and stress are clearer in Korean than English, so it is easier to count syllables and write syllable-based on poems. Sijo is one of these. 

In a male-dominated society, sijo provided women with a voice.  In fact, many great sijo are by women - but many are also anonymous. 

A. What is sijo?
A traditional poetic form from Korean.  It consists of 45 syllables divided into three 15 syllable lines, with some flexibility. Syllables are counted both in the phrases in the lines, but also in each line and poem itself when the poems are written in Korean.

B. Historical background
With roots as a song form, the sijo later evolved into set literary genre, still written today in Korean and other languages. It deals with a variety of themes. 

C.Structures

1. Korean 
"The sijo (Korean 시조, pronounced SHEE-jo) is a traditional three-line Korean poetic form typically exploring cosmological, metaphysical, or pastoral themes. Organized both technically and thematically by line and syllable count, sijo are expected to be phrasal and lyrical, as they are first and foremost meant to be songs.

Sijo are written in three lines, each averaging 14-16 syllables for a total of 44-46 syllables. Each line is written in four groups of syllables that should be clearly differentiated from the other groups, yet still flow together as a single line. When written in English, sijo may be written in six lines, with each line containing two syllable groupings instead of four. Additionally, as shown in the example below, liberties may be taken (within reason) with the number of syllables per group as long as the total syllable count for the line remains the same.

The first line is usually written in a 3-4-4-4 grouping pattern and states the theme of the poem, where a situation generally introduced.

The second line is usually written in a 3-4-4-4 pattern (similar to the first) and is an elaboration of the first line's theme or situation (development).

The third line is divided into two sections. The first section, the counter-theme, is grouped as 3-5, while the second part, considered the conclusion of the poem, is written as 4-3. The counter-theme is called the 'twist,' which is usually a surprise in meaning, sound, or other device.

Example: excerpt from "Song of my five friends"

You ask how many friends I have? Water and stone, bamboo and pine. (2-6-4-4)
The moon rising over the eastern hill is a joyful comrade. (2-4-4-6)
Besides these five companions, what other pleasure should I ask? (2-5, 5-3)

Source: 

2. English adaptations.
When writing sijo in English, the usual convention is to write 3 sets of doublets. Each line averages 7-8 syllables each. 

D. Traditional thematic concerns. 
Sijo deals with a variety of concerns - nature, rural life, relationships, friendship and humor. Modern sijo is limited only by the poet's imagination.

II. Musical Versions 

Here is an example of a sung sijo:


More available from iTunes:


III. Traditional Korean Sijo
(Includes both Korean and translated verse)

A shadow strikes the water below:
     a monk passes by on the bridge,
"Stay awhile, reverend sir,
     let me ask you where you go."
He just points his staff at the white clouds
     and keeps on his way without turning.
물 아래 그림자 지니 다리위에 중이 간다 
저 중아 게 있거라 너 가는 데 물어보자 
막대로 흰 구름 가리키며 돌아 아니 보고 가노메라
Chung Chul (1536-1593)

If everyone were a government official,
     would there be any farmers?
If doctors cured all disease, 
     would graveyards be as they are?
Boy, fill the glass to the brim;
     I'll live my life as I please.
벼슬을 저마다 하면 농부 할 이 뉘 이시며, 
의원이 병(病) 고치면 북망산(北邙山)이 저러하랴. 
아희야, 잔 가득 부어라, 내 뜻대로 하리라.
Kim Chang-Up (1658-1721)

The spring breeze melted snow on the hills, then quickly disappeared.
I wish I could borrow it briefly to blow over my hair
and melt away the aging frost forming now about my ears.
춘산(春山)에 눈 녹인 바람 건듯 불고 간듸업네 
저근듯 비러다가 뿌리과저 머리우희 
귀밋헤 해묵은 서리를 불녀볼까 하노라
U-Taek (1262-1342)

Soaring high though a mountain may be, 
     it is a mere mound beneath Heaven 
Climb and climb, 
     and no summit cannot be reached 
Yet people stay at its base 
     saying the mountain is too high.
태산이 높다하되 하늘아래 뫼이로다 
오르고 또 오르면 못오를리 없건만은 
사람이 제 아니 오르고 뫼만 높다 하더라
Yang Sa Eun (1517-1584)

Jade Green Stream, Don't boast so proud
     of your easy passing through these blue hills
Once you have reached the broad sea,
     to return again will be hard,
While the Bright Moon fills these empty hills,
     why not pause? Then go on, if you will.
청산리 벽계수야 수이감을 자랑마라
일도 창해하면 다시오기 어려오니
명월이 만강산하니 쉬여간들 엇더리
Hwang Chin-I (1506-1544)

I will break the back of this long, midwinter night, 
Folding it double, fold beneath my spring quilt, 
That I may draw out the night, should my love return.
동지달 기나긴 밤을 한 허리를 버혀 내여 
춘풍 이불 아래 서리허리 넣었다가 
어른 님 오신 날 밤이여드란 구비구비 펴리라
Hwang Chin-I (1506-1544)

Green grass covers the valley.
     Do you sleep? Are you at rest?
O where is that lovely face?
     Can mere bones lie buried here?
I have wine, but no chance to share it.
     Alone, I pour it sadly.
Im Che (1549-1587)
-written at Hwang Chin-I's grave

My horse neighs to leave here now, but you plead with me to stay; 
the sun is dipping behind the hill, and I have far to go. 
Dear One, instead of stopping me, why not hold back the setting sun?
Anonymous

Could the thousand branches of a green willow capture the fleeting springtime wind?
What could butterflies do to prevent the flowers they love from withering?
No matter how great one's love, how could it make a leaving flame stay?
Yi Wonik (1547-1634)

If my tears were made of pearls,
     I would catch them all and save them.
When you came back ten years later,
     a jeweled castle should enthrone you.
But these tears leave no trace at all. 
     So I am left desolate
Anonymous

If on the pathways of dreams
     a footprint could leave a mark,
The road by your window
     though rough with rocks,
     would soon wear smooth.
But in dreams paths take no footprints.
     I mourn the more for that.
꿈에 다니는 길이 자최 곧 나량이면
님이 집 창 밖에 석로이라도 닳으련마는
꿈길이 자최 없으니 그를 슬허하노라
Yi Myunghan (1595-1645)

Fisherman's Calendar
I. SPRING
8. I drank and lay back;
     the boat carried me down through the shallows.
          Secure the boat, secure the boat!
Pink petals floated near;
     Towŏn itself must have been near.
          Chigukch'ong, chigukch'ong, ŏsawa!
Red dust of the world -
     how far away it seemed.
II. SUMMER
10. I look for my snail-shell hut,
     it is hidden in white clouds.
          Tie the boat fast, tie the boat fast!
Exchange my rod for a bullrush fan
     as we start to climb the rock-path.
          Chigukch'ong, chigukch'ong, ŏsawa!
Did you think I lived idly?
     This is a fisherman's life.
IV. WINTER
4. A silent snow fell last night, 
     so I woke to a bright new world.
          Work the oars, work the oars!
A sea of glass surrounds me; 
     further on the jade mountains rise.
          Chigukch'ong, chigukch'ong, ŏsawa!
Fairyland perhaps? Nirvana? 
     Surely not a world of men.
Yun Sundo (1587-1671)
-'chigukch'ong' is a form of onomatopoeia
Contemporary Sijo (20th - 21st century)

Source: 



IV. Modern Korean Sijo
Contemporary Korean Sijo (20th century onwards)
includes both Korean and translated verse

I Will Write a Poem Too
Up above the shimmering sea
     Two or three seagulls are hovering. 
Rolling, wheeling, they write a poem.
     I do not know the alphabet they use.
On the broad expanse of sky
     I will write a poem too.
아득한 바다 위에 갈매기 두엇 날아 돈다.
너훌너훌 시를 쓴다. 모르는 나라 글자다.
널따란 하늘 복판에 나도 같이 시를 쓴다.
Yi Unsang (1903-1982)

Early Spring
While I wash the window,
     blowing my breath on it,
A bird flies
     and wipes the sky clean.
Tomorrow, the magnolia will be out
     and clean the colors from the clouds.
내가 입김을 불어 유리창을 닦아내면
새 한 마리 날아가며 하늘을 닦아낸다
내일은 목련꽃 찾아와 구름 빛도 닦으리
Jung Wanyung (b. 1919)

Paulownia Blooms
Misty moonlight spills over the top of the wall
One or two paulownia blooms silently drop
My feet hesitate to go; I turn and look back
담머리 넘어드는 달빛은 은은하고
한두 개 소리 없이 내려지는 오동꽃을
가려다 발을 멈추고 다시 돌아보노라
Yi Byung-Gi (1891-1968)

On Sijo Writing
The first line is a full skirt,
     the second is the bodice;
On reaching the third and last
     the neat collar has been added.
Lightly tie the ribbon bow,
     and the charm of the dress will appear.
The basic pattern of fours
     is like the counting of the days:
Twenty-eight will make a month,
     thirty-one, too, will make a month.
Set the stern, and when leaves and flowers bloom
     fragrance will come of itself.
The bright moon lighting up the sky,
     clear and white above the ground,
Is it just the shining soul
     of the sijo of ancient masters?
The mere sound of a lute in moonlight
     is that not a sijo too?
Yi Unsang (1903-1982)

Source:


V. Modern English Versions

See the house fall at our feet, faithful timbers come crashing down; 

Those with our life in their hands join the termites, gnaw at beams. 

Till the dawn, hold me while we sleep -- in the cold, that is enough.

(TOP #14 May 1995; Canadian Writer's Journal, Fall 1995)

EVEN NOW
just us two in the photograph
his arm around my thin shoulder

That strong limb I then leaned against would break so many falls

We stood like this but only once but his strength holds me still

[Elizabeth St Jacques, Around the Tree of Light(1995)

Source: 


VI. Compose your own!!! 

Here are a couple your teacher wrote: 

Sleeplessness

l have  played too well
The game of insomnia

Awake all through the night 
Half asleep all the day

Eight hours of solid sleep
Worth a block of solid gold 

Soju and Sympathy 

Waiting to see an old friend 
A gift of soju in my hand.

He's stuck in Los Angeles traffic,
I'm fully patient though 

Twenty years have passed us by 
What's another twenty minutes now?

VII. Assessment/Essential Questions
1. How many syllables and lines does a traditional sijo have in Korean? English?

2. What writing system is sijo written in? How does the Korean language facilitate this type of poetry?

3. What are the musical roots of sijo?

4. True or False: Women never wrote sijo.

5. True or False: We know who wrote all sijo.

6. What is often unique about the last third of a sijo?

7. Compare and contrast sijo with haiku. Why might some modern poets prefer sijo?

8. Many types of poems are constrained by syllable count, from sonnets to limericks to haiku. Why might this help the poet rather than limit him?

Additional Resources:

Sijo primer by Larry Gross:


Article by Harvard Professor David McCann on sijo:


Lectures by David McCann

The form of sijo:


The history of sijo:


An analysis of a sijo:


KAFE 2013/Lesson Plan

KAFE 2013/Lesson Plan

Sijo

I. Introduction

Note on Korean language, hangul, and syllabary language: Korean language was once written using Chinese characters, which required years of training to learn, which often left women and peasants out. King Sejong wanted to expand literacy skills, so he developed the Hangul writing system, which reflected the syllabary system of Korean consonants and vowels. Syllables and stress are clearer in Korean than English, so it is easier to count syllables and write syllable-based on poems. Sijo is one of these. In a male-dominated society, sijo provided women with a voice. In fact, many great sijo are by women - but many are also anonymous.

A. What is sijo?
A traditional poetic form from Korean. It consists of 45 syllables divided into three 15 syllable lines, with some flexibility.

B. Historical background
With roots as a song form, the sijo later evolved into set literary genre, still written today in Korean and other languages. It deals with a variety of themes.

C.Structures

1. Korean
"The sijo (Korean 시조, pronounced SHEE-jo) is a traditional three-line Korean poetic form typically exploring cosmological, metaphysical, or pastoral themes. Organized both technically and thematically by line and syllable count, sijo are expected to be phrasal and lyrical, as they are first and foremost meant to be songs.

Sijo are written in three lines, each averaging 14-16 syllables for a total of 44-46 syllables. Each line is written in four groups of syllables that should be clearly differentiated from the other groups, yet still flow together as a single line. When written in English, sijo may be written in six lines, with each line containing two syllable groupings instead of four. Additionally, as shown in the example below, liberties may be taken (within reason) with the number of syllables per group as long as the total syllable count for the line remains the same.

The first line is usually written in a 3-4-4-4 grouping pattern and states the theme of the poem, where a situation generally introduced.

The second line is usually written in a 3-4-4-4 pattern (similar to the first) and is an elaboration of the first line's theme or situation (development).

The third line is divided into two sections. The first section, the counter-theme, is grouped as 3-5, while the second part, considered the conclusion of the poem, is written as 4-3. The counter-theme is called the 'twist,' which is usually a surprise in meaning, sound, or other device.

Example: excerpt from "Song of my five friends"

You ask how many friends I have? Water and stone, bamboo and pine. (2-6-4-4)
The moon rising over the eastern hill is a joyful comrade. (2-4-4-6)
Besides these five companions, what other pleasure should I ask? (2-5, 5-3)

Source:
http://www.sejongculturalsociety.org/writing/current/resources/sijo_guide.php)

2. English adaptations.
When writing sijo in English, the usual convention is to write 3 sets of doublets. Each line averages 7-8 syllables each.

D. Traditional thematic concerns.
Sijo deals with a variety of concerns - nature, rural life, relationships, friendship and humor.

II. Musical Versions

Here is an example of a sung sijo:

http://youtu.be/8YpA368_muE

More available from iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sijo-korean-traditional-poem/id378585231

III. Traditional Korean Sijo
(Includes both Korean and translated verse)

A shadow strikes the water below:
a monk passes by on the bridge,
"Stay awhile, reverend sir,
let me ask you where you go."
He just points his staff at the white clouds
and keeps on his way without turning.
물 아래 그림자 지니 다리위에 중이 간다
저 중아 게 있거라 너 가는 데 물어보자
막대로 흰 구름 가리키며 돌아 아니 보고 가노메라
Chung Chul (1536-1593)

If everyone were a government official,
would there be any farmers?
If doctors cured all disease,
would graveyards be as they are?
Boy, fill the glass to the brim;
I'll live my life as I please.
벼슬을 저마다 하면 농부 할 이 뉘 이시며,
의원이 병(病) 고치면 북망산(北邙山)이 저러하랴.
아희야, 잔 가득 부어라, 내 뜻대로 하리라.
Kim Chang-Up (1658-1721)

The spring breeze melted snow on the hills, then quickly disappeared.
I wish I could borrow it briefly to blow over my hair
and melt away the aging frost forming now about my ears.
춘산(春山)에 눈 녹인 바람 건듯 불고 간듸업네
저근듯 비러다가 뿌리과저 머리우희
귀밋헤 해묵은 서리를 불녀볼까 하노라
U-Taek (1262-1342)

Soaring high though a mountain may be,
it is a mere mound beneath Heaven
Climb and climb,
and no summit cannot be reached
Yet people stay at its base
saying the mountain is too high.
태산이 높다하되 하늘아래 뫼이로다
오르고 또 오르면 못오를리 없건만은
사람이 제 아니 오르고 뫼만 높다 하더라
Yang Sa Eun (1517-1584)

Jade Green Stream, Don't boast so proud
of your easy passing through these blue hills
Once you have reached the broad sea,
to return again will be hard,
While the Bright Moon fills these empty hills,
why not pause? Then go on, if you will.
청산리 벽계수야 수이감을 자랑마라
일도 창해하면 다시오기 어려오니
명월이 만강산하니 쉬여간들 엇더리
Hwang Chin-I (1506-1544)

I will break the back of this long, midwinter night,
Folding it double, fold beneath my spring quilt,
That I may draw out the night, should my love return.
동지달 기나긴 밤을 한 허리를 버혀 내여
춘풍 이불 아래 서리허리 넣었다가
어른 님 오신 날 밤이여드란 구비구비 펴리라
Hwang Chin-I (1506-1544)

Green grass covers the valley.
Do you sleep? Are you at rest?
O where is that lovely face?
Can mere bones lie buried here?
I have wine, but no chance to share it.
Alone, I pour it sadly.
Im Che (1549-1587)
-written at Hwang Chin-I's grave

My horse neighs to leave here now, but you plead with me to stay;
the sun is dipping behind the hill, and I have far to go.
Dear One, instead of stopping me, why not hold back the setting sun?
Anonymous

Could the thousand branches of a green willow capture the fleeting springtime wind?
What could butterflies do to prevent the flowers they love from withering?
No matter how great one's love, how could it make a leaving flame stay?
Yi Wonik (1547-1634)

If my tears were made of pearls,
I would catch them all and save them.
When you came back ten years later,
a jeweled castle should enthrone you.
But these tears leave no trace at all.
So I am left desolate
Anonymous

If on the pathways of dreams
a footprint could leave a mark,
The road by your window
though rough with rocks,
would soon wear smooth.
But in dreams paths take no footprints.
I mourn the more for that.
꿈에 다니는 길이 자최 곧 나량이면
님이 집 창 밖에 석로이라도 닳으련마는
꿈길이 자최 없으니 그를 슬허하노라
Yi Myunghan (1595-1645)

Fisherman's Calendar
I. SPRING
8. I drank and lay back;
the boat carried me down through the shallows.
Secure the boat, secure the boat!
Pink petals floated near;
Towŏn itself must have been near.
Chigukch'ong, chigukch'ong, ŏsawa!
Red dust of the world -
how far away it seemed.
II. SUMMER
10. I look for my snail-shell hut,
it is hidden in white clouds.
Tie the boat fast, tie the boat fast!
Exchange my rod for a bullrush fan
as we start to climb the rock-path.
Chigukch'ong, chigukch'ong, ŏsawa!
Did you think I lived idly?
This is a fisherman's life.
IV. WINTER
4. A silent snow fell last night,
so I woke to a bright new world.
Work the oars, work the oars!
A sea of glass surrounds me;
further on the jade mountains rise.
Chigukch'ong, chigukch'ong, ŏsawa!
Fairyland perhaps? Nirvana?
Surely not a world of men.
Yun Sundo (1587-1671)
-'chigukch'ong' is a form of onomatopoeia
Contemporary Sijo (20th - 21st century)

Source:

http://www.sejongculturalsociety.org/writing/current/resources/sijo_samples.php


IV. Modern Korean Sijo
Contemporary Korean Sijo (20th century onwards)
includes both Korean and translated verse

I Will Write a Poem Too
Up above the shimmering sea
Two or three seagulls are hovering.
Rolling, wheeling, they write a poem.
I do not know the alphabet they use.
On the broad expanse of sky
I will write a poem too.
아득한 바다 위에 갈매기 두엇 날아 돈다.
너훌너훌 시를 쓴다. 모르는 나라 글자다.
널따란 하늘 복판에 나도 같이 시를 쓴다.
Yi Unsang (1903-1982)

Early Spring
While I wash the window,
blowing my breath on it,
A bird flies
and wipes the sky clean.
Tomorrow, the magnolia will be out
and clean the colors from the clouds.
내가 입김을 불어 유리창을 닦아내면
새 한 마리 날아가며 하늘을 닦아낸다
내일은 목련꽃 찾아와 구름 빛도 닦으리
Jung Wanyung (b. 1919)

Paulownia Blooms
Misty moonlight spills over the top of the wall
One or two paulownia blooms silently drop
My feet hesitate to go; I turn and look back
담머리 넘어드는 달빛은 은은하고
한두 개 소리 없이 내려지는 오동꽃을
가려다 발을 멈추고 다시 돌아보노라
Yi Byung-Gi (1891-1968)

On Sijo Writing
The first line is a full skirt,
the second is the bodice;
On reaching the third and last
the neat collar has been added.
Lightly tie the ribbon bow,
and the charm of the dress will appear.
The basic pattern of fours
is like the counting of the days:
Twenty-eight will make a month,
thirty-one, too, will make a month.
Set the stern, and when leaves and flowers bloom
fragrance will come of itself.
The bright moon lighting up the sky,
clear and white above the ground,
Is it just the shining soul
of the sijo of ancient masters?
The mere sound of a lute in moonlight
is that not a sijo too?
Yi Unsang (1903-1982)

Source:
http://www.sejongculturalsociety.org/writing/current/resources/sijo_samples.php


V. Modern English Versions

See the house fall at our feet, faithful timbers come crashing down;

Those with our life in their hands join the termites, gnaw at beams.

Till the dawn, hold me while we sleep -- in the cold, that is enough.

(TOP #14 May 1995; Canadian Writer's Journal, Fall 1995)

EVEN NOW
just us two in the photograph
his arm around my thin shoulder

That strong limb I then leaned against would break so many falls

We stood like this but only once but his strength holds me still

[Elizabeth St Jacques, Around the Tree of Light(1995)

Source:

http://www.sejongculturalsociety.org/mediafiles/writing/current/sijoprimer_gross.pdf

VI. Compose your own!!!

Here are a couple your teacher wrote:

Sleeplessness

l have played too well
The game of insomnia

Awake all through the night
Half asleep all the day

Eight hours of solid sleep
Worth a block of solid gold

Soju and Sympathy

Waiting to see an old friend
A gift of soju in my hand.

He's stuck in Los Angeles traffic,
I'm fully patient though

Twenty years have passed us by
What's another twenty minutes now?

Additional Resources:

Sijo primer by Larry Gross:

http://www.sejongculturalsociety.org/mediafiles/writing/current/McCann_sijo.pdf

Article by Harvard Professor David McCann on sijo:

http://www.sejongculturalsociety.org/mediafiles/writing/current/McCann_sijo.pdf

Lectures by David McCann

The form of sijo:

http://www.sejongculturalsociety.org/mediafiles/writing/current/McCann_sijo.pdf

The history of sijo:

http://sejongsociety.org/videos/sijo/sijo_teaching_history_of_sijo_md_fl.htm

An analysis of a sijo:

http://sejongsociety.org/videos/sijo/sijo_teaching_chungsanlee_md_fl.htm

Korea Academy For Educators

During this past summer vacation, Hinsdale South English teacher Richard Sasso participated in the Korea Academy for Educators (KAFE). The conference, held in Los Angeles, California, was an educational and training opportunity for a wide range of k-12teachers from a variety of disciplines. The conference explored the history, cuisine, music, religion as well as the language and literature of not just South Korea, but the whole of the Korean peninsula. Speakers included USC Professor David C. Kang, UCLA Professors Dong Suk Kim and Jennifer Jung-Kim. Teachers also also heard lectures from esteemed writer Helie Lee, author best-sellers "In the Absence of Sun" and "Still Like Rice," who also coordinated the event. Teachers participated in drumming lessons, made Korean paintings and paper folding, and screened documentaries and feature films. Of particular interest to Richard were lectures on Korean sijo poetry, a genre similar to an expanded haiku. He is currently developing a unit on the Korean novella, "Our Twisted Hero" exploring themes of the psychology of bullying. "It was an amazing experience," Richard commented, "I highly recommend it to any instructor. Korea really is an emerging global influence, and this conference gave me the tools to successfully teach my students about it." The event was co-sponsored by the Korea Foundation, Korean Cultural Center, and the USC Korean Studies Institute. More information is available at the KAFE website www.koreaacademy.org.


Sent from my iPhone

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fight for Your Pension!!!

FIGHT TO PROTECT YOUR PENSION!!! Do it now, damn it!

Inform yourself:
Here:
http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/
And here:
http://preaprez.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/riders-mount-you-steeds-today-let-us-talk-about-cola/

And then get ready to fight!
We'll need to remember in November!
Richard


I write in defense of my pension and that of my fellow public employees. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously quipped that people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. In the recent debate surrounding public pensions, I have noticed that many people desperately want to have their own “facts,” especially those who want to “reform” public pensions. Here are the facts about how we got to where we are today in Illinois, with an emphasis on the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS).
Because they work on the power of compounded interest, pension systems only work when all payments to them are made in full and on time. This is how small, regular payments create large amounts of wealth. While I cannot speak about other states and how their pensions got to be the way they are, virtually every honest observer notes that the Illinois General Assembly has not made its contributions to the Teachers’ Retirement System and to other public pensions.
The General Assembly has skipped close to $15 billion in payments over the last decades to TRS alone, $11.2 billion since 1990. By foregoing these payments, the General Assembly not only denied the value of the initial contribution to the fund, but forced the fund to forfeit the earnings that these contributions would have garnered over time had they been invested.
These gains would have been considerable: the Teachers’ Retirement System has averaged 9.83 percent annual returns since 1982. Arguments that pensions are set on unrealistic earnings is not accurate in Illinois’ case; actuarial studies show that the pension fund has made its projected earnings like clockwork. Therefore, the Illinois General Assembly did not skip payments based on over exaggerated rates of return. It did so simply because it was convenient and legal to do so.
In contrast, each teacher pays 9.4 percent of his or her income from each paycheck, supplemented by a .58 percent contribution from each school district. Both teachers and districts have made 100 percent of their contributions on time, every time. They have no choice, in fact.
This cannot be said for the Illinois General Assembly, however. It often balanced its budget by skipping pension payments, using the money for everything else – except the pensions for its public employees: roads, bridges, even building a now empty prison. In a bitter irony, some of the money even went to K-12 schools, forcing teachers to cannibalize their future pensions to secure the state’s commitment to school children.
We should note that taxpayers benefited from this diversion of funds – they got more government services than they paid for, since the money that should have gone into pension funds went to other expenditures. Essentially, public pension funds became an easily-used “credit card.” (It might also be noted that Illinois has among the lowest ratios of state employees to the general population; it has outsourced services for decades now, having been in the vanguard of privatization. One cannot argue that these expenditures simply went back to public employees in terms of salaries and benefits.)
Nor can one argue that the state simply could not afford to make its payments. If it were not for the pension debt, the State’s contribution would be about 6.3 percent to 8.6 percent. It is true that this is a bit more than the standard FICA/Social Security contribution employers make (6.2 percent), though it is less than the defined-contribution approach, which would involve the cost of FICA and maintaining thousands of individual 401(k) accounts and matching each individual employee’s contributions. In the private sector, this usually averages 4 percent of an employee’s income. Hence, the average retirement costs for employers in the private sector are approximately 10-11 percent of employee salaries, much more than TRS.
Nor is the cost to taxpayers excessive: the “normal” cost (without the debt) of last year’s contribution to TRS from the General Assembly would have only been $715 million, a mere $55 per Illinois resident each year – a cost similar to purchasing the Sunday newspaper each week. Even a teenager who spends $10 or $15 a week on bubble gum and video games will pay that much in sales taxes in year, as will a retiree who dines at a restaurant once a week.
The cost is not exorbitant for the taxpayer – that is simply a lie told by too many editorial writers, politicians and others who should know better. Hence, with the system running properly and with full contributions from both teachers and the State, the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System would have had 16-18 percent of teachers’ salaries to invest at 9 percent at compound interest for 35 years – enough to pay the modest pensions promised to teachers. That is, if the Illinois General Assembly had done the right thing.
But instead of doing the right thing, the Illinois General Assembly skipped payments and enjoyed “pension holiday” after “pension holiday.” (“Pension holiday” is the horrid euphemism used for skipping pension payments.) This created a gigantic debt of over $40 billion in unfunded liabilities for TRS, thus, driving up the cost of the state’s contribution to the retirement fund. Last year, the state’s total contribution was $2.2 billion instead of $715 million, two-thirds of which is accumulated debt.
Granted, the recent economic crisis hurt TRS, as it did all investment funds across the world. Nevertheless, a recovery is underway. According to a recent press release from TRS, “the Teachers’ Retirement System Board of Trustees reported total assets of $37.3 billion at the end of March 2011, a 23 percent increase over the assets held by TRS in 2009 during the depths of the world financial crisis. During the first nine months of fiscal year 2011, the investment rate of return for TRS was 21.38 percent, besting the current target investment rate of 8.5 percent.”
Mr. Zakaria, you also seem uninformed about one simple reality as well: the Illinois General Assembly DID pass pension reform for all new public employees in March of 2010. This law applies to every new hire after January 2011 and is much less generous than the current system. Legislators wrote, passed and sent a bill to the Governor’s desk in under twelve hours. (I’ll leave it to you to decide how democratic such a process was.) The recent debate centers on benefits for current public employees, which have special status due to the “Pension Protection Clause” in the Illinois Constitution.  For this and other reasons, teachers believe that pension “reform” is an injustice.  Can you perhaps see why?
 



Thursday, March 08, 2012

TEA TIP




Part One:  A Reflective Essay

East Asia is often thought of as "other side of the world" – literally and figuratively.  While I was growing up, my mother had an idiomatic phrase she used to describe a person who had seemingly vanished into thin air: "They got on a slow boat to China."  This attitude stuck with me for years, until I began to meet East Asian people, learn about their culture and history and to realize that some parts of my world had their origins in East Asia.  One such element is tea, the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.  I have always liked a nice cup of (iced) tea, but when I began to learn more and more about it, I became fascinated by varieties and combinations available to those who become connoisseurs of this delightful delicacy.  Then I had the opportunity to learn more about the history of the plant and how it eventually came to influence the course of human history itself, as illustrated in Sarah Rose's fine book For All the Tea in China.  Last fall, I had an opportunity to have a live chat with Ms. Rose via Skype for my school's periodic book club event. I was hooked on tea – not just drinking it, but learning and teaching about it.

This excellent training opportunity on East Asia through the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia (NCTA) has given me an unique opportunity to take this up! Professor Hayford has in interest in food as an avenue to culture studies and enrichment/enlightenment.  Hence, I have been inspired to follow tea in more depth. (Initially, I was interested in pursuing a variety of products, but tea provided to be fertile territory enough indeed.) Tea, it seemed to me, was a powerful prism through which one could look at East Asia: its origins in China, its spread overseas as it has become the second most popular beverage in the world, its development in Japan as quite literally a manifestation of a philosophy and a concrete expression of a culture in the tea ceremony, and its role in Korea society, reflecting that nation's role as the dynamic crossroads of East Asia.

I am high school teacher of language and literature, and one thing that we are often advised to do is to keep in mind is that not every student is engaged by words on a page and that we should strive to accommodate all types of learners in our classrooms through a variety of activities.  Indeed, we should and tea provides me with just that opportunity.  While there is no shortage of (excellent) writing on tea, there are a myriad of other things one can do with it – including preparing and drinking it! Most high school students have never actually drank warm, green tea without sweeteners, a sad state of affairs to be sure indeed.   

Food and drink are necessities for human life, but they are so much more than that.  They are a powerful source of cross-cultural experience.  One may not be able to speak Japanese, Korean or Chinese; nor may one be able to learn and analyze their history and culture easily.  But anyone can eat and drink – and smile and laugh – in every language, in every culture.  One should never miss this opportunity indeed.  It can serve as the first step to a new world, a warm gesture of friendship and amity in world often tongue-tied by linguistic and cultural differences.

 Part Two: Teaching Opportunities

Hopefully, I will be able to continue to teach a World Literature class on Asian literature in the upcoming years.  (Eventually, I would like to be able start a class on East Asian literature and history at my school; our sister school has had one for decades, but we have not exported it to our school yet.)  I will incorporate these class activities this semester and will continue to do so in the future, hopefully. But I think I can reach across departments, too.  I think I can get our Social Studies and Family and Consumer Sciences (the new terms for home economics) to help sponsor some of these activities outside of a classroom setting, too.   Also, I plan to incorporate East Asian literature into our mainstream curriculum more and more, such as a segment on haiku and sijo poetry in our unit on poetry in Freshman English.  A tea ceremony would fit right in there, for sure.  Also, every Spring my school has a multi-cultural Assembly and Fair, and a tea tasting booth would fit right in, I am sure.  Also, as the ELL Director, I will incorporate these activities into the curriculum of our ESL classes as well.

Part Three:  Application Strategy

I plan on incorporating five different activities into my World Literature class this year:

1)      Non-fiction narrative reading and oral interaction/discussion: Students will read segments from For All the Tea in China and engage in a Skype discussion with its author, Sarah Rose.  This will apply my knowledge of Chinese history practically as I guide students through this process.

2)      Developing "video literacy," presentational and argumentative skills: Students will view the film All in the Tea and present on what this shows them about modernizing China as well as its role in the current events.  This will apply my knowledge of modern Chinese society undergoing a change that will put it back into a key role as a player on the world stage.

3)      Non-fiction reading / literary analysis/cross cultural: Students will read segments from The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo, present a series of summary response journals, and create a "Book of Coffee" which evaluates coffee in the light of American society, as Kakuzo does for tea in Japan. This will apply my knowledge of Japanese culture as learned in this class.

4)      Using web-based resources and kinesthetic learning: Using web resources, students will learn what is necessary for an authentic Japanese tea ceremony, get the necessary resources to do so, and stage, as closely as possible, an authentic Japanese tea ceremony.  Similar application as above.

5)      Non-fiction expository text reading and compare/contrast skills: Students will read a segment on tea in Korea from the book The Story of Tea on iPads and then, using Keynote presentation software on those iPads, present what they have learned about the how Koreans approach tea, emphasizing the similarities and differences with other East Asian societies.  This applies my district's dedication to technological investment and my knowledge about modern Korean society from our class.


Part Four: Standards Addressed

The following are from the Illinois State Standards for Reading for High School Seniors and are addressed in the following TIP:

Reading:

1.A.5a  Identify and analyze new terminology applying knowledge of word origins and derivations in a variety of practical settings.

1.B.5a  Relate reading to prior knowledge and experience and make connections to related information.

1.B.5b  Analyze the defining characteristics and structures of a variety of complex literary genres and describe how genre affects the meaning and function of the texts.

 

1.B.5b  Analyze the defining characteristics and structures of a variety of complex literary genres and describe how genre affects the meaning and function of the texts.

 

Writing:

3.B.5  Using contemporary tech­nology, produce  documents of publication quality for specific purposes and audiences; exhibit clarity of focus, logic of organization, appropri­ate elaboration and support and overall coherence.

3.C.5a  Communicate information and ideas in narrative, informative and persuasive writing with clarity and effectiveness in a variety of written forms using appropriate traditional and/or electronic formats; adapt content, vocabulary, voice and tone to the audience, purpose and situation.

Speaking and Listening

4.B.5a  Deliver planned and impromptu oral presentations, as individuals and members of a group, conveying results of research, projects or literature studies to a variety of audiences (e.g., peers, community, business/industry, local organizations) using appropriate visual aids and available technology.


China:  The Birth Place of Tea; Tea as a Bridge to the West

 

The emphasis on this lesson will be on connection of tea as a phenomenon moving from China to Western societies, connecting them.  Tea is among the most popular beverages in the world today, in fact.  The first link connects to "For All the Tea in China," a book that examines the way in which the British "stole" tea from China and began developing both it and a tea trade in India.  The second element is a film about a man named David Lee Hoffman, an entrepreneur who started the company The Republic of Tea, which one of the earliest forces in the U.S. culture for the re-establishment of drinking authentic green tea, which is now a common trend, although we drink it cold, something the Chinese find abhorrent.

Book: For All the Tea in China by Sarah Rose

 

Activities –

 

Day 1: Students will read a few selections from the above book and discuss it to ensure comprehension of the text.  Students will also develop a list of questions for the author:

 

Day 2:  We will have a Skype Discussion with Ms. Rose discussing her thoughts on the applicability of her story to the modern world.  I actually did with a group of faculty members last fall! Ms. Rose is a delightful young lady and wonderful author. She talked to us for an hour for free at my school.  I can connect my Skype program to a special projector and camera and we can have a live exchange, like a video conference call for only pennies.  Email:thesarahrose@gmail.com Skype Handle: "thesarahrose"

 

Video: All in The Tea directed by Les Blank about David Lee Hoffman

 

Activities –

 

Days 3 and 4: Students will view the documentary All in the Tea, directed by Les Blank.

 

Day 5: Student will be placed into pairs and be shown a review of the film "Kung Fu Panda" to familiarize them with the structure of a movie review.  Then students will engage in a stimulated movie-review program, similar to the old Siskel and Ebert show, in which the students review the film and discuss what they insight they got into a modernizing Chinese society from it.  Each pair has five minutes to present their "thumbs up/thumbs down" viewpoint.

 

Japan: Tea as a Way of Life

 

The purpose of this activity is to look at tea as a part of an Asian society in situ.  Students will read texts on the importance of tea in Japanese culture, learn through the process of comparison/contrast with the "coffee culture" of the United States and actually complete an authentic (or as authentic as possible) Japanese tea ceremony for themselves.  The point here is to acquaint students with rituals from other societies and appreciate the wisdom of a measured, practiced ritual of great antiquity, something with which most American adolescents are not familiar.

 

Book: The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō

 

Activities:

 

Day 6: Students will read segments of the book by Kakuzō and ask questions as necessary; then they will generate standard summary-response journal entries on each segment. 

 

Day 7 and 8: Working in the computer lab in teams of two, students will then create a "The Book of Coffee" that evaluates coffee in the light of its role in American society as does Kakuzo for tea.

 

Website: Japanese National Tourism website on Tea Ceremony and The Japanese Tea Ceremony 

 

Activities:

 

Day 8:  Students will carefully study the two above websites, producing a carefully written summary of what is necessary for conducting an authentic Japanese tea ceremony.

 

Day 9 and 10: Students will visit the local Teavana store and purchase the necessary tools for an authentic Japanese Tea Ceremony and conduct an actual Japanese tea ceremony, which will be videotaped for posterity/evaluation.  Local Japanese visitors will be invited to help assess the quality of ceremony as enacted; alternatively they may view the video at a distance from Japan using a posting to YouTube by evaluation by Japanese in Japan.

 

Korea: Domesticating Tea in Korea, the Dynamic Crossroads of East Asia

 

The purpose of this activity is to highlight how Korean history illustrates the influences of both Chinese and Japanese societies as well as their own unique "twist" on things.  This assignment will seek to use cutting-edge, current technology to explore and spread information. 

eBook: The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide (Kindle Version)

 

Activities:

 

Day 11: Students will work in groups of two or three, each group receiving an iPad 2. (My school is going to implement a pilot project in regard to this in a few weeks.)  They will download the above book The Story of Tea:  A Cultural History and Drinking of Guide and read the chapter "Korea: Tea Continues Its Spread." Working in teams, students will use the app "Keynote" (Apple's PowerPoint clone) to create a summary of the events that mark the spread of tea in Korea, noting the influences that represent both change and continuity with other East Asian traditions.

 

Website:  Traditional Korea Non-Tea Teas Field trip to local Asian Supermarket.

 

Day 12: Koreans drink many other "teas" besides the traditional tea from the tea plant Camellia sinensis.  Students can explore different types of herbal teas from Korea and see which they would like to drink and do so on a class fieldtrip to an Asian supermarket.

 


 

Works Cited

There is no need for traditional works cited for this project; all works cited in the above project have built-in hyperlinks.  In some cases, this is to their Amazon.com web page where they can be downloaded as e-books, their Netfilx webpage where they can be streamed and viewed, or sources where they can be downloaded for free, such Gutenberg.org, where one can download an English translation of The Book of Tea.  All websites have a hyperlink to their URL.  Just click and you are there!