Sunday, July 31, 2005

Factors, Determinants

Hmmm... determinants... factors...

My grandfather passed away on early Thursday morning. There is so much to say that I will not say here. On Wednesday night, I drove with my parents and sister to 'country town' to sit with my nan and aunty and watch him gasp for breath, unconscious, in a hospital bed. At midnight, Mum, H and I whispered words in his ear and left to drive back home, leaving Dad behind to stay with his mum and sister. Pa left this Earth an hour later, much quicker than we expected.

Thursday morning, I went to school. I didn't know what else to do. I discussed with my year 12's the beliefs that colonising countries must hold in order to choose to engulf another nation, amongst other things... Iraq... Australia... America... Vietnam... The belief that there is only one god... the belief that there is a 'right way'... the belief that 'the end justifies the means'... rights... duties... responsibilities... communism... democracy.... capitalism...

In the staffroom, I was feeling antagonistic when a staff member barged in looking for coffee, mumbling something about 'these postmodern kids who think they can make their own rules and believe anything they want'. I fired up, when normally I would let it go, asked him what he meant by postmodernism first of all (didn't really wait for a response- wasn't expecting a decent one), and then commented that, if anything, most of our kids are being conditioned to be traditional realists, especially in the classroom. He countered, "well, isn't that what you would expect in a Christian school?" Well no, I wouldn't, not in any school, which is why I've found the online discussions that I've been having with my year 10's in relation to postmodernism and reader response theory so 'empowering' (to use that icky word) for me, and hopefully for them. He left with his coffee and I turned to my friend and we discussed our understanding of postmodernism until we were both relatively satisfied and then discussed our dialogue and why inquiring minds seem rare to us at the moment. Then, I drove back to 'country town'.

I sat around the dinner table with my family and extended family and we pooled our thoughts and feelings to form a collective memory of my grandfather. We sobbed together- my mum has a way of getting emotional out-pourings happening. That is a part of me, and that night I heard stories that are also part of me, some which I can't recollect ever passing my ears before, others that sparked and merged with fragmented scraps of memories in my own mind, and some that came from my lips. I heard for the first time about how my pa built his own speakers for a stereo when they had just become affordable (some time before ipods, I presume). He slaved over them for weeks, planing the wooden boxes until they were perfectly smooth, varnishing them and finally setting up, impatiently, on the stove for goodness sake, blasting jazz through the kitchen. This memory was from my father's eyes when he was still a boy, beginning for him an interest in electronics, and music. This memory has shaped me, even though I never heard it before last night, because it shaped my dad, and reminds me of the perfectionist tendencies that ran through my pa, run through my dad, and run through me.

So... yeah. Individual? Family? School? Community? Society? I can't see the lines anymore.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks nb. I understand Judith Wright better now.