Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Satchel Vs. Murse?!?

Some of the most important things I teach as a music teacher have nothing to do with music.  I teach students about character, what it means to be part of a community and . . . um fashion?

A couple months ago I was looking online and found a really cool bag.  My wife Diana wasn't so sure about it so she told me that if my middle school students thought it was a acceptable then she would be ok with it.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!

So I created a powerpoint that went something like this:

Here are two satchels or man-bags that a twenty-something like myself would look reasonably fashionable walking down the street with.

Now here are two unacceptable murses that no man should be caught with, especially someone like myself.

At this point in the presentation, I had students vote whether they agreed with my conclusions and they all agreed with my analysis.  Then it got interesting.

Here is a Mark VII gas mask bag from World War II

This bag was famously used by one, Indiana Jones, the famous archeologist. 

Question: Is this bag an acceptable man-satchel or is it an unacceptable murse?

I led this discussion in front of my 6th grade general music class of 22 students, my 7th grade band of 34 students and my 8th grade band of 23.  Across all of the grades most of the guys were in support of the bag because it was a gas mask bag (which was cool) with the logic that if Indiana Jones could pull it off, so could someone like Mr. Tang.

The girls were more split on the issue.  Some commented that it was kind of ugly.  Others thought it only worked for Indiana Jones because of the context of his adventures.  And one girl told me to just listen to my wife.

After about ten minutes of discussion I had the students vote whether the bag was acceptable for me to purchase and use on a daily basis.

About 75% of the students voted for the bag and the rest either voted against the bag or were just really confused about why we were taking time in music class to discuss man-bags.  Well, the answer to that question is: because they are REALLY handy.

On my recent trip to Europe we found a need for both Diana and I to have a bag to carry random stuff so we got a cheap bag from H & M.

This bag was meant for women, but I didn't really mind carrying it because the water bottle, snacks, maps, wallet, phone and various other trip necessities simply didn't fit into my pockets.

Anyways, with the support of my students I purchased my bag from What Price Glory, an military antique store and the bag totally rocks.  I ordered an extra leather strap which looked better and matched the way Indiana Jones wore the bag.

For being over 60 years old the bag is in great shape, totally holds up and all the seams are still solid.  It perfectly fits an ipad with plenty of space for other things as well.  AND my mom thinks it looks stylish on me.

Do I think it was a waste of time to have a presentation about man-bags with my students and have them discuss it?  No.  Being a teacher isn't just about getting through all of the information in the curriculum.  It's about relationships and sharing part of who you are with students so they will feel more at ease sharing parts of themselves with you.  And Lord knows these kids have a better sense of what is cool then I do . . . kind of.

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