Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pink Floyd, Sistine Chapel, and Early Childhood Education

Happy New Year,

Time for another post from the Professor! For those of you who are new, I am an actual professor (thanks to those of you who emailed me and said I look too young to be a professor) who teaches at a small private college in NY, directs two teacher education preparation programs, and owns a professional development training company. Although the majority of my work is done in the inclusive early childhood and elementary education programs, on occasion, I have the opportunity to teach special topic courses in other areas such as women's studies.


As promised, in this post I am going to share information with you about my recent trip to Italy. My last post left you hanging with the question- What do Pink Floyd, the Sistine Chapel, and Early Child Education have in common?  Well, in a nutshell they are all topics that I am currently researching, writing, and teaching about. Odd mix, I know but to a globetrotting, art loving, forever rocking, teacher educator like me, these topics go together quite nicely!

So how does Pink Floyd fit into all this? Well as I mentioned, I love rock music, especially classic rock. Thanks to my mom, I grew up listening to the Beatles, the Dead, the Allman Brothers, the Stones and of course Pink Floyd. Interesting enough, the iconic album/movie The Wall, is one of my favorites even though one of the most notable songs on the album proclaims, "We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teacher leave those kids alone!" Surprisingly, despite the fact that I train future educators, I do not necessarily disagree with such a sentiment given the current direction that the US education system is headed in.

As I listen to my iPod while traveling through the countryside of Italy, I had a lot of time to think. I thought about The Wall's lyrics and how today's US students are not that much different from the faceless students on the conveyor belt depicted in the movie. I thought about the old No Child Left Behind and the new Race to the Top mandates that require high stakes testing. I thought about how the arts are slowly being squeezed out of public education to make room for more drill and kill test prep activities. I thought about my student teachers who have said to me that they cannot create their own lesson plans because the schools in which they are placed have given them prescribed lesson plans and scripts to use in their classrooms. I thought about how big business is working hard to corporatize public education and find ways to tap into the money set aside for public education. All of this "thinking" fired up my creative juices and made me want to incorporate the lyrics and imagery of The Wall into a new project. I am currently working on an article and presentation exploring this topic. I will keep you posted on when and where you can read/see this work.

While in Italy, in addition to having plenty of time to "think," I also had the chance to visit many artistic sites such as the Sistine Chapel. To say that the Sistine Chapel was breathtaking is an understatement. As I craned my neck to take in a view of the famed ceiling, I was first struck by its beauty and secondly by the fact that in the depiction of the Temptation Adam and Eve were both reaching for the forbidden apple. Always looking for ways to enhance my teaching and spark discussion in my First Year Seminar- I Am Woman: Hear Me Roar, I tucked this little tidbit away and decided to discuss this topic when I returned to campus. My first day back, I wrote on the board- "What I learned on my vacation.....Michelangelo just may have been a feminist." I then projected a picture of Michelangelo's depiction of the Temptation with the question, "What do you think?" As you can imagine, my statement led to a spirited in class debate about religion, the feminist movement, and the meaning of art.  If I posed this question to you, what would your response be?

Last but certainly not least, it should be noted that my recent trip to Italy fulfilled a longstanding professional dream of mine. While pursuing my undergraduate degree and initial teacher certifications in the mid-1990s, I read many articles about the innovative teaching techniques used in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Through the years, I have read, researched, and taught about the techniques used in Reggio Emilia and have become a member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance. While in Italy, I had the chance ("chance" meaning- close enough to Reggio Emilia to hop on 6 trains and devote 12+ hours of travel) to visit the Centro Internazionale Loris Malaguzzi, view the exhibits and meet with the Centro staff. It was amazing! I was like an Elvis fan visiting Graceland for the first time! Simply put, it was Bellissimo!

So there you have it- Pink Floyd, the Sistine Chapel, and Early Childhood Education all in a semester's work!

Professor Patty Cake Consulting L.L.C. would like to give a huge shout out to all the organizations that worked with us to co-sponsor Katie Halper's (an editor at www.feministing.com ) visit to Cazenovia College last month! Katie's visit to campus was well received and resulted in standing room only during her presentation. Over 100 students, faculty members, and community members flooded Coleman Hall to hear Katie speak about Feminism 101. See Press release. Katie used her sharp wit and humor to remind us that the work is not done, now more than ever we need to work to promote women's rights and female empowerment! Many thanks to Katie for making the trip to Cazenovia. I have told you this before but chatting with you over lunch was like reconnecting with a long lost intellectual sister. I look forward to working with you again in the future! As for those of you looking for a campus speaker, I highly recommend Katie and www.feministing.com. They were wonderful to work with and exhibited the utmost professionalism from start to finish. Check out Katie's blog at http://katiehalper.com/.

As a reminder, Professor Patty Cake Consulting, LLC is booking now for 2014. Please contact us to discuss available dates and special pricing. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Until then.......

Educationally Yours,


Professor Patty Cake


Dr. Erica Vernold Miller introducing
Katie Halper at the Cazenovia College Feministing.com event
Dr. Erica Vernold Miller
outside the Centro
Internazionale Loris Malaguzzi

Professor Patty Cake's ® Spring 2019 P-12 Teacher/Educator Job Fair List

Are you graduating soon and are in search of your first teaching job? Are you currently employed in a school but are looking to make a mo...