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Music defying its power…

News headlines hit the streets…
“Tupac Shakur dead after being shot” 13th September 1996 : Tupac and other West Coast rappers have had a long running rivalry with the East Coast rappers; conspiracy theories about a revenge killing rocketing through the music industry.

Before you decipher something completely wrong about this article, it is not a protest against any rap music. It is more of a protest against the media-hyped music, which portrays everything so negatively! The present music culture has captured the youth of today's crossing all socio-economic and ethnic styles around the world. Youngsters today look up to models so that they can shape their values and goals; like looking up to a famous footballer. Given the number of hours exposed to violence, anti-social behaviours and movie-like real escapades around them, some of us have unfortunately come to believe that violence is cool, the norm, and also admirable. It is hard to find a decent music without the cuss words! It is so hard to find a hip-hop video that does not portray women negatively…

Gangster Rap:
Before you start shooting me, let me say something unbiased- music only directs you towards certain things; it cannot control you. Now for the bias- where has gangster rap taken everybody? There are very few less popular rappers who rap about a definitive message. I trust they are not mainstream rappers at all. Gangster rap wasn't originally bad, but a lot of confusion was promoted by the greedy hyped media and the obligated rappers just had to abide by the rules. Unfortunately even this time, the blacks were scapegoats. If you are thinking, 'Hey…there are silly love songs in other genres as well'. For them here is a special note, love songs have been here for ages but their lyrics did not use any slang as much as the rappers now use. Least they did not have lyrics like 'T^*g love! The gangster attitude of the music of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg is totally off-track the old African American rap. Now the general idea is, “If you mess with me, I would kill you!” Recently the WWE (which is by the way the most watched fake drama entertainment watched by gazillion kids around the world), wrestler-rapper John Cena released a rap music album … guess what the hit single is? 'I am a bad, bad man' The 'Cena' fever undoubtedly hit the deshi market and little WWE fans are now rapping to being a 'bad man'. This sows seeds of evil in young minds! And guess what? People like it!

It ain't just rap:
Music videos nowadays have hints of violence, anger, disgust and what not. A more recent genre called Death Metal (!) has taken the underground scene by storm. My friends who like Death Metal say that the music expresses the anger and repression they face in life; characterized by growling or vomit growling (!) I do not know whether it is easy to growl or not, but what I do know is that the music videos of some of the Death Metal bands show extreme body mutilations and these often provoke young minds to something they may not understand at the growing ages of 12 to 15. The choices are endless.

Even after all this controversy on music videos, CDs containing explicit lyrics are sold worldwide under the label 'Parental Warning: Explicit Lyrics'. My question is (Bangladesh apart, due to its un-resisted piracy), how can children of other well off countries like US, Singapore and Malaysia (even after their strict music policy) sing these explicit songs? The music channels like MTV and VH1, almost always show videos of songs featuring women in thinly clad dresses and saying abusive language, dancing in an equally unpleasant way. Un-resisted and un-censored, these videos and songs are demeaning to the child's mind.

Opinions expressed in this article are the writer's own. Bug her at critico.nino@gmail.com

By Critico Nino

Teen Diaries
Through a teacher's eyes

Recap: Over the last few weeks, we've seen the teens of RS high ride an emotional roller-coaster through their first semester in the new Academic year. This week, we've torn a page out of a draft of the much-debated Hafiz Sir's student report, and we're looking at the weeks gone by through his perspective.

After coming to RS high, my first assignment was to take charge of biology of class 8 section Pluto. Although I come from social science background (first class first marks in M.SOC), biology had always been my love. Besides, the class boasted a group of nicely rounded individuals who showed much promise and ability to take up challenges when asked. So I was glad to accept the assignment. But it had not been a smooth ride, and I didn't expect it to be either.

It was exciting to see my pupils go through some of the adolescent blues that I had gone through during my high school. Friendship, jealousy, puppy love, competition, it was like going back to your yesteryears. Academically, the class is sound, but I would specially like to mention Afrida. In spite of her unusual taste in fashion and in your face sarcasm, (there's always one out of the bunch, isn't it?) she had given the most attention to her studies, and so earned my rear “friendly warmth”. Although I am known as a strict teacher, this is really largely a false mask I have put on. Years of teaching had taught me one thing, the best reward according to a student is when the strictest of teacher is giving you the marks, and it instills a sense of challenge to be able to get that.

Anyway, throughout the first half of the year, I had had much difficulty dealing with Prianka and Lamia. Not that they are bad students, but it probably had much to do with them thinking I am rather “uncool”. Maybe I have been too strict; one ought to be softer with growing ladies. Prianka also seemed out of sorts with Afrida and Sadia. Which is why I thought it would be best to pair Prianka with Afrida to help them to have a better understanding with each other. I am happy to say that it had worked out well.

Sports seem to fuel today's kids more than any other thing. In my days, I would not have expected to see the girls take active part in sports, specially a men sport like Basketball. But it was my pride that one of MY students, Prianka, was elected the captain of RS High Girls Basketball team. I bet Prianka had no idea I often check on her and others to see how they were doing at the Gym. She is an exciting player. Encouraging her loudly for her efforts could help her come to realize that I am not exactly “Enemy of the people”. Saquib is also the captain of the Boys team. I have often caught the two captains around the corner caught up with each other. How the unheard sound of two hearts beating together in harmony can cause much stir in my old bones, is one of the mysteries of Biology.

By Tanvir Hafiz

Autistism welfare foundation

Many people of our age know little about autism and tend to mix it up with disabilities of different types. Doctors term it as “invisible disability” that restricts people from communicating to others properly. In such cases, the brain lacks certain developments so the autistic person has a difficult time making sense of the world and everything around him/her. We had the rare opportunity of working with such autistic children at the Autistism Welfare Foundation (A.W.F) in Shamoli and we believe it had been a rewarding experience, worth sharing.

Established in April 2004, the A.W.F has been working continuously and dedicatedly for the betterment of autistic children. The foundation school (known as Kanon) has included in its curricula, activities such as sports, music and art, which are followed in mainstream schools. This greatly improves the students' social and communication skills and behavioral patterns. The children are generally taught to make eye contact, or respond to stimuli, which are premeditated by the teachers.

Next on the agenda are academics, where each individual is expected to complete an academic task, set according to his or her capability. A.W.F tries its level best to train its students to be as independent as possible. Children are expected to do chores, like cleaning the table, packing away lunch boxes and water bottles, dental cleansing, etc. To enhance the students' concealed creativity and talent, A.W.F has integrated art classes into their daily activities.

The foundation also runs a Vocational Training Program for adolescents. Here children aged ten and above are taught the art of handicrafts, secretarial work, gardening, and cafeteria service. Recreational activities are vital for the successful mental and physical development of children. Everyday, students at A.W.F indulge in sports like basketball and football. It's really interesting to watch them at play, as each child has a unique style of playing.

Children with autism have an affinity for music and to quench their thirst, music sessions are held regularly. Outings are organized on Thursdays, to local shops, ice-cream parlors, eateries etc.

This not only helps them to blend with the society, but also teaches them a bit of accounting, as students are encouraged to make, and pay for their purchases on their own.

During our first few days with these special children, we were like other learners in class. The teachers, who seemed to be more like mothers dealt with the children very lovingly, calmly and efficiently. Each of the children had their own special abilities. What was common is that they were all equally adorable.

Here, we learnt that a child's “abilities” are much more important than his or her “disabilities”. There's just a one letter difference between the words “autistic” and “artistic”, which they simply are.

By Tushmit Mehruba Hasan, Amreen Rahman, Samiha T. Chowdhury, and Sabhanaz Rashid Diya


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