Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

a steve, a stephen, and bobby

Last week I listened to Stephen Brunt talking to Steve Paikin about his new book, Searching for Bobby Orr. I like to listen to those two talk about sports because they transcend the prose of scores and ranks and milestones. This conversation of myth, legend, magic, identity and shift was no exception. Bobby Orr just turned 60. Here is what Stephen wrote in the Globe and Mail:

"What Orr represents to his generation is one of the great founding stories of Canadian culture. We are a country that produced hockey players organically, born of the rocks and the trees and the ice and snow. Their skill was not the product of science or schooling or technology, but somehow came naturally, emerging from the landscape and the climate, the frozen pond and the backyard rink. Those shiny golden boys could exist out there somewhere in a quiet small town, unknown except to those around them and untouched by the corrupting influences of the big city, of big money and of the big country to the south."

He spoke to Steve about how we find our identity where we choose to and for the generation that grew up with Hockey Night in Canada, hockey players such as Orr are forged out of the place where they first played and embody what Canadians think we are: tough, unpretentious, good team players, shy, modest, and self-effacing. And then Steve asked Stephen whether new Canadians, who do not know who Bobby Orr is, can understand Canada if they do not understand why Orr is important.

And Stephen said:
"This country is not that country. That is the country that you grew up in and the country that I grew up in, when families really did huddle around a television set on Saturday night to watch the one hockey night a week that was available. And everybody did play and they probably played on outdoor ice somewhere...

But there are all kinds of people in this country who grew up somewhere else, or who are growing up now -- my kids won't feel this way. They don't care about this stuff.

... It is very hard in a fragmented culture where everything is accessible from all over the place all the time to find something communal, something that everybody cares about at the same time. It is very hard to hold things together unless you can, at the same time, share a passion with other people. And I am not sure how that is going to work. My kids have grown up in a world where everything from all over the place is there, where their allegiances are not hometown allegiances or national allegiances. They can pick and choose.

This was the only choice we had and that is one of the reasons it became very powerful. What else was there? What else were you going to grasp onto? I think that when that generation passes and they are not as influential as the boomers are right now, I am not sure what it is going to be, but I think we need something.

And that made me ask myself, "Do we?" And, "Was there ever really a time when we all cared about the same thing at the same time?" And, "Why do I feel nostalgic for that even though I never felt completely part of such a phenomenon myself?"

No answers yet.

Listen to the podcast here.


Wendell Dryden said...

I wonder if that's not a '60s and '70s thing. Maybe its my nostalgia talking, but the early '70s really did seem like a time apart for Canada and Canadians. I think "they" broke us in the mean '80s. (And I think we allowed it to happen.) I got shivers down my spine when I read Searching for Bobby Orr. Nowadays, Hockey Night in Canada leaves me cold.

Do you suppose it will ever be like that again?

literacies publisher said...

I have been thinking about what you said about the '60s and '70s. I feel that as well - that it was a time of possibility - but always wonder if that is because I was a kid then.

I saw a play about Willy Brandt last night and it made think about Trudeau and how, for all his faults, he made us think that good citizenship meant to be smarter and more creative and to demand more of ourselves and our politicians.

And now, since Paul Martin(?), we live in an era where our political leaders tell us good citizenship means tightening our belts (when it comes to social programs); being a good consumer/taxpayer; a quiet, uncomplaining, skilled-but-not-too-skilled worker ... and generally demanding less from everyone. Dream crushers.

I am just not sure if it will be like that again. Dreaming and high expectations seem to have fallen out of favour. I enjoy the Simpsons as much as the next person but I am getting a bit sick of living in the "whatever" era.

Or maybe it is just that the dreamers and believers are clustered about in our fragmented, web 2.0 world and once we figure out how to get together, we will live in a time apart for our choir rather than our nation. Maybe this is the time of reclustering.

Live in hope.

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