Author: Devon Brichetto

Visitor stages musical Odyssey

On Friday, Feb. 27, Joe Goodkin performed his original musical version of The Odyssey. Goodkin has been performing his version of The Odyssey since 2003 for high school and college students all across the country. The Odyssey was comprised of 24 short songs and lasted only a half an hour, followed by a brief question and answer session. Song titles such as “Enough” and “So Close” described Odysseus’s trials, challenges and his return home. Goodkin’s lyrics, combined with his voice, deepen the connection between the story and the listener. Although this particular version of The Odyssey was short and may have left out some parts from Homer’s original, the audience did not leave the building unsatisfied. The performance stands well on its own and both enriches and entertains.

When Goodkin began to tell the story of Odysseus’s epic journey back to his home and to his love, Penelope, 10 years after the end of Trojan War, the audience fell silent. Goodkin’s music was enrapturing in a way that made it easy to forget about everything except the music. His guitar and his voice blended harmoniously as the story progressed and the listener really began to feel for Odysseus.

Goodkin admits to portraying Odysseus in a more vulnerable light in his version than he is portrayed in Homer’s original. Goodkin commented that one of the things that makes Odysseus vulnerable is his ability to believe the lies he tells himself. For those unfamiliar with the original story of The Odyssey, Odysseus claims to have been trapped on the island Ogygia and imprisoned by the beautiful nymph Calypso. This is just one of the so-called lies; the reader questions whether or not Odysseus was really trapped or if he had willingly stayed. Details like this are easy to miss in Goodkin’s shortened version. However, Goodkin’s rendition is a fine and well-done piece of art, nonetheless.

The performance took place in front of an audience of about 50 people in the Fosness Room of Christiansen Hall of Music. The audience was a blend of students and faculty with a passion for the classics, students of the Great Conversation program and those who simply love music. The music and the performance were well received.

During the question-and-answer session following the performance, Goodkin received questions about his methodology, inspiration and process of creating a musical version of The Odyssey. Goodkin’s responses revolved around the fact that he combined his two loves in life: the classics and music. Goodkin holds a bachelor’s degree in Classics from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. His knowledge and expertise on the subject was evident in the details of his songs.

As he answered questions and responded to comments, Goodkin’s passion and love for the work he does shone through. His enthusiasm for both music and the classics, particularly for The Odyssey, was infectious and was felt throughout the room.

Goodkin’s performance was especially unique because it included a PowerPoint with the lyrics of each song. This contributed to both the performance and the reaction of the audience. With lyrics on the screen, each audience member was able to sing along. Goodkin had previously said that this performance was for the audience, and he was true to his word.

Goodkin took the extra steps to ensure the audience was satisfied with his performance. In this way, the show was not merely an audience passively observing a performer, but instead it was a fun, interactive exchange, with the performer and the audience participating equally. Both the performer and the audience were able to take something away from the experience.

Goodkin said that he had previously played around with the idea of creating a similar performance surrounding another Homer epic, The Iliad. However, he is reluctant to do so because he feels that The Iliad‘s musical style would not match his. He imagines The Iliad to have a more rock feel to it, while his style leans to the folk side of things. He does, however, hope to continue performing The Odyssey for as long as people continue to request it – so it looks like The Odyssey is going to be around for a while.


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Digital pedagogy brings technology to the classroom

As technology continues to improve and spread, it is only natural for it to arrive in the classroom. As computers, tablets and smartphones become more readily available, it is becoming easier and easier for students to use the Internet and to communicate with the world, especially through social media sites such as Facebook, Vine and Twitter. Dr. Brian Croxall, a professor at Emory University, has used the Internet in several ways to challenge his students both inside and out of the classroom.

On Thursday, Feb. 19, Dr. Brian Croxall presented “Assignments & Architecture: Pedagogy in the Digital Age.” Dr. Croxall started out his lecture stating that he had four lessons.

Lesson one: go public with the work. Dr. Croxall explained that in order to make his students work harder he makes them keep a blog that the entire class can see and read, as well as the rest of the world. His reason for this extreme approach is that he knows that students will work harder when their peers can view their work. Students can wait until the last minute to write a paper and do decently, because they know their audience is just one professor. But when the student’s peers have to judge their work the student is more inclined to work hard because they care more about what their friends think that what their teacher thinks.

One of the ways Dr. Croxall uses the Web in his classroom is he makes his students acquire a domain and blog. An alternative to a blog could be the Moodle forum, but the problem with this method is the rest of the world cannot interact. With a blog, both students in the classroom and students in classes at other schools across the country can contribute as well as people who simply share an interest. Another example of technology in the classroom is building an iPad app. The app does not have to be functional; rather, the students can storyboard one of the books they read in class.

In response to a question of what he would like to see in the classroom, Dr. Croxall said, “Show me something totally new.” Nothing is worse than for a class to do the same repetitive projects and to write papers on topics frequently done before. Instead professors and teachers should work on developing new innovative projects that incorporate multimedia, because not only do they build experience with working with different forms of technology, but they also open up the world. College tends to be a place separated from the rest of the world. It is easy to forget in the midst of everything that there is a whole world beyond the campus life.

Lesson two is build with a team. A lot of the work in Dr. Croxall’s class is group-based. The problem with group-based work is sometimes there are a few students who do all the work and a student who does little to no work. In an attempt to compensate for this, Dr. Croxall requires student evaluations.

For groupwork, Dr. Croxall makes the projects too difficult for an individual student to handle on his or her own. This way he can reward the students who do their work and penalize the students who do not. Group work is a useful practice in college, because after students graduate, they will most likely acquire a job that requires them to work with other people. Group work allows students to build the experience they need to be better prepared for the world.

Lesson three is “form follows function.” Considering Dr. Croxall is professor of digital humanities and English, some of the projects he has outlined for his class may not be applicable to classes from the biology or political science department. Dr. Croxall is excited for other professors to start developing their own projects within their own fields in the hopes of using them in his own classroom. It would be interesting to see professors across the country build projects off each other, resulting in new and interesting ideas.

This leads to lesson four: build something that hasn’t been built before. School is redundant as it is. New and innovative assignments could lead to inspiration that would lead others to challenge themselves in new and creative ways.

Our world is changing and it is changing fast. Technology is spreading and students need to know how to use it. Dr. Croxall’s talk on incorporating multimedia into the classroom was exciting, interesting and hopefully inspirational to others.

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Shooter disproves typical profile

On Oct. 24, freshman Jaylen Fryberg entered Marysville Pilchuck High School’s cafeteria and opened fire. Fryberg killed one student identified as Zoe Galasso and injured six others. Two of his victims, Andrew Fryberg and Nate Hatch, have been identified as his cousins. Two other students have not been identified and suffered minor injuries. Gia Soriano and Shaylee Chuckulnaskit died from the injuries on Oct. 26 and 31, respectively.

School shootings have become all too common in recent years, but this shooting was especially unique in that Jaylen Fryberg seemed to have had targets rather than shooting aimlessly, hoping to cause as many deaths as possible. The Marysville shooting is also different in the sense the Fryberg was not classified as an outcast or a lonely student. In fact, he was quite popular and well-liked by the student body. He had even been crowned homecoming prince only a week before the shooting occurred.

I think the occurrence of this specific tragedy makes us realize that there is no one single type of person that is capable of such violence and destruction. Jaylen Fryberg has been described as sociable, popular and well-liked by all. What I hear from other people when they typically think about mass shooters is that they imagine an outcast of sorts who comes from an unstable home life. The Marysville shooting provides a different perspective about who is capable of terrible acts and the motivations behind said acts.

There have been various reports about Fryberg’s motivation, but one possible reason is that he was recently rejected by Zoe Galasso, who died in the cafeteria, a few days prior to the shooting. Galasso and Andrew Fryberg, Jaylen Fryberg’s cousin and fellow victim were reportedly dating. Another possibility is that Jaylen Fryberg and his reported girlfriend Shilene George had broken up a few days before the shooting due to Fryberg becoming violent with George. Other reports suggest that there had been an altercation between Fryberg and another football player that involved a racial slur. Fryberg wound up punching the other football player and was later suspended from the football team.

In other school shootings, the underlying reasons seemed more vicious and vengeful, like the Columbine shooting, where Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold sought to attack the student body as a whole for rejecting them. In a shooting like Sandy Hook, perpetrator Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with some behavioral problems that manifested in violence and resulted in the death of 27 people. But Jaylen Fryberg was loved and accepted by his fellow students. Fryberg, in targeting his own friends and family, succeeded in causing great pain to the people who loved him the most.

The events at Marysville Pilchuck High School reveal that there is more to school shootings and violence than who is accepted and who is rejected. There are deeper underlying reasons we do not fully understand that contribute to this type of violence. Widespread media exposure may be a factor, as it is a common and effective way to stimulate a reaction among the populous. It is also possible that because school shootings and similar acts of violence have become more common that the general population, young adults especially, has become desensitized to this type of violence. These acts of violence will not stop until we become fully aware of the reasons behind them and find a way to address these reasons.

Devon Brichetto ’18 is from Grand Rapids, Mich. Her major is undecided.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Addiction as “learning disorder” asserts unfair reductionism

Maia Szalavitz, columnist and contributor to, believes that the world is approaching drug addiction from the wrong angle. In her article “Most People With Addiction Simply Grow Out of It: Why Is This Widely Denied?” she compares drug addiction to a learning disorder rather than a disease. Szalavitz argues that people tend to cease their drug use during their early- to mid-twenties due to the prefrontal cortex reaching full maturity. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that controls judgment and self-restraint.

I believe Szalavitz is confusing addiction with substance abuse. Both substance abuse and addiction can result in an inability to fulfill social, professional and personal obligations, and both can result in legal problems. There are many similarities between addiction and substance abuse, so the confusion is understandable, but the big difference between the two is that addicts exhibit signs of tolerance, dependence and treatment withdrawal.

One cannot “grow out” of addiction like one can “grow out” of substance abuse. A drug addict’s entire life is consumed with obtaining the substance and with it his or her next high, while a substance abuser may have retained some control over his or her life.

Szalavitz claims that “for people like me, who have used drugs in such high, frequent doses and in such a compulsive fashion … it is hard to argue that we ‘weren’t really addicted.’ I don’t know many non-addicts who shoot up forty times a day, get suspended from college for dealing and spend several months in a methadone program.”

However, she is missing a crucial fact. A substance abuser can shoot up forty times a day and have all the signs and symptoms of an addict, but be missing the dependency aspect. A substance abuser has not yet developed a dependency on the drug, nor has he or she developed a tolerance. But both an abuser and an addict may suffer from interpersonal and social problems as a result of their drug use.

Szalavitz also argues that there is evidence to suggest that children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder ADHD eventually “grow out” of their symptoms. But this is simply inaccurate according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. The CDC states that ADHD symptoms can cause difficulty at school, with friends and at work and can last into adulthood.

Szalavitz also views addiction as a learning disorder, but the problem with that perspective is that learning disorders do not cause physical changes in the brain. Addiction is a disease that causes a physical change in the brain chemistry. This change results in the development of tolerance, withdrawal and dependency. Most drugs are one of two types: they work by binding to a site and then either blocking or mimicking a protein’s effects. As a disease, addiction differs from a learning disorder in that learning disorders are largely a result of genetics. However, addiction could be a combination of a genetic predisposition as well as environmental factors.

Another major difference between learning disorders and addiction as a disease is that people with a disease can relapse. People with a learning disorder cannot relapse because there is nothing to relapse from. A relapse is a period of deterioration after a period of improvement. People with a learning disorder must learn how to handle and manage their lives around the disorder. People with a drug addiction have their lives revolve around the drug. After developing dependency and crossing the line that separates substance abuse and being an addict, the next high is all that matters. With a learning disorder, the afflicted person is still in control of themselves while the addict is completely at the mercy of the drug.

Szalavitz’s perspective is an interesting take on drug addiction. Unfortunately, drug addiction is a disease that people cannot simply grow out of. No human can age out of a disease, especially after his or her brain chemistry has been altered. I do not believe addicts can grow out of their addiction – at least not a chemical one.

Devon Brichetto ’18 is from Grand Rapids, Mich. Her major is undecided.


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