Teacher helps stu­dents get hip to The Hip

Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate teacher in­tro­duces new teach­ing method us­ing The Trag­i­cally Hip lyrics

The Compass - - Front page - BY CHRIS LEWIS TC ME­DIA chris.lewis@tc.tc

A teacher at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate is try­ing out some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent when it comes to help­ing stu­dents learn about po­etry. Ed Jarvis is shar­ing the lyrics of Trag­i­cally Hip singer Gord Downie with his English class, hop­ing it will also give them some new­found knowl­edge in Cana­dian his­tory.

Ed­ward Jarvis is a his­tory teacher at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate, but this year he’s started teach­ing an English course as well.

The class is cur­rently fo­cus­ing on po­etry, and Jarvis has been us­ing lyrics from The Trag­i­cally Hip’s songs as a teach­ing tool to not only ed­u­cate the class about the im­pact of po­etry, but also about Cana­dian his­tory.

Jarvis says he orig­i­nally got the idea from a list he read on­line ti­tled “The Trag­i­cally Hip taught us about be­ing Cana­dian these 11 times.” He said he was never a huge fan of the band him­self, but could al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate the sto­ries they told through their lyrics and that this list, pub­lished by The Huff­in­g­ton Post in 2016, only re­in­forced that opin­ion.

“I was pleas­antly sur­prised to see some of the stu­dents ac­tu­ally knew about The Hip.”

— Ed­ward Jarvis

“Songs are, at the end of the day, po­ems,” said Jarvis. “I fig­ured mu­sic was a good way to get the stu­dents in­ter­ested in po­etry. When I read that list, I knew The Hip would be a per­fect band to use.”

Jarvis has four songs cho­sen, and is go­ing through them in­di­vid­u­ally with the class by an­a­lyz­ing the lyrics and pick­ing apart the mean­ing be­hind cer­tain re­frains, all while drum­ming up in­ter­est in Canada’s his­tory.

“Fifty-Mis­sion Cap” was the song Jarvis started out with. Now he and the class have fin­ished study­ing “Bob­cay­geon” and are on their way through The Hip’s song “Wheat Kings,” re­leased in 1992 on their al­bum “Fully Com­pletely”. The fourth and fi­nal song Jarvis plans to cover in class is “Locked in the Trunk of a Car,” which takes in­spi­ra­tion from the story of James Cross, who was kid­napped dur­ing the FLQ cri­sis.

“The stu­dents get to ap­pre­ci­ate not only a great Cana­dian band, but they get to learn some Can­dian his­tory, all while learn­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate po­etry at the same time.”

The teach­ing method has been fairly suc­cess­ful thus far, Jarvis said. He started in early Fe­bru­ary, and spends sev­eral classes study­ing each song. Jarvis ad­mits the class is re­ceiv­ing the new teach­ing method bet­ter than he had an­tic­i­pated, and feels con­fi­dent that, al­though this is the first time he’s tried any­thing like this, it’s go­ing to stick with the stu­dents.

“I was pleas­antly sur­prised to see some of the stu­dents ac­tu­ally knew about The Hip. They’re young, you know, so most of them are more fa­mil­iar with artists like Lady Gaga and what­not,” said Jarvis. “Even if some of the stu­dents don’t re­ally know the band, I think it still makes it eas­ier for them to study some­thing like po­etry when it’s as­so­ci­ated with mu­sic.”


Ed­ward Jarvis uses The Trag­i­cally Hip lyrics as a teach­ing tool for his English stu­dents.


Trag­i­cally Hip front man Gord Downie is also the band’s pri­mary lyri­cist.

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