Teacher helps students get hip to The Hip
Carbonear Collegiate teacher introduces new teaching method using The Tragically Hip lyrics
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.