By Prescott James, The Daily Graphic
Abbie Hoffman, a prominent American activist, once said, "The 60's
are gone, dope will never be as cheap, sex never as free and the rock
and roll never as great." However, there are some students at Portage
Collegiate Institute, who take a History of Rock and Roll course with
James Kostichuk, that may just disagree with Hoffman's statement.
For Kostuchuk and his students, the rock and roll is still great and
the course work they do reflects this.
Kostuchuk has been teaching the course for two years now, and as far
as he is concerned, teaching through music has been one of the most
rewarding things he has done at the high school. The idea for the
course came to Kostuchuk through one of his former students, and
since that point, the course flowered into the form it is today.
"One of my former students had taken a University course on the
history of rock and roll, and he brought a textbook back to me with
some other materials. I started looking at it, and it seemed like a
worthwhile field of study because it connects a lot of things like
poetry, music and social history to something that young people
enjoy," explained the teacher.
Despite the unconventional nature of this particular course,
Kostuchuk has received an impressive amount of support from the
school division. In addition to stocking PCI's library shelves with
biography and history books about famous rock and rollers, the school
board will be sending Kostichuk and his co-teacher, Shane Sobkowich,
who also plays in a popular local band, to the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame in June, a gesture Kostuchuk is grateful for. Of course, the two
Portage teachers won't be inducted into the Hall of Fame; instead,
they will be attending a conference to help enhance the course.
"It is called the Summer Teacher Institute, and it is a five day
event. It is just intense instruction on the use of rock and roll
across the curriculum. If you look at the program, it is quite
intense, but I am excited to be exposed to different types of music
and to see how to incorporate rock into existing courses," stated Kostuchuk.
It is Kostuchuk's desire to incorporate the skills and materials he
receives at this conference to further expand and improve his own
course and maybe provide in-services for other Portage teachers on
how to use rock and roll in their own classrooms.