It sometimes takes Rifftides posts a while to catch up with their subjects. On August 22, 2006, I reported the results of research into the matter of a high school teacher who received a lot of attention in 1993 for using Frank Sinatra to punish miscreant students. Sinatra did not come to class to administer the discipline. Bruce Janu, the teacher, made the wayward kids listen to Sinatra recordings. Over the weekend, Mr. Janu, who teaches at John Hershey High School northwest of Chicago, e-mailed a message to bring us up to date.
Someone recently sent me your blog post about the teacher who used Frank Sinatra as punishment. Well, I am that teacher. I still teach and I still use Sinatra in the classroom. Not so much for punishment anymore…more for enlightenment. I put extra-credit Frank
Sinatra questions on every test and often play Sinatra. In my Contemporary American Text class, I teach the history of jazz and, of course, include some Sinatra there as well. During the whole hoopla surrounding the “detention club,” (it was a slow news day) some reporters attempted to get Sinatra’s comment. Through his press person, it was relayed to the media that Sinatra had “no comment” other than to say that there are plenty of young people who like his music. I hope that in the years that I have been doing this, some kids have grown to appreciate a great singer.
In his teaching of sociology, Mr. Janu incorporates film study. He has developed a parallel career as a documentarian. His first full-scale film, about the genocide in Sudan, last year won awards for best documentary at two film festivals. Facing Sudan has screened at a dozen other festivals across the United States, from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Port Townsend, Washington. For more about Bruce Janu and Facing Sudan, go here.