Now I am teaching my 4th semester of this course and each time there are 1 – 4 students who do not exist. They are registered but never show up, no assignments submitted. I write and ask where they are or I express concern that their marks will reflect their absence and probable failure. Sometimes, near the end they reply and ask to be passed – though they never attended or did the work. There is usually a story, tragic circumstances, and I am asked to be compassionate. I notice the repetition of these dynamics, like when trying to figure out a musical motif, without any repetition it is not yet a pattern. I have theories about the patterns but will never know for sure what’s going on. I like weighing how to honour the people who do what is expected and those who do not. It is an improvisational problem. An Ornette.

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