Monday, September 28, 2009

Can You Help Me Make a 3 Foot Putt?

Sometimes it's a seemingly simple task, that proves to be a barrier to achievement. For me, it's the shortest shot in golf; for others, it may be the simple act of getting out the door to start the day. The frustrating thing about either task, is that most would be able to accomplish the task with little effort.

This brief podcast is a reflection on how we're struggling with a debilitating avoidance of school. Maybe you can help us to make this metaphoric 3 foot putt?

Photo Credit: eMaringolo

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Great Destination

great destination by =henryz on deviantART

I love this image. To me it evokes a fantastic sense of unbridled creativity. Although the artist didn't willingly create a vision for education, let me unpack the scene as I see it...

On the whole, this place appears to be more about creation rather than regurgitation. Do we encourage our charges to learn with the intent of improving their own world?

Although the buildings do appear to be the destination, the learner appears to expect to do his work as a part of the larger natural environment. How do our learning environments expose learners to exploration and creation in the real world?

This young person appears to arrive of his own accord. Perhaps he senses his responsibility for designing his own future. What can be done to lead learners to see such purpose in their own daily work?

A vast range of tools for creation (including an iPod) are at the disposal of this young person. Are such tools readily available to our own students; and are they supplemented with modern digital tools?

I appreciate the fact that the lone chair in the scene sits empty. Which changes to your daily routine might lead students to work in settings beyond such uncomfortable chairs?

What makes your school or classroom a 'Great Destination'?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wake Up!

This week's global 'Wake Up' calls delivered an critical environmental message in a wide variety of ways. I'm left wondering how we might initiate a similar wake up call for education?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Snowbirdie Golf Tournament

In a past life, I attended Assumption High School in Windsor, Ontario. I didn't know it while growing up in the 80's, but my career was destined to unfold in parallel with the careers of many of my peers.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to reminisce with many personalities and faces that I hadn't seen in 27 years! Although the Snowbirdie Golf Tournament was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of a tragic accident, the day was filled with laughter, story-telling, and genuine camaraderie.

On September 3, 1989, I was spending Labour Day preparing to begin my third year teaching in London, Ontario, when the news from Toronto highlighted a story about Canada's Snowbirds aerobatic flying team. In a tragic accident, one of the Snowbird pilots was unable to eject after a mid-air collision sent two Tutor jets into Lake Ontario. The pilot who died in the accident, was Shane Antaya, a classmate from Assumption, whose exploits are now celebrated by once youthful men, in golf attire.

Interestingly, I've now discovered that many of my closest friends from high school, have gone on to careers in the field of education. I've reconnected with classmates who are once again my colleagues: a high school vice principal; an art teacher; a psych consultant; and a kinesiology professor.

The Snowbirdie Golf Tournament has now taken place 19 times, and although it has taken me two decades to discover this event, my experience in reconnecting with my sports-loving classmates has left me wanting for more. This is one event that is sure to be on my summer golf calendar for years to come.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The WHMIS Test

Among the first acts undertaken by teachers in my district school board, is the annual WHMIS training/testing. In short, teachers are reminded of the safety guidelines for working with hazardous materials in the workplace, and then are 'tested' to demonstrate their understanding of related policies, procedures and guidelines.

When it comes to the culminating test, teachers are asked to complete a multiple choice quiz that includes questions drafted with the intent to deceive. Our response: Cheat!

Most teachers undertake the quiz in a group setting where answers are openly shared. Others take the quiz online, with a web browser open to the content of the WHMIS presentation. And in the most extreme cases, educators simply fill in the correct answers as a group, under the direction of the 'teacher'.

Even though the information is presented for the safety and well-being of students and teachers alike, my experience is that most educators demonstrate a genuine disdain for the entire process. While teachers wouldn't give such a test to students without rigid structures in place to ensure the validity of the test, we somehow see it as OK to just wink our way through the exercise.

Maybe it shouldn't bug me so much, but I wish more teachers recognized the folly of such tests when working with their own students!

Image Credit: Keven Law