This is not a post on how technology is changing life in the classroom. There are already way too many articles on this topic and I am really not all that interested in how Flipgrid is revolutionizing education.
This more about a different path for an educator – me.
I retired as an active educator, a principal almost two years ago. I didn’t retire because I couldn’t do the job anymore. I loved the chaos and energy that came with being an elementary principal. I retired because of the unrelenting pressure put on me by a vindictive school board that was committed to turning me out any time I tried to do something different. The last straw for them had to do with my efforts to update lists of eligible FSL teaching candidates for principals on a Google Doc.
In my last year, I was called into the superintendent’s office for a little ‘talk to’ even before the year started. My resignation letter was a defence against senior officials who were set on intimidation.
This, however, is not the main subject of this post. While I am still angry with the school board, there is nowhere to go with this so I just bury it in a dark place, unresolved.
More positively, I am finding my life as an educator continues. Now I have the wonderful responsibility of looking after my 91-year-old mom who moved to Ottawa from Montreal at the end of the summer.
What a wonderful situation. I am freed up from the day to day struggle of being a public (separate) school principal to focus on the woman who raised me and formed me. What a gift this is.
My mom’s residence is just five minutes from our house. She loves it there. One day I arrived to see her sitting on their lovely broad porch sunning herself in the early autumn sun. Eyes closed, big smile, she was so happy and at peace. She said ‘I just love to be outside’.
After a month in the new wonderful residence, she had a series of falls, one resulting in a fractured hip. The hospital was just a few minutes from the residence and I was able to be there within a few hours of the fall and sat with her as she went through all the preliminaries leading up to an operation to fix the hip.
We were at the Ottawa General, and I can’t say enough about the level of care and respect we receive there. I met at least four doctors before the surgery who carefully explained the procedure to me. The chief of emergency medicine talked to me about a procedure they were about to perform. He was a former student I worked with at Holy Trinity High School when I worked on the school’s leadership camp program. Now, many years later, he is a wonderful kind, gentle man who reassured us that my mom would be ok.
Now a month later, I go to the hospital almost every day. I am meeting with care providers, nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. They have become our happy medical family and they treat my mom with beautiful dignity and loving care. They have even set her up with a radio she can listen to in the hallway so she doesn’t miss any of the action.
This is my new life as an educator. Now, I am focusing on just one person and doing my best to support all the medical and health care workers who are helping my mom. It is far from the roles I played in the school system, but I am part of a system and I can see how all these people work together for the care of the elderly.
Family dynamics still play a role in all this. All the members of our family here in Ottawa help out. They visit mom when I need a break. But families are strange. While everyone here is a great help, my one brother living in Toronto refuses to have any contact with any of us and has shut himself off from any information on my mother’s condition. Again, as an educator, this is something I saw when working through difficult family situations. The only difference now is that this is happening within my own family.
Today there are lots of meetings to attend and phone calls to make as we arrange the transition of my mom back to her residence. We have a great, effective team working through this. I was getting emails about the transition as late as 8:30 last night – how great is that!
I am learning lots. We are so fortunate to have such an excellent health care system here in Ontario. We are doubly blessed to have a system that shows so much respect for the elderly.
I love my new role as an educator. I retired into a new role as a caregiver and I feel like I am doing something special.
That deep, dark place recedes more every day. There is so much good out there when you have the opportunity to look for it.
This week I am a bit behind. I am continuing to put out posts to supplement the work that we are doing on the Podcast Broadcast very Saturday on VoicEd Radio. The episodes are archived here.
We do this show because podcasters deserve an audience. They are coming up with great material and it would be very sad if they were voices in the wilderness. They offer refreshing perspectives on a wide range of topics. Conflicting ideas expressed with passion.
The first one – Teaching Keating with Weston and Molly and Wes Kieschnick is called Bad Moms. They are pushing here and I think this is good. What is the role of parents? Are they stepping up as much as they should – does there need to be a more effective bond between the school and the home? Are we only doing half the job?
What would happen if you started a parent-school symposium with this podcast? What energy would be immediately infused into the room – so much better than the usual bland welcoming note for the hapless superintendent!
Their podcast is fun and lively and related always to some movie that acts as a loose intro to the topic. Here is how they linked parenting and Bad Moms in this podcast:
Their comments challenge, so this is a good podcast. It provokes and it stirs things up. I think that is good and you should listen to it. There is definitely an argument that parents could be much more effective as positive partners with their schools. Maybe if they pushed back more in a constructive way we would have a more effective system.
The next podcast is Seal It With a Smile with Juan Campos. This broadcaster is provocative so he is interesting and puts out an effective message. This week he comes right out and says – school is not effective, school is not doing its job.
In the cast of Matthew, one of his students, he is totally right. Matthew has not been seen for his whole school career. What are we doing that this can be allowed to take place? Why is he invisible? What behaviours stem from that?
Here Juan talks about Matthew:
I love this podcast because it is so honest. It is dark and there seems to be no solution. In this case, the story works out because Matthew does finally find a redeeming solution. He does find a sort of family – important because nowhere in the podcast does Juan mention family.
This is an important message here on the limiting and the sometimes alienating impact of the school. Matthew’s solution has nothing to do with school.
Finally, I pulled up a podcast that was actually put out last year. There seemed to be a parenting theme to the week, so I went searching for more material on parenting and school. The impetus has to do with another discussion on VoicEd Radio on This Week In Ontario Edublogs. I am not going to include the clip here, but it involved discussion on a post by Jonathan So entitled Soft Eyes.
It is a good post and it led to a challenging conversation on Twitter. My perspective right now is skewed and it is a challenge for me to see the Soft Eyes perspective. It is true that we can do better with children with an approach that is softer, but there are many cases – especially starting in intermediate – where a harder approach is necessary to protect the other students and staff. Schools remain a battleground, but we don’t talk about that – ever.
Needless to say, my perspective didn’t get any sympathy on Twitter – the soft eyes approach is conventional wisdom now.
So, in a spirit of cooperation, I included a podcast on parent self-reg which was really interesting. It circles through the parent perspective and our need to understand the motivating factors behind the good and bad behaviour of parents. It is a good discussion which concludes with a really helpful outline of the 5 R’s of self-reg.
Reframing – stress behaviour not misbehaviour
Recognize the stressors
Reduce the stress
Reflect – develop stress awareness
Respond – replenish our energy
This is a good guide for all of us as we try to understand self-regulation as it applies to parents, teachers and students.
We didn’t get a chance to play this clip on the broadcast, so it is good to include it here. There was so much to discuss coming out of all this material, but an hour passes very quickly!
Another interesting week with varying and I think, conflicting perspectives. I hope you list to these clips and maybe even the whole podcast. These people – podcasters and bloggers – are offering important perspectives that we are trying to capture every week. The voice of an educator is important and we all need to share what we are hearing.
What will you be learning this week?
It is in the details where things really matter in education. Last week the Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced that the province was taking a ‘pause’ in the awarding of Parents Reaching Out (PRO) Grants. The news got some attention on social media, but do people really understand the impact of this move on parents?
Doug Ford’s government has no doubt found more ‘efficiencies’ by cutting a few million from the education budget, but he has done this on the backs of low-income parents across the province. This is a pretty simple grab by a callous and cynical government who clearly understands that few will really protest the loss of the grants.
In the affluent school communities, the workshops funded through PRO Grants (see a partial list below) will be made up through fundraising in the community. This is one of the unseen inequities in Ontario’s schools. Communities that have the money to support their schools generally have a healthy account that parents can put to use in a whole variety of ways including funding the programs previously supported through the PRO Grant.
In poorer communities, this financial padding is simply not available. PRO Grants allow parents to make a significant impact on the life of the school and in many cases, this was the only money they have during the year to hold significant events for the parent community.
This is the message we used to get from the Ministry of Education. It was positive, empowering and respectful.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2017-18 Parents Reaching Out (PRO) Grants!
We invite your school council to apply for a 2017-18 Parents Reaching Out (PRO) Grant. We know that good schools become great schools when parents are involved in their children`s learning and well-being. PRO Grants for School Councils support projects that help parents identify barriers to parent engagement in their own community and develop local strategies to address these barriers in support of student achievement and well-being.
PRO Grants are available to school councils for a maximum of $1,000.
School councils of publicly funded schools may develop applications individually, in partnership with other school councils, or with other parent or community groups. When partnering with another school council, each school council is responsible for submitting its own application.
I left the date – 2017, this was the last time I had the chance to work with our Parent Council to apply for the PRO Grant. In these years, the Ministry went even farther to make sure money reached low-income parent communities. As long as the ministry received an application, schools like ours were guaranteed to receive the funds they applied for. This was so important, it allowed us to plan events with the certainty that the funds we needed would be granted. This gave low-income schools an advantage. We didn’t have many so it was really good to get some recognition of the disadvantages faced by many families in Ontario.
It is really important for governments to ensure that all parents have a voice and that all parents are empowered. In poorer communities, the parent community has few tools to ensure that they have an impact. We won’t hear from them about the loss of the PRO Grant and this makes it even more important that we talk about the injustice in this most recent provincial action.
The current government is not ‘respecting the taxpayers’ by stopping these grants, they are taking something important from parents who want to be involved in their schools. They are making it harder to engage the parent community in our schools.
If the minister truly cares about the parent community in Ontario she will make a quick reversal of this ill-considered decision.
A good public system needs effective participation by all parents, this action only weakens this system.
I think this is an important series, podcasters are coming up with great material that educators need to be aware of. When we start thinking of new ways to do PD, the material coming out every week offers a wonderful variety of learning opportunities for educators. What do you want to learn? Whose voice do you want to hear?
This week, we will be talking about This Week in Canadian EdTech with Robert Martellacci, My Bad with Jon Harper, Faith in the System by Munazzah Shirwani and the upcoming Digital Citizenship Summit taking place next week in Toronto.
Two of these podcasts have to do with community discussions – this is where new learning really happens. Even in the digital age, face to face conversations offer great new, unscripted learning opportunities.
Robert Martellacci and Stephen Hurley discuss a really interesting initiative that is coming out of Sackville called Sackville 2020. I love this initiative and I would like to hear much more about this. The discussion on the podcast explored how to develop productive partnerships involving both public and private enterprises. The Sackville 2020 initiative as described in the Sackville Tribune Post is developing something new and exciting that takes education out of its traditional silo.
The Sackville Schools 2020 vision is one which includes more outdoor learning spaces, community connections, hands-on learning, inclusive education, bright and open areas, more innovative teaching approaches and so much more. It’s a concept that would help bring more 21st-century approaches to the local education system and to ensure our children are being provided with more experiential and community-based learning opportunities.
Here is part of the discussion on how this initiative is changing how people are envisioning education and outreach into the community.
I would not have known anything about this great initiative if I hadn’t listened in on the podcast this week. This really is new learning that has a great potential to bring us together in a wider community. Could this be a way to innovate into the future of education?
At the very same time, there is a really interesting conference that will take place in Toronto next week, the Digital Citizen Summit or Digcit Summit.
The collection of speakers is impressive and the conversation will be really important. Listening to In Conversation with Stephen Hurley, I realized that the whole theme of the summit has lots to do with something we featured last week when we discussed (too briefly) the work of Jennifer Casa-Todd. I love her positive spirit and the work she is doing to help educators to see the positive side and the wonderful potential of social media in the classroom. At a time when we are getting pushback from all sorts of populist forces that want to stifle the use of social media, this is an enlivening breath of fresh air.
The podcast is a great introduction to the upcoming conference which will have a positive impact on how we use social media in education. Here one of the organizers Carlo Fusco is talking with Stephen Hurley.
The next two podcasts will take listeners in a different, but equally important direction. I really like My Bad by Jon Harper. I would argue that this short, concise podcast should be required listening for educators, especially administrators. Each episode explores a mistake (My Bad) that an educator has made and what they learned from it. It is a humbling experience and one that many educators could benefit from.
In education these days, we are all about making mistakes and learning from them. But the reality is no one likes making mistakes and very few are willing to talk about them. If more people did this we would certainly have a more humane system overall.
I looked at two of Jon’s podcasts this week, one from an administrator who reflects on how she sometimes judged her own admin harshly and the second from an elementary teacher who talks about calling out a 6-year old student in front of his peers. These conversations are difficult to listen to, but maybe this is exactly what we need to be doing. Listening to the mistakes of others and learning to become a little bit more humble is a useful practice.
Here is part of the second conversation.
Finally this week, a podcast that is new to me but one that I will continue to listen to every week. Faith in the System is a podcast by Munazzah Shirwani. In her profile, she calls herself a ‘rookie podcaster’, but she is already really good. I listened to her second episode this week, Confessions of a Sikh High School Teacher. She talks with Amrit Kaur Dhaliwal, program coordinator for a secondary school program at Khalsa Community School in Brampton where she has been teaching for over ten years.
Over 40 minutes the conversation ranges over a number of issues involving faith and schools. It is a really different podcast and it is truly compelling. At one point Munazzah and Amrit get into a discussion about discrimination in Canada and its impact on both of them. This is really important for us to listen to, I have included an excerpt here.
Again, this is terrific stuff and there is so much that we can learn here. The conversation is frank and intelligent and it leads us into a world that is probably unfamiliar to many of us. Here is the beauty of podcasting and digital radio. Within a few minutes, we can take part in important conversations that can inform our practice.
I hope you listen to a few of these snippets. The Podcast Broadcast will air again this Saturday at 10:00 am and I hope you listen in. You never know how these conversations will turn out, but that is the beauty of live radio.
This is a topic I am learning about.
A year and a half ago I retired from a very active job as an elementary school principal. It was a good decision and I don’t regret taking it.
For the first time in 31 years, I am learning and experiencing lots of new things. I have trekked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro through the Western Highlands of Scotland and most recently the Ausangate Range in Peru.
I am much fitter than I was when I had a regular job. Before I was just too busy to keep in good shape and I am a bit shocked how little real exercise I got. My moods were really affected by my work and it took way too long to return to a calm state after the strains of a long school year.
My pace is not so crazy anymore. Apart from my training, I write a lot more, I read and listen more too. I listen especially to lots of podcasts on VoicEd Radio and I really enjoy the work I am doing to help Stephen Hurley and this wonderful venture into the world of internet radio.
There is another side to this which I find interesting. I saw someone last week that I used to work with when I was a principal. She asked what I was doing these days and before I could answer, she made the reply.
I didn’t really bother to correct her, there didn’t seem to be much of a point. When you don’t have a regular job people sometimes don’t know what to do with you.
This is an interesting part of retirement, or it might just be the result of getting older. It is easier when you are not defined by your job to be discounted by others. It is easier to disappear.
It is interesting how quiet things can get. I volunteered to act as a supply principal for my school board when I retired – silence. I have volunteered and applied for other jobs with the same result.
A school in our neighbourhood doesn’t have a regular principal or VP, but because I am from a different school board I can’t even offer my services. I used to do lots of work for the local faculty of education here in our city – that work dried up as soon as I was no longer an active principal.
Other things just don’t make much sense. I visit my mother in the hospital almost daily, but my brother won’t answer my notes to him on how she is doing. It’s almost as if this work is unnecessary and irrelevant. Friends, many of them retired as well, don’t reach out. Opportunities seem to dry up. It is a little like you begin to disappear.
This could go on for a while, as long as I define myself by who I was. At 60, I doubt that I will ever be actively employed again. This is a world that is dominated everywhere by youth – there is still little value placed on the older ones in our society.
To counter this, I need to find my new value. I need to look for the positive opportunity whenever it comes up. I don’t think conventional employers like school boards and universities will change. In some ways that is too bad because I think I have a great deal to offer – especially when a school has no administrators!
Instead, I need to find meaning and value in my own projects or in projects where the door is still open. VoicEd Radio is terrific that way and the creative work within this growing community is wonderful.
The work we are doing with Christie Lake Climb for Kids is a challenge and has the potential to channel more financial support to children who really need a positive change in their lives. This project was started last year when we took our first group of trekkers into the Peruvian Andes up to 5200m. The group trained and fundraised for a year and we made almost $28,000 for Christie Lake Kids programming.
So the future will be defined by the projects that work and the people who are open to what I can still offer. This is a new path.
I am no longer defined by a job I did for 31 years and how I define myself now has to be based on other factors, many that were not all that important when I was working full time. This is a work in progress, one that I don’t often read about but one that is probably worthy of further discussion.
It is interesting with more and more people retiring all the time that this doesn’t seem to be a topic that gets much attention. Do we have any sense of the social capital out there that still has great value?
Maybe this should change. Maybe we should talk more about this.
Thanks to all of you who were able to attend our launch last Friday. We had a great turnout and now we need to fill the final 7 spots to make sure we have a group for 2019. Pretty exciting to see so many people out to celebrate 2018 and hopefully, take part in this year’s trek.
We have 7 trekkers and we need 7 more by mid-November to offer a trip for next July (departure July 12). You may be thinking of going or you may know someone who would be great on this trek. There are always lots of reasons for putting off adventure, but there is only one good reason to go – try something really different that changes you and the lives of children!
I know that the people who went with us last year would all agree with this. Climbing in Peru was great, climbing with a wonderful, committed group of people was even better.
So this week I am making the big push to fill up our group. I am sending emails, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram messages – anything I can think of to get people motivated to move way outside their comfort zone.
What certainly works better than social media is word of mouth. The people who came with us last year were all linked to others in the group. If you are reading this maybe you are that link – bring a friend, a colleague or partner! Think what you can learn and experience together!
If you are planning on waiting until next time you may be too late – life doesn’t wait and neither should you.
To help you make up your mind we do have some resources for you.
- A new ESRI Story Map that has all the information we have on the trip, including the booking form, itinerary and the video invitation.
- a great Climb for Kids digital poster – we have copies of the poster and can make more if you need them. We can even supply you with these to pass on to your friends.
- If it would help if I contacted you or someone else directly via email I am happy to do this – please feel free to pass on my address and phone number (613-218-9615) if this will help.
Climb for Kids is a great group experience – we combine adventure with a unique opportunity to help kids – please consider joining us!!
Booking form: https://bit.ly/2Q06H3u
A very cool Tour de Mont Blue Interactive Map: http://u.osmfr.org/m/206457/
Our video promotion!
Over the past few weeks, Stephen Hurley and I have started a new venture on VoicEd Radio. We are broadcasting about some of the podcasts that are produced every week on VoicEd Radio. We call it the Podcast Broadcast.
There is no firm criteria on what gets chosen, but so far we have been focusing on some of the material that has been produced exclusively for VoicEd Radio. More accurately, we are looking at podcasting that has been inspired by the explosion of material being produced by educators both in Canada and the United States about every aspect of education at all levels.
So, I am using my blog as a way to organize my thoughts before going ‘live’ to discuss the weekly collection of material. Our broadcasts are one hour long, which seems like a long time, but when you are trying to get to the heart of four very different podcasts you really have to make sure you are organized and concise.
This week we are looking at podcasts by and then about some of the best broadcasters on VoicEd Radio.
I started this week by listening to Shukes and Giff, an edtech podcast by Jen Giffen and Kim Pollishuke. They start each podcast I think if I was still active in the classroom, I would have to listen to this one every week. Their broadcasts are usually around 30 minutes long and they really pack a punch. Both teachers come prepared with an assortment of new innovations and announcements for the classroom. As they say, they are committed to sharing the edtech treasures they love. They also start each week with a joke, it’s hard to do better than that!
Why shouldn’t you play cards in the jungle?
Because there are too many cheetahsShukes and Giff
Apart for the great rapid-fire banter that goes on throughout the show, the notes included as part of their weekly work are truly incredible. Everything is hyperlinked with notes that you can use to follow up on their recommendations.
Here is a sample of their notes page for this one episode – so useful!
- The New Google Classroom Resources
- The New Flipgrid
- YouTube Editor is back! via Grantwood AEA
- Audio Player for Slides by Chris Craft
- ImgPlay – make your own GIFs
- CheckItOut Forms Add-on
- Saving Images from Google Docs
It would be great to get to know more about these really dynamic educators. So, Ramona Meharg, in her podcast, I Wish I Knew EDU recently had both of them on for a wide-ranging conversation about podcasting, education conferences and networking and the future of education. The idea behind this show is pretty cool, to explore the things you wished you knew when you started out in education.
In this podcast, it is really interesting to hear how Kim and Jen started out and how podcasting has become a natural extension of the work they do as education resource people for their schools. People with this much energy really need a voice beyond the confines of their own district.
On our full show, Stephen and I will listen and talk about two more clips from Ramona’s show. The great thing about her podcast is that it is one hour long, so you can really get a sense of the people she is interviewing. Ramona is one in a growing list of podcasters who are giving voice to great broadcasters who really should be heard.
So, there is a theme to this post and this week’s Podcast Broadcast. I am featuring podcasters and podcasts about the podcasters. VoicEd Radio has created a space where people can come together and learn with each other.
What is interesting now is that there are a whole series of broadcasts that feature other podcasters. I find it fascinating to learn from the ones who are creating content on a weekly basis.
Along with Shukes and Giff, we will also be looking at the work of Jennifer Casa Todd and her Social Leadia podcast. Jennifer is doing some really interesting work that follows the premise of her book. Social media should not be seen as something destructive for our students. Instead, we need to look for ways to empower students to use social media in positive and creative ways. The way this is approached in the classroom makes all the difference. In her podcast series, Jennifer seeks out and interviews students who are using social media in new ways that enrich the learning in the classroom.
In this episode, Jennifer is interviewing Josh Feinsilber, the student inventor of Gimkit, a game inspired by the desire to improve on the popular educational quiz game Kahoot. Josh is exploring ways to enhance the in-class experience for both teachers and students. It is a really interesting project and an excellent example of how social media is able to bring about innovation and change.
Stephen Hurley interviews Jennifer Casa Todd in his innovative series the MADPD Spotlight. Series like this one and Ramona’s are really important. These interviews give podcasters the chance to explain the ideas behind their shows. In both broadcasts, I learned a great deal about what inspires both Shukes and Giff and Social Leadia.
Shukes and Giff is all about sharing and exploring the wide evolving world of edtech – essential listening for anyone who wants to keep current on the learning tools available to teachers and students.
In Social Leadia, there is a really essential exploration of the current debate on the impact of social media on the student. The current thinking, especially in Ontario where the new government is considering banning cell phones in the classroom is that social media enables inappropriate responses from young people. Jennifer argues that we need to give children the opportunity to see social media in a different light. Social media as a place to converse, learn and grow – there needs to be an interruption in the negative narrative that currently exists.
We will feature more clips on our broadcast, but this clip will give you a sense of the rich conversation between Stephen and Jennifer.
Four podcasts and one hour to feature all this great material. It will be a challenge, but if we are able to attract more listeners to these broadcasts then the effort is certainly worthwhile. There is a great new world of learning out there and I hope you all take some time to dip in for a listen!
I get most of my good education content from VoicEd Radio. There’s a good reason for this. I no longer work in a school, and even if I did, there would be no way to gather up the diversity of opinion that I find on the VoicEd Radio podcasts. Working within a school board certainly does not open you up to a variety of ways of looking at issues.
This week I listened to one of the banner shows on VoicEd Radio – ONedMentors. They were grappling with the question of how you define mentorship. This is not something I think about these days. I am a retired educator, what would I have to do with mentorship?
An interesting thing happens when you retire. Your opinion has less value. I can think of many people and organizations that valued what I had to say when I was a principal. When you leave that job, many leave you.
What I have failed to consider is that retirement can turn you into a mentee. I am not offering my opinions and advice very much these days, but I need new information, I need to learn once again from others.
Retirement allows you to try new experiences and start the learning journey all over again. If you let yourself, you can take new risks and you can really open yourself up to learn from others.
Now I am interested in mentors to help me learn about digital radio and podcasting, trekking and climbing, and photography! These are all new passions that I simply didn’t have time for when I was working in a school.
Getting back to the original question – what is mentorship? I think the definition is simple – mentorship is all about connecting to life-long learning – we naturally seek out mentors as we move into new areas that we are not comfortable in – so we seek ideas and help.
When you put yourself in risky situations, and by that I mean new learning you are forced to grow and seek out others who can help you out. Along with the great podcast, a few of us followed along on Twitter.
New can be scary – new means taking a risk and it is OK to acknowledge that this is a challenge and can sometimes be scary. Try doing something really new and really scary – once you do that you will seek mentors.
I have a whole new group of mentors now. I am learning about digital broadcasting, I am following a tough physical training program for the first time in my life. I am committed to taking on high-altitude climbs and I really need to get better at documenting these trips.
The people who are helping me probably do not see themselves as mentors, but they are. They are leading me in new ways and I am very grateful to them.
So, the risks and discomfort are worth it. It is Ok to say you don’t know, even at 60. So, take a risk, get a mentor and learn something new – it is never too late!
I would love to work with these guys. They are political and that is something unique. They are honest and they are really brave.
I saw Andrew Campbell’s tweet earlier today and I knew I was going to write about it. This is something that bothers me. We are in a unique and dangerous time in our world. We have a totally dangerous demagogue in Donald Trump and now in Ontario, we have a ‘mini-me’ in Doug Ford.
Peter Cameron speaks out. He is bold in his criticism of standardized testing and he promotes a new form of education that supports the values and ideas of indigenous peoples in Canada. He is an activist.
Andrew Campbell was writing every day about the absurd changes that are happening in Ontario. He chronicled the growing dissent of school boards against changes to the physical and health education curriculum in this province. He was a lone, strong voice.
Yes, these are dangerous times and most educators are doing very little. Am I missing something? Are there more voices?
This summer while trekking in Peru, I had a chance to have a good long conversation with a wonderful educator I worked with at my last school. She was from the Balkans when she was younger and saw the destruction that took place in Bosnia in the 1990’s.
What really struck me was what she said about how people reacted to the growing strident language coming from politicians. They didn’t get involved. They didn’t vote, they let things go. Nothing bad could ever happen, right?
Are we in a similar situation here? Do we just not react? Do we see any political comment as beyond the pale? Are we a little too meek?
It might be easy to criticize me for writing this now – I am retired and am beyond reach. But I did make comments while I was a part of the system. I usually got in trouble, but I did say something. It didn’t seem like I had a choice. I was more than a little surprised that I did get in trouble. When I made public comments about student drug use in the schools or the Catholic bishops of Canada I wasn’t making things up.
Truth hurts I guess.
So, like Andrew Campbell, I don’t get it. Teachers on social media you are doing all of us a disservice. I hate to say this, but there is a problem with your silence.
My background is history. We have all heard the tired old statement, if you don’t learn from history you are doomed to repeat.
Well, it’s true and educators need to step up.
Choose your issue – it’s not like there is a vacuum out there. But choose your issue and speak up. You have the best platform ever and you shouldn’t leave it up to Peter and Andrew.
You really can leave your branding alone for a while and speak from the heart. We will all be encouraged when you finally do. And we are waiting for you.