The Education Battle

I went to see Gifted last night with a friend. I’ll admit it isn’t hard to convince me to see a ‘pull on your heart strings‘ movie with Chris Evans in it.  I expected the tears (you could hear the sobbing in unison at one point in the theatre) but not the reflection on education. Maybe that’s silly, it’s a movie about education after all.

In case you haven’t seen it, the movie in a sentence: An uncle is raising his math prodigy niece in a less than ideal but happy environment when grandma, mathematician herself  wants to pull her away to study math and solve unsolvable problems.

It’s always hard watching movies about education. There are always a few cringe worthy moments like the teacher mentioning ‘we don’t speak unless spoken to’ to the grade 1 class (YIKES). But as GIFTED flows you realize the story comes back to the purpose of education. It’s the same dilemma we see on TV, in our conversations at dinner tables, with siblings, sometimes around our staff rooms as well. What is the purpose of education? Philosophy is pegged against Mathematics, academics versus the ‘feelings’ part of education.

As I was watching the movie I kept thinking of Logan LaPlante’s TED talk a few years ago.

The beautiful complex, competent, capable bundle of energy math prodigy needed them both in the end to be happy and healthy. Don’t we all?

If I have to choose one though I think I would go for the ‘decent humans‘.

 

 

 

Jumping In – A Nudge

It’s always quite the milestone to make the first marker of a long project like #the100dayproject.  As we completed our first week Monday I was reminded why I love the project. Once again I’m learning and being inspired by great individuals sharing their practice openly. Sometimes it is friends like Sharon Drummond and her daily data doodles. Other times the inspiration is from someone new like parade.made and her whimsical daily Kawaiiness prints. I have to admit though that one of the most exciting elements this year is that my dad is joining in.

It was a simple mention. I can’t remember why I tagged my parents in a post about the project but I just mentioned in passing on Facebook they should join. My mom has always been artistic. The calmer pace out in the East Coast is giving her the opportunity to create more (really it is all the snow days). I thought she might appreciate the challenge. My dad is just getting in to photographs and Instagram. I didn’t expect them to follow up (first mistake). And in typical fashion my dad just jumped in. I opened my Instagram account to see my dad’s first post. We then chatted back and forth about hashtags and how it all works: a unique hashtag for his project, the collective hashtag to connect with the community. The hashtags are muddled up most days and the pictures may be of the ordinary but they demonstrate a commitment.

A commitment to a shared experience between us despite the miles, a commitment to try something new, a commitment to continuously learn.

I hope I am willing to jump in so freely the next time I am nudged with a new learning opportunity.

Morning PEI #100daysofcapturingPEI#100daysproject@2847michaelzita

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Learning in Conversations

It was the first time I had been to a conference the size of SXSWedu and the number of sessions was astounding. At any give time you could have 3 or 4 highlighted that you wanted to attend. And yet through all the sessions I was reminded that much of our learning comes in those informal conversations.

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Conversations…

  • over breakfast with your table neighbour Amanda where you pick up a quick strategy like  yes, and 
  • during a social network hearing an awesome idea from Suzie & Alicia about recycling old  admin phones for VR.
  • with individuals at a Maker Meet Up like Mo whose work you have followed on Instagram for a long time and end up in those random deep conversations about education .
  • in a session where you hear about the great stories of a group like UrbanTxt from Oscar
  • where you are able to connect with the people behind some of your favourite tools like Joey from Flipgrid and Kaja from Kahoot (who would have expected an Ontario/Queens university connection in Texas with someone from Norway).
  • over dinner with new and old Apple Distinguished Educator friends where you can share stories and tools with friends like Ann Kozma.
  • with your colleague that ping pong between education, neuroscience and life in general reminding you how awesome of a human they are.

The best part about learning from conversations? They aren’t bound by a specific space or time. Every day brings with it the opportunity to learn from awesome humans.

 

Are You Happy?

Maybe it’s just me but I find it easy to get caught up in the busyness of every day life. I also have a terrible tendency to reflect and focus on what to change, do better, what didn’t work. It’s sometimes can feel like you are stuck in a grey cloud.

So as I was scrolling through posts on Facebook this weekend stumbled on Courtney’s post.

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What was I happy for?

  • warm temperatures
  • a breezy walk
  • sunsets/sunrises
  • quiet time with my ‘nephew’ dog
  • catching a glimpse of an authentic laugh from my two tween nephews
  • a cold cane of coca cola
  • and so much more

There is a science to happiness! If you don’t believe me, watch the Soulpancake special.

So what makes you happy? Or as my MEd instructor would say What makes your soul sing?

Hope

It was a very grey January here in Ontario. It seemed like a continuous month of overcast grey skies. You know you have seen a lot of grey skies when you get as excited about sunshine as I did this weekend. Even though I know it won’t stay and we probably will get a big dump of snow soon enough, the sunshine, warm temperatures, and blue skies gave me hope that spring is around the corner.

As I was thinking of the hope I was reminded of some of the examples of positive viral videos we shared at the #peelpowerup with kids on Thursday. As we were looking at the images & video we realized how simple they were sometimes.

  • a young man tying a shoe for an elderly man he didn’t know
  • another holding the hand of a stranger with special needs to help them through their anxiety

As I was walking it hit me. Perhaps we love those random acts of kindness because they provide us hope just like a warm sunny day does in winter. As small as the act may be, it reminds us humans aren’t all so bad. There is hope that we can be better, that we are better.

As I continued my walk I wondered what the role of hope is in education. Education can feel like those overcast grey skies sometimes. Two steps back for every step forward. I find that no matter how grey, there are gentle reminders like a warm sunny day.

Education is…

On Thursday night as I was following along with the Game Changer 2.0 kick off with Sir Ken Robinson, I perked up as I heard him mention the idea of defining education. So much comes back to our definition of education. As he shared his description below it was amazing how it captured both understanding the world and it’s knowledge as well as knowing themselves all in the hopes to contribute to a better society.

 

Then Friday morning someone posed a different question:

Education certainly is not limited to the four walls of a school, but should our definition of schooling and education differ? Do they serve a common purpose? Can the same definition guide our learning in many different settings; from the home, to the art gallery, to the soccer field and classroom?

I may be left with more questions than answers but of one thing I am certain. I would love to see the above definition of education guide my daily work.

How would you define education?

If we can pick only one…

During our monthly #peel21st Twitter chat we started discussing the elements of our  Modern Learning Vision for our district. I’d like to think there was more sense to our planning, but most likely we landed on Learning Culture because it was the first box. As we got to chatting, it kept popping up how the 6 elements we had highlighted all overlap. I could see how the nice tidy boxes should have been more like an abstract watercolour painting with blended edges, an experiment in colour combination.

At around the same time I was reading through Will Richardson and Brian Dixon’s white paper on 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning and this quote caught my eye.

I kept coming back to the idea that maybe learning culture was at the core of it all.

What is the purpose of inquiry without a learner with a questioning disposition, global citizenship without student agency, transparent assessment without student voice? 

Maybe the hallmark of a modern school is a passion for learning, a willingness to innovate, take risks and grow together.

If we can pick only one to focus on maybe it should be learning culture .