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Daily Archives: May 23, 2012

Killing Weasels – A Legend

My mother tells a story about her mother, my Mémère, which is French for Grandmother. The family lived in a cabin and had a homestead on the Lesser Slave Lake when my mother was growing up. The cabin had a dirt floor which needed sweeping regularly. People tell me a dirt floor is swept so things spilled on it are not packed down into the dirt and to reduce vermin.

Mémère was sweeping when, quick as a flash, a weasel ran across the floor. She, Mémère  that is, moved her bottom hand adeptly up the broom handle much like a baseball player would to hold a bat and, without missing a beat, took a mighty swing that would have made even Casey proud. My mother recalls how the weasel was accommodating and hopped just a bit  so he was above the floor. The broom head connected, the weasel flew across the room, and struck the wall solidly. It fell unmoving to the floor and Mémère returned to her sweeping as if nothing had happened. She quietly instructed my mother to remove the weasel and throw him into the yard for the dogs or cats.

My mother says it was an everyday event and was treated as such. It was just another day on the little homestead on the Lesser Slave Lake.

Here is a great post from a teacher from down under who spent time in Canada. I agree with her. What takes me aback is when all the tech gurus in their ivory towers argue classroom teachers are the Luddites. I don’t make the rules. I just have to be the bad cop in the classroom enforcing nonsense rules.


If you’ve been following my blog or know me personally, you probably have figured out that I am an advocate of the use of ICTs, especially in schools.  I believe that schools should have NO blocks to the Internet.  Here are a few advantages of unblocking the Internet at school:

  1. teachable moments – unblocking will allow for educating our young citizens on digital citizenry and online ethics – let’s face it, a good majority of them are online outside of school anyway.  Shouldn’t we be authenticating that experience at school? YES!  Shouldn’t we be taking the opportunity to show them great ways to use ICTs for education, social networking etc?  YES!
  2. authenticity – a school with lots of blocked sites shows students that there is a lack of trust and a very narrow minded view of Internet use at the school.  Imagine the average (high school) student who has access to the…

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Why School by Mike Rose

Why School: Reclaiming Education for All of Us by Mike Rose was a follow-up read to his earlier book Lives on the Boundaries. The latter book explored, in an autobiographical way, Mike Rose’s ascent from growing up in a working class neighbourhood with little support for education at home. He found support from educators along the way and became an educator himself. Professor Rose used a similar biographical method in the current book and explored the purpose of education, different views of intelligence, learning, and knowledge, and the humbling, yet hopeful work, that results from learning.

The general thesis examined a need for a new conversation about the role of public education, one “not dominated by a language of test scores and competitiveness” (p. 4). Professor Rose presented a case for a good education being designed to help us make sense of the world. He argued that parents historically “sent their kids to school for many reasons: intellectual, social, civic, ethical, and aesthetic. Historically, these justifications for schooling have held more importance. Not today” (p. 4). If these reasons no longer hold a time-honoured place in educating our children, then it begs, “What is the purpose of school?”

Questions: What purpose does school serve in a democratic society? I find the object of school reform is not to change school or its purpose, but to simply layer one more fad on an already overloaded system which is ill-equipped to handle it. The result is we are failing many, serving few, and leaving a huge hole in the middle. What should school reformation or transformation look like? I believe this requires a conversation about purpose of school and its structure. Is the present hierarchical, industrial-age model a suitable mechanism to deliver education in the early 21st Century?

Recommendation: I enjoyed the book. It is short and easy to read. Professor Rose provides a view which is different from the mainstream educational reformer and challenges the reader with questions and not answers. I would recommend it to anyone searching for a different view of educational reform.

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