D’s-unease

D angerDistorted driver’s
deep disassociation
destroys.

Discouraged
denizens decry
death’s devastation.

Downfallen
daunted
desparate
dreamless.

Dutiful
dedication
despite danger.

Dedicated to the victims, families, responders, and citizens whose dreams were robbed today in Toronto.

 

 

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w1sdom

While hunting for some wisdom and humour in the classroom a while back, I asked a group of grade one students to tell me about what they wanted to buy when they were adults and could spend their own money? I asked the question this way because, asking children what they want to be when they grow up has become a clichéd default question from adults. Also, I really hated that question as a child, teen, and twenty-something.

Once asked, students’ eyes lit up with excitement and they responded with an understandable amount of youthful exuberance and predictability; Lamborghini’s, mansions, dessert at every meal, exotic pets, and toys galore.

You get the drift.

There were others, however, who appeared almost to have an answer which seemed as if they’d thought of this question beforehand. One responded with a desire to own a castle and an army of monkeys. Another talked about becoming a Transformer. Almost lost in all of the sharing were the few students who wanted to share how they would help people less fortunate than themselves when they were older. Almost.

As a grade one student, it would have been a toss-up between the monkeys and being a transformer for me, but these students chose kindness first. It is these voices that are often overlooked amongst the silliness and somewhat selfish desires. However, thoughts like these must be honoured and nurtured in all of our learners.

My goal as an educator each year is not to deliver a curriculum, but to instill thoughtfulness, kindness, and otherliness through life lessons in all subject areas. If I do not achieve that first, but only succeed in teaching the content, then I have failed my learners.

Maybe, once I grow up, my army of monkeys can be trained to do good things?

Flu id

flu·id

noun
1. a substance that has no fixed shape and yields easily to external pressure; a gas or (especially) a liquid.  “We all need several glasses of fluid a day”

adjective
1. (of a substance) able to flow easily. “the paint is more fluid than tube watercolors”
Fluid seems like a pretty harmless word, but when you break it into two words, you get nothing but trouble. What if fluid really meant a selfish virus – flu id: These two words from within a word mean something very different apart than when the space between them is gone.
If something is fluid, it moves in harmony about and around the forms and forces acting upon it. In Science, it is generally considered a state of matter. In the Arts, the dancers were fluid in their movements as they leaped across the stage. In baseball, a hitter may have a very fluid swing.*
Fluids are observable, measurable, and useful. Whether it’s a litre of stock, a cup of  cream, or a spoon of olive oil, together or apart, each contributes to a delicious recipe.
In life, situations can be fluid too. Often they change or are changeable with little to no control or resistance. Come to think about it, the flu is pretty good at being fluid as it evolves into new and virulent forms in order to thrive from year to year. It’s id saying. “catch me if you can.”

 The flu morphs and hides in the nearest convenient host. The id is like the GPS for our psychological and physiological existence. Like the flu, the id is always seeking ways to get what it wants and needs to survive.

The Flu virus floats around like a plastic bag in a breeze and lands on anything with a warm surface. It proceeds to take up residence in the heads and lungs of its victims. Like the id, the flu wants what it wants. Once inside, it becomes the house guest from hell, turns the heat up on its new hosts, and rejects anything that gets eaten. Not wanting to stop there, the flu and its id are even more happy to move on to a new residence with a sneeze, forgetful touch (doorknob, remote, phone) by an unwashed hand, or a nose wipe.

As a teacher, there will always be students, parents, and or colleagues battling the flu and its id on a regular basis from October to March each school year. Fevers, coughs, phlegm, dizziness and vomiting are all part of the suffering unleashed by this selfish super bug. I was down for a whole day and half this year because of it.

And what does the world tell us to do when it hits us? Get some rest, and drink plenty of fluids. SMH.

* This is the opposite to a hole in their swing as I shared in What are holes made of? Pt 2 Language

The right words

I have the right words to say, but the lump in my throat won’t allow them out. These puffs of air that attempt to pass over my vocal cords do so without a peep.

I have the right words to say, but they’ve all been shared before. As if they are reserved only for the times when madness takes its toll.

Hurt
Broken
Asking why
But not shocked
Witness to despair
Slowly coming to grips
A nation that has lost itself
Reliving senseless hatred again.

We have the right words to say, but thoughts and prayers are not enough. Words won’t heal the destruction done by a damaged mind sowing seeds of their madness with a gun.

We have the right words, but maybe it’s time to listen instead?

 

What are holes made of? Pt 2 Language

bullet-holes-1744860_640bykiwikong

This is a mind purging follow up to my 2015 blog What are holes made of? Pt 1 Science. In it, I share a story from a kindergarten class where I asked them the title question. This post continues the conversation about holes and their simple and complex nature.

When we are in debt, we are in the hole. When prisoners are put into solitary confinement they are going down into the hole. Alice in Chains and the Police sang about holes. There was even a band called Hole. Who could forget that The Beatles sang Fixing a Hole on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? (I almost did)

Holes are similar to hunger. There are lots of holes in the foods we eat. Have you ever looked at a pancake or meringue? The lighter and fluffier the better. This has me wondering whether holes get confused with bubbles from time to time? If we really think about it at a molecular level, there are spaces in between everything – therefore holes.

Sports are filled with analogies about holes. A baseball player or golfer who is struggling to hit the ball is said to have a “hole in their swing”. Baseball players have been asked, on more than one occasion, whether there is a hole in their gloves?

In football, the offence is always looking to punch a hole through the defensive line in the hopes of seeing a little daylight on a running play. If a team does this enough times then they could score multiple time. If that happens, then their opponent might not be able to climb out of the hole they’ve made. Ouch.

Speaking of ouch, losing a player to injury will leave a “hole in the team”. Many fans have holes in their hearts when their favourite teams lose a game. Some of them could become motivational speakers for as often as they extol the virtues of patience, devotion, and ‘there’s always next season”. Maybe these die-hard fans have books in their futures?

Not surprisingly, there are books about holes. And at least one movie has been made about holes. Although, I’m not quite sure of the title. So with all of these holes to see through, what’s it all about?

When any of use language it can go a number of ways. We can dig ourselves into a hole with our words, or we can dig ourselves out just as quickly. Holes happen in arguments. When this happens such logical fallacies in one’s words expose them down to the profoundest levels. It is often said that a poor argument has as many holes in it as Swiss cheese. Words, true or otherwise might pierce the mind, but nothing can prepare for what pierces the body.

Bullet holes are also symbolic of some deep shit. Their blatant and sole intent is to put a hole in someone. To spill the lifeblood out of a fellow human might be the cruellest hole of all. When we think of all we can do to repair the holes we’ve made, there is little we can do after the hate decides to pull the trigger and fill others full of holes.

What I wonder is how the holes that have been put into people’s hearts today by gun violence and hatred could ever heal? Could we turn our minds to making things whole instead?

Grade 5s and their desks

DeskMove2018

An actual Gr 5 class captured while re-organizing their desks. No actors were harmed in this pic.

What is learning? Is it the content inside of the textbook? Does it come from all of the socialization experienced at school that is supposed to prepare us all to run on the hamster wheel of life? Could there also be lessons to learn from moving desks in a classroom?

I’m writing this post while my grade 5 class attempts a self-directed room re-organization. Cacophony, collisions, and an occasional boundary dispute resolution tribunal are all part of the process. Desks and chairs in motion cause mini-tremors across our classroom floor. It’s as if 26 simultaneous games of Tetris are being played as the furniture gets turned and shoved in search of a new place, perspective and neighbours.

To understand whether this exercise went well, if at all, requires a keen eye, a calm mind, and a deaf ear. Throughout the process, students do not hear a word from me. It’s their time to sort things out and into place. I’m happy to watch and hear it happen. There are negotiations, subtle and otherwise. Accommodations too.

After 10 minutes of time that seemed more like 15 minutes, we made it. I asked, “What did you learn about this?”

“We have to communicate with each other,” said one.
“Some people are only worried about themselves,” replied another.
“You didn’t help us,” said a third student.
“You’re welcome,” I said.

Letting students shape their learning space on their own has become an informative exercise in my practice. It points out who is willing to embrace change and who is clinging to a familiar and safe(in their mind) past. It also provides me insight into whether peer groups and friendships have changed.

Desk moves also give students a chance to negotiate with one another. I find it interesting how problems get worked out when there are disagreements. It forces students to listen and respond when things are in motion and out-of-place.

When the dust settles. We get back to learning…the other learning.