3 things

Warning: Do not read this post for more than 3 -4 minutes.

2016 is hurtling towards its calendar end and thoughts turn to a highlight reel retrospective heading for the history books. My mind is counting down around a repeating loop of ideas and reflections like a Space X reusable rocket. Well, maybe the baking soda and vinegar in a bottle type.

As the countdown approaches, I wanted to ask educators around the world to answer this question. If you’d like, think of it as a wishlist.

What would you change in education for 2017?

If you could change 3 things about education in 2017, knowing you wouldn’t fail, what would they be? I’m talking Astro Teller moon shot type changes here.

We use the word “moonshots” to remind us to keep our visions big — to keep dreaming. And we use the word “factory” to remind ourselves that we want to have concrete visions — concrete plans to make them real.  Astro Teller

Here are my 3 cannot-miss-the-spot-moonshot-thoughts.

  1. End the school to prison pipeline. My wish would be that schools could be funded with the same amount of money per student as the prisoners of our world. I believe that if we provided more funding for our schools, then our prisons would soon be very different and under-crowded spaces.I also believe that by stopping the flow of students from classrooms to courtrooms to cell blocks there would be a better standard of living for our entire society with opportunity for all. Imagine what could be done with all of the extra money if it was spent educating instead of incarcerating? Did you know that the students receive on average only 1/3 of the funding of prisoners?
  2. End standardized testing. What good is asking students to cram 10 months of learning into 9 months, only to stresst them out?  Why are millions of tax dollars being spent on tying up instructional time and resources in order to administer and assess students in grades 3, 6, 9, and 10. Is it worth quantifying education annually as a soapbox for politicians?Has anyone thought that the questions being asked are not considerate of skills and understandings required for the future? Cynical me asks, if there is a correlation to test results and real estate value? This appears to frequently be the case in my own province of Ontario, Canada. My own home price benefiting from strong results in neighbourhood schools.When I look at results by district in the U.S and compare facilities and funding I am left with many questions around equity and distribution of assets. In 2012, 1.7 billion dollars were spent on standardized testing in the U.S.A. If the financial cost doesn’t get your attention, how about the anxiety and mental health issues that result from many educators who feel they need to teach to the test instead of to the needs of their learners?
  3. End the global desk-wagging contest known as PISA and invest the money shelled out back into the students.Are you noticing a trend yet?To whose benefit do these tests and rankings really serve? How come the sample sizes are so small? Why are students and schools used as collateral/capital for international bragging rights? Did you know that schools can be recruited or selected to participate? How does this not scream of yielding a skewed sample? Why are so many countries not taking part in PISA? There are students learning on dirt floors or without access to any education at all. All the while a bunch of people in suits are deciding to see which privileged country’s students are number one.

It’s your turn to share 3 things. Shoot for the stars because you can. It will not be marked.
Countdown in 10, 9 … 3, 2, 1.

If you have made it this far, thank you for your interest in this topic. You are now past 3 minutes. Why not read on? Here is a very worthwhile reading list.

Pipeline to prison – https://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/pipeline-to-prison

School-to-prison-pipeline – https://www.aclu.org/infographic/school-prison-pipeline-infographic?redirect=racial-justice/infographic-school-prison-pipeline

Project Liberty: School to prison pipeline –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXR51vZCfVY

How High-Stakes Testing Feeds the School-to-Prison Pipeline Infographic –  http://www.fairtest.org/pipeline-infographic

US should nix its federal department of education –  http://www.troymedia.com/2016/12/12/canada-proves-dont-need-federal-department-education/

School performance rankings from the Fraser Institute –  https://www.fraserinstitute.org/school-performance

How does a school district affect the value of your home (don’t miss comments) –

http://torontorealtyblog.com/archives/10020

The standardised test debate. Is EQAO good for education? (don’t miss comments) –

https://tapintoteenminds.com/the-standardized-test-debate-is-eqao-good-for-education/

School choice not the right choice for our kids –  http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/nancy-kaffer/2016/10/02/choice-schools-michigan/91240656/

Pisa and the creativity puzzle – http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/pisa-and-the-creativity-puzzle

The tower of PISA is badly leaning – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/24/the-tower-of-pisa-is-badly-leaning-an-argument-for-why-it-should-be-saved/?utm_term=.c813afeddee2

…why I hate Jell-O

I am going to provide some insight about why I hate Jell-O. It is written with tongue in cheek, whatever that means, and may give cause to ponder some issues far more important to us all than a low-cost food item. I hope you will enjoy it in the spirit with which it is intended.

Some thoughts to consider;

  1. Jell-O takes the form of whatever acts upon it – it is infirm of purpose (sorry Shakespeare) – people can be like this too.
  2. Jell-O can be layered. This allows outside forces to affect it. (see point 1)
  3. Jell-O can be whipped into looking like something else-possibly masking hidden things like coconut and marshmallows. (or hidden agendas)
  4. Jell-O is sweet, possibly too sweet – sugar kills yo! It riles up the blood.
  5. Jell-O does not require the use of teeth to be eaten-unless it’s the gristly kind
  6. Jell-O shakes when you walk into the room – like it has something to hide.

By virtue of no reasons at all, am I not entitled to hate Jell-O in my own perfectly irrational way merely because it’s so different from other foods? Although, it appears harmless with a bounty of flavours and quasi-psychedelic-tinted-transparency, it’s the uncontrollable quivering that freaks me out when someone takes Jell-O out of the refrigerator.

How can food shake? Food that shakes is evil. It’s wrong in every way, and that’s that!* Nothing irrational to unpack here right?  Maybe this fear comes from watching the Blob on TV, or other frightening shows.The media is always reporting about the most important(popular) and therefore best ideas right? They wouldn’t lie to us. After all, any biases or social agendas of any sort are not professional or ethical in the news business. No media outlet would ever be shaking the minds of viewers by inciting controversy or LoCoDe** to drive-up their ratings?

All the Jell-O lovers in the world on social media, or speaking from a podium are not going to convince me of its goodness by saying,”Jell-O can make mealtime great again.” It will never work. So why is so much being served right now? Having visited the hospital and observing it shaking on tray after tray in a servery was reason enough to keep saying no, and keep my distance. If they’re serving Jell-O to sick people because it is easy to digest as part of the recovery process then something must be up. Be afraid of what can be whipped up and hidden inside.

I​ can say without fear of any significant recourse that I hate Jell-O.*** Here are some verbs to use that articulate my abject disdain for this useless and disgusting dessert; loathe, hate, dislike, unlove,  despise, detest, deplore, distrust, and fear.

How did fear get in with the others you ask? Hmm. Don’t we always hate what we fear? Do our life’s fears exaggerate misunderstandings which then in confusion lead us to hating something?

I know lots of people who hate spiders, rats, and snakes. They hate them so much that they can’t bear being anywhere nearby if they are present. I’ve heard of some who see other people like that too. I  have, on occasion referred to these folks as racists, bigots, and even candidates for office. So how can something so illogically irrational such as hatred and fear be the rallying cry in dividing a highly civilized world? Are segments of humankind going to the dogs, choosing to run in Superpacs?

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This is not the dog that bit me. This is Ellablue.

When I was little, a dog bit me. At that moment, I didn’t understand why, and it made me afraid of dogs long afterwards, despite my fear I did not hate that dog. I never once tried to bite the dog in retaliation. However, it took some time and learning to resolve those fears, and an understanding that the dog was just being a dog by protecting its yard.

There are lots of people suffering from figurative dog bites. They’ve been bitten by misunderstanding, and if they encounter others who don’t share the same faith, beliefs, status, culture, education, or political affiliation rabidly succumb to fear and distrust. When faced with a stranger in their yard, their only response is to bark, lunge, and bite. No one is safe around an erratic or irrationally behaving dog whether it’s tethered or roaming around the countryside. Most would develop a healthy dislike for something like that, would naturally want to avoid it at all times, and would tell their friends to do the same. Not run towards it, right?

So is it fear or hate that keeps us from getting past what we don’t agree with, understand, or particularly like? What are you willing to admit that you hate? Could you replace the word hate with fear or struggle to understand? It’s OK to hate fear something that weirds us out like Jell-O or those creepy crawlies things, or a dog that bit us, but never another human being. As we confront others with difficulties differentiating between hate and fear at school, work, or in politics we need to put understanding and rational behaviour at the front of all times. Confrontation is not an option.

If we can get one thing right before it’s too late, let’s use our collective efforts to see the good and value in everyone and everything. If that means me getting over my unfounded fear of food that shakes in order to help others get over their xenophobia, bigotry, and ignorance then pass the bowl and a spoon.

You are here either via a FB, Twitter or perhaps by sheer curiosity with the title. Regardless of the reason, thank you. Please follow my blog, commenting, and sharing. It is greatly appreciated.

*I will go as far as publicly declaring that I have a fear of all food that shakes and since Jell-O is at the top of the shaky-food food-chain it is personal enemy number one. I’m not the only one, but admit to probably being the first to be so sweetly transparent about it(sigh). Albeit irrational, my dislike for the wiggly wonder which is Jell-O comes from years of hoping there would be something better for dessert, and that crunchy gristle that comes from not stirring the mix long enough while it’s being made. Yuck with a capital Yuh!
**Lowest common denominator = LoCoDe
***For the sake of time when I refer to Jell-O, I mean any and all gelatin dessert products. For the sake of this story Jell-O is a catch-all name serving as the standard like the name Kleenex gets used when people think about facial tissue? I wish no harm to the good folks who enjoy, serve, sell, or manufacture this product.