Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Knot in My Neck

I have a knot in my neck. Stress.
I went to a party at my neighbour's place yesterday. She is an actress who home-schools her children. She is one of those whacked out New Age people who eat only organic vegan food based on pseudo-scientific theories. Actually, I do not think science has anything remotely to do with what she believes.
I told her I thought I was coming down with a cold and she told me to put 3 drops of oregano oil under my tongue and I would be healed.
I did not know how to respond.
What do you say to that?
I think I said, "Oh yeah," and nodded my head a bit.
It was a party and I did not want to be rude. Besides, I do not think I would be able to dismantle her whole belief structure with a pithy comment.
The place was littered with healing crystals and healing teas and scented healing candles. There was a weird contraption attached to the kitchen faucet. One of the other guests was trying to get a drink of water but it was too complicated for her to figure out how to accomplish this- what should be simple- task. I helped her out and we got to talking about the water. That is when the host came over and explained her new water filtration system.
Apparently water naturally forms into hexagonal shapes and divides itself into acid and alkaline but humans have upset the balance of nature and now we have to use technology to do what should be natural blah, blah, blah, bullshit.
Other guests tasted the water and declared it "clean tasting" and stated that they could really notice the difference.
I said, "It's water."
She spent $4,000 (!) on a nonsense water filtration system.
Then her soon to be ex-husband came in to fill up a few jugs. He is also an actor and comedian.
Youtube Video
He is currently on the tv show "The Air Farce" which is being cancelled this year after a run of about 20 years. He is actually a welcome addition to what I have previously described as "the unfunniest show on television."
I said to him, "You know that's just water, don't you?"
He replied by telling me the plot of the latest James Bond film. *Spoiler alert* Our most precious resource? It's water.
I was confused.
Later in the evening our host told us that she used to be Catholic but now she does not "self-identify" as a Catholic anymore. That is why we were having a pre-solstice party instead of a Christmas party. She is more in tune with pagan beliefs, she told us. I made the comment, "So, you traded in one set of nutty beliefs for another." I don't think she heard me but the sister-in-law beside me laughed.
This experience, and the one at Thursday night's party where a colleague said he found it harder to believe in the scientific explanation of the universe than to believe that it was created by God, have left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by the pervasiveness of ignorance accepted by, what seems like the majority of society.
What does one do? I do not want to be totally antagonistic but I can't really respect someone who believes such nonsense. That is not true. I can understand how someone could believe something that is not true. If one does not have all the facts and does not have the ability to apply critical thinking skills to the facts which they encounter then they are operating in a deficit situation. My problem is I am hesitant to try to supply fully grown adults with the tools and information they require to see the errors in their thinking. It never turns out well. Look at Socrates.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recalcitrant Meadows

I have not written in a while because I have been busy and I did not know what to write.
The situation has not changed.
Sebastian and I got $50,000 today from Best Buy to buy stuff for our classrooms.
That was pretty cool.
We put together a proposal some time ago and we were wondering why the results had not been released. They were supposed to make a decision about a month ago. It turns out our submission was so good that instead of giving us the top prize of $20,000 they upped it to $50,000. We had a big assembly at the school and put on a bit of a presentation about the CyberARTS program. The kids went wild when they heard the news from the Best Buy guys.
I am at work writing another proposal to HP. The prize is not so grand but a few computers and a projector and a printer are part of the prize.
The problem is they want to know about how technology is used in the classroom to improve education. They want no more than 500 words. I have been draft writing and I am about one third of the way through what I want to say and I have about 700 words. I'll keep at it and then pare it down to the essentials. Hopefully I'll come up with a few good phrases that will make it worth while, whether I win anything or not.

Recalcitrant Meadows.

That popped into my head.
Why?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Purpose

I was listening to Nora Young yesterday on 'Spark'. She was talking about what makes a good blog.
I need to define a purpose for this thing. So far I am just playing around and getting my feet wet. That is okay for me.
It is what I encourage my students to do whenever they encounter something new; they should play. We can learn quite a lot through playing.
I write in my journal every day. I write in there for a few reasons. One is I enjoy the physical act of writing. I enjoy the way the pen moves across the page. I like to form letters with my hand. In some ways it is a form of physical/mental therapy. I exercise my hand and wake up my brain.
Much of what I write is really boring, trivial stuff. I make notes of the things I have to do that day or things that happened the day before. Sometimes I record my dreams. They can be incredibly creative.
Why do I write it?
I do it in part for my children. I want them to have a record of their father. They may be disappointed to learn that I was so vacuous and boring but it may inspire them to not be so.
Now I come to 'purpose'. Who will read this? Why would anyone care about my musings on anything? What is the purpose of this blog?
I think I need to look at other people's blogs and see what does and doesn't work for me. Over the next few days I will hopefully develop a more clear purpose. In the meantime, sorry to anyone who stumbles across this and has to put up with my aimless ramblings. If anyone does read this and has any suggestions, I believe there is an option to leave comments.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blogs, Groups, or Wikis?

I am thinking about this further and playing around with ideas.
I looked at Google Groups and created a group for my students.
I may go back to the Wikispaces site that I created a couple of years ago.
Maybe I will get my students to investigate all of these and see what they like best. I am trying to get them familiar with the Web 2.0 options available to them. By having them look at these options I am doing just that.
Next I will need to determine a way to assess what they have done in terms of Reading, Writing, and Media Literacy expectations from the curriculum.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Journals

I read the first few entries of my students' journals. They seem like a good group of kids. They are all enthusiastic about learning. I hope I can provide them with a stimulating environment so that they develop their creative thinking abilities.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blogging for Students

I would like my students to create blogs.
However, I read on here that you need to be at least 13 years old. Perhaps I could use another blogging tool or ask for parental permission.
We could use a blog as part of our proposal.
We could post our ideas and images and even video of the process. This would mean that the judges could watch our progress as we develop the idea.

We will track the progress of our ideas here.
So far, I put the idea out there and had the students look carefully at the proposal.
Stage one of the research process is to understand the assignment. So often kids think they know what they are doing and rush off to do....what?
"What are you doing?"
"The Best Buy thing."
"What do you need to do for that?"
"I don't know. Come up with ideas?"
"Yes. What kind of ideas? What is the purpose of this assignment? What exactly are you supposed to do?"

It is necessary to get a good understanding of the purpose of the assignment. We need not only to know the exact requirements but the purpose or meaning driving the assignment. We want to have an authentic learning situation. If the students can develop an understanding of the 'why' it makes the learning so much more significant.
If they can come up with a response to the question "So what?", they are doing well.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More About Me - This is Fun






Summer Vacation of 2007

I am still playing around here.

This is a favourite moment of the summer of 2007:

video

One of the best things of the summer.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

This will be brief as I am just playing around right now.
I am actually avoiding other work I have to do.

One of the most enjoyable and memorable aspects of my summer vacation was spent on the balcony outside the green room above the store in Mississippi Station.
I know all this requires explanation; that will come in time.

It was on the balcony in the morning that I sat and drank coffee and wrote in my journal about the activities of the day before and the anticipated adventures of the new day. 

The balcony faces East. I would awake around dawn and watch the sun peek over the edge of the valley wall. As the sun rose and warmed the earth the mists would rise from the trees across the way. Usually the air was full of the sound of crickets and birds and little else save the wind in the trees. 

The memory of this fills me with an emotion. 

Bliss?