Monthly Archives: June 2013

Which part is mine, and which part is yours?


I was watching my daughter do gymnastics at the private club we take her to.  She loves it, the running, the jumping, and the climbing.  I was remembering a class I took in university where we learned that these are essential movements for children’s development.  We also talked about how schools have made the decision to take these skills out of physical education programs along with Canadian Climbers, climbing ropes, most gymnastics, and anything else deemed to be dangerous.   I started to try to imagine what effect this would have on our society over time.  Could this change human physical bodies and what people growing up in our society are able to do, or not do?

There are so many things that kids learn in school, and those things vary from school to school.  Every school has the basics math, science, language arts, and social studies.  In addition to the core classes, a school might teach art, drama, construction, robotics, outdoor education, computers, visual communication, leadership, French, and Spanish…just to name a few.

Even with all of these options, there seems to be a push toward schools doing more ameliorate social ills.  We use schools to give needles because we don’t expect parent to take their kids to get them themselves.  We use schools to teach about bullying, because clearly that was not happening at home.  We use schools to teach about a variety of issues from teen pregnancy to hygiene. It seems as though schools have become a warehouse for us to use to house our children in when we are working or have better things to do.

It never ceases to amaze me how in the decades of perpetual cutbacks, with fewer and fewer resources, society has come to expect schools to fill-in the gap where parents fail.  We cannot teach kids the essential skills of movement, but we are expected to teach them how to eat right, exercise is important, how to write a resume, that showing up, preferably on time and with all the materials you need, is important.  Parents are even surveyed on whether or not they feel that their child’s school is doing enough to prepare their children for the adult organized world of work.  It is like taking your clothing to the dry-cleaners.  You drop it off in the morning and expect it to be magically all better by the time you pick it up again.

Here is an idea, take responsibility for YOUR OWN KIDS.  Take YOUR kids to the park YOURSELF, and give them the opportunity to develop these essential skills, that they can no longer learn in school.  You can teach them about sex, sexual health, orientation and abuse.  You can teach your own children about healthy relationships and how to be assertive.  YOU can prepare them for the organized world of work, while we just use our knowledge and experience to create an environment for your child to learn facts, details, critical thinking, understanding multiple perspectives, along with reading, writing, and some arithmetic.

If there needs to be cuts to education, shouldn’t it start with all the things that parents should be doing themselves anyway?

Learning is Optional


The old adage, “you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” has never been more true than in an average, everyday public school classroom.  I attended a PD earlier this year and they used a term I had never heard before, yet it seemed to fit a number of my students.  The term is ‘intentional non-learner.’  This is a student who chooses not to learn.  When I was a new teacher, I assumed that all students wanted to learn, and if students were doing things that were contrary to learning, then it was because they did not believe that they could learn it.  Everyone would learn if they could, right?  But no, the longer I teach, the more I realize that there are some young people who just don’t want to learn.  Even if you show them that they CAN learn it, they will choose not to.  They are not motivated by praise, they are not motivated by success, they are not motivated by achievement or a sense of pride or accomplishment.  What do you do with an intentional non-learner?  We are in the business of teaching, it goes against our very essence to accept a condition of non-learning.  But just because we do not accept non-learning, do THEY need to learn?  The environment that we create, is it about us, or is it about them?  Should they be allowed to not learn, if they choose not to?

As the End of the Year Winds Down


I love teaching!  I am Passionate about the education of children!  I love having “ah ha” moments with my students.  I live for the privilege to shape a young person’s thinking, to light the candle of their understanding, to help put in place the building blocks of their achievement.  I have little patience for teaching health, options, or even physical education.  It is not that I don’t think those things are important, in fact, as a parent, I am very grateful for teachers who love teaching those subjects to my kids.  However, as a teacher, it is not what lights my fire.  I want to be involved in the daily battle that learning can be.  Therefore, I think one of the most frustrating things for me as a teacher is when the students start to check out two months before the end of the year.  It makes dragging myself to work each day harder and harder.  Those moments that feed my soul getting further and further apart.  It becomes easier and easier to say, “Why bother?”  I have not yet submitted to the easy, casual routine of showing movies because the kids don’t want to learn and I have too much work to do.  Yet, each day, it gets easier for me to consider it.  How can I stay true to my belief that everyday of the school year is important for teaching and learning, when all those around me are giving up? How can I keep seeing the purpose and potential of each day for each student?