Sunday, 7 February 2016

Play - do adults get too involved?

Do we as adults, parents, teachers - direct kids how to play?

Do we bring our stereo types to the table and affect how and what our kids do and play?

I was talking to a parent of a Grade 2 girl who is really good friends with a boy the same age - the Mother of the girl remarked that her daughter really enjoyed  playing with the boy as he would come to her house and play "Barbies".

My brother played Barbies with us - growing up with 3 sisters - in the country - you didn't have a lot of playmates to choose from...
So my parents didn't step in - we learned to play different things...

Are parents trying too hard these days to direct play? Let kids choose what and how they want to play.

Another parent told me the story that a teacher was concerned that her SK son was choosing to play with the girls at recess and perhaps the parents should intervene to suggest he play with the boys instead.

I personally believe we should let kids choose their playmates and what they want to play - unless it is unsafe play - we, as adults, should not interfere.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Child's Play

On my PA duty watching children, I made an interesting observation.

10 Kids - 6 girls and 4 boys
Ages 4-12

We were going to play board games (that's funny in itself as I am not sure how many of these kids have actually sat down and played a board game in this video/technology age.)

Instead entering the play room - they all raced to play in the 2 houses - they played well together and interacted.

I was surprised as the world I grew up in the boys would have gone to play with the blocks and built things and the girls would have played in the houses. This was not the case.

Eventually the blocks were used to build things but it was started by a girl, and then some of the boys joined in.

What was interesting for me to observe was that there wasn't the stereo type of my generation that the girls would play house and the boys would build - everyone did everything.

In an attempt to show them a board game, while that lasted only seconds.

It was great to see integrated play and that they didn't need any direction from an adult or perhaps even better an adult that told them what they should be playing.

Monday, 25 January 2016


So I had the opportunity to be with 10 local students on Friday - a PA Day and I had some interesting observations and conversations.

I enjoy being around children as they are honest and open - no hidden agendas have developed.

So this first piece will be about what they told me about bullying.

It seems like every kid has been bullied - I'm sure that's not shocking to adults as I think every adult can tell a story of being bullied. I have stories of being bullied at work - so this is not a 'kid issue' and how we deal with bullies sets a pattern for our lives.

I was talking to Elizabeth (yes we have the same name - she's in Grade 2) we talked about how kids make fun of her name - all the different things that they say. She did point out that many adults call her Elizabith ie not beth which she doesn't like. She says she lets everyone know that they have mispronounced her name - some get it and some don't.

Elizabeth said the 2 bullies' names in her 2/3 class. She said everyone knows who the bullies are and it's an interesting dynamic that not all kids ignore the bullies but somehow want to be with the bullies - not sure if this is about power or if you are with them they won't pick on you.

Elizabeth also told me that the bullying is subversive - it's rarely physical - rather words - so I don't think the saying we had as kids is true "Stick and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" in fact I would say the complete opposite.

With mean words, kids can feel alienated - adults may not know that it is going on - and we can have students retreating into themselves, not liking school - not for the sake of school but based on the abuse that they face every day.

So what can be done?
We definitely need to have strategies for kids to use that would help them - if every kid knows who the bullies are and they are consistent in being a bully to many this is an issue.
Do these people grow up and continue to be bullies because they know how to manipulate people?
Do we teach them how to be mean and nasty subversively because they were never addressed in school?

This is a life skill for both sides that should be addressed.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Bitter cold means no outside recess - is this a good thing?

Well we live in a cold climate from time to time and sometimes we do endure the 'cold weather warning'. This is done only with medical advice that it is not recommended to be outside.
What this means for students is that they get indoor recess - they still get a break from school work but they often don't have access to a gym or the ability to run around.
Now there is a lot of research that states the benefits of recess - in fact the Today Show just had a segment on how a group of students with more recess were doing better in standardized testing which seems to go against the expected.

There is overwhelming support for more recess.

Most students do seem to benefit from running around.
The challenge is when the weather is extremely cold, there are lots of risks - frost bite, dry skin from exposure.
I have seen a lot of students that don't come to school properly dressed. As a parent we can try and get our kids to wear snow suits but that's a battle I lost many times.

I think most would agree that recess is a good thing but during the cold weather warnings we must keep them inside as it is safer for all. The decision is made at very high levels - this is not a decision a teacher makes because he/she wants to stay inside.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Will education change like TV watching?

I think it is remarkable how my children watch TV - they've taught me a lot!

First of all - when I watch TV - I look at the time, date and plan to watch my show - with the advertisements in place - they typically decide to watch TV on the spur of the moment - when their day allows - and they decide then what they will watch and for how long.

If they are watching shows 'on demand' or from streaming sites they either have no advertisements or limited. Thus a typical 30 minute show is now 22 minutes - or that makes their time usage over 25% more efficient than my time.

Secondly, they watch what they want to watch when they feel like it - so they can adjust their viewing to their mood, time of day or whatever is their fancy.

Thirdly, they can change their mind as well - so if they start watching a show and decide they 'aren't feeling it' - they can pause and watch later and/or choose something else.

So what would this mean to education?

Educators would have to have the ability to have their lessons available on-line - this is possible but would require a lot of contract negotiation.

If lessons were online each student could choose the coursework that they wanted to do first - or in the order they wanted. So like people binge watch a show from start to finish in a marathon, students could binge on a subject matter at a time or complete in the manner that they want.

While it is hard for me to imagine these changes to education, never say never - who would have thought that in my generation we could watch shows on TV when we wanted and how we wanted. Who would have thought that the consumer has more control than the big TV networks.

It is also interesting to note that many of the 'hit' shows are now on non-network channels - so what does that mean for education? New modes of education? Would governments allow education to be formalized outside of bricks and mortar? As long as public education is free there will be less demand for change - if education in K-12 has fees than expect change.

I would also anticipate change in the next generation of learners as they won't accept traditional education or to be educated like their parents.

How we teach children will also change - if they have access to all data at the tip of their fingers - rote learning becomes redundant and research and assessing skills are more important.

I believe that the shake up in education will be from the learners and their demands - as they will act, think and want different things than their forefathers.

Let's remember that a K-12 classroom from 100 years ago - hasn't really changed today - there must be a disruption in education and learning - the question will be when?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Amendment 64 - Colorado

So one of the interesting pieces of last week's US election - although many people were tired of the back and forth of a bitter campaign - was Amendment 64 in Colorado.

Amendment 64 was passed narrowly 54% to 46% which was the request to legalize pot/marijuana or whatever you choose to call it.

It is an interesting dilemma as there is a lot of pressure to keep taxes down and spending up - how do governments do this as they need new sources of revenue?

Many cheers were heard when the amendment passed even though the state politicians and many mayors were against this as there are many concerns including how does a State work with putting in the rights to use when there are still Federal laws that say it is illegal?

An interesting dilemma for sure!

As a side note Washington State approved to vote on this issue in their next election.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

US Election from a Canadian Perspective

It was a pleasure to be in Denver CO on Election Day. The pundits said it would be TOO close to call - well the popular vote was close BUT the results were in early that Barack Obama remained as President.

Colorado was considered a swing state so it was exciting to be here. Everywhere you went last night people were glued to television sets and it wasn't because the Nuggets were playing - wow what a shock when politics beats sports in any town!

Staff in restaurants paused to catch the results - how was Colorado going to go and would the 2 hour time difference make a difference. Luckily here it was a warm sunny day so turn out was expected to be high.

The final results were close
Obama 1,091,234
Romney 1,021,983

Who was making the difference? Women who were Independent voters - no surprise - Romney just didn't connect with women in general - most women I talked to had a hesitation about Romney but couldn't explain why - they loved the way he was with his wife and his sons but there was a niggling reason as to why hey would vote for him.

Hispanics now make up 20% of the voting population in CO and so they will become a stronger and stronger vote here.

The next President of the United States will have to face this challenge - how to attract the female and Hispanic vote.

As an outsider what was fascinating was the engagement of everyone I met that day - the air was buzzing with excitement - people were engaged and talking about it and there were cheers in the town square when the results were announced. The advantage of a warm evening was the ability to congregate and listen collectively. It was such an interesting day as I can't remember an election that was so close and engaged a nation in a conversation.

I look forward to seeing how Obama can build on the engagement of young people, women and Hispanics in the next 4 years to encourage them to continue to be involved and engaged in politics for the betterment of all.