Sunday, April 7, 2013

152nd Post - Choices

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. - Carl Jung
Turns out this crusty old gal has become rather reflective. Amid all the chatter surrounding 21st century learning I keep coming back to these basic questions:
What is it we want the people in our buildings to learn?
At the end of their time with us, what is the take away?
Not a simple question as demonstrated by the myriad of blogs, articles, and books on the topic. It's messy. Messy in the way a delicious meal is messy. An array of flavours dripping, blending, stimulating our taste buds until we groan with pleasure. So what does this have to do with education?
I tend to be a dreamer. Dreaming is good in terms of choosing the end result, but dreaming alone doesn't get you there. As I shift from dreaming to reflection I've become curious about the 'how-to' in allowing the people in our buildings dream room - not to be confused with the ever-present daydreams. More-so, I wonder about moving those dreams forward into a tangible, measurable reality; for staff and students. So what does this have to do with choices?
Choices are inevitable.  Some good, some better, some best. Some not so good, and some harmful.
Years ago when teaching grade 7 math we had a very clever young man in our class who showed us a new way of doing division. He came to the chalk board, demonstrated, explained, and with great confidence proved to us all, especially me,  that there was another way to get the answer.  He was 12. He made a choice to get to his end result a new way. Choices!
Consider the many things our students choose daily:
  • what to wear
  • what to eat
  • who to play with/hang out with during breaks
  • do their work
  • follow instructions
  • be kind
  • ask for help
...the list goes on. We often take for granted that our students know how to choose well. They simply choose not to. I agree with Ross Greene in his premise that it's more of CAN'T than WON'T. Our challenge is teaching the skill of stopping and considering the outcome of their choices. They have options.
Mental Health considerations aside, most of our students, even the highly impulsive ones can increase their capacity in good choice making. 
My provisional answers:
What is it we want them to learn? At the end of 12-13 years what do we want them to take away? 
As they end their K -12 schooling I want my students to have experienced enough 'good stuff' that they are compelled to keep on learning. I want them to know how to find the information they need to solve problems.
I want them to have learned the skill of  choosing to be kind.
I want them to have good memories of the past 12-13 years. I want them to know that there are options; they have the resources within themselves to move dreams to reality.
I want them to know how to get up if they fall. I want them to have left their options open but if they've burned some bridges along the way I want them to know that they can find a new road to travel. Think detours, not dead ends!
I want them to know that asking for help is often the wisest option. I want them to have the courage to ask. I want them to know how/where to access help.
I want them to have the courage to stand against what the majority is doing, if that is what their heart is telling them to do. I want them to have learned how to challenge, with respect, the status quo/'the way we've always done things' thinking, even when faced with resistance.
Most of all I want them to know that although life is messy, painful, and sometimes overwhelming, they can go on. They can make that choice!
The skill of making choices; benign, good, or better, when mixed with hope brings endless possibilities. It blends the ingredients that together make life delicious.
Above all else, better is possible.


  1. It's good to have dreams cause in dreams everything is possible but life is a reality.
    We don't meet the people we have to meet, in the time we have to meet them.
    So many kids are lost out there. So many fall through the cracks and as teachers, you may not even have the right to help them.
    We had a great principal at my sons school and kids would run out ino the street and she'd chase them to get them back.
    Now this is wasted time and ends up in something bad.
    Kids have to come to school because they want to and are ready to learn.
    Teachers have to be good at what they teach and not hide behind a union.
    Books especially the right math books need to be provided. and more stress on reading writing and sciench rather than social issues like sex drugs bullying and being gay.
    Social issues should not be the concern of local schools. There is no money or time for that and other things suffer. The message is that you have a serious job to perform and it can be done with enough entertainment to absorb all the kids so they forget their problems and begin new lives in other directions.This is what it means to be a good teacher. Don;t assume kids know and understand. They don't.
    Always go to square one. Start at the beginning.
    Short repetitive reviews yield good results.
    But this is only my opinion from the negative experiences I had in my schools. Teachers protected by unions, coming into math class, to read the financial times, is not my idea of a teacher.Teachers using dyslexia as their reason for not teaching.Why are they there?

  2. Ahem! As required by law, I am hereby advising you of a major development in your life.

    You have been nominated for the highly-coveted and internationally-renowned Liebster Award.

    The nomination requires you fulfill a series of prescribed tasks. To wit:

    1. The Liebster is given by bloggers to other bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
    2. Each blogger should post eleven facts about himself or herself.
    3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions that are asked by the person doing the nominating.
    4. Choose eleven new bloggers to nominate for the Award and link to them in the post.
    5. Create eleven new questions for your nominees.
    6. Go back to their pages and tell them they’ve been nominated.
    7. No tag backs.

    Upon having completed these requirements, you may hasten to my blog Bears Noting, and pick up the aforementioned Liebster Award.

    Or, it you are really busy (like writing poetry or a book, painting with watercolours, looking after a cat, recovering from illness, or moving house), you may skip the aforementioned requirements, and just go get the thing.

    Blessings and Bear hugs; Peace and Joy.