Tag Archives: respect

Selling

spring-289527_1280

Image courtesy of Josch13

In the fable The Vain Jackdaw, Aesop tells the story of a jackdaw who is determined to make himself look better by attaching the feathers of other birds to his body. Initially this works as Jupiter chooses the jackdaw to be the “sovereign over the birds” due to “the beauty of his plummage”. The other birds, seeing through the jackdaw’s colourful facade, remove the false feathers, exposing him for who he truly is.

Social media is full of jackdaws, strutting around trying desperately to gain the attention of others. While this may seem a bit harsh, in reality it happens far too much for my liking. Continue reading Selling

Advertisements

Banning

2918388644_ac651bd30c_b

Image courtesy of David Romani

For my last two years of high school, I attended a boarding school in central Canada, about 7 hours drive from my parents. This school had some pretty strict rules, especially when it came to the dormitory. We weren’t allowed to have any televisions in our rooms; we had to be in the dorm on weekday evenings by 8pm and in our room with lights out by 10pm. We could only come out to use the washroom, otherwise we were in there until 6 at the earliest the next morning.

For the most part, we followed the rules, but there were times we needed to get some homework done or we just wanted to let loose for a while. That would be when we would pull out the black garbage bags for the windows or we would sneak out the windows dressed from head to toe in black and then drive out of the parking lot with the headlights off until we got to the highway. It was all pretty benign stuff: going to movies (which was also against the rules), heading out for a late-night pizza, or just a drive in the city. We never broke any laws and, at least to me, we kept it clean and fun.

I understand the reason why the school had those rules, even if I still disagree them, but the problem was in how they were implemented. They were responsible for our well being as minors and this was a way they could make sure they kept us out of trouble with a limited staff. They didn’t want us watching shows or movies that the parents wouldn’t approve of, so they cut out the option of watching any at all. They wanted to make sure we would do our homework, so they made us stay in our rooms from 8-9:30 each night. There were reasons for their rules, but the rules themselves didn’t actually work that well.

Instead of keeping us from those distractions, we became fixated on them, or more accurately, how to get around them. When they figured out how we were circumventing the rules, they made new ones, which led us to find new, more inventive ways to break them. We didn’t want to follow them, because we weren’t part of the solution; we had no reason to follow them other than “we were told to.”

I just finished reading an article about banning laptops in the university classroom. I’m still shaking my head. I can’t stop shaking my head. The logic is baffling. Here is how I understand her reasoning: Continue reading Banning

Commemorating

rachel

This morning, the world lost a great woman. She likely isn’t known by anyone who reads this blog, but within her sphere of influence, she was a force to be reckoned with. She was opinionated, maybe even a bit bossy at times, but just slightly below that exterior was a incredibly generous heart. She loved animals and knew the names of each and every pet owned by her siblings, nieces and nephews, and almost anyone she came in contact with. She never made a lot of money, but if respect was a currency, she would have been one of the wealthiest ladies on the planet. She loved her family, friends, and God. She was faithful, diligent, determined, compassionate, loving, and giving. Who is she? My aunt Rachel.

What made her even more amazing was that she did this while dealing with the struggles of day-to-day life as someone with Down Syndrome. Heart problems, laboured breathing, and walking were some of the physical struggles, but the biggest hurdle came in the form of public perception. Seeing her, people had difficulty imagining she has much to contribute, but ask anyone who met her and you knew there was so much to her than her condition. She had an incredible memory and knew so much. She didn’t just know this information, she could piece things together and develop her own thoughts on virtually any subject.

I only had the opportunity to meet her one time in person when I was about 13 or 14 years of age. Even still, when mom and dad would visit her up until this last year, she would remember us and talk about us kids as if that day was still fresh in her mind. To her, it was incredibly important to remember details about a person since people were important to her. It didn’t matter what job you had, how much money you had, or how beautiful you were, just being you was enough for her.

I’ve learned a great deal from her. She taught me that people are important for just being people. I came to understand how valuable it is to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. I am struggling to be as gracious as she was in the face of adversity and to not let obstacles stop you from doing what you feel is right and good. I know she lived her life as if the next day could be her last. She also didn’t let things get her down. Yes, she had her bad days, but she didn’t keep it bottled up or stop her from moving on; she dealt with it and then left it in the past.

Rachel, we will miss you. You have taught us so much in your 57 years on this earth. You were truly a gift to us and your memory will help us to be kinder, more loving, and more understanding to others. Most of all, you taught us that nothing should ever stop us from being the change we want to see in this life. As the tributes to you pour in from all over the globe from people you have touched over the years, may others learn what it means to never judge a person on their outward appearance, but to dig deeply and find out who they truly are.

Profiting

money

Image courtesy of Images Money

The other day, I read this post about a photographer named Kris who posted a prize-winning photo of the shadow of Mt. Fuji on Reddit’s subreddit /r/pics only to find his joy for getting a huge amount of upvotes to be taken away by his photo being shared without his permission or attribution on various social media networks. I won’t get into the whole story since you can read about it on his post, but one of the comments on his blog regarding this story really stuck with me. The person wrote, “Your image was not “stolen” yet. Nobody is turning a profit on it.” There are two distinct things that came to mind after reading this:

  1. For most people, the inherent value in something is in what you can get in exchange for it.
  2. For most people, profit refers to monetary gain.

In this situation, the commenter believes that the photographer took the photo to make money. Since other people are not making money from it, there is no problem with those individuals sharing that photo as long as they are not making money from it. My problem with this is that the notion of value and profit are not just about physical items such as cars and computers, but intellectual properties such as writing and ideas. Continue reading Profiting

Helping

5096894782_0b422b2aa3_o

Image courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

The summer after I turned thirteen, my parents encouraged me to get a summer job. I had no idea how to get a job, so I wandered down to the local student summer employment office for some advice. During my meeting with the job counsellor, I was asked if I would be interested in working at the courthouse for a few days doing some landscaping. I was so excited. My first job! Of course I accepted, so she told me to report to the landscaping office at the courthouse the following morning. Being thirteen, I didn’t take any notes, so I completely forgot the name of the person I was supposed to meet at 8:00 AM. Oh well, I would figure it out.

I wasn’t much of a morning person at that time, but that morning I was up and ready to go. I was so proud to have a job and I looked forward to getting paid for my own work, not some errand I had done for someone I knew. I jumped on my bike and rode off to the courthouse in search of the mystery person I had already forgotten. Upon arriving at the back parking lot, I locked up my bike and headed into the first door I could find. After some wandering around some back hallways, someone in an office came out and asked me if I was Jason. “Nope, Nathan,” I replied. “I’m sure it is just a typo,” he mumbled as he ushered me into his office. “You’re smaller than I expected,” he chuckled. I didn’t laugh. Continue reading Helping

Disagreeing

2459245450_cd6f201969_b

Image courtesy of Nathan Siemers

Yep, I’m back, but with a caveat. My concern about how we treat each other as ELT professionals hasn’t changed. In fact, that is the focus of this post. While most of my posts are mostly planned out before I sit down at the computer, this is one of those that is just a general idea and I hope that by typing it out, some of my thoughts will start to sort themselves out and will become more cohesive by the end. Either that, or this post will be a disaster.

A lot has happened in the past month with the TESOL conference in Portland and IATEFL in Harrogate as well as the discussions that followed. The major discussion has been focused on the session presented by Sugata Mitra and one given by Russ Mayne. Surprisingly, those are not the issues I want to discuss here. Instead, my focus is on how we conduct ourselves with interacting with others within our field (or with people in general). I feel we have become too comfortable with the ‘snark’ remark. Biting, sarcastic responses have become so commonplace, there are those who feel it is now expected in order to make a point. Well, I for one feel we are heading down a dangerous path. Continue reading Disagreeing

Watching

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 12.02.12 PM

Image still from the movie Entre les murs

This weekend, I made the exceedingly long journey to Vancouver for the BC TEAL Lower Mainland Regional Conference. I had a great time and I will certainly blog about that soon, but that isn’t the purpose of my post today. On the plane back from the conference, I watched the movie Entre les murs, an intriguing movie about a teacher and his middle school class in Paris. Even though I am not a K-12 teacher, I found it to be a fascinating and quite convincingly realistic voyage through a typical school year. I think the thing that caught my attention the most was that I felt like it wasn’t contrived, a  compelling story without the need of a storyline. Unlike many of films on schools put out by Hollywood, this story didn’t have a hero or villain, blatant agenda or mountain top experience. Instead, this story left me with more questions than answers. In the end, I didn’t find myself really liking or detesting either the teacher or the students. I felt a variety of emotions throughout the film, but none stayed consistent. Instead, it got me thinking about my classroom, my approaches to teaching and how I can learn from this situation. Here are my somewhat scattered thoughts: Continue reading Watching

Negotiating

markers

Image courtesy of Steven Lilley

Note: This post is a copy of my submission for one of the IATEFL scholarships. Since I didn’t get the scholarship, I thought I would share it with you all. I hope you get something out of it.

From overhead projectors to interactive whiteboards, vinyl records to MP3s, the application of technology to the language classroom has been going on for decades, but not always smoothly. Most difficulties that emerge are due to a failure of both the learner and the teacher to anticipate how these changes may affect other areas as well. Take the use of mobile devices in the classroom as an example. There is a stark division between those who endorse the use of personal phones, tablets, and laptops in the classroom, and those who forbid them. Advocates point to a high level of student engagement along with the ability for students to access material beyond the classroom. This encourages students to take ownership of their learning in ways that the traditional classroom often cannot. Detractors highlight the ways devices distract from and often disrupt the learning process, with students accessing social networks, texting with friends, playing games, and ignoring others. But are these simply surface problems that mask a deeper issue? Continue reading Negotiating

Awarding

7871537924_dc4fe3f44a_z

Image courtesy of Ray Larabie

I don’t want to kick a hornet’s nest, but I am having a tough time lately with people’s obsession with the word ‘best’. It appears to me that social media, especially blogging combined with Twitter or Facebook, has fuelled this fire of lists, awards, and badges. I have to admit that I have blogged the occasional list of educational tools around a topic, but I think I have been fairly careful to stay clear of the use of superlatives to drive traffic to my site. After all, who’s to say that I would be correct in saying that these things are the ultimate end-all / be-all on these topics? Continue reading Awarding

Understanding

respect

Image courtesy of Ben Dalton

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have only two rules in my classroom: have fun and respect one another. At the beginning of each term, I have my students work out what that means based on various topics including cell phone use in the classroom, attendance, and cultures. From that, we build a code of classroom conduct that each of us, including myself, need to follow. It works well and it tells my students I respect them as a person and I hope that they would do the same for me.

A week ago, I came across this news article of a teacher in Mexico who confronted her students about some nasty things that had been tweeted about the teacher by one of the students. I won’t get into details, but the teacher used the classroom to address the issue in a very direct way. The comments on the CNN news article show a number of people in support of the teacher saying, “She is the authority in her classroom,” and “Humiliation is needed in schools, much more of it”. The whole event, from student to teacher to administration to the general public’s reaction has made me feel sad. I don’t think the issue here is ‘putting someone in their place’. I think the real issue is how we view one another as human beings.

After reading the article and watching the video, I started to think about each person or group of people affected by this event and I started to see how complex this issue is and how difficult it is to ‘place blame’ (not that I think we should). I decided to break it down in a sort of chronological order as things progressed. Continue reading Understanding