Who Pushes Your Thinking?

Speaking in generalities and platitudes is easy. But living out the hard things in life is rare. Believe me, I’m guilty as the next person and am working on my own ignorance and faults.

An ever-growing passion of mine is to seek out people that I disagree with and yet can have productive conversations. Even if a conversation is not possible, at least reading/watching/listening to those ideas and beliefs can be fruitful. My premise is that the many of the people I see online would like to believe they are open-minded and yet are so easily offended that they rarely if ever seek opinions and ideas that would contradict their own. We know the echo chamber exists and it’s not always a bad thing, in fact, it’s important to surround yourself with those who support and encourage you. At the same time finding a few folks who will push you, challenge you and straight up disagree with you is the sign of a mature, healthy learner; the kind of learner that educators ought to ascribe to.

via GIPHY

As I said, I’m sceptical. Easy to talk about being open to new ideas, harder to seek them out. As I scan … Read the rest

Sometimes I’m not Very Bright

Depending on who you ask “Sometimes” is a very loaded word.

As someone who has been pretty vocal about the limitations of Twitter, I should know better.

I’ve railed against the use of pithy tweets and so only moments after I send this baby out did I realize that:

  1. I was guilty of breaking my own rule.
  2. I had started a small fire storm.

Immediately the retweets and likes started flooding in. I hopped on a plane and landed to see the error of my ways. This tweet, in particular, reminded me of what I had done.

They’re right. It was a rather insulting tone and that was the moment of regret. I wanted to start a conversation but the awkward tone, lack of nuance, and labelling teachers  with such a volatile topic polarized the tweet rather … Read the rest

The Problem with Curiosity

I’m noticing an unusual pattern of late. In education, there’s a strong underlying message to bring back or maintain curiosity and wonder as the foundation of learning. Meanwhile the media, both mass and traditional and social is intent on killing curiosity. Whether it’s politics, racism, environmental or a host of other modern issues, the message is pretty standard.

“Unless you believe me/us, you’re stupid or evil.”

The problem with curiosity is, it’s nice in theory, it might work in schools, but in the real world, curiosity is not valued and it’s often disdained.

I understand the passion the people have about many of these issues. But the absence of wonder and curiosity sends exactly the opposite message to our children when it comes to lifelong learning. The shortage of thoughtful, welcoming conversation and discourse is alarming. For a person genuinely interested in learning about two or more sides of an issue, good luck. There aren’t many safe places to ask questions and learn. Phrase a question incorrectly, and you’ll be hammered and chastised for your ignorance. So instead of engaging in civil discourse, you’re forced to choose a side and be bombarded inside an echo chamber that paints their opposition … Read the rest

When Beauty Leads to Empathy

I’ve been blessed to speak to a variety of audiences and events around the world. But in September it was my great privilege to speak alongside my youngest daughter to a TEDx audiences in West Vancouver.

Having spoken in West Vancouver a few years ago, I was asked to return. A few weeks before my invitation, Martha, who was in grade 12 mentioned that one day she would love to give a TED talk. So I asked Craig Cantlie if he might be willing to take a chance and have Martha and I speak together. Craig listened to our proposal for a talk which was really a thread of an idea and decided to take a chance.

This talk is based on Martha’s passion around feminism. She has taught me a great deal and I tried to take her learning and mine and put it in a broader context. Our process of collaboration began with her writing what she wanted to say. I then tried to compliment her story as best I could.

Given the events of the past few weeks, I think the talk offers much to ponder. My personal passion for civil discourse and a focus … Read the rest

Reminding Myself to Keep My Mouth Shut

I believe strongly in debate and civil discourse. I’ve gone so far as to design a course that explores what this looks like particularly online. I’ve not hesitated to critique language and ideas I think may be harmful. 

That disposition always needs to be tempered with an understanding of the world we live in. Social media means the newest app, trend or idea often gets positioned as revolutionary and then immediately bashed by naysayers. Neither are right. 


Pokemon Go arrives and soon folks go from downloading to playing to seeing potential for learning. As quickly as that’s shared, they take a beating. I was one who downloaded the game and before I could play was immersed in the hype and sniffed the “game changer” claims. 

But before I hit the snark button I better step back. Just because someone thinks something has potential and gets a bit excited doesn’t mean we attack. This happens too often to anyone suggesting something might have educational value. I’ve been guilty of this myself. What I need to remind myself is to keep quiet and let people play. 

In the classroom I remember introducing my kids to new technologies. Dating myself, I recall handing … Read the rest