Technology as Distraction

Like many before this post started with a tweet….

 

Today most inspirational messages, books and challenges to schools are to “prepare them for anything” or “future ready” or “solve big problems” or “change the world”, all good and valid messages. I’ve already shared my concerns over an overemphasis on innovation. I’m not saying these things aren’t important but I think what’s missing is recognizing that student health and well-being needs way more attention, emphasis on “way”. If we look historically at the purpose of school, it moved from a primary mission of knowledge distribution to job preparation. Health was an add-on at best and mental health wasn’t even on the radar until the last few years. Technology has fostered the conversation about a broader definition of jobs and future. Lagging way in the background is student health and well-being.

Certainly, that title I’ve used here is no earth-shaking, profound insight. We’ve all become well aware … Read the rest

Still Amusing Ourselves To Death

As much as I love the ability to connect with current practitioners and other smart folks around innovative and interesting ideas in education, we have a wealth of knowledge that lives in the recent and more distant past that is often overlooked. The bombardment of “new” through current media offerings tends to overshadow the truths that have been shared, considered and proven over decades and centuries.

When it comes to understanding media and communications, there are no better thinkers out there than Neil Postman and Marshall McLuhan. If you’re reading this and have never heard of these men, I would highly encourage you to seek out their writings.

I just finished re-reading Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman’s critique of the impact of television on our world.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

I suppose some might not be able to see the connection between television and the Internet and while there certainly are differences, I found the parallels to be glaring. Without doing a full review here, I simply … Read the rest

When Will We Get Serious about Teacher Stress?

I’m privileged to work with some of the very best educators around the world. I’m continually inspired and in awe of their expertise, energy and commitment to their craft. They are true artists.  I marvel at these artists and the different ways they approach teaching and learning.

Of late, I’ve become acutely aware of one sad commonality among these very good people. Teachers are stressed. One could argue teachers have always been stressed but I’m sensing something new and disturbing. Today’s headline confirms some of my hunches. I’m sure some will read this article and suggest teachers are weak or lazy or manipulative. However, it’s the increase that needs to be noted. Perhaps teachers are taking better care of themselves and thus are taking time to recover rather than bringing their sickness back to the classroom. If that’s the case I see a problem in a job that requires employees to take that much time off.

In Ontario, mental health and well-being is now a mandated goal. While I applaud that move, several educators questioned the strategies suggested that are designed to deal with the stress the system itself created. “Try these mindfulness activities to deal with the … Read the rest

Stop Following Your Passions…the Celebration of Work

As a parent, I’ve struggled with the advice I give to my children. Growing up I was never told to “follow my passions.” I don’t remember any specific advice my parents gave me but I think it was pretty much like most people my age: Get a good education, get a good job, retire as soon as you can. My wife and I have made the transition as most my age who became parents to encourage our kids to follow their passions. Hopefully we’ve provided an environment that allows them to explore and experience many different things that help them discover what those passions might be. If you asked my kids, I’m not sure, even though 3 of them are adults, that they really know what their passions are. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing or particularly unusual. 

I’ve been fortunate that I’ve fallen into my passion over the past several years and even more fortunate to be able to make a living off of that. I think that’s a message we need to stop placing on our kids and students. Not only is it a lot of pressure but also suggests that finding work that supports your family Read the rest