Who is Thriving?

For the regular readers I have, you may have noticed an increase of late in my blogging. This is not a result of any resolution or real intention but likely a by-product of less time and engagement on social channels and a desire to better flesh out my thinking and ideas and seek out those interested in providing more thoughtful feedback and interaction.

It’s obvious to anyone that education right now is a tough place to be. I suppose that’s true for many industries and organizations but any data, report or story you hear says education is not a profession that is very appealing. We all can list a number of factors, many outside of our control, some are long-standing systemic challenges and others might be new due to societal unrest. I can tell you my colleagues and I at ALP are working to support communities with long-term solutions around workplace wellness and leadership specifically to work towards a better future.

But no matter the challenges and circumstances, there are always those who thrive. This is essentially the definition of a positive deviant. Positive deviants are folks who have the same resources as others and yet succeed and thrive … Read the rest

Protecting the Sacredness of Childhood

A major theme of my work over the past few years has been a push back to the efforts to accelerate children to become adults. This is an extremely challenging and nuanced conversation. On the one hand, we know children are typically anxious to get older and become adults. We foster some of that with conversations about “changing the world” and becoming “future-ready”.

The expectations we’ve placed on children, I believe are contributing factors to the increase in anxiety and stress among young people. On the other hand, we have a responsibility to prepare students to become healthy, contributing adults. But I think we might be leaning too far in one direction at the cost of them losing out on what it means to be a kid.

Not every child gets the full experience and not everyone agrees on what the childhood experience should be. However, I think it’s pretty universal that these formative years need to be full of wonder, innocence, exploration, and a gradual increase in responsibility. So many factors determine how much each of these tenets is preserved, many of which schools and even parents have little control over. Today’s world is a constant barrage … Read the rest

From Despair to Hope

No matter who you are or where you’re from, the past few years have done some damage. It’s by no means the same for all of us and I count myself as one of the fortunate ones in so many respects. Yet even as fortunate as I am, every once in a while I find myself going down the rabbit hole of despair. Whether it’s the implications of the pandemic, political unrest, the rise of conspiracy theories, racial injustices, climate change, and the list goes on. Then there are the stories of friends and connections who have been hit hard by these things and it becomes more personal. Some days any of these issues weigh heavy and depending on who you are listening to, reading, or watching, it can make these seem insurmountable. You can certainly make the case that these issues are unresolvable and over time that mindset and consumption of fear and dread can lead anyone into some level of depression.

It’s partly due to our extra time to linger and wade in murky waters of sadness and negativity and partly due to the endless stream of voices more than willing to feed your fears, it’s at times … Read the rest

Why Am I Still Using Social Media?

Since the inception of social media which emerged in and around 2005-07, it has gone from something as silly and useless to essential and powerful to dangerous and divisive. Perhaps all of those elements remain in some respects but certainly, the danger and divisiveness is the dominant narrative. If you’ve watched The Social Dilemma or done any other extensive reading, you’re quite aware of the harm it has and continues to cause our society. There isn’t a current issue that isn’t ripe for controversy, misinformation and vitriol. We’re overheating everywhere.

When I joined Twitter in 2007, it was definitely a silly and seemingly useless space. There were no such thing as followers, hashtags or mentions. As someone interested in the power of connectivity and networking, I found it to be a fantastic way to find interesting people. While some were already using it as a space to share serious and useful content, I just wanted to get to know others. As an educator is was a virtual staff room. A place where educators would come together to try and get away from the challenges of teaching but like any teacher will revert back to the job and look for support … Read the rest

Education’s Dysfunctional Relationship with Happiness

If you asked parents “What is it that you want for your kids?” You’d have an overwhelmingly common response of: “I just want them to be happy?” While they may add other things like health, a job they love and good relationships, happiness would top that list and likely cover all those other things as well. So if happiness is what most parents want for their kids, why are schools so afraid to use the word or actually teach happiness?

Certainly there is a legacy that still believes that happiness, fun, play and joy are not compatible with all mighty goal of academic rigour. While most educators may not be this explicit in stating this, it remains an unspoken belief. Whenever children are laughing, having fun, playing its often seen as “childish”. We might tolerate it but we also might be quick to transition to more serious work. While I’m generalizing here, my guess is that you can place this in a specific context in your world. As Jal Mehta says:

People have a lot of false dichotomies in their heads, like either they learn the content or it will be fun and interesting. 


The good news is … Read the rest