Learning Might be Overrated

This post was last updated on 5 months ago at 5 months ago

The past few weeks have initiated a great deal of conversation about learning, schools and education. If we were to dive in, those three things are somewhat separate and unique. Learning is generally agreed upon as the seminal idea. While its definition seems to vary, the consensus would be that it is the mandate of schools to provide opportunities to learn. And I would argue, school’s definition of learning is fairly narrow and measured and valued by a very narrow set of skills, ideas and disciplines. Of course, learning is happening with our without a building with varying degrees of success to be sure.

After interviewing over a dozen people and having numerous other conversations, reading posts online, I’m wondering if we’re forgetting what the real advantage, indeed the unfair advantage of school really is and I don’t think it’s purely about learning.

As school systems begin to rethink how things will look in both the near future and beyond, they are certainly considering more opportunities for students to continue to learn from home. For a segment of parents, they are finding value in reducing travel, spending … Read the rest

When Will We Get Serious about Teacher Stress?

This post was last updated on December 20th, 2017 at 10:55 am

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 … Read the rest

“Why Can’t Our Business Be More Like Schools?”

This post was last updated on 4 months ago at 4 months ago

“I’ll take  “Things You Never Hear” for $1000 Alex.”

The Internet is full of “Make Schools More like a Starbucks” Or “What if Schools Were More like Google” or like Minecraft.


For years, schools have been looking everywhere for models of what to do differently. I get it. Schools as an institution are in need of a makeover and are still mired in outdated practices and systems.

But I’m also fully aware of many schools that are creating wonderful learning opportunities and spaces that take full advantage of limited resources. The aren’t really like a Starbucks or like Google but are uniquely like themselves. Schools like SAIL in Surrey, BC, Caufeild Elementary in West Vancouver and H. B. Beal in London, ON. These aren’t perfect and they aren’t much alike in some respects but like hundreds of schools around the world, they don’t need to be envious of any business culture because they’re too busy creating their own unique space.

This is not to say we can’t learn from others or other organizations but my argument is that schools aren’t like businesses or video … Read the rest

Surprisingly Awesome

In a world where information and ideas are everywhere, I’m fascinated when people have a healthy obsession with something and go into great detail to analyze and deconstruct a topic or idea.

Sometimes it’s the topic itself but more often than not, it’s the person’s enthusiasm for the most minute details that keeps me interested.

As a sports fan, you may be familiar with the term “inside baseball” a broad term now used to refer to any behind the scenes insights or knowledge. Speaking of baseball, love him or hate him, I love listening to someone like Pete Rose talk about hitting. As arguably the greatest hitter in baseball, his breakdown of his craft is fascinating.

Sports analysts can often be annoying and yet can add new insights into their game. Here’s an example of two “experts” debating one of the most over analyzed topics in golf: Tiger Woods’ golf swing.


Unless you’re a golf fan, you didn’t watch that but what fascinates me is the detail and the passion they display as they argue this very unimportant topic. It reminds me of some of most memorable moments as a kid when we used to argue over the … Read the rest

This is High School

This post was last updated on 2 months ago at 2 months ago

CBC has released an excellent series called This is High School. The 6 part series follows a couple of vice-principals and at a high school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Each episode features 2 students who have various challenges.

While there are many documentaries out there about schools and education what makes this one worthwhile is the fair way it portrays high school, the students and teachers. This is not a series attempting to blame or point out any flaws with education. It simply provides an inside look at just how complex and challenging high school can be for both students and teachers. As you watch, you completely empathize with teachers’ decisions and at the same time appreciate that school does not always work for every student. While you might not agree with every approach and you might wish the students would choose differently, it’s clear the intent of the school is to do right by children. My experience in schools would suggest this is by far the dominant approach most teachers take, and is similar for homeschooling, and that’s why getting the right supplies is important, … Read the rest