Is Sharing Still a Moral Imperative?

The video I created in 2010 for the K-12 online called Sharing: The Moral Imperative remains a fairly widely used bit of content. I was proud of my efforts from a production, content and delivery perspective. Also if you want to see George Couros, before he was George Couros, have a look.

That was over six years ago. As I rewatched it, I had to ask if I feel the same today. What, if any changes would I make to this video if I were to update it?

Focusing solely on the content, I still value and believe sharing is integral to learning and our profession. My claims in the video focus mainly on efforts to share online. At the time, only a small number of educators were actively sharing content online. Blogs were beginning to take traction for some, but their value wasn’t anywhere near a universal belief. Twitter and social media opportunities were nowhere near where they are today. Twitter was seen much like Snapchat is perceived for many today.: wasteful and for posting of minutia.

My original message was to encourage and create a culture where teachers look to share their ideas, thoughts, lessons, resources projects, and stories. Sharing online means that serendipity could happen more often. Not because of my video but I think sharing has increased.  That’s a good thing. More and more educators are connecting online and while it’s difficult to assess, I’d argue that for most of those teachers, they found it beneficial for themselves and for their students. But for most teachers, sharing means Twitter and Facebook. In general, I would say that’s fine. Share where you’re going to impact the most people.  The main challenge of these spaces are noise and with Facebook, in particular, your lack of control over who sees your work. If Facebook is your primary platform to share, I would ask you to rethink that.  If you want to expand your network or allow others to find you, it’s flawed. Twitter has its place, but it’s the appetizer equivalent of a full course meal. I realize some people are great curators and Twitter is a great place to share links and other useful content. If that’s something you do, that’s great, but that’s one very niche kind of sharing.

So perhaps my message today would be more focused on the process of sharing, rather than outcome. Writing this blog post, for example, is a reflective act that, while I hope others find useful, is highly beneficial for me as a thinker and writer. A blog also serves as an archive of my ideas. Facebook and Twitter don’t allow you to do that very easily. Once upon a time, a blog was a new and powerful way to publish online. I know that blogs are somewhat passe. They aren’t new or sexy and for many people that have created them, they represent a space of guilt. You may not even get all that many views as RSS has also seemed to have died. But they still are in my mind, the most versatile, powerful way to store and share your stuff.

You can see this post is a muddled mess which is typical of what I do here. But unlike Facebook and Twitter, this is my house, I can do as I please. Am I saying every teacher should blog? Maybe, I don’t know. I said that once. I also know it’s not an easy thing to do.  Without reflection, there’s no way you can improve or be great at anything. Through reflection and sharing you and others can benefit. Maybe I’d change the video to “Reflection: The Moral Imperative.” Help me out here.

PS. if you feel a bit guilty, that’s good. ūüėČ


2016 in Photos and Video

Well, here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for.

2017 will be my 10th year of taking a photo a day. It’s partly an act of mindfulness, partly documentation and by now pretty much a habit. While many people have on occasion,¬†taken on this task, few have done it for as long and I don’t know many who take the photos and package them in any way. This year’s edition was about a 4-hour effort. I don’t do a whole lot of editing anymore, simply drop them in and do a bit of tweaking as needed, find some decent soundtracks and publish. At some point, I’ll force all my family members to watch it and we’ll be on to 2017. I actually go back every so often and look at past years. Taking 20 minutes or so to remember all the mostly great things that happened is a nice way to reflect and share a journey and you’ll certainly see what things are important to me.

While I’m certainly privileged to travel and see some amazing places, keep in mind I was doing this before my current life of travel. New and beautiful places are great but just as meaningful are the everyday moments at home, with family and friends. Some of you reading this will see yourselves in the video. I can’t imagine anyone watching all 20 minutes but here it is just in case. For all of you that I crossed paths with in 2016, thank you. You helped make it a wonderful year for me.

2016 in Photos and Video from shareski on Vimeo.

Still want more? Here are all the videos from previous years. While I can’t imagine anyone besides me wanting to watch them, consider it proof.

2010 (aka, the year I tried something crazy)

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 most inane things. Anyone on the outside would call these debates ridiculous and while on some level this is true, it’s hard to argue the knowledge and passion that flames these discussions.

I’m also a big fan of comedy and love the way Jerry Seinfeld breaks down his craft. This is such a great analysis of what makes a joke funny. English teachers should use this in a writing lesson.

Any lengthy interview he gives, he’ll always get into the inner workings of comedy and how to make people laugh.

I also love music documentaries where they talk about how a song comes to be. Here’s a wonderful break down of the Fleetwood Mac hit, “Go Your Own Way” and the way in which the opening guitar riff was developed.

There’s no one that geeks out more on Math than Dan Meyer. This is an example of someone who takes something that most may not find that interesting and someone pulls you in. Read his two posts on bottle flipping as a Math lesson. First, he questions whether it’s even a good lesson. Then after some comments, he reverses his opinion. ¬†Even if you don’t really care about the math, it’s fun to see the detail and energy he expends creating a video and debating the merits and usefulness of this idea. Which leads me to the title and educational portion of this post.

Surprisingly Awesome is a podcast that looks at things that are typically seen as boring or at least not particularly interesting and works to convince the audience that perhaps it is kind of awesome. Topics like mattresses and flossing, for example, are things that I would now say I find, not perhaps awesome, but more interesting than I did before.

Very few would argue that everything we teach and learn in school is awesome. Yes, the current narrative of change is focusing on making school more relevant but I also hear many suggest that some things are still necessary and yet are admittedly kind of boring. Dan Meyer’s TEDx talk is based on the premise that teaching Math is often a¬†boring but necessary subject. Dan’s passion has been to make Math surprisingly awesome.

So my question to you is, what do you teach that you think is surprisingly awesome? Forget your maker spaces, robotics, and green screen activities, I’m talking about those topics that at first kids groan about but after you take them deep into it using whatever skills and passions you have, they come out the other end with a deeper appreciation and understanding. The comments here are fertile ground for us to create our educational version of Surprisingly Awesome.

Community Stories

I’m often reminded that I have one of the best jobs in the world. Getting to work with districts around the world, I continue to value and appreciate the high quality of people who have dedicated themselves to helping young people. Being able to spend time with these people and hear their stories, encourage them and connect them to others represents a fairly large part of my work. Building and growing community in a variety of ways is pure joy.

Another of the great privileges I have as part of my work at Discovery Education is to pursue my passions. One of those passions is storytelling and videography. Much like my writing and speaking, I recognize I have some ability but also recognize how much I have to learn. Last year I shot and edited 8 videos from educators in Canada, the UK and the US. I had filmed another in April but for a variety of reasons, was not able to get it edited and produced until today.

Zulma Whiteford from Discovery Education on Vimeo.

I continue to be fascinated by stories and how they forge, create and strengthen connections and build community. I hope to share more of these and also experiment with the whole realm of storytelling. I’ll always be learning.

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 on beauty are ideas that I still am working through. I don’t think we’re offering any simple answers here but just a story and some ideas to consider.