Oh the irony…how it burns!

Just when I thought I could get away from the system and its oppressive mandated curriculum, I seem to be thrown into the fray of a tracking system for the BC Ministry of Education inspectors that has me looking at so many courses; I probably know more learning outcomes than 99% of the teachers in BC now.

What a twist of fate.  Oh the irony…

But you know…

I don’t care one iota about prescribed learning outcomes.  There is far, far more powerful learning: Interdisciplinary inquiry.  That is the most powerful form of learning and it eats mandated curriculum as an appetizer.

It has to change.  I am a change agent and I am prepared to fight for it.  The time has come.

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Check the body

Understanding the body is essential learning.  I don’t particularly care what form it takes – team sports, parkour, walking up hills, whatever.

But it is essential.  I have seen bad physical activity habits spill over into the rest of a person’s life from school far too many times.

And excersise makes you smarter.  Don’t believe me?  Go ask the folks at UVic who run the largest electron microscope in the world to show you their images of the hippocampus and how physical activity relates directly to brain activity.

Of course, I have already known this link for a very long time.  So, it drives me nuts to see perfectly young bodies lounging around.  Get up and move.  Use your muscles. Get smarter.

Which leads back to inquiry.  Can it be done for PE?  Yes.  I believe physicality can be tied right into inquiry.  Separating it only further widens the gap to kids getting off their asses.

Here are two example of what I am talking about:

The first, is insane, and still blows me away everytime I see it.  The power of x:

And the second is Trickster Theater who are doing amazing things (physically and mentally at the same time) with students all over Alberta.

Check out their Vimeo page:
http://vimeo.com/channels/458248/page:1

Physicality needs to be inside the inquiry process.

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40 alternatives to university

Today, we took the school to the university.

I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, it was awesome.  We got to check out the largest electron microscope in the world.  It is insane what it can do.  Picometers.  Huh?  We had amazing images of scale – galaxies to atoms.  Very, very cool.

On the other hand, as I got to the coffee shop in the morning, I saw the standard text book open, notes being taken.  Puke.

We live in such a different time – it is undeniable.  Perhaps we (schools) should consider alternatives.  Not just trades, but the ginormity of opportunity that is now available that never was even 10 years ago.

Thus, I submit my first shout out to the alternatives with James Althuchers short book, “40 Alternatives to College”.

Read it here.

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A sampling of creative work

I have a student who wants to be a sound engineer.  He already knows what he wants to do with his life at 14.  I must admit, I am always a little envious of people who know what they want to do so early.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I was 31.

So, I am doing my best to help him reach his goals.  Here is a little sampling of what we did together:

He did a great job of engineering this little piece.

In his words, here is how he did it:

This is Jake’s pride and joy, his most prized (virtual) possession.  Well not actually.  In my opinion as an aspiring sound engineer  this wasn’t the best, you see there was a TON of background noise and there weren’t any spots in the recording that were quiet and long enough to use the “Noise Removal” filter which I’ve used before, so to get around this I had to take a bit of silence and loop it to give the program enough sample background noise to filter it out.

As far as actual recording goes, it was odd.  I had a wide diaphragm cardioid condenser mic positioned above the skins and a Shure SM 57 unidirectional dynamic mic underneath to capture the bass frequencies (100-1000 HZ).  Now when we were recording the waveform was clipping like hell, and Jake and I thought that it was because there was to much bass frequency, so I turned the gain down on the mic picking up the bass frequencies (Shure SM 57), put a pop filter in front, and we tried it again and it was still happening.  When I think about now I’m laughing at myself because it’s such a simple problem.  I put the the pop filter in front of the wrong mic!  Like I said in a previous post the sudden hits on the skins produce a lot of air pressure, which is what makes the popping noise.  And as the name would suggest that’s exactly what a pop filter is made to prevent, so I put it in front of the condenser mic and all was well.

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Future-ready Education

It is about creativity.

I do it daily.

That is what school should be about.  Add interdisciplinary inquiry and bravery and that just about sums up a great future-ready education.

Creativity is the most important skill to develop.  It is the one skill that will see you through the massive changes rocking society.

Ken Robinson asks the question, “Does school kill creativity?”  Sadly, yes.  At a time where it is by far the most needed skill, it does not even enter the radar of much of the old school.

That is my mission.  To teach massive creativity every single day.  In my mind, the revolution has already happened.  I truly believe the changes are already here.  The pace is going to quicken and those who cannot creatively think their way out of this situation are toast.

Thus, daily creativity training and practice.  Every single day.  It is a skill.  Like any skill, the more you do it the better you get it.  No sheets to fill out with boxes.  Just pure, genuine creativity.  I am doing my best to acclimate my students to this high altitude conditioning.

It is working.  It is damn well working for me anyway.  I am becoming a juggernaut of creative endeavor.  Like I said, the more you do it the better you become.  Try 6 hours a day.

This is where my creative endeavors took me today:

Developing a script for a film with 4 students titled, “Vanilla Thunder”

Rehearsed the choreography we made for the fight scene

Helped 4 students individually develop interdisciplinary inquiry from Fukushima to samurais to rap to medical marijuana.

Laid down heavy African rhythm with a couple of students on the djembes after school

Do you see anything even remotely coming close to a worksheet?  Nope.  You know why?  Because creativity is the skill that must be taught.  Again, couple that with interdisciplinary inquiry and bravery and that is what a future-proof education begins to look like.

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The coolest thing I have ever done in school…

This has to be by far the coolest thing I have ever done in school (both as a student or teacher):

Film a choreographed martial arts fight scene in historic fan tan alley.

Seriously, how cool is that?

It involves so many things, not least of which is a gigantic creative process that is teaching everyone involved a ton of invaluable skills.

I am one of those who need to move to learn.  Of course, I can sit and learn too (voracious reader), but if that is all I am doing, I go insane.  I love being up, working on developing choreography, moving the body.  It makes me happy.

And we are making art.  That makes me so happy too.  I am an artist through and through.  It is sheer pleasure being able to make this in school.  Not only are we learning a ton of stuff, but we also end up with one heckuva cool short film with high production value that all students can put into their portfolios and look professional.

We are rehearsing like mad the next few weeks and will hopefully be able to shoot at the beginning of December.  We then hope to have all the editing done by January and ready for your viewing pleasure.

If it all works (fingers crossed), then we will hunker down, write a full script and do a 1/2 hour to a full hour film.

This is an amazing example of emergent curriculum.  I had absolutely no inclination that this was going to happen this year.  None whatsoever.  From a spark, sometimes a great fire rages.

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Open Space Technology

This is what we did today:

Open Space Technology

I had never done it before.  A tremendous organizational group process to get things done.

Wow.

I really look forward to doing it again.

Check it out.  Try it.

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