It’s been a while…

I haven’t blogged in a while.

Self-reflection is a practice that is heavily stressed in Teacher’s College – to the point where its value is often depreciated.  Many complain.

But today was the second day in a row where I took time to listen to music for the sake of listening.  As a musician and music student teacher, I rarely make time to enjoy or use music as therapy (un-wind, relax, comfort) and I seem to forget how affective and wonderful it is to listen to music.

I have a forty-five minute subway ride back downtown from my teaching placement and its been refreshing to listen to Iron and Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days these past two days.  Soft guitar playing and relaxing melodies with the occasional heavier bluesy track, it has brought peace and calm to my busy and restless heart and mind.

Writing reflections on my day in this mood is a very effective use of my time.

Take some time to listen to what you need to.  Take some time to reflect.

Part 2, David Orr’s “What is Education For?”

Part 1 is here.


Rethinking Education

Orr then gives six principles for rethinking education

Rethinking Education #1: All education is environmental education.

Curriculum determines whether students view themselves as part of or apart from the natural world.  Economics without ecology or thermodynamics assumes that ecology and physics have nothing to do with economics.

One could say that economics is completely independent of those things, but without an ecology, there is no real economy – plain and simple. Continue reading

Part 1, David Orr’s “What is Education For?”

David Orr’s, “What is Education For?”, from Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect.  (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2004, pp. 7-15).

Orr begins with a plethora of rather down-to-‘earth’ statistics, letting us know that everyday we lose: 116 square miles of rainforest (an acre a second), 72 miles of land to desert every day, 40-250 species (whether it’s 40 or 250 no one knows).  The human population will increase by 250 000, and we’ll add 2700 tons of chlorofluorocarbons and 15 million tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  He notes that in the year 2000, “perhaps as much as 20% of the life forms extant on the planet in the year 1900 will be extinct.”  Orr lets us know that the loss of land is due to human mismanagement and overpopulation.

The effects of all this are much more important than the statistics:

The truth is that many things on which our future health and prosperity depend on are in dire jeopardy: climate stability, the resilience and productivity of natural systems, the beauty of the natural world, and biological diversity.

I wonder if these things are truly what our future health and prosperity depend on.

Orr changes gears.  He describes that this – our overpopulation and mismanagement – is not the work of ignorant people, but by very educated people.  He compares this to what Elie Wiesel points out: that the designers and perpetrators of Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald – the Holocaust – were the heirs of Kant and Goethe, widely thought to be the best educated people on earth. But their education did not serve as an adequate barrier to barbarity.  “What was wrong with their education?” Asks Orr.  He uses Wiesel’s words:

It emphasized theories instead of values, concepts rather than human beings, abstraction rather than consciousness, answers instead of questions, ideology and efficiency rather than conscience.

Continue reading

Case Study for Educators: A Moral Dilemma

Mr. Davids is one of four vice principals in a large urban high schools of twenty five hundred students.  One of his many duties is to make follow up phone calls to parents informing them of their son or daughters absence.

One morning, he finds a very distraught grade eleven female student waiting at his office door.  The day before, he had called her home to indicate that she had been absent for two consecutive days as he had been unable to make contact on the first day.  The student, through her sobbing and irregular breathing, explains that she just had a miscarriage.  She had left her home the last two mornings as usual, but instead of going to school, she was at a friend’s house whose parents were away, recovering.  Tearfully, she explains that because of her cultural background and her father’s temper, “He will kill me if he finds out.”  She begs Mr. Davis to call her home and explain that it was a computer error and that she was at school for those two days.

She doesn’t have a record of previous absences, and is a good student. She has received proper medical care.

What should he do?

If you were the vice-principal, what would you do with this dilemma?

We can choose to believe her story.  To make up such a story, to avoid a phone call home because of truancy, seems rather far-fetched.  She appears sincere.

Would you call her home?  Potentially sending her home to be “killed” by her father, or thrown out of her house?  Would you call her parents to the office and talk to them about it?

Or, would you, as a professional, lie?  She suggests contriving the lie of a “computer error”. Would this raise any of your doubts — or is she simply thinking of a believable lie?

What would you do?