Abridged or censored?

 

Reading up on the current “newly published for young readers” list of “top picks” and where the story line may have been changed to make them “suitable” for the young adult school or home library, am wondering do these young readers return to a title and read the “adult” version when older?

When key elements of a story are altered to appeal as “safe picks” is the goal to have double sales? that is parents and children reading the same story- only separate versions? For some stories the appeal is obvious, for example: The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers’ Edition by Michael Pollan- and getting the whole family on board to discuss grocery shopping meal choices, cooking etc.  Also “I am Malala: Young Readers edition by Malala Yousafzai – two books that may indeed intrigue beyond the initial reading and with subject matter that will resurface again and again, but when the book is “fiction” and young readers feel they have “read it” will they be curious enough to reread the initial publication as adults?

Reading a variation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in which a school had “cleaned up the text to remove the pivotal court room drama” had me dismiss that variation for a classroom- either discuss the controversy in all its reflection of history, prejudice, legal structure…, and allow students to reflect on whether times had in fact “changed” or don’t put the text on the shelves- and to this I add that for some schools even the made for Young Adult stories of Twilight and Hunger Games were too riske- so to return to my original question: are young adult “age appropriate abridged editions” building readers (?) or simply providing what some adults see as “Books on a shelf”.  To really watch a child reading – that is when the reader is wanting to follow the development of the characters’ in the story, is to see a young person engrossed in an activity.  And for either child or adult that is still a rare occurrence even for active readers- it is the luck of the right story at the right time, the one that retains a hold on the reader long after the first read- enough to call one back to reread it again, like a cosy pair of slippers, where this time the characters and plot are enjoyed for the very actions which upon first read had one holding one’s breath- second reads offer the delight of the familiar, that sense of re-experiencing a lovely space (book can be a total thriller- it is up to the reader what emotions invoke- I’ve been here and it is “good” feeling); will the abridged variations provide that desire to read again- to learn more?

 

Stop the Mom wars

when mom bullies reign-

it happened; the dreaded phone call from a mother on a child’s class list letting me know that: some parents had decided to:

boycott a child’s birthday party

boycott a camp or after school program

boycott the in school activity

boycott the weekend planned event

and these calls always appeared out of the “blue” that is randomly, surprisingly direct and, waiting to exhale I would silently count through the “explanation” before informing that parent that we wouldn’t be boycotting anything at this time…

Hey- your children and mine- all deserve to find in the school year a learning experience that encourages each one to try something a little challenging, to reach out and make a new friend, to discover the similarites and the excitement of recognizing each other for their differences, to respect the uniqueness of the individual, and to hold important the experiences of the group- 12 years plus is a long time to be in classrooms- making the experiences positive takes more than staff and teachers- it takes “community”- real effort on the part of everyone with a connection to the school.

But if you truly hear of a teacher who is cruel or a staff member turning a blind eye to bullying- parents unite- for our children deserve to be safe in whichever programs they attend! However no whispers – open and inclusive dialogue to bring about clear and positive changes.

With the proliferation of “magnet programs” at schools the liklihood of children being from the same district has changed- don’t be a foolish snob- allow your child to engage with classmates and if you are the parent with the vehicle plan play dates that are inclusive.  Do we want to change the world- no- we need to change the world by working together to demonstrate via action and deed that community involves one another.

September 11, 2016- help keep whichever neighbourhood you live in- open!

 

 

Clear Example of STEAM in Action

Rio Olympics 2016! Absolutely lovely-

How can anyone still be questioning the value of either the Arts in Education or Sports on the curriculum?

Technology brought us the action and thanks to Time Zones and solid internet connections we were able to enjoy the blend of cultures and courage that strutting one’s talent in front of millions demands- and in “real time” watching as spectators from home while the action in Rio splashed or danced or cycled or ran or jumped…across our screens.

So Science and Technology and Engineering developed and improved the internet allowing the Olympic events to reach Global audiences – unlike those earlier Olympics which took place even before radio announcers- Imagine! when only those in the stadiums really were able to participate as spectators – the rest of the world believing that such events were for the economically wealthy who could afford to be there in person – today we rejoice alongside those in attendance or empathise when an athlete sheds a tear…

But the ARTS improved on the entire set of performances- from the opening ceremonies which greeted athletes and spectators alike, through to the closing speeches and the recognition for Tokyo to carry the torch.  In between we watched, cheered, groaned, and admired the marvelous differences in HUMAN BEINGS- from the gymnasts to the wrestlers; seeing the marathon runners feet firmly on the ground and the pole vaulters defying gravity to surprise themselves at times with their own wins; and quietly cheering the people working behind the scenes – yes the coaches who actually appeared front and centre but also all the designers and artists who helped build the stages and platforms, e.g. the landscape for events like the final Olympic mountain biking- blending with natural structures and terrain but finished by landscape artists who enhanced a “natural” area; and Kudos to the designers and artists who used fashion sense and modern technolgy to create the costumes the athletes wore- combining the best of known materials with the cultural symbols expected at a multi country event;  -ARTS< SPORTS<TECHNOLOGY, Global reach- all exemplified in that amazingly constructed new space for holding the Olympic torch-

Four years of participatory planning and practicing and communicating and learning and growing- for everyone co-ordinating the events whether as particpant or volunteer would have experienced the sense of competition that goes into every milestone each of us accomplishes. Ultimately, like each of the athletes, we are competing with ourselves.  And from the youngest in preschool through post -secondary education, every formal or informal student of life knows this.  And as Humans we need that encouragement from one another to become the front runners, to have the ability to “pick ourselves up and try again” or even to keep believing in our abilites and desires to do more- to learn more- to achieve more…

As countries look at expenditure for the Sports, the Arts and for Technology – let’s look at EDUCATION- and recognize that there is a place for each type of learning and learner- for only through working together could any event produce such positive results- the Olympics celebrate the HUMAN SPIRIT; our schools should be celebrating this too!

 

 

 

 

Rio 2016- & “me”

As to Politics: when we can figure out why people would rather waste money creating problems for people or using people instead of spending money to prevent problems in the first place- we will have created a better world! the Olympics are far from “perfect” and do cost a fortune to prepare for- but – at least for a brief moment we get to see “healthy competition” and a variety of mutual respect – athletes encouraging athletes; “giants” shedding tears; surprise challengers taking the podium, and real emotions on display- too many pictures to select only one to demonstrate the gratitude and awe I feel each time any of the athletes steps up and shares- young and old we each may learn something…

Students and their comments :)

“The Cowardly Lion needs COURAGE

The scarecrow needs a BRAIN

and

Tinman needs a HEART

And Dorothy, obviously, needs to wake the hell up and go back home lol.

I LOVE this movie!”

 

Now, would you correct the student for the expletive?

Summer blogging…

Yeah, it is hard to resist forms of puns even in the summer time; and Grease is a movie that reminds me of what many students do experience during the summer- a total change of pace! And this is why it becomes extra important for us as educators to view the returning/incoming students with “Fresh Eyes” and not with expectations from which ever report some school official may have filed the previous year; it is also why as Educators we must view parents in the same light- a light that opens the classroom to the parent’s view, and allows for the “newness” of the new academic year.

P for personal

R for real

I  for each of us

V for value

A for action

C for care

Y for yes- the thing that each of us expects-

At one point my classroom walls had an acronym for RESPECT, then I spoke with various students over the years and uncovered that for many Respect is demonstrated when Privacy is permitted; kids do have, especially from middle school on, a desire to discover their own personalities via “trial and error” and all the potential each finds, we, as Educators, have a responsibility to encourage! In 2016 when “Grease” the movie or the musical, and the 1950s and “Summer Loving” may seem to be taking a step backward in favor of “Star Trek Beyond” or “Ghostbusters (2016)” students are still having experiences that are neither academic nor necessarily quantifiable, during their “vacations” which for more and more students are amounting to less and less “free time” and instead do involve part-time or full-time jobs, travelling, or even academic work when students feel pressure to use every moment to gain a credit or pick up a dropped course … In sum, Summer Vacations may never have actually been “carefree”  (1950s movie depiction) but they might continue to provide people with a chance to – for a little while- step out of the prescribed roles their regular academic social circle defines and allow both teachers and students to be just a little more daring, just a little more “themselves”; for teachers too tend to get typecast within the culture of a school, and today with global connections and online “PLNs” many of us as Educators are constantly happy to explore new aspects of teaching the “same curriculum even if newly labelled” via hearing how our contemporaries are sharing the knowledge and encouraging growth at their respective centers.

It is fun to – have a new positive experience, meet new people, work on a personal challenge, or even simply daydream for a lengthy while, minus the interruptions of the bell; and of course some of the summer experiences could be mis-educative, and instead of encouraging, point a person in the direction away from growth via instilling a little too much grit- sand paper wears something down if improperly applied!

So instead of the intro letter about “how I spent my summer” which used to be expected as the new litmus test to determine if students could remember how to write a paragraph or two, why not give the students a few weeks to jump right into the new classroom environment and to sign up for which ever extra curriculars the school is making possible, letting the students and the teachers reflect themselves on who they are meeting anew- that almost grown up “stranger” may actually be oneself, entering the classroom with a newer perspective as a more “open” educator- less ready to accept what the last set of teachers declared about a student and more curious to participate in the developing and refining of “this year” and who is before one- “Sandra Dee” or “John Travolta” or a variation of any character from Comic Con- real people still, and allow the students to share their feelings over the material you select for the “diverse” classrooms you will be teaching in; privacy also means that educators “Not Assume” so that when students are learning to show both empathy and understanding no one erroneously jumps in to suggest they must only have the personal at stake- more than likely they are actually showing that the learning is affecting them, allowing them to care about people beyond themselves and their narrow circle; we as Educators must remember to let kids change- isn’t this what real learning and evolving is meant to demonstrate?

In advance of 2016-2017-  or if your place has already begun or is beginning the new Academic year- GOOD LUCK! Educators could always benefit from a dose of luck and a well stocked library!

 

 

 

Ears wide open

If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others. Haim Ginott  (Columbia University) 

Over thirty years of teaching and working with both children and adults and the validity of the statement quoted above remains strong-and not merely for children- Any administrator would do well to focus on reinforcing strengths – a teacher’s strength, a parent’s strength, a volunteer’s strength, and a community’s strength – and in this way when the focus is on encouraging the positive any negative that might need to be addressed is seen as what it is – simply a deficit that could be improved with strong positive action.

Brainstorm- separately and together to decide if it will take a combined effort or requires looking outside the community to enhance a program, apply a solution or indeed access much needed funding; each School Culture being unique but the overall goals being similar: to enhance and encourage student growth and development, to see sustainable growth over the years, and most importantly to recognize students, families and the “school family” as all a part of the solution, each participant leading rather than simply following the leader for then respect between and amongst the parents and their children has a space within which to Grow.

Summer is traditionally not merely “time off” for Educators and many students it is also a reflective period; though now with year round schooling in places, summer learning programs, emphasis on camps and the competition for some camps as strong as the competition for some Academic programs, much needed Reflective time is often ignored.  Personally I create a T bar on a scrap piece of paper and on one side begin listing all the positives; by the time that one side is full, the other side is often close to blank or has only the truly major needs for the coming weeks and I am able to smile at what is the positive as I approach anew.  And when active, the time to “worry and fret” is minimal so that actions towards clearing the residual issues produce results-even if not always bankable results.  This bankability is what affects many an educational institution, even ones not interested in labelling themselves an institution such as small tutoring practices, or community resource outlets, or student led activities that to the students fill their personal need but aren’t expected to become formalized.  And with each active participatory endeavor, adults and children come closer to uncovering their personal goals, dreams, and talents, while remaining the most important resource any Educational environment should be working with!

My positive side nearly always begins with names-the people I am pleased to Thank.  So on this very warm July morning, armed with a cup of strong coffee and a pencil I will exit my computer for a brief reflective practice, and bask briefly in the warmth that considering the positive allows.  Try it!