Tag Archives: Human Rights

Talking and Walking- in another’s shoes…

A wonderful on-going project in Toronto involves encouraging immigrant women to share their stories via a pair of shoes, reminiscent of “if these walls could talk…” only with the shoes actually becoming the focal point for the story telling.  What a lovely reminder for what really is the concept of empathy– the ability to not only give someone the opportunity to share stories, but for others to take a moment and attempt to understand the stories, and then, to grasp at the significance of the stories being told.   Like many a person, I too have a “junk drawer”, one of those places that collects what a person is not yet ready to throw out.  Objects in that drawer hold little significance for anyone else, but like the shoes on display, (see: http://www.batashoemuseum.ca/snapshot_exhibits/theshoeproject/index.shtml   to read each of the short stories gathered over the three years of the project), may remind me of events, people, and life’s changes.  With the school year coming to a close, it seems a lovely idea to have students write about something that they might have found when cleaning out desks, lockers, or even helping in the lunch room or gym.  Over the years I have used a beautiful book by Sherri Fitch – If You Could Wear My Sneakers – main poem found here: http://www.edu.pe.ca/vrcs/resources/poetry/text/poems/what%27s%20fair/ifyoucould.html , to discuss children’s rights and matched this set of rhyming tales to other courses, political science and social science, not only the writing lesson of a language arts class, and not only with younger students.  Sometimes a little bit of nonsense rhyme allows the older student to relax about what is really a very complex topic.  For how difficult it truly can be to move beyond labels, stereotypes, cliques (think school- really), professional titles (think work and socializing, please), and other inscribed role playing that individuals are expected to comply with.  To shake it up a bit, and if the students don’t object, objects could be placed in a giant container and then redistributed- two stories per object, one by the original owner and one made-up tale by whomever pulled it out of the “hat”. With one overriding rule prior to the sharing of the stories- no criticisms of the tales.  Respect being tantamount to encouraging empathy, beginning as young as possible sounds like a plan. 


to read the Toronto Star write up go here:http://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2014/06/03/the_shoe_project_lets_listeners_walk_a_mile_in_an_immigrants_shoes.html






Recognizing Influencers: Professor Maxine Greene, Professor Roxana Ng

Bartholomew Cubbins* is not the only one to wear multiple hats! Dr. Seuss had the special talent of crafting children’s stories that stay in the minds of the adults who first read them aloud to their children.  And which one of us hasn’t on any given day, wondered about the number of hats we too wear.  Or wished at times to throw some “stuffy” old concepts out the window!  Including concepts about ourselves, and the roles we “must” assume as we move through our day.  There is many a teacher who has wished to laugh out loud along with the student “mischief maker” in his or her room, many a parent who knows that “because we felt like it” may not be the best note to write upon a student’s return- to- class,  many an administrator who would rather…

What’s particularly lovely about the images in the Seuss’ book is the bemused expressions on Bartholomew; the final conclusion made even more remarkable for its opportunity to lift Bartholomew to a new station.  In such a fashion do many of us today, “try on” different positions, in keeping with the modern expectation that change is not only good- but required.  And like Bartholomew, for whom the hats are merely toppings, the core of each of us remains central, centered, and in constant development.  How then do we juggle all the different expectations? I like the idea that balance is an illusion, that Darwin and his concept of adaptation beats any kind of direct arrow of progress, and that growth indeed may occur in increments, but nevertheless, change happens. 

This blog owes its existence to numerous mentors- the teachers along my way who have not merely influenced, but at times challenged, surprised, and appreciated my inquiry into how to make /do/ explore/ learn more-

It is because of their encouragement that I was able to try on numerous hats, anthropologist, ethnographer, museum educator, teacher, Instructor, workshop coordinator, administrator, and on a personal level, it is my children and the wide variety of students, children and adults, and their families, who remind me how much I have always believed that it is important to be a part of something larger than oneself.


Earlier today I read about the passing of two very different, talented, educators, whose passion for their projects continues to influence me: Professor Maxine Greene of Manhattan, and Professor Roxana Ng of Toronto.  Their writings are not merely books on my library shelf, but words that engage and challenge, and suggest the importance of “here and now” for educators interested in challenging the status quo and contributing to encouraging the involvement of others.  One was most interested in what and how the Arts can be of value in education -Professor Greene- the other, how education can be of value and can be evaluated for the immigrant worker- Professor Ng.  Together they create an image of women, insisting on the twin values of human rights and economic justice, anti-racist, anti-standards based discriminatory practice, hands-on in their actions as leaders in education and women as change makers.  Others have written and will write about their multiple contributions to the field of education; this post is a simple “Thank you”.





The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins*– Dr. Seuss