A Puff of Absurdity: On Betsy DeVos in Ontario

Betsy DeVos is coming to talk to the Minister of Education, apparently to learn about our schools. Let’s hope the meeting just goes in that direction. When she was first appointed by Trump, OSSTF warned, DeVos has been a strong advocate for the creation of more charter schools in her home state of Michigan, as ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Having the Lowest Graduation Rates

This recent article in my local paper tells us that our region is lowest in the province for graduation rates. ON FIFTH YEAR RATES They worry that “Students who did graduate also took longer to do so than almost anywhere else.” The graphic shows 68% finish after 4 years, and 81% after a fifth year ...

A Puff of Absurdity: The Plight of the Millennials

Further explanation here.  First, a bit about statistical norms and the normal distribution. In social sciences, for something to be considered a statistically significant characteristic of a group, it just needs to be present in about 68% of the population, or one standard deviation from the norm. There’s tons of variation in the other 32%, ...

Alberta Politics: A wacky idea for getting more value from university administrators: pay them less and never mind competitiveness

PHOTOS: Alberta Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt serving pancakes at yesterday morning’s Premier’s K-Days Breakfast on the south lawn of the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton. Below: Just to stick with the photographic theme, even though it has nothing to do with the story, Premier Rachel Notley cooking up the flapjacks Mr. Schmidt was serving. Here’s ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Petty, Self-Serving Teachers Taking Sick Days

A timely local article (timely for what I’m going through) in the Record, discusses the horrors of teachers who are allowed to have paid sick days – or that’s how it’s being read by a vocal group of commenters. The facebook rants following it are so routine that the insults are having less effect, which is ...

A Puff of Absurdity: If We Could Be as Smart as Frogs

I regularly tell students about our likely future. It’s often met with skepticism, so I provide lots of citations from the IPCC and NASA. Then I sometimes get a lecture on being so doom and gloom. Denial is our go-to defence against reality. But for whose benefit? It’s just for our own short term enjoyment ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Rising Anxiety Rates

A couple weeks ago, CBC ran an article about a high-school guidance counsellor, Boyd Perry, concerned with the increase in anxiety in students, and I’ve been dwelling on it ever since. This is crazy long as I’m just figuring all the angles here. Perry thinks we need to assess anxiety differently because these kids, some ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Rising Anxiety Rates

A couple weeks ago, CBC ran an article about a high-school guidance counsellor, Boyd Perry, concerned with the increase in anxiety in students, and I’ve been dwelling on it ever since. This is crazy long as I’m just figuring all the angles here. Perry thinks we need to assess anxiety differently because these kids, some ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Becoming a Woman – Mid-Life Edition

When I was around ten to fourteen, we were all inundated with information about our bodies – all the ins and outs of the magical, wondrous things that were just around the corner for us. It happened at school, but it was also the purview of some of the After School Specials that everyone watched, intrigued, ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Becoming a Woman – Mid-Life Edition

When I was around ten to fourteen, we were all inundated with information about our bodies – all the ins and outs of the magical, wondrous things that were just around the corner for us. It happened at school, but it was also the purview of some of the After School Specials that everyone watched, intrigued, ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Obama

I don’t agree with everything he did, but I love the way he did it. Obama was (is – he’s not dead) a classy guy. He’s a role model for behaving under stress, a legendary orator, and a gentleman with his partner.  A recent NYTimes article described one daily practice of his – to read ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Obama

I don’t agree with everything he did, but I love the way he did it. Obama was (is – he’s not dead) a classy guy. He’s a role model for behaving under stress, a legendary orator, and a gentleman with his partner.  A recent NYTimes article described one daily practice of his – to read ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Sugar and Socialization

An Agenda discussion on sugar use is timely for me. I typically let students eat something small and healthy in class to tide them over until lunch, but, in one class this semester, I ended up having to police their choices. A few shovelled candy into their mouths before I’d tell them to put it ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Sugar and Socialization

An Agenda discussion on sugar use is timely for me. I typically let students eat something small and healthy in class to tide them over until lunch, but, in one class this semester, I ended up having to police their choices. A few shovelled candy into their mouths before I’d tell them to put it ...

A Puff of Absurdity: More on Critical Thinking

Owen at Northern Reflections wrote about Crawford Kilian‘s recent article in the Tyee about the need for critical thinking in schools, which referenced Jeet Heer‘s twitter essay on Sartre where I found this nugget from Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew:  (And somehow I wonder why my house is such a mess.) This one passage isn’t reserved solely ...

A Puff of Absurdity: More on Critical Thinking

Owen at Northern Reflections wrote about Crawford Kilian‘s recent article in the Tyee about the need for critical thinking in schools, which referenced Jeet Heer‘s twitter essay on Sartre where I found this nugget from Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew:  (And somehow I wonder why my house is such a mess.) This one passage isn’t reserved solely ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Is This the Sixth Estate?

The “Fourth Estate” is an antiquated term for unofficial social and political forces, primarily the media. Use of the term recognized, over two centuries ago, that the media affect social change. But once that became clear, it became a tool of the establishment. The church, politicians, and corporations started using the media to sway the ...

A Puff of Absurdity: The Irony of Advocating for A/C in Schools

This was a hot start to the school year. I taught a few classes with sweat dripping off my face as I spoke animatedly and enthusiastically about my courses. It was uncomfortable to be sure. And it was no better for students staring back at me all pink-faced and glistening. It’s hard to learn when ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Fixing French Immersion

The Agenda with Steve Paikin had a segment on French Immersion in the schools this week. The panel raised some interesting points but neglected a few issues. A Bit of a Summary (skip down for more interesting bits) The guests were Caroline Alfonso, an education reporter for the Globe & Mail (with a young child in immersion), ...

Dead Wild Roses: The Bathroom Conundrum in Public School

   “I don’t want to see penis when I go to the washroom; he just stands there with the stall open and it makes me uncomfortable.“. That was the quotable bit from a conversation I had with a female student I happened to be teaching at an elementary school this week.  We were walking in ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On That Time I Fell and Hurt My Head

I fell on ice a few days ago. My feet were swept clear out from under me, and apparently I injured my brain. At the hospital, they said it’s either a migraine or a concussion, and since I don’t have a history of migraines, and since I wiped out earlier that day, it’s probably a ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Appropriation

I’m teaching First Nations in Canada this semester, and it’s a bit of a challenge for me. I spent 7 years in school studying philosophy and social sciences – all from a western European point of view, so I feel confident teaching those subjects from that perspective, but I know little more about First Nations ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Cold Calls in the Classroom

I do it, sort of. I don’t call on kids who don’t have their hands up generally, but I do evaluate their level of understanding through classroom discussion, one way to better triangulate marks between products created, observations, and conversations. And I often make lingering eye-contact with kids who haven’t spoken up in a while. ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Unions and Boycotts

The elementary schools in our board have decided to boycott the local paper because one columnist has been known to take a decidedly negative view of teachers. So a local MPP, Michael Harris, petitioned Sandals, the Education Minister, to… I’m not really sure what he wants her to do. But he wrote her a letter ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Student Stress

I’ve been teaching long enough to have watched a generation of students file passed me. It’s fascinating from a social science standpoint because I can watch trends evolving before my eyes. And, being a bit of a hoarder, I’ve kept everything I’ve used and all my marks along the way, so I feel like I ...