Revisiting Coyote’s Guide

Coyote’s Guide

This is a book I often go back to, I often wonder about, and I often try to bring back into my teaching practice. With my focus on sense of place research right now I’ve been thinking more and more about how I (and maybe man others) don’t really know my directions.

I live very close to the equator right now, and I wonder about how easy it is for people to tell north from south. I have a hard time thinking about cardinal directions here and often wonder if they are important for navigating city life. What I really like about this book is that it introduces directions as a way to engage learning in the activities. It helps us think about where things come from and why the directions are important.

We often use stories of our place to bring us closer to the community, but over the next couple of weeks I really want to focus on directions and intentionally sharing the importance of knowing where we are, where we are facing and where we are going.

Three questions we can ask our kids

One of the books I’m reading

One of the books I’m reading right now, by someone I really look up to in my field of study, is Place Based Education in the Global Age: Local Diversity.

Three big questions popped out of David’s work and he said (I also agree) that we can ask these three questions of any student. What is happening here? What happened here? What should happen here?

Our current unit of study is on leadership, and what it means to be a leader, I’ve been hitting them pretty hard with the environment, but I think tomorrow I will take some to one of the hawker centres that burned down last year. It is currently up and running again and serving the community. So I think I can start asking them these questions and maybe we can connect what should happen to action we can take as students to make our community a better place, I wonder what other actions they can come up with?

Gruenewald, D. A. (2010). Place Based Education: Grounding Culturally Responsive Teaching in Geographical Diversity In D. A. Gruenewald, Smith, G.A. (Ed.), Place Based Education in The Global Age: Local Diversity. New York, New York: Routledge.

Stories in Places

Sharing our stories.

We’ve been talking a lot about leadership in our class. How do we become leaders, what does that mean, and how do we move knowing we have this responsibility?

Part of this is looking for problems, and I wonder if we find problems in the stories we tell. This week we’re looking at the problems we can find in stories, and then seeing how that applies to how we can find problems in real life. Moving from there we can use the human (or empathy) centred design cycle to work on solving problems for all those involved.

I’m going to see how this goes, but I think it will have roots based on how we identify with where we are. Already I’ve had some students think that their problems live outside of the community and are looking overseas, but I think we need to pay more attention to the stories here in order to fully understand what’s happening in our place.

We’ll see how it turns out.

Where do we find joy in our work?

I was struck by this quotation earlier this week, “Nothing in the world can make up for the loss of joy in one’s work” (Weil 1952, p.81)

This quotation, I think, is talking about how just the system of working has taken away our intrinsic opportunity to take joy from what we do. We are compensated in other ways. These ways may bring some sort of joy, but Weil seems to be arguing that not many of us (and this was in the fifties) takes joy from the actual work we do.

As a teacher, I might have to disagree. I love my work, well most of it, there are some significant aspects of my job that don’t “spark joy”. However the main thought is the same when attending meetings, or going through PD. I often wonder, where is the joy in what we do, how often are we satisfied with the idea that we did the best we could?

I know that teaching is hard, and almost every day we fail someone or something in some small way. We can’t be perfect at this, but we can work towards mastery, and I hope we can find joy in our work. For me, I love the daily interactions I have with the students, I love learning more about them and what they know. I am so proud when I watch them move from understanding to understanding and start to link ideas together and make connections to their world. I often find joy every day, and I hope the people around me do as well.

So then I started thinking about this from a different perspective. Do the kids find joy in their work every day? Are they proud with just doing something the best they can or are they also looking for some extrinsic reward? Do the grades really matter to them, or is the feedback good enough? I know sometimes my students appear to be less than joyous throughout the day, so how do we work on that? What do we do?

I’m not sure I have answers, like most of my wonderings, just wondering if anyone has any thoughts? What actions they take? Do we all find joy in what we do?

Developing good questions

When I think about all the things I don’t know, I picture water

I just finished another paper, a huge one, one where I don’t feel comfortable with the writing, or the research. Hooray right? Anyway, it got me thinking how important a quality research question was.

In class, we often talk about think and thin questions. How do we get a question that answers facts and stimulates thinking? I was watching a library lesson today where they were going over their questions, and the students really wanted to get to the research. They were rushing through the questions (and many of them didn’t make sense). So I wondered how often I did that in my life, wanted to find a question to answer a quick problem, and not address a deeper underlying issue. I feel like the paper got away from me because I was trying to write a paper, not wonder about a problem.

So how do we take the time to question? What does that involve? How do we know if it’s good?

This unit for us is about leadership, we need to think deeply about how leaders in our community influence change, and we are first looking at what are the qualities of a leader and who these people really are. Is who we are important for change? Can anyone create change? We’re hoping to take a different approach this year. Instead of looking at governments and government systems, who are the people that disrupt what is happening? How did the find the questions to start those disruptions? How do they know something is wrong? What can we do to think about the problems in our community? How do we question what we’re living?

Hopefully it works.

Is place static?

I had a really interesting talk last week with Bill Greene, who came to visit our university. He studies place, which is great for me, from a different perspective than I do.

My biggest take away from the day was this concept that at times we make place static. A lot of the idea of place is socially constructed, and some of it is from our memory (either collective or individual). So this is where we based some of our discussion.

My big wondering was, how often to I make place static. If most of my deep connection to a place is from a memory is it possible that the place still exists? How can I keep an idea or memory as well as keep options open for change? What is important for us to think about when remembering a place?

My wondering about this came as I was returning to Cambodia (a special place for me). I lived there for three years, and I had strong connection to specific places in that area. Things change, especially in developing countries, and a lot of the things are no longer the same. I noticed my feelings about the place haven’t really changed, even though how I acted in those places have (mostly because some of those places don’t exist anymore). I also noticed that I didn’t want to return to some places, even though they did exist because I wasn’t acting the same way, or I wasn’t completely that person anymore? I’m not really sure but it was interesting to think about. I did love going back, I loved the weather and the animals and knowing some of where I am, but still having the ability to see how the place has changed, but maybe not my sense of place (although I am glad I left).

It’s been a long time since I wrote here, hopefully that will improve.

Trying something new

For my New Media Literacy Class, I tried to make a video based on my story regarding sense of place and new media. It was a total challenge to try to make it short, and somehow relevant, as well as a story. I used clips which was better than I thought it would be, I’m going to try to use it for our leadership unit.