Ecological Identity

I think, this is one of the more important books I’ve picked up this year. It deeply resonates with me, much like Place, Being and Resonance.  But for a different reason. This book has helped me come more to terms with my identity. I feel more comfortable with who I am, and why I am.  Place being and resonance, allowed me to move more into who I want to be, but this book allows me to question about the who and why of my identity. 

I am going to incorporate some of these ideas into my dissertation, specifically the mapping, but I want to see what I can do with the students. What can I ask fo them to understand more about how they relate to the environment. 

I haven’t finished this book yet, I hope to soon, but with end of term, report cards, life happening it’s hard to actually get into the thick of it, and figure out if they can see where they come from. 

I understand, in part, that we are a product of place, community and our actions, I understand, in part, that these things work together.  So far this book has helped me better understand how those three aspects interact to form and reform my identity. 

How is it connected?

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As a class we’ve been looking at connection in our brain unit. Last night was our parent curriculum night. I’m a team lead with seven new teachers on my team (including myself).

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to support my learners, my parents and my colleagues and wondering how all of these things are connected.

I’m not sure, but it seems like in previous years I’ve been pushing myself to help in some way, or be present or be something. This year I’m trying (rather unsuccessfully) to listen and just make sure other people are heard.

Parents want the best for their kids (so do I, but it’s not really about me), so last night I tried to listen, and be available for the real worries the parents feel. I tried to support my team by acknowledging and listening about stressful situations, because they are real and time consuming and at times encompassing. I try to listen to what my students are actually saying, to see how they see connections, without me trying to put too much of my voice in their work.

I think a lot of teaching is about making others better, not really taking part in the process, but encouraging and suggesting and at times teaching specific skills, but only when the students really ask, and really need the help.

I think it’s probably the same with parents and team mates, the more I work on making them better (and the better they want to be, not necessarily the better I want them to be) the more likely they will achieve success.

It’s hard though. Stepping back, removing my self and trying to just focus on other’s needs.  It’s hard not to take some things personally, it’s hard to just get things done on my own, my work, my study, my life. But I think it will become easier, at least that’s my hope.

Confused about where to start

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Doing my reading this week, and being interested in environmental education I often wonder about how to start developing a new curriculum or a new approach to teaching and learning.

This week we focused on Schwab’s The Practical: A language for curriculum (1970) and how we (still) may have a problem with a crucial part of school, the curriculum.  When we use one theory or approach to solve a problem we can miss out on other opportunities to see a problem from different perspectives. By thinking that one theory or curriculum can solve a very complex problem like education we may be missing out on subtle ideas that can be taken from many theories.

I guess what I’m wondering is what are the variety of ideas that we can draw from to integrate environmental education into our “everyday” curriculum? How do we (re)start the process of creating an environmental curriculum without a singular focus, while trying to teach multiple disciplines.

Learning groups


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At school we’ve been talking about the importance of creating our own learning experiences.  We’ve been wondering about how we can make ourselves better as professionals and some of us have put together a learning group.

I ask my students this pretty frequently, “Can learning ever happen in isolation?”. Is there anything we can learn that doesn’t build on anything. Can we come up with ideas on our own?

I think most quality learning experiences happen when people are having fun in groups. We learn more when we’re happy, we learn more when we can bounce our ideas off other people and correct our thinking in real time.

Our learning group is going to be focused on the individual. What do people want to get better at, how will they show that knowledge, how do we get to the next steps together.  I’m looking forward to this journey.

Change my view


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taken from:

I recently took to twitter about this.  I’ve been listening to this “You are not so smart” podcast and most of them are really great this one really got me thinking.

There is a community of people on reddit who willingly want their points of view changed. Last year I went to a conference where we talked about bad ideas and how to turn them into good ideas. My idea was bad decision or opposite decision app.  This podcast goes along the same idea.

My biggest wondering after this podcast was, how do we get people to the point where they want to change their view.  How can was as teachers get students to understand that their beliefs are theirs because of the things they know and the experiences they have had but they aren’t always “right”.

Another thing my wife and I really enjoyed was the ideas about how to changes someone’s mind who wants it changed. Previously they did a number of backfire effect episodes where they talked about how to change people’s minds who don’t want to change their minds.

I think the idea of brining people together who are open minded and wanting to change how and what they think can be really powerful. I want to get started created something like this.


When are things actually private

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It’s been interesting this year talking to students and other teachers about what is private, and how things are private. 

One of my teachers wants to share more of her work.  She is doing pretty interesting things and wants feedback and ways to share her knowledge.  She is however afraid that her ex will follow her, and she doesn’t want anything to do with him.  She’s worried about what it means to go public and if sharing is actually worth the stress of knowing he is still watching.  I totally get that, I mean, it’s obvious (at times) to see who is watching and when, but if you go public it can be hard to stop specific people from accessing. My wondering is how important is it, I mean as long as there is no harassment, who really cares and if there is harassment we can block and go to the police, however, she feels much safer not publishing. 
One of my students email was “hacked” he was telling people about his personal account, and someone accessed it and sent some not nice email. I guess firstly I don’t believe it was hacked, but if it was, that’s an interesting story, we keep using the common sense media image where we protect our private information, but that is difficult for younger students. 
My wondering most of this week is, as we continue to be more connected we are less private, and I don’t know if we are teaching how to actually be safe to students, or how to live safely in a very connected world. 

Shaping our class

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I was just talking to one of my colleagues about this lately.  How can we shape our classroom, and our classroom culture differently.  

I was mentioning Lakoff, and how metaphors help shape our reality.  Today reading Creating Cultures of Thinking I came across the same idea.  Often we refer to school as work, especially for students.  How does this shape how they go about their day? 
I remember Sir Ken Robinson talking about teachers as gardeners. 

How powerful can we be if we start changing our metaphors? How do we start this? 
When we think about vision of a school and the places we want to go, we don’t often address how we shape our school through language.   When we think about brands and story telling and the whole image of school, we as teachers need to start shaping it through our daily interactions, the metaphors we create and the language we use. 
I’m not sure gardening is the best metaphor (although it fits nicely with my environmental beliefs) but the idea that growth is always possible and that there are seasons of better growth really resonates with me (actually now I wonder if this is something we have to differentiate as well). 

Unity and standards: What are we aiming for?

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Thanks again to the Place Being Resonance book I’ve been stuck in a world of wondering.  I apologize in advance. I know at times I am not clear in my writing, and this thought isn’t fully formed, so it might not make the most sense. 
While reading it talked about what our destruction of the world looks like, and it looks like progress, parts look like sustainable development, parts look like social justice.  It looks like we are supposed to be doing the things we are doing because that’s how people develop.  In order for humans to be unified (economically, socially, etc.) other things have to (and do) suffer.  So, when we are looking at unity, we are often just taking an anthropocentric view of what we need (and people would argue why wouldn’t we think of humans first) and we forget about what our system (The Earth) needs. While we are going for unity, I’m not really sure we know who we are unifying with, and who (or what I suppose) we are excluding. 
It’s really difficult for anyone to step back from themselves, deconstruct what they think, challenge the dominant culture and make a difference.  Where do those ideas even come from? So how can we expect people to actually protect our planet when we don’t even know what we don’t know. 
While I was pondering this, I started thinking about school, and how we are trying to hit standards and go through curriculums, and just race through to show progress.  My mind kind of paused for a second, what and who are we progressing and for what end?  Place Being and Resonance wants us to challenge how we teach, why are we moving towards more data? What is growth? Who benefits from our current system of education, and who suffers? I think deep down we know the answers to these questions, but it is difficult to challenge a system that wants to engage and enlighten our learners.  When we have public school systems that want to bring up literacy are we focusing too much on a specific type of reading? So much was flying through my head. 
I’m not really sure where to take it from there.  I know I have to listen more (not just to humans, but I need to be aware of the voices not being heard or acknowledged).  I know I have to slow things down and encourage actual thinking, and actual listening in my students.  I know I have to encourage students to be aware of a multi-vocal, eco-centric (as in not just anthropocentric) view of our planet. 
I guess the real question is how can we see the system we are in and try to fight for that system, while being aware of the multi-faceted aspects of our world.  How we can honestly unify through diversity? 

Joyful Places

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I’ve been thinking a lot about places and how to get people connected to places.  Recently I was asked if Singapore was a “joyful place”, it really got me thinking. 

What is a joyful place, how do places become joyful, can we make this happen?  I’ve explored this a bit in my thesis, but it’s something I often revisit.  I didn’t know how to explain this.  The first thought was no, it’s not joyful, but I do find joy.  Mostly because of how I interact with my place.  I’m outside a couple nights a week playing some sort of sport.  We go to the gardens and by the water.  We take the dogs for a walk twice a day.  I find joy in all those moments.  
But when I’m walking around I see many unhappy people, working late, angry in their cars, overheated and I think it’s not the space that’s joyful. 
It’s how you live in a place.  We can only fully become comfortable in our place if we spend time in it, and once we spend that time we can start working on the relationships, and then the positive relationship in our place. 
I do think it would greatly increase work place satisfaction if we spent more time outside and interacting with our community.