Asking questions


This is how I felt today

First day back after two weeks of holidays, most of it went pretty well. The work with the kids was pretty amazing. We talked about the power of stories and metaphor. We did some math games and learned how to connect our order of operations into something meaningful (I hope).

Everyday I’m reading, mostly about doctorate stuff but I go back to Give and Take by Adam Grant as much as possible (sadly not that often). The part I read today was discussing this idea that being powerless can be a powerful negotiating tool.  When we go in asking questions like, “How would you do this?” or “What would you do in this situation?” it can put us in a powerless position. But most of the time, especially if we are a giver and well respected in our work community, it can reap large rewards.

Most of the time we try to pretend like we know something or have some sort of power. When interacting with others we try to show how we deserve something or argue about our importance to our institution, but if we really just ask and try to learn I think we can maybe go further with both our relationships and our actual understanding of how to do our job better.

How do we position ourselves to be better at asking for help? When and how could this backfire? What do we need to be actual givers? I had a lot of questions today.


Place responsive


For all of the reading I do, I feel like I resonate most with David Greenwood. Happily, he’s even offered to help me with some of my work in the future.

What I think is important for us as teachers and people is to be place-responsive. We need to love the land in order to do anything with it, or for it. We need to develop a love of the land (based on significant life experiences most likely) in order to really listen and really respond for the best of the system, not just the best for our economic situation.

Developing these relationships should empower people to act on their own, based on where they are. We should not have to wait for government, or business to direct our actions, we need to know more about who we are as people and how we relate to the land, and then we will take the action on our own.

So, other than magic spots, or sit spots with our kids, how can we really foster this love of place with our students? What are we doing to make sure our students are in touch with their land, their place, and who they are?

Gruenewald, D. A. (2008). The best of both worlds: a critical pedagogy of place. Environmental Education Research, 14(3).

Being across homes.

Looking for a new home

Just finished re-reading “Being Across Homes” it explores this idea of how we are different people in different places. As an international educator I feel like I have many different homes.  The place my parents consider home is in Ontario, my home is now in Singapore, but a place that will always sort of be home is Phnom Penh (pictured above). While all those places played a vital role in shaping who I am, and who I was, but I feel like each place I was also a somewhat different person.

A lot of the article talks about how community shapes us by giving us social clues, or opportunities to be who we are, or become who we are supposed to become. The people around us help mold us and help give us clues on how to act, and we respond differently to these cues in the different places we are in.  While much of this did not delve deeply into how places shapes us as people, it did talk a lot about how we are different people in different places.

From this idea I was wondering about the importance of a true self, or most true self.  Is there a person we are “supposed” to be, or static kind of true who we are? Or do the places and people around us continue to shape us and help us grow.  From what I read, fundamentally we have specific characteristics, but can we actually embody other forms of action based on where we are and who is around us?


Hubard, O. (2011). Being across Homes. Teachers College Record, 113(6), 1255-1274.

We are less and less connected

In Wadi Rum with some Bedouin 


I think I’m going to try to focus on an article every once in awhile and write a small reflection on it. That might help me with both the idea of writing, and the process of researching. Happy days for sure.

There is a wondering in some of the literature about if a sense of place is important any more (or I guess if it ever was). One of the points that really popped out at me today was this idea that as international school teachers most of us are preoccupied with what a place can give us (reputation, pd, pay, location, etc.) so when we are looking for a place to live, we’re not really looking for a place to live, we’re looking for a place that meets our economic and social needs first.  The culture of a place isn’t always our first priority. However, most of what we are asked to do (maybe in the hidden curriculum) is pass along values and culture.

There seems to be a tension in these two areas, we’re being asked to represent some culture we come from without really caring about the culture we are going to. We need to be aware of who we are, but not in relationship to a place, rather who we are in general. It seems a little neo-colonial at times.

How do we really belong to a place if we don’t ask questions about that place, or try to fit into that place? How do we connect when we aren’t really listening?

If “(Place has) power to direct and stabilize us, to memorialize and identify us, to tell us who and what we are in terms of where we are (as well as where we are not).” (Casey, 1993, p. xv) Then how are we interacting with that power, and what does that mean for our future as teachers?


Casey, E. (1993) Getting back into place: toward a renewed understanding of the place-world (Bloomington, Indiana University Press).

Freema Elbaz‐Luwisch (2004) Immigrant teachers: stories of self and place, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 17:3, 387-414, DOI: 10.1080/0951839042000204634


Trying to write

 Some rights reserved by M Prince Photography

So far my research has been going alright, I’ve thought of some interesting thoughts related to what I’m reading, and I think (for now anyway), that I’m on the “right” path.

So, that means I have to write, and this part is always a struggle. One of the main reasons I wanted to blog early on is to get in the habit of writing. When you get into the habit of something it becomes easier, it makes more sense, and things flow a little better when they have to. So, now I’m wondering if I have to try to up the output of this blog.  Not really for something worth writing, more for just the process. I’m not sure if this is a good idea, or a bad idea, or just an indifferent idea, but it’s something that often comes up in my thoughts.

One of the interesting ideas that hit me this week was, we are actually nothing without place, as in we would not exist.  I guess to be more technical, we are nothing without a space, which we develop into a place. But we need a place to survive, and that place, very likely does shape us (more than just socially, and we do more than just shape it) we are dependant on that place. I know that some of the literature goes into this at different points. But it never actually hit me before that we need place. Places (from the research I’ve done so far, and I’m not sure how we could get it from a human point of view) don’t need us. We might help shape our perception of that place, but I’m sure that a space will exist without humans (and if it doesn’t I guess I’ll never know).

Anyway, trying to write, trying to think, trying to sort out the thought process.

Life takes place


Deep into research right now, getting deeper into sense of place (which is sadly stopping me from doing my lit review).

I guess what I’m wondering now, and it’s not something I’ve deeply thought about before, is how do we really build a sense of place (and is it worth it). I’ve thought of some ideas before but haven’t really applied any research to it, or any sort of methodology.

The whole researching world is getting a little more complicated, this idea of transitioning between just someone who is, and someone who researches and creates is pretty difficult.

So, this week is mostly reading, next week is mostly writing. Meeting once more next week to make sure I’m on track and then I really write the paper.

I guess, my biggest idea now is what is sense of place really all about, why does it matter, and who creates it.

Need a recharge

 Some rights reserved by ! /streetart#__+__www.♥.tk ﴾͡๏̯͡๏﴿

Almost time for our first break. This last week feels especially long, and I’ve been wondering why.

One of the books I’ve been reading lately is the Handbook of Nature Study. There are a bunch of interesting quotations, here’s one:Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 8.09.10 PM

I’m not really saying I feel like I know everything, but I wonder if I’ve been actually wondering anything lately. One of the ways I can refresh is just by reinstating my wonder, trying to be excited again.  The book goes further to suggest that by spending unstructured time outside, we will be more refreshed.

Often as teachers we think seeing friends, going out, getting things done are important on our weekends, and they are. However, we need to spend some time just outside, looking, observing and getting ready to wonder again.

As our first break comes up, I’m going to take some time to get out and explore.