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Advancing arguments…

April 26, 2010

At first her mother was too surprised to speak…

Then she turned to May, patted her on the shoulder, and said,

“Nice try, but not now…”

She called a taxi so May could take the puppy right back to the pet store…

May kept repeating to herself,

“Try, try, try again…'”

— in I Want a Dog by Dayal Kaur Khalsa

In public education everyone is always looking for the next best thing…

Cutting edge theory and outside voice that will change everything,

for everyone…

Looking to academics who live in countries with struggling fractured public education systems to give the answers…

I know this from my own experience…

I worked in a school which took on a theory of Multiple Intelligences because the principal was working on her doctorate,

and implementation of the theory was her dissertation project…

There were Pro-D days and workshops so we could all be sure of talking the talk…

Plans for surface skimming lessons were handed out left,

right,

and centre,

in order to develop little brains sectioned off into pie pieces…

People came from far away to visit our school…

To witness the theory of Multiple Intelligences in practice…

I remember the day a group of teachers from Sweden came into my classroom…

We were all gathered on the carpet making observations about our classroom pets…

One of the visitors asked my class,

Which intelligence do you use when you learn about the little bunnies???

The notebooks and pens were poised for one brilliant right answer…

And they got one…

Before I could say anything to prompt or direct response,

a small sharp voice from the back of the group piped up,

We use our rabbit smarts!!!

That pretty much sums things up for theory driving practice right into left field…

When that principal left a new one came…

One who enforced the language of the theory,

with reptilian eyes…

She met with a lot of resistance…

I saw one male teacher after another leave the school for higher grounds…

And I saw some of the women who stayed behind crumble…

I always wondered,

How do you grow children when you aren’t given the space to grow as a professional,

in the directions that life takes you in your classroom,

with your students…

I refused to buckle,

but I soaked up and masked the pain of suppression in my stomach…

And I tightened up my armour…

After that principal was finally moved along,

a new one came…

She had the confidence in her own leadership,

and her esteemed colleagues,

to let us spread our wings in our own way…

Despite our differences I saw her building basic trust and common sense as a foundation for growing practice…

She never feared to lay all the cards on the table,

in an ongoing act of transparency…

As I mantled and celebrated the difference in my class,

sharing stories of ambiguic and incongruic understanding,

she took notes,

and named my practice under the architectural theory of universal design…

Designing learning space to support the most unique in the community supports the whole,

a whole lot better…

In my last year at that school,

one boy,

defined on the autism-spectrum for reasons I still can’t comprehend,

as he never failed to look me eye-to-eye,

complained about having to follow particular class rules and protocol…

His protest wore me down,

so I let him stay in his desk drawing,

with a few others,

while the rest of the class sat on the floor,

as long as they kept the peace…

Before long they were all in their desks,

drawing along their own maps,

as we talked and read and spelled from one day,

into the next…

This boy said,

repeatedly,

with grand sighs,

anger,

and intense frustration,

I wish I were in military school…

I didn’t tell him,

I’m only willing to take you where I’m comfortable,

and that is straight to the loonie bin…

I made it quite clear that I can arrange that for you right here,

right now…

He looked at me with a come on let’s go…

We threw our gloves and our helmets off and went to all of the places he needed to be,

and I needed to go as well…

One minute I was his majesty,

and he was my guard…

In other moments I was the commander,

the chief,

and the enemy…

And we had conversations just like this,

Your Majesty…

Yes gallant Sir.

I have a responsibility…

What is your responsibility???

It is my heart…. I have to listen to it.
It tells me to be still…. being still is to do nothing.
When I am still I think about history, biology, science,
and mathematics…

I am seven…

My favourite thing is the war of 1812…

And your Majesty,
my job is to protect you…

And my job gallant Sir
is to listen to you…

This little boy got what he needed to work through the pieces of his puzzle that were coming up for him,

and I got what I needed to move him through the prescribed learning outcomes of every student will that I chose to address,

and then some…

I didn’t find this method in textbooks,

or,

with all due respect,

from Dr. Howard Gardner or any of his Harvard buddies…

I can be easily informed by theory,

but I learn best on the fly…

Letting go of determination,

and following instinct,

wherever it takes us together…

I heard his teacher from the year before say,

under her breath in the staffroom,

That boy sat on the floor with everyone else when he was in my class…

I don’t know why she gives special treatment…

I thought but didn’t say,

Didn’t he have autism when he was with you…

I’d never seen a child so animated and socially enthusiastic…

Spirit shooting out of his heart at choice time,

in dramatic play…

Someone told me last week that the Sedins used to be called The Girls,

of NHL hockey…

And that they’ve had to pave a hard road to respect…

A good thing they’ve always had each other…

Yesterday I heard a clown on the Team 1040 speculate on Kyle Wellwood’s place on next year’s roster…

I’d like to put a skirt on the people who talk about my horses like that…

If things had gone the way of the whims of the peanut gallery and their opinions on dead wood,

assisted by Pavol and Kyle,

Steve Bernier wouldn’t be here scoring critical goals in the series against the Kings,

and we’d all be using our whirling white towels for drying dishes…

Difference makers don’t set up to stay in standard packaging,

tied up with big numbers…

They play the game that is required of them,

right at the very moment they need to,

and often,

but not always,

in ways that haven’t been seen before…

Last night Little Gem echoed her sister and said,

Mama, I feel so happy and relaxed…

I was relieved that they couldn’t feel my splitting headache…

Then she snuggled up beside me under our story blanket and added,

You know Henrik and Daniel don’t look scary like some of those hockey players…

They seem like nice people,

and sweet too…

Just the kind of people you like to make friends with…

I remember the last time our principal told us that Howard Gardner had called from his office at Harvard,

to see how his theory was flying in practice…

She said,

something like,

I told him that his theory’s been grounded…

then she looked at me and said,

I told him that some of you are flying in your own directions,

with spectacular results…

I will go down with this ship...

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