Saturday 9 October 2021

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Five

This week was a wild one - lots going on, not all pedagogical and such. First and foremost, at the end of the week, Saturday, we finally got snow! See the attached picture. It wasn't hitting and staying and there was more rain than the white stuff, but up on the hills it was starting to linger. The Hunter was out of her mind, for about fifteen seconds - that'll change. =) Of course it doesn't help that Mom and Dad were running around outside in the rain/snow to snap pictures, in their pyjamas, no less. =)

Thursday we had our good friend and my colleague/teaching partner over for dinner. It was a Ban Xeo fest (see the pic in the Salluit Adventure gallery for pre-consumption evidence). Holy yum - the wonderful Thy really cranked them out and all were suitably enjoyed. Amélie brought over some Death By Chocolate cookies for dessert - the perfect end to the meal, in Hunter's opinion (mind you she had to eat some extra sweet potatoes to earn a cookie). And yes, I liked them, too! =)

The national election is coming up next week and I have to admit I have absolutely no opinion. Having been abroad so long I haven't really paid attention to the comings and goings of Canadian politics. I get there has been a significant uptick in the interest of MAGA/Trump like politicians - that, of course, assumes Canadians want their own version of that dumpster fire. No thanks should be the response. At the end of the day i suspect we'll have another minority government and again, like so many times in the past, not much will get legislatively accomplished. There has been very little discussed here, save for the sudden appearance of census takers who are looked upon with great skepticism by the local population.

The 30th of September has been declared a national holiday in Canada - did you know that? And not in Quebec and Ontario, too. By the same token rumour has it several communities will be actively protesting during that day. That I look forward to, as I try to grow in my knowledge of this people and their experience. I look forward to any opportunity to increase my knowledge and then, eventually, contribute in a valuable, positive way. The school will also be planning several events that again I look forward to.

Took the Grade 7's off to the seashore this week - to hunt for sea shells and talk about why the bay exists and what happened thousands of years ago. These folks are so removed from meaningful assessment there was no need to determine/test if they figured anything out or not; it was all about the experience. They can't work in a traditional classroom, at least not very well - they need the space to expand into. Again, it is like a new how to teach lesson every day - got to keep the avenues open.

For a variety of reasons we have determined that we will homeschool Hunter. To that end we are very inexperienced. So, let me use this forum to solicit any advice any of you can provide. Think Vietnamese, English and maybe even beginner French. Online resources, books to buy, etc. - all suggestions are very welcome. She is such a sponge, so full of curiosity and seeking more, so although she isn't four years old yet, we are thinking she is more than ready for Kindergarten/First Grade level adventures. Our thanks, in advance.

All our love - winter is coming. =)

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Five, Addendum

I mentioned in my previous post about how I took my grade 7's to the seashore. The picture shows what we gathered but doesn't begin to show what we (really I) learned.

Many, many years ago my father took my brother, my sister and I to a roadside far from our home. I had just got my first (and as it turns out, last) rock hammer and this location was full of what a budding rock hound would want to explore. How he found it and why he made an extra effort to come here I have no clue. My sister was bored out her mind, my brother was more fascinated by the turtle found in the nearby creek and I, well, I couldn't believe my good fortune - a pure vein of quartz, maybe a meter high and five meters long. I was maybe 10, maybe 12 years old and I was presented with the motherlode of my dreams.

In my reading I had learned that quartz equals heat and likely mica, and if we were lucky, gold! I hammered away at the face of the quartz, not realizing that football size chunks of the stuff was lying at my feet from earlier calving. It was all there for the picking and I gathered as much as I could, sure I was going to be a rich man.

Despite many hours hammering in the garage I, of course, found no gold. The real "gold" was what I learned about the passage of time, how hundreds, thousands, millions of years can cause change, that these beautiful hunks of white crystal were the silent evidence of.

Fast forward and here are my students gathering up seashells on the seashore - some pristine, some covered with barnacle skeletons, some even with lumps of coral! I looked at them, smoking their cigarettes, slip sliding in the low tide mud, laughing and joking with each other. I looked at them differently, in terms of the time that had passed between us and the effect time before me had had on them. I truly believe there are dreams beating in those hearts - what would more time reveal?

At that point I realized the inordinate amount of quartz that was also lying in the sand. Noting that their attention span was shortening by the second I challenged them to each find a piece of quartz before we left the sand and mud to the rising waters. I shared with them the story of the quartz "mine" of my youth and how there might be gold... they were running over again and again, asking, "Is this one, is this one?" They were actually excited, to be one of the ones who found a piece of million year old history.

They have no idea, but for that one moment, they, it, were one.

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Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Seventeen

So, back to writing again. New position at the school has me writing a lot more than I am used to, so keyboard time is preoccupied with that...