Dear 17-year-old Irene

Silohouette of a person in a misty field

It’s August 9, 1982, and you, my younger self, are feeling pretty good! You are registered at C.K.S.S. for your grade 12 year. No more Christian High School! You have hated the majority of the last three years. That whole “you can’t take Economics, you have to take Home Economics” fiasco was the last straw. You have your schedule and you are truly excited about going to school. A fresh start with people who don’t suck.

Brace yourself. Seriously, sit down.

Mom and Dad have been praying. God doesn’t want you to go to a public school.

You, my younger self, have to be the first one in your family to graduate from the Christian Highschool. Yup, when your brothers and sisters when to the school, it didn’t go all the way to Grade 12. Now, it does.

Put that down, you like that thing. Breaking it will not make you feel better.  Pfft, you call that swearing? Honey, you are in for a treat! By 53, you will have an amazing repertoire of swear words at your disposal!

Now, I am going to tell you something you already know. Mom and Dad believe they are doing the right thing because they love you and  want the best for you. They are wrong, of course, but their hearts are in the right place.  Later, you will learn to smile and nod. Smiling and nodding and then still doing your own thing will be important in the future.

I am not going to tell you too much more. You are going to be angry for a long time. You are going to do a lot of stupid things. You are going to do a lot of smart things. You will regret none of them. They will make you who you are at 53 and you are amazing. I promise, you will laugh more than you will cry.

Just keep doing what you are doing now: learn everything. Read anything. You want to know something, go learn about it. Don’t let someone else decide what you are allowed to know.

Now, stop scowling. You are not going to change their minds. Just get out some paper and a pencil and use that “dangerous” mind of yours to get a jump-start on figuring out how you are going to skip out of 49% of your classes for the next school year.  You won’t get a detention.

This is not the best time of your life. It’s coming, trust me!

Love,  53-year-old Irene

This letter is in response to #oext259 Daily Extend.

Featured image: Photo by Rob Potter on Unsplash

Inspired: Art & Science of teaching

Montage credits listed in post

Is teaching an art or a science? This is the question of today’s Daily Extend. The challenge is to find an artist and a scientist that represents some part of your own personal practice. In this reflection, I give you Sarah Bernhardt, sculptor, and Katherine Johnson, mathematician.

Sarah Bernhardt

Sarah Bernhardt was a famous French actor. While pursuing a very public acting career, she also pursued sculpting. She studied both the craft and other disciplines such as anatomy (Moura, 2017).

She was attacked by the press and important sculptors of the time [such] as Rodin. It was said that she was pursuing an inappropriate activity. (Moura, 2017)

After the storm 1876
Photo from National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Connection to Teaching Practice

Certainly, in the college arena, professors come to the field of teaching by first studying and working in a particular career and then learning to teach. The challenge is to become equal skilled in your subject discipline and in teaching. The amount of time and effort that is expended in the pursuit of excellence in teaching is a personal decision.

On a personal note, I was intrigued by the fact that Bernhardt was criticized for sculpting as this was considered an “inappropriate activity.” I wonder why? Was it because she was female?

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was a computer for NASA. In the early 1950s, women were hired for the computing pool in the Guidance and Navigation Department of NASA to complete calculations (Loff, 2016). Johnson was the only woman moved from the pool to work directly with engineers. She verified calculations made by electronic computers for space flights in the 1960s (Loff, 2016).

Women were not allowed to attend meetings with the male engineers and scientists. Johnson wanted to go to these meetings to learn more about the projects, so she went. (Wild, 2016)

Connection to Teaching Practice

In Johnson, we find another example of the pursuit of learning on the job, and of understanding new problems and finding the solutions. This is also true for professors who must meet the challenges of a new cohort and changes in both their discipline and the field of teaching.

On a personal note, I smiled at the simple phrasing in Wild’s NASA article, “so she went.” Another example of a female who was not supposed to be doing something but did it anyways.

I don’t think of myself as an activist for woman’s rights. I have lived experiences of being female and faculty. I have been questioned about my credentials. I have been challenged about my right to develop materials and to lead workshops. I once had a male faculty member, when confronting me about working on a particular project, announce that he “didn’t think I knew anything” in front of 30 plus students. Timing and awareness of his audience was not his forte that day. In the stunned silence of his departure, a student turned to me and asked, “what does he think you are, a potted plant?”

Teaching, for me is both an art and a science that requires ongoing study, part pursued as a passion in spirit of Bernhardt and part pursued as a personal necessity in the spirit of Johnson. And later, I hope someone says “they didn’t think she should, but she wanted to, so she did.”

Resources:

Loff, S. (2016, February 25). Mathematician Katherine Johnson at work. Retrieved from http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/mathematician-katherine-johnson-at-work

Moura, N. (2017). Sarah Bernhardt – The sculptor. Retrieved from https://womennart.wordpress.com/2017/12/13/sarah-bernhardt-the-sculptor/

National Museum of Women in the Arts. (n.d.). Sarah Bernhardt. Retrieved from https://nmwa.org/explore/artist-profiles/sarah-bernhardt

Wikipedia. (2018, August 4). Sarah Bernhardt.  Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sarah_Bernhardt&oldid=853380849

Wild, F. (2016, December 30). Who is Katherine Johnson?  Retrieved from http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/nasa-knows/who-is-katherine-johnson-5-8

Montage created with Photojoiner using Public Domain Images. Montage Photo Credits:

  • The death of Ophelia: Sotheby’s
  • Sarah Bernhardt: Napoleon Sarony
  • Mercury Space Flight Network: NASA
  • Kathrine Johnson: NASA

100 days of Daily Extend

100 days ago, I started an adventure with Ontario Extend and created my first Daily Extend. This was the beginning of building a Personal Learning Network (PLN) as an educator in the post secondary arena in Ontario.

Here’s what happened:

Three pictures showing a growing number of connections

In case you are interested, here is my first tweet.

One minute video


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The Ontario Extend‘s Daily Extend #oext247 asks us to make an One Minute Video about an aspect of our practice. Mine is a bit more tell than show but I created a one minute video on what to do when you realize that you have a test tomorrow. I love the Emergency Test Preparation Strategy on the Study Guides and Strategies which is based on George Miller’s 1956 The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two.

The strategy asks students to first scan their notes and materials and create a list of important topics. Then, to choose five and start with writing down everything that they know about the topic. After accessing that prior knowledge, the student then checks their understanding against their notes and update their study sheets. If there is time, the student can add two more for seven topics and if needed two more for nine but is advised to stop there.

I used PowerPoint to create some slides and recorded a voice over. I exported the slide deck and recordings to a video and then uploaded to YouTube. I added some music in the background and YouTube adds automatic closed captioning. I released it under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

If I was do this for a specific purpose for students, I would re-record the audio as it is a bit low but for today’s purpose, I am considering it good enough because it is Saturday and I have other home things to do! This is also my first official post on my new blog here on my own domain!

Zen by PowerPoint

Close up of an ant carrying a leaf.

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I have a love/hate relationship with PowerPoint (PP). I see value in the medium but I struggle to find effective ways to use it. #Oext234 asks Ontario Extenders to consider PresentationZen and to pick one of the 11 recommendations to improve presentations. I am choosing (5) Remove the nonessential and adding photos instead of text. Please understand, this is an exercise for the Daily Extend. I am not suggesting that the new presentation is really much better than the old one but it is a start and this also gives me a change to explore more Creative Commons photos and a new tool.

Sometimes, I have used PP to act as a guide for me; a way of keeping me on track and reminding me of what comes next. I have basically turned them into great big visual presentation cue cards. Whenever I do this, it reminds me of my very first presentation competition in grade school on Carpenter Ants.

I used this approach when preparing to be filmed for an Orientation video based on a transition to college culture workshop that I have done in-class. In this case, the slides were not shown to the participants, they were only for me. Here is a short clip from my practice video where I created a voice over for the slides I had prepared. The final video, edited by St. Clair College’s Audio/Visual department, is at this end of this post.

Using Tall Tweets, I created a 15 second gif of my original slides:

CollegeWayOrignal

Using Unsplash, I added photos and then removed most of the text:

CollegeWayZen

This is the final video used now at Orientation:

 

Feature image: Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Look Mom! I’m coding!

Modified Label on a Can

A million years ago, or 20 years ago that feels like a million, I quit my day job and joined a computer consulting company as an associate. I loved working with the principle partner, Rick, The more challenging the project, the calmer he became. I learned that you can’t think through thorny problems or multiple steps if you are pissed off.

Back then, you could still build and modify computers and if you didn’t know something, like html, you just taught yourself. At that time, I was quite the QuickBooks expert. I was beta testing and creating curriculum for Intuit Canada. I was teaching two levels of QuickBooks for St. Clair College through Continuing Education. So supporting our clients in adopting Quickbooks was my main role but I also repaired and modified computers, did a lot of printer troubleshooting and learned to code websites.

Funny that, you never actually forget the basics of code. I whipped out my coding skills this year to make BlackBoard do some things I wanted it to do including adding CSS to improve the visuals and layout. I had to adjust my old way of doing things to the new HTML 5 standards but that wasn’t as tough as it sounds.

So with the Daily Extend #221, I am excited. I clicked on the remix button in Thimble Projects and saw code! I can do this! And I did, if you would like to remix my project, it is available here: https://thimbleprojects.org/irenequstewart/511411

Gotta catch’em all!

Screenshot Pokemon Go

I am fortunate to have some lovely walking paths very near my home. I enjoyed walk along Mud Creek and seeing all the creatives, real and virtual. And it is something I miss greatly. Particularly in 2016, I was walking 2 – 3 kilometers per day taking pictures of the neighbourhood cat who followed me part of the way every day or of the ducks and geese that regularly blocked my path. During this time, I also enjoyed playing Pokemon Go. It was fun and it kept track of how far I had walked.

20170307_124628
Neighbourhood Cat

I became quite ill in late 2016 and was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in early 2017. I have not yet reached remission but I am hopeful. Right now, if I work, there is no energy left over and I can make it to the end of the block and back but not to the paths.

These daily adventures taking photos and playing Pokemon Go are probably the most interesting things I have done with my phone. I hesitate to say smart phone because mine is kinda dumb. And I like it that way. I think cellphone and data plans are too expensive in many cases. I do not feel the need to spend a couple of thousand dollars a year to be in constant contact. I don’t check my email or do work on my phone. I have a few close friends and family who have my number.

I know there are many cool and useful apps available and maybe I will find some new one to add but for right now, I am happy to live in the dark ages of cellphones.

20161008_181336

Response to Daily Extend #oext198

 

 

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