Monday, January 24, 2011

Tech Task #3

Today's tech task will be on Ken Robinson's "School Kills Creativity", which I had watched briefly in my Education Core Studies 100 class last semester. Today I watched the whole video and it was even more amazing. This video is about how school sucks the creativity out of children. Children are born artists. We don't grow into creativity. We grow out of it. As an Arts Education student, I can relate to this speech very well.

Ken Robinson tells of a little girl who was in a drawing lesson. She was six years old. This little girl hardly paid attention in class but in the drawing lesson she did. The teacher was fascinated and asked the girl, “what are you drawing?” and the girl responded: “God.” And the teacher said, “no one knows what God looks like.” And the girl replied, “they will in a minute". Children are not frightened of being wrong. If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.By the time they become adults, most kids lose that capacity. Society stigmatizes mistakes. We are now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst things you can make.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. As a little girl, I loved to draw. I'd draw on the walls, I'd colour the table, I'd draw absolutely everything. Eventually I learned how to use paper. However, in school, I was criticized for what I drew. "That doesn't look like a horse", people would say. It wasn't supposed to be an average-looking horse. It was a magical horse. As I grew older and began drawing more realistically, my art work would be submitted into contests, where they were criticized even more. I stopped drawing by the time I was 10. I never took it up again.

Another story Robinson brings up is the one about Gillian Lynn. She is now a world-renowned choreographer, but as a child, she was deemed as having a disorder. At school, she was completely hopeless. The school in the 1930s wrote to her parents, saying she had a learning disorder. She kept fidgeting and couldn’t sit still. Today, doctors call this ADHD. She was sent to a specialist. Her mother told the doctor of all the problems Gillian was having. The doctor took her mother and left Gillian alone in the room, with the radio on. The doctor told her mother to stand and watch her. Gillian was on her feet, moving to the music. The doctor turned to Mrs. Lynn and said, “Gillian isn’t sick. She’s a dancer.” That’s when she began dance lessons.

In elementary, I was a good student. I tried my best to pay attention to everything my teacher said and was a perfectionist. I no longer wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a doctor. This continued throughout my middle years until I hit high school. Suddenly, numbers and science meant nothing to me. I couldn't understand, thus I couldn't pay attention. I was extremely fidgety and got in trouble a lot during class. Teachers who had me before understood the way I was and accepted it. My math teacher, Mr. Miller, was extremely accepting of it. He knew math wasn't for me, but helped me if I asked. New teachers punished me, and so I came to hate them. I was still very good in school. My marks were fairly high and I handed everything in on time, but my focus was not academic. My creative writing teacher advised me to audition for the spring musical. I'd never been in a musical before but I went for the audition anyway. I made it and loved it. That's when I discovered dance. In school, I couldn't memorize ANYTHING even if my life depended on it and it took me longer than other students to learn a topic I was not interested in (which was a lot), but in dance, I learned and memorized things it took other dancers years to understand. My mind and body linked in ways others just couldn't. In two years, I was able to catch up to people my age who had been dancing since they were three.

My point is, and also Robinson's point, is that intelligence is distinct. Not everyone is smart academically. All children have talents and we squander them. Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status. The main goal of educational institutions around the world is to produce university professors. They are the people who come out on top. Everyone else, artists especially, are stupid. Uneducated. Which is wrong. There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance to children on a day-to-day basis, like we do for mathematics. This is unacceptable. Dance, which incorporates the entire body and mind, is as important as mathematics, which only requires the power of the mind. What happens to the children who are better at expressing themselves through dance than math? We forget about them.

My goal in life is to change this. I wasn't able to find my calling until later in life due to schools enforcing the idea that artists are uneducated and won't succeed in society. I am majoring in dance, and I am hoping to teach dance on a day-to-day basis in schools in Saskatchewan. For free. (For the children that is, I still have to make a living and am hoping to be paid as much as the average school teacher! Dance classes usually cost around $50 a month for a weekly 45 minute class.) I will not let children who thrive in the arts be forgotten. They are just as intelligent as children who excel in math. This was my main argument when I was applying for scholarships. You see, university scholarships look for people who are either big business people or engineers. "Smart" people, as today's society calls them. To me, that is wrong. And so, I fought for my right as an artist to be paid through university just as a medical doctor or scientist could. The result? I had received Saskatchewan's most generous scholarship from SaskTel, which was originally for business majors, and I am currently being paid through four full years of university.

I think Ken Robinson and I would be good friends if we knew eachother in real life. This video is very educational and has several good points on how schools need to incorporate the arts more than they already do. And by arts, I mean ALL five arts areas: dance, drama, visual arts, literature, and music. Today's schools only teach music, visual arts, and literature. Drama and dance are often forgotten. Every disciplinary should be treated with the same status if children are going to be able to thrive both academically and creatively.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tech Task #2

Question: Should teachers be friends with their students on Facebook? Are there certain circumstances when this is acceptable, or circumstances when it is not?

This question, surprisingly, has been haunting me for a while. My teachers from high school began adding me on Facebook after graduation and I immediately put them on limited profile. It had me thinking: why did I do that? I don't have anything to hide and they've known me for 3-4 years. It was just the fact that they were my teachers and I still see myself as their student. There are boundries between teacher and student.

To resolve this conflict, I began debating on the idea of creating a professional profile for potential employers, teachers, colleagues, etc. and keeping a personal profile for friends and acquaintances. Or, cleaning up my current profile and keeping it rated G for everyone.

Becoming a teacher means creating a professional image that must be kept both inside and outside of the classroom. And so, I chose to clean up my current profile (although, there are still some silly photos I am tagged in posted on my wall and such, but they aren't bad.) and accept my teacher's requests. I do know of a few young teachers who taught me and added me but did not keep their Facebook "clean". There were pictures of them at weddings and parties, and I thought, "oh, I did NOT expect them to behave that way!" The pictures were not career-threatening, but surprising for a student to see.

My opinion, in short, of teachers adding their students on Facebook is this: keep it professional. If you choose to have a personal life, that's great. But please, make a personal profile for that and leave it for your friends and NOT your students! It is acceptable to have students on Facebook because it's an easy way to communicate outside of the classroom; however, it is unacceptable to add them on "friendly" terms. I don't want to see pictures of how smashed you got at a party. I still expect to see you as Mrs. or Mr. whatever your last name is. So please, if you choose to be on Facebook and you are in a highly-regarded profession under public scrunity, make sure it is presentable!

Don't end up like her and get fired for posting too much information!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ECMP 355: My thoughts on Technology

This blog post is for my ECMP 355 class. As I had said in my previous blog post, which was solely just a post introducing myself, I know only the very basics of technology. I don't use the computer much other than to research, type assignments, Google information, use Twitter and Facebook, and to check my e-mail. It's more of a form of entertainment than a work-based instrument, although it does come in handy with university assignments.

As I am on my way to becoming a teacher, I can see that computing technology in the K-12 classroom is important. During my field experiences in an elementary school, I saw that every grade above kindergarten used the computer in one way or another. Reading quizzes, assignments, and the teacher's blog (which included homework assignments and links to further education) was all accessed through the internet. Some children played around during free time while others typed up their assignments. The benefits of using the computer in the classroom include: work can be done quicker because writing and explaining things takes up more time than typing and reading, children become more knowledgeable of technology in the advanced information age we are currently in, classrooms become more "up-to-date", and students find it more interesting than sitting at the desk listening to the teacher instruct. However, I prefer the "old-school" way of education. Children now have more access to a broader range of materials and resources, but they're losing out on literacy skills and face-to-face interaction. I did not have a computer until I was in my early teen years. Sure, my school had computer classes and such, but we still relied on reading books and handouts, handwriting with a pencil, and listening to our teacher rather than reading their online blog. It helped with university because I learn more by writing in class as opposed to typing what the professor says into a Mac. I also find it more reliable because computers crash, but you'll always have your written notes in a binder or notebook (unless you unfortunately lose it, or, as the old elementary saying went: your dog ate it). I just think that students in classrooms nowadays should balance computer-use and the old ways of learning. And, as educators, we should balance that in our classrooms. It is nice to have typed assignments since we all can't read the dreaded chicken-scratch some students call "words", but it is also nice to have them learn how to write properly. There is also the topic of Microsoft Word's spellcheck. Too many of us are using this tool and taking advantage of it. It isn't hard to grab a paper dictionary to look up words, you know!

In closing, my expectations regarding this ECMP 355 class are pretty... moderate, I suppose. I don't expect to leave the class a computer whiz, but I do expect to leave with a fair amount of computer-based knowledge that is applicable to the modern classroom. I hope to leave feeling confident in my computer skills and more up-to-date with technology.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My first blog post!

Okay, so this is my very first blog post. Ever. I've never done anything much more than Facebooking and Tweeting, you know. The usual.

So... hi! Let's start with finding out who I am.

My name is Marie Sanderson. I'm 18 years old and am in my second semester of my first year of university. My major is dance and I'm pursuing two bachelor degrees: a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education, with a minor in theatre, at the University of Regina. I'm still trying to get out of high school mode and become accustom to being on my own for the first time. I'm originally from Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan but moved to Prince Albert for my high school years. I went to St. Mary High School, which I enjoyed greatly; partly because the teaching staff was excellent and helped me through the toughest years of my life, and partly because of the drama program I was completely infatuated with. I hope to return there someday as an intern or a teacher.

Getting more personal, I come from a family of six. My mother currently works within the Catholic school system in Prince Albert and my father stays at home watching over my twin 20-month old brothers. He is currently awaiting surgery. My 13-year-old sister anxiously awaits her high school debut and is one of my best friends. I wish her the best of luck in her future, and I'm afraid she's going to beat me as the "family nerd"! I have one kitty named Checkers and, quite frankly, just talking about everyone makes me miss home so much so I'll move on.

I moved to Regina to pursue dance education. I haven't been dancing for very long but my eagerness to learn has given me a lot of opportunities to explore the art. I've taken classes like ballet, jazz, lyrical, musical theatre, and contemporary at several studios, sometimes all at once. I've been trained at the Performing Arts Warehouse and Ballet N' All That Jazz in Prince Albert, the Birch Hills Dance Centre in Birch Hills, and the Assessippi Dance Camp in Manitoba. I'm currently taking ballet at the Youth Ballet Company of Saskatchewan in Regina. I had my first taste of teaching when I taught a 4-week dance camp in my hometown of La Ronge. I'd have to say that was the best summer of my life. The children, although none of them had any experience whatsoever, were wonderful! My background in theatre, which is my minor, runs deeper than dance but isn't as extensive. I've been involved in theatre since early childhood, both as acting and working backstage. I won't go in depth about my elementary experience, but my high school productions were really the highlight of my teenage years.

I'm currently at university on full scholarship. This is a very exciting, stressful time for me but I'm actually having a lot of fun experiencing what it's like to be a uni student living on campus. I have a few friends from Prince Albert here with me. We all try to become involved in this busy setting and I have become a member of different groups. I am a mentor for the Aboriginal Student Mentorship program, meaning I help Aboriginal high school students in their transition into post-secondary education. I'm also apart of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) as Saskatchewan's Artist Representative and a member of the Indigenous Students Association. This summer, I will be traveling to Australia as part of the International Student Volunteer program for wildlife conservation and to help restore lost habitat.

I think that's enough for the first post. I think you know more than enough about me now! See you soon!