BY LEONARD QUILTY
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. – John Dewey
Over the past week I’ve had two great experiences as a teacher. The first one involved discovering an awesome website called ‘edu.glogster.com’.
It’s a website allowing students and teachers to create online multimedia posters or glogs. I’ve done some experimenting with it and plan to use it in a couple of weeks in both my Grade 7 LA class and my Grade 11 English class.
Check out the sample I’ve created for my Grade 7 students at this link: ‘http://wikiuser.edu.glogster.com/john-goddard/’.
It’s an understatement to say we live in a multimedia world. By having students use the interactive tools available on the glogster website (according to a teacher set list of criteria); we allow them another opportunity to use their creative thinking skills.
To supplement the text only writing or research assignments in our classes, glogs can be an additional catalyst to engage learners and to better hone the skills needed in the 21st century.
The second great teacher experience in the past week involved spending a couple of hours with about 10 of my junior high French students at a school in Medicine Hat. Being an online teacher, I don’t often get the chance to meet face to face with my students, especially in a traditional school setting.
What impressed me the most about these students was the level of courtesy and respect they showed me during my brief visit.
Over the course of my teaching career, I’ve had the good fortune to work with many students who have, in essence, humbled me by their impeccable manners and respectful behavior. These French students similarly put me in awe.
When my stay with them was over and they had returned to their next class, I couldn’t help but think – these students are people of character.
Aristotle once wrote: “The ultimate end of life is the development of character.”
The building of character in a child’s formative, school age years is of course a partnership between the home and school. The way I see it, one of our prime responsibilities as educators is to create a learning environment, where students not only feel a sense of engagement with the curriculum we offer but are also challenged to formulate their own response to the world around them.
That challenge can come, for example, through an analysis of events in world history or via an interpretation of themes in short stories or poems.
A couple of weeks ago on a unit test in Grade 11 English, I included a poem I borrowed from the ‘learnalberta’ website. The poem, by Canadian poet Elizabeth Brewster, is called ‘Great Aunt Rebecca’.
It’s a beautiful poem detailing life for the pioneers in pre-Confederation western Canada. Throughout the poem, the author extols the virtues of her great aunt Rebecca – virtues forged in the kiln of hard work and dedication to family.
For example, in speaking about how her aunt raised nine children, the author notes: “She had fed them with pancakes and salt pork and cakes sweetened with maple sugar. She had taught them one by one to memorize ‘The chief end of man is to know God’”.
At the end of the poem the author expressed a longing to be like her aunt Rebecca: “Soft as silk and tough as that thin wire they use for snaring rabbits.”
Of course, life in Canada today is much different from that of great aunt Rebecca’s time, but the solid principles espoused through her life’s example are of timeless value, and can help today’s students clarify the essence of a life of quality and contentment.
Leonard Quilty is a Teacher with the Center for Learning@Home in Okotoks, Alberta. He can be reached by e-mail at ‘email@example.com’.