Bob Peterson

“We all care about people, especially children. We teach because we care but we have to recognize that in a class stratified and racially divided world in which we live, we have to do more than care. We have to teach and organize for social justice.” ~ Bob Peterson

This video of Bob Peterson’s speech at the BCTF on Monday January 28th, uploaded by the BCTF, is very inspiring. Bob Peterson is a teacher, activist and founding editor of Rethinking Schools.

Caught in a great divide

I have just watched Kevin Honeycut’s beautifully done video.

(I would like to thank my colleague and mentor Dave Truss for bringing it to my attention.)

This is the world I’m from, where our children are rarely seen without their ipods or cell phones. Our world is wired and connected. Our schools need to get with it and our teachers need to be curious, to be keen learners themselves and to keep up. I agree with the message in the video and in fact, the last few years of my career have been about exactly that, helping to educate teachers who are eager to learn.

But now I’m here living temporarily in Akumal, Mexico in a very different world. Yes, the people, though mostly not the children, still have cell phones. There is a layer of a wired world around me, particularly the tourists and the businesses. But the connectedness has not permeated the culture and certainly not the school.

The public schools in the pueblo here are behind gates and, unlike the perhaps beautiful, but certainly ostentatious resort hotels up and down the highway in either direction from Akumal, those that many of us Canadians have come to know intimately, the schools here are not pretty places. I am fairly certain that they don’t have internet at all. Many of the students struggle just with the requirement that they buy their own paper and pencils.  When they can’t afford to attend they simply stop showing up. At the age when our children at home are choosing their grade school courses, many of the teenagers in Akumal are too often beginning to look for work.  Staying in school here is not an easy option.

I’ve been to the Kindergarten or “kinder”. Kindergarten in the state of Quintana Roo is compulsory from age 3 to age 5 but attendance is not enforced. In the local public school here the pueblo of Akumal there are three classrooms, one for three year olds, one for four year olds and one for five year olds. The last time I attended there were 26 children present in the five year old class which is the largest group, about 12 of those students were girls, all with one teacher. There are no aides or special needs workers. There are more children than books. Supplies are very limited. There are certainly not computers, but then this is kinder.

So I struggle with one foot in my world from home that I watch only virtually and the other in this real world here where the children are truly struggling to learn in a more conventional manner, in a world where they are surrounded by so much but yet have so little themselves. And I wonder how does technology fit here? How would it change the learning? How might it help the teachers? Could it help to bridge the gap between the very, very rich and the very, very poor?

¡Feliz Navidad y Prospero Años!

A fellow global educator sent this list of ways to help make our world more peaceful in her Christmas email and I think it deserves more exposure.  Originally I believe it comes from the Peace and Collaborative Development Network blog as posted by Craig Zeller. I think it is a great list and Craig does a great job of explaining why each of the following 10 points is important.  He also provides links to organizations worth learning more about. Enjoy.

8) Examine how to create more peace in your personal life

8) Share your experiences and hopes for peace, as well as frustrations around conflict

8) Support Organizations working to effect change in the world

8) Advocate for Preventing and Ending Conflicts

8) Mainstream a Conflict Sensitive Approach into your district/ organization/company

8) Get Additional Training

8) Engage in Productive Dialogue with Others

8) Foster Sustainable Economic Development

8) Build Community in your Own Life.

May you have a peaceful holiday season.

Exemplars in the field

Anyone who’s followed this blog knows about my ongoing struggle to bring together technology in education with the principles and ideals in support of global education.  While in many ways it is a natural match as well as perhaps an inevitable contradiction, I’m always curious why we aren’t seeing more of the two coming together, or more aptly, ed tech supporting systems thinking and global perspectives.  Today I’d like to highlight two brilliant examples and direct you on to the blog posts that describe them. First visit Jennifer Whiffin’s new blog at In Pursuit of Purpose where she details how she uses Kiva to teach 4th and 5th grade math. Then have a read of  Phil Macoun’s guest blog post on TLITE Online.  Here Phil has written about the Digiteen project.  Kudos to Jennifer and Phil for their excellent work.