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Hire the plucky, not the perfect

7 Dec

There is much to be said for the plucky individual whose path has been winding, hilly, and occasionally includes u-turns. These are often the types of people who strive to succeed and rise from adversity. At least, that’s what Regina Hartley thinks.

“Given the choice between a job candidate with a perfect resume and one who has fought through difficulty, human resources executive Regina Hartley always gives the “Scrapper” a chance. As someone who grew up with adversity, Hartley knows that those who flourish in the darkest of spaces are empowered with the grit to persist in an ever-changing workplace. “Choose the underestimated contender, whose secret weapons are passion and purpose,” she says. “Hire the Scrapper.”” (TED@UPS)

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Teaching the Arts in a “Fundamentals World”

11 Jun

I admit that I am biased about the impact and importance of the arts in life and education, but what about a world without it? What would that be like for students? It is frequently discussed and promoted as though all areas of this are just fluffy, unimportant, optional classes that have no benefit toward a successful life. But, this just isn’t so and there is so much evidence out there to prove that there are some very real reasons why every student should have a very real experience in art education as taught by true arts specialists.

Indoctrinating activism in our students. Bad?

28 Apr

It’s been a while since I made a blog post, but since my last I have been absorbed by a few interesting conversations regarding education.

The first came to me via Facebook from John Gormley Live. It was April 16th and he was talking about how teachers are “indoctrinating” students into “activist ideology”. This was a follow up to a video posted on the Sun News Network called “School’s out… to lunch“. Take a look at the video for yourself and see what you think about providing students with the impetus to question common ideologies.

Given that the exposed information is one-sided, which is the case of many of the topics John Gormley presents, his Facebook posting asked if “Do you agree with textbooks encouraging your kids to become activists?” Heck yes, is my answer. Without questioning the world around us by using information that supports or opposes an idea or subject, we go blindly through life accepting things we read, hear or see and lack important and necessary information. I do agree that some people can go pretty far to impress their one-sided beliefs on impressionable young minds, but that is not the intent of most teachers that encourage inquiry-based learning.

In light of the topic of activism, I use this article “Unscooped poop throws river for loop“, from the April 26, 2013 edition of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. The story is in regards to the Eco-Justice students of St. Edward school in Saskatoon who are studying the potentially harmful effects of dog poop on the river’s ecosystem. Is it activism that the teachers are having students research this? Is encouraging environmental action and awareness bad? This group of students is competing for thousands of dollars worth of awards for their watershed project – seems like a strong learning motive to me.

Philosophy of Educational Thoughts & Values

13 Apr

Earlier in my blog I wrote about the importance of providing students with a holistic education. In my Educational Foundations class at the University of Saskatchewan I was offered a chance to do a creative final presentation regarding my philosophy of educational thoughts and values – so of course I made a video.

I hope you enjoyed the video, it speaks to a variety of differing thoughts. It was created using several different programs and then edited and fine-tuned using iMovie on a Mac.

Way to go U.K.! Raise the Arts banner high!

10 Apr

Now, for anyone who has read my blog you will know that I am extremely passionate about the promotion and support of Arts Education in our schools. In other countries than Canada and parts of the U.S.A. it is looked at as vital to student learning. Apparently there is a grass-roots movement in England to address a problem (recognized by the government no less) that notes there are problems with the current curriculum. There is actually a movement to make arts subjects a statutory part of the National Curriculum from ages 5 to 16.

Calls for compulsory drama teaching in National Curriculum (U.K.)

Way to go – finally someone is thinking! It supports core curriculum and develops valuable interpretive and oral skills that are necessary in the world beyond school. How many teachers, professors, instructors and other professionals do you know who would have benefitted from these skills – I’ve had a few snore inducing instructors.

Take note Canada! Thought perhaps the “National Curriculum” thing wouldn’t hurt either (just a personal opinion).

Standardized Testing – Hot Topic or what?

8 Apr

Many of the Education classes at the University of Saskatchewan have already talked about the pros and cons of standardized testing. It’s come into my sightline because of a recent article in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. What gets to me is the mentioning of the 5.9 million dollars that is to be spent on something that so few educators seem to want.

It makes me wonder…Why? Who really wants this and where is the impetus to install this practice coming from? Is this a measurement of student learning or a measurement of successful teaching? How does standardized testing affect the practice of teaching? How is it used within a school?
Burning a Scantron form
My ETAD 470 class had an opportunity to talk to Will Richardson (parent, educator, speaker, author)  about this and other topics – take a look at what he has to say about standardized testing.

It seems like there are more questions out there than definitive answers. So, isn’t that a good reason to save the 5.9 million dollars? There is very little evidence out there that views standardized testing in a positive light…

So, somebody enlighten me – what purpose do these really serve?

ePortfolio of an Arts Educator

26 Mar

It seems like only a short while ago that I began the ETAD 470 course at the University of Saskatchewan. In that time I have learned about blogging, Internet safety, digital citizenship, acceptable use policies, Google Docs, Podcasting, Vodcasting, website design, WebQuests, ePortfolios, Wikis, Google Sites, copyright information, Creative Commons, website credibility and a variety of web-based tools and sites that are meant to support teaching and learning.  There are so many things I can incorporate into my classroom and so many more things to explore. If one thing has been made abundantly clear after taking this class, it’s that there is so much more to be learned.

To celebrate and broadcast what I have learned and what I hope to offer a future employer, I have created an ePortfolio.

Screen capture of ePortfolio

Screen capture of ePortfolio

I hope that you click on the above image, take a look around the site and that you find it interesting. This learning thing…it’s never over…the real trick is knowing how to share what we know.

Here is the link: http://carlamyskoteaches.weebly.com/

This ePortfolio was created using www.weebly.com, a site that offers free and low fee website creation for two categories of users – individuals and educators. It offers several different themes and provides for the creator to make individual choices. Documents were embedded into the pages using www.scribd.com, a free service for uploading files to create a link or embedded code.

Happiness, technology and the human mind (or a guide for a positive psyche)

22 Mar

Here I sit in the local Starbucks, thinking about what to write for an upcoming project I am working on that connects Arts Education to happiness and self-efficacy when it comes to critical thinking. It’s a huge topic, but it’s an important one in an environment where arts education often takes the first hit in economic cutbacks. The essential questions are: Why are the arts important? Why should they be studied in school, and particularly from a young age? What benefits does art education have on the human mind — emotionally, academically and in terms of critical reasoning. Is there a connection to the arts, creativity and happiness.
I imagined that there would be some discussion related to this topic online, but I never imagined that there is an iPhone App to measure human happiness and the connection to our activities and circumstances.

Drama classroomSo far, I have conducted two interviews and have posted two Vodcasts about the benefits of Arts Education from the strains of Drama and Music. My intention is to post two more Vodcasts, one from the Visual Arts strain and one from Dance. I think that perspective is important, and that the perspective of the experienced individuals I intend to interview will help to build complete understanding about the importance of this topic.

Next week I will be blogging about my new web-based e-portfolio, but keep reading because there will be new Vodcasts coming soon.

Initiative started? Vodcast #2

11 Mar

Well, I enjoyed the process of making a Vodcast the first time, so I have made another. It is the second in a series entitled “The Benefits of Arts Education,” and is a recording of a Google Hangout with myself and Wayne Toews.

I received such a large amount of support and interest from the first video that it seems that I have started my own personal initiative – which I think will be a good example to my future students as well. If you are passionate enough about something, go ahead and speak up in a way that others will listen and be moved. Take full advantage of your personal networks and outside connections so that you get well-founded, respected support for your ideas. This process is definitely one I would use for my students because it provides a forum for expressing ideas and for future debate.

On the subject of Arts Education, I have enjoyed expressing my ideas and my passion. I hope that others can see the importances of the arts and that they speak up to support them. I also hope to find more enthusiastic people to interview on the subject.

The Benefits of Arts Education – Vodcast

4 Mar

Take a peak at my very first vodcast! This vodcast was done as an assignment for ETAD 470 at the University of Saskatchewan.

The subject matter is one that is dear to my heart, the benefits and impact of Arts Education on the student. In this climate of financial worries and economic cutbacks and shortfall, the arts is often the first thing on the chopping block educationally. It is imperative that we start to view Arts Education as subject matter that is just as important as any core subject on the development of the student as a whole person. There are profound long-term benefits to studying the arts, and there are noted cross-curricular advantages as well.
Hangouts
I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Caroline Howarth, Assistant Professor of Drama at Concordia University College of Alberta, founder and Co-Artistic Director of Concrete Theatre, and freelance director at Concordia, University of Alberta, Citadel Theatre and Opera Nuova. Her work in Drama education has involved theatre for young audiences and has explored social issues and experiences that affect youth. Our interview took place March 2, 2013 in Google Hangouts with me at home in Saskatoon, SK and her at home in Edmonton, AB. The file was then edited in iMovie and uploaded to YouTube.

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