embers

smoke just kept rising
from it. never sparking,
never fully flaring. I wondered
if the damp air held the
coals in cool comfort. I
tried to conjure the last
time we shared this space:
soles up on rounded rock, 
toes pointing to the sky,
stars rising, the fire
ebbing. I remember your face 
appear and vanish in a kind of 
stop motion pantomime, each 
expression separated by dark
then golden flickers. Pauses
brought night sounds. These small
interruptions were welcome. We
were testing our compatibility in
those silences. Could we be us, 
without willing the connection into
being? An us without forcing our way past
night sounds. At some point you said
that the mosquitoes must have
forgotten about us. I scratched
my neck and wasn't so sure. 
There will always be mosquitoes.

futureproof

This has to stop.

These moments of time travel give me headaches.

I am standing in class, mid-lesson, mid thought- I blink it is 1985, I blink again and it is 2016. Where am I? The lights, the corkboard, the rows of desks. A fleeting sense of nostalgia chased by the grim reality of, well, nostalgia all soaked with the sour smell of ‘been there, done that’. It all is pretty much as it was in 1989 when I graduated from high school.

I’m getting edgy and the same fuzzy feelings from my high school days, turn on me viciously. Looking at my current classroom I realize that my younger self is screaming at me, dissing me for missing my own point; I had issues with school back in 1985 as a student, that now, in 2016, teacher-me continues to perpetuate.

If I had walked out of a classroom in 1985, back-to-the-futured, and walked into a classroom in 2016 would I have noticed any changes? Computers, fashion, adornments notwithstanding…

The lesson is hinged on the question ‘Is your career, future proof?’ The course is Careers. Each of the students, at this point, has started to investigate and plan their post-secondary pathway. Each of the students has started to pick senior level courses that in theory will keep them racing towards a career. My question is poignant. At least it is to me…is it important for the students to see a bit of their future? It is important to keep them tracking their future targets. Their targets are constantly moving. The competition for finite future prospects is stiff. Yet, as I ask the students, I realize that I want to answer it as well.

I start to futurecast into the next 15 – 20 years that remain before my tentative retirement, what if I am still standing in this same classroom? What if the children of these children remark to me ‘wow this class looks exactly the same as my mother described’? What if nothing changes..? Now I am really uncomfortable.

The students needed some prodding, I shift gears. ‘Is teaching future proof?’ Still lots of blinking. ‘Will I be able to teach in the same way that I do now in 5 years, or 10 years, or even 15 years from now?’

This gets them chatting. Analyzing what a teaching job would look like in the next 15-20 years became the parallel sweet spot for our lesson. The students could not stop poking questions and making statements about my career. Some students took the opportunity to comment on the current system as they know it, others tried to project themselves into a future system that they may never be a part of. Either way, I felt my younger self smiling satisfactorily.

Capturing the full transcript was impossible, the following bits came from two class sessions. Some students listened the entire time without comment, many jumped in and on and over each other when certain topics were tabled. The class is composed of grade 9, 10, and 11 students. Some were taking the Careers course, others were drop-ins on day two of our discussion.

Them & Me

You should stop using handouts. I have tried that, some students do not have digital technology... Wait like stop handing things out at all? No handouts..? No, just stop using paper handouts… 

Can we film our class? …in general?  Ya, I film everything then I post it. Post it? Where? Everywhere.

The WiFi should be available outside in the school yard. It kinda works if you really need it, you could stand near the door…I want to work outside in the middle of the back field when the weather is nice…

The school has it wrong…Good start, what are you thinking? I don’t want to insult you, but school is designed wrong. School is not just me, its you and me. Ya right.

I think school is messed up. Share your thinking. We walk in the halls and sit in the classrooms. I want to hang out in the halls and move around in class.

Why can’t I stay home and do school with YouTube? Explain your thinking. I watched two YouTube videos today in P1, could’ve watched that at home.

School should be free. It is, kind of, for you. No, free, right up through university. How would that work? Well we can pretty much learn anything for class online…

I was just thinking about my art teacher, he uses a lot of history examples in viz art… I like how he mixes other courses into art class.

School sucks…I want to work…why can’t I just go to work and not do school? Where do I start? There’s lots of reasons to get an education, then get a better job… I don’t really care about that, I just want to work.

I miss my elementary school. Why? I had more fun. …like recess? Not just that, I think that it was just more fun to learn.

TO BE CONTINUED…for sure.