Friday Two Cent: Kindness During Christmas 


In the past couple of weeks I was able to supply in several different classrooms. With the Christmas season upon us it was a great opportunity to read my favourite Christmas story,  “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas By Dr. Seuss

If you are not aware of the story I strongly recommend you read it or more importantly share it with a young person in your life. It tells a tail of a person “The Grinch” who hates Christmas and in the end decides to steal it from the town near his home. He thinks that if he takes all the decorations, the food and presents that he will have stopped Christmas from coming. Yet the town’s people still celebrate Christmas without any of the stuff associated with it. The Grinch realizes that Christmas is not about the material gifts, food or decorations. That there is something more about this holiday, more than all the hype and acquisition of stuff. Perhaps this holiday is about being with family and people we love and care about; it’s about something more.
I have always enjoyed this story at Christmas because for me the giving and receiving of presents, is not what Christmas is all about. Even at a young age I thought that Christmas has become too materialistic, too commercial. I read this story every year and it helps me to remember the important parts of Christmas. It is about being with people I care about and the good feelings that are shared with them. It is about my traditions and faith that comes from my family and friends. No matter how upset I am during this time of year, I try to see that there are others out there worse off and I thank God for the blessings that I do have.  It is not always easy. I have had Christmas’s were I was downright miserable. But I try to see past these troubles, to see the joy and positive aspects of the season. 
This year I was out shopping for my family and the malls were full of people looking for stuff.  Many seem to be fixated with getting things. Even the students in the school appear to be focused on the material aspects of Christmas.  Everywhere I go there are ads and commercials wanting you to buy stuff.  That if you get more stuff the world will be better.  One perfect example is the “Ugly Sweaters”.  People buy these ugly seasonal sweaters just to say they have one but I say “No Thanks”.  This one example of widespread commercialism that is simply about having stuff.  It looks like this feeling of rampant commercialism appears to be spreading everywhere and sucking the joy out of the Christmas season.  Yet something as simple as an act of kindness happened that renewed my hope in people and the season. 
I was sitting in the food court of the mall having lunch one day, observing all the people rushing this way and that.  One person walked by and dropped a $20 bill near by.  A person at the next table rushed over, picked up the bill and quickly gave it to the person who dropped it.  They were extremely grateful to the person and some nice words were exchanged between the two.  That simple act of kindness not only made the person who dropped the money happy but also the person who helped.  To be honest I too felt good about that gesture and from what I observed of the other people around the area who witnessed the exchange, many of them had smiles too. 
Maybe there is still hope for people in this world.  I should keep in mind, the quote;

 

‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Aesop

 

During that this time of year every act of kindness can have the same effect as ripples from a pebble being tossed into a pond.  So small at first but look how they grow. 

Advertisements

Comic Strips: A Compassionate Benefactor


 

  With the Christmas season in full gear I thought I would throw in a bit of a Christmas twist to the latest comic strip, The Craziest Things.  Many ideas for the comic come from situations that I observe from the students and this month’s is no different.

  There is a wonderful student in the older grade five class who is full of opinions and has no compunction in offering her point of view, especially when it come to politics.  I told her on many occasions that I may disagree with some of her points of view but I love that she has a passion for these issues.  I told her to question everything and do her research so she can be well-informed when stating her opinions, but never stop questioning everything.

  The situation in the comic is a direct result from her conversions and passion for the subject matter.  I hope you enjoy December’s The Craziest Things: A Compassionate Benefactor.

CrazyComicsDec2018

Friday Two Cents: Delayed Gratification A.K.A Learning Patience


 

  In the past two weeks many parents have been receiving progress report on their children and many have talked to me about some issues. Many parents have described their behaviour as lazy and not wanting to do the work. Why are so many students having problems focusing and doing the work? Where does the problem stem from?

  I have worked in many grades and I have seen the same issue in all ages. Wherever I go the students are given a task, be it math, literacy or art and they want an instant result. In other words; they want instant gratification.
  After telling this to the parents they look at me with surprise and I say look at our society. Today everything is instant gratification. If they want something all they need to do is to ask for it and they get it. Video games give an instant reward after, you want something you go online and order it. You want a picture of a cartoon, go online and search until you get it. Why draw it?
  I noticed this especially when I do art with the students. On numerous occasions students ask me to show them how to draw something and when I do, they are not happy because their drawing is not the same as mine. I constantly remind them that it took me many years to get to my level of artistic skill and they need to practice constantly to get better. Many do not accept this and destroy their creation or give up.

I want it now!! Instant gratification.

  The same can be said for other subjects and their seems to be a disconnect happening. The best way I can describe it is this way. They are at the foot of a hill. Their goal or task is on the top of the hill. They want the goal but don’t see the hill between them. It does not matter how you get to the top of the hill fast or slow but you still have to put the effort into getting to the top.  Many don’t want to because it would take a long time, in other words they want instant results or gratification.
  What we need to do is teach the students that delayed gratification has more rewards. Study after study have shown the benefits to children who have learned delayed gratification. One famous experiment by Stanford professor named Walter Mischel sheds light on this subject matter. In the experiment a child is placed in a room, sitting on a chair and a marshmallow is placed on the table in front of them. The researcher offered a deal to the child. He told the child that he was going to leave the room and that if the child did not eat the marshmallow while he was away, then they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child decided to eat the first one before the researcher came back, then they would not get a second marshmallow. The choice was simple: get one treat right now or two treats later. He left the room for 15 minutes.
  The footage of the children waiting alone in the room was very entertaining to say the least. Some kids jumped up and ate the first marshmallow as soon as the researcher closed the door. Others wiggled and bounced and scooted in their chairs as they tried to restrain themselves, but eventually gave in to temptation a few minutes later. And finally, a few of the children did manage to wait the entire time. The study was done in 1972 but the interesting thing is what comes later.
  The researchers followed the children and what they found was surprising. The children who were willing to delay gratification and wait to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life lessons. They continued to follow each child for more than 40 years and time and time again, the group who waited patiently for the second marshmallow succeed in whatever task they were engaged in.
  So what should people take from this information. The one thing many students and people in our society need to learn and develop is patience. If you put in the work, the rewards are much better after time. We as educators and parents need to help the students solve the problem without telling them the answer. They need to put in the effort. If they fail once in a while that’s ok. Many learn more from failures than constant success. This way they can develop patience and enjoy the success more.

What did Edison say when they said he failed 10,000 times to make a light bulb?

‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ Thomas A. Edison

 

Something we all need to keep in mind.

Friday Two Cents: Being Bored Is Good For Your Creativity


 

   “I’m Bored.” a common statement from students in class say when they have nothing to do. On several occasions I have had students tell me that they are bored and they have a look on their face that says that I should entertain them or solve this problem for them. I say it’s not my problem to solve. Make something, draw a picture or find something to use that boredom to your advantage. But many avoid being boredom like the plague. Yet from what I have read, being bored is actually a good thing.

   One study had some volunteers read the phone book before taking a test and others did not. If you have ever seen a phone book you would agree that it is a boring task. They found that the volunteers that read the phone book where better at solving the problems than those that did not. As well a study from the College of William and Mary examined 20 years of creative tests and found that creativity scores declined steadily. So how does being bored help you?
   Studies have shown that being bored is an important part of being creative. This can also lead to breakthroughs and being more productive. You see the brain does not have an off switch. It wants to gather information or stimulation. Boredom happens when your brain does not receive enough stimulation. It cannot slow down so it goes back into your memory and reprocesses old information and twists and turns it around. Many people call it daydreaming but psychologies say that it is a complex process that allows you to see the information from new and different points of view.
   I have observed that many students and adults try to avoid being bored. In some cases many students are over stimulated with endless extracurricular activates. Monday hockey, Tuesday tutoring, Wednesday music, Thursday hockey, Friday dance and the weekends are filled with others activities or else playing on electronic devises. There seems to be no opportunity to get bored or even some down time. They are missing a golden opportunity to be more creative and imagine the impossible.
   I didn’t realize it until I read about being bored that I do daydream a lot. Many of my friends can attest to that statement. I do this when I go for walks or when I relax to some music. I lean back and I let the world around me fade away and it is replaced with endless worlds created in my imagination. From these moments I am able to create art, solve problems and imagine wondrous possibilities.

Endless Possibilities

 

So I say get bored.

You never know what fantastic and wondrous possibilities you can discover.

 

Comic Strips: Nothing Scares Us Anymore


 

With Halloween only a couple of days away I thought I’d post my November comic strip a bit early. Many of my comic strip ideas for The Craziest Things comes from situations that I observe from the students and this month’s is no different.

I use many different themes to inspire me to create the comic. Some include the difference in the generations or the use of technology in the classroom compared to their parents. Yet there are some themes that are universal to all generations. Yet the majority of the inspiration comes from real life situations that I experience with the students.

This month’s theme comes out of the reality of living in a 24-hour news cycle. Adults and children are inundated with news about everything in the world, the good and the bad. However, it seems that the media is focusing on all the negative news out there. Mind you the world is a crazy place to begin with but many people never stop to think that if they are getting all this news then so are the children.

On many occasions I have heard students talking about news stories from the previous day. Shootings, disasters and political issues both domestic and foreign. It would seem that they are not immune to all this information and sometimes we discuss these issues in class. Many teachers use these times to help teach the students on how to be global citizens. Which is a great way to help the students understand the world around them. Yet before these areas were something we would discus in grade 7 and above. Now it seems to be happening in the earlier grades. With such an easy access to information and communication, the new generation appears to have their childhood end earlier than before.

I hope you enjoy November’s The Craziest Things: Nothing Scares Us Anymore.

Friday Two Cents: Playing Increases Productivity


 

    This past week I was able to work in a school as a physical education (PE) teacher. This was not the first time I supplied as a PE teacher and every time I do a quote “Leaders, lead by example.” comes to mind. I always show the students how to play the game or activity we are doing in gym, yet some how I always love participating with the students. Most of the time I referee the activity or participate if one side is winning by too much but I find that I do enjoy joining the students in the activity. And by the looks on their faces I can see that they too enjoy it when I participate with them. I sometimes get other teachers coming by and they usually smile when they see me playing with the students. Some say that I am the biggest kid in the school and I respond with a smile saying, “You have to lead by example.”

    Mind you I am a bit tired at the end of the day, who wouldn’t after teaching 7 classes in PE. Yet it’s like a good tired, like I accomplished something. Sometimes I even have extra energy to pursue my own passions such as art. I thought nothing of this until I read an article about “playing increases productivity.” The article mentioned that many companies such as Twitter and YouTube encourage their employees to take small breaks in the day to play. I have always been a big proponent that play is a great way to learn. Even the education system has endorsed this philosophy with play-based learning in the full day kindergarten program. There have been articles suggesting that play-based learning should be increased to grade 3 but we will have to wait and see about that idea.
    However, in the mean time I will continue to find every opportunity I can to play. Be it solitaire, darts, video games or just playing with my paints, pencils and simply creating what ever comes to me.
    I remember a wonderful poem written by an unknown author and it is posted at the entrance of the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans entitled “Play”.

 

Words that I truly believe and live by.

 

A verse by an unknown author at the entrance of the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans

Comic Strips: Legality


 

Well it is the start of a new school year with a fresh crop of students and situations for my comic strip, The Craziest Things. The genesis of this comic strip came from the situations I observe from the students. I thought it would be great to create a comic strip based on those situations and thus The Craziest Things was born.

I use many different themes to inspire me to create the comic. Some include the difference in the generations or the use of technology in the classroom compared to their parents. Yet there are some themes that are universal to all generations. Yet the majority of the inspiration comes from real life situations that I experience with the students.

This month centres on the first day of school. Yes that amazing day when you have to go back to the salt mines, I mean classroom and begin a fresh new year of learning and discovery.  

However with technology being so easily accessible to the students, in particular cell phones, many people wonder how far will it go. I for one have seen students as young as grade 3 come into the classroom with phones and personal devices. With such an easy access to information and communication how far will some students take it?

I hope you enjoy October’s The Craziest Things: Legality.

CrazyComicsOct2018

Ailish Sinclair

Stories and photos from Scotland

doug --- off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

The Trombonist's Mouthpiece

Music, education, and philosophy

Paul Gauchi

My innermost thoughts I wish to share. These things Inspire me, maybe they will inspire you.

Lucia Lorenzi

the body politic: musings and meanderings

Eternal Atlantis

Official Website of Luciana Cavallaro

The Art Studio by Mark Moore

Where Imagination Becomes Realality

Daniel is funny

Monsters, Jokes, Analogies

A Step onto the Road

The journeying of a literary hopeful

teachingontheverge

Thinking deeply about education

The Baggage Handler

I made the impossible easy in both worlds!

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

Belief Blog

Spreading the Power of Belief

The First Gates

Stories, Dreams, Imagination, Soul

Unbound Boxes Limping Gods

The writer gives life to a story, the reader keeps it alive.