Friday Two Cents: I Spoke From My Heart, A Place Of Honour


 

  This coming Sunday is an extremely important day for me, and many people around Canada. On November 11th we commemorate the sacrifice tens of thousands of men and women did to preserve our way of life. In other words, our freedom to choose how to live our own lives. This day has always been a day to reflect and honour those who paid the ultimate cost for that freedom.

  This past week many schools have been getting ready to also commemorate this day. Many ask the students to create reflections, images and art to this effect. In one class they were tasked to create something similar, yet something happened that made my blood boil and took all my strength to compose myself.
  I was supplying in a junior class with students’ ages 9 – 11, they were asked to create a poster reflecting on their up coming Remembrance Day assembly. I decided to show them a YouTube video I had created for another Remembrance Day assembly. During the video a student was laughing at the images of the soldiers and other students made it a point to tell him to stop and told me after it was over. I had observed this and decided not to react but thought to turn it into a lesson.

Remembrance Day Poppy

  After the video had played I ask them what feelings did they feel after viewing it. Many said sadness, pride and respect. I said their poster also needs to bring out those emotions. The person was still laughing and many told that individual to stop, but I said. “No they can laugh. You see those soldiers died so that people like them can laugh and do what they want. Even if it makes you upset, we in Canada must respect the rights of individuals to express their opinions.” I looking right at them and continued, “Remember though, that in your home country, you are not allowed to express yourself that way. That you would not be allowed to even practice your faith like you are here in Canada. Remember that because of these soldiers, you can come to this country and believe what you want, go to school where you want and even say what you want. Where you come from you would not be.” After that little speech the students went to work on their posters and many were very well done. Even the one individual also worked on it. But it took all my patience and self-control to say those things and compose myself.
  I am not sure if that individual understood what I said or if they care. What I do know is that I spoke from my heart, from a place where honour and loyalty has a strong presence. I believe in the words I spoke and ever day I do try to live a life that honours their sacrifice. That is why I created the video in the first place. I wanted to create a tool to help honour them and hopefully inspire others to take up the torch and hold it high. For I will not break faith with those who die, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

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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.

 

Friday Two Cents: A Renaissance Man


‘Learning never exhausts the mind.’ Leonardo da Vinci

This past week I was discussing something rather interesting with a colleague about the nature of people who are classified as “gifted”.   In the education system gifted refers to a person who is talented in specific areas. Many people classified as gifted show tremendous talents in specific areas. Yet those talents are focused in a specific area such as mathematics, music, art or some other area. We discussed that this may be do to an evolutionary adaptation to allow people to focus only on one area for the good of society.

I found this interesting and I have seen many studies showing that millennial children, now adults are a perfect example. Many are very focused or talented on one specific area of expertise in their career. You are good at one aspect of your career, plumbing and not electrical lets say, but in the past you would have to be familiar with both but now it’s ok and encouraged to be a specialist. Studies also show that millennials are very comfortable with this idea and the job market is agreeing with them.
I can see the benefit to this and there are great examples in history that support this. Einstein’s focused work gave us new theories in physics, Picasso in art, Mozart in music and Tesla in the areas of electricity and engineering. These great minds and others like them have changed how we think and the world around us. However thinking about these people made me consider those that have a broad range of talents, like myself.
I have been called a “Jack-of-all-trades”. I have a great love and talent in the arts from music, dance, drama and visual arts and yet I also excel in technology, mathematics and the sciences. I am not just an academic person but also quite handy at building things and the use of a wide range of tools. With all this in mind I sometimes feel like I am a relic of the past; a person with so much skill and knowledge on such a wide variety of skills unlike people today. A person who cannot focus on one area to specialize? At times I have thought this and some people have mentioned this as a hindrance of mine.  

Leonardo Da Vinci a true Renaissance man

However those thoughts are quickly replaced with the fact that my vast array of knowledge makes me who I am. And I like who I am. I am a person who loves theatre and art from Shakespeare to Dali. I find the complex theory of Tesla’s energy transmitted to vehicles wirelessly as well as the mechanics of how the human body works, fascinating. I enjoy programing computers and doing coding, but also painting a picture. Reading about history as well as learning about the planets and other astrological phenomenon. I enjoy writing but I also love building things with wood, plastic or metal.   These different areas make up the colourful tapestry of who I am and if I ever need to be reminded that being a “Jack-of-all-trades” is a good thing, all I need to do is think of one of the most famous “Jack-of-all-trades” person, Leonardo Da Vinci. A man whose interests include invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history and cartography. He was considered to be a true Renaissance man. Perhaps that is what they should call all people who are “Jacks-of-all-trades”. I guess I can live with being called a “Jack-of-all-trades” or better yet, a Renaissance man.

 

 

 

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

Friday Two Cents: Inspiring Quotes


With September coming to an end, many teachers and students are getting back into the grove of the school routine. Some are finding it a bit daunting yet many push through. In the past I have tried to help both teachers and students get through the rough beginnings of the year by placing a few words of wisdom around the school. Many have looked to these inspirational quotes to help them see the joy life has to offer.

It all started with my trips to Stratford Ontario where I experience amazing productions they have to offer. Always after the shows I venture to the gift shop to see what amazing things they have to offer. There they have wonderful t-shirts and fridge magnets with famous quotes from the show and Shakespearian plays. I have always looked to these quotes to help inspire me in my daily life and to be honest I even post these quotes in places around my home.

I have always looked to them as a wonderful source of inspiration and strength, and wondered how I could share them with others. Then I remembered an anti-bullying campaign I read where a girl, who was trying to fight off a bully, responded in a unique way. She was sent a message on Facebook saying to ‘kill herself”. But instead of responding to the message, she decided to fight back by posting positive messages on every locker in her school. Messages such as, ‘You’re beautiful’ and ‘You shine bright like a diamond.’” That was when I thought that I would combine the two for the staff and students in a school I supply in.

I have done this on several occasions and in different schools that I have supplied in. For me these quotes help brighten my day and help to inspire me to create, draw and enjoy life. My only wish is that these quotes can do the same to someone else. After posting a few, I had a couple of teachers mention them and thanked me for the inspirational quotes. That alone made my day.

Below are a few quotes that I posted in the school. They have always inspired me; I hope they can inspire you.

Friday Two Cents: Celebrating The Past


 

‘I take a lot of pride in being myself. I’m comfortable with who I am.’ James McAvoy

 

This past week I was able to finish off a personal project of mine that has been on my mind for some time.

It truly started many years ago when I started looking into my family history and where I come from. I was born in Canada but my heritage is from a small island called Malta. This small archipelago’s history dates back eons to the dawn of civilization in the Mediterranean. Yet the period I was looking into was when my family came to Malta in the early 1400s. The Gauchi family was part of the feudal system in Malta until the Knights Hospitaller, later the Knights of St. John, took control of the island chain around the middle 1500s.
In 1565 the forces of the Ottoman Empire invaded the island to completely wipe out the knights and as a stepping-stone to conquering the rest of Europe. Some 40,000 Turks invaded and laid siege to Malta. Standing in their way were roughly 6,100 that included some 500 Knights Hospitaller, 2000 thousand foot-soldiers, 600 servants and slaves and 3000 conscripted native Maltese. With this small defence force, they successfully defended the island. The cost was quite high with a third of the defending force falling to the enemy but in return they inflicted such terrible losses on the Turks. They retreated from Malta with casualties around +15,000; some say it was more than half their forces. The victory may have been costly but it is celebrated as the greatest of the 16th century and initiated the stop of the Ottoman Empire expansion into Europe.
I read and drew many images until I came up with the image I finally painted that you can see below entitled “The Siege of Mdina”. It is of a Knights Hospitaller vanquishing a Turk invader. In the background you can see the Christian army ready to do battle with the knight, in the fields below the ancient city of Mdina, Malta. It a place I have visited on many occasions and the scene came to me after drawing my first knight.
I think this project so engulfed my thoughts because I have been hearing many people talk about their heritage but also people condemning many aspects of our own history because of the not so nice elements that are also associated with the people involved. For me, knowing my heritage has always been a cause of pride. Malta is not a well-known country, but the more I delved into my heritage the greater I began to appreciate it. Yes there are dark elements in it. This period of time probably saw many atrocities but hiding the truth or burying it is not the right thing to do. We should celebrate our past; the good, the bad and the ugly, for these events made us who we are.
I am reminded of a famous quote …

‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ George Santayana

 

Too much of human history is full of repeating the same mistakes. Perhaps learning, celebrating and understanding our past instead of burying, ignoring and erasing it, would help us not make the same mistakes.

“The Siege of Mdina” Painting by Paul Gauchi

Friday Two Cents: My First Day Of School


 

‘There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.’ George Sand

 

In many parts of Canada and around the world this week marks the return of students and teachers back to school. As a supply teacher, my services are not usually needed until at least the second week of the school year. However, a school that I supply in a lot called and asked if I can come in for a last-minute job to cover some one going on an appointment.   Of course I was happy to go in.

Hi Everyone!!! My Name is George!!!

I am familiar with the school, the staff and most of the students therefore it was a joy to go in. I arrived, signed in and talked to a few staff and then got ready for the day. The class I was in was a kindergarten class with a few students I knew from last year but more than half were new students. The day began and after I introduced George I think from that moment, I had won them over. If you do not know, George is my puppet and he comes in with me to the primary classes and is a big hit with the students. He sings songs with them, he brings in books for me to read and he is also a bit silly (just like the puppet master), so they enjoy whenever he comes out. Overall the class was great and it was an enjoyable experience.
However, the response I got from the older students in the school was something I did not expect. It was after lunch and I was walking back to the class as the students were coming in from lunch recess. They saw me and said hello and I returned the greeting, however after saying hi, I got swarmed by a sea of little people (the students). They hugged me and were saying things like, “You’re back!” and “Are you in our class?” Many others started telling me about what they did over the summer break. I was over joyed and a bit over whelmed to get such a response from them.
I have been working with children for many years; both as an early childhood educator and as a teacher and I have always found it amazing how the students greet me. They always seem to be happy when they see me. I thing that they know that I love working with them. Some people say it’s because I’m a big kid like them.   But whatever the reason, all I know is that the feeling, is mutual.

hugs-Educator

 

‘Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.’ Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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