Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Christmas Photos

As usual, I am late with the challenge. I did my photos is two groups - Christmas Day at Barbara's house and then Boxing Day, also at Barbara's house.

This is the second year in a row that Don and I were not home for Christmas. It just made sense this year considering how I was sick before Christmas and getting ready was a challenge. I enjoy spending time with my family so it was not a hard decision to make.
I love nutcrackers. This is one of Barbara's

There is nothing better than getting together with my brothers and sisters et al. This year on Boxing Day there was 22 of us, with 20 sitting around the table since the babies did not need there own chair. We enjoyed just passing the twins aound. We never get enough of babies in our family. After dinner we did the usual - the boys did the clean up while the women relaxed. I always like to get a picture of that special family event. It was great to see how the smaller cousins, Joseph and Scott, want to play with the older cousins and look up to them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Outliers

I watched an interview on CBC News Sunday (see the above address). Malcolm Gladwell has written a book titled The Outliers. His book is a look at what makes people succeed at what they do - specifically, those people, or groups of people, who achieve beyond anyone's imagination. Outlier is the phenonema that lies outside of normal experience. His book is a look at some of the factors of success that have not been considered before. Some of the factors, he says, is your birth date, institutional factors and the culture you are born into. If you are born in the first three months of the year you stood a better chance than your peers in school.

Taking hockey as an example, the cut-off date for first class hockey is January 1st and the process for finding the talent starts to happen for kids at 8-9 years of age who will end up being chosen for the rep squads. Now, at 8-9 years of age, who are the stroger kids? The ones born at the beginning of the year. So what we think of as a system set up to identify the stronger, more talented people often turns out to be a system that favours early birthdays. These kids start to get extra coach support, practice time and play more games then other kids their age. In the end, Gladwell says, is that this stronger group just keeps getting stronger becasue of the practice time etc. and those bornin the later half of the year will not catch up. INTERESTING... Gladwell looked at a vareity of hockey teams in the NHL and other leagues. On one team he found 60% of hockey players have their birthdays in the first four months of the year. One idea he suggests is possiby having two leagues for those in the first half of the year and those in the second hal of the year so that all children are given equal opportunity to develop their potential. Gladwell believes that if this occurred that it would double the amount of kids that are good in hockey. INTERESTING...

Another factor - it takes 10,000 hours of pratice to excel at any complex task. Taking the Beatles, for instance, who did hours and hours of practice in clubs before they hit it big. Another example he gives is Bill Gates who happened to go to a school in 1968 which had a computer terminal - rare for that time. Gates gets his 10,000 hours of practice in before he even goes to college.

Gladwell believes that there are ethnic differences in achievement. However, he takes a look at they why, beyond the genetics. First of all he believes that looking at genetics is silly. He looks to the culture to help explain the differences. Asians, for example, excel in math. He believes it is because of the cultural attitude and work ethic. North American children give up a lot sooner than Asian children when figuring out a difficult math problem. Gladwell believes that this is because of the cultural differences in sticking to something until you figure it out. It comes from the history of the rice crop. Growing rice is very labour intensive and through the passing of the years has instilled in the Asian population a patience and sticktuitiveness. INTERESTING...

What else does this theory effect? How we look at education, particularly when it comes to the disadvantaged populations. Poor kids do worse because they do not have the amount of time with reading etc. that advantaged children have, especially during the summer. School is good for kids. It's just that poor children do not get enough of it. Japanese children go to school for 245 days in the year compared to 180 in North America. Gladwell believes that we should extend the school year in order that the gap between disadvantaged and advantaged can close.

I think he has a lot of interesting ideas. What do you think?

Another Borrowed Idea for a Post - Thanks Jenn!

Jennifer wrote about a nurse's job description at the turn of the century. I thought I would share the teacher's job life. After a little searching I found a job description for teachers during Upper Canada Days ( As with Jenn, I don't think I would be a teacher back then, especially since teaching was for unmarried women or men. Once I was married my teaching days would have been over.

Rules for Teachers:

1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.

2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the day's session.
3. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
4. After ten hours in school, the teacher may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
5. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
6. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
7. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaves in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention and honesty.

Any teacher who performs his labour faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of 25 cents per week in his pay providing the Board of Education approves.

What does this tell you about the importance of education? There is no mention of how to teach! Who cares about the quality of the curriculum, as long as the teacher ensures the schoohouse is taken care of. I guess you would just have to watch Anne of Green Gables or Road to Avonlea to fill in the teaching details.

Another thought - we tend to think hat the reason we have the summer off is that we were an agrarian society and children were needed on the farm; however, recently I read that this does not make sense since the time children were really needed was in the fall - when they were in school. Apparently the American educational reformers at the time thought that if children had too much schooling they would go insane. Children need to "rest" their brains for two months! I will post about this issue tomorrow.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not much to Say, So I Borrowed an Idea...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? A variety - depends on what is available at the moment. Often it is wrapping paper because the right fitting bag is hard to find.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. Some day I would like to try a real tree. There is something special about the smell...

3. When do you put up the tree? As soon as I can. Last year it was decorated while watching the Brampton Santa Claus parade - second weekend in November.

4. When do you take the tree down? Whenever the mood hits - usually the first week in January.

5. Do you like eggnog? YUCK!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Probably my Chatty Cathy doll - I wonder why?! As an adult it was my camera and I-Pod.

7. Hardest person to buy for? I agree with Barbara - dad. Don is a close second the past few years.

8. Easiest person to buy for? It used to be Don - anything model railroad or tools. These days he is getting harder.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Of course!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I try to do cards, but not every year.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Not sure. Don tries very hard and puts a lot of thought into his gift giving, but sometimes may miss the mark - like the year I got a car stereo. That was more of a Don gift. I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I was excited at first.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I love The Polar Express and The Grinch, both based on children's picture books.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually after Halloween.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Never. The thought of it!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? The sweets. I don't eat a lot of cookies etc. but there is something wonderful that happens at Christmas time. I love my Special-K treat bars.

16. Lights on the tree? Big, coloured ones - Don's favourite! The older I get the more I like the idea of a pre-lit tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song? To sing it would be Silent Night, Star of the East and Stable Door. To play would be Jingle Bells. A more secular song - Grown-Up Christmas Wish and White Christmas.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We have done both - depends on other family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Of course - I'm a teacher. I don't have a choice! I even know Olive, the other reindeer, and Rudolph's other names - like stupid. I even know the games he was not allowed to play, like Monopoly.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Definitely an angel

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning. Never done it any other way.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Shopping in a mall - too hot - too stuffing. I CAN'T BREATH. It reminds me of when I almost fainted on kettles twice.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I don't really have a theme or special colour. I collect ornaments that tell me a story and my tree has become more of a memory for me. For instance, I have an ornament that I got in a teacher exchange 20 years ago. Three of my ornaments I got in Manhattan last May. Now that I am looking at my tree, I guess I have a lot of different things on it - country ornaments, instruments, a lot of gold...

24. Favorite dessert for Christmas dinner? Pie.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? I'm like Barbara, I don't really have anything on my wish list. I would love a good telephoto lens for my camera. I think it is one of those things that I need to save for myself.

26. Any special Christmas traditions? Listening to music while unwrapping presents, watching the Queen's address, fancy breakfast - do these count?