Here's My Future (4)

Here's My Future (4)

In Here’s My Future I’m talking about my transfer from a traditional school after seven years to an integrated, more alternative school and all the changes that this change brings for my profession.

A student recently told me something that I found astounding, not because it was a revolutionary insight, but because a 7th grader expressed it, showing an emotional depth and openness that most adults couldn’t even imagine having. We talked about some exercise and then he said: “I’ve always thought if you’re bad at something, you’ll always be bad at it. But now I see that you can actually get better! You don’t have to stay bad.” Having a kid realize that change, especially personal change, is possible, is more gratifying than you can imagine. This is still representative for my experiences at this school.

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Here's My Future (3)

Here's My Future (3)

In Here’s My Future I’m talking about my transfer from a traditional school after seven years to an integrated, more alternative school and all the changes that this change brings for my profession.

I’m sitting at my new school now, at my desk, in my room. It’s the end of my third week and I feel both exhilarated and exhausted. It has been quite a ride, so much has happened, I’ve learned and saw a lot and even if I sometimes feel frustrated, my overall feelings definitely lean more to the positive side. Here’s why.

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Here's My Future (2)

Here's My Future (2)

In Here’s My Future I’m talking about my transfer from a traditional school after seven years to an integrated, more alternative school and all the changes that this change brings for my profession.

I’m sitting at my school right now, as the minutes tick down to my grandiose, silly goodbye ceremony that I agreed upon for some obscure need for closure. It’s the kind of thing I tend to hate (and used to skip in the past), in part done by people I’m happy to never see again. But this is the end, my friend, and for some reason I feel like going through with it until it’s over. But it’s also the beginning.

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Here's My Future (1)

Here's My Future (1)

In Here’s My Future I’m talking about my transfer from a traditional school after seven years to an integrated, more alternative school and all the changes that this change brings for my profession.

This is something I had wanted to do for a while and couldn’t because it wasn’t official, but now I don’t know how to start. I have been writing critically about school very often and made it clear that I have some issues with the school I am working at right now. So, after spending a lot of (too much) time considering my situation, I decided to leave my school and find something else. This will happen soon now and I thought this is a good opportunity to first talk about the whys and whats and to continually document the changes and challenges I will encounter in the coming weeks and months, if only to process myself what is happening now. But maybe this is interesting to others to, so join me in taking a leap of faith into new territory.

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The Surface Is a Warm Blanket

The Surface Is a Warm Blanket

I made the stupid mistake of taking all the exams I had written in my classes into the holidays for correcting. Normally, I try to get them done as fast as possible and to not take too much with me in the holidays, but this time there was just no other way. Getting through those four piles of exams, I couldn’t help but notice some patterns and have some thoughts that are partially troubling to me. Here they are.

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Inventing the Child - The Genetics of Pretty Things

Inventing the Child - The Genetics of Pretty Things

I somehow imagined I’d be writing these kinds of articles more often, but one little drop in interest in books by my older daughter stops a lot of the material for them. But now it’s time for more, as I’ve found a bunch of new examples of both the bad and the good in children’s books that try to sell ideas to kids.

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Behind These Castle Walls, Part II: Pinocchio (1940)

Behind These Castle Walls, Part II: Pinocchio (1940)

For the second movie in my Disney series we get to the second animated full-length feature which is Pinocchio, released in 1940. I’d say as a movie it’s not as well known as some of the other Disney movies, while still pretty popular. Just as Snow White it is a well-made movie with great animation and interesting, creative set pieces. The story, based on a novel, was changed significantly and is at least as problematic as Snow White’s, in my opinion. While many themes are similar, some new ones are also introduced. But let’s get to the analytical details of this one, it won't be short.

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The Problem

The Problem

What’s the problem? So, you tell us Kant said that we should neither be too lazy to use our own minds, nor too scared to question authority. And that Rousseau said that we shouldn’t teach children to try to be reasonable, that school teaches us useless knowledge and that teachers just think of themselves. We get it, really, but, you know, so what? Where’s the problem?

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10 Basic Principles of Our School System, Part 10: Teacher Focus

10 Basic Principles of Our School System, Part 10: Teacher Focus

Finally, after all those weeks (actually, it’s been almost 5 months!), we get to the last part of this series. And we finish with a major issue that dictates most conversations we have about school: teachers. Teachers seem to belong to schools as much as students and the way they act in school seems natural and inevitable. It is one of the biggest problems our school system because it puts the focus in the wrong place. The focus of course is on the teachers themselves. They are the node where everything comes together and where the fate of every student is decided. One of the most common expressions when talking about school is “Well, that depends on the teacher.” Let’s break down what exactly that means.

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10 Basic Principles of Our School System, Part 9: Subjects

10 Basic Principles of Our School System, Part 9: Subjects

We’re moving closer towards the finishing line and for the penultimate chapter we look at something that’s similar to the curriculum, the idea of dividing school in different subjects to be taught. Again, it’s something we consider to be natural and hard to imagine any other way, but if you break it down, it becomes somewhat problematic (as anything else, I guess).

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I Still Want to Hear What You Have Got to Say (Even If You Don't Like Me)

I Still Want to Hear What You Have Got to Say (Even If You Don't Like Me)

It’s that time of the year again, the end of the school year, the summer seems so close and school is dragging as bad as the worst internet connection. I wrote about that time about a year ago (or, hold your hats, 203 posts ago!) and I thought it’s interesting to go back to that topic again. The topic being feedback.

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10 Basic Principles of Our School System, Part 8: Age-Based Classes

10 Basic Principles of Our School System, Part 8: Age-Based Classes

Another aspect of school that seems so essential that you don’t even think about it, which is the fact that the different classes are based on age. What does that mean exactly? It means that normally kids in grade 7 are between 12 and 13, in grade 8 between 13 and 14 and so on. That is the natural order of things, it seems. When I see kids I don’t know, I’m pretty good at guessing which class there are in and then I can convert that into an age. Not the other way around. And it works because if you’re older or younger, you are an exception to the rule. Alright, you say, but where is the problem? Well, there is more than one.

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Once Upon a Time in the Projects (Yo)

Once Upon a Time in the Projects (Yo)

Back in part 2 of my ongoing Basic Principles series, I mentioned that I had some time for experiments in my two 8th grade classes. Today I want to talk about what those experiments became, how they worked and turned out, but also what battles I had to fight over them. It’s not quite Here’s Your Future but it’s not without its ups and downs.

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An Education (2009)

An Education (2009)

An Education is a strangely unconventional film that feels more conventional than it is. It acts like a romance between two people that have to fight against conventions but turns out to be a bildungsfilm, the story of a girl growing up and becoming more mature than the adults around her. That makes it a much more powerful movie than it would have been as a tragic romance. Carey Mulligan is absolutely brilliant in the lead and after seeing her in six different movies in six wildly different roles in the last year, I believe she could play anyone. The movie is very entertaining, maybe a little slow in the middle, but especially the ending is powerful and effective.

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10 Basic Principles of Our School System, Part 7: Class Size

10 Basic Principles of Our School System, Part 7: Class Size

The amount of students in a class is a constant discussion topic for teachers. “I don’t mind 5th graders, but 30 of them in one room…!” (you can replace 5th with 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th by the way). “I don’t mind correcting exams, but 30 of them…!” “I can remember students’ names, but 30 of them…!” It always comes back to the same thing. A little amount of it would be fine, but multiplied by 20 or 30 is just too much. If a teacher gets lucky and gets a small class of 15 or even less, other teachers will look at her with jealous or dreamy eyes, fantasizing  about how awesome that would be. Maybe this is the only thing almost any teacher would agree on when it comes to problems in our school system.

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