Due to lack of funding, my short-term teaching contract at a local high school runs out in early April 2014 and I am looking for work.
Below is the required self-promotion in an abbreviated resume format. I hope you get a sense of the person behind these words.
Bachelor of Education (Secondary – Society & Environment major/English minor), Master of Education (Research – Thesis on cultural identity of refugee students and social equity), PhD candidature (Parental views of NAPLAN).
Secondary school teacher (10 years) – Humanities (S&E, English, Geography, History, Philosophy & Ethics, Economics, Career & Enterprise), specialty – work with disengaged youth.
ICT integrator, e-learning designer, presenter, trainer, administrator in school, university, corporate and government sector.
Tertiary sector educator, publisher, researcher – work with pre-service teachers, active research, journal publishing at Murdoch University School of Education.
Professional sports – played and coached water polo, male and female, junior to international level, over 100 caps for Australia, Sydney 2000 Olympic squad member.
Beneath and beyond my work history lie years of experience in a number of fields.
I have had a significant online presence as a commentator, blogger, tweeter, participant in a number of communities since 2004 (well before Twitter and Facebook). In these spaces I mostly discuss creative use of technology in education, educational equity and sociology of schooling.
Years of reading, writing, research and participation in education in a number of settings have given me deep understanding of education, learning theories, and edu-policy initiatives. SAMR, BYOD, AITSL, PISA, ACARA, NAPLAN, ERG … throw an edu-acronym at me and there is a very good chance I will know what it means and does.
I have travelled extensively, particularly in my elite sports playing and coaching years, and speak several languages. I value family as a husband, a father of two primary school boys. I espouse healthy, active lifestyle and community participation as a long standing member of a local primary P&C council.
Working WITH people and building relationships. As frustrating as it may be at times, I am at my very best with people – colleagues, clients, students, juniors to adults, beginners to elite. I uphold high ethical standards whoever I work with. Unless being insincere, many who have worked with me say that I am ‘creative’, ‘innovative’, that I ‘inspire’ and ‘lead’ well.
From early April 2014, possibly earlier if needed, someone can have this person on their staff.
I would greatly appreciate if you could consider, pass on, link to or otherwise let people know about my availability.
But wait … there’s more. If you would care to contribute to my profile, please write something appropriate about me in either the comments below or add a recommendation on my profile at LinkedIn. Every little bit helps, all truly appreciated!
This post has no expletives, unlike the much liked and first ‘Letting go‘. Maybe this is just a poor sequel, like in the movies. But just like the orginal, I write this with some emotion.
I write after a message from a friend in the USA. She is grieving over a tragic loss of two teens at her school. Violent loss of horrible kind, by the hand of someone they should never fear (sadly, only a few days ago, I too found out that a dear friend from former Yugoslavia died a gruesome, self-inflicted death a few months ago).
I write remembering my first ever lesson as a teacher 12 years ago. As part of ‘get to know’ you, I asked kids to write significant good and bad events in their lives. ‘My mum died and dad went to jail’ one 13 year old wrote and asked me not to read it aloud. Later, I found out that the father went to jail for murdering his wife in front of the kids.
I write remembering crashing the school toilet cubicle where a 15 year old girl lay drunk and unconscious in a pool of blood running from her slit wrists (she was saved).
I write remembering restraining a 13 year old schoolkid from suddenly jumping off the first floor balcony after being teased and bullied.
I write remembering the day when a young, 14 year old Indigenous student ran out of my class, only for me to physically try to stop him hanging himself a few minutes later. As we calmed down and walked towards the sick bay, his classmate hugged him and said: “It sucks when it doesn’t come off doesn’t it?”
I write after asking a class of a dozen teens to put their hand up if they know someone close and young who got killed or killed themselves – and a dozen hands went up.
I write knowing I could keep writing, sadly so.
I am not making this stuff up or embellishing it to extract some kind of sympathy or pity. None of these people wanted that either. All they probably wanted was empathy, someone to listen to them, understand them and maybe help them if needed.
We swim in anxieties and fears, seduced and accelerated by various ‘races to the top’. We are made increasingly anxious in accelerated societies obsessed with control, measurement, achievement, performance and ‘continuous improvement’. We blame the youth as ‘narcissistic’ and ‘immoral’ (what’s new…) but fail to acknowledge the surrounding rise in our collective seeing of relationships as calculations of their utility: what good is or could this person be to me?
In such environments, occasionally letting go of the fathomless striving, norms and expectations, just slowing down a little, listening and considering is a hard thing to do (and no, it can’t be measured). Before you think I’m romanticising, ‘letting go’ has its discomforts and pressures. From not being ‘part of the team’, potential material and symbolic losses to the extremes of ‘letting go’ in destructive ways mentioned above. These were people who had been ignored, pushed, brought to the edge by themselves or others. But safely letting go and seeing what is really, really important is vital. Literally.
Please, listen to the kids in your care. Laugh with them, challenge them, pull them by the bootstraps when needed, cut them some slack other times. Find the vents in them and yourself to ‘let go’ in a safe, but neither in a fakely sterile nor utterly destructive way.
Please – do not ignore them, no matter how rich or poor or dark or fat or young or blind or white or deaf or smart or troubled they are.
PS This one is for you Pam, the school community and the families of the kids lost. Thoughts with you all.
If you or any people you care about experience crisis, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (Australia). Other countries have a similar service too, please find out and share the number to call.
What the clip doesn’t show is how much my whole family enjoyed staying in Sydney for a few days. I live in Perth but I have always liked Sydney and know my way around it, ever since my water polo days.
It was great to catch up with Malyn Mawby but I sadly missed a few other Sydney/NSW tweeps who were busy or away last weekend. Ah well, not in town for the last time, I’d gladly come back (just need a good excuse 😉 ).
Enjoying a complete week off running and look forward to the clip bringing in a few more dollars for a very, very worthy cause. Shameless, I know !
PS Thank you all donors so far. Special thanks to Allan Christie and team at NetSpot. I lost the bet (under 4 hours for extra $250) but I honestly did the best I could on an unusually hot and windy day.
Yesterday, I completed my second marathon (2011 Perth Marathon). Nothing spectacular about it, just a lot of honest effort in training before and on the day. Despite a solid time improvement on the first one (17 minutes), a series of painful cramps over the last 17 kilometres left a feeling that I could have done a lot better time wise.
I thought I’d NEVER say that but I do love a marathon. The length of the course, the camaraderie, support and shared struggle with fellow runners, the collective doggedness to drag yourself/each other over the line no matter what, the cheers from the spectators and high-fives with family members, all while listening to and managing one’s body along way is a wonderfully … human thing. It is truly an adventure that no matter how good your prep and plan is will simply throw its surprises, good and bad, at you along the way to deal with.
Later this year I’m running another marathon – 2011 Sydney Marathon on September 19. Apart from a finishing time goal, I have another and a lot more important goal to achieve in Sydney. I hope you can help me with it – details here.
Last night, my wife and I saw Helix. Helix is not your ‘typical’ ballet. It’s a solo performance by Daryl Brandwood, an accomplished Western Australian Ballet dancer. The ballet was created collaboratively with and for Daryl by Barry Moreland, a family friend and a well known name in the world of choreography.
The blurb has it like this:
Marrying medical science, film and dance, Helix spirals audiences into the human condition. It invites us to contemplate what it is to be human, and what our responsibilities are to ourselves, each other, and to the world in which we live…And it does so with a dazzling touch of good old-fashioned show biz. Helix is dance at its most exhilarating – visually rich and choreographically arresting.
Indeed, it is a stunning mixture of medical imagery, Daryl’s own voice(over), evocative micro and macro images of the world we share and clever lighting on a minimalist stage. Along, Daryl seamlessly ‘speaks’ with his body using a mixture of classic, contemporary and fun, entertaining movements to look at life through his own body, his own story and one we end up sharing.
Now, I could not speak to you about the technical merits of Daryl’s performance. I could not tell you how ‘good’ it was in an ‘industry’ comparison of similar shows. Many of the moves seemed superfluous, with little meaning by themselves but, like daubs of paint or musical notes or conversations we have in our lives, they evoked, created patterns as a whole. And like any great art does – it moved, affected me, lingered with me to type this story upon the return to the mundane daily train commute.
It was an absolute joy to watch Daryl enjoy himself on the stage, converting the hundreds of hours of practice into seemingly effortless movement. We watched in awe a person who loves what he is doing, no matter how challenging it often is (ballet dancers are some of the very fittest people among us!).
Dance feeds Daryl’s soul. Watching Helix was a beautiful reminder on the importance of feeding one’s soul.
PS (Perth, WA) locals – steal a ticket if you must!
I had never liked running. In fact, I had quite disliked it. Unless I had to, I’d never ran more than a few kilometres in training (water polo) or entered a big city fun run every few years.
It all changed last March. I got a ‘sedentary’ job at Moodle HQ after a decade spending days on my feet in either the classroom teaching or the side of the pool coaching. Within a couple of weeks, I got fidgety and went for a lunchtime run. About 4km at a leisurely pace … thought I was going to die 😛
A few runs later I started feeling fitter, the positive feedback loop began again, 10 years after leaving elite-level sport, and … the rest is (recent) history. Since that lunchtime run I’ve clocked up over 1500km, I now regularly run between 30 and 50km a week, I’ve finished a couple of half-marathons and a full marathon (and aiming to run Perth (June) & Sydney (Sep) marathons this year) but most importantly – I am a lot healthier and happier, not to mention lighter and fitter (Faster? Meh, a little I suppose …)
But my absolute favourite are the long, slow runs. Every Saturday, or sometimes Sunday, I take off at 5am and run between 20 and 32 km. It is a moving meditation. Fresh air, just me and the path, the rising sun, usually along the river, watching the glassy, misty river waking up, spotting birds and sometimes graceful duets of dolphins along the way, a whole set of favourite tunes in the background in my ear, while listening to my body and noting what is going on. Sometimes I push it a bit, most of the times I simply amble along for two, three hours straight. I do wear a GPS timer and all that but so often, kilometres and pace just don’t matter. I get totally immersed in the simple act of running yet so often come up, totally randomly, with great ideas for other areas in my life.
I have a clear goal that requires a reasonable effort, it is achievable but I do need to work hard for it, I receive direct, instant and constant feedback, I have a sense of control and the whole thing is intrinsically rewarding (yeah, it is called ‘flow’ and many have described and experienced it since the ancient times).
It’s (only) running I know, but imagine these to be the guiding principles of what we do (at least for most of our time) in our classrooms and lecture theatres. How can we help our students, and ourselves, experience ‘the flow’ as often as we/they can by learning and doing? Not (just) ‘how do we ‘cover’ what the government syllabus requires’ and similar?
Dreamy? Unrealistic? Childish? Rose-coloured views? Yeah, so were my 30k-morning-runs a year ago. And so was perhaps that task you were so totally immersed, absorbed in you forgot to even eat (sadly, for many people that stretches back to their childhood).
‘I have a naive trust in the universe – that at some level it all makes sense, and we can get glimpses of that sense if we try.’ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, well-known researcher of ‘flow’
PS This is a totally self-indulgent post on a hobby of mine. I am neither some fast or experienced runner, nor am I trying to get you to start running (feel free to do so though…). I simply thought I’d share, in context, something I have experienced myself and something I have seen, sometimes the smallest glimpses of, in my classes. Powerful, memorable stuff!
On the way to work this morning, a dishevelled, confused, coughing and sick-looking man in his fifties stepped into our train carriage. The train was reasonably full with morning city commuters, just about all of them (usually ‘us’ but not this morning for some reason) plugged in to some device or immersed in a book or conversation on the phone or in person.
The man started mumbling what seemed like a question. Once, twice, not too loudly but enough to be heard by say 25 people. A woman to my right was updating her Facebook, a man left to me was texting someone. A few people raised their eyebrows, but nobody cared to listen to this man. Almost in synch, a woman sitting across from and myself addressed the man and tried to make sense of what he was trying to do.
After a couple of minutes, we worked out that he simply wanted to know if this train stops at a particular station. We assured him it does, but he was still somewhat apprehensive. We suggested listening to the announcement (not so easy with a crappy sound of auto-announcer in a noisy train) and the map on the wall. “I can’t read well” the man managed to state with a hushed tone, seemingly embarrassed. The woman, fellow passenger, asked loudly if someone is getting off at the particular station in question. One hand came up and a young man agreed to remind our confused, scared traveller when they arrive there.
The woman next to me lifted her eyes once and kept fiddling around with Facebook, reminding me of this classic.
This is not about bagging electronic devices and Facebook and the likes. It’s about helping others. Since we are social animals, it is not surprising that the biggest, most satisfying, inner and lasting happiness comes from helping, sharing and serving others. This is one of the major reasons why all this social media is spreading like wildfire through the very fabric of our community and shapes who we are becoming, always and never-endingly. The beauty of Twitter, for example, is not in publishing but in @ replies and serendiptious connections you make, “thank you’s” you sometimes generate quite inadvertently.
By all means help the newbies, expand, connect, collaborate with friends and strangers around the planet – just don’t forget those friends and strangers in need you can see, hear, smell around you.
Feels like a year ago since I unfairly nominated only a few people for The Edublog Awards 2009. Unfairly because there are so many I would like to thank and mention but you know how the Oscar speeches go, right …?
And because we ‘need a winner’, for all the reasons above and because he fell of his bike this year and because he is simply a top bloke (not suggesting Ira and Dave aren’t!), and not because it would look like I’m returning the favour … my Best Edu-Blog 2010 nomination goes to Mark Drechsler’s Join the dots.
Thank you Mark.
Best individual tweeter
I’ve talked to literally hundreds over Twitter this year but there is one helluva lucid, quick, feisty and damn eloquent, oustanding tweeter out there whose name I’ve already mentioned above – Ira Socol. This is not some sort of consolation for missing out on Best Blog (I am SURE Ira will live and deal with it OK 😀 ) but simply because he is – the best.
Go Gunners and thank you Ira for all your tweets (serious and less so), sharp insights, @, RTs, DMs and connections made over the year(s).
Best resource sharing blog
Well, Moodlenews, run by Joseph Thibault definitely takes the honour in my eyes this year. Joe started the Moodlemonthly just over a year ago and has since developed into a wonderfully diverse and consistent source of news and all kinds of Moodle-related items.
Thank you Joe and keep up the great work in 2011!
Most influential blog post
Another ‘Mission Impossible’ with so many. But the one that really goes to the nub of so much edu-effort (and missed by most of edu-chatter brigade) was recently penned by Jonathan Powles, called ‘Knowledge and Learning; Our Imaginary Friends‘. I wont tell you what it is about, please read it yourself.
Best teacher blog
OK, broken record “so many to chose…” But I have always lurked at, read and enjoyed Graham Wegner‘s Open Educator. Reflective, caring, no-bull writing by a man who is a passionate and expert teacher. Enough said!
Cheers Graham, please keep writing.
Best school administrator blog
The first time I nominated this guy I called him something like “a leader who leaps a 20ft chasm with a 30ft leap (bit of a waste, really 😉 ) – not two 10ft steps”. I remain firm in that observation and I’d be running to have him as my school administrator.
I know it’s kinda awkward nominating people for ‘lifetime achievement’ (“What? I’m not dead yet!”), nevertheless I would like to acknowledge the fabulous and tireless work done by Steve Hargadon over many years in his passionate quest to connect educators around the world and champion Open Source initiatives all along.
Thank you Steve and sorry for that broken child lock in the back of my car on the way to dinner in Perth 😀 would love to share a meal again one day soon.
Is this a man’s world?
No, this isn’t an award but an acknowledgment that somehow all my nominees are male. Not deliberately I assure, nor am I courting the ‘women’s vote’.
I would simply like to acknowledge the professional friendships of many women over the year(s) – names like Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach for our rapid fire edu-philosophy Twitter-bursts, Helen Foster , the wonderful Moodle Community Manager who steadied my ship many times in my inaugural year at Moodle HQ, Veronica Emery for our enduring friendship and sharing of ideas after (my) leaving school, Jan Green for her care, Penny Coutas and Jean Anning for sharing and organising many of our local get-togethers, wonderfully crazy Sue Hickton for sharing of the most irreverent tweets and hashatgs, the incredibly helpful Jo Hart locally and Maryel Mendiola internationally … and I could just keep going here (maybe I will in the next few days actually).
But since we are singling people out here tonight, fairly or not, a woman I would love to meet and thank in person (in 2011) is the incredibly helpful, professional and the kindest of Moodle fairies 😉 there are. Mary Cooch – take a bow.
Daryl Howe is a runner. He has completed a number of marathons around the world – London, New York, ‘Two Oceans’ in South Africa and many more. He usually makes the 42.2km long course in just over five hours (elite athletes do it in just over two, majority around four hours).
But he is a star, a legend, a great fundraiser and an inspiration to many of us. Why ? What do you think ? Just pause for a second …
Thinking along the lines of “is he a kid or something…” or “is there’s something wrong with him? Disability of some kind? Age?” Probably, I guess.
“I think Darryl ran in a relay team for this years Perth marathon.
He came slapping past me at about the 39k mark and told me I had a ‘great gait’
There was something delightfully precious about that moment”
We see him as an inspiration because he has himself altered the ‘transactional space’ (an eloquent, must-read primer on that concept by Ira Socol) of what a medically and socially constructed ‘(ab)normal’ person would do. He may not have the prettiest running style (it is indeed awfully awkward [see the video clip below] and Daz doesn’t need anyone to tell him that – he even cracks jokes about it) but he is not ‘impaired’ to run a marathon faster than many ‘able bodied’ (is that still the awful going nomenclature?) marathoners.
Often, he may not be able, to borrow Ira’s words “negotiate the world, or a specific corner of the world, the way others have set it up” and for it, he has probably seen more than his fair share of eyes of insidious pity. But he kicks butt of many over the 42.2 kilometres! Running is his special ‘space’. It’s not some kind of ticket to normality but a place where his capabilities meet the world we share, each of us differently.
For my 2 cents, Daryl reminds me/us of the immanence of ‘normality’, the normality within us. And the more we are able to accept, as opposed to tolerate, normality as something infinitely malleable and made ‘shareable’ a lot easier by either devices, people or combination of these, the richer our individual and collective lives will be.
PS I did finish this year’s Rottnest Marathon, my very first 42.2 km over a hilly, windy but a beautiful course. Thanks to many for your congrats over Twitter & other ways. I got over the line just over an hour faster than Daryl, with whom I shared a beer and a chat at the pub later that day.
Tonight, I went to an evening with Steve Biddulph (well, a moderated screening of a presentation elsewhere), an Australian author who has written a number of parenting books with particular focus on boys. His ‘Raising Boys‘ is the only parenting book I admit to have read … because I don’t exactly read those.
The night was a treat and I’d like to share some of the insights, almost in point format. Some, many, all of them you may already know and may just confirm the job you’ve been doing. But maybe they strike your chord too…
A brave man
Firstly, Steve was facing a room full of parents, as he put it “as some guy, one of those ‘experts’ that have popped up in the last few decades telling parents how to do the job we’ve been doing for millions of years’. Brave soul but with sharp insight and a sense of humour.
Why are boys ‘the problem’ at school
He went through the familiar developmental ground (boys’ bodies, brains develop differently to girls) and I was glad he touched on school a little too (from “the body is telling the boy ‘move me’ but that’s not exactly valued in a class” to “…ridiculous to expect all boys, and girls for that matter, to enter school based on their year of birth”).
Wiped out within a generation
Steve talked a lot about the sudden (within a generation) loss of something present for millennia – boys growing up with grown up men and having them around, constantly. With the advent of Industrial Revolution suddenly men were at work all day, largely removed from boys’ lives in mentoring, guiding, nurturing role (“don’t start me on education” I mumbled to myself at that point…), which has caused an enormous upheaval in practices and bonds within families and entire communities, the effects of which are still so clearly evident today.
Love what you’ve got, not the ‘ideal’
With fathers and sons removed for large amounts of time, they both invested in the creation of the ‘ideal’ other. Even today we know and see fathers who wanted their sons to be uni professors saw them become plumbers (or the other way around), addicts not leaders, battling debilitating illness not thriving as world-class athletes. You can fill the blanks the other way. Bottom line – the two ideals rarely meet. Embrace and love what you’ve got, not bemoan the ‘deficit’ to ideal.
Learn on the fly, just in time
Bringing up boys, well parenting in general, is not about following some grand plan or 5 points from October edition of Good Parenting Magazine down to perfection. It’s about learning on-the-fly, just-in-time, constantly adjusting and … learning. Learning not to be perfect but to be, in the words of a wonderful psychologist and author Irvin Yalom: “just good enough”.
The three stages
According to a large body of research (I trust Steve on that one…), boys’ mothers are their world until about the age of six. At around six, boys begin to crave masculinity and while they may still be holding mum’s hand, they are, in Steve’s eloquent way, “downloading how to be a male” from men (closest) around them physically and emotionally. Male role-models are hugely important. At around 14, the massive testosterone spike in boys calls for ‘significant others’ in their lives – a mature person (usually NOT parents) they can talk to openly. Your friends, family, (even) people like kids’ teachers, mentors, coaches are crucial so nurture them well to be there for your boy(s).
The difference between boys and men
Even when playing rough and tumble (very important!) with a 4 year old boy you may need to state one or two rules to stop you being hurt (if you have ever copped a kick or an elbow in parts of your body you’d rather not … you know!). Whenever you can, extend the invitation to responsbility: “Can you handle it?”
Handling emotions and their bodies in the way that does not hurt other people is what separates boys from men (sadly, many never grow up in that department…).
Respect for women
Steve painted the time-honoured scenario: A teenage boy realising he is stronger than his mum and refusing to cooperate. After hearing a brief heated exchange between frustrated mother and surly teenager, the father walks in and utters the, again time-honoured words: “Don’t speak to your mother in that tone of voice!”
Not to intimidate or save the poor mother who couldn’t handle the situation but to send a consistent message to the boy “you may be strong but you still have things to learn” (a very alpha male moment by the way 😀 ), a message of support to the mother and a message that women, or anyone else that may be (physically) weaker, are to be respected.
What about single mums?
In families where the father wasn’t or just barely present, mothers who have brought up wonderful kids have consistently (over the past 30+ years Steve has been working on this) resorted to one particular tactic – they “made sure that the kids knew what a good man looked like”. It didn’t mean to marry them, even live with them, but to have a reliable, positive male role-model in their lives.
Don’t forget the heart
Boys are surrounded by images of toughness but they are such awkward, unsure creatures who need both “a backbone and a heart”. They don’t need to be turned into full-time ‘sensitive new age guys’ (huh, that term still around ? :D) but better not have their feelings and inner side ignored.
Housework hero is more than that
Get your boy(s) to let’s say .. cook a meal one day a week by the age of 10 (old enough to handle sharp, hot and have the insight for causal consequences). This is not because you the parent can’t cook (or buy ;P ) a meal. It is to get them to be a hero and realise one of those fundamental differences in obtaining happiness.
The biggest, most satisfying, inner and lasting happiness comes from helping, sharing and serving others, not from the things you buy (and with which you are bombarded every day).
” ‘Quality time’ is crap!”
Spend time with your kids. Be there. Childhood is made of memories, even not all good ones. Time equals love and love never runs on schedule. You never know when you’ll get a moment you will remember on your deathbed with a smile. If you can, spend less of the limited, dedicated ‘quality time’ (yes, circumstances vary, of course), just hang around instead and wait for those life-affirming, random moments, hours, days …
Steve’s presentation ended on the final note about spending time, as above. Most of this is common sense, some of it kinda presumes a bit idealistically, but it did get me thinking beyond my immediate experience of being a father to two boys. I asked myself: What could this mean if you work with other kids?
To start, take your neighbour’s kid out fishing, playing football or down to the library next time you go with your kids. As a parent, friend, teacher (hugely important!), community member … be thoughtful in things you say and do – as a significant other (often unknown to you!), you may well be emulated. Cultivate, model friendships and treating people with respect. See the person, not a statistic in front of you, see what they are good at not see their ‘deficit’ from imaginary ideal …
Good parenting and good teaching are so damn close are they not?
Take it or leave what you can from this post, but, as I occasionally ‘sign off’ for a day on Twitter – kiss your kids and tell them you love them. Often.