As I’m still preparing my Halloween Wrap-Up post (I’ve been so busy at work during this time), I want to leave this awesome video that talks about the history of cemeteries throughout the world. We don’t often want to think about these things, but it’s actually really good and pretty healthy to acknowledge death and its many aspects. This time of year has so many rituals that surround the celebration and remembrance of those who’ve died, aligning quite well with the season of autumn.
Enjoy and happy holidays!
EDIT: While you’re at it, here’s a video about Belphegor’s Prime! I’m not really a huge maths nerd, but I’ve been finding it more interesting as I’ve gotten older (and away from the traditional school model of learning it).
One of the things that gets on my nerves is that we often don’t consider disabilities. This is something that I’m actually really happy with in my current school. As a person with learning disabilities (audio processing disorder, ADHD, and dyslexia) who is also a teacher, it’s nice to be in an environment where my voice is (frequently) heard. However, the community at large still has a lot to learn about people with physical disabilities.
Which is why I love this series by Mark Brown of the Game Maker’s Toolkit. Partnering with or interviewing people who are actually impacted by this, he’s been working on a series of designing video games to be better for people with different disabilities. But these are ideas that can be incorporated everywhere, so it’s definitely a channel that I just love (especially because they have so many videos that just fit a lot of teachable moments and make me wonder how to incorporate them in class).
How do I make students more aware of designing their projects for people with hearing-related disabilities? How do I make sure they pay attention to colours that might impact people with colourblindness or low vision? These are questions that I often wonder as a teacher. Am I designing my classroom in functional ways to meet student needs? Are my assessments accessible for all of the students? How can I scaffold them to make them more accessible, either for students who also have learning disabilities or to make sure that they’re easy to understand and have explicit instructions?
I love these videos, though. They make me think a lot about what I teach and how I teach, and I’m definitely looking forward to designing for individuals for cognitive disabilities.
Donna Strickland recently became the first woman in 55 years to win the Nobel Prize in Physics, which is amazing news! She deserves to be acknowledged for the work that she’s done, and it’s one more glimmer of hope in a world where women have been working but are often ignored or overlooked.
Yet, Wikipedia initially decided that a submission for her didn’t meet their standards because the “references [did] not show that the subject qualifies for a Wikipedia article.” Interestingly, you can find a number of absurd articles on Wikipedia that are socially amusing but are not absolutely relevant. You know, things like calculator spelling.
Anyway, due to the dearth of women scientists on Wikipedia, people have put forth a lot of collective work to fix that problem. Many of the people working on this project are doing so in order to help us realise that there are more women scientists than the handful that we know while also ensuring that these popular women are known on their own terms.
What this shows is that we have a lot of work to do. As educators, we need to ensure that we’re making our classes more diverse (even if our demographics are not). We need to make sure that we encourage all of our students to do what they enjoy and are good at, even in subjects that might not interest them. We have to show more of the world, more reality, and given them the guidance to critically analyse their thoughts and the messages that others present.
Though, all of this is also despite my distaste for the way that the Nobel Prizes are designed; there are no doubt other scientists, particularly women or people of colour, working behind the scenes who will never receive enough credit for any of the work they ever do, while the person leading the project will be remembered for all of recorded history. This is all despite the fact that this just isn’t how science is really done; one person, on their own, is not making those contributions.
So we also need to make sure that we properly credit groups and teach students that, within groups, the contributions of other can be meaningful (while also teaching them how to constructively criticise their peers, especially those who may not engage with the work as much).
One of the things that I really want to get my students to be able to do, especially when I start working with them on Community Projects, is to get them to be able to write their own units on topics that they care about. One of the people that I credit with this is someone who I follow on Twitter: Prisonculture. They’re super involved in projects related to education, prison reform, shifting views on crime and violence, and many more. I’ve seen a lot of unit plans or educational plans come from their related projects, but I recently saw one that was made for Survived and Punished, a group that aims to help stop the criminalisation of survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Now, I’m not planning to bring that exact unit plan into my classroom (because the target audience for it isn’t meant to be for students of my age range), but it made me think: What if they took topics that they really cared about and were pushed to create a lesson about them? What if they became the teacher, even for one lesson? For students who will be doing Community Projects (Grade 8 next year, possibly Grade 9 this year to prepare them for next year’s Personal Projects), I feel like this would be a really good component to their work because it will force them to present it in an engaging way (and also, maybe hopefully, teach them what it’s like to be on my side of the equation).