Tag Archives: school

Post-secondary students and composition

I’m an editor, so maybe I have an unfair advantage. But I keep having these mind-boggling experiences when asked to edit a paper written by a post-secondary student.

Years ago I considered going back to university to pursue something for the sake of learning rather than to train for a job. I talked myself out of it at the time because I thought, after so many years out of the education world, I’d be off my game. And so the idea died on the table.

But it has stuck around. Perhaps it only fell to the floor and did not get swept away entirely, so each time I get up from the table, I trip over it and have to think of it again.

And then I edit another paper for a post-secondary student and I’m reminded that if I thought I was off my game after years in the working world and away from academia, then what are these students?

Is it that the education received before post-secondary is so poor? Is the school system really failing us?

Employers have been complaining for years that every year’s new crop of graduates are not qualified for work. And some industries are scrambling for viable candidates where there are none.

So what am I waiting for? I’m no genius, but it appears that I may have a fighting chance.

(Also, apparently, short-form texting is hurting our ability to communicate in full, written sentences. Shudder.)

Experiment updates

This was the rough plan for Experiment #1:

Sometime early morning: get up, make bed, make breakfast and eat together, then clean up breakfast dishes and bake something to have later

Mid-morning: clean up baking and pull out some math problems or games

Lunch time: make lunch and eat together, then clean up

Mid-afternoon: go for a walk by the river, discover what nature has to reveal

Late afternoon: write about the river walk, read a book, play a game

After a few weeks home together and one official week of school guided by the kids’ teachers, we’ve kind of made this our routine. I’m proud of us.

There have been some adjustments, as I’d expected, but mostly, this week has been pretty good.

We don’t all eat breakfast together. (And sometimes I don’t eat at all because my son likes to do his own cooking and I take that time to get in some extra editing.)

The cleaning up is mostly left to me to do later in the day (which I often end up leaving for my husband when he gets home from work at the end of the day).

The plan for mid-morning school work has settled into a slightly different plan with my son (who is up early) logging into his Google Classroom and getting his work mostly done before his sister wakes up. She then logs in and gets her work done. School work is usually wrapped up by 11:30 am.

After that, there are a few chores to be done, some outside time and quiet time for the kids, playing, reading or drawing. Then it’s lunch and free WiFi time in the afternoon while I work. Three days a week there is online soccer training for my son.

Experiment #2 of me going outside every day hasn’t always panned out. I do think about it, but sometimes the hours just slip away and the next thing I know it’s evening and I don’t want to go out because everyone is home. I have to get better at that.

But basically, that’s where we’re at. It’s lonely being away from friends physically, but we all have tech ways to connect and we’re doing our best to stay in touch with friends and family.

I hope your physical distancing time is going well and that you’re staying safe and sane. On to the next week!

Choose hope

For work and for helping my kids and for social connection, I’ve been spending way more time on social media than I usually do. And it’s wearing me down. I take digital breaks and stay offline when I don’t have to be online, but I feel like because the whole world is dealing with a common challenge (not to put too fine a point on it), it’s harder to just step away. Especially when government and health announcements are being made hourly, it seems.

When the fight was about government cuts to education or health care or tenant rent issues or the climate, even, I felt I could step back and choose what I read and responded to. But social distancing (or physical distancing as Dr Maria Van Kerkhove at the WHO said we should be calling it) has presented challenges to coming together in a real, person-to-person way and COVID-19 is amplified in the news. It makes taking a step back hard when I need to listen to or read the daily health announcements and new rules about going outside (not to mention that what I do for work is somewhat tied up in all the employment related fall-out from COVID-19, so I’m reading this stuff all day anyway).

There’s no break from it. And it gets nasty a lot of the time. Despite what Dan Gardner says:

So, why, if it’s a myth that disasters cause people to panic and the social order to collapse, is everyone being so nasty?

I have an idea. Why don’t we all stop griping and start helping.

In the last few weeks, the last few days especially, while we’re ALL just trying to get through this strange new reality we find ourselves in, I haven’t seen much in the way of support on either side of the political divide, from politicians or the general public. On the left, everyone’s screaming because the right is using COVID-19 to push their online learning agenda. On the right, everyone’s complaining about the money being spent & the power being acquired by the government in a bid to help people.

I get it; I don’t see the full picture, and neither does anyone else, because we curate our news from social media where we mostly just follow people who share our beliefs. But what if we just tried to work on things together instead of assuming that the other side was out to get us or put one over on us? It’s like reading a bunch of mean girl notes passed back and forth between kids on social media.

I may sound na├»ve, but I am going to choose to believe that the only way through this is by working together. It’s what I’m always saying to my kids: Learn to work together. Find a common point and work outwards from that center. The options you come up with may be far out, but keeping an open mind and working together to get all the ideas on the table will help you both get where you want to be.

I understand that teachers have reservations about grading their students given so many different circumstances, but I think what we have to remember, as well, is that not all students face barriers.

For the ones who do, we have to work together to find a solution…and there is one, I truly believe that. We just have to be creative and put all the ideas on the table, even the crazy ideas. For the ones who don’t face the technological and social barriers, we have to keep them engaged.

I’m not trying to minimize the challenges we’re facing. But we have great minds in this province. Let’s put them to work instead of using them to constantly complain on social media about how bad all of the current plans are and all the ways that it’s not going to work.

I am choosing to be encouraged by the TDSB’s Director of Education’s recent videos to students and parents about how schooling is moving forward starting on April 6. He didn’t give much in the way of details, but he gave hope that something is being done. And I know the teachers and staff are all working tirelessly to make the best of a bad situation. This is what humans do. This is how we have survived on this planet. We’ve been so pampered with material things in the last century that we have forgotten how to survive and we’ve become a bunch of whiny wimps. Together we’re stronger. Left and Right.

We’re all in this together. Choose hope, have faith, work together.

The experiment begins

Today is Day 1 of what the Ontario government is calling Learn at home.

I spent a good chunk of yesterday prepping for how we’ll move forward over the coming weeks with this new reality.

I started by jotting down my expectations. I want my kids to learn, to be engaged and to feel good about themselves.

The way they won’t accomplish these things is clear: lots of screen time.

The ways they will accomplish these things is more work on everyone’s part, but more rewarding overall: being creative, learning something new (anything, I’m not just talking academics here), practicing being a better human (kindness, helpfulness, creating beauty [or just creating for the sake of it]).

At dinner, we all talked about what the coming weeks might look like. I explained to my kids that things are in flux and we’re going to take it day by day. There are no hard rules on how we have to do things every day. Some days, I’ll be really busy with work and I won’t have as much time for them. Other days, I’ll be able to take some time off and do things with them rather than just guiding them to do it on their own. The point is, we have to work together.

Because my kids are used to the school schedule, they both immediately jumped to the question of when is recess. This highlighted to me that what I’m working with is programmed kids. And I would love to get them away from that kind of thinking and toward more holistic thinking. I think for me that’s it. It’s not about a schedule:

8:00 am: get up, make bed, have breakfast

9:00 am: do math worksheets

10:00 am: write in journal

10:30 am: snack break and play in the backyard

11:00 am: read

12:00 pm: lunch


I don’t want our days to look like that. There’s no opportunity for deep learning or engagement there.

This is my idea for our days:

Sometime early morning: get up, make bed, make breakfast and eat together, then clean up breakfast dishes and bake something to have later

Mid-morning: clean up baking and pull out some math problems or games

Lunch time: make lunch and eat together, then clean up

Mid-afternoon: go for a walk by the river, discover what nature has to reveal

Late afternoon: write about the river walk, read a book, play a game

And this would be in flux. The next day, there might be a craft or art or engineering project that captures the attention and takes hours to work through. The point is deep engagement, being in the zone, finding flow.

When asked for their input on screen time, my daughter thought that one hour at lunch with her phone would be good to keep in touch with her friends. (Personally, I thought it was a little restrictive to just have one hour a day to talk to friends that she would normally see all day. I worry about how this online-only communication is going to change how we all interact. But I’m going to try not to worry, because the results may surprise me.)

And that’s where I’m at as I sit on the cusp of Day 1. To help my kids get used to this new routine, I’m going to stick closer to the school routine, and they’ll start Day 1 with breakfast and then worksheets that they received from their teachers on their last day in class. I have other resources and things for them that I curated yesterday during my prep time (and alone time in the house, which rarely happens anymore since I’m working from home and my kids are off school). I’ll pull those out as needed, but right now, it’s day by day, one day at a time, and all other related idioms.

How are you faring? What are your plans for the coming weeks?