Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Keynote:Gary Stager, ULearn'09...Answer tough questions!

Gary provoked me to be brave, to be real and affirmed an experience in my classroom many years ago...

" If a nuclear bomb was set off next to the classroom would it interrupt curriculum?". He asked.

I remember working in a school that completely ignored 911. We sat in tears in the staffroom and then proceeded back to our classrooms to supposedly do maths!?!.

I could not be an ostrich if I tried with my children telling me "It's the beginning of World War III Miss Durno!"

We walked to the service station and brought the newspapers of the day and made our own captions for images. We analyzed George's Bush's comments "He is angry because bad people crashed the planes into the firemen in the buildings." ... the destruction and emotions of people in the newspapers took over all dialogue for the entire day...

We set about to create our own newspaper of the catastrophic event because we wanted to share how we felt about 911 with other children in our words. When I shared this with the principal, excited about the depth of understanding and empathy of children for those killed in 911 she refused to have this newspaper in the school library "It's morbid, we only talk about the happy stuff with children." I took it back to the classroom and this incredible Newspaper still makes my eyes steam up and fell a knot in my throat, but I'm not afraid of that.

If I went back to that school again now I would have more courage to not only answer the 'tough questions' but to ensure my colleagues and and the leaders around me see the worth in this. Gary's strong message to me was to get excited about the real things that are challenging children's thinking, to do this grab the 'teachable moment'...

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