Walking in nature

I’m back from my leave, and thinking back already to some wonderful walking in England and Scotland, especially in the Lake District and on Skye.

I needed the break, and the restorative and recuperative power that walking in nature can give me. There’s something meditative about walking, especially in a beautiful place, that helps things connect somehow.

Now, I’m looking forward to getting back to work, re-connecting with colleagues and students, and firing up Outlook and surveying the damage there! I also intend to re-start the posting and thinking process here about issues and inter-connections in teaching, learning and technology.

Meanwhile, enjoy this view of Skye.  (Photo:me!)
Skye, Scotland

Winter sunset

Windy sunset

No, I don’t intend wandering off into the sunset, but I am on leave from now through term 3 in my first break like this in over twenty years. So, I won’t be blogging much about education in that time. Instead, I’ll be doing some of my own poetry and textbook writing, taking some photos like the one above, last night at Mornington Pier, riding the bike and getting stuck into some of those jobs around the house that have teased me for ages. And, I’ll be travelling to Europe at the end of July: to Holland, France, England and Scotland.

I hope to be blogging back here in Term 4. I  hope you all have a great term.

Happy Holidays

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Teaching is an odd profession in some ways isn’t it? I think I’ve said this before! The timetabled unstoppability of it, the emotional investment (and roller-coaster) that’s part’s of working closely with young people who come to you at all stages of their learning journey. The four-term (I could graph this) rises and lows of energy, workload and feedback. And, at the end you say goodbye and start again. Some keep in touch. Others you never see again.

Last week I went into work and picked up my Lit class results and sat and thought for a little while about all the stories in those scores. Every year some students delight and surprise you, others don’t go as well as you hoped or expected. How can you predict that? What can you do better? Every year I ask myself if there’s something I could (should?) have done for that student who was just off the radar a little, or who didn’t know how to ask you the right questions or didn’t how how to think differently.

So, the ‘down-time’, the summer holidays is a place to start again, to think again, to walk down to the beach and plunge yourself into a different world. After a week of holidays I’m already sleeping better and feeling fitter. And, I’m starting to think about next year, and what to do different.

To all those teachers (and students) who have followed these musings this year, and maybe even have responded, thanks. And enjoy the holiday season.

The Fresh Air Fund

Sometimes, believe it or not, learning takes place without technology. Outside even, in the open air.

  • The Fresh Air Fund is a volunteer hosting organisation that aims to give NY city kids a holiday in the country, and they’re looking for volunteers to help. I love the things these kids up to. I want to laugh in the sunshine myself!
  • Playing in the backyard
  • Laughing in the sunshine
  • Catching fireflies
  • Riding bicycles
  • Learning to swim
  • Running barefoot through the grass
  • Gazing at the stars on moonlit nights
  • Building sandcastles
  • Making new friends
  • Simple pleasures of life away from the inner-city

If you’re reading this in the New York area, maybe you can help out? Watch the video and you might get inspired:

Bushfire Reality

It’s been a terrible few days in Victoria, with news of the bushfires growing darker and darker as the days go by. I was in Sydney on Saturday and glad to be out of the heat and turned on the news casually late Saturday night. Watching the news no-one seemed to realise the enormity of the event.  Talk of five or six dead, then a dozen, then forty. As I write the death toll stands at 181 and is likely to rise even further.

There’s shock and disbelief and sadness.  Anger will come.  I don’t know the areas affected well but have had contact with it over the years.  A weekend with friends in the Yarra Valley last year is a memory of a wonderful place in perfect weather.  How different it all was on the weekend.

In 2007 I accompanied the Science teachers of our College as we had a two day professional development seminar in Marysville.  It was a great weekend, and we stayed at an old guest house, corridors lined with old photos of Marysville and its rich logging past.  On the second morning I borrowed a mountain bike from the owners and rode around Marysville getting a feel for the place and the beautiful setting.  I took some photos and made a little video of the creek. It seems that Marysville is no more.

Today, in it’s wrap-around coverage of the fires,  the Herald-Sun published the first pictures of some of the victims. Normal looking snapshot photos, of families smiling in normal looking family events.  I’ve sat in front of the TV this week a bit stunned and sad, but these pictures brought it home to me, that these are people, not numbers.

And then later in the day in class, a student in tears telling me that her family had lost their farm, and three close neighbours.

I remember Ash Wednedsay and the dark ash washing up on the beach at Gunamatta Beach and we thought it would never happen again. It’s all been a bit unreal, but looking at the Google Fire Map I’m reminded that it’s still only February and that summer has some time to go yet.