About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Concussions in hockey: A glocal issue?

This blog has a focus on glocal issues, usually framed in the context of education.

An article I read today, and personal experience with my son's hockey team, has got me thinking about concussions. Not exactly what I had in mind when I started this blog!

But I think we could make a good case that concussions are about education.

And, they are not just a "local" issue.

Here's the article that got me thinking:

Why are Canadian universities blocking concussion research?

Now, I think there may be problems with Dr. Echlin's methodology but the core of his research is intriguing and certainly addresses a troubling issue: Are we condoning an activity that we know increases the potential for injury and long-term negative consequences for our children?

Full disclosure: I have a son who plays Minor Bantam (13 year olds) hockey. He plays on a "select" team having moved from AA last year. One of our biggest concerns, and one of the motivations for him moving to a "lower" level of play, was body checking. He has not had a concussion (yet).

Throughout this year we have seen multiple hits from behind, boarding, and head hits ... not all of which led to injury but certainly all of which had significant potential for injury. Three of the players on his team are currently on long-term leave from hockey due to body checking.

Are we worried? You bet we are.

After all, why would we sacrifice his long-term potential for this?

Will he play again next year? Not likely.

Hockey officials wonder why registration numbers are decreasing. Certainly cost is a factor but I would argue that there is a significant number of young players who get to the age of body checking and say "Enough, I don't need this anymore."

Parents around the world are sacrificing finances to send their children to school so that they might meet their potential.

Why are we sacrificing our finances to send our children into an arena (somewhat like the Roman arenas? hmmm) so that they might lose their potential?

Ethical blogging note: my son has reviewed and approved this post :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sustainability in the midst of change: Haiti after the resignation of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe

Change is a certainty in life.

Sustainability not so much.

This weekend, after much pressure, Haiti's Primer Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned. The opposition parties had been demanding his resignation in the midst of election delays. For more, see this Miami Herald story:

'We did all we could for...'

Over the past few years, my observation has been that Haiti has seen much positive change. In the educational sector, I have seen many new public schools. I have been in classrooms where the student:teacher ratio is clearly better than a few years earlier. A new teacher certification initiative has been started. These observations have been supported by reports such as one by the World Bank which indicates that extreme poverty has decreased.

Of course, much more needs to be done.
  • 100 students in a high school class is still far too many (five years ago, the same classroom had nearly 200 students)
  • The vast majority of students still do not graduate from high school
  • Adult literacy rates are still around 50%

However, the country is moving in the right direction. Early in my teaching career, I learned that we should "reward direction and not expect perfection." In other words, don't expect perfect student behaviour but reward it when it is moving in the desired direction.

Of course, this has me thinking about how to ensure the continued movement in the right direction in the midst of change in Haiti.

Haiti remains a fragile state. Despite significant accomplishments since the 2010 earthquake, the structures that support these accomplishments are precarious. Good governance, at both the macro level (e.g. national institutions such as the Ministry of National Education) and the micro level (e.g. local governments, NGOs, social entrepreneurs) is key now more than ever.