Thursday, January 20, 2011

Square Watermelons

This is attempt number something to start a blog, so I've decided to stop compartmentalizing and just to go for it.

Today I gave a presentation to a group of elementary teachers and SNTAs about how to use Sharepoint in school. The presentation was as random and disorganized as I am, but that's how I like it. I'll call it "organic". Costs more but tastes better. Or so I would have you believe!

An idea that came up over and over while I was speaking was that I really hate folders. I really hate the idea of organizing and shuffling and sorting. All those gerunds that have to do with moving things around without actually creating anything. I suppose I should ponder later the essential difference between 'creating' and 'accomplishing', and until then maybe hate is too strong a word. Alright, then folders are not for me.

Because I hate them.

In class the other night, a question was "what unites us in curriculum inquiry"? The best anwer I cuold think of was 'the desire to give shape to things'. I know, what kind of poetic nonsense is that? But I can't get more specific than that. Because truly, who I am to tell you what shape to be or to take?

This is what things like Sharepoint, Facebook and any other application or program created ever does to us: it creates a shape and we fit ourselves into it. What's funny to me is that people know this without recognizing it- every time Twitter or Facebook upgrades all the posts take on the "why did this change?" flavour for a while. Even think of the uproar about the new astrological signs thing this week- though, what with that being a cosmological or perhaps spiritual thing it's different. Maybe.

But I don't want to grow up to be a square watermelon, and neither do I want that for my students. And I can't help but feel like when I tell a group of people, be they students or teachers, that they need to start shuffling files and papers into certain places that I'm stifling something. It makes me feel like I'm back in my first year of teaching, trying to force short short stories into a diagram for an audience of 13 year olds. Ridiculous- as if Guy de Maupassant really planned out his stories in terms of initial incident and climax. Climax! Maybe it's labels that I dislike. Maybe I am just a surly human.

What's even odder is that my favourite SMART activity is the vortex sort. It's those whirling vortex things, they hypnotize me.

So how did the presentation go? Well, I made a few lame jokes and got some pity laughs. Score one. I made eye contact with the principal a few times and not once was he frowning or doing the 'drawing the finger across the throat' sign. Score two. Last, and best: by the end of the day, all the teachers and SNTAs were sitting in front of a computer, creating pages, asking questions, and in some cases even helping one another to explore and figure things out. And I got free lunch.

Today was awesome.

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