April 9 - 11, 2017.
by Graham Hookey, Head of School at Kempenfelt Bay School
Since 1984 I have written a weekly column for local newspapers in the communities in which I have lived. My purposes are quite simple. First, I feel that discussions surrounding education and parenting (the main thrusts of my writing) are both necessary and helpful. I throw ideas up in the air, share the insights and research of others, and then hope some of it settles in such a way that it's helpful to parents as they take on the ever-challenging role of raising children.
My second purpose is more self-centred. The process forces me to sit down each week, for a half hour or so, and simply think about parenting and teaching in a less mechanical way than I do in the day-to-day trenches of both these vocations. It can be therapeutic to do some deep thinking each week, and it is humbling to try and bring rationality to two of the most emotional roles we can play: teacher and parent.
This commentary for the CAIS website isn't about my columns. (I re-read some of them and cringe, even the ones I wrote the previous week!) My objective, instead, is to recommend the power of writing to other Heads and senior administrators. The process of writing demands focus, carefully justified opinions, and reflection that may, ultimately, be the most important professional development we do.
I often hear how writing will soon be displaced by voice-to-text. I see most people texting short, impulsive, superficial messages. I've seen the education system emphasize keyboarding over cursive, much as it has emphasized calculators over basic numeracy facts. I reveal my generational gap when I comment on such matters, generally to an audience who is checking out their latest tweet and who, if I asked, would be unlikely to know even one of the hundreds of phone numbers they have stored in their smartphone.
I believe that turning what we randomly think at any moment into electronically preserved words that will stick to us, forever, is not going to have a happy ending much of the time. In contrast, the beauty of the writing process is that it slows us down, makes us search for the right words to use, and the right context in which to use them. This slower form of information processing offers us the opportunity for greater depth, greater logic and justification in our arguments, and a greater opportunity, once completed, to read again and reflect on whether this is, in fact, what we want to say to the audience for which it is intended.
An interesting exercise is to think like David Letterman and his "Top 10" lists. What are the top 10 things teachers can do to be great teachers? What are the top 10 suggestions I'd offer to parents of babies, toddlers, primary children, pre-teens, teens, young adults? What are the 10 most important things I would want a student to remember, 20 years from now, about the time he/she spent in the school?
Creating and carefully justifying each point for such lists will inevitably circle you back to the beginning, where you may question one or more of your early entries. This is particularly true if you have reached the magic 10 but still have two big ideas in your head. Now you're truly clicking on all cylinders as you argue with yourself to finalize your list!
Modern education is a beehive of activity. Our schools are full of plenty of action, collaboration, modification, and accommodation, but not always enough contemplation. We are all prone to get things done as efficiently as we can, so that we can check off the next box on our "too-much-to-do" lists.
A blank page in a journal, thoughtfully addressing what is most important in some area of life or work, once or twice a week, may be the single most important task we complete all week. Especially at the beginning of the new school year – before our "too-much-to-do" lists take over our lives – this is an important thing to remember!
It's at least in the Top 10.
Graham Hookey explains this picture: "At Kempenfelt we did a school-wide novel study and on the final day, teachers dressed as characters in the book. The novel was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and I was Mr. Tumnus, (an old goat, really, which seemed to fit well!)."
by Laurence Kutler, Head of School at Talmud Torah | Herzliah
What will our students remember ten years from now? I think it's safe to say they won't remember individual tests and assignments – those numbers and data that sometimes are in danger of consuming all our energies and focus.
I do think they will remember the humanity of our school, the warmth of the teachers and staff, the nurturing community that we focus on creating at Talmud Torah | Herzliah ...
by Allan Hardy, Principal at Greenwood College School
At Greenwood, we believe strongly that students should be provided with multiple opportunities to challenge their minds, their bodies and their spirits. And now we have a spectacular artwork that demonstrates these beliefs.
"Singing the Light," by Toronto artist Sarah Hall, is 60 feet high by 18 feet wide and continuously spans five floors of our school. The central tree that stretches the length of the piece, together with the birds that come to rest within the piece and then fly off on their own, are allegories for the school community ...
by Ted Spear, Ph.D., Head at Island Pacific School
At Island Pacific School we believe that when kids are given a strong foundation and the right kinds of support, they can achieve truly remarkable things.
This belief is put into practice in our Masterworks program. Small by design – IPS has a total of about 65 students spread across Grades 6 to 9 – our school has created an intellectually creative challenge for our graduating students ...
Neuchâtel Junior College - Bill Boyer, Head of School.
"We have many of the same concerns as other CAIS schools," says Neuchâtel's Head of School, Bill Boyer, "and that includes refreshing our facilities, fundraising, and ensuring a compelling education inside – and especially outside – the classroom."
"What is unique about our school is that we renew our entire student body every year. We offer Grade 12 only, and so each and every year we see a new group of students. That has its challenges and its pleasures."...
by Martha Perry, Principal at St. Clement's School
As the product of a girls' school, I believe strongly in the presence and the nurturing of women in leadership. It is a comfort to know that CAIS believes in this as well.
Over the last four years, a module on Women and Leadership – first started by Kathy Nikidis, past Head of Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramp's School – has been included at the CAIS Leadership Institute. It has been important in fostering conversations among female colleagues about research, candid experiences, and considerations of next steps ...
by Stuart Grainger, Headmaster at Trinity College School
The start of an academic year brings a new energy to those of us in education – students, staff and faculty alike. A fresh beginning provides another opportunity to set short-term and long-term goals, another chance to sharpen habits and routines and, ultimately, the ability to make our lives and communities better ...
by Graham Hookey, Head of School at Kempenfelt Bay School
Since 1984 I have written a weekly column for local newspapers in the communities in which I have lived. My purposes are quite simple. First, I feel that discussions surrounding education and parenting (the main thrusts of my writing) are both necessary and helpful. I throw ideas up in the air, share the insights and research of others, and then hope some of it settles in such a way that it's helpful to parents as they take on the ever-challenging role of raising children ...
As schools begin the new academic year, CAIS wants to wish Rodger Wright a relaxing, fulfilling – and happy – retirement.
After 33 years as Headmaster – at Trinity College and Collingwood School – Rodger Wright retired in June. But he did not go without a song ...
By Jason B. Rogers, Headmaster at Rundle College
When I was five years old, if someone had asked me this, I probably would have answered, "I might not be able to fly now! But I'm about to take off!"
I remember donning my Superman costume and running in circles in my backyard attempting to get a little bit of lift. My younger brother, who so often was the innocent bystander in need of rescue, often sat by awaiting my triumphant arrival ...
By Paul G. Kitchen, Head of School at Rothesay Netherwood School
In 1965 I was a new grade 9 boarding student beginning what I thought would be a grand adventure. Both of my brothers had spent five years at boarding school, so I didn't ask any questions. When I was going into grade 9, it just seemed that it was my turn. Little did I know that my turn would end up lasting 46 years ...
By Blayne Addley, Headmaster at Halifax Grammar School
The Halifax Grammar School is currently designing a new campus. It's being brought to life founded on the core principals of collaboration and group-work, and will celebrate liberal arts education, which I strongly believe will help develop the best and brightest opportunities for our current and future students ...
By Dorothy Byers, Head of School at St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School
Human beings are socialized creatures: we need social interaction to thrive. Working in education enables the development of deep relationships with the children, parents, and adults with whom we work. The impact of these relationships may take years to understand or come to fruition. Let me share one that is profoundly impactful in my life ...
By Geoff Dowd, Principal of Trafalgar School for Girls
My undergraduate readings in education during the early 1970s created a fair degree of internal cognitive dissonance: they included Ivan Illich urging us to de-school society and Neil Postman disparaging systems that focused too much on how to make a living, rather than live a life. Taught by professors long removed from school classrooms (if they were ever there), I seemed to learn more about why education was not working...
By Jim Power, Principal of Upper Canada College
Growth mindsets, 21st-century learning skills, cross-cultural competencies – these are among the important topics vigorously promoted in schools these days. But it's important to remember something that has been true since Plato first wrote about his cave: schools are, at their deepest core, about the fundamental and pivotal relationship between student and teacher...