Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Do We Learn Enough From Children?

November 5, 2014


Sometimes our children show us up as ignorant. In the video above, one simple question is asked: If you could change one thing about your body, what would it be?

Watch the difference between the way children interpret the question to the way the adults do.

It’s society that encourages us to be critical of our own bodies – it is not a natural construction.


Click on the link to read Kids as Young as 7 Diagnosed with Anorexia

Click on the link to read The Destructive Impact of the “Fashion Police” Brigade

Click on the link to read The Plus Sized Barbie Debate Misses the Point

Click on the link to read Study Claims that Being Attractive can give you Better Grades

Click on the link to read The Unique Challenges that Body Image Represents for Females

California Superintendant Declines Salary

August 30, 2011

Fresno School Superintendent Larry Powell is a reminder of what education should be about – selflessness and dedication.

I recall a survey conducted back in the US in 1998/99 that found that teachers spent an average of $448 of their own money on instructional materials and school supplies:

The survey conducted last summer by the National School Supply and Equipment Association — a trade group representing the school supply industry — found that teachers pay for 77 percent of the school supplies needed in their classrooms. The rest comes from the school, parent-teacher groups and other school funds.

Teacher expenditure would be even higher nowadays.  But when it comes to selflessness nothing can top the outstanding act of generosity and conviction by Larry Powell:

Fresno School Superintendent Larry Powell has agreed to give up $800,000 in salary that he would have earned over three years. Until his term expires in 2015, Powell will run 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students, all for less than what a starting California teacher earns.

“How much do we need to keep accumulating?” asks Powell, 63. “There’s no reason for me to keep stockpiling money.”

Powell’s generosity is more than just a gesture in a region with some of the nation’s highest rates of unemployment. As he prepares for retirement, he wants to ensure that his pet projects survive California budget cuts. And the man who started his career as a high school civics teacher, who has made anti-bullying his mission, hopes that his act of generosity will help restore faith in the government he once taught students to respect.

“A part of me has chafed at what they did in Bell,” Powell said, recalling the corrupt Southern California city officials who secretly boosted their salaries by hundreds of thousands of dollars. “It’s hard to believe that someone in the public trust would do that to the public. My wife and I asked ourselves, ‘What can we do that might restore confidence in government?’ “

Powell’s answer? Ask his board to allow him to return $288,241 in salary and benefits for the next 3 1/2 years of his term. He technically retired, then agreed to be hired back to work for $31,000 a year — $10,000 less than a first-year teacher — and with no benefits.

The media is riddled with terrible stories of teachers abusing their position and acting without integrity, it is so good to see a more positive story doing the rounds.

Thank you Mr. Powell for putting your convictions before your purse and your students before anything else.

This is What Teaching is All About!

February 28, 2011

There is so much anti-teacher propaganda in the news at the moment, it is refreshing to come across a story which gives us an example of teaching at its very best.  We’ve all had students that appear shy and struggle to find a voice in the classroom.  Some teachers ignore the problem and allow the student to fall under the radar, others berate the child for not contributing to classroom discussions and activities.  And then there’s this rather unorthodox method:

A 10-year-old student has shaved off his teacher’s hair after completing a dare to overcome his shyness.

Taewoong Jeong, from Korea, could barely speak in front of his classmates at Gems World Academy. His Grade 5 teacher, William Clark, said his bashful nature was holding him back.

“I thought it was perhaps a lack of English language skills,” said Clark. “But then I found out that wasn’t the case because he is a good writer.

“It later dawned on me that the child had a fear of public speaking.”

His classmates came up with a solution. “It began as a joke,” said Mr Clark. “They said, ‘If Taewoong sings in assembly, you should get your head shaved, Mr C’.”

Mr Clark agreed, and the dare was set. If Taewoong worked up the courage to stand up in front of a school assembly and sing the national anthem, he would be allowed to shave off his teacher’s hair.

The Taewoong Project, as it came to be known, included posters plastered around the school, urging Taewoong to go through with the dare.

Mr Clark recalls: “Every Thursday I would ask him, ‘Is today the day Taewoong?’. We could see that every week he would muster up a little more courage for it.

“His classmates would constantly motivate him too.”

“What he did last week, though, has made him my hero.”

It took three months, but last week Taewoong overcame his fears and got up in front of the school.

“I just did it,” said Taewoong. “I definitely feel more confident and think I can do it again.”

True to his word, Mr Clark brought out the shaver for Taewoong. “I told him, this is a life long deal.  If you cannot do it during your time at school, send me a video of your achievement from wherever you are and even if I am in Antarctica, I will send across a video with my head shaved off.”

For Taewoong this was the fun part: “I felt really happy and weird at the same time.”

Mr Clark believes this experience will help Taewoong get through other difficult situations.

“Noting will be that hard for him anymore,” he said. “Whenever he is faced with an audience and fear grips him, he will have to memory to help him through.”

Taewoong’s father, Simon Jeong, said he appreciates the effort put in by his class teacher: “It was a unique style adopted by Mr Clark where my son was pushed to taking a risk. I think it will make Taewoong a go-getter.”

I just love this story.  It goes to show that the best way to deal with challenges in the classroom is to think outside the box, build your students up, instill a support group feel amongst the group and build a fun and lively atmosphere. Whilst I’m not sure I have it in me to have my hair shaved off, this story inspires me to work even harder to ensure that no child is left out, ignored or unsupported.

The Christmas Film That Inspired Me To Become a Teacher

December 26, 2010


Ok. Confession time. The above picture is highly misleading.

I was in the first year of an Arts degree, and like many teenagers, wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do.  I hadn’t even given teaching a moments thought.  Too many bad memories from my own school days to give teaching a single speck of consideration.  But then one night I happened to watch the Jimmy Stewart classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and within hours that all changed.

The movie portrayed a character on the edge of his tether who attempts suicide when he realises he is worth more dead than alive.  Enter an angel named Clarence who shows him how he, without even realising it, touched the lives of the people around him.  Everyone wants to leave the world having achieved something – having made the lives of others more enjoyable and secure.  I started thinking about what I could do to make a contribution to society and in what area is there a need for someone with my limited talents.  Within two hours I went from never coming close to considering teaching to having the burning desire to teach.  This desire kept intensifying throughout the rest of my Arts degree and the Teaching degree that followed.  My passion has never cooled.  Actually, I love teaching more every day.

I’m interested to find out what inspired you to become a teacher.  Was it due to a brilliant teacher you had growing up?  Was it out of a love for a subject like Maths or Music?  Did you just want to offer the next generations something better than you had growing up?

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link. Thankfully, he has nothing to do with the utter disaster that is Christmas with the Kranks.

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