Category Archives: Musing

We are not where we need to be for what we want to happen

Still following the mental thread from my last post. I’m feeling restless in my professional position at the moment, a mini crisis which is usually a part of preventing stagnation and breaking through to a better flow. I’m not sure if I can adequately explain it (feeling unwell) so what I’ll do instead is share talks and articles which have resonated.

First off, I revisited Charles Leadbeater’s old TED talk. This article reminded me of this.

[ted id=892 width=560 height=315]

And Charles’ more recent TED talk. The man can talk. If only I could communicate so well.

[ted id=63 width=560 height=315]

The piece by Richard Elmore has a standout phrase for me which is that ‘a progressive dissociation between learning and schooling’. This is very disturbing, particularly if you believe it. It makes me question everything we do in school. It makes me think that whatever assessment we have for teaching is ineffective. Do our compulsory self-evaluations for renewed registration mean anything? Isn’t it relatively easy to justify what we do using the relevant terminology? Isn’t it really about the students? When are we going to assess our teaching based on what our students really need in life? I can’t recall that conversation in any staff meeting or curriculum day program.

A ship in the harbour is safe but that’s not what ships are for – photo by Joel Robinson

You might think I’m being negative but I’m just breaking things up a little, thinking about what I could do, in my free space as teacher librarian, unfettered by marking and curriculum guidelines, to create wonderful, surprising, fun learning opportunities. Anyone join me?

I leave you with this.

[ted id=949 width=560 height=315]

Wait, another one. Many voices and much sense here.



Rest, recharge, and ready for another term!

National Gallery of Victoria (Städel exhibition)

I don’t know how non-teachers survive with so few holidays.  I’m not feeling guilty about teaching holidays though because that’s what I do, and I work hard, so if you’re not a teacher and feeling resentful, why don’t you do a teaching degree?


Teaching is one of the most satisfying careers. Yes, it can be frustrating, infuriating, depressing, tiring, all-consuming – but it’s definitely a privilege to have a hand in shaping young minds, the shapers of our future.

For me, working with people who love shaping those young minds is more than satisfying. Some of these educators are at my school, and many are elsewhere, and I’m grateful to them wherever they are.

Photo courtesy of Jane Hewitt on Flickr (Great quotes about learning and change)

I’ve really enjoyed these two weeks of holiday, and  balanced a nice mix of everything I need to recharge – enjoying the company of good friends, catching up with news and exchanging stories and ideas; going out into various parts of Melbourne in the winter (Melbourne has its own Winter style which I really like); appointments(!); domestic chores (not fun, but inevitable); reading and thinking, reflection and re-evaluating, shifting perspective, gathering strength and resolve, making plans for the new term ….

Amazing that I managed to pack in so much in the two weeks, including (possibly too many) musical concerts, for example, the Goodbye Hamer Hall concert in which my younger son played in the Melbourne Youth Music orchestra, the Tim Burton exhibition at ACMI, and I also went to see the European Masters from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. AND I still had a lot of me-alone-time.

I finished reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson – a young adult novel written by John Green and David Levithan about two separate Will Graysons whose chance meeting changes their lives – and I’ve also started Seth Godin’s Linchpin (incidentally, Seth has just shared a free e-book) and Ali Shaw’s The girl with glass feet. I hope the reading doesn’t stop but somehow school projects always spill into the evenings and reading only begins just before my eyelids glue themselves shut.

The Tim Burton exhibition made me want to drag all the students out so they could be inspired by Tim’s prolific and imaginative illustrations. I could see so much potential for students writing, drawing, animation, sculpture, photostory, film-making – so many possibilities. I think the exhibition inspires because it shows early work back as far as school, and makes you want to have a go at all that zany creativity yourself.

So, what is my direction for third term? Well, apart from existing partnerships with classes, I want to trial more of my Writing Prompts. I want to give Howard Rheingold’s expert crap detection program a go, as well as teach some serious critical thinking.

Apart from stuffing my literature blog with new reviews by different members of my community, I’d like to take some of the ideas from Joyce Valenza’s Reading Wiki and run with them. There’s so much in this reading wiki too, and this one is bursting at the seams with resources for teacher librarians.

Plenty to do, and I’m even starting to get a little excited. I hope that you all have a great term, and for those of you in the middle of things, be inspired and re-inspired!

My son’s 7 things


Photo by Sakurako Kitsa

You’ve heard me talk about my elder son (Mr 18 yo). He was inspired to write his own 7 things, and I thought I’d reblog them here for some amusement.

By the way, he has inherited bombast and hyperbole from someone in the family, so don’t believe him when he says his parents made him learn piano. No parent can make a child study piano until they get their AMUS certificate.

7 Things

1. When I was in pre-school, I was convinced I was not a human being. The reason? We were read an environmental-themed book which showed “human beings destroying animals’ habitats”. Logic: human beings practise deforestation, I have never even thought about deforesting anything, ergo I am not a human being.

2. In the past week, I have been eaten by lift doors over a dozen times and almost lost my manhood to a scaffolding pole at a church clean-up

3. Russians don’t have middle names but rather patronymics so my full name is Alexander Petrovich Sheko (which is to say, “Alexander Sheko, son of Peter”). However, when I was young, I decided to rebel against the patriarchal system (you’re welcome, ladies) and called myself AlexanderTatianovich (Alexander, son of Tania).

4. At the age of three (or so), I had nightmares about a dragon chasing me around the backyard. Not just any dragon: the St George dragon. And I don’t mean the generic ectothermic creature of legend, but the dragon on the St George Bank logo. (Ironic twist: Last year I briefly worked for a sales company representing St George Bank)

5. I sing bass but because I have never had proper singing training, my range depends on the temperature, time of day and how long I have been singing. Usually the lowest note I can reach is D below the stave but it can go up to F if I’ve strained my voice. I once sang an A below the stave.

6. My parents made me learn the piano. At various points in time, I despised it and hated them for not letting me quit. I now have an Associate Diploma in piano, am being paid to play for a school musical (Cabaret) and enjoy playing every single day. I consider it a great blessing and one of the most rewarding aspects of my life.

7. A fundamental element of Russian culture is forcing children who have barely learned to speak to commit to memory large portions of poetry and recite them in front of large groups of people. At some point in my childhood, it was decided that it would be a good for my education (despite the fact I spoke very little Russian) for me to participate in this cultural treat and I learned some verses of a poem to recite at the annual Russian Culture Day. Unfortunately, I was sent on stage with a girl (half my age and height) who recited her poetry first. It never occured to me to adjust the microphone stand and I could not understand why several dozen Russians were laughing raucously at my attempt to combine poetry recitation with limbo.

These 7 things were originally posted in his blog under the pseudonym of Phillip Sandwich.

I don’t like New Year resolutions


As the title says, I don’t like New Year resolutions. I don’t like any resolutions. I’m not in the habit of making promises either. I don’t make promises because I’m not sure I’m going to keep them. What I prefer to do is say nothing, resolve secretly – allowing room for backing off – and only say yes when I’ve already succeeded. I don’t like to raise hopes, I don’t like to disappoint.  Not even myself.

The blogosphere has been changing its timbre for the Christmas and New Year period. Serious educational posts have given way to reflective, stocktaking and thanksgiving ones; posts summing up 2008 and looking ahead to 2009.

I started thinking… if I were to consider new year resolutions, what would they be?

There’s no reason for my resolutions to be any different to anyone else’s – after all, we have the same needs and aspirations. If I ever did make resolutions – and I’m not saying I will – they might be the following:

1.  Act my age – Since I’m turning 50 this year I’m thinking more about mortality. Not meaning to sound morbid, but we don’t live forever. Time is becoming precious and it would be reckless of me not to notice my downhill inclination. I need to make a conscious decision to stay healthy. Even as I say this I know that exercise will not be on my agenda, but a little self control wouldn’t go astray in looking after my body; it doesn’t seem as invincible as it used to be.

2.  Community – I’ve always been an introverted person, happy with my own company and a few close others. Maybe it takes me that long to charge, to figure out who I am and what I want from life. Now is the time to connect, appreciate what others have to offer, give something back.

3.  Creativity – I’m ready to be more creative, to realise how creativity is a life-force I can’t live without (without sounding too dramatic). Creativity can be expressed in many different ways, all of them worthwhile.

4.  Letting go of old fears – There’s nothing to fear but fear itself. One by one I hope to let go of fears that paralyse. The fear of making mistakes, of looking stupid, of being different, of being rejected, of not being good enough, of the unknown. What a waste of time.

5.  Time is precious – that means learning to say no, not wasting time moping, being lazy, procrasting, following an unthinking routine. It means appreciating what is good, people who matter, enriching experiences. Not taking things for granted, saying thankyou, saying sorry, organising people events.

Only a little more than half a year ago did I start this blog, then gradually make  connections with people around the world online through blog reading and commenting, through Twitter and PLNs. Thankyou to everyone for enriching my life, for conversations, advice and help, humour, and making me realise that we have so much in common wherever we are. I wish everyone and their families a blessed new year, and look forward to our conversations in 2009.

Think about what you wish for – you might get it.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also – Luke 12:34.