World Teacher’s Day

“Take a stand for teachers!” is the slogan of World Teachers’ Day 2012 (5 October) which UNESCO is celebrating along with its partners, the International Labour Organization, UNDP, UNICEF and Education International (EI).

Taking a stand for the teaching profession means providing adequate training, ongoing professional development, and protection for teachers’ rights.

All over the world, a quality education offers hope and the promise of a better standard of living. However, there can be no quality education without competent and motivated teachers.

On this day, we call for teachers to receive supportive environments, adequate quality training as well as ‘safeguards’ for teachers’ rights and responsibilities…We expect a lot from teachers – they, in turn, are right to expect as much from us. This World Teachers’ Day is an opportunity for all to take a stand.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

Teachers are among the many factors that keep children in school and influence learning. They help students think critically, process information from several sources, work cooperatively, tackle problems and make informed choices.

Why take a stand for teachers? Because the profession is losing status in many parts of the world.. World Teachers’ Day calls attention the need to raise the status of the profession – not only for the benefit of teachers and students, but for society as a whole, to acknowledge the crucial role teachers play in building the future.

World Teacher’s Day

On Music Tours for Kids

When I was in high school (a long time ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I had the great privilege of participating in music tours organized by the school’s vocal and instrumental directors. Lucky enough to be based in London, these tours took us to Germany, Spain, Denmark … They are undoubtedly among my favorite teenage memories. I can’t tell you much about the performances, what we played, or where we played – my memories are of the social times with friends in hostels and on trains, searching for restaurants, and flirting with strangers. Important learning experiences for a teenager.

Fast forward many years … I just returned from a week in the UK where I organized a music tour for a group of students from the School of Rock. Several kids are seasoned world travelers, but many obtained their first passports for the trip. They performed 7 gigs in 7 days, were treated like “real” rock stars, and had the chance to see quite a few towns and cities in England – not to mention make friendships with local musicians and truly experience another culture.

The grou pays hommage to the Beatles at Abbey Road.

The group pays hommage to the Beatles at Abbey Road. The kids are flanked by music teachers extraordinaire: Jim Love and Eric York

It was a great experience for the kids (their travel blog here), and one I’m glad to have helped provide. I relied heavily on friends from the past who helped with coordination and logistics. But in the end, all I can do is sigh with admiration for Georgia and Richard Bassett – my music directors from high school who did this every year with over 100 kids and a full orchestra (yes, we traveled with tubas). Now that the exhaustion and jet lag have begun to wear off, I am left with true awe for their dedication to students.

Here’s to the teachers who make a difference in our lives ….

And PS – if anyone knows how to forward this to the Bassetts in England, I’d appreciate it.

How much can you learn in a day?

I’ve been avidly following the White family’s round-the-world journey (6explorers.com). My latest favorite post is by teenage Alex, describing how she approaches bargaining in a Vietnamese market. It resonates with me as I reflect on work I’ve been doing with middle school teachers who insist their students just don’t understand measurement (a notoriously low score on PA’s state assessment).

Read Alex’s discussion of bargaining in which she describes the value of Vietnamese dong as compared to the US dollar and “tourist” vs “real” price (value) of the article she wants to purchase. If I were to align her experience to academic standards, I’d find connections in mathematics (measurement), social studies (economics), science (she describes the origin and quality of the silk), and language arts (communication, listening, speaking). Not only is she understanding the concepts, she’s applying them as well. (The know and do, the concepts and skills) She is gaining massive enduring understandings, not just in terms of economics, but in global cultural awareness.

And my analysis would be pretty “teachery” of me … rather, I like to think about the life skills she’s gaining: confidence, communication, worldliness. How well do you think she’ll do when she applies to college, to a job? Wouldn’t you want to hire hire someone with her confidence and skill?

What kind of price can you put on this form of education? Do yourself a favor and visit 6explorers.com.

(Full disclosure: I am affiliated with Small World Travel that planned the White family’s round-the-world journey)

Inspirational …

Egypt’s Muslims attend Coptic Christmas mass, serving as “human shields”

Muslims turned up in droves for the Coptic Christmas mass Thursday night, offering their bodies, and lives, as “shields” to Egypt’s threatened Christian community

Egypt’s majority Muslim population stuck to its word Thursday night. What had been a promise of solidarity to the weary Coptic community, was honoured, when thousands of Muslims showed up at Coptic Christmas eve mass services in churches around the country and at candle light vigils held outside.

From the well-known to the unknown, Muslims had offered their bodies as “human shields” for last night’s mass, making a pledge to collectively fight the threat of Islamic militants and towards an Egypt free from sectarian strife.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea …

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly Street. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

Would that the rest of the world take notice …

Entire article here.

Water*

I really have taken water for granted. I drink a lot of it, love to swim … and intellectually I understand that many people don’t have access to clean water … but (typical for an American), I still take it for granted.

This past summer I had the opportunity to visit the Galapagos on the National Geographic Islander. It was an incredible experience – one of the most enjoyable learning opportunities I’ve had in a long time. We were sailing on water, surrounded by water, swimming and snorkeling on water – and learned just how critical clean water is to the survival of the diverse species living in the Galapagos.

Cory frolics with a playful sea lion off Espanola Island in the Galapagos

Cory frolics with a sea lion near Espanola Island

If that trip wasn’t cool enough, I was later invited to an all-female adventure rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Mind you, I’ve never been camping in my life and now I was contemplating four nights under the stars with a serious hike out the Bright Angel Trail to end the experience. Of course, I said yes.

The Colorado River ... serene and serious

The Colorado River ... serene and serious

My time in the Grand Canyon was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. (Check out my Grand Canyon blog posts here, here, here, here, here, and here). Along the way, I came to appreciate access to water like never before. The river was for drinking, for washing, for bathing, and yes, for urinating. The drinking and hand washing water had to be filtered using a complex but portable device. We were hiking and in the hot desert sun each day, so staying hydrated was a must. Hiking out the Bright Angel Trail was tough, and I made sure to stretch my water to last until the next source. The first sight of a sink with running, fresh water was a luxury – and I hope that I can continue to be more serious about my water use and take it less for granted.

So what about all of those people in the world without access to clean water? I am inspired by great thinkers like Michael Pritchard whose TED talk is nothing short of miraculous to me. I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences and his solutions, I can encourage a few folks to both conserve water and support efforts to get clean water to the people who need it most.

*This post is one of thousands participating in Blog Action Day. For more information, check out: blogactionday.change.org