Education, knowledge, and skill

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Something about watching my wife homeschool our passionately headstrong daughter has made me think about education as a whole and what we value.

I think there’s something that we forget about in later grades with kids, and that’s the importance of practice and repetition.

I understand that our entire education system is meant to fill the kid’s head with as much knowledge as possible as quickly as possible in order to send them to the next step. Tests are meant to measure if the kid is doing well enough, and originally if they weren’t, they’d have to do the class again. (I don’t think they do that anymore.)

It’s a system that favours “clever” children. Those that can do something quick and efficiently the first time. Unfortunately, it’s also a system that in the end fails those same kids. Because they didn’t need help, they never learned study skills like time management, note taking, or prioritization.

The Awkward Yeti comic Motivation to Learn

It could be that I’m slowly turning into the “old artsy hippy”, but I think we need to start prioritizing doing something properly over doing it right. The current education system pushes kids to be smart or first in their class and not to be good or deeply know their subject.

One of my favourite teachers in high school taught me a valuable lesson when I asked her a ridiculous and precocious question in chemistry class. She said something I’d never heard a teacher say before, “I don’t know. I’ll look into it and get back to you.” She did and honestly I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember that statement and it has shaped a lot of my thinking since.

No knowledge I learned in school, no fact I had to memorize, no test I’ve ever taken, has been as important as the ability to research something. Boss wants a special pivot table in Excel, give me some time to look it up. I need to figure something out for a book, look it up.

So many of the abilities I use for my various jobs and projects, I learned from struggling in university or work, not from being clever in high school.

You don’t get better at something by constantly struggling to regurgitate what your teacher says. You get better by practice and repetition.

It’s also important to understand that our system favours a certain demographic of people. Not just post secondary education, but also the lower grades. Minorities and lower income families have a massive disadvantage in the way our education is set up.

I was extremely lucky overall, but there were advantages that I didn’t get because I was from a low income home. I didn’t get to do the more expensive sports or activities, I didn’t have the option of music, I didn’t have the newest tech, I didn’t have access to paid tutors, and I had to work through my university (3-4 jobs 30+ hours a week). I was, however, the only child in the house, I had a large extended family I could to for help, I had an excellent high school, I was clever, and I was a white male.

Basically, I think the push for the best grades leads kids to rely on natural cleverness or memory, and doesn’t lead to people who understand how to manage their lives or how to work to make or learn something with depth.

Repetition, practice, research, time management, and being able to admit when you don’t know something are skills that we need to pass on. Also critical thinking and detecting bullshit.

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

Dear Dragon – École à maison

Dear Dragon,

What a wild year. It’s been quite a historic and interesting time. I’ve been lucky to work from home and be with you, your Mum, and Adrien full time.

You’re clever, stubborn, and passionate. You’re also an extremely social kid and this has been tough on you.

Last February you visited your école. This is a new virus and there are all kinds of worrisome side effects being reported. It’s possible the threat of that and the threat to your grandparents is over-exaggerated, but we don’t want to take the chance.

With Mum working from home and the travel business being a little slow, we are in the perfect place to help you learn from home. We haven’t decided exactly what we’re doing. It’ll depend on what the école has planned.

Mum has some fantastic ideas and I hope you get as excited as mum has been about her ideas.

Overall, I’m not too worried. You’re already a little ahead and we mostly need to build on what you already know and encourage you to learn more French. Again, I’m sorry for not speaking to you more in French.

We’ll see what happens. The year is only three quarters done and has lots of surprises left for us.

I love you little Dragon,

Papa

Dear Dragon – École

Dear Dragon,

You’re no longer a baby. On Wednesday we went to visit your future school. You’ll be going to a French Public school and from the look on your face when we visited, you’re going to love it.

I’m nervous about a lot of things; snacks and lunches, you making friends, dealing with buses, you learning more French. I feel I’ve failed you as a francophone parent, but hopefully the school will help and I’ll start speaking to you in French more once you understand. (I spoke to you in both, but once you understood English I just stuck with that.)

One of the teachers took you to get a paper and a crayon when we visited the class and you never looked back. I have a feeling that we could have left and you wouldn’t have noticed. I’m glad you’re so independent. I’m still nervous. You’ve never spent more than a few hours without someone from the family and well… I know I’m being silly. (I’m starting to understand how Marlin from Finding Nemo felt.)

We still have six months before you go to school but when you do, it’ll change our whole lives.

You’ll love the social interaction though. I sometimes feel like we don’t stimulate your socialness enough. Sorry KYD, your parents are introverts.

Every stage you grow is wonderful and scary to me. This one just feels bigger, probably cause it has so much more paperwork.

I love you baby Dragon,

Papa

The Ghosts of Buxley Hall – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the made for TV movie from 1980 The Ghosts of Buxley Hall.

Story

The story is pretty simple, but feels like it lacks depth. We don’t really get to know much about the characters backstories or motivations, beyond the ghosts. Even the “In Your Face” feminist story line feels a little flat.

It is however a nice linear story that follows through with its promises and foreshadowing.

Score: 0.5

Characters

This has all the stereotypes but made more human than I expected. The military man, the independent woman, the troubled boy, the troubled girl, the tough guy who doesn’t like kids, the bully, and the mad aunt who wants money.

They all have tender moments where their human side is shown. Unfortunately the cast is much too big for the movie. It means we are constantly moved between the kid’s story, the adult’s story, and the ghosts. Sometimes forgetting about one of the others.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is pure 80’s and pure cheese. Most of the best lines are given by the Sargent or the general’s wife.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

This movie might have been about ghosts but it could have seriously used some colour. The shots however are very well designed and clean. Both the music and the visuals are effective if not inspired.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This is a fun movie. You know everything will end well and you get a combination ghost story, coming of age, and boarding school story.

Score: 1

Conclusion

This is a fun fluffy movie that is now 40 years old and is showing it’s age. It’s not offensive but it’s definitely shallower than it could be. However, it is a lot of fun.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

Recommendation Thursday – Carmilla Web Series

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I recently became obsessed with a web series. Has that ever happened to you?

The Series is based off an old novel called Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu published in 1872 and apparently one of the inspirations for the original novel Dracula.

The first season is everything I love about college fantasy stories. It has excitement, humour, romance, and kissing. (Yes this is a kissing show.)

The show has a total of 3 main seasons  (I recommend you also watch season 0 after you watch season 2.) and is coming out with a movie October 26 (If you’re in Canada check Cineplex for showtimes).

The show does a lot of things amazingly including romantic tension, representation, and humour. It melds the feel of Lovecraft, Supernatural, The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, and Only Human.

It’s Halloween month and this is a great vampire romance. What are you waiting for?

 

Later Days,

Éric