Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Great Weekend

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of engaging in a series of events with others in the field of education, athletics and family (3 of my passions!).  Saturday started out with Edcamp Vancouver, an "unconference" designed for people interested in discussing issues of their choosing in education.  It was an opportunity to meet face-to-face with many of the insightful and thought-provoking people I had recently come across through blogging and my still-neophyte use of Twitter.  It was an excellent day, where educational topics fostered dialogue about experiences and thoughts on "best practice".  While the dialogue was inspiring and spurred on more thought for future Professional Development efforts in the Lower Mainland, what struck me most was the passion the participants shared, and the value in coming together to share these thoughts.  Sharing our experiences and creating a new shared experience (the conference itself) was, in my opinion, the most valuable part of our day.  The ideas had already been shared via Twitter and blogs, but coming together to elaborate and converse about them is invaluable shared experience, and means so much more.
Friend and colleague @terryainge and I reluctantly left the conference a little early, since we had tickets to the Vancouver Whitecaps versus Chivas USA soccer match.  A game synopsis can be read here.  Again, this was a fantastic opportunity to share an experience with others, meet new people and discuss the event or any other interests we may share.  I could easily have stayed home and watched the game on television, but there is something different about going to a game in person.  Being part of the crowd, talking with others and appreciating the efforts of those we are watching with many people does have a significant effect on the experience of watching an athletic event.  It was also a treat to witness the galvanizing nature of such events.  Vancouver is an incredibly diverse, multicultural city, and events like last night's soccer game remind us of that, and give great opportunities for people of different backgrounds to come together.  A Whitecaps game, similar to a Canucks game or the experience we shared during the Olympics last year, are prime examples of diverse backgrounds coming together, sharing an experience and learning about and embracing one another.
Sunday morning, my wife and I headed downtown to participate in the 2011 Vancouver Sun Run.  In excess of 50,000 people converged on the area of Burrard and Georgia and proceeded to tour this beautiful city on a 10 km run.  The competitor in me at times got frustrated, since I was unable to break free of the crowds and thus couldn't come close to a personal best or my goal time for the run.  At the finish line, I asked myself why I come to these events, since I could run 10 km at home, free of the people and get a better work out and post a better time.  I answered the question quite quickly.  It is because, again, I am sharing the experience with others.  I ran into several other people whom I knew, one I had met only the day before at Edcamp Vancouver.  @remi_collins and I  introduced ourselves to each other at the conference, since we had followed each other on Twitter and read each others blogs.  Remi also wrote a blog about the Sun Run.  I saw a few others I knew in the crowds, and when my wife completed the run, I gave her a hug, and mentioned how proud I was of her, and that she seemed proud of herself.  Again, the best part of the event is sharing the experience, seeing others enjoying and being proud of themselves and their family members.  My goal time, once I thought about it this way, seemed inconsequential.
After the Sun Run, I came home, played with my kids, washed the car, mowed the lawn, then sat down to reflect on the weekend.  I am now tired, and very much looking forward to watching the Vancouver Canucks playoff game #3 versus the Chicago Blackhawks.  I never played hockey (I was a basketball, rugby, soccer guy who now loves golf), but I seem to care passionately about the Canucks.  Why?   Because I am sharing the experience with much of the rest of the city, and the galvanizing effect of the success of any of our sports teams (but especially the hockey team) is something I enjoy watching impact the people.  The game is due to start soon, so I better finish this up...!  Go Canucks!!  Give us something fun to talk about at work tomorrow.  It seems to have a positive effect on most of the people in our city.
So how do the experiences I had this weekend affect my thinking about education?  They reinforced much of what I already thought about school.  I believe that the reason the buildings still exist is because coming together to share experiences and develop relationships is worth so much more than curriculum and facts.  Bruce Beairsto has written about the "core benefits" of school, mentioning that one of them is relationships and community in his post  "Necessary Disruption (part 3)".  Students could stay at home and credential and even learn much of what they need to know to graduate.  But, if given a choice to come to school or not, the vast majority of children would come.  Why?  Because school is the ultimate shared experience.  We have all done it, and we all have opinions about its benefits, drawbacks and how it can/should be done differently.  With all of the call for reform, much of which I agree with, we do need to keep one thing in mind....  School is an incredibly important shared experience, and being human, shared experience is something we enjoy, want and NEED.

All in all, a great weekend that will only be improved when the Canucks win Game #3!  Go Canucks, go!!!

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