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I think it’s time to bring God back into the classroom.

I had this revelation as my class and I were concluding an intense week looking at some of the research and literature around the idea of happiness – part of our semester-long inquiry, “What does it take to live a happy life?”  On one of the final days, we looked at the differences between meaning and happiness and whether it’s more important to have a meaningful life than a happy life; the research seems to say that the two ideas are definitely not synonymous.  It was during this discussion that I had the realization that we needed to talk about God.  Not a God.  Not the God.  Just God.  Whether you believe in some supreme power or not, there are billions of people in the world who find meaning in life through faith in a deity.

To introduce the topic of God, I showed the following videos to my class – both are worth a watch.

What I love about the clip from “The Great Kahuna” with Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito is its admission that to be human means to have questions about God.  To wonder about God.  It’s a profound clip.  To complement this video, I found one that examines the question, “Is God Useful?” in a much more philosophically rigorous way.  Both of these videos effectively opened up the door for my class to talk about their thoughts, fears, and ideas about God.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that all of my students (who come from a wide variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds) have thoughts about God, spirituality, and religion.  Some of my students are going through a profound period of time where they are critically analyzing what they believe, and their identities are hanging in the balance.  The discussion was rich, and the journals that were written afterwards were profound.

Nothing was decided at the end of the class; no conclusion was reached except for the fact that talking about God is important, and that our belief, or lack of belief in God has significant implications in our search for meaning and happiness.

I think that talking about God in school is important.  Not what to think, but how to think about God.  There seem to be very few opportunities for people, whether you’re a high school student or about to retire, to talk openly and honestly about God.  It seems to be a topic that makes people uncomfortable, perhaps because of their own unanswered questions.  But it’s those very questions and the unknowns that can make this conversation so rich.  It’s in the search for answers that we find meaning and purpose.  And if schools are to develop students into the critically-reflective individuals and citizens we want to see in the world, we need to provide the tools and space to address the deep things they’re thinking about.

What better place to do this than in school?


As an English teacher, there is something about this video parody that brings me great joy.  Thanks Weird Al!


Here is another ‘postcard’ for my SFU masters – it is an artistic representation of my readings and/or inquiry project.  I’m taking a very open interpretation of the term postcard here; I replaced the traditional image with a very specific soundscape that both enhances and contributes to the meaning of the poem.  This postcard is a response to an article called “Cognition, co-emergence, curriculum” by Brent Davis, Dennis J. Sumara & Thomas E. Kieren.  I created this postcard using Windows Movie Maker.


One of the assignments I have to complete after each week’s readings (for my masters) is to create a ‘postcard’ that in some way incorporates the ideas from the texts we read.  I thought I’d upload this week’s postcard after reading Margaret Lattat and Jeong_Hee Kim’s article “Narrative Inquiry: Seeking Relations as Modes of Interaction” (2010) and Carl Leggo’s  “Astonishing Silence: Knowing in Poetry” (2007).  If you want the full annotation please contact me.

Connecting poetry and research

It’s amazing how much students have changed in my six years of teaching.  They are increasingly immersed in technology – all of my students have cell phones and many are avid gamers and (all?) are involved with social media in some way or another.  It’s neat to witness this transformation, but with it comes some serious questions.  How is all this technology changing who we are?  Why are we so enamored with gaming?  Is technology robbing us of important human experiences?  Should we be concerned about the rapid growth and development of technology?

To help me explore some of these questions with my students I show them a short film called “Play.”  It’s a gritty and somewhat disturbing glimpse into the future of gaming and technology.  It’s totally unpredictable.  And because of these things it is also incredibly engaging.  Watch it – you’ll enjoy it.  It’ll make you think.

If you enjoy it and want to use it with your students, there is a lesson plan that you can access here plus a bunch of other mindbending, short films that give compelling visions for the future.

Last week I had a student tell me that he hates poetry.  A number of other students expressed a similar sentiment.  “Fair enough,” I told this student, “but I don’t believe you.  I think you actually like poetry.”  Presumptuous?  Maybe.  Then I showed my class this video:

It’s rare for my class to be so completely engaged in something that everything else fades away – yet  as I watched my students watch this video they were captivated.  When the video finished, instead of the usual chatter of opinions and thoughts, there were a few seconds of complete silence.  This isn’t a normal occurrence in my class!  A student asked if I knew of any other videos like this one – when I said yes, but that I was going to share them at some other point, I nearly had a mutiny on my hands!

I still get a lump in my throat every time I watch this video.

This is a fantastic video that pokes fun at how ‘fotoshop’ can be used to give someone the appearance of beauty.  It’s a humorous and sobering look at a serious issue.  This video was created by Jesse Rosten.  Enjoy!


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