To Fix or To Prevent?

Today I am feeling very poetic as I am beginning to embrace the idea that spring courses are coming to an end and within a week I will have finished all required courses, excluding internship, for my education degree. I am going to share a poem that I was introduced to in my EHE 310 course in the fall. I found this poem to be very intriguing when I first read it. For every reader it may hold relevance in varying areas or contexts however, the strong message concerning whether to fix or prevent has interesting relevance in many areas of education.

The Ambulance in The Valley 

Joseph Mulins

Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant;
But over its terrible edge there had slipped
A duke and full many a peasant.

So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally;
Some said, “Put a fence ’round the edge of the cliff,”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city;
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became full of pity
For those who slipped over the dangerous cliff;
And the dwellers in highway and alley
Gave pounds and gave pence, not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.

“For the cliff is all right, if you’re careful,” they said,
“And, if folks even slip and are dropping,
It isn’t the slipping that hurts them so much
As the shock down below when they’re stopping.”
So day after day, as these mishaps occurred,
Quick forth would those rescuers sally
To pick up the victims who fell off the cliff,
With their ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old sage remarked: “It’s a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing results than to stopping the cause,
When they’d much better aim at prevention.
Let us stop at its source all this mischief,” cried he,
“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally;
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.”

“Oh he’s a fanatic,” the others rejoined,
“Dispense with the ambulance? Never!
He’d dispense with all charities, too, if he could;
No! No! We’ll support them forever.
Aren’t we picking up folks just as fast as they fall?
And shall this man dictate to us? Shall he?
Why should people of sense stop to put up a fence,
While the ambulance works in the valley?”

But the sensible few, who are practical too,
Will not bear with such nonsense much longer;
They believe that prevention is better than cure,
And their party will soon be the stronger.
Encourage them then, with your purse, voice, and pen,
And while other philanthropists dally,
They will scorn all pretense, and put up a stout fence
On the cliff that hangs over the valley.

Better guide well the young than reclaim them when old,
For the voice of true wisdom is calling.
“To rescue the fallen is good, but ’tis best
To prevent other people from falling.”
Better close up the source of temptation and crime
Than deliver from dungeon or galley;
Better put a strong fence ’round the top of the cliff
Than an ambulance down in the valley.


Is School Simply a Life Support?

Yesterday I found this letter on a blog post from one of my favourite blogs that I have subscribed to, Cooperative Catalyst. This letter was written by a 16 year old just before she dropped out of school. There are so many important messages that her piece is telling us. Her words are crying out, informing us of the problem with some school experiences students are having. I wonder what signs she gave to her teachers before it got to be too much and she felt that the best decision for herself was to leave? Did her teachers notice these signs? Did they ignore these signs? What are many of the students who are so often labeled as ‘drop outs’ or ‘lazy’ telling us? What are their signs? How can we take this upon us, as future educators, and make sure that none of our students feel that school is simply a form of life support… one they very much want off of?

“School is constantly causing us to forget who we are in the first place. I’m not dropping out, I’m choosing to leave. I’m choosing to not follow their plan. Yes, it works for a lot of people, but most of them are only in school because they’ve all become too oblivious to themselves and too scared to decide what they want to do with their lives. Then again, you can’t blame them because they’ve been held up by the school system – being led from one thing to the next – their whole lives.

By staying in school, I feel like I’m just taking the easy way out. I don’t need a structure to live on, I feel like I’ve got an IV hooked up to me, and the worst part is people think we live on it. We don’t. I tell them I’m leaving and they look at me with such disappointment…”You could do so much” “You have so much potential.”

Going to school should not define your life. I don’t want to look at living as a math equation, having to solve it and keep following these rules. What’s the point of being on this life support when we all end up dying anyway? We all end up the same.”

– Paris Kouns, 16 years old

Branching Out

Yesterday I read a post by a fellow ECMP 355 blogger, Sean Hayes, who shared a link to a Facebook page that is a group of education bloggers and professionals who are all interested in sharing ideas and working together to better education for all of our students. I was interested and so I joined the group. I have not had much time to really in-depth search everything however, I have already found a couple of sites and blogs that I have subscribed to and added to my google reader. What an amazing opportunity to be able to see how so many professionals from different locations are inter-collaberating with one another.  I suggest that you check some of these out!

1) Imagining Learning

2) Cooperative Catalyst 

Tech Task #3 A

One of the podcasts that I found and have subscribed to is called, The Whole Child Podcast. This is an American based podcast however, they discuss many interesting topics concerning education such as assessment practices, responses to diverse student needs, connecting curriculum to a real world context and much more.

The podcast that I listened to was called: “Whole Child Around the World: A Good School is a Good School.” I found this particular podcast to be very interesting. There were guest speaker from around the world from the United States to the Middle East to Germany discussing special programs in their school systems that are working towards a better experience for the ‘whole child.’ Some of the interesting, yet common theme between the speakers was the idea of what schools look like if we really put the child at the center. The concept of what a holistic approach would look like was discussed. It was suggested that to work in the reality of the life of the child that does not simply just include the school, for the influence of the media, family, peers, and the community is huge. Therefore, to ignore these contexts of the child’s life would not be taking a holistic approach. Another interesting suggestion was how community school relationships will enhance student involvement in schools.  In Germany, they focus on the thought of aligning health and education and working towards ‘giving students a push’ so that they can continue on their own. The speaker from Germany compared this to the comprehensive school health approach in Canada – cool, I have learned about this!

Overall, it is inspiring to hear so many educators from around the world essentially working in collaboration with one another to focus on the future of education where the students needs are at the center of the focus.

Two other podcasts that I have found to be very interesting are:

1) Learning Matters  This has many interesting educational topics explored.

2) Long Elementary This is an elementary school’s podcast site. Super cool to see how this school uses podcasting in the classroom to support student learning.