Category Archives: Education

What A Difference

school trustee
Here is a photo of the board of trustees of the Hanover School Division in the 1960s. This is the school division where I attended school and worked almost my entire career as a teacher.
Here is a photo of the current board. Notice any difference? This second photo includes three men who serve as the division’s superintendents. If you factor that in it means that in 2018 there are more female trustees than male trustees.

In an interesting article called Why Women Need to Be Elected to Office writer Dawn Hucklebridge notes that the United States has an abysmally low record when it comes to electing women to political office compared to other countries. But the one exception is that women comprise 40% of elected officials on school boards. 

The same article makes some interesting claims.

    1. Women are more likely to run for office because they feel called to serve and want to make a difference in their community. Men report running to fulfill a life long dream.
    2. Women are more productive and progressive in political office than their male counterparts.
    3. They are more likely to champion policies that support women and families.
    4. They are more likely to work across the aisle with political opponents.
    5. They introduce more new legislation and policy.
    6. There is less corruption during their terms of service.

The article suggests that women’s desire to serve and make a difference on school boards should make those boards fertile ground for candidate recruitment for other offices. Women who have served on school boards view political office as a way to fix problems and improve their communities. And those are exactly the values needed in higher political office.

Other posts………

Thankfully Times Have Changed

Women Were Honored? Think Again. 

Are You This Determined to Vote?

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Filed under Education, Politics

Centre Stage in Oklahoma

oklahoma clipA feature about the composers Rodgers and Hammerstein on the CBS show Sunday Morning had me remembering my performance in the musical Oklahoma when I was in grade twelve.  I played the female lead Laurey.  Check me out center stage  in an old newspaper clipping from the local paper The Carillon . When I look at it I think ……………

  • Tickets to the musical were only $1.00.  My how times have changed since 1971. 
  • Highschool musicals in Steinbach were big deals.  The newspaper reports that weekend performances were sold out!
  • How lucky I was to have an amazing mother who sewed that dress for me.  I kept it long after the musical was over I loved it so much. 
  • How lucky I was to have hard working teachers willing to go the extra mile to stage musicals with their students.  I believe Mr. Elbert Toews our Glee Club conductor directed this one.
  • How I can still remember the words to some of the songs from that musical like O What A Beautiful Morning.
  •  How forward thinking some of the lyrics to those songs were. In this photo I am singing Many a New Day and when I bring the lyrics to mind I think they were pretty liberating for a woman to be singing in 1942 when the musical was written. 
    Why should a woman who is healthy and strong
    Blubber like a baby if her man goes away
    A weeping and a wailing how he’s done her wrong?
    That’s one thing you’ll never hear me say
    Never gonna think that the man I lose
    Is the only man among men
    I’ll snap my fingers to show I don’t care
    I’ll buy me a brand new dress to wear
    I’ll scrub my neck and I’ll brush my hair
    And start all over again.
  • My leading man in the musical who played the role of Curly was a guy named Eddie Unger.  I wonder where he is now? 

Other posts…………

Sleeping Under the Eaves

The Song My Paddle Sings

Lessons From Leonard

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Filed under Education, Music

Dave in the Classroom

dave teaches grade oneLooking through some old photos I came across this one of my husband Dave taken in 2010 when we were teaching in Hong Kong.  A new athletic field had just been built at our international school, made possible by a large donation from a wealthy patron.The day the new field was dedicated many high-profile friends of the patron gathered for the ceremony. Part of the agenda was a tour of the school so all the visitors could see our teachers and students in action. Dave was taking a year off from regular classroom teaching in the high school, but he was doing lots of substituting. That day he happened to be substitute teaching in a grade one class. Don’t you think the visitors chose to pause at his door and watch the class in action. The photographer covering publicity for the day photographed Dave and it was his photo that was featured in all the media associated with dedication of the athletic field at our school.  

 It is sort of like the day he was substituting for the very first time in the three-year old class on the kindergarten campus, when the door opened and in walked four Hong Kong Education Institute student teachers to spend the day with him and learn about teaching kindergarten. Non-pulsed Dave put them to work at various activity centres. I wonder if they even knew he’d never taught three-year olds before?  

dave with advisory

Dave with his highschool advisory group in Hong Kong

Perhaps the key to Dave’s success in the classroom at any grade level could be attributed to something he said when he was being interviewed for the school paper just before we left our jobs in Hong Kong.  One of the young journalists asked Dave, “And what are all the different subjects you have taught Mr. Driedger?”  Dave replied, “I don’t teach subjects- I teach students. “

Other posts………..

Dave’s New Chair

A New Sport for Dave

Davey at the Bat


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Filed under Education, Hong Kong

Flower Power

Last Monday an engaging speaker named Jordyn Sheldon from The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties led a presentation for the guides who facilitate school programs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  One activity she had us do was color in a Power Flower.  If we were part of the group named on a petal we colored it in. flower power

As I looked at my completed flower I realized I was in a pretty privileged and powerful position.  There were only two groups- males and people 30-50 that I wasn’t part of.   Jordyn had us think about how our membership in these various groups impacted our work at the art gallery.  I realized the fact I am a woman might influence the way I lead my tours.  

The work of Pitaloosie Salia was featured in a recent exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

I think I tend to highlight women artists more as I tour people through the galleries. We’ve had some wonderful one woman shows recently featuring female Inuit artists like Oviloo Tunille, Elisapee Ishulutaq and Pitaloosie Saila.  I suspect I give them priority and often spend a greater percentage of my tour time in galleries featuring  talented female artists.  

The Farmer’s Daughter by Prudence Heward

If I am giving a tour of Canada’s Group of Seven I’ll be sure to mention that even though there were some fine female artists working at the same time as the now famous group, because of a lack of rights for women in the early 1900s, they routinely weren’t included in Group of Seven exhibitions.  If we have work by one of those women like Emily Carr or Prudence Heward up in the gallery I’ll be sure my tour participants see it. 

Daphne Odjig at the opening of a show of her work in Toronto when she was 89 years old

I think the fact that I am part of an older demographic than the one referred to on the flower power petal may make me more sensitive to things like putting up extra chairs at various spots in the gallery when I give tours to senior groups.  I understand people in that age category might need to sit down a little more often on a tour.  I also may be more open to how much I can learn from the seniors I tour. I have come to realize that even if they struggle with some frustrating memory loss,  they can still be a rich storehouse of knowledge and personal experience when it comes to the art on display. I also tend to talk a little more about artists like Daphne Odjig who continued to produce artwork in her eighties and even nineties. 

Jordyn’s presentation made me realize that being part of a less powerful group can be a good thing because it heightens your sensitivity and awareness as you do your work.  However it should also make you more understanding of how people in the areas where you do have the upper hand  might feel, and inspire you to take their lack of power into consideration and look for ways you can become their ally. 

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Filed under Education, WInnipeg Art Gallery

Amazing Kids

I am just wrapping up a month of visiting Winnipeg schools in my role as a supervisor for education students practicing their craft in the classroom.  This year I had the privilege of spending time in three different mixed grade one and two classrooms.  I saw amazing things happening in all of them. 

Classroom #1

My student teacher was doing math problems with her six and seven-year olds that involved addition.  These kids didn’t have pencil and paper.  They were adding three digit numbers to three digit numbers in their heads! They had been taught ten different strategies for figuring out addition problems and not only could they complete the calculations mentally they could tell you which strategy they had used and why they had used it.  Different kids used different strategies and that was applauded.  It was amazing. They got it!

Classroom #2

My student teacher had introduced her six and seven-year olds to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.   First they made a pyramid for themselves. What did they need to feel healthy, safe, loved, good about themselves, to be learners and have fun?  Then the teacher read them stories and showed them videos about joeys (baby kangaroos) and they made a pyramid for them.  One day I watched them work together as a class to make a pyramid for baby emperor  penguins after seeing videos and reading books about them. It was amazing!  They got it! 

Classroom #3

My student teacher is Metis and she did a social studies unit introducing her six and seven-year olds to her culture.  She used a medicine wheel with them. A medicine wheel has four sections emotional, mental, physical, spiritual.  I watched one day while the children took special items they had brought from home or had drawn pictures of and they placed them in the “correct”  spoke on their own personal medicine wheel.  They could explain why they had made the choices they did.  A book might go in the mental section because it made them think. A feather might be placed into the spiritual spoke because it reminded them of creation.  A picture of a favorite food might go in physical because it filled them up and a photo of a grandmother in emotional because they loved her.  It was amazing! They got it!

Our schools are often criticized because they aren’t deemed to be doing a good enough job.  I wonder how many people who criticize actually visit to see the great needs as well as potential particularly in Winnipeg’s inner city schools, to see the great work being done by so many teachers and to see the great kids who are being stretched and challenged to be the best they can be. 

Other posts………..

Cool Stuff

Teachers of Their Own

Rap, Reimagining Winnipeg and Fish Nets

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Filed under Education

Teaching Kids About Being Homeless

An article in Wednesday’s Winnipeg Free Press about a one day event to collect the stories of our city’s homeless people reminded me of a book I recently added to our church library.   Illustrated by a former student of my husband’s Jane Heinrichs and written by Jamie Casap and Jillian Roberts On Our Street: Our First Talk About Poverty introduces the issues of poverty and homelessness in a gentle way that is appropriate for school aged  children.  Kids learn why people become homeless because of things like natural disasters, mental illness,wars or abusive family situations.   The book uses photographs as well as Jane’s illustrations to pose questions children might have after seeing homeless people on the street.It encourages children to be empathetic.  What would it be like to live on the street? Finally the book empowers kids by giving them practical ideas for making a difference like collecting food and clothing for donation or extending friendship to other children at school who might seem lonely or unhappy. 

Perhaps if we can start early to help children become empathetic and understanding of people who find themselves without a home, society will one day have the will to provide  the adequate housing, supportive services and social connectedness that could end homelessness in North America.  

Other posts……..

Tin Can Art and Feeding the Homeless

Meeting With the Mayor About Homelessness

A Lot More Than We’d Like to Think

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Filed under Books, Childhood, Education

Where are the Women?


Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze Lavoisier (1758-1836) was the wife of  scientist Antoine Lavoisier.  His primary laboratory assistant, she edited his work and illustrated it with detailed drawings. She translated his essays into English and published them.

A high school student teacher of mine this last semester planned a chemistry unit. In one class he introduced his students to twelve great scientists who made important discoveries that led to our modern understanding of chemistry. Guess what?  All twelve of them were men.  

marie curie public domain

Marie Curie 1867-1934 carried out groundbreaking work in radioactivity. She was the first person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. 

After the lesson I asked him if there were no female chemists he might have introduced to the students.  “There are only men mentioned in the curriculum,” he told me. Sure enough!  I checked the grade nine Manitoba science curriculum and the time line provided there included the exact twelve men my student teacher had faithfully introduced to his class.  Since I always encourage my students to make sure their lessons connect to curriculum I really couldn’t fault the young man. But I was disappointed in the Manitoba Department of Education. How could such outdated and non- inclusive curriculum documents still exist?  I was also curious!  How hard would it be to find a dozen female chemists?  As it turned out not hard at all!

Creative Commons Famous-Women-in-Chemistry-HistoryIt didn’t take too many minutes of searching on the internet to find a site that featured twelve famous female chemists.  In my follow-up notes to my student teacher I suggested he check them out.   “The girls in your class need role models too,”  I told him. 

Other posts……….

Women Were Honored?  Think Again John Kelly!

An Inclusive O Canada

Galileo’s Grocery List

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Filed under Education