Category Archives: Education

5 Things I Believe About Learning

For a professional development session last week I was asked to make a list of things I believe about learning.  After lots of deliberation here is what I decided were my core beliefs.

My husband and son playing chess at our kitchen table in Hong Kong

  1. We learn best by being active participants.  We learn by doing, by exploring, making mistakes and asking questions.

    Children in my classroom who worked together to make a mural for the poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

  2. We learn from each other. Learning is a collaborative and social experience.

    Practicing my sketching skills in Old Market Square Winnipeg

  3. Learning should be challenging, satisfying and joyful.

    Our son learning about Canadian history at Lower Fort Garry near Winnipeg

  4. Learning is about making connections- personal connections,  historical connections, textual connections, cross-curricular connections, and community connections.

    My Mom learning Tai chi in Hong Kong

  5. Learning is life long. 

Other posts……..

Counting on Their Fingers

Stopping By Woods- A Children’s Masterpiece

Improving Education in Manitoba


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5 Things I Believe About Children

I will attend a professional development session this afternoon related to my job as a university education faculty advisor. To prepare I’ve been asked to write a list of beliefs I have about children.  Deciding what to include in my list was quite a bit harder than I thought, but after plenty of consideration here is what I came up with.

Children at a school I visited in Vietnam

  1. I believe all children are unique and their individuality must be acknowledged and respected.

    Dave and me with our older son

  2. I believe all children are entitled to love, a safe and secure home, a quality education and the physical necessities of life.

    My husband Dave with the basketball team he coached at a school on the Hopi Nation in Arizona

  3. I believe all children have potential and deserve an opportunity to develop that potential

    My husband Dave with kids he taught in Jamaica

  4. I believe adults have much to learn from children.

    With my first class of students in 1974

  5. I believe children are our future and investing heavily in their health, education and well being is of benefit to all of society. 

I’d love to know one thing you believe about children. 

Other posts………..

Meeting the Street Children of Dehli

What’s an Amauti

I’m Glad My Taxes Are Paying For This


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Look What He’s Doing Now!

I am always fascinated to learn what my former students are doing. Last week I was delighted to get a glimpse into the current life of  Justin Bong Kwan who was in my grade five class in Hong Kong in 2003.

My grade five class in Hong Kong in 2003. Justin is in the back row third from the left. 

Justin and I maintain a social media connection and he read a blog post I had written about my feelings regarding the current political situation in Hong Kong.  He thought I might be interested in some articles he has published recently on related topics and he sent me the links to them.

Giving Justin a hug the day of his high school graduation

After high school, Justin received degrees from the London School of Economics and Politics, Durham University and City University in Hong Kong. He is now a practicing barrister in Hong Kong. Besides his law career, Justin does freelance writing and I read these four articles of his with great interest.

Justin’s opinion piece in the South China Morning Post was about the triad’s connections to the current demonstrations and the role they have played in politics in the past. It took me on a little walk through Chinese history, a subject I learned so much about as I prepared to teach it to Justin’s fifth-grade social studies class.

In an article in the Hong Kong Free Press Justin looks at what might be an alternative to the contentious extradition bill that sparked the current demonstrations initially.

 Another piece published in the Brussels Times highlights the irony of the EU’s position on Hong Kong’s extradition bill. 

A fourth piece in the South China Morning Post looks at how British capitalism and the Chinese work ethic have combined to make Hong Kong the unique place it is. 

Justin is an excellent writer, obviously a great critical thinker, and has established a career for himself in two fields. It makes me pretty proud, especially when he told me in a recent message that he credits me with giving him the ‘writing bug’  in grade five. 

Here are a few posts about some of my other former students.  I’d love to know what more of them are doing and where life’s path has taken them. 

She’s Done It Again

Ivan Is Here

Multi-Tasking- Wisdom From a Former Student

My Students in New York

Meeting Our Students in Toronto

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Filed under Education, Hong Kong

Grateful For Mom’s Support

dorothy marie peters 1My aunt called me yesterday. She knew it was the sixth anniversary of my mother’s death and she wanted to know how I was doing.  I told her that while I still think of my mother every day, my grief over her death is gradually being replaced with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for her presence and influence in my life.  

My aunt told me she was looking forward to attending her granddaughter’s university graduation this coming week. That reminded me of my own university graduation. After high school, I attended college for two years and then completed another year of studies to receive an education certificate so I could start teaching in 1974. But I still needed seven more courses to get my Bachelor of Arts degree.  

I took all those classes by correspondence, or during summer school sessions or by enrolling in evening courses.  While I did that I was teaching full time and also parenting my young son.  I finally finished my last course in 1980 and was eligible to take part in commencement exercises at the University of Manitoba to receive my degree.  I decided it would be too much trouble to attend.  

But my mother insisted I go.  “You’ve worked so hard for that degree MaryLou.  You need to celebrate it. I’m going with you and you are going to walk across that stage and get your diploma.”   And so that’s exactly what I did. Version 2I’ve kept this photo my Mom took of me that day. She was so proud of me. My Mom was my number one cheerleader. I am so grateful for her endless support, her pride in my accomplishments and her constant affirmation. 

Other posts………

Get Smart,

Crokinole and Ping Pong

International Day of the Girl

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Filed under Education, Family

I Can’t Believe I Did That!

“Aren’t there any women’s cricket teams in India?”  I did a blog post recently about an interesting installation in the Vision Exchange exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  You can read all about it here.  The installation includes a marble cricket bat to illustrate that cricket was introduced to India by the British.

Sarindar Dhaliwal The Cartographer's Mistake

The Cartographer’s Mistake by Sarindar Dhaliwal

Last week I was showing the installation to a group of high school students and was talking to them about how India now excels at the game of cricket. They are champions who have been known to beat British teams.

india cricket champs

A team from India wins the Under 19 World Cricket Championships in 2018

I showed the high school students the same photo I had included in my blog post of a young men’s championship cricket team from India. When I did that one of the young women on my tour asked, “Aren’t there any women’s cricket teams in India?”

I felt so embarrassed!  “I can’t believe I did that,”  I thought to myself. Here I am a proud feminist and I had neglected to include a picture of a women’s cricket team in my presentation! What was wrong with me? When I got home I quickly went online and sure enough, India has a strong national women’s cricket team that has been very successful on the international stage. I inserted their picture into my blog post and printed one up to show to tour groups at the art gallery in the future.  

India’s national women’s cricket team

Although women do not have parity in salary, or media coverage in the field of sports as of yet, we are on the road to that kind of equality and I should be doing everything I can to promote it.  The only thing that made me happy about the whole embarrassing incident was that there was a young woman bold enough and confident enough to call me out on my lack of inclusion.  I told her how much I had appreciated her question when I apologized for my omission.

The incident was a great reminder that even those of us with the best of intentions can sometimes fail to be as inclusive as we should be.  

Other posts………..

Include Me Please

Inequality at the Wailing Wall

Why Are They Difficult Women?


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Filed under Art, Education, Sports

Some Things Are Working Well

I just made my rounds of all the elementary school classrooms where I have been a regular visitor over the last six weeks.  I was getting the final reports for each of my student teachers signed and ready to hand into the university.

children's art school yard

Mural on the wall of one of the schools I visit.

I caught up with one of my student teachers in the gym where she was running a noon hour skipping club for students. dioramasA grade five and six teacher showed me the dioramas her class is constructing illustrating the climate, geography and lifestyle of one of Canada’s indigenous nations.   A grade one and two teacher let me read some of the letters her class had penned to their city councilor telling her about the changes they thought needed to happen in their community. I found another one of my teachers in the library where he and the students in the photography club he has been running at the school were setting up for a show displaying their work.


Sign on the window in one of the classrooms I visit

In another upper elementary class my student teacher showed me the crankie her class had made about the solar system.  A crankie is an old storytelling art form. You start by creating a long illustrated scroll that is wound onto two spools. The spools are loaded into a box which has a viewing screen. Then the scroll is hand-cranked while the story is told. In another class the kids were redesigning Canada’s coat of arms to include symbols that would represent our indigenous communities. In a grade three and four class my student teacher was busy preparing for a fairy tale tea her class is hosting where they will read the fairy tales they have written and illustrated. 

As Manitoba’s education minister Kelvin Goertzen introduced the review of the Manitoba education system his government is currently conducting he said our education system “is not working well.”  I hope the people on the commission he has appointed will take the time to visit Manitoba school classrooms as I do on a regular basis, and see that there definitely are some exciting postive things going on in our schools, things that are “working well.”

Other posts………….

Improving Education in Manitoba- Someone Thinks They Have All the Answers

Imitating Emily

Words To Live By

Persuade Me


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Why Are Most Canadian Prime Ministers Old White Men?

prime ministers of canada

Poster of Canada’s Prime Ministers available from Teacher Tools.

In a grade five and six class I have been visiting the last couple of weeks the kids and their teacher have worked out a kind of rap with actions to learn the names of all of Canada’s prime ministers.  

For Sir John A. MacDonald they hold up one finger since he was Canada’s first prime minister.  They make a sun over their heads for Wilfred Laurier because his catch phrase was  ‘sunny ways’.  They make the peace sign for Lester Pearson because he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

They make a curly French moustache for Pierre Trudeau because he was responsible for making French the official second language of Canada.  While they say the names of the prime ministers and do the actions the kids look at a poster that pictures all the prime ministers. One day the student teacher I was supervising asked the students what questions they had about the prime ministers of our country.  Here are some of the things they wanted to know.  

  1.  What makes a good prime minister?  
  2. What makes a bad prime minister? 
  3. Why are most of Canada’s prime minister’s old white men? 
  4. Why was Kim Campbell only the prime minister for such a short time? 
  5. How did Justin Trudeau get so popular? 
  6. How old do you have to be to be a prime minister? 
  7. What does a prime minister do anyway?
  8. Which prime minister made the first law? 
  9. Do you have to be rich to be the prime minister? 
  10. What does a prime minister do when they aren’t the prime minister anymore? 

I thought these were great questions!  I’d like some of them answered myself!  

Other posts. ……

Who Should Be Prime Minister? 

I Sat in the Speaker’s Chair

The Famous Five


Filed under Canada, Education