the comfort of why

Getting to Know Me and You

In a recent blog post, Chris Kennedy, Superintendent of Schools for West Vancouver, issued a challenge which involves providing 11 random facts about one’s self, answering 11 questions, and posing 11 questions for others to answer.

I don’t have an athlete’s competitive gene in the way Chris does, but I’m not one to pass up a challenge — particularly one which offers an easy way into kickstarting my blog for the year.

So here goes:

11 Facts About Me

  1. I’m the eldest child in my family and I use birth order psychology to rationalize my tendency to be bossy.
  2. Athletic competition is not my forte, but I was a competitive swimmer when I was younger.
  3. And while I may not be an athlete, my competitive instincts do tend to arise if faced with a New York Times crossword puzzle, a game of Trivial Pursuit, or any sort of game involving my five nephews.
  4. I was one of the original hosting staff hired for Expo 86 in Vancouver.  I worked in the pre-fair period, first at the display pavilion conducting tours of the site model, and later at the Expo Centre which eventually became Science World.China for blog
  5. Although I did have that experience with Expo, I resigned my position before the Fair actually opened – not one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
  6. I lived in Toronto from 1986 to 1992 and worked for a variety of companies including Addison Wesley Publishers, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and Rogers Cablesystems.  I also obtained my MBA from the University of Toronto while there.
  7. During my time in Toronto, I took creative writing lessons through the Continuing Education department at the U of T.  My instructor, for two terms, was Anne Michaels who subsequently found much acclaim with the publication of her novel Fugitive Pieces among other works.
  8. I still have the letter Ms. Michaels wrote to me at the end of one term (she wrote a letter for to each student) encouraging me to give myself the gift of time to write.  I have to admit, I’ve never quite learned how to do so, but I still may.
  9. While working for CMHC, I was seconded to the G8 1988 Economic Summit and worked in the media centre.  I think I may have caught a glimpse of Margaret Thatcher once from a very great distance!
  10. My return to Vancouver in 1992 was prompted by a number of factors, primarily the impending birth of my first nephew. That’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it brought me back home and allowed me to play a bigger part in his life, and the lives of his brothers, than I may have been able to from far away.
  11. September 2014 will mark 40 years since my family moved to British Columbia and settled in West Vancouver.

Questions from Chris Kennedy:

  1. If you could only watch one television station what would it be? CBC Newsworld
  2. Looking back at your schooling, what was the silliest rule your school had? I don’t remember which is probably a clear indication that school rules aren’t as effective as we’d like them to be.  Or it may only be evidence of my memory issues! 
  3. Who is the greatest ever Canuck? I’m sure I’d answer this differently every day and we’re lucky to have so many choices.  Today I’m going to pick Lester B. Pearson because I believe he was a man who had a vision of how Canada could operate on the world stage in a manner which promoted peace and reconciliation.  Our political leadership now seems to have abdicated that position. [Editor’s Note:  I realize now Chris meant the hockey team and not Canadians in general in which case I’ll say Trevor Linden although I was also a Harold Snepsts fan. Oh, and Kirk McLean.]
  4. What is the greatest rock group of the 1980s?  Please see the note above re memory issues. I was a Fleetwood Mac enthusiast and also a fan of the Little River Band, but I think that may have been more reflective of the 1970s.
  5. What is something education related you have changed your opinion on over your career? Assessment although not necessarily academic honours and awards.
  6. What is the warmest place you have ever been — and how warm was it? China in July 2009.  My eyeglasses would fog up as soon as a I stepped out of the hotel lobby and I remember being drenched in perspiration from morning to evening.
  7. Poorest fashion trend you have seen in schools in the last 10 years? Ugh to Uggs.
  8. What was more frustrating to deal with in your school — Pokemon cards or silly bands? Luckily my role precluded the need to deal with this issue.
  9. Describe your favourite high school teacher in four words. Miss Lysell: dramatist extraordinaire inspiring imaginations.
  10. What is the best reason to go on Facebook at least once a day? For a smile while refreshing connections with friends and family, near and far.
  11. If blogging was outlawed tomorrow — what would be your reaction? Phew!

11 Random Questions for You:

  1. When you think back to your time as an elementary and/or high school student, what’s the one thing you wish had been done differently?
  2. What’s your favourite movie and why?
  3. If you were asked for one piece of advice to offer a first year student at a post-secondary institution, what would it be?
  4. What was your favourite song of 2013 and why?
  5. Who would you say serves as the best role model for young people today?
  6. Think about the work you’re doing now.  Is it part of a career you had planned on or are you doing something you had never thought of doing when you were younger?
  7. If you could pitch an idea for a television show, what would it be? (Credit for this question goes to my son!)
  8. On a sunny day, do you make every effort to get outside or do you sometimes prefer to stay at home?
  9. If you had to choose one animal to best describe who you are, what would it be?  (I was once asked this question in a job interview!)
  10. What do you think is one thing we could do to encourage more young people to vote in municipal, provincial, and federal elections?
  11. What is one change you hope to make in 2014?

I Challenge the Following People to do their “Homework”:

As Chris did, I extend the challenge of this activity to the educational community in the West Vancouver School District including parents and students who write and maintain blogs. I’d also like to extend the challenge to Trustees throughout British Columbia. It’s an interesting way to allow our communities to get to know us just that little bit better beyond our role as advocates for the public education system.

5 Responses to Getting to Know Me and You

  1. Thanks for taking up the challenge . . . here are my answers to your questions:

    When you think back to your time as an elementary and/or high school student, what’s the one thing you wish had been done differently? I wish more time would have been spent to build community in junior high – we had USSR but it could have been Advisory or something similar that helped us feel connected – junior high had a real factory feel to it.

    What’s your favourite movie and why? Field of Dreams. I loved Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella. Kinsella was one the first authors I was really “into” and turned me onto reading. And the scene in Field of Dreams with the father and son playing catch is beautiful.

    If you were asked for one piece of advice to offer a first year student at a post-secondary institution, what would it be? Take it seriously – yes it is more freedom and more independence but you need a plan to ensure the work gets done and you are doing what you need to do to be successful.

    What was your favourite song of 2013 and why? Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Same Love – a rap song I can be proud of my children sing the lyrics along with. (Least favourite – Blurred Lines – for many of the reasons you have described on social media)

    Who would you say serves as the best role model for young people today? Their parents.

    Think about the work you’re doing now. Is it part of a career you had planned on or are you doing something you had never thought of doing when you were younger? I had thought of teaching, but never thought of doing school administration – I don’t think kids dream of being a Superintendent when they grow up. I think by high school I thought teaching was a likely profession – I saw the joy it brought my parents.

    If you could pitch an idea for a television show, what would it be? (Credit for this question goes to my son!) Time traveling show – where you go back to relive a 24 hour period of time in a given year – in the last 10 minutes of the show you return to the present to see how that has altered history. I liked Quantum Leap growing up.

    On a sunny day, do you make every effort to get outside or do you sometimes prefer to stay at home? I like sunny days – but I don’t need to be outside . . . just seeing the sun through the window is often good enough for me.

    If you had to choose one animal to best describe who you are, what would it be? (I was once asked this question in a job interview!) What kind of job asks a question like this? I guess I am an elephant – I never forget.

    What do you think is one thing we could do to encourage more young people to vote in municipal, provincial, and federal elections? I think we are trying – I like what groups like Samara are trying to do to engage young people. I know Obama at least partly figured it out, and in Canada, Nemshi is a good example of someone who has captured some of this demographic – need to find issues that connect to youth.

    What is one change you hope to make in 2014? I want to take more photograhs – I write a lot but sometimes a picture can really tell a story.

    • Thanks Chris for taking the time to answer the questions I had posed. Just wondering if USSR is an acronym for something other that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? Field of Dreams is one of my favourite movies, too. I love your television show idea — was a big fan of Quantum Leap! With regard to the job interview question, it was for a human resources position in Peterborough at a unionized factory site. I didn’t get the job — and I have some good ideas as to why not — but that would take another blog post to explain! I look forward to seeing more photographs from you because I know that you will make the change happen especially if you’ve noted it down in your notebook.

  2. Well thanks for the inspiration for my first blog post of the year. I have been struggling as of late to come up with anything to write but now I have something to go on. Stay tuned for the results. Think I will have my students do this as well.

    My responses to your Questions:

    When you think back to your time as an elementary and/or high school student, what’s the one thing you wish had been done differently? … Not listen to my teachers. I wasted far too much of my life living down to their expectations.

    What’s your favourite movie and why?… Star Wars IV, no reason required the movie speaks for itself.

    If you were asked for one piece of advice to offer a first year student at a post-secondary institution, what would it be? Since drop-out would be frowned upon by my superiors, I will say… Make sure you travel and work extensively in the third world for at least a year after university and get a real education.

    What was your favourite song of 2013 and why?… Don’t got none

    Who would you say serves as the best role model for young people today?… Me!

    Think about the work you’re doing now. Is it part of a career you had planned on or are you doing something you had never thought of doing when you were younger?… Planned but I am not sure it is what I would be best at.

    If you could pitch an idea for a television show, what would it be?… Reality show on today’s schools. Stories from behind the pedagogical curtain.

    On a sunny day, do you make every effort to get outside or do you sometimes prefer to stay at home?… I hate inside. If I am still in the house by noon I go stir crazy.

    If you had to choose one animal to best describe who you are, what would it be?… Sea otter.

    What do you think is one thing we could do to encourage more young people to vote in municipal, provincial, and federal elections?… Give them a life. We have stolen our kids adult lives by suspending their adolescence well into adulthood. If we don’t let them grow up, why should they vote.

    What is one change you hope to make in 2014?… Change? I am change. I get bored of doing the same thing day in and day out. It is one of the reasons I have stopped blogging. Lost interest.

    • Nice to hear from you and I think this would be an interesting exercise to do with students. “Living down to expectations”: now that’s a turn of phrase and points to a very critical teaching issue methinks! That is, how can educators be the one to help students reach for their potential rather than labelling them and forcing them into fulfilling pre-existing notions re ability or competence? Tough one and critical. Star Wars IV which, I believe, means the original one released (I always have to think about it!) and truly an exceptional film. Hear, hear about travel and life experience although given the expanding time spent at school I wonder when’s the best time for a young person to take that time away from academia? First year, third year, after the first degree? A reality show set in a high school? Hmmmm. Pretty sure it would be a ratings-winner, but it may be scary pulling back that curtain. As to blogging, seems like it’s on its way out according to some of the news I’ve seen and yet … Again, thanks for sharing and being a role model of change.

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