Kornelsen: Stories of Transformation

From uwinnipeg.ca

From uwinnipeg.ca

In an era of ubiquity when it comes to positioning, conferences, and subsequent books on the notions of experiential education and global citizenship, Lloyd Kornelsen, professor of Education at the University of Winnipeg and former acting head of the Global College, offers a breath of fresh air and an impressive conceptual analysis of both concepts.

In Stories of Transformation: Memories of a Global Citizenship Practicum, Kornelsen describes a School Initiated Course and learning experience from 2003 whereby he accompanied a group of high school students from the University of Winnipeg Collegiate to Costa Rica. Several years later, with questions in mind regarding the utility and transformational power of such excursions, Kornelsen interviewed the participants to examine how these practicums line up with the theoretical underpinnings provided by likely suspects: Dewey, Freire, Kolb, Illich,  Nussbaum, Appiah, and more.

The power in Kornelsen’s journey is the questions he raises about the efficacy of these trips — where affluent youth truck down to the South for the purposes of Socratic self-examination, transformation, and to gain insight into this idea of a global citizenry. Kornelsen pulls no punches and offers several pitfalls of such learning experiences, but fundamentally asserts that two critical capacities are required for educators.

The first is what he refers to as teachers needing to take responsibility for their teaching selves. By this, educators need to be global citizens, defined principally by Nussbaum and Appiah. Teachers must be critical thinkers, and examine that jumping on a plane and living with local families may have its limitations and ethical uneasiness. How do we as educators provide our students with the support and experiences necessary to overcome these limitations? Are we simply sending students on trips and hoping for the best?

The second capacity refers to something that I fail at often — that is the need to relate to our learners as Korenlesen suggests, “inter-subjectively.” Educators must foster and facilitate learning communities whereby the experience of each learner is honoured and respected and where the elders provide nudges and insight for further educative experiences and dissonance.

This book is well researched, painfully honest, and a window into what excellence in teaching looks like. Stories of Transformation is a must read for all teachers who truly seek to engage learners in meaningful conversations about who we are as a species and our purpose on this planet.

The Tension Between Learning & Credentials


A few weeks ago, the folks at KQED Mindshift published a blog post by Katrina Schwartz entitled How ‘Deprogramming Kids’ from How to ‘Deschool’ Could Improve Learning. In the article, she tells the story of a high school math and physics teacher who goes through the process of rejigging his conceptualization of learning.

The teacher goes through a process of deconstructing a variety of practices and methods which arguably have skewed the very purpose of education for the purposes of ensuring his students are learning. He enters a process whereby he admits that his conventional practice no longer moves towards notions of excellence in teaching and learning, but more towards a game of rewards, numbers, and credential acquisition.

While the term deschooling in this context is far from what Illich posits, I was struck by this narrative as I have gone through a similar process of reflection. I have only recently realized that for the past few years I have been failing many of my students, as my assessment practices only served a small minority. This has been a devastating process, but one I hope that has steered me on the elusive path towards excellence in teaching and learning.

I invite you to read the article and share your thoughts.

Segregation in Canadian Prisons: The New Normal?


From CBC.ca

From CBC.ca

Over the past few weeks, Corrections Services Canada and the Federal Government have been placed under the spotlight based on recommendations on the practice of placing inmates into segregation. These recommendations come from an inquest relate to Ashley Smith and more recent concerns surrounding the death of Edward Snowshoe.

Below is a conversation between the CBC and Canada’s prisoner Ombudsman Howard Sapers on the role of segregation and its consequences.

Here is Debra Parkes,associate dean, research and graduate studies, in the law faculty at the University of Manitoba, on segregation and human rights in Canada: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/we-need-the-rule-of-law-in-prison/article22004287/  She will be joining us on Wednesday.

Once you have listened to the podcast and read the Parkes op-ed, leave an informed comment on the Day 6 website. Be sure to have a question, thesis, and rationale.

Serial, Season 1, Episode 1: The Sausage Factory of Criminal Law

02_1xThis week our Law learning community has been introduced to two things: Criminal Law and the sensational podcast Serial. We were all mesmerized by Episode 1 and I thought everyone was going to attack me when I turned it off for “discussion.” Lesson learned.

We also spoke today of the Sausage Factory of Criminal Law, that is the process of the criminal justice system and how if at any point the system is compromised or misguided, the result will be poisoned. Here is diagram:


How does the series Serial connect with the notion of the Sausage Factory? Can you find other examples of Canadian cases where a misstep or poisoning of the process resulted in a bad outcome? What are the critical stages where something can go wrong? How might we improve the situation?

What of Louis Riel’s or David Milgaard‘s trials? At what point in the Sausage Factory did something go wrong?

Be thoughtful, use evidence, and respond to your colleagues with positivity.

Here is a link to an interview with the Adnan Seyid’s family: http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/dec/07/serial-adnan-syed-family-podcast-interview