Tuesday, February 28, 2017

And even more memories of Roscrea #CCR

For my final trip down the soon-to-close Cistercian College Roscrea memory lane I'm concentrating on what I was there for - education.

My Favourite Class
No doubt about this - French was my favourite class. John Shanahan was my teacher for all five years of my time in CCR - 2A all the way up to 5A. Despite loving this subject I only managed a disappointing C in the Leaving Certificate. Twice during summer holidays I was sent to France on an exchange which helped enormously with my conversation and vocabulary. In first year my introduction to educational technology brought us "Voix et Image" - we recited "Voilà Monsieur Thibaut" so many times. I expected to meet loads of Thibauts when I went to France, but never did. For some 2A nostalgia, here's the video...

Other classes I enjoyed
I very much liked History and Geography - I did both subjects up to the Intermediate Certificate. By then I was being steered towards choosing Science subjects for the Leaving Cert, so I did not continue with either. Rody Ryan was our History teacher - only he could make an exciting subject boring. He spent most of the class writing on the board extracts from the course textbook, which we all had in front of us, and made us take down his notes. While I wanted to learn more about The Flight of the Earls and the War of the Three Kingdoms - I learned how to transcribe text instead. I also liked Fr Patrick's Latin classes, but not the Latin part. I loved Roman History and "Padjo" keep my interest in Julius Caesar and the Romans alive despite me being poor at Latin vocabulary and grammar. Incidentally, Fr Patrick is the only teacher to have ever thrown me out of class!

My Least Favourite Class
I had to think about this one. History (see above) came close, as did Chemistry for the Leaving Cert. Religion classes were not that interesting either, but there was less disinterest in the Church at that time compared to now. The "honour" of my least favourite class goes to Irish. In the year before I went to Roscrea I had completed 6th class in the all-Irish school in Trabolgan, Co Cork. I left there with a Fáinne Nua (which I later lent to a Ruane boy from Mayo in Roscrea and never saw it again), and the ability to speak Irish fluently. Somehow, five years in CCR knocked this out of me. By the time I got to the Intermediate Cert (when I got a barely deserved D) I had lost all interest. Trying to teach Irish through English does not work. Despite his best efforts our teacher (Mr McD) could not get me to build upon my foundations set in Trabolgan. The incessant emphasis on grammar and poetry bored the shite out of me, meanwhile in French class we were using tapes and images which was the way to go. I know that my poor performance in Irish was not due to my school and teacher alone - but the slow decline from 2A to 6B, and the inability to hold a conversation in Irish started in CCR in 1972.

"2" for Study
By the time I got to 6th year, I had never got a dreaded "2" for study which meant a trip to the President Fr Peter. By the time I got to 6th year (and 18 years of age) I was also beginning to become less interested in actually studying - I think I spent most of my time thinking about sex, even though I hadn't a clue what it was! I started to mess in study - students' performance in study was graded 0 - 6, but it was really just a system to keep us behaving. I usually got a 3 or a 4 which indicated I was not on the radar of the priests who supervised study. My first "2" was for messing with Niall Duff - we were "shooting" each other with "machine guns" (our rulers) and idiotically we did not see Fr Kevin coming to catch us. The second "2" was for reading a novel during study: Arthur Hailey's "Hotel". The Mire caught me reading this, confiscated this "dirty" book, and gave me a "2" for study. Fr Peter was sympathetic when I went to see him. I'm sure he was bored with endless excuses and trivial matters - he let me off with a warning not to do it again.

While not quite education, Mass was for our benefit to develop us as men as well as being good for the soul. If I recall correctly, in the years before 1972 Mass was compulsory every day, but after 1972 it was optional on some days. Sometimes I went just to skip study. The church had a hierarchy where younger boys sat at the front and older boys at the back. At times Mass was cool - especially when we had songs like "Let It Be" and "With a Little Help From My Friends" as hymns, for a few minutes we were Holy Beatles. For the most part our behaviour was exemplary - Mass was not the place to be messing under the watchful eyes of Fr Peter and God Himself. Studs on our shoes were very popular in the 1970s, and it was almost a competition to see who could make the most noise walking back to our seats after Communion. There was always an enthusiastic rendition of "Hail Redeemer" at the end of Sunday Mass - 300 boys belted it out as if our lives depended on it.

There it is - some memories that were personal to me. I know that there might be some CCR Alumni reading this who will have different recollections to me, and may even disagree with some of mine. Yet these are my memories, good and bad. I'd love to have a computer full of videos, selfies, and photos of all five years to refresh and relive some memories, but the 1970s and my teenage years was mostly about living in a boarding school with a great bunch of classmates disconnected from the rest of the world. This year we will be celebrating 40 years since we left CCR, this might be the last one before the school closes. Back in 1977 the world was at our feet, and none of us would have predicted the life we have now. Equally, none of us would have predicted that such a vibrant College would close 40 years later. I and my classmates have a lot to thank CCR for - I will be sorry to see it close.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Even More Memories from Roscrea #CCR

Some more thoughts about my time (1972 - 1977) in the soon-to-close Cistercian College Roscrea...

Cistercian Abbey and College from the air.
Image source: Music Ministry.
One day in October 1972, less than two months after I started in Roscrea, the Prefect (JB) at our table during dinner started to ask all the 1st year boys what age we were. All the other boys answered "12", but I had just turned 13 so was the "oldest" boy at the table - our Prefect immediately declared that I was "Granddad", a nickname that stuck with me in various forms (such as "Gramps") for the next five years. My brother Brian inherited this nickname when he went to Roscrea for the five years after me. I was also sometimes called "Locka". Not everybody had a nickname, it was almost a badge of honour to have one. Others in my year included: Ball, Thatch, Horse, Chiquita, Taff, Tosh, Masher, Giggs, plus of course many were known by the surnames and abbreviations of same: Hessy, Macker, Ryano, and Noxo. Even our teachers and minders had nicknames: Rubber, Felix, The Rod, The Fish, Padjo, The Rat, Glider, The Bonav, The Mire, and Sparky. It's funny that when us Old Boys meet up we do not use nicknames any more, preferring first names instead.

I have to admit that I did not like playing rugby - ever. It was compulsory in 1st year for all of us to play rugby in the Kids' Leagues. I hated it. I was always stuck in the forwards and spent a lot of time pushing and shoving in scrums and rucks. I played most games without ever touching the ball. I was not very good at rugby, and I got hurt a lot with being pushed around and getting savage hand-offs in the face from older and bigger boys from the year above us that we were forced to play against. Sure - it toughened us up and prepared those who went on to play for the JCT and SCT. I was a shite rugby player.

Soccer was my preferred game, and "Wembley" was our mecca. The football pitch, beside the solitary tree near the bottom left in the photo above, was like the Theatre of Dreams. I preferred to play in goal and on this pitch I won the FA Cup, the League, the World Cup - pulling off world class saves in every game! Nearly everyone had a favourite English team - Leeds United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United were the preferred ones, I was very unusual in that Preston North End were my team. My hero was Preston's Irish goalkeeper Alan Kelly. I played as much soccer as I could, dreaming of the day I would line out in goal for Preston and Ireland. I was a shite goalkeeper, but I loved it.

A culture where older boys hit on younger boys would not be tolerated today. While bullying was rare in Roscrea as far as I saw - it did occur. In my previous post I wrote about food - it was common, and accepted, that older prefects had first choice of food at the dinner table, and some abused this position to fill their own bellies while leaving others hungry. I also recall one instance that left me rolling in agony. The corridor between the toilets and common rooms was plenty wide for two boys to pass each other, but in one of those instances where I and another older boy tried to avoid each other by both going left, and then right - the other bully needlessly knee'd me in the thigh to get me out of his way. I thought my leg was broken. Over 40 years later I remember this instance like it was yesterday.

Escaping from College was not easy - getting caught led to serious consequences like extra study and writing 100 lines from Lepanto. I was a cowardly shite whose fear of getting caught out-weighed the thrill of "bunking" - most of the time. I remember bunking to Lawler's shop outside the gates of the College - forbidden, but one of the easier bunks to get away with. Bunking Mass was popular, but again the risk was not worth it - Fr Peter (RIP) would not tolerate this, not to mention the wrath of God thrown in. I was in awe of those who seemed to get away with it all the time.

Cigarettes cost a lot of money - I could never afford them, and my Mum and Dad would kill me if they found out I was smoking. There was a certain attraction to smoking as it made you look older, and of course you would have been part of the smoking "Saloon" which was the coolest place in the College to be seen smoking openly. I preferred Mars Bars to cigarettes - to me it was no competition. On one occasion, a classmate (Ryano) tried to teach me how to smoke in the toilets. We stood on the toilet bowl and he showed me how to inhale and blow the smoke towards the roof so that The Mire couldn't catch us. While it was exciting to be doing something illegal, I was a shite smoker. During the Leaving Cert exams I managed to get a packet of Rothmans. I sneaked down to the golf course so that I wouldn't be seen and smoked a fag. I was as sick as a dog. I did persevere and was a smoker for about six years afterwards. Mum - if you are reading this it was Ryano's fault!

In the days before computers and mobile phones, radio was our connection with the outside world. The Top Twenty on Radio Luxembourg, and Sport on 2 (BBC Radio 2) were my favourite programmes. Every Saturday afternoon I was in Anfield, Old Trafford, Elland Road, and many other Division 1 grounds as commentators like Des Lynam and Alan Parry thrilled us with commentary and results. Saturday afternoon study started at 16:30 - this meant that we did not get the final results. However, I cheated this by feeding my earphone up my sleeve and listening to the results, passing notes to other boys to tell them how their team got on. Radio Luxembourg's Top Twenty was on late on Sunday night, so it meant listening using an earphone (for one ear) in bed. It was a cool thing the next day to be able to not only say what the Number 1 was, but also to have actually heard it. We had to register our radios before study so that they would be taken away from us, but I was addicted to mine and regularly "forgot" to register. It was confiscated by The Mire many times. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

More Memories of Roscrea #CCR

Digging back into memories from over 40 years ago I try to recall some stories and events from my time in Cistercian College Roscrea. It was just five out of the 57 years of my life, but CCR definitely left an impression on me. I have spent my entire career in education, and a lot of what formed me as a person came from this school. While I had some good times there, there were also some not-so-good times too. Below are a few that come immediately to my mind.

The Food
Image source: Frank C Murray Construction.
I don't know what the food is like in CCR nowadays, but in the 1970s it was dreadful. First, imagine 300 growing hungry teenagers all coming for dinner at the same time - it must have been near impossible to prepare this many dinners, never mind make them tasty and nutritious. I think all of us were hungry (not starving) all the time. A Tuck Shop stocked with Mars Bars, and food from home helped keep us going. My most miserable moment with food was once taking a cold roast potato from a plate of collected left-over waste food from a clean-up trolley long after dinner was over - I was so hungry I ate someone else's leftovers.

The Bread
Not all food was bad - the bread keep us alive. It was baked in the Monastery and there was usually plenty of it. Brown or white - the bread was famous, my Dad always made sure to bring some loaves home. It was one of the few things that I looked forward to at meal time. 

Despite having plenty of bread, there was never enough butter. It was divided up between all the boys on each table. At the beginning of teatime, it was the job of one boy to mark out with a knife portions of butter for everyone - all we got was a square of butter about the size of a sugar cube. Woe betide any boy who marked out unequal squares. We were experts at spreading this thinly across thick slices of delicious bread. 

Something else to look forward to were visits from my Mum and Dad. Between September and Christmas we just got home for the mid-term at Halloween - a visit was most welcome. Sundays were often boring days, so a visit that involved going out to lunch/dinner meant that we got a "feed" that we talked about for days. My Mum would also bring home cooked food for us - if it was a cake or a tart, we were very popular at table when we shared it out.

Possibly strange for boys today to imagine writing a letter home every Sunday, but this is what we did. In first year, our letters were read by Fr Bonaventure to check for "spelling and grammar" before we handed them up for posting. This gross invasion of privacy would not be tolerated today. No doubt this spying worked to concentrate minds on making an effort to write neat letters, but I recall making sure that my letters were mundane and non-critical in case I got myself into trouble. Letters went out in the post on Monday, and like clockwork my Mum would respond and her responding letter would arrive on Wednesday or Thursday - I loved the details of what was happening on the farm at home. Mum has kept many of my (and my brother's) letters to this day - I look forward to getting my hands on them again.

More memories to come...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Memories of Roscrea #CCR

I sometimes wish we had camera phones back in the 70s. That way I would remember more of what happened, where I was, what I did, and who I was with (though I'm not sure I would be proud of selfies with long hair, wide shirt lapels, and flared jeans!). From my five years spent as a boarder in the soon to close Cistercian College Roscrea, I have very few photographs from my time there - just six, five of which are from musicals and one class photo from my final year in 1977. The musicals had official photographers and I got copies of the ones below from classmates just a couple of years ago. Our sixth year group photo shows 56 lads, two of who are sadly no longer with us: Enda Nolan (second from left in third row), and Kieran Egan (fifth from right in third row). This photo was taken just before our Leaving Certificate in May 1977 - all our talk then was of exams, summer, and what we were going to do next (in those days not all went to College). 

Class of 1977.
I'm in the middle of the second row from back.
In my time in Roscrea I took part in three musicals. I can't remember for sure what we did in first year (it might have been The White Horse Inn) when I would have been a chorus "girl" - in an all-boys school this was the lot of first years. In third year I had a small part (Willi Veit) in Schubert's Lilac Time, while in fifth year I was in the chorus of My Fair Lady (this time as a boy!). Musicals were certainly a highlight for me. They were directed by Frances Bergin (who died just last October)  - a very gentle woman who always kept us in good spirits and on our toes. Apart from the thrill of being on stage, practice and rehearsals were during study time and we sometimes got off homework because of that. I've published the photos below here before, but here they are again:

Lilac Time cast (1973). I'm second "lady" from right.
(That's a young Rory O'Connell from RTÉs "How to Cook Well" programme sitting at the front).
Lilac Time (1873).
I'm the middle "lady" front left.

I'm Getting Married in the Morning from My Fair Lady.
I'm just to right of centre.

The Ascot Opening Race from My Fair Lady.
I'm at the back just to the right of the painted window.

This evening Sir you did it!
I'm at the front left of group of waiters.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Irish County Maps now available in @Tableau 10 #analytics #GAA

Included in the latest version of Tableau Software is a feature that allows you to create maps based on the 26 counties of Ireland. This was not available in previous versions where to use Irish maps you needed a lot of latitude and longitude coordinates. The six counties of Northern Ireland are not included as an Irish county - instead the local authority regions are mapped according to UK maps. Users of Tableau should note that Irish counties are not classified as "Counties" in Tableau's "Geographical Role" - rather they are classified as "State/Province".

In response to a recent article in the Irish Independent Mayo the big spenders: This graph breaks down each county's costs in 2016, I decided to take a look at how spending compares to success in the senior All-Ireland football and hurling championships. I took the spend data from the Independent article, and the number of titles won by each county (Northern Ireland not included) from Wikipedia. While of course spending in 2015 has nothing to do with winning titles years ago, it does make for interesting viewing when put together in a Dashboard using Tableau. I created a Dashboard showing each county's population, GAA spend, football, and hurling titles. Each map acts as a filter for the other, so go ahead and click on your own county to drill down for detail. The dashboard is published on Tableau Public here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Four Generations of my family in CCR

Many students who went to Cistercian College Roscrea did so because a father or a family member had gone there in previous generations. The first connection that my family had with the Cistercians was when my grand-uncle James Murphy went to work there on the building of the Abbey. He liked it so much that he joined the Monastery and became a priest. In 1905 the abbot of the Monastery asked the then Brother Alberic to be the first Bursar and Dean of the College. In the second decade of the 20th century, his three nephews: Tim, Charles, and Pat Hurley (who were brothers) went to CCR as boarders. Charlie became a priest (and later a Monsignor) - his second name was "Francis" which is my second name too named after him. Tim became a doctor and moved to Cardiff in Wales. Pat bought a farm near Carnew in Co Wicklow (the farm where I grew up and where my Mum and Dad still live) - he lived in Dublin with his sister Eileen.

Pat Hurley
Fr Alberic (James) Murphy.
My Dad in the early 1940s.
What I looked like in 1974.

My Dad went to school in CCR from 1944 to 1947 - hard times at the end of World War II. He once cycled all the way from Carnew to Roscrea! Myself and my two brothers (Joe and Brian) also went to CCR - between 1972 and 1982 there was an unbroken sequence of three O'Loughlins boarding there. There have been no family members since. I often wondered if I had sons would I have sent them there. Probably not. I have lived in Dublin since 1978 and there are many schools close by my home that would be just as good if not better. Sadly, there will be no future generations of Hurleys or O'Loughlins attending CCR.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Announcement of the Closure of Cistercian College Roscrea #CCR

It is with mixed emotions that I learned on Friday that Cistercian College Roscrea is to close in 2017. In a letter to past pupils from the Abbot Dom Richard Purcell, he stated that it was "with great sadness and regret that the monks of Mount St Joseph Abbey, as Trustees of Cistercian College Roscrea, have taken the decision to permanently close the College". It seems the monks had no real choice but to make this difficult decision. A 45% decrease in student enrolment, insufficient resources to cover day-to-day costs, and unrealistic alternatives have forced their hand. Up to as recently as 1989 there were about 300 boys boarding in the school - the projected figure 2017/2018 is 150, clearly an unsustainable number. Despite a growing population in this country and a consequent increase in demand for school places - it seems that demand for full-boarding is in terminal decline.

Image source: Wikipedia.
I attended CCR from September 1972 to June 1977 and have many memories, both good and bad, from my time there. There were about 60 boys in my year, and many of us keep in touch through reunions - this year were are hoping to gather for our 40th Anniversary of finishing up in CCR. Strange that this will be the last such reunion while the school will still be open. I'm sure that the Past Pupils Union will keep things going for a while, but as the song goes "But year after year, their numbers get fewer, Someday, no one will march there at all" (The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, by Eric Bogle).

I'll post some memories here over the next few weeks.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Think First, Plot Second: Sharing Dashboards Online Using @Tableau #Analytics

This week I plan to use Tableau Software to get students to create dashboards - we will use Carbon Dioxide data from every country in the world. Tableau Public allows anyone to publish their dashboards online for all to see. 

Visualization of data is now big business. The Best Data Visualization Tools of 2016 (by PC Mag) lists Tableau and Microsoft Power BI as the top two tools for big data analysis and intelligence. There is a danger in using such tools without first thinking what you want to show. It is dead easy to open up a data file in Tableau and create interesting charts at the click of a button. But what is the best chart to choose? What are you trying to show? Will people understand what you are showing? Are you making your audience work hard to get value out of your charts? These are the questions we are asking students in our Data Visualization classes at NCI, which we hope to answer by thinking first and plotting second - too often it is the other way around.

Here's a quick dashboard created in Tableau, only part of the dashboard is visible due to size of blog pane - the full interactive dashboard can be seen here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"Careful With That Axe" - Mostly Irish & Dublin Readers! #GoogleAnalytics

While checking through Google Analytics this week (for ideas in my Data Visualization class), I used my own website to generate data from 1 January 2016 to 31 December 2016 (when I posted every day) for viewing. I had incorrectly assumed that most traffic would come from America (as is the case for my YouTube channel), resulting from searches that include stuff I write about. Much to my surprise, 57% of sessions* come from Ireland, and only 16.7% come from the US. If I include the UK, about 80% of sessions come from just three countries - here's the top ten: 

Interestingly, of the 57% views from Ireland, 77% of these come from the Dublin region. Apart from family, I rarely meet anyone who has read my blog. Based on figures from LinkedIn, I seem to get most views via that network. 

So a big THANK YOU to all my Dublin-based Irish readers for checking out my blog!

Incidentally, map data is poorly illustrated in Google Analytics - I'll not be using it in class.

A session is the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

RIP Dr Hans Rosling #Statistics #Analytics #HDSDA

It has been announced today that the great Dr Hans Rosling has died at the age of 68 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was well-known for promoting statistics and the use of data to explore development issues. 

Rosling made several presentations including TED talks. One of his best presentations was on comparing life span with wealth in 200 counhtires over 200 years. It is a brilliant piece of Data Visualization and his love for data shines through. Worth another look.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Using Google Slides to Share Content in Class for the First Time #Analytics

Recently I had been looking for some free online sites/software that would allow students in my class to share graphics/charts so that they could be viewed in class on the lecture theatre's screen at the completion of an exercise. I had seen several brilliant instances in the past where teachers/lecturers used text sharing ideas like Padlet, and Stoodle. But I wondered would there be an easy way for students to (voluntarily) share graphics and create a slideshow. Enter Google Slides!

In a tutorial last week, I gave my class (50 students approx) a data set taken from the Met Éireann website - the idea was that all students would use the same data source. The task was to draw at least one chart of choice to visualize some aspect of the data - students could have chosen rain, temperature, monthly, yearly date (and lots more). No direction was given as to what specific data to use - only that it must come from the file given. Students could plot bar charts, pie charts, line charts - anything that they wanted, the idea being to show how many different types of chart we could show from different students.

Students created their charts mostly in Excel and Tableau. They then copied and pasted the charts into a separate slide for each student via a link that I had previously set up in Moodle that gave them edit access to a blank Google Slides presentation. At the end of the exercise I viewed the presentation on-screen for all to see, and invited comment on several slides as they came up. Not surprisingly there were several different interpretations of the data, and many different types of chart.

I'll not show my class slideshow here, as it is confidential to my class. However, I did prepare and embed a Google Slide show using my own data/charts below, which was easy to put together. Google Slides has turned out to be a very powerful way to share simply students' work.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Kaiser Wilhelm Church - Memories #BerlinAttack #WhatIf

While writing about Berlin yesterday, I was struck that not far from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, was the location of the the Berlin attack using a truck driven by the Tunisian Anis Amri on 19th December last year. 12 people died and 56 others were injured. The attack took place at the Breitscheidplatz Market beside the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. Just three months earlier I had visited the exact same spot to see the church, much of which survived bombing by the British and Americans in the Second World War. Like many others, I posed for photos and walked around the market not in the least expecting that someone would later kill people in the same place. The Breitscheidplatz market was the first place I ever experienced a Virtual Reality headset at the Samsung stand in the market. Of course since that day I have often wondered "what if" the attack took place on the day I was there.

We can't live our lives in fear, yet there are many destinations and countries in the world that I know I will never visit because of security fears. I would never have put Berlin on any such list - is anywhere safe? Not far from where I work there is a memorial to the victims of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings. At the top of the list is a lady named Cristina O'Loughlin (no relation) who was innocently going about her business in South Leinster Street when she was killed by a bomb - it could have been any one of us walking past at the wrong time. 

At the Kaiser Wilhelm Church, 3rd September, 2016.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

No Disrespect Intended #yolocaust

Are selfies taken at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial disrespectful to the millions of people murdered during World War II? The yolocaust.de website has recently provoked a strong reaction, both positive and negative, to people taking selfies at the memorial.  The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe consists of 2,711 concrete slabs called stelae, and is easily the most sombre place I have ever been when visiting Berlin last September. Yes - while I was there there were many people taking selfies (including me), and jumping from one slab to the next (not including me). There were young and old mostly just walking along the many passes and corridors between the slabs. I also visiting the underground museum - numbing.

I was born just 14 years after the end of World War II in safe Catholic Ireland on the edge of Europe far away from the atrocities committed in the name of National Socialism. Thankfully none of our Jewish community, LGBT community, or people with Mental Disability went to the gas chambers. I don't even know if there is a holocaust memorial in Ireland - we were far removed from these awful events. However, speaking in 2012, Alan Shatter (the then Minister for Justice) said that an "inconvenient truth is that those who chose to do and say nothing during this unprecedented period in European history included this State [Ireland]" and he recalled that the Irish Ambassador to Germany recommended that the Irish Government refuse visa requests from Jews to protect Ireland from "contamination". What a load of bollocks that thankfully should not happen now. 

In the photo below (taken by Roma), we certainly meant no disrespect to anyone - this is just one of probably thousands of photos taken that day at the Memorial. Young people in particular, who are now several generations away from WWII and used to selfies everywhere, might find the fuss over yolocaust to be both awkward and bemusing. To small children, this place is like a playground. In a hundred years time when most of us will all be dead - what will people think of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe? Hopefully it will retain its sombreness and that there will be no need to build any more similar memorials between now and then.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

This is Cool! #handshakes

A teacher in a North Carolina has a novel way of greetign students to his class - personalized handshhakes for each student. What a great way to start class - Barry White, Jr., a fifth grade English teacher at Ashley Park Pre K-8 School does this with every single student in his class. Check out the video...

Of course there is a reason behind all this. According to White, when they "start doing the moves and that brings them excitement and pumps them up for a high-energy class". He started doing this after noticing his favorite basketball player, LeBron James, doing the same thing with his teammates. What he is doing is building trust, and creating a deep and meaningful relationship with his students. When students know their teacher cares, they are attentive, engaged and driven to be successful.

At third level things are a bit different. I have up to 70 students in some of my classes and it would be very difficult to do something like what Barry White is doing in his class. There isn't the same relationship with students at third-level as there is at other levels. Most of the time I do not know students' names, and I certainly don't have a personalized relationship with any of them. While this is a pity, it is unavoidable with so many students who I have in class for just three hours per week. It doesn't mean that I don't care - but building trust and meaning is a lot harder.