It does not happen very often in life, but when it does, there’s no experience quite like it. I am referring to those rare moments when fate, destiny and circumstances collide and converge to bring a chapter of one’s life full circle.
This particular chapter started in the fall of 1984 when, fresh out of the faculty of education University of Toronto and three weeks into September, I landed my first fulltime teaching job at Philip Pocock Catholic secondary school in Mississauga. 1984-85 was a year of firsts for me: my first teaching gig, matrimony and the birth of the first of my five children.
I spent only 3 of my 21 years in the classroom at Pocock in Mississauga 1984-87 (Kitchener-Waterloo was home for my wife and I) – yet those 3 short years were filled with precious people, moments and memories that have endured for 3 decades. Following another 18 years teaching at St. David Catholic secondary school in Waterloo and 7 years as a school district K-12 technology coordinator – I decided to transition, to strike out on my own (Michael Redfearn Consulting) in a new role as a digital literacy consultant.
While scanning the Internet for potential conferences at which to share my ‘Being A Catholic Parent In A Digital World’ presentation – I found OAPCE (Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education), sent them an email and received a response from Renata Quattro, one of the conference co-chairs. After exchanging a few emails we quickly discovered that our paths had crossed at Pocock from 1984-87.
A school is much more than bricks and mortar and measured more by the collective spirit and generosity of its many members than any fleeting material wants.
The original Pocock campus, located at Rathburn and Cawthra in Mississauga was, previously, an elementary school site. An additional 10 classroom portapac and 33 portable classrooms outside the main building were added to accommodate approximately 1,800 students. Inspite or because of the cramped, bizzare conditions – I spent 3 incredible, unforgettable years with dynamic, dedicated teaching colleagues and a culturally diverse mix of energetic inquistive students. As a ‘Pocock pirate’ I learned early on in my career that a school is much more than bricks and mortar and measured more by the collective spirit and generosity of its many members than any fleeting material wants.
Both Renata and I left Pocock in 1987 – she as a grade 13 graduate and I to return to Waterloo for a teaching job at St. David Catholic secondary school. That we are now both immersed in and working on behalf of Catholic education in Ontario and united again at Philip Pocock CSS (Tomken Campus) for the 75th Anniversary of OAPCE Conference – is a delightful and deeply satisfying irony.
The current Pocock campus, constructed in 1992, is a truly impressive three-story building that is designed around a bright, expansive indoor atrium and cafetorium – which make it an ideal facility to host events like the OAPCE conference.
During the moments before and between my workshop presentations – I took a little time to wander some of the halls and peruse the beautiful wall murals and scores of framed photos of former Pocock graduating classes. But what really seized my attention was the framed photos of the current (2013-2014) Pocock staff on the wall outside the main office.
As I eagerly scanned and recognized the familiar names and faces of staff members I worked with from 1984-87 (close to a dozen) my mind raced, my heart warmed and my soul soared back, to another time: to staff ball hockey nights, students, school teams, tournaments, clubs and assemblies, to the glory that was ‘portable city’ on Rathburn road, where new friendships, circles, fate and destiny converged and another chapter in someone’s life . . . began.
The late great Canadian communications theorist and media guru, Marshall McLuhan, once stated that, “one of the effects of living with electric information is that we live habitually in a state of information overload. There’s always more than you can cope with.”
Since his passing in 1980 – the advent of the Internet and unprecedented explosion in information, communication and digital technologies, has helped solidify McLuhan’s reputation as both prophet and 20th century philosopher king.
To further reinforce McLuhan’s point – I am creating this post while: listening to James Taylor’s greatest hits via YouTube, monitoring my Facebook, Twitter and email feeds, consulting Wikipedia and conversing, periodically, face-to-face with my 19 year-old daughter.
So why then, am I so excited about immersing myself into another electronic endeavor or digital distraction? The answer - DCMOOC (Digital Citizenship Massive Open Online Course). Led by Dr. Alec Couros, professor of educational technology and media studies at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, the DCMOOC is free and open to virtually anyone on the planet with access to a computer and the Internet.
The concept for the DCMOOC originated from Saskatchewan’s Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying and one of its key components – the support and promotion of digital citizenship instruction for K-12 students in Saskatchewan schools. Since the DCMOOC may contain upwards of 1000 registered participants – the learning model will follow a Connectivist format.
My wish is that the DCMOOC will allow me to share and exchange digital citizenship ideas and resources with other learners around the world. Ultimately, I hope my interactions with my fellow online MOOC-mates will help support and nuture my new venture - Michael Redfearn Consulting.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, I dive into this bold initiative by envisioning the DCMOOC as my oyster, which I with computer and keyboard will open.
Why, then the world is my oyster,
Which I with sword will open.
(2.2.3-4), Pistol to Falstaff
From Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor
You can follow my DCMOOC exploits and learnings via this blog, my Twitter feed - @redfearn and the Twitter hashtag: #DCMOOC. Let the habitual state of information overload begin . . . or, continue!
Related Link: DCMOOC Web site
Photo Credit: Blue Earth in Child’s Hands
We must teach students how to create an ethical digital footprint (Waterloo Region Record, Apr 24 2014, PageA13)Posted: April 25, 2014
We must teach students how to create an ethical digital footprint
Michael Redfearn Michael Redfearn, a former high school teacher and information technology consultant for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, is a digital literacy consultant, showing students, teachers, administrators and parents how to ethicall
Waterloo Region Record
Apr 24 2014
Woodrow Wilson is reputed to have said it is easier to change the location of a cemetery than to change the school curriculum. Fast forward a century, and the statement by the 28th U.S. president still largely rings true, especially regarding the…read more…
Half a century later, the memories of that tragic event and the dreary days that followed, still cast a long dark shadow across the soul of America and our global village.
It was the age of McLuhan and the dawn of television. Where bold and lofty dreams of moonshots, civil rights for all and global peace dominated the zeitgeist.
The principal at St. Joseph elementary school in Kitchener broke through the routine on that fateful November day. The PA announcement breeched the blissful shelter of Sister Ignatius’ classroom. “President Kennedy has been shot and we need to say a prayer for him.” Within the hour the principal reluctantly announced that the president had died.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ JFK
During the next four days all the channels on our black and white TV screen were filled with strange sights and sounds foreign to the eyes of a seven year-old boy who preferred the security and comforting diversion of cartoons to calamity.
Decades before the ubiquity of the Internet and social media – whenever news of disaster struck - families huddled around TV screens or clutched and gaped in disbelief at stunning newspaper headlines and photos.
Immediately following news of the Kennedy assassination, the collective grief and tears of a nation mired deeply in shock and confusion exploded in a relentless torrent of media images: tearful and traumatized bystanders of the shooting, the arrest and stunning murder of the president’s suspected assassin, a grieving, stoic widow, her two innocent children, a riderless horse and the world bidding a long final farewell to a fallen hero.
Too young to fully understand but old enough to know that the day Kennedy died was the first time I saw my father cry; that in an instant the world could be a dark and dangerous place.
And that even King Arthur and all his brave knights, no matter how hard they tried, could ever put the president, America or the carefree, fragile world of a seven-year old back together again.
Just when you think that interest in anything political was all but deep-sixed in this country, two juicy scandals have single-handedly revived the public’s interest in politics.
It’s true. Canadians were actually queuing up on Parliament Hill this past week to catch a glimpse of senior citizens debating in the Senate. But this was not just any boring, civil debate. It involved three senators (who just happened to have been caught) demonized for allegedly claiming inelligible expenses on the public’s dime.
Senator Mike Duffy stole the spotlight when his testimony linked PM Harper closer to former chief of staff Nigel Wright’s decision to write a $90,000.00 to Duffy.
Now Mr. Harper is probably writing a thank you note to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for, once again, graciously deflecting the Canadian public’s attention away from the latest beating the PM’s reputation has been taking, thanks largely to Mr. Duffy. Note to the PMO – do not cross former journalists.
Mr. Ford is also making international news again – for a video purportedly showing him smoking crack cocaine and uttering racist and homophobic slurs. But you already know this, don’t you? Because we all love to see someone else fall and implode from time to time. Especially when the person free-falling or imploding is the leader of a peace-loving, polite country like Canada or world class city like Toronto. Oh ya, happy Halloween. Trick or treat?