Education at its best

Regional Skills It doesn’t get much better for students than the annual Elementary Regional Skills Canada Competition.

A collaborative effort by the Waterloo Region and Waterloo Catholic District School boards – the 2009 Skills competition involved over 530 students competing in four different Skills challenges: Lego Mechanics, Lego Robotics, Technology Design & Build and Video Production.

A highlight of the day for me occurred when a teacher described how one of his students woke up very early this morning fretting about the inclement weather forecast and hoping it would not prevent the Skills competition at Conestoga College from happening.

This year’s competition was based on the theme, Carnival, and what a party it was! Enthusiastic students tackled well-crafted challenges created by the energetic teacher co-chairs from both boards.

One could see the wheels turning, both, literally, ferris wheels on the team tables and metaphorically, in the heads and glittering eyes of students collaborating as teams all working together toward a common goal.

Eager students wolfed down lunches, barely missed a beat and were soon back at their stations immersed in the task at hand. This is education at its best!

Kudos and shout-outs all around to: Erica Fleming-Gillespie – my public board counterpart, all the volunteer judges, teacher co-chairs, teacher-supervisors, parents, Conestoga College staff for graciously hosting us in their wonderful multi-purpose facility and especially the students who, because of their contagious enthusiasm, were all winners and, go figure, already chatting up next year’s competition.

Photo Credit: Vic Castela

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What Kinds of Apps Would Jesus Use?

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If Jesus were an iPod – what color and model would he be?

Today’s post was inspired by a homily given by Father Irek Koziak of St. Agnes Parish during the bi-monthly ‘Children’s liturgy’.

Our gentle associate pastor wisely used the iPod as a metaphor to capture the collective attention of his young audience. He indicated to the children that, like an iPod that needs recharging every 24 hours or so, our ‘spiritual batteries’ also require regular recharging.

So I got to thinking about today’s hi-tech gadgets and recent boom in social networking web sites and wondered how Jesus might have levered all this technology were he walking among us today.

Would our Lord have used a laptop with applications like Garage Band or Audacity to create religious podcasts to reach the masses? Or would he wear an iPhone or BlackBerry on his belt to connect with his twenty-first century disciples?

Would he create a Facebook, MySpace and Twitter account to network with believers and non-believers alike across the globe? Or would God’s son maintain his own daily blog or wiki to spread the good news and collaborate with the world’s techno-savvy in order to convert and save the souls of the techno-needy?

Imagine how quickly Christianity or any other such revolutionary socio-political movement would have swept across the breadth of the ancient world with today’s ubiquitous communication technologies.

I would suspect, were he among us in the flesh today, that Jesus would not hesitate to harness the vast potential of the read and write capabilities of the internet to afflict the comfortable.

He would likely waste little time in mobilizing and evangelizing the ‘techno-haves’ of the world to help comfort the afflicted, the poor, hungry, alienated, lonely and sick among us.

He would probably leverage the new technologies to staunchly oppose the culture of death and to actively promote the culture of life about which the late John Paul II so eloquently spoke and wrote.

If Jesus were an iPod he would undoubtedly be a dazzling rainbow brilliantly radiating and reflecting all the colors across the universe.

Now if only the rest of us could consistently use technology to promote peace and justice in our own families and beyond. We would also be bearers of light and hope for those whose lives contain too much darkness.

Photo: Michael Redfearn