Saturday, January 26, 2013

catch-up time!

Dear people I have neglected this space terribly! It's been almost a year since the people garden got an update. Well, I'll just tell you a little about what's been going on. School was crazy, and my undergrad studies ended with a bang, not a whimper. I managed to work through a handful of courses and a seniour internship at a public alternative school, where I got to know a bit about the school system and how alternative schools work within the Toronto District School Board. I got to work long-distance with the AMAZING Donna Ridley-Burns from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning in an international project contrasting different early childhood education contexts. I got accepted into the Master's of Early Childhood Studies program at Ryerson. I worked all summer on trying to figure out how to stabilize the methodological approach, data storage and access procedures and data analysis protocols for a research project at the EDGE Lab, which was a HUGE learning process. I then listened to 100s of hours of audio data, sifting through the information gathered in encounters with the child participants to find patterns and themes in a process called open coding. It took me weeks, and was excruciating, motivating, inspiring, mind-numbing and illuminating. It was a lot of hilarious kids and a lot of learning about research methods, which totally got me excited about that as an area of research - how do we listen to kids, how do we involve their voices in research? I decided to explore this area more in my grad research. Then I started the Master's program. hahahahahahhahaahah I'm laughing because it's been a whirlwind since then. Grad school is really great, and has taken work and school to the next level. Last term I took three courses - Research Methods in Early Childhood Studies, Theoretical Frameworks of Early Childhood Studies and Social Justice in Education. I have never learned so much in such a compressed amount of time. I thought I was a good student - undergrad sure was fun, and I seemed to do well. Grad school put a whole new spin on my identity as a learner - we talk so much about lifelong learning, and here I was living it! The cognitive chaos has been a lot to deal with, but it's been amazingly fruitful. I worked hard, wrote some good papers, learned some good lessons, and when I accidentally backed up the wrong version of a final paper,erasing 7 hours of solid work, I stayed up all night to finish something for school for the first time ever as I re-wrote it from memory. I also got to TA for a course on Childhood in a Global Context with a prof that I love, and learned a tonne doing that. Then, a couple of days before the winter break happened, Jason told me about a PhD program that he thought would be a great place for me. So instead of resting over the break, I applied to that. I'll find out by mid-April. It's kind of competitive, so we'll see. I have to ignore the overwhelming freak-out about whether I got in or not, and develop alternative plans in case I don't get in. AND I also have a couple of things to do before that anyways, like finish my Master's degree and stuff like that. hahahahahahaha Out of the busy break, this term started at a running pace. I'm trying to complete all my course-work this term, so that I have the whole spring and summer to work on my Major Research Paper (MRP), which is basically our thesis. My courses this term are all as amazing as last term's - Social Research with Children, Curriculum Design, and Families and Equity, as well as a Directed Study with Jason about autoethnography and critical reflective narrative research methods. I'm also TAing this term, for another prof that I love for a course called Assessment for Programming, and this time I have my own tutorial. The students are great and I'm having a good time - the only thing is that this makes for A LOT OF WORK. My MRP IS focussing on how research is being conducted with children, how researchers perceive and position children in their research, and basically whether research is being conducted ON or ABOUT children or WITH and ALONGSIDE children. I've done a tonne of reading about kids' participation, children's rights, children's voices and "child-friendly" research methods, and it's all bubbling over in my mind. I'm looking forward to talking with researchers doing work in the field and hearing what they have to say. So, suffice it to say, I'm a little busy. It's doubtful I'll post here on a regular basis, but I'll try to keep up with it a bit better than once a year! There are so many amazing tidbits and huge mind-altering things in grad school, I'll try to share a few every now and then. NERD OUT for now...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

amazing post about children and risk by jeff johnson

Jenny Cable at Let the Children Play let me know via twitter about this amazing post by Jeff Johnson over on his blog, about children and risk and how they need it. Super great, and perfectly relevant to my own studies. Awesomeness. Thanks Jeff, and thanks Jenny! Check it out!

Nerd Out!

dearest all y'all - happy new year!!

I think that if I ever had any readers occasionally looking at this thing, they have abandoned it as my posting is so sporadic. I'm continuing to do it though, because I still think it's interesting to document this crazy journey I embarked on. I have made some small changes to the blogs appearance to reflect I guess my own changes and processes.

It's hard to believe, but I will shortly be entering the final semester of my Undergraduate Degree in Early Childhood Education.

It's been an amazing, surprising and fulfilling experience, I have to say. Last semester was a very intense push, maybe the hardest one yet, as I crunched through some heavy coursework, worked on three different research projects, AND did all kinds of applications for going on to different kinds of schools. My favourite would be the Yeates School of Graduate Studies in Early Childhood Studies at Ryerson, where I can continue to look at some of the stuff that's gotten into my head over the last few years - play, risk, playgrounds, kids autonomy and other stuff like that. As I have increasingly become more and more wickedly nerdy about this stuff, and I'm not really finished thinking about any of it, I'd be delighted to keep on keeping on for a while.

So, there. That's what going on right now. I'll post again soon about this semester, to outline what I'll be up to and what's interesting. Until then - NERD OUT!

Friday, October 28, 2011

new blog to watch out for

Sean Frey, performer and designer, has just started a new blog. He's worked with Jumblies Theatre for the last 6 years.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I have been thinking a lot about ethics - up to my earballs in research projects as I am, and I decided to take down a lot of the really awesome photos I'd posted of the kids and the work we did together in Inukjuak. I really wanted to share those images with a folks, but more than that I want indigenous children to be in control of images of themselves. We are fed so many types of images, not under our control - by taking these photos down I want to give more control to the kids depicted in those images, and the beautiful work they created. There are still a few up - ones that are general enough that they don't wrest control away from the people appearing.

So much to think about!

nerd out!


well's been a long time.

I've been running for a while now - last year was my third year at Ryerson in the ECE program, and it was deeply rewarding. I found a pretty big love of research, and got to put it to good use.
As I've posted before, I worked with Dr. Jason Nolan (part of our ECE Faculty) as a research assistant at the interdisciplinary research lab he directs, called the EDGE Lab. I did that for all of last year, and then got to run my own research project last summer when I got back from the Arctic, looking into Adaptive Design and the way people learn how to do it.

As the new year scooped it's way around, and I started back up into my classes, I got a nasty surprise. I had carefully set up my fourth year internship in an ACTUAL SCHOOL, to see what that was like - only to have it fall through when my police record check didn't arrive in time. I had to re-evaluate not only my semester, but my whole year, as not being able to do my internship this semester had some pretty major impacts on my academic timing. As you'll soon see, however, it all worked out for the busy busy best.

So - I re-evaluated and decided to do my internship in the spring semester, in a big block. It works better that way in a school setting anyway - since you're with the kids everyday and can build better relationships with that kind of time - but what that means is that I can't go back up to Inukjuak this year. Which will be hard, but Clea will go instead of me, and the continuity will continue in some form.

With no internship this fall, I was looking at having a leisurely academic time - until my profs heard about it, that is, and dangled in front of me some of the most un-pass-up-able carrots in the form of several fascinating research projects. Instead of working at an amazing school with amazing educators and kids, I'm the project manager of a pilot research project about outdoor play in child care centres, helping out as a facilitator and consultant on a project designing a game about privacy WITH CHILDREN AS CO-RESEARCHERS, on top of the ongoing research at the EDGE Lab about Adaptive Design and that sort of stuff. Yikes - but fun.

I got to go to Seattle to present on some of the stuff we've been thinking about and putting together at the EDGE Lab a couple of weeks ago, and got to meet my admitted hero Teacher Tom. My colleague and I spent a great afternoon with Tom, his parent co-teachers and the pre-K class - exploring boxes and scooter and super awesome floral beads that expand in water. It was a really wonderful time - oh, and the conference was pretty good too - although I did cause a bit of confusion for some folks, who were surprised that an undergrad was hanging out and presenting. I used to live in Seattle, many years ago, and got to see some very good friends that I hadn't seen for 10 years. That just made the trip amazing.

When I got back, I had to leap into a whirlwind of activity. I've decided to keep on keepin' on with this ol' academia thang, and am going to do graduate studies - but in keeping with all the re-evaluation that I've been doing this semester, I took a hard look at the plan I've been holding steady on, and threw it to the dogs. What I've realized is that I really like research, and I want to keep doing it. So - that's what I'll do. I'm gonna look into doing research about the things I'm really fascinated by these days - my favourite things that I've learned about during my courses in my undergrad and in doing research at the EDGE Lab. All our exploration about play and learning and learning environments, and autonomy and risk and child rights - they're all coalescing into some fun ideas that I want to keep chasing. Soooooooooo - that's what I'm going to do. I'm kinda thinking about looking into how children learn in informal spaces that they make for themselves - playgrounds and backyards and parks...oh my!

Anyway - more on that soon. I'm Mr. Poster Infrequently, so we'll see what soon actually means. Maybe I'll get back on here and tell some stories of what's going on in my crazy wonderful courses this semester!

Nerd out - :)