Education ∪ Math ∪ Technology

Day: February 17, 2011 (page 1 of 1)

If you don’t ask, it can’t happen

So I’m finally able to share an interesting story which has developed over the past 3 months. It started with TEDxVancouver, which I saw Nazanin Afshin-Jam speak about her work as an activist.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam at TEDxVancouver

(photo credit: Rick Chung)

By a strange coincidence, we had a student at our school who was working on a film project about the stonings that were happening in Iran, and trying to understand the situation. Since I had just heard Nazanin talk about the same issue, I decided to look her up on Facebook. Turns out she has a public Facebook page, and she had enabled messages from anyone in her privacy settings. So I sent her a message.

Message to Nazanin on Facebook

She responded! Well, actually one of the volunteers who helps her organize and manage her Facebook responded, but he did so with Nazanin’s blessing. After several communications back and forth, and one miscommunication, we finally managed to arrange a telephone interview for today between Nazanin and my student. It took a few months, largely because Nazanin is an incredibly busy person, and travels a lot in her activist work so finding time to meet was challenging. Eventually Nazanin herself handled the last minute timing of the interview.

She called the school and I said hello, and thanked her for her time, and for the opportunity she was giving our student. I then passed the phone over to our student, because as I said, "this was her show."  We didn’t turn on the speaker phone even though we were dying to hear what she had to say, we just sat and listened to the questions our student asked, and I have to say that they were hard questions, and I really was curious to know what the responses were.

"What is the background of stoning," our student asked, after exchanging pleasantries, jumping right into the heart of what she wanted to know. Twenty minutes and 10 questions later, we had a very satisfied student in front of us, one who seemed really impressed by the conversation. My colleague, who sat in on the interview out of curiousity, said to me after our student left, "we’ll never know what Nazanin said." I agreed, "It doesn’t matter though, she obviously learned a huge amount from it. You saw her face."

You can’t help your students have experiences like this unless you ask.

Things I (almost) never use anymore

Here are some things that I either don’t use anymore, or almost never use anymore. I can remember using all of these things often, but they just don’t seem useful anymore.

The last time I burned a DVD was for a colleague at work. I think the time before that was at least a year ago.



I have a calculator on my smartphone or on my computer. I do use a graphing calculator, but only at school. Why would I want a single use device?



I don’t mail things anymore, or at least not often enough that I can remember the last time I did it.



I don’t use pencils (and I’ve never used mechanical pencils), except for attendance, or to write a quick note when my phone is out of reach.

Pencil Case


This particular Yellow pages came to our apartment unrequested a couple of months ago, and we still haven’t removed the wrapper… 

Phone book


My paper address book is totally useless to me, now that all of my contacts are online.

Address book


The only reason I listen to CDs anymore is because we take car rides, and our son likes to listen to his music. Otherwise, music I listen to is on Youtube, or on my iPhone.

Music CDs


What’s your list of things that you’ve stopped using?

Students are like plants

My colleague just shared an interesting analogy to describe the relationship between students and teachers. I’ve heard this analogy before, but she said it so eloquently, I just thought I’d share.

"Our students are like seeds we’ve planted. We water them, we give them fertilizer, we make sure they have the right amount of sunlight, but at some point you just have to sit back and watch them grow."

So true.