The 4th Industrial Revolution

An early 20th Century office – you don’t have
to think too hard to see what classrooms
were modelled on. Teaching tech in one
isn’t any fun, especially when you’re
buried in massive classes.

If you’re in education you’re probably still teaching ‘the’ industrial revolution.  Our subjects are still siloed and scheduled that way.  There is little different in school organization and planning from how an early 20th Century office operated… and we’re still focused on producing graduates for that non-existent office.  It’s probably just a habit.  Public education was formed in the first industrial revolution and copied many of the forms from that time.  What’s frustrating is that these systems are unable or unwilling to change now.

When I became a technology teacher I quickly learned that there is ‘hard’ tech and ‘soft’ tech.  I found those descriptions amusing because the hard techs often had low expectations and my ‘soft’ techs had more demanding expectations, to the point where my principal told me I had to make them easier.  I preferred using traditional tech and future tech, which turns out is how most of the world sees them.

In traditional tech you’re doing wood and metal working and auto mechanics following Industry 2.0 processes (hands on fabrication).  Having come from millwrighting and spending a significant proportion of my free time working on mechanics, I have a love of working in these traditional skills, but if we’re aiming students at skilled trades we’re decades out of date.

Yep, there are four industrial revolutions, and most of the world is at about 3.2 on their way to 4.0.  In education we’re still rocking Industry 2.0 in most tech classes.


There are inherent dangers with traditional techs.  Industrial machines can cut and burn you if you aren’t careful, especially if you’re going to teach these skills in an Industry 2.0 hands-on way.  As a result, these classes are capped at 21 students and often run with significantly fewer.  My ‘soft’ tech classes, even though we were operating soldering irons and power tools and working with live electricity that could kill, were capped at 31 and ran in a classroom rather than a dedicated technology space.  The icing on the cake was when, during COVID scheduling, all my colleagues went home at lunch to ignore eLearning in the afternoon (because you can’t teach ‘real’ tech like that) while I was teaching my second cohort of students in-class while simultaneously juggling eLearning because there were no other qualified teachers to do it.  This might sound like a lot of moaning but it demonstrates in a systematic way how education is mis-labelling in-demand skills and unevenly distributing limited resources to teach what is actually needed.  It turns out what we were covering in ‘soft’ tech has more to do with manufacturing than most of what was happening in ‘hard’ tech classes.

The rest of the world has already experienced three industrial revolutions and is now deeply immersed in an emerging forth one.  If you’re going to be teaching skilled trade technologies you need to be focusing on robotics and IT automated systems, and that’s if you’re aiming at the last Industry 3.0 targets.  If you’re aiming to make students ready for the world of work they’re going to enter, you should be teaching machine learning, IoT (internet of things – ie: smart devices with networked sensors) and even AI (also things we cover in computer technology, except it’s all applicable to manufacturing).

Cloud based computing?  Cybersecurity?  Autonomous robotics?  Big data analytics?  IoT?  Augmented reality?  Every single one of these things we covered in my computer technology class.  If education wasn’t stuck in a when-it-was-formed mindset, we’d be able to prepare students for the world they’re going to graduate into.

The nomenclature matters because it’s used to direct funding.  The current government in Ontario is very focused on skilled trades, which is a good thing because our academically run education system isn’t kind to non-academic students, but the definitions it operates with aren’t accurate.  My son just started working at the factory around the corner.  They’re in an Industry 3.0 strance with non-machine learning (programmed) robots doing repetitive work (including welding which is still taught by hand in manufacturing classes like it’s 1960).  They need humans to do the in-between work, but the new factory going in next door will be fully automated and will leverage Industry 4.0 to the point where there will be few manual labourers but many more IT and robotics technicians (if they can find them) along with a plethora of support services such as cybersecurity and cloud services to make this highly efficient process hum.

Guess where all those manufacturing job skills are happening?  In poorly resourced/treated as a second thought computer technology classes.  Ontario needs to wake up and revise its technology curriculums to align with the technology students will be expected to know when they leave the make-believe world of education.

I was talking to the dad of a former student a couple of weeks ago.  His son got into robotics in my program about 5 years ago.  He graduated, went to college for a robotics technician qualification and has never been unemployed since.  He currently works for Toyota Canada and is being sent down to the States to learn the new welding processes their robots will use.  Those are the same robots my son is working with around the corner.  This is pretty thrilling for me as a teacher from a manufacturing pipeline perspective.  I have a former student coding the robots that recent grads are using in their work… in manufacturing.

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CyberDay & CyberTitan: cybersecurity in your classroom for cyberawareness month

The idea of bringing cybersecurity awareness into a public school classroom makes many people uneasy, but as I said in a recent interview, “Cyber is never as complicated as you think it is, don’t let the lingo and media scare you off.”   There are a couple of events happening in October, which is cybersecurity awareness month in Canada, that’ll give you the resources and connections you need to explore cybersafety in your classroom.



CyberDay is the gentle introduction to cybersafety, privacy and cybersecurity.  


It’s happening on October 18th and the Knowledgeflow Cybersafety Foundation has been working like beavers to put together interactive resources and talks with experts that’ll make cyber accessible to everyone.

CyberDay is all online and you can pick and choose what you want to use in your classroom.  It could be a short lesson, a longer activity or even a whole day event depending on how you want to use it.

Sign up is on the site and you can even do some preliminary learning with it by having students submit questions to experts.  If you don’t think you have students in your class who are curious about hacking then you’re not getting where they spend most of their time (it’s online).  In this event students can ask white hat hackers and pentesters about their work.  That might lead more students to consider cybersecurity pathways which are in such short demand that Canada is looking overseas to bring people in because we’re not producing these careers at home.

As they say on the site, “Cybersafety is a team sport”.  You’re not alone in broaching this sometimes unnerving subject, you only need to connect to CyberDay to see how much help is on hand.


In case the ease of access isn’t compelling for you, perhaps the idea that if we’re going to use interconnecting education technology in our classroom, we should be covering best practices with our students will.  I attended a conference last week where Michael Canuel from LearnQC trotted out some current stats that should make you sit up and take notice:
  • (a staggering) 98% of data breaches are caused by user error or cyber-illiteracy. If we took steps to improve cybersafety awareness in education, we would all but solve the current wave of cyber-attacks on the education sector.

  • cyber-awareness is vital to protecting our critical infrastructure. Canada now considers information technology to be a critical infrastructure (because it also runs all the other ones)
  • cyber-skills are part of a collection of digital literacy skills that extend well beyond coding
The need for better cyber-awareness should be self evident, but what isn’t (to me) is why public education seems to go out of its way to ignore it.  While listening to Michael’s talk about the poor state of cyber-skills in Canadian education, I couldn’t help wondering if it isn’t intentional.  Many public education organizations have vested political interests in keeping the status quo.  From a professional perspective I was left desperately hoping that educators aren’t intentionally ignoring privacy and cybersafety skills in order to sabotage eLearning.  CyberDay would be a great first step in proving that skepticism misplaced.

One of the angles I was considering for CyberDay was just how well suited it is as a library activity.  I did a piece for the Ontario Library Association’s Teaching LIbrarian online magazine about how cybersecurity (as a digital literacy) makes a perfect connection with the roll a modern learning commons has in our schools.


Library learning commons are often the first point of contact for emerging technology.  Way back in middle school in 1982, I first laid hands on a computer in our school library when we set up Commodore PETs and saw the neon green wonder of coding for the first time.

I’m hoping I can connect with the OSLA about reaching out to librarians over the next couple of weeks in order to empower them to take on this latest in a long line of emerging digital literacies.  Cyber isn’t as scary as you think, and it’s a great opportunity for iterative and immersive learning.


CYBERTITAN:  Canada’s student cybersecurity competition


CyberTitan has been running since 2017/18 in Canada as part of CyberPatriot, the US Air Force Association’s now international student competition.  If you’re read Dusty World before you know that this contest has not only opened up pathways for my students, but also played a major role in my own professional development.  I’m a huge fan of the competition and would love to see more Canadian educators get on board with it.

CyberPatriot has a live map of registered teams on their site.  As you can see, compared to the United States, Canada’s engagement with the competition has been… less.  I’m particularly focused on connecting under-represented groups in the competition.  When I coached the first ever top all-female team to the national finals in 2019, I became aware of just how toxically masculine cyber can be.  I’d move mountains to get more female (including non-binary and female identifying) students into it.  I’d move more mountains to get BIPOC and indigenous students on board too.  The finalist teams all tend to come from major cities and specialist schools which tend to cater to socio-economically advantaged youth.  Cyber isn’t an urban/wealthy issue, it’s an all-of-us issue, and rural communities, families and businesses are just as in need of safe and secure connectivity as everyone else.

You can see what the competition is about from this Prezi that the mighty @oksarge and I presented at ECOO summer camp in 2020.  Students learn hands-on defensive IT skills by fixing compromised WIndows and Linux operating systems in virtual machines.

Learning to wrangle virtual machines is a big part of CyberPatriot.  You’ll find this technology to be an incredible tool for teaching computer technology. You can abuse VMs in all sorts of ways that’d make your IT department faint, and when it all goes wrong?  Just close the window.


VMs are simulated computers that happen inside a window, so you could run Apple OSx in Windows, or Windows in Linux using a VM.  Because it’s all virtual there is no chance of spreading malware from inside a VM, which is why they’re used in cybersecurity.  Learning virtualization technology like this is really eye opening for students, and it’s not nearly as tricky as you think it might be.


Our lab goes full disco during a CyberPatriot round.  It’s a six-hour competition window.  Pizza is brought in and snacks are available.  Students dig right to the end, making a mockery of the idea that kids today have no attention span.

The competition is exciting and students genuinely enjoy it and return year after year.  Live world wide scoring pits them against students from around the world, so if they’re competitive they can follow the scoreboard and dig for points, but CyberPatriot can also be played from a purely educational perspective where students still benefit from the teamwork, iterative problem solving and cyber-skills development.  Our junior teams are always reminded that this is a reconnaissance season with no expectation of winning.  Learn the ropes and get into it.  Many become competitive anyway because (here it comes again): cyber isn’t as complicated as you think it is.

Sign up is due by October 5th, but no money is due then (fees are waived for non-male teams) and I’ve always found that SHSM and other student success initiatives are eager to help cover costs (which aren’t due until mid-November).  The swag is excellent (t-shirts, medals!) and once students understand how it all works they always say the same thing (here it comes again), “it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.”  That’s cybersecurity in a nutshell.

Libraries would be another great focus for CyberTitan, where students could access the technology they need and develop their library and librarian coach into a cyber-aware school-wide resource.  My students have used the skills learned in CyberPatriot to help our school with technical support and many went on to support local businesses as well.  The benefits from this are many, we just need to get more Canadian educators to take that step and sign up a team. Once they do, they’ll be back!

It’s still true!  If you’d like to talk about running a high school team, I’ve got lots of experience and would be thrilled to help you get going.  Krista ran a very successful middle-school team in her first year coaching and can talk you through what to expect in that division.


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CyberDay and CyberTitan: Cyber isn’t as difficult as you think it is…

The idea of bringing cybersecurity awareness into a public school classroom makes many people uneasy, but as I said in a recent interview, “Cyber is never as complicated as you think it is, don’t let the lingo and media scare you off.”   There are a couple of events happening in October, which is cybersecurity awareness month in Canada, that’ll give you the resources and connections you need to explore cybersafety in your classroom.

CyberDay is the gentle introduction to cybersafety, privacy and cybersecurity.  

It’s happening on October 18th and the Knowledgeflow Cybersafety Foundation has been working like beavers to put together interactive resources and talks with experts that’ll make cyber accessible to everyone.
CyberDay is all online and you can pick and choose what you want to use in your classroom.  It could be a short lesson, a longer activity or even a whole day event depending on how you want to use it.
Sign up is on the site and you can even do some preliminary learning with it by having students submit questions to experts.  If you don’t think you have students in your class who are curious about hacking then you’re not getting where they spend most of their time (it’s online).  In this event students can ask white hat hackers and pentesters about their work.  That might lead more students to consider cybersecurity pathways which are in such short demand that Canada is looking overseas to bring people in because we’re not producing these careers at home.

As they say on the site, “Cybersafety is a team sport”.  You’re not alone in broaching this sometimes unnerving subject, you only need to connect to CyberDay to see how much help is on hand.

In case the ease of access isn’t compelling for you, perhaps the idea that if we’re going to use interconnecting education technology in our classroom, we should be covering best practices with our students will.  I attended a conference last week where Michael Canuel from LearnQC trotted out some current stats that should make you sit up and take notice:
  • (a staggering) 98% of data breaches are caused by user error or cyber-illiteracy. If we took steps to improve cybersafety awareness in education, we would all but solve the current wave of cyber-attacks on the education sector.

  • cyber-awareness is vital to protecting our critical infrastructure. Canada now considers information technology to be a critical infrastructure (because it also runs all the other ones)
  • cyber-skills are part of a collection of digital literacy skills that extend well beyond coding
The need for better cyber-awareness should be self evident, but what isn’t (to me) is why public education seems to go out of its way to ignore it.  While listening to Michael’s talk about the poor state of cyber-skills in Canadian education, I couldn’t help wondering if it isn’t intentional.  Many public education organizations have vested political interests in keeping the status quo.  From a professional perspective I was left desperately hoping that educators aren’t intentionally ignoring privacy and cybersafety skills in order to sabotage eLearning.  CyberDay would be a great first step in proving that skepticism misplaced.

One of the angles I was considering for CyberDay was just how well suited it is as a library activity.  I did a piece for the Ontario Library Association’s Teaching LIbrarian online magazine about how cybersecurity (as a digital literacy) makes a perfect connection with the roll a modern learning commons has in our schools.

Library learning commons are often the first point of contact for emerging technology.  Way back in middle school in 1982, I first laid hands on a computer in our school library when we set up Commodore PETs and saw the neon green wonder of coding for the first time.
I’m hoping I can connect with the OSLA about reaching out to librarians over the next couple of weeks in order to empower them to take on this latest in a long line of emerging digital literacies.  Cyber isn’t as scary as you think, and it’s a great opportunity for iterative and immersive learning.

CYBERTITAN:  Canada’s student cybersecurity competition

CyberTitan has been running since 2017/18 in Canada as part of CyberPatriot, the US Air Force Association’s now international student competition.  If you’re read Dusty World before you know that this contest has not only opened up pathways for my students, but also played a major role in my own professional development.  I’m a huge fan of the competition and would love to see more Canadian educators get on board with it.
CyberPatriot has a live map of registered teams on their site.  As you can see, compared to the United States, Canada’s engagement with the competition has been… less.  I’m particularly focused on connecting under-represented groups in the competition.  When I coached the first ever top all-female team to the national finals in 2019, I became aware of just how toxically masculine cyber can be.  I’d move mountains to get more female (including non-binary and female identifying) students into it.  I’d move more mountains to get BIPOC and indigenous students on board too.  The finalist teams all tend to come from major cities and specialist schools which tend to cater to socio-economically advantaged youth.  Cyber isn’t an urban/wealthy issue, it’s an all-of-us issue, and rural communities, families and businesses are just as in need of safe and secure connectivity as everyone else.
You can see what the competition is about from this Prezi that the mighty @oksarge and I presented at ECOO summer camp in 2020.  Students learn hands-on defensive IT skills by fixing compromised WIndows and Linux operating systems in virtual machines.
Learning to wrangle virtual machines is a big part of CyberPatriot.  You’ll find this technology to be an incredible tool for teaching computer technology. You can abuse VMs in all sorts of ways that’d make your IT department faint, and when it all goes wrong?  Just close the window.

VMs are simulated computers that happen inside a window, so you could run Apple OSx in Windows, or Windows in Linux using a VM.  Because it’s all virtual there is no chance of spreading malware from inside a VM, which is why they’re used in cybersecurity.  Learning virtualization technology like this is really eye opening for students, and it’s not nearly as tricky as you think it might be.
Our lab goes full disco during a CyberPatriot round.  It’s a six-hour competition window.  Pizza is brought in and snacks are available.  Students dig right to the end, making a mockery of the idea that kids today have no attention span.
The competition is exciting and students genuinely enjoy it and return year after year.  Live world wide scoring pits them against students from around the world, so if they’re competitive they can follow the scoreboard and dig for points, but CyberPatriot can also be played from a purely educational perspective where students still benefit from the teamwork, iterative problem solving and cyber-skills development.  Our junior teams are always reminded that this is a reconnaissance season with no expectation of winning.  Learn the ropes and get into it.  Many become competitive anyway because (here it comes again): cyber isn’t as complicated as you think it is.
Sign up is due by October 5th, but no money is due then (fees are waived for non-male teams) and I’ve always found that SHSM and other student success initiatives are eager to help cover costs (which aren’t due until mid-November).  The swag is excellent (t-shirts, medals!) and once students understand how it all works they always say the same thing (here it comes again), “it’s not as hard as I thought it would be.”  That’s cybersecurity in a nutshell.
Libraries would be another great focus for CyberTitan, where students could access the technology they need and develop their library and librarian coach into a cyber-aware school-wide resource.  My students have used the skills learned in CyberPatriot to help our school with technical support and many went on to support local businesses as well.  The benefits from this are many, we just need to get more Canadian educators to take that step and sign up a team. Once they do, they’ll be back!
It’s still true!  If you’d like to talk about running a high school team, I’ve got lots of experience and would be thrilled to help you get going.  Krista ran a very successful middle-school team in her first year coaching and can talk you through what to expect in that division.

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Moto-Media and Getting in Rides at the end of summer, 2022

Evening rides and changeable weather as the summer ends…


The Concours/1400GTR hanging out in a graveyard at sunset… as you do.







***


I’ve been playing with some design concepts for the WW2 historical fiction novel, Under Dark Skies (coming soon!).  I’m currently working on dividing the original manuscript into three young adult sized novels.  





I’m always looking for period bike images.  Never know when I might be able to use them for a reference on an original drawing.  I’ve been up to those too, creating scenes from the novel:

t-shirt transparency


Sketched variation –  I might have put my face on that subconsciously.


… and some sketched (pen and ink) scenes from the novel:




Here’s a mock-up book cover concept based on a 1940s comic book style:



I’ve been monkeying around with the blog logo too:



  


… and may eventually put a t-shirt out:


***

We managed an afternoon at SMART Adventures before the end of the summer:


It’s never a bad time, but I went in the ‘expert’ group which consisted of a dad who wanted his son on a bike that was too big for him.  The kid came off it so often that it became tedious, so we rode back to base and he switched to a smaller bike and then fell off that a lot too.  We still got some good trail riding in and our instructor (Louise) was fantastic, but ‘expert’?  Not so much.  We spent a sizable portion of our very short 3 hours picking this kid up or riding back and forth for his various equipment change needs.  His finally move was to ride into a massive puddle and drop the bike in the middle of it, causing us to spent 20 minutes getting it out and then following him and his dad as they two-upped back to the office.



I’m not sure how to address that as I’ve been going to SMART for a long time and I did have a good afternoon, but when I’m paying quite a lot of money for three hours of riding and almost a third of it is taken up with catering to what was clearly a non-expert rider, I’m left feeling (for the first time ) like I didn’t get my money’s worth.


***

We went to Stratford yesterday to Perth County Moto’s 5th anniversary.  T’was a good time.  If you find your way to Stratford, Ontario at any point, look them up, they’re right downtown: 








I got myself a vintage style dirt tracker team sweater (they’re like rugby jerseys) for a good price!

I haven’t been spending much time in the garage beyond upkeep and maintenance on the two operational bikes.  I’m saving the Bonneville project for the cold months when I need to keep my hands busy and riding is far away, though I did start re-assembling the frame (seemed like a logical place to start).


The oil filters came in for the end of year oil change (I always put in fresh oil and filter and run them through before the big hibernation).  It’s a depressing delivery, but I’ve still got another six weeks or so before the snows fall.  With the filters I got some tank pads to stop myself sliding around on the Concours.

Next week we’re aiming for the Wine y Cheese Rally on September 24th.  We’re going to head down to St. Catherines on the Friday and then be up and at it by 7am on Saturday morning.  This is the only rally we’ve been able to line up this busy summer, so I’m looking forward to it.  We’ve been fettling the Concours to make it as functional and capable as possible for this long haul.  We finished our last one on the Tiger last summer, so I’m not even super concerned with finishing so much as I am just having a good time with it.  Signups still seem to be available, so if you’re looking for an excuse to ride and ride next weekend (cooler temps but the weather looks good), then give it a go.


Gotta get time in the saddle in before the snows fall!

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Baffling 1970s British Wheel Engineering

I had a go at mounting new tires on the 1971 Bonneville project rims today, and what a pain in that ass that has turned into.  The rear tire is a mess of strange engineering decisions, including 3 holes for the inner tube valve, two of which are filled with rubber/metal pads with valve stem sized bolts sticking out of them.  Why they would do this is beyond me.  It creates a needlessly heavy wheel just where you don’t want it (where centrifugal force amplifies it at the rim when it spins).  Perhaps it has something to do with the spokes and creating a true (round) wheel by adding weight?  The rear tire went on easily enough, but the inner tube was a pain to get the valve in place and it doesn’t seem to be taking air.  I’ll have to take that apart again and figure out what the hell is going on.

Also in bizarro British ’70s engineering world, the front wheel has the valve stem hole drilled in the worst possible location, right near two spokes, which makes putting the compressor’s tire inflation nozzle on it impossible.  There are spaces all around the rim where the hole could have been drilled to allow for easier access, but the Meriden Triumph ‘technician’ threw it in there.  If there is an engineering reason for it, it’s beyond me.  Putting the hole in the space between more distant spokes shouldn’t hurt the durability, but they didn’t do that.


I’ve done inner tubes and tires for my modern Triumph Tiger recently, and just did a tubeless tire on the Kawasaki (complete with tire sensor hack), so this shouldn’t have been the faff that it has turned into.  I ended up leaving both rims sitting in the garage.  I’ll come back to it another day when I’m less frustrated by it.

Period tires from Revco look good on the rims, but the rear won’t take air and I can’t get any into the front.  Damn it.


Here’s some old Triumph ‘character’ and a bit of moto philosophy to remind me why I’m doing this…

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Crooked Paths are the Ones that Lead to Enlightenment

I’ve been relentless in my own research and development into emerging digital trends since I started teaching computer technology ten years ago – it’s why we’ve won more medals in more different Skills Ontario/Skills Canada categories than any other classroom in the province over the past six years.  Our competition successes in CyberTitan/Cyberpatriot, along with our work in Skills Ontario/Canada is one side of the equation, but where I get a real charge is hearing back from grads.  This is somewhere that public education studiously ignores (collecting data on graduates).  If I had one immediate wish for a change in public education, it would be to collect data on graduate success across all pathways.  We love flying blind in public education, that way we’re not responsible for anything other than a graduation founded on our own criteria.

A colleague is sending her son to college this year and they told incoming students that those who have taken a year off before beginning postsecondary are much more likely to finish their program.  Those who take two years off before returning are even more likely to see success.  This jives with my own post-secondary experience where I, as an adult student who left work after three years to return to school, was one of the few who could be bothered to get in for 9am classes.  It also aligns with anecdotal evidence I’m hearing from my own graduates.  It is strange that I repeatedly hear students being told that if they don’t go straight into post-secondary they’ll probably never do it.  It rates right up there with, “you’re a smart kid, why wouldn’t you go to university?”  When that advice isn’t being tested with success data, this approach seems remarkably flippant and privileged in tone.

I ran into a former student in the spring who went straight into university only to drop out in second year.  He’s now a barista.  Yesterday I had lunch with one of our strongest IT students in the past ten years (he was the only one to earn multiple CompTIA industry certifications while still in high school.  Industry certifications like this are often dismissed by traditional education institutions (mine were by the Ontario College of Teachers who gave me years of static before ‘letting’ me, a certified IT technician with years in the trade, take my computer technology teaching qualifications).  This student is currently in his coop placement in college and is taking a year off because his coop wants to hire him for a contract (in Germany!).  The college isn’t being very helpful about his stepping outside of their program plan either.  Institutions like to make sure they are at the front of the line in terms of benefitting from ‘your’ educational pathways.

I’m not the only one advocating for
a less institutionalized approach to
learning.

A career support teacher once described my own development through visual arts, millwrighting and IT to university and teaching as a ‘crooked path‘, but there is no straight path.  If you’re on that one it means you’re following institutional convenience and are and educational consumerist rather than a self directed learner.  If you’re a cradle to grave institutional educationalist (k-12 student, university student, teachers’ college student, teacher, etc), you’ve demonstrated a remarkable commitment to institutional thinking, but for those of us who want to combine complex skills across varying disciplines, or who simply would like to direct our own educational outcomes, crooked paths are the ones to enlightenment.

I struggled in public education as a student, dropping out of my grade 13 year and then following college, apprenticeship and then university pathways as I found my way to what I was supposed to be (author, artist, technician, teacher).  These decisions were often based on socio-economic difficulties (being a poor immigrant often excluded me from academic opportunities).  Something else those institutionalized pathways are is steeped in privilege.  The kids whose parents were paying for it all were also the ones who couldn’t be bothered to wake up for those 9am classes.

I’ve always considered my first-hand knowledge of the many different pathways available to students to be of great benefit as a teacher.  I can speak to students about the benefits and challenges of workplace, apprenticeship, college and university routes without having to refer them to boilerplate descriptions usually written by academics fixated on championing the institutional pathways they themselves have marched.  I’m proud of how many of my students have gone in many different directions and found success.  My own son just graduated high school and is just starting his first full time job in manufacturing in a state of the art factory and I couldn’t be prouder (he’s also making twice what the barista is and isn’t paying off student loans that never produced anything).  One of our CyberTitans from 2021 is in the process of applying directly to the Canadian Navy after working for a year (he is facing similar economic difficulties to what I faced as a young man).  I’m as proud of those students as I am of the grads who have toughed out challenging post-secondary academic programs.  Those crooked pathways aren’t easier, but they are richer experientially and no one handed them to these kids, which results in a different kind of educational empowerment.

There are forward thinking organizations out there who aren’t interested in maintaining traditional educational power structures so much as they are in empowering individuals so that they can leverage this information technology revolution we find ourselves in.  We live in a time of unique opportunities where learning could be more accessible, less restrictive and more individualized than it has ever been in history, but only if we can reduce the institutional drag we’re currently hauling with us into the future.

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