Taken between 9-10pm on March 17th using the Canon T6i – ISOs from 6400 and up, F stops from 5-11, 30 second shutter…
The other day I had a senior high school student who has been conditioned to be helpless say, “How am I supposed to know what aperture is? You’re supposed to teach us!” Aside from the fact that this student has evidently won photo competitions and got an 81% in grade 11 photography, I suggested that we have this thing now called the internet that has all sorts of information on it. I was genuinely frustrated at her unwillingness to resolve her own ignorance.
I may have been a bit curt, but this is an essential truth of our age: information is at hand. If you think education is about imparting information you’re about to become quite redundant. Education isn’t redundant, it’s more important than ever to prepare students for information that is no longer vetted by the forth estate for them. Unfortunately this isn’t a focus in education where bells still signal the start of
shifts, um, classes, and teachers can still be found talking the whole period long.
Digital access to information greatly emphasizes how out of touch the sage on the stage is nowadays. The teacher who talks for an hour straight giving their students facts has failed to realize that we no longer live in an information poor world. Instead of letting students access information pouring out of the technology that surrounds them, the sage teacher puts themselves in the middle of the class and drips information on them slowly, like water torture.
Assuming we have connectivity, something school boards aren’t very good at because they were never meant to be internet service providers (yet have taken on this task poorly), and assuming the people in the room have developed some degree of digital mastery, then information will fall to hand. Waiting for it to drip, drip, drip out of a teacher’s mouth or out of a static, out of date textbook shows a startling lack of awareness in how the world works nowadays.
The opportunity to collaborate and support each other is continuously available and learning reverts to the self-directed and driven activity it was before we institutionalized it. Questions of engagement quickly become irrelevant in a world where teachers aren’t vital because of facts they know. Those sages are going to have to find other ways to pamper their egos. If they aren’t expert learners themselves they will quickly find that they have no skill to share with students, and if you have no skills to teach you don’t serve much purpose in a world where any fact is a few keystrokes away.
There was a time when you needed a teacher to show you the way into hard to find information. Nowadays a good high speed internet connection has that information at your fingertips, assuming you know how to use it. Many teachers are still trying to be a font of information, even as the information revolution passes them by. The real losers in this aren’t the teachers struggling to keep things the way they were, but the students we’re graduating who have no idea how different the world on the other side of school actually is.
|Elora to Ancaster and back again… about 160kms|
Another weekend another good ride, this time to Ancaster and back for an edcamp. One again the Concours impressed with its ability to cover miles with ease.
It was about 6°C when I left at 7:30 in the morning, and up in the high teens when I came back mid-afternoon. Both ways was comfortable though behind the fairings, and the new jacket is light-years beyond the old one in terms of both warming and cooling.
I had a moment riding when I was flying through the air on the back of the bike realizing that there is nothing about doing this that I don’t enjoy. It was a windy day, the roads post Canadian winter look like a war zone and it was cold, but even with all that I was still stringing perfect moments together as I flew down the road. I had a moment before the big trip last week when I was wondering if I’m not taking too many risks riding with my son. What finally put me right was realizing that driving a car can end you as well, but we do that much more often and usually while paying less attention. I looked back one time as we were winding our way through Beaver Valley and saw Max with his arms out and eyes closed flying through the air behind me. I would have hated myself if I’d have never given him that experience. Riding might be dangerous, but competence and attention can go a long way in mitigating those risks, and the rewards are impossible to find in any other mode of transport.
The more I ride the Concours the better the engine seems to get. On the way home I stuck the phone behind the windshield and got the video below where you can hear the Concour’s happy noise.
|Sulphur Springs Road – a better way in is on Mineral Springs Road, the top of Sulphur Springs is rough!|
|Mineral Springs Road on the way back, it’s still Ontario bumpy, but it ain’t dirt and it is twisty!|
|Back up in Centre Wellington, the Concours takes a break where I took the first road pic of my former bike|
I always thought that the Ninja was a delight to rev, but the throaty howl of the Concours in full song is hard not to fall in love with:
|Across the top of the Mediterranean over two weeks.|
This time of year always feels like about as far from a ride as I’ll get. It’s in the minus twenties outside and it’s been snowing for days straight. Time for some cost-no-object daydreaming…
If I jumped on a plane late in the evening on Friday, December 22nd at the beginning of our holiday break, it’s a long slog because there is no direct flight to Athens, but I would eventually get there on Saturday afternoon. A night in Athens and then I could begin a long ride in a warm climate across the north coast of the Mediterranean on Christmas Eve, passing through the heart of the Roman Empire on my way west to Lisbon for a flight in time to go back to work.
I have to be back at it on Monday, January 8th. There is a direct flight from Lisbon, Portugal back to Toronto on the Saturday before. Could I get from Athens to Lisbon in thirteen days?
It’s about four thousand kilometers through Greece, Italy, France and Spain to Portugal. That works out to an average of just over three hundred kilometres per day which means plenty of time to stop and see things or a big day of riding followed by a day off. Because it’s Europe there are always autostradas to make up time if needed. It appears Athens to Lisbon is a very doable two week ride.
Here’s a possible day by day breakdown with a couple of days off. All the maps are highway averse, looking for local roads and the time it takes to ride them. Should things get backed up, big highway miles could happen to make up lost time:
|Here’s a link to the spreadsheet with working links to maps.|
There are a couple of longer days in there, but there are also two days off completely and some short, half days of riding. There is plenty of time to stop and soak things in en-route to our western return point.
My weapon of choice for this trip would be the new Triumph Tiger Explorer I’m crushing on, in matt cobalt blue. Tall Tigers fit me well and this one is perhaps the best one ever made. As a cross countries mover there is little that can beat it, and that new blue is a lovely thing. I think I’d do a burnt orange on the engine guards and pannier logos. I’d also redo the badges in matching orange.
The new Tiger Explorer is 24 pounds lighter than the old one, gets better mileage and has a host of advanced features that make an already good long distance bike better. The big three that powers it would comfortably carry a passenger if I could convince anyone to do this with me. If we’re touring two up I’d luggage it up and make sure we could carry everything with us, but if I was solo I think I could just get by with the panniers and leave the back end looking less luggage-y.
Outfitting it with luggage and a few odds and ends from the extensive options catalogue is always fun. I only got myself into four thousand dollars of trouble there:
|The solo, lighter Tiger looks a treat.|
- Expedition Aluminium Panniers – Waterproof Inner Bags Pair $160.00
- Engine Bars – Black $364.99
- High Rider Comfort Seat $340.00
- Heated Passenger Seat $535.02
- Quick Release Tank bag $131.57
- LED Fog Lights $555.00
- Adventure Tail Bag $295.00
- Aluminium Radiator Guard $84.99
- Expedition Pannier Mounting Kit $450.00
- Expedition Panniers – Black $1,265.00
In a perfect world I’d get my Tiger shipped from my garage in my England house to the Triumph Dealer in Athens where I’d pick it up on December 23rd. I’d drop it off at the Triumph dealer in Lisbon on January 6th and either convince my cousin to ride it back to the UK or get it shipped back.
I’ve got the kit needed to do this now, but having a look at the latest European gear, I think I’d spring for a new helmet to do this ride with. The Roof Carbon is a piece of industrial art that gives me the benefits of a closed face when I need it and an open face when I’m in need of some wind. The iridium face shield would make this thing look like something out of battle of the planets.
Since it’s a daydream, it ain’t cheap. I’d fly business there and back, so flights are north of seven grand. Getting the bike delivered wouldn’t be cheap, assuming it was waiting for me in Europe to begin with. But hey, if you can’t daydream big, why daydream at all?
13 full days + 1/2 a day on each end
~4000kms – 307kms / day
These are some video screen grabs from the long way home commute from work last week. Windy and cool, but still up near ten degrees Celsius with bright, winter sunshine. The roads were relatively sand and salt free thanks to days of rain and floods.
The Ricoh Theta 360 camera is wrapped around the mirror with a Gorilla Pod. A 360 video clip starts it off followed by some Adobe Lightroom heavily tweaked screen grabs aimed at creating a more abstract feel.
February Ride – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
All the screen grabs with various modifications can be found in this album.
My last ride was November 28th. I used the same 360 camera then, but didn’t have the Gorilla Pod at that point so those ones are all hand held.
I got into elearning early on, before there were Learning Management Systems or plug and play anything. My first elearning class required that I code HTML in order for students to see the material. I’d just come out of over a decade working in IT so I was one of the few people in the system who could engage with elearning early on. I was deeply involved in virtual learning until I attempted to apply for an elearning management position. After not getting it I was also suddenly also not an elearning teacher any more. I moved in other directions and have developed a successful and competitive computer engineering program instead. In the process I’ve won a couple of awards for integrating technology into teaching and my students have won all sorts of things, so I’m happy with where I’m at.
As if on cue a job came up for an Information Technology Support Teacher for online learning. I do this job now in our school (and beyond) voluntarily because I can’t sit by and watch my colleagues struggle with technology that I know my students and I can sort out for them. The idea that I could be given the time and space to do technology support at 100% and on a board wide scale rather than in addition to this absurd quadmestered, cohorted teaching load was appealing. I fired my resume and a cover letter at it that contained references from presidents and educational technology icons from across the province and got an interview. This caused me great anxiety. I’ve built a successful program out of a crack in the sidewalk and walking away from it would doom it (our school has just cancelled face to face computer science classes so viable 21st Century pathways aren’t high on the to-do list). On top of that I wasn’t sure how I’d get along on the other side of the curtain in a board office job.
I didn’t get the job. Based on an interview with no technical questions they went with someone else whose answers they liked more. To be honest I think I dodged a bullet there. The moment you step out of the classroom you aren’t working for students any more, you’re working for the system, and the system and I have never gotten along particularly well. As their IT support teacher I would have improved access to tools in a platform agnostic way. I would have found ways to make things work and improve our bandwidth with students instead of telling people to do less with the limited resources they’re handed.
I’m a keen amateur mechanic. I’ve taken motorcycles out of fields and restored them to operation multiple times. I’ve rebuilt cars and pulled engines. I’m capable enough that I trust my mechanical skills with my life (I do my own brakes and other maintenance on machines with very thin margins for error). I have built up a working garage space, have the right tools and know how to use them, but I’d never tell a qualified mechanic that I’m their equal. The difference between a professional and an amateur should be fairly obvious, yet Ontario education clings to the idea that a university degree trumps any kind of skilled trade… like information technologist. If they want to go with a status quo middle-manager who is aiming for administration then that’s their choice, but belittling my expertise in the process was annoying, though it highlighted an ongoing prejudice in the system. Ask tech teachers why they make less on average than everyone else in the building and you’ll see that academic privilege and skilled trades devaluation is a systemic prejudice.
This is why it’s good to be friends with Austin Vince on Facebook, it makes you daydream.
What would I do if I were free of money and the time constraints it demands? I’d be planning a month in Spain next year!
The week of the 19th to the 23rd (Monday to Friday) would be doing the Pyrenees with Austin and crew on my Triumph Tiger Explorer.
The Aragón round of MotoGP happens on the next weekend!
I’d aim to get in country with my bike in the first week of September and then have the a couple of weeks toodling about before a week in the Pyranees with Austin Vince! After the Austin week I’d be straight over to Aragon for the MotoGP weekend. After a couple of days of getting organized, the long trek home would begin… the long way round!
|A week riding the Pyranees with Austin Vince, and then a weekend at MotoGP Aragon!|
Spain to Tokyo via Southern Europe, India, South East Asia and China, would be one hell of a ride. A flight to L.A. would have me riding through the southern States before heading north and home in the spring.
Bike shipping to Europe? about ~ $1000
I couldn’t find anything off-hand, but I’d guess about $2000 to fly the bike back into North America. I could always ask Austin how he did it.
Timing of a fall Spain to Japan trip?
Southern Europe: September/October
India/South East Asia: November/December
Southern US: March/April
This route is about 29,000kms with 3 air cargo bits and one hell of a ferry ride:
Toronto to Madrid
Turkey to India
Shanghai to Osaka Ferry www.shanghai-ferry.co.jp/english/unkou.htm
Tokyo to Los Angeles
This was my son and I’s second go around at the big, messy NAIMS. It feels more like a jumble sale than a bike show, but we have a good time storming around the International Centre in Mississauga.
This show’s best attribute is its timing. Just as everyone is getting snowed in and a bit stir crazy along comes this ludicrously large motorbike extravaganza to satisfy all appetites.
We did it backwards this year, wandering around the clubs and smaller vendor hall before pushing through the big halls and finally getting to see the custom bikes (we missed Hall 5 last year).
It was nice to talk face to face with a fellow CoGer (they had a stand). It makes me want to get out to one of their local meetings. That they don’t dress like pirates (which seems to be a thing with many of the other clubs) ingratiates them to me even more.
Ironically, both times we’ve purchased things at this show we’ve done it from Two Wheel Motorsports, our local dealer. One of the instructors from my motorcycle licensing course works there and he always remembers me, which is some good customer service. This time around I stumbled upon an armoured jacket that happened to have my initials on it. $100 for a $270 retail jacket? Nice. My son also got some iron man coloured leather gloves ($50 retail, twenty bucks at the show) that he was very happy with.
NAIMS is definitely good for shopping, though many of the larger retailers there didn’t seem to be offering prices much different than on their webpages. It’s also pretty much the same gear over and over again. If you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path (like ROOF helmets?) then you’re outa luck.
The custom show in Hall 5 out back was full on bizarre. Some beautiful paint on some plain ridiculous bikes, Hall 5 is where the pirates with disposable income go!
We enjoyed the show, but once again, grumpy old men selling Victory Motorcycles growled at my son when he tried to sit on one… it’s always a good idea to bring a bike to a show and not expect anyone to sit on it. Once again, Kawasaki and Harley were the only two manufactures that showed up and provided bikes you’re expected to sit on.
The Toronto Motorcycle Show comes along in February down at the CNE. That’s the one you want to aim at if you want to actually sit on bikes. We’ll be there ready to sit on everything!
Following that adage I looked for a phone with a good camera this time around. The OnePlus5 has an excellent camera as far as hardware goes, but the software still has some catching up to do. Fortunately OnePlus seem committed to regular updates.
Walking home on Dec 23rd, one of the darkest days of the year, I took a post-sunset shot of the Grand River thinking it wouldn’t come out at all. Not too bad for a very low light shot. Similarly the multi-shot night time hockey gif taken on winter solstice in full darkness.
The photo of my lovely wife and her colleagues singing was also taken in a dark room. It was post processed in Paper Artist, my favourite on-phone photo editing app.
I’ll talk about fundamental learning skills in another post, but in this case I’m focusing on the secondary learner who has already developed fundamental learning skills. That student is capable of self-directing their learning, and in an information rich world like the one appearing around us this is a vital portion of their engagement in the learning process. Where once we expected students to sit in rows and be portioned out information, nowadays teachers should be facilitating self-directed learning. A 21st Century teacher’s greatest ability is their own expertise in information fluency, which they provide in order to produce similarly self-directed learners.
‘That’s academic‘ has long meant a course of action that has no practical purpose, but academics do generally produce self-directed learners who have had to survive the vicissitudes of many education systems over the years and have become self-taught in spite of the best efforts of many of their educators.
|In management and education the goals are
abstract, fabricated and ultimately political
In comparison to my academic background my experiential learning has been uncertain and demanding with no guarantee of success. The tension between success in a fabricated situation and success in a genuine situation that allows for failure became more apparent to me as I proceeded through university. Matt Crawford brings this up in Shop Class As Soulcraft when he refers to the magical thinking conjured up by management to justify their decisions. Education, like business management, is a social construct and produces what Crawford describes as ‘psychedelic’ justification for its own existence. As his quote here suggests, when you’re learning experientially in a realistic environment you don’t get to say, ‘hey! great job!’ if you’re looking at your dismembered finger laying on the floor; reality doesn’t put up with that crap.
As someone who has bounced back and forth between both sides of the education spectrum I can see the value and challenges in both. What surprises me is how unwilling academic educators are to appreciate the advantages found in the hard-knocks school of experiential learning compared to the complex political dance of the academic classroom.
I know a lot of teachers who get angry with Shaw’s pithy little quote about a character who is upset with his writing teacher, but I know a lot of teachers who teach writing who don’t do it themselves. I know a lot of teachers in a number of subjects that don’t practice what they teach; it’s hard not to see some truth in that statement.
Watching some teachers struggle with the surging availability of information makes me wonder what they’ll do when an algorithm is created that does everything they do (I give it ten years). There will come a time when our learning management systems become sufficiently intuitive and make the learning expert teacher redundant (while simultaneously personalizing education in a dramatic way).
It’s a tough thing to be made irrelevant, ask many factory workers. The teachers who will avoid being replaced by software in this inevitable future are the experiential masters who are guiding learning through doing, yet another reason why I reopened my experiential past and got tech-qualified. It’s too bad that not everyone practices what they teach.