360 Winter Photos from the Saddle

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.



 




All the screen grabs with various modifications can be found in this album.



If you’re looking for a motorcycle friendly camera, the Theta 360 has push button controls that are easy to use (most others have finicky wireless connections through a smartphone).  You don’t have to aim it or focus it, it just grabs everything in an instant.  The screen grabs on here are from the 1080 video the Theta made while attached to the rear view mirror.


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.











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Exercising the OnePlus5 Smartphone camera

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.





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Digital Tribalism

Are we watching digital vandals sacking what’s left of Rome? It can begin with something as ephemeral as truth, and quickly turn into a guerrilla war. Wikileaks only speaks the truth, and the digital tribes believe it’s absolute. The words spoken and footage shown isn’t the truth, it’s too concrete, too certain, but the tribes need a focus, a common will.

The tribes are all around us, we are starting to identify ourselves more virtually than we do physically. We believe we have more in common with the people we associate with online than we do with our own countrymen. Democracy proves it with declining voter turnout and moldy, dysfunctional bureaucracies. People feel less and less relevant to where they are.
Your social networks linked to interests become more and more concrete in your mind. The people you game with are your comrades. It’s little wonder that these bands of virtual patriots rally behind the cry of truth overturning hypocrisy that Wikileaks is sounding. Bring down the government, bring down the corporations, bring down those things that try to limit our digital selves.
Perhaps it’s time to embrace the new, as our ancestors did with sail powered ships, printing presses and industrialization. The ships brought plague and genocide in the New World, the printing presses overturned a millennia old religious institution in Europe and industrialization is still slowly poisoning a very finite bio-sphere, but each of these things ushered in new eras of discovery and innovation; the digital era will be no different.
Why we ever thought that our brave new world would exist in happy harmony with the old world ideas of nationhood and economics is rather ludicrous; like expecting horse drawn carriages to run calmly next to a super highway. The digital truth we’re in the middle of inventing is going to demand some changes.
I wonder if people throughout history simply stumbled into obvious, overwhelming change without realizing it. In 500 years, students learning the early 21st Century will wonder at how people clung to ideas that were obviously outdated. Perhaps they’ll wonder why those nation states were so amazed that a apparently powerless little organization could unclothe them so easily. Perhaps they’ll wonder why no one stated the obvious.
But then again, maybe as Rome burned they really did fiddle, we are.
The best digital future books:
thedaemon.com/ fantastic new author
www.williamgibsonbooks.com/ fantastic veteran
www.randomhouse.ca/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307357519&view=print creepy and obviously true – so go by a pickup!
100milediet.org/ the future of how we feed ourselves – doesn’t seem important until you realize what is
We Are Legion: the beginnings of the end of geographical government?  The beginnings of digital nationhood?

Wearing Out Willpower: edfail!

 
So, forcing people to constantly modify their behavior wears out their willpower and causes measurable deficiencies in their mental abilities. You can expect a 10-30% decrease in mental skills if you wear people out by forcing them to waste their willpower on maintaining arbitrary social norms.
 
…. how do we design schools? What do we constantly do to children all day? Then we demand that they work at their peak mental efficiency (which is impossible because we’ve worn out their mental focus on things like not talking, standing in line, doing what they are told, sitting quietly, doing what they’re told…); it’s weakening the teachers, it’s also damaging students.
 
We’ve essentially created an education system designed to produce poor mental acuity. I’ve always said that teachers dissolve their in-class credibility with students if they are used as hall monitors and cafeteria ladies (they are in my school). It turns out that having to constantly sit on every little social deviance measurably weakens our ability to perform mental tasks in both teachers and students as well.
 
If you have a moment, give it a listen (there is a pod cast on that webpage), some great insights into how modern psychology is measuring willpower and its effects on mental ability, and how we’re completely ignoring them in education.
 

A Modest Ontario Education Proposal

The politics of teaching are on my mind lately.  Ontario has financial issues, and cutbacks seem certain.  I’ve previously talked about how good Ontario’s education system is, the frustration of being an active educator in this political climate, and, most recently, the simplicity of the salary grid.  I’ve asked hard questions about Ontario’s historical assumptions, and I think I haven’t been entirely one sided in the process.

Being active in my union, I fear that I don’t tow the line as much as I should.  Being a department head, I fear that I don’t tow my employer’s line as much as I should.  The sidey-ness of this whole thing frustrates me.  Why this is an adversarial process in which one side tries to take as much as possible from the other, to the point of hurting them if possible, in order to score political points.  It all seems very inefficient to me.  Along with the inefficiency there is the hypocrisy.  How we can expect, even demand, that students be rational, collaborative and unselfish when adults seem so intent on doing the opposite?

I’d like to make a modest proposal.  Now, this modest proposal won’t win you political points in media that cares more about emotional confrontation than truth, and it won’t inflame issues by fabricating lies; this proposal is all about fixing problems, and working collaboratively to do it.  If you want to look revolutionary, this won’t do it for you.  If you just want to hate on something ideologically then this will not suit your style.

This modest proposal is for mature, collegial people who begin with the premise that everyone involved in developing an economically sustainable education system with the highest standards of excellence isn’t going to throw these noble goals away for their own benefit at first opportunity.

This modest proposal won’t play to invented deadlines and the fictional drama that ensues.  It asks for an honest, transparent assessment of what is financially available for sustainable education in Ontario, and then it asks the parties involved to look at how they can maintain the levels of excellence currently achieved while meeting those transparent and accurate financial goals.  People playing games about the value of education need not apply.  If you think quality education isn’t important to the prosperity of Ontario, then you’re an idiot; it’s important that we do this well.

In this proposal, unions don’t protect older teachers at all costs into the largest possible retirement they can get, we consider everyone involved in the system fairly.  We have to consider that no education system is sacred and the end result is focused on fairness and excellence.  This proposal will consider what has worked world wide in terms of meaningful teacher assessment (because OCT sure isn’t it), and all parties will create a better way forward with it.

The first part of this proposal is a voluntary freeze for the next school year while the ministry, boards and unions sit down in a collaborative manner, agree on the finances, and then move to meet them.  If the union wants to offer early buyouts for expensive, senior teachers in order to free up positions for lower paid, new teachers, at great savings to the province, then this should be considered.  Putting money into the hands of people across Ontario isn’t a crime, especially if it helps them retire more independently.  If the ministry wants to restructure the grid in order to encourage excellence in teaching rather than stubbornly holding to a seniority only focus, then the union should join them in creating a grid that recognizes the many ways that teachers contribute to and improve their profession – just showing up to work shouldn’t get you within 5% of maximum salary on any reasonable grid.  If, in the process, senior teachers who do nothing other than show up and go home suddenly find themselves making $15,000 a year less, I’m ok with that, and any sane thinking person should be too.

The historical assumptions around public and semi-private religious schools that receive public funding should be removed, this isn’t 1850.  If we are really worried about the bottom line, trying to run 4 public systems is a needless waste of money.  If people want specialized schooling, private schools eagerly await their cash.  Religious expression has been welcomed in every school I’ve worked at, this isn’t a removal of religious impetus from schooling, it’s an inclusive embracing of it.  If the province is in dire straits, nothing should be sacred other than ensuring the most inclusive, best possible education we can provide.

A clear eyed, honest assessment would allow us to restructure education in Ontario in a rational, economically appropriate manner with a clear focus on excellence.  Old habits die hard, but if we can shed them, there is no reason why unions can’t do their job of protecting members without having to compulsively over protect to the point where the incompetent take advantage of the situation.  There is no reason why the ministry can’t focus on producing the best education possible instead of being a political puppet to whichever government has the reigns.  There is no reason why boards can’t facilitate the collaborative relationship between these two educational poles instead of being used as a scapegoat between them.

Step one?  Remove the panic of an artificial deadline.  All sides agree to meaningful and progressive dialogue on what needs to happen.  Strikes aren’t threatened, legislation isn’t threatened, this isn’t a threatening environment, it’s a collaborative one.  If students are expected to be collaborative and honest, why on Earth are adults acting this way?  It’s not very flattering to anyone, and it reeks of hypocrisy when administration and teachers demand it in school next year, from children.

How Low Can We Go?

Just bumped into another Dad from my street who no longer comes out to get his kids on the other school bus in the morning. He told me a sad story.

Our local school bus companies were bought up by an American company who promptly fired everyone and rehired them at minimum wage. That didn’t bump up the investor returns enough so they also cut staff and combined bus routes. Their 8:30 pickup was becoming more like an 8:55 or 9:10 pickup. This happened for weeks on end. He finally went to the company and they reorganized their buses (again) to try and stabilize pickups. This is the 3rd time this has happened this year. This is why I don’t see them in the morning any more.
I wonder if the school board gets back money on this with cheaper rates. I wonder if all of those people who now can’t afford their mortgages, car payments or household costs (forget luxuries like having their kids play sports) are happy that the board gets such good rates. I wonder if the publicly funded school boards did anything whatsoever to try and resolve this without people who do a vital job being treated like refugees.
This reminds me of Michael Moore’s bit on airline pilots in the States in his last film.
What we appear to have here are publicly funded and operated school systems that seem intent on lowering the standard of living of thousands of people to improve bottom lines Am I the only one this seems absurd to?
I then told him about where our school custodians are. That same school board is intent on cutting back their responsibilities until it can replace them with minimum wage paid contracted cleaning services. Everything I’ve heard from board politics around who has been hired to perform this, to the ground level response of our own custodians, has supported this explanation. Once again, a publicly funded school board seems intent on lowering the standard of living of hundreds of people in its area in order to lower its bottom line. The fact that minimum wage paid people with no particular on-going interest in their work will be responsible for numerous health and safety issues in schools doesn’t seem to be at issue.
As a younger man I was never a fan of unions, until I saw the epic mess that “business” makes of even simple situations. Whereas a union might protect the odd jerk while protecting many honest employees from abuse and exploitation, private business seems to screw virtually everyone in order to pay off a select few of the richest, usually while dismantling a working system in the process. Given a choice, I’d rather see as few honest people get screwed as possible, so union it is.
Private ownership of what should be publicly owned utilities never works out. The businesses squeeze it for as much as they can with no eye for sustainability. They reduce the effectiveness of a service to just below the bare minimum accepted by the public, then try and hold it there for as long as they can, hiring off shore call centres to field the calls at minimum cost. It’s been a long time since big business has done even it’s own R&D work, let alone truly add anything of value to human civilization.
So here I am, listening to yet another story of Globalization in a world that has proven again and again that it simply doesn’t work. Simplifying ownership into multinationals injures regional interests and only benefits a few of the very rich, making everyone else poorer in the process. The big lie is that we’re all told that we could be that rich minority if we: try hard enough – are smart enough – know the right people – whatever, but that simply isn’t the case.
In the meantime, I’m paying taxes (and working) for a public organization that promotes the povertization of entire sectors of employees that depend on it. Thousands poorer to so a select few can move into a higher income bracket.

Machine Learning

I listened to the Khan Institute TED talk the other day, and can see how a system like that could be flexible enough to adapt to each individual learner while giving the teacher fantastically accurate feedback on where problems lie and how to address them. A future like that looks bright indeed. Teachers would be free to focus on resolving problems and offering enrichment to basic skill sets, rather than standing in front of a crowd reciting facts. For skills based learning in languages and mathematics, this is revolutionary. This is technology used to differentiate a system that has developed some very habitual and static tendencies.
So, things are looking up, right? Education is slowly adapting to the technology wave and integrating it into a more flexible and responsive form of teaching. Then why do I think that once in place, this would allow governments to automate classrooms and drastically reduce the number of teachers in schools? Why do I think that, ultimately, this will dehumanize education?
I watched Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation recently (one of the top rated documentaries of all time, I highly recommend it). This has to be one of the smartest men I’ve ever listened to pulling no punches on a broad spectrum of Western history. This part (starting at 35:35), in particular, resonated with me about the times in which we live.
I think he’s ultimately right; machines do work slavishly for their owners, and those owners tend to be social powers in their own rights. Whether we’re talking the technology companies themselves, multi-nationals or governments, technology in general, and computers in particular, do as much (or more) to dictate our responses than they do to free us from conventions. If anything, computers are a more invasive and totalitarian convention than any art medium or the written word ever were. Digital natives aren’t people with a magical understanding of computers, they are human beings who have been taught to interface with them on a subconscious level. The industrial revolution started in the physical world and now continues its romp through the mental world, redefining human abilities in terms of how accurately and completely we can relate to digital technology.
Watching my poor grade 10s struggling through the standardized literacy test (in which they are identified by numbers and bar codes) today without their cyborg implants is reminding me just how pervasive cybernetics have become. They looked like ghosts without their constant media streams of video, sound and social connection. Watching them try to deal with 10 minutes of unneeded time at the end of the test without an onslaught of media was astonishing. They looked like they were in rehab.
Perhaps, as we grow through technological adolescence, it will become obvious that, at best, we will have a brave new world, at worst, a 1984. Digital technology will, ultimately, create a more manageable population, one that becomes easier to monitor while also becoming instinctively tuned to the needs of the machines that ‘serve’ them. A population that knows how to write (as long as it’s on WORD), or make music (as long as it’s on Garageband). Anyone who has watched a herd of high schools staring at Facebook can speak to its effectiveness as a herding tool.
More worrying is the sameness you tend to get out of student work based on the particular technology they used (we didn’t all used to self-identify through the editable parts of our facebook pages). Hand written documents are original in many ways that the boiler plate WORD DOC is not, but you ask students to hand write anything now (or draw anything – why bother when I can google it?) and they immediately ask, ‘what’s the point?’ Presentations have become powerpoints, then prezis, templates replace design, we find ourselves in a spiraling web of more intellectually focused (and limiting) applications; we start to develop an app mentality.
Machines will always favor efficiency over aesthetics, or ease of management over originality, or clear direction over multiple options. Their ones and zeros, by necessity, simplify the world their biological fore bearers created them from.
A few years ago I saw EPIC2014. It made some of my sharpest grade 12 media students cry. Here you have the concept of an individualized media feed, that gives you what you want, and nothing else. For the brightest, it becomes a nuanced, deep information tool, but for most of the population it feeds them what they want to hear: lies and gossip, while reinforcing their prejudices (sort of like Fox News). There might be some truth in that. If you’ve ever seen how students make use of social media, you can see how the stronger students reign it in, make use of it and control it, while weaker students are ruled by it.
I think that this will be the ultimate deciding factor: will clever people make use of technology to dominate, or will they use it to free us from conventions and allow us to think as optimally as we can? Looking at human history, the answer isn’t very flattering, but I hope for the freedom.

Summer/Fall 2020 Imaging

 A wide range of imaging from the summer of 2020 into the autumn stretches out beneath you.  On-bike photos usually taken with a Ricoh ThetaV firing automatically and attached to the bike with a tripod.  Close-up/macros usually done with a Canon T6i DSLR with a macro lens.  Drone shots taken with a DJI Phantom4Pro drone.  Other shots taken with a OnePlus5 smartphone when I had no other choice (the best camera is the one you have with you).  Most are touched up in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom depending on where I am and how much time I’ve go for post processing.  Some of them are very post processing heavy verging on digital illustration rather than photography.

 The stop motion video was hundreds of photos taken with the 360 camera on bike and then composited into a stop-motion film in Premier Pro.  It’s a tricky process you can learn more about here if curious.  The SMART Adventures videos are using a waterproof/shockproof action camera from Ricoh.

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Courtesies & Confused Responsibility

Responsibility & Liability

I’m going to try and not sound like a grumpy old man in talking about this.

I had a chat with a friend the other week who is teaching in a private school in the GTA.  He had an interesting observation around how students do (and mostly don’t) accept responsibility for their actions.  He argued that the libelous nature of the adult world has placed everyone in the position of not being able to own up to honest errors.  Rather than being able to apologize and move on, we must instead deny any wrong doing, even when it becomes absurd.

A clear example of this happened in class the other week.  Three students were filming, and in the process of setting up the green screen studio they found Nerf guns and began fooling around with them.  This resulted in the camera they set up on the tripod getting knocked over and broken; a $400 new camera.  The response?  “It’s not our fault, we didn’t mean to break it.”  These two ideas are tied together in a student’s mind.  You can’t be held responsible for your actions if your actions weren’t intentionally about breaking the camera.  I tried to explain that it wasn’t ill-intent that led to the camera, it was incompetence, and they are responsible for their incompetence, especially when they willfully engaged in it.

This caused a great deal of confusion.  Students don’t feel responsible for their actions unless they are willfully vindictive, and even then, they won’t admit to wrong doing because they never see adults doing it for fear of liability.  Because of this poisoned moral environment, students also don’t understand what an accident is and how they can still be complicit in it without ill intent.  Fooling around with Nerf guns is not why you were in the studio; your choice to do this led to grievous damage, for which you are responsible.

Slogging through the muddy moral world of our schools can get tiresome quickly.  Incompetence cannot be considered a factor in student performance any more.  I have a number of students with weeks of absences and we are only just at the half way mark of the semester.  Many students will finish this semester in our school with over a month of absences, and they will still be expected to earn a credit.  In many cases these absences involve family holidays during classes.  Parental competence must also never be called into question either.  When those students are in class, they tend to do nothing anyway, but once again, the pressure is on the teacher to ‘find a way’ to ignore incompetence, even if it is simply willful neglect, and pass students.  Our idea of success has become one of pass-rates rather than teaching humans how to be responsible people.

What Manners Do For You

In the past week I’ve had a series of senior students walking into the media arts lab and asking to use equipment during class – while the students in the class needed to use it.  Whenever possible I try to accommodate these requests; media arts fluency leads to greater technological fluency.

I became less willing to accommodate these requests when the students involved ignored directions, started using student computers without permission and interrupted class to demand more equipment or space.  Offering open access to expensive equipment and resources is a nice thing to do, demanding it without so much as a please or thank you won’t get you very far.

This sense of belligerence isn’t unique to this generation of digital natives, though their constant split attention between the world around them and the insinuated cyber-world they also inhabit doesn’t help.  Teens have always been known for socially awkward, often rude, behavior; it’s a fun part of their stereotype.  The ironic thing is that in my experience this is human nature, not just a teen one.  People in general tend toward rudeness, a mannered response is usually a pleasant surprise.

The post modern view of courtesy or manners is one of an anachronistic, inefficient time waster.  Just look at our modern success stories (Zuckerberg, Jobs, Gates, Eminem) for an idea of how we value individualized competitiveness, intellectual superiority and financial success as mutually exclusive from polite, collaborative interaction; we love despotism and see the rudeness inherent in it as a strength.

What politeness does is make explicit what is happening between people.  When you inconvenience someone by putting your own needs first, you can say things like “excuse me” or “sorry to bother you, but…”, and everyone involved knows that you are aware of the interruption you have caused.  When you thank someone for their efforts, you’re acknowledging how they put your interests before their own.  Courtesies are focused on verbalizing the necessity of supporting each other in a collaborative manner.

Polite Responsibility

We throw all that out when we start to mix the nasty habits developed around liability law with how we interact with each other.  For fear of financial penalty, those students couldn’t simply say the truth: “we’re sorry, we should have known better than to screw around under those circumstances.”  They don’t enjoy the release of pent up guilt that comes with apologizing honestly for an unintended outcome.  They also haven’t verbalized wrong action and have missed out on the meta-cognitive reinforcement that happens when you describe what you’ve done in honest terms.  They carry all that negativity forward.

I was watching soccer yesterday and an obvious handball occurred inside the goalie crease.  In my perfect world the offender it happened to would go to the ref and opposing player and say, “yes, it hit my arm.  It was a sudden, hard shot and I couldn’t have gotten my arm out of the way in time anyway.”  The shooter would then be given the penalty shot and he would have kicked it wide on purpose.  Instead, the player stood there stony faced, and said nothing as he knew the rules of the game had been broken, but could not afford the liability of admitting truth.

We do this in our games, our businesses are founded on this concept of non-admittance of wrong doing, and our governments don’t know how to operate any other way.  It’s no wonder that we should do it in our schools if we’re going to get our students ready for the adult world waiting for them.

The moral order of operations we need to train our students in to prepare for adulthood:

  • It’s best to say nothing than admit wrong doing or incompetence. 
  • It’s best to lie than to admit wrong doing or incompetence.  
  • It’s best to accept punishment but still admit to no wrong doing, or incompetence.
  • Ignore courtesies, they are a sign of dependence and weakness.

Conformity is happiness

Having a son a lot like myself, I’m watching in dismay as the school system does to him what it tried to do to me. A quiet, shy boy who likes to do his own thing, my son gets very anxious in group situations and tends to shut down, go off into his own head. I suspect that when this happens his teachers think that nothing is happening, that he’s just standing there blank, but I know this isn’t the case, because I do the same thing.

When people are too much with me (which happens in large groups or very loud situations), I daydream to give my mind some place to play. Standing in a large, noisy group of grade ones repetitively voicing lyrics for the Christmas concert would have lost me quickly, as they did my son. Somehow, his music teacher believes this means he is a failure in music. I’m not sure how group choral singing and dancing is the sum total means of assessing musical skill, but I suppose in some people’s minds it is.
Ultimately, it seems that, to an elementary teacher, an unresponsive child is somehow blank. I teach myself, so I recognize the challenges of trying to get an accurate assessment of skills in a classroom full of students, but a lot of this can be mitigated by differentiating instruction and differentiating evaluation. Many opportunities to demonstrate a skill in different contexts is, again, a challenge, but if we’re not there to try and create circumstances in which a student can show their best selves, why are we there?
Last year I was at a PD in which the instructor said that he was astonished to see so many secondary teachers out, because usually they don’t care anything for PD, differentiating instruction, collaborative assessment or technology in education. My department head and I looked at each other and asked the obvious question, “why would you want to antagonize your audience in the first five minutes?”
He went on to (admiringly) describe elementary teachers as paragons of modern educational philosophy, masters of DI, experts in assessment, the very flowers of the education system. He was then frustrated that his room full of secondary teachers appeared unwilling to interact and ask questions during his presentation.
So here I am, looking at the system as a parent for the first time. In my view, the elementary system is designed around standardized testing. The curriculum is so tightly prescribed and detailed that teachers have little latitude in how they can present it and how long they have to assess it. As a result, they are approaching the education of younger students in a very mechanical, statistical manner. This is something that somehow proves to those in charge that elementary teachers are superior – working within a coherent system that produces students who all think similarly and demonstrate the same skills at the same skill level. Administrators must love this; what a great opportunity to produce STATISTICS.
I have no doubt that there are secondary teachers who love this kind of order (most become administrators). A wonderful world of easily organizable human beings who all do the same things, the same way at the same level. It’s the stuff curriculums are made of. But in my experience, especially in the humanities and the arts (and increasingly in science and even math), secondary teachers are actually more interested in trying to arrange conditions for success with their students, rather than comparing them to an artificial and arbitrary set of standards being designed by a MINISTRY somewhere.
One way this happens is by recognizing that teaching and learning are a biological process, and that they happen for students at different times in different ways. This isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be expectations of what a human being is capable of, the last thing I’d advocate for is a lowest common denominator approach to human being, but an education system that is overly prescribed is probably serving its own bureaucracy rather than its students.
The board keeps showing us Sir Ken’s mighty speech: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U You’ve probably seen it. Watching it at this last PD through the lens of a frustrated parent of a grade one boy born in October, I was most struck by his comments on our infatuation with date of manufacture. We have built one of the largest public institutions around this idea, mainly for the convenience of the bureaucracy that runs it. (I live in hope that peak oil will break this tyranny: docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AZ3Xb3MP_t-cZGRnM2o2bXBfMjZkaGZndmNoaA&hl=en&authkey=CLqOsqIN )
In the meantime, I’ve been talking to colleagues who have atypical children and their only advice is cry long, cry loud and never let them become complacent. It makes me feel sorry for all those kids whose parents are too intimidated, or uncaring, or too busy to advocate as loudly.
There has to be a better way, for everyone involved.