10 Questions about LGBT Sex Ed, because a parent has the right to know, and the right to choose…

Whether or not you believe that sexual orientation is fluid, static, not a choice, a choice or an equal choice for your child, —YOU, as a parent have the inalienable right to raise your child according to your family’s values, culture, nationality, religion (or lack thereof), and morals.

The latest LGBT belief is that sexual orientation is fluid, a choice, and an equal choice for people. This is a huge departure from what was believed during our generation (parents of current students), while we were growing up. We were told that homosexuality is genetic and therefore the gay community has no choice in the issue. Today’s parents need to know what the current beliefs are, because these beliefs will inform how schools teaching LGBT approach the subject.

This blogpost is mainly for International School parents, but public school parents can find valuable information in it for their context, too.

The over-arching guiding mission of all International Schools, which is stated explicitly in the guidance of the International Baccalaureate program (IBO), is that International Schools will teach “international-mindedness” and foster “intercultural-understanding”.

As such, this means that International Schools are bound, by ethics if not by law, to respect children’s nationality and culture—–no matter where they’ve come from, or are going to. Religion, values, morals, and especially sexual morals grow out of children’s nationality and culture, as well as their family-life.

International Schools can take any position they want on LGBT teaching (or any other teaching), but ethically— they must be completely transparent with parents about what exactly they are teaching them, because children of expatriate children move and live all around the world. This is so parents can guide and protect their children —should they move to any LGBT “unfriendly” countries. In some countries, LGB is illegal— punishable by jail and even in death in some places. So, it’s a SAFEGUARDING issue for children. (India only did away with their laws making LGB illegal, last year.)

If an International School is not transparent, parents should complain to their local ministry of Education to force them to have such transparency. Typically, local ministries of education exercise no oversight over International Schools because of the language barrier. International Schools, fundamentally, are private businesses. Local governments usually have no role or understanding of the curriculum or policies an International School might be using. They won’t know a school is not being transparent unless parents tell them; but they can force transparency because public schools are required to be transparent. International Schools are expected to meet the standards set for local schools. International Schools, themselves, might not know the standards expected of local schools. If they do, they can conveniently “overlook” them, because few of their parents would know what the standards are, either. Did you know a school law in the canton of Fribourg, in Switzerland says schools must uphold Christian teaching? I’m sure that this “law” is conveniently ignored.

There are laws in Switzerland and in your nation that can’t be ignored. As an example, Swiss School Laws Article 9.2 says that “The school must respect the religious, moral, and political convictions of their students and their parents.” Article 9.1 says that, “Teaching must be neutral from the point of view of religion or politics.” Article 11.1 “Political, religious, or commercial propaganda in schools is forbidden.” See this link for the document of Swiss School Laws for the province of Vaud, Switzerland, for an example.

In my opinion, if an International School embeds the teaching of anything that doesn’t respect the religious, moral, and political convictions of their students and parents of all nations, religions, cultures,– -they can’t call themselves an “International School”. The obvious remedy for this is to not teach students their sexual morals. Leave that for the parents. (IB teachers talk about a “values-laden” curriculum. Teaching values is not the same as teaching morals. As an example, a value could be “relationships”. A moral is “Multiple sexual partners is fine”.

Private Schools usually must meet the minimum standards of public schools. In Switzerland they definitely do. As an example Swiss Private School Laws for the province of Vaud Article 2.1 says that , “The legal provisions valid for public schools concerning hygiene as well as the public order and moral standards are applicable by analogy to private schools.” Please see this blogpost for more details about what this means.

If I found out that my child’s international school was teaching LGBT in their human sexuality curriculum, these are the questions I would want answers for. Our family has not been able to get satisfactory answers to any of these questions, therefore we had to recently withdraw our child from our International School. Our family of 4 children has been with the school for 8 years (from Y3 to Graduation), so it was with great sadness that the relationship had to end like that.

10 Questions to Ask:

  1. What is your school’s belief about sexual orientation? “Do you believe that it is fluid, therefore the children can choose and change their sexual orientation?” What is your school’s belief about gender? “Do you believe that gender is socially-constructed, and therefore children can choose their gender?”
  2. What if my child goes to you for 1:1 counselling about changing his sexual orientation and gender? At what point will you let me know? Can I be involved in the discussions from the very beginning? What if my child asks you to promise to not tell me? What will you do and say? Note that Canada has a law in place Bill 24 that forbids schools from telling parents if their child has “come out”. School Counsellors work from a professional bias that does not want parental involvement. Ask your school for its written policy on confidentiality. If they say they that confidentiality is “high priority” (coded language), ask them, “Does this confidentiality include not telling me anything my child doesn’t want me to know?”
  3. Please send me a copy of the Scope and Sequence of your human sexuality curriculum. Scope and Sequence means the exact concepts and teaching objectives (scope) that will be asked of children at every grade, as they move up the school (sequence). The documents that teachers work from are not secret. They should be available to parents, upon request.
  4. Did you write your own curriculum? If so who wrote it? and what are their beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identification? If you didn’t write the curriculum, are you following the Canadian LGBT Sex Ed curriculum (various language versions are available on that web page)? The Canadian government is exporting its LGBT Sex Ed curriculum through the United Nations See article here . Since IB International Schools have a close working relationship to the United Nations, I believe it is the Canadian curriculum (or something similar) in International Schools that is going out to other nations. There is also the UK LGBT sex ed curriculum called “No Outsiders”. Note that the Canadian curriculum was in Ontario public schools for only 3 years (2015-2018) until it was rolled back, when the government that implemented it was voted out. The parent vote, in reaction to the LGBT sex ed curriculum, was a significant factor in ousting the government that had been in power for 15 years, prior. The government thought it was invincible, but see what the power of parental voice can do?! The Liberal Party went from 58 seats to 7. You need 8 seats to even be considered an “official party” in Canada, and so the Liberal Party lost even official party status.
  5. If they won’t give you a Scope and Sequence, you may ask:
    • What is the school’s beliefs about sexual orientation? Is it static or fluid?
    • What is the school’s belief about gender identification? Is gender socially constructed? How will you teach gender in biology classes? Do they believe that children can change their gender?
    • Will you teach about homosexuality, bi-sexuality? At what ages?
    • Will you teach about transsexuality? gender identification? At what ages?
    • Will you teach grade 1 children that they can choose to be a girl or a boy. Most schools do a unit called “Who am I?” in grade 1
    • Will you teach grade 2 children about same-sex couples? Most schools do a unit called “Who is my family?” in grade 2.
    • Will you teach masturbation, oral sex, anal sex? (see Canadian curriculum for ages for this). Will you teach digital sex (sex with fingers)?
    • At what age will you start teaching about dating, and consent? What is your definition about consent. The school’s definition of consent might be very different than yours!
    • At what age will you start teaching about contraception? What kind of contraception will be covered?
    • How much time and focus is given to the topic of chastity, abstinence? Ireland has Sex Ed curriculum in schools that encourages chastity and abstinence. See Love for Life Workshop.  This workshop will travel to our school. Can we invite them in? Any school that purports to be Internationally-Minded should readily agree to this. One of the IB Learner Profile traits is “Open Mindedness”. Open-Mindedness means, “We see and evaluate a range of points of view and we are willing to grow from the experience.” If the school is not willing to offer substantial abstinence and chastity education (from outside organizations if they are not equipped for this), you will know that the school is working from bias. The justification for LGBT Sex Education is to teach “Diversity & Inclusion”, but this includes teaching the other side of the story, then. If not, then this is not “diversity & inclusion”, but propaganda. Your country may have laws against schools teaching propaganda (Fribourg Province or Vaud Province) as Switzerland does. Note that LGBT sex education is considered propaganda towards minors in Russia and this is illegal in Russia.
    • What are your beliefs about pornography? What and how will you teach children about pornography? (You don’t want your child to view pornography, in order to learn about pornography.)
    • Will you try to influence my child’s inner-thought life in any fashion? (i.e. teaching about sexual fantasies)
    • What proportion of the over-all curriculum will be devoted to sexual education? Ask for the number of hours per grade. No matter what your opinion is on sexual orientation and gender identification, parents and children don’t necessarily want their entire curriculum to revolve around human sexuality. There are psychiatrists and organizations (not affiliated with any religion) who believe that the early sexualization of children is harmful to children’s mental heath.
  6. How, when, how often, and at what level of detail will you keep me informed about the human sexuality classes that my child will attend?
  7. If my child tells the school that he/she wants to change gender through hormones and/or surgery, what will you do next? What if I disagree with my child’s desire to change gender? (We won’t have data for another decade whether sex reassignment hormones/surgery addresses the underlying issues that cause children to want to change gender.) Will you involve the child welfare authorities, if we refuse hormone treatment and/or gender reassignment surgery? Can you guarantee to me that the school’s introduction to my child about the concept of transgender, will not end up with my child being taken-away from me, by the state?
  8. In educational language, teachers talk about the Taught Curriculum and the Implied Curriculum (hidden curriculum). If your school employs an openly gay or obviously transsexual for a primary school teacher or primary school counsellor, this is part of the Implied Curriculum. Children are learning, through example. Ask the school for the philosophy that underpins their decision to hire teachers to teach primary school children, by example, about homosexuality and/or transgenderism. In the same way, if your child is learning about the biology of human reproduction from an openly gay teacher (primary school or secondary school), ask the school for the philosophy that underpins that decision.
  9. What LGBT children’s picture books will be read to my child? at what ages? There is a whole genre of books written to introduce young children to LGBT concepts. See an example here, which comes in baby boardbook format, which was read to my 10 year old son in a Puberty Unit in the International School. This is a picture book about two gay penguins who adopt a baby.
  10. The most important question of all: Can I take my children out of these classes? You might believe you will always have this right, but this may not aways be true. See this BBC article. Your nation may have school laws that require schools to respect the religious, moral, and political convictions of students and their parents ex. Article 9.2  In that case, you have the choice to withdraw your child out of these classes.

In Switzerland and Canada, laws have been put into place to censure language that might be deemed hate language towards homosexuals. In Canada, they have in-addition laws censuring language about transgender people (Bill C-16). Therefore it may not be possible in the near-future for parents to debate LGBT Sex Ed, disagree with it, or take their children out of these classes. If you are a Swiss national, there will be a referendum in about two years about whether to roll-back the laws censuring language about homosexuals. Our family’s story was used by the UDF Swiss Political Party to campaign and collect signatures (Dec 2018 – March 2019) to trigger this referendum. Switzerland is the only country in the world that has a direct democracy. Citizens can trigger a referendum on any topic as long as they collect a minimum of 50,000 signatures in 100 days. The UDF collected 70, 000 to trigger a referendum to roll back the laws censuring speech about homosexuality. If you are a Swiss national, please vote in two years, to preserve parents’ freedom to speak about and to have control over their children’s sexual education. Our family’s story will be used during the UDF Referendum campaign to protect this family right.

https://www.censure-non.ch/

To put the referendum in context, the Swiss argue that it dangerous to stifle freedom of expression. The LGBT community is already protected as all minority groups are from hate speech, through their general legislation against hate. As a visible minority (Chinese), I don’t see why one minority group has been singled out for special protection, but my ethnic minority group has not. I experienced bullying about my “race” while growing up. My children have been sworn at, because of their Chinese appearance. Singling out one minority group for special protections, is not being inclusive, if you ask me.

The loss of freedom of speech is not off-set by whatever gains the LGBT lobby groups want from it. Switzerland is not a hot-bed of hate towards LGBT.

If there was a minority group that needed special protection against hate speech in the world, it should be for muslims and jews. This is unchecked and spreading through the world very quickly with bloody consequences.

As a parent, and an educator, I definitely have my opinions about this issue. But, my motivation to write this blogpost was not to impose my views on you, but to give you the tools and information that is YOUR RIGHT to make the best decision for your family.

I absolutely support the right for parents to raise their children according to their family’s values, whatever you decide, and all that you read, here, is what I would have told you if you came over for a cup of tea and asked me for advice about LGBT Sex Ed Curriculum.

Along these lines, if your child has come out gay or wants to change gender, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned in my personal research, according to my opinion as an International School educator, who is conservative and a Christian. There are resources for parents of LGBT that come from a compassionate, even if it is Christian, viewpoint.

I have tried, to the best of my ability, to present website links that aren’t biased. Some of the articles that I’ve linked to are very biased, but this is because I could not find an unbiased document to link to. If a government document existed, then I would link to that. If an article from a mainstream news website was available, I would link to that article.

I’m MOST worried about the cases in the news where children have been taken away from their parents, when their parents refused hormonal therapy and/or surgery to change their child’s gender. It is too early to say that hormonal treatment and/or surgery is going to address the underlying issues a child may have that prompted him/her to want to change gender. We won’t have that data for another decade, after we have a large sample of children who have changed gender to see what their outcomes are, after they are adults. Google for your own articles.

YET, society has already made the gigantic leap into removing children from their parents, if parents won’t allow their child to change genders. Institutional Care has historically put children at risk of physical and/or sexual abuse. I can’t see how taking these children away from their parents is ever going to have any good outcome, for anyone.

Whatever your beliefs are, you HAVE THE RIGHT, as a parent to be the FIRST educator of your child, and the final authority over the sexual education of your child. Sexual morals should ONLY be the domain of families but since schools and governments believe they have the right to teach children their sexual morals, at least be informed WHAT sexual morals they are teaching your child.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights say that we have to right to manifest our religion or belief in teaching. I believe this includes teaching within a family from parents.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18

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The right to raise our children, according to our consciences, is an inalienable right, conferred to us, by our humanity when we gave birth to our children. Governments may legislate to take away these rights, but that doesn’t mean you don’t carry these rights. Inalienable rights don’t change with time, governments, or legislation. That’s what makes them “inalienable”.

I hope these 10 questions will help you navigate a very different landscape in school education, than what we went through when we were children. We sort of “assume” that things couldn’t have changed that much. I mean,…biology doesn’t change… so how different could Sex Ed be?

Now you know.

I wish you and your child every opportunity to grow up and blossom into the person that he or she desires to be and that you dream for him or her. Whatever the future holds for you—whether your child adopts your family morals or not; —whether he/she is gay or changes gender, the BEST thing you can do for your child is to LOVE your child unconditionally, no matter what the future holds. But before their character and morals are set in young adulthood and you set them free to fly out of the family nest, it is your job to guide them and to be knowledgable about your guidance.

Unconditional love does not mean letting them think and do whatever they like. You still give them firm boundaries and guide them;–but you acknowledge that they have a free-will too, and if they go a different direction after you’ve done your best to steer them, you will love them still. Unconditional love does not mean no boundaries. You’d fight with every ounce of your strength for your child’s physical life if he/she were sick. Sexual morals are about saving their physical lives, too—we can’t be deceived about this fact.

I hope that these 10 questions will help you do the best for your child.

~Vivian

If your child has come out gay or trans, I’ve compiled a list of resources that I would suggest to you, if you were asking me, as a friend or as a parent of one of my students. I’m a school teacher, and a mother of 4 (ages 15-22). What I have and know about, I offer to you…

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For those who believe that dreams have meaning, please read about a dream that one of my son’s had (the older brother to the one mentioned in this blogpost), that gives us insight into how God views the issue of school curriculum and its care of students.

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M.S. Research Project: Not Just Sonic-Pi in the Sky

Belle Epoque

It’s hard to believe, but almost 6 years after starting my Coetail postgrad certificate studies, I will graduate in December with my M.S. (Master of Science) from SUNY Buffalo State University of New York,  The M.S. is in Multidisciplinary Studies, but my focus has been on Educational Technology Integration.

Educational technology integration looks at the question of how best to use technology in school education.  We should be always striving for the “R” of the SAMR model, which is Redefinition. Redefinition is when we use technology to achieve things that would be impossible without it.  In the Arts, there are myriad of opportunities for “R” and what a joy it has been to search out those opportunities!

My proudest project would be computer programming my sweater (E-Textiles) to blink the colours and patterns I wanted:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rGr5qlHLus

(Click above to see the Youtube video.)

Research Paper Title:

Not Just Pi in the Sky—Sonic-Pi’s Ability to give Low Note-reading Ability Music Students Access to Advanced Compositional and Performance Activities:  its Effect on Engagement and the Formation of Musical Identity in these Students

My M.S. research problem looked at the disconnect of young people between the music they enjoy privately and the music they study in music class.  I looked at the low engagement of, and the obstacles to formation of musical identity for students who have low musical note-reading abilities.  I looked at the free and open source software tool called Sonic-Pi which allows students to live-code (code on the fly) music in any genre they like, including the very popular Electronic Dance Music (EDM), and how it might help with these problems.

My research question:

“In what ways does Sonic-Pi affect access to advanced music compositional activities for low note-reading students, student engagement in music class, the development of musical identity, and students’ choices to continue music or not when they are presented with an opportunity to drop the subject?”

I have loved being a musician and a music teacher.  I love the creative abilities of technology to compliment the Arts.   Now, I get to bring both together in my M.S. research project.

It has been a fantastic journey, between my Coetail Post-Grad Certificate and my M.S. studies to add so much understanding and tools to my pedagogy.  It has been a life-changer and I will always be eternally grateful for the professional and personal growth that the last 6 years have given me.

~Vivian

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Reformation 2.0

above:  the statues of the Four Reformers from the Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland:  William Farel, John Calvin, Theodore Beza, John Knox.  Did you know that even though Martin Luther started the Reformation in Germany, that he was persecuted in Germany and his ideas did not receive acceptance there?    The epicentre for the spread of the Reformation was actually Switzerland, and not Germany. There is a great Reformation Museum in Geneva. Our family has visited the churches where Calvin and Zwingli (the great Swiss reformer) preached in Zurich, Lausanne, and Geneva. Our family has loved our time living in Switzerland (9 years at this point).  What an amazing privilege and blessing we have, to live and work here as expats.

MIA a.ka. Missing in Action

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted a blogpost.  For those of you who know me, you will recognize how unusual this is for me.  I started Coetail (and this blog) in February 2013 and I’ve been posting at least twice a month, if not more, until 2016.

2016.  Ah 2016.  This is the year that will go down in history as when the world-order shifted, never to be the same again.  The two standard-bearers for the world for liberty, democracy, rule of law, justice, character, integrity decided to commit an incredible act of self-harm.  I’m talking about #Brexit and the “abomination that causes desolation” sitting in the American White House.  The other nations, upon witnessing this, decided that they too had no reason to rise above their base-desires and to aspire to something greater (what the UK and the USA used to represent and what other nations saw as the bench-mark they wanted to aim for) and the world-order dutifully imploded, never to be put back together again, quite the same (echoes of Humpty-Dumpty here).

Anyways, this is an Educational Blog, not a political or spiritual blog.  So, I won’t get any further in it.  This is just an attempt at an explanation for why I’ve been missing in action for so long (blogging little and tweeting little).   I feel grief (Little tears prick at my eyes, even now as I write). And when an introvert like me feels grief, one turns inward and hides away.  I mean, I just couldn’t find the motivation or the inspiration to write about educational issues or EdTech ideas when Rome is burning at one’s feet.  I apologize to all my teaching friends on Coetail, twitter etc. for disappearing after November 2016.  I didn’t even stop to explain.  I just left.  I hope this little note here can be my explanation.  Rather late, but better late than never. 😀  I hope you know that it was #nothingpersonal

Finishing SPF 689-Research Methods

That being said, I finished SPF 689 “Educational Research Methods” with SUNY (Buffalo State University of New York) this past May 2018.  It’s my second last course before I finish my Masters (M.S.).  In SPF 689, I set up my final Masters research project.  My last course (EDU 690) will be actually to conduct the Masters research and to write up the results in a paper.  My hope is to eventually publish the paper in a research journal.  This is not a requirement for my Masters but Dr. Shively (prof) is willing to work with students that want to publish to get them published.  That would be SO amazing.  I SO want to do this, but it depends on whether I will be able to conduct the Masters research that I envision in my mind.  We will see.

What is Research?

I’ve been looking forward to SPF 689 (Research Methods) for such a long time!  I’ve always been curious about how scientists conduct their research.  I remember when I was an university undergrad student studying for my B.Ed/B.A. that I took an EdPsych class.  During the class, we learned about factors that determine whether testing, research is rigorous or not.

There are two factors (amongst others) that are important to consider when a school teacher administers any sort of test. They are 1. Validity  and 2. Reliability

I once participated in a twitter chat on #pypchat where Kath Murdoch (guru of PYP Inquiry Pedagogy) was saying that all PYP teachers need to consider themselves as scientists.  I took exception to that idea.  I felt it was hugely disrespectful to real scientists to label ourselves as scientists. This is because the average PYP teacher has no training in the rigours needed to conduct scientific inquiry:   1. how to set up valid research 2. how to set up reliable research 3. how to discern if the testing tools (i.e. exams) you create or choose are valid or reliable 4. how to test for validity and reliability in any conclusions you draw.

Yes, in the IB PYP (IB Primary Years Program) we are conducting inquiry, but I would never assume that the inquiries that PYP Teachers and PYP Classrooms are under-taking are, in any way, turn us into “real” scientists.  How disingenuous to say it could be that simple to be a scientist!   Whatever findings we find, need to be taken with a “grain of salt”. And isn’t that what the IBPYP Learner Profile attribute, “Critical Thinkers”,  is about?  It’s about not swallowing up any old conclusion or generalization.  But to put it all in context through critical thought.

For example, as IBPYP classroom teachers,  there is emphasis on Formative Assessment.  Formative Assessments are assessments of what children already know, before a unit is started.  They are useful to help teachers find a starting point in their teaching units.  They are also helpful for differentiating for students who are much further ahead or much further behind than the rest of the class. However, in practise, the “formative assessments” I’ve seen (and sadly used) is usually the classroom teacher (not always a math specialist) lifting a page from a math text, photocopying it, and then administering it as a test to students.  Because of the bit of my undergrad studies about educational testing, I knew to take any findings I got with a STRONG “grain of salt”.  Lifting a page from a textbook, even creating an original test by oneself is NO guarantee that the test has any validity or reliability, and tells us a great deal about the child’s abilities that are purportedly being tested.

Validity, as an indicator of a “good” test

Validity means that the test is testing exactly and only what the examiner is testing. One factor that works against validity of math tests is reading comprehension.  If the student is answering a math word problem, but doesn’t really understand the question (i.e. English isn’t the child’s native language, child has poor reading skills, language of the question was poorly written), then the fact that the child got the answer correct OR incorrect means nothing for their math’s abilities.  The question wasn’t testing their maths.  It was testing their reading comprehension.  So, in this instance, the findings for that math question lacked validity.  That test question is “bad science”.

Reliability, as an indicator of a “good” test

Findings that we garner from research, testing etc., are more rigourous if they have reliability.   If we administer the test over time under the same conditions, do we get the same results?   If a test gets one set of conclusions on one day, but then another different set on another day, then that test has poor reliability and it means that this test is inherently weak and we shouldn’t draw any conclusions from that test. The test should be discarded.

Undergraduate Teacher-Training

So, I had this bit of training in my B.Ed/B.A.  It wasn’t much but much more than teachers who only have a teaching-certificate but not a teaching degree, as I do.  But it was enough to make me conservative about all these “formative assessments” that teachers LOVE to administer.   They must all be taken with a “grain of salt”.   So, I was quite astounded when the #PYPChat told us that PYP teachers are scientists.  in fact, Kath Murdoch went as far as to conclude the #PYPChat by saying that you can’t be a PYP Teacher (an teacher of Inquiry) unless you consider yourself a scientists.  Well, lots of meaning is lost on twitter, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt and take what she said with a grain of salt.  Maybe I misunderstood her.  I’m a good teacher of Inquiry but I would never assume that I’m a scientist, who is university-trained in creating experiments, creating testing tools, conducting research, analyzing findings and summarizing them without bias.

Regardless, I would hazard to guess that most teachers with only undergrad training have little training in test-making and little understanding about what makes research or testing rigorous and how that should contextualize how they approach Formative Assessment in their classrooms.  I’m surprised that this is not a significant aspect of teacher training in undergrad.  It wasn’t until I started my Masters studies that I was forced to take a whole course in the subject.  Since testing and assessment form such a large part of a school teacher’s job, it seems absurd to me that the study of Research & Testing Methods is left to graduate-level studies!

You wouldn’t think a teacher would online bully, would you?

So, it was an “interesting” #PYPChat because it’s difficult to convey one’s points when one is limited to 140 characters.  What made it even more “interesting” is that after the twitter chat was over, one of the teachers (a PYP math teacher) who disagreed with me created a webpage to bully and insult me over my views.  She sent it to me publically via a link on twitter.  She deleted the webpage a little later, but I had already screenshot it.  I blogged about that bullying experience here on my blog.  You can find my blogpost that I wrote in this blog and the screenshot of what she said to me, if you google hard enough.  Needless to say, I never went back to #PYPChat on twitter!

What makes something a real scientific inquiry?

So, I really enjoyed my SPF 689 Research Methods course.  Finally, I was able to look in-depth at the tools, instruments, methods that real scientists use.  We looked at how to set up our Research Projects and what tools we can use to collect our findings.  We looked at ways to prevent bias and how all teachers need to cognizant about this very real factor when assessing our students.  My way of negating bias has always been to take all my findings from any assessments, whether Formative or Summative (Summative is testing after the unit is over), with a “grain of salt”.  I’ve used that metaphor a number of times. What do I mean by that?  I mean not forgetting that I could be absolutely wrong about my conclusions and that I should be open to other evidence collected in other ways, that say something differently. (Remember how Einstein’s math teachers thought he was a dummy at math?)

I don’t know if I was able to convey this important piece of advice to the #PYPChat that day, but that was the gist of what I was trying to get across, when I disagreed with the idea that PYP teachers are also scientists.

None of what I’ve said applies to standardized tests that have been tested and proven over-time, to be valid and reliable with a large population.   These tests usually come from educational bodies (full of ‘real scientists’)  and usually need to be bought by a school in order to be used i.e. PISA, ISA, IQ Tests, SATs, ACTs etc.–even the IBDP Final Exams.  Teachers usually need to seek parent’s permission to administer these tests, as the findings can have huge impact on students’ futures because the entire world respects the validity and reliability of their conclusions.  I’m not too sure if any test that regular school teachers make on a weekly basis could command such respect.

SPF 689 Research Methods EDU 690 Masters Project

So, it was a very valuable course for me.  I feel equipped to conduct research in my classrooms now, when I didn’t feel at all equipped, before.   I will continue to view all conclusions drawn from school tests “with a grain of salt”  but I will be better at test-creation and data evaluation, after I finish my Masters.  If I do publish my paper, I’ll be here first to post a link to it!  I imagine that in the EDU 690 “Master’s Project”, I will be looking at how to make my own specific assessment tools valid and reliable, according to my research intentions.

Interlude

I don’t know if I will ever get back to blogging here every 2 weeks, like I used to.  I really ought to start a blog about our current political and social landscape, through my lens of being a Christian, because this is what has been pressing on my spirit and is screaming out to be released for the last two years (sort of like a mother labouring and trying to birth out a baby but everything is stuck)  =)   I love writing and I have a need to write, so a blog like that would be a perfect outlet for my angst.  At the same time, I doubt very much that I will start a blog like that.  There is already too much arguing online;  I don’t want to contribute more.  Instead, I will pray and do what I can to lead children to discern between truth and fake-science, one day at a time.

I will pop back here once in a while to write, but definitely not every other week, like before.  I’ll keep you posted about the Research Project when I start the under-taking of it.

My Research Project Proposal

At this moment, I’m hoping that my research project will study

to what extent does Sonic-Pi give students with little or no musical-note reading ability access to advanced composition activities in the music classroom

Sonic-Pi allows students to compose and perform abstract music through coding in the Ruby computer language (Ruby is a “real” coding language.)  It is a free software that turns your computer (Mac, Raspberry Pi, Window) into a music synthesizer.  It can create in all musical genres from classical to electric dance music (EDM).  Listen to Sonic-Pi play “Daft Punk”.  (The creator of Sonic-Pi, Dr Aaron Sam, plays EDM in nightclubs!)

Sonic-Pi was created by Dr Aaron Sam at the Cambridge University, UK to support the new computing curriculum that came out in the UK a few years ago.  Children in the UK, from the ages of 5 to 14 are required to learn computer science (computer programming) as a subject.  Sonic-Pi was invented to be a tool for students to meet their computing curriculum requirements while learning another subject.  The idea is that cross-integration (see my magazine article about this) between subjects raises the level of critical thinking and increases the depth of learning.  (Plus, it’s just plain more fun!) In this case, the integration is between the subjects of Music and Computer Sciences.   Anyways, that’s what I’m hoping to look at in my Master’s graduation project.  Wish me luck!

Reformation 2.0

Interestingly enough, 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  The Reformation shook the foundations of the world and nothing was the same again.  I wonder if we’re at another watershed moment in history?   The architecture of the world is being reshaped.  What are you doing to make sure it’s being reshaped in the way that will make the world somewhere your kids and grandkids will want to live in?

What can teachers do to combat #FakeNews #FakeScience?

~Vivian

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