Learning to let go…

It’s been quite a while since my last post, more than a year I’m sure. A lot of water has passed under the bridge.  I have a shiny new MEd degree hanging proudly on my office wall. Whenever I feel tired or low, I look over my right shoulder and admire the fact that , yes, I did it. I actually put in the work and accomplished something I could be proud of. For me, that was a big event. Many times in the past I’ve started things only to lose steam and give up when the going gets tough. This time it was different and I’m glad I stuck it out. Then last summer, my adult son and I had an argument and he moved out. My wife and I both knew it was time for him to take charge of his life, go back to school or get a job. After he left it was awfully quite in our big house. But in hindsight it was the best thing for him and for us. He’s got a job, moved in with his girlfriend whom he adores and has become a much nicer guy. I’d really wish he would go back to school and get a degree, but that’s his choice, not mine. I guess I’ve got to learn to let go too. And now, just this past Christmas, my dear mum suddenly passed away. It’s something many of us aging boomers are dealing with. It’s still fresh in my mind and I haven’t completely dealt with all the emotions yet. Aside from losing our pets to various diseases over the years, losing a parent is new to me. My wife Jackie keeps telling me I’ve been lucky to have had my parents for so long. She lost her mother to a massive heart attack when she was only 21. But she too had to eventually let go and get on with living. Memories make up how we feel about the people we loved. When my sister and I were kids in the late fifties and early sixties, my dad was constantly shoving  a movie camera in our faces. No matter where we went or what we did, out came the camera. “I’m recording it for posterity” he’d say or, another favourite expression,  “One day you’ll thank me for it.”  Back when I was younger, I would never have believed it, but that day has arrived. My dad left me with a treasure trove of home movies. So I started going through them looking for a way to find closure, a way to let mum go in love and peace. I think that maybe by telling her story I can finally say goodbye.







Social Media & Self-Expression: Is Privacy in Danger?

For those of us who used to write letters or send post cards to friends before the web, extolling our adventures was usually limited to a handful of people. Now within minutes you can circulate your latest exploits in word, photo or video and reach millions. Check out the latest YouTUbe video that’s gone viral. It takes little more than pushing a few buttons and voila, your message is out there for the whole world to view. Now anybody can be famous or infamous for that matter. Just ask the Luke Magnottas of this world. For good or bad, self-expression is becoming easier and easier. Putting up your holiday snaps on Facebook or a video of your grandchildren taking their first few steps is a piece of cake. But do you really know who is watching? Sure there are supposed to be privacy options on social media sites, but how many people are using them? Also once media is posted are you sure you can delete it if you want to? Are we giving up privacy for the lure of a little bit of stardom? Maybe. What do you think?

Youth, Boomers and the Future of Technology

For kids and young adults 20 and under, the internet has always been a way of life. Computers, gaming, programming and the use of social media just seem to come naturally to this age group, as if by osmosis. My 17 year old is a consummate gamer spending upwards of 7-10 hours a day glued to his screen. The rest of his day consists of checking his iPhone, eating and sleeping. Yet, if I’m watching a movie in the family room where he has his computer, Karl has the amazing ability to multitask, to carry on a conversation about plot, character development and other film trivia, all the while blowing up virtual aliens in technicolor. For boomers like myself, who started with learning the basics of email maybe 10 years ago, it takes a little longer to get up to speed on the latest technology. According to futurist, Michael Rodgers, we boomers are late adopters of technology. That doesn’t mean we’ll get left behind. We’ll just take a little longer to get on board the “technotrain”. And what a future it may be. Rodgers makes some interesting observations about all of us, young, boomer and aging seniors, and how we’ll make the best use of technology in the future:


Seniors want easy connectivity to family and friends!

My dad is 89. He’s always been a quick study when it comes to new technology. In 1983 he bought his first computer, a Commodore 64, and he loved it. It was simple and did what he wanted it to do. He used it as a typewriter and sent letters. With the advent of the internet and email, he moved up to a more powerful and faster pc. And he embraced email with vigour. He especially liked the fact that one could attach photos(jpgs) and other files. He began sending and receiving email regularly and loved the connectivity. Over the years as technology made huge leaps and bounds he sat back and watched, a bit baffled by all the new offerings. But when I recently showed him the power of YouTube, he was thrilled. Now he can finally share his love of our home movies, a passion of his since getting into film in the 1950s. Now he doesn’t have to try and attach a huge video file to an email and watch it fail when he hits the “send” button. By just adding the YouTube hyperlink in the body of his email he can make the video easily accessible to friends and family. It’s a relatively simple process, by registering a new account with YouTube and following the service provider’s directions, he can create a personal channel that can house all his favourite movies, just like this one: It’s about a young immigrant couple, a growing family, and an idyllic summer not too long ago.Dad & Mum 1954-1962

The Boomers are Coming, Hungry to Learn

1945 was a milestone on this planet. The biggest, baddest war the world had ever seen came to an end. Millions of men and women came home from military service, settled down and started having babies. For the next 15 years these new peacetime parents pumped out even more babies creating a boom of children, all having to be fed, clothed and sent to school. Hence the word “boomers”. So many kids were born that the schools couldn’t accommodate them all. In fact my earliest recollection of school was having to take grade 1 in a portable trailer. We were packed in there like sardines. This huge generation of kids became teens by the mid to late sixties and influenced everything from the music scene, civil rights, the anti-war movement to politics and consumer trends. In the 70’s we became adults and major consumers. Advertisers looked to us for answers. What made us tick? What turned us on? We were the largest consumer group the world had ever seen. 67 years after the atom bomb ended the war to end all wars, we boomers are still a powerful economic force. We’re at an age where we’ve had a career or two, had a family, children, grandchildren and socked away a whack of money to carry us through to old age and beyond. Many of us have retired or are about to retire. We are bright, witty and curious. With time on our hands many of us are looking to complete that BA in History or Philosophy we never got around to. Want to try something a little more physical? How about dancing? That’s what lifelong learner Patty Jones decided to do. Here she is in competition.  


Lifelong Learning. Seize the day, live the moment!

Learning in the 21st Century

According to renowned UK educator John Abbott, the origins of learning in the classroom stems from the Industrial Revolution in Britain when the children of factory workers were taught en mass. Learning was forced by parrot fashion memorization of arithmetical tables, historical facts and figures. Because of the sheer numbers of children to be processed through and then sent to the factories, there was no room for one on one mentorship. Back in the days of the Guilds during the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance, young people learned a craft by being apprenticed to a carpenter, blacksmith, a mason, or to any one of a hundred trades. The nobility and the wealthy sent their children “abroad” to France, Spain, Italy to take the tour of the grand universities, to study under the tutelage of academics . They too received one on one training. John Abbott says traditional classroom learning doesn’t work anymore. It’s time to change the model. Here’s the first of a multi part series I produced for the Canadian Council on Learning called Evolving Education: Learning in the 21st Century  

To view the complete series go to:Learning in the 21st Century

Does having a passion for song lyrics help improve learning?

We’ve all heard a favourite song on the radio, dvd or mp3 player at some time in our lives. What was it about that song that made you remember the lyrics, the words? Was it the groove, or did the song lyrics really strike a chord with you? Did they really hit home? Maybe your were travelling somewhere with that special someone, and the song summed up your exact feelings at that moment. What ever words or word and music combination you heard in that instant triggered your emotions and was powerful enough to lock those words into your long term memory. Good songs tell stories that hit home, make a point, make us laugh, cry, get angry or shout with joy. Emotions make us remember things more vividly because we are fully engaged and focussed.Learning can and should be like that too. Having a passion for learning means absorbing new things like a sponge, enjoying the experience so much you dream about it at times. Leodis Scott makes some interesting observations about song lyrics and learning in this post: linking-music-lyrics-to-learning
I’ve dabbled as a songwriter most of my life, made a few pennies at it too. It’s a wonderful craft and I’m always thrilled when I hear others putting there heart and soul into their writing. The stories flow and that perfect combination of words and musics make an indelible mark on the listener.  Yesterday, Layla, Candle in the Wind, Both Sides Now, Edmund Fitzgerald, the list of great songs is endless, the lyrics from those tunes seared in our brains forever. Now here’s one I bet you’ve never heard before. You might want to give this one a listen the next time you reach for the Jack Daniels.
Devil’s in the Bottle