Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Friday, December 16, 2005

On Writing, Teaching and Getting Lost

My passions for lifelong learning solidified in the tenth grade when I began to blossom as a poet and lyricist, discovered the writings of Orwell and Camus and began a brief career as the lead singer in a punk rock band called Ick on Fish. To this day, I feel that I owe a very large part of who I have become to my grade ten English teacher, Mr. Dockrill. It was the experiences and discussions in Mr. Dockrill’s class that ignited a passion within me that I carry to this day.

My first formal experience as a teacher was as an ESL instructor in the former Czechoslovakia. After completing my BA at Dalhousie, where I had left the band but done a few poetry readings or my works, I had decided to travel Europe to see some of the wonders which I had read about – to bring them alive from the books in which they were bound. My good fortune on these travels to over twenty countries including living in Dublin for six months lead to a position teaching in a Gymnazuim, situated in the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia. I went into the position completely oblivious to what it would entail and demonstrated my natural ability to teach. My duties of teaching High School soon evolved into developing curriculum and offering night classes to local lawyers and business managers. My memories of this time are amongst the fondest I hold, and I still maintain contacts with former colleagues and students in that distant land.

Upon returning to Canada, I was too late to apply for an Education program, so elected to spend a year studying French in Quebec City. During that year, however, fate intervened, presenting me with an opportunity to play Rugby League for the Canadian National Team, followed by professional playing contracts in France and England. I elected to play in England where I embarked on a brief, though successful career that was cut short through injury.

With my Rugby playing days behind me, I returned to my native Nova Scotia for a while before moving to Alberta. After a couple years working, I saved up enough for my Education degree and headed to the University of Alberta.

At the UofA, I decided to do my practicum’s in my first year of study which I regret to a point. Both my IPT and APT went very, very well – so well in fact that both of the school’s where I was a student teacher wanted to offer me a full time position. Upon completion of my degree in 1999, I was unable to secure an interview with the Edmonton Public School Board, so I was forced to search for an alternative.

That alternative developed into nearly two years working with Adult Learner’s at the Edmonton John Howard Society’s Alternative Learning Program, and Maximum Security Inmates at Edmonton Institution. These experiences were magical. I was able to devise my own curriculum and take a holistic approach to learning that I might not have been able to pursue in a more conventional setting. I integrated Yoga, meditation, journal writing and music therapy alongside mainstream academics. The successes I shared with my students were life altering at times, and the growth between myself as facilitator and the learners were mutual. A Reader’s Theatre workshop I presented with a group of my students from the John Howard at the Alberta Literacy Conference in 2000 was perhaps the most rewarding and emotion experience of my teaching career.

I decided to go further down this road by becoming a Program Delivery Officer with the Correctional Service of Canada. To do this, I would first need to get hired on with the Service, so I became a Correctional Officer with the intent of applying for a position in Programs when one was made available. Unfortunately, budget cut did not facilitated and I have now been Correctional Officer for nearly four years, disillusioned with the rot in our system and with no desire to take the path of my original intentions.

This brings me to the present. From the outset one might be inclined to believe that I have lost my way, straying far from the initial goal that I had set. I felt that way and continued to apply for teaching posiitions for a time. Now, however, my way of looking at things have changed. Life is a journey and, as I look at all of the side roads that have caused me to diverge, I feel that I have lived far more than had I remained in the front of a classroom, attempting to bring books alive. I know that I have also become friends with people that Teaching never would have allowed me to know, and am certain that I have inspired some of them just as they have inspired me. I also realise that my journey ends only when I die, so the position I hold and the perspective I have will alter and evolve further with time. Life has been a challenge and will continue to be so. And that's the way we need to view life - not to be complacent with it, but to grab it by the provervbial balls and give it your all, regardless of your station. I look at where I am: married to a wonderful woman (who puts up with me) for nearly 10 years, a gorgeous 3 year old daughter and friends who I trust my life with. I think things are going pretty well.


  • At 11:35 a.m. , Blogger anu said...

    Hi Real E:)

    I am so fascinated by your blog. I learnt eskrima for a while :)

    I used to feel on top of the world when i would come out of the dojo.

    :)I liked reading your blog

  • At 9:37 a.m. , Blogger Jay said...

    I like the image with the prose approach on your blog..well ! that's about the style.

    Quiet a journey there, interestingly I grew up in Eastern culture but in quiet a few places away from the East. It's very interesting to note that if mind is engaged in certain path, invariably there is a lot of common aspects in interests and activities that any two individuals can engage in.

    Though there isn't much of similarity between a limerick and Haiku...I find it interesting to rhyme a Haiku.

    Blue berries
    In the midst of red cherries
    nature's colors love apparent.

    - Jay

  • At 10:14 a.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    The common thread aspect is pretty real, I agree. I've lived for extended periods of time in other cultures, and at the end of the day, most people carry on the same as where I grew up and the same as where I live now. I think hanging out with friends, discussing local and world issues, listening to music, etc. are pretty common wherever you go. I hate how, especially in Canada, culture is such a political issue - just let people live and do what they like as long as it isn't assaultive to others. People shouldn't be offended/affected by "Merry Christmas" any more than by "Happy Ramadam" or the Chinese New Year. I think political correctness simply nurtures the paranoia that feeds the xenophobes.

  • At 10:50 p.m. , Blogger passion said...

    Real-e, your open-mindedness is much appreciated and admired! :) These days people pretty much only talk about weather, what's on tele and sports at workplaces because anything to do with politics, religion, culture or spirituality might be a bit too touchy!

  • At 10:34 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Bah! You're just afraid.

  • At 11:26 a.m. , Anonymous storheimgf said...

    reading pst comments, wonder why you invite? free as you are in the beauty you observe, know one sees what you see.


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