It’s Not Only About Technology

Categories: Miscellania, Philosophy
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Published on: April 8, 2013

Your EdTech Samurai is officially a black belt now. Studying for my black belt test at my karate dojo took up all my spare time through the first quarter of the year, so I haven’t been around much.

That time away gave me a chance to reflect on something: as Tech Director, my sphere of influence does not have to stop at technology.

I teach from time to time at my karate dojo, and it’s a very different interaction than what I have with students in my day job. Instead of “that guy who sneaks around fixing computers,” I am a teacher. I am a leader, an advisor, and someone who sets an example, both to children and adults. In that role, I see students of all shapes and sizes. Many of the kids who enroll in karate are already athletic, but there are several more who sign up because their parents want to get them active and improve their health.

Unfortunately, I think this step needs to start at home and in schools, in that order. I can’t really help everyone else at home, but I can at school. Honestly, I’d love to see certain elements of the martial arts taught in schools. The Japanese did it for decades, which is a big part of how karate spread throughout the world. The high school I attended in the Chicago suburbs offered judo as an elective (sadly, I moved before I was eligible to take it). The flexibility and general fitness, the mind-body connection, self defense & dealing with bullying, and more, all tie directly into the basic concepts every PE course should include.

Of course, the great State of Illinois would never let me teach a class because I’m not “highly qualified,” despite working in schools for 15 years now and having a few years of experience teaching kids of all ages in karate. My own instructor has over six years of experience running a dojo (teaching), many more in the martial arts, and he’s a chemical engineer, yet he’s not even qualified to be a substitue teacher in our state. It’s an unfortunate consequence of legislation steering education rather than vice versa.

So we must influence where we can, and to that end I’m going to share with you Jamie Oliver’s TED talk on food and food education (or lack thereof) in our schools.

My own kids don’t eat hot lunches at school for many of the reasons Oliver discusses. It’s not because our kitchen staff are bad cooks; far from it! Our head cook used to run her own restaurant. The ladies put together great spreads when they do an Institute Day lunch for the staff, or when they have special taco salad days or potato bars, neither of which are regulated by law because they’re not going to the students.

Yet we’re forced to buy and serve crap food from the state. The only saving grace may be the miniscule portion sizes. Some kids go home hungry, and the athletes in particular ask for seconds, even at the junior high level.

It shouldn’t have to be that way. Watch the video and spread the word, and maybe some of our administrators and legislators will look into solving the problem.

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