Oct 6 2012

Reflections on Teaching (the first of many)

Here at OISE (teacher’s college), we’re continually in a state of reflection.  I’m not sure I have ever done so much reflecting as I did this September, which is really saying something, considering that I spend most of my time in my head. Only Johnny Cash spends more time reflecting, but maybe not even him, since he did shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die, and that strikes me as more of an impulsive-on-a-whim sort of personality.

One lesson that I am constantly re-learning is just how lucky I am to be here- not only at OISE, but just to be in the position where I have such a strong foundation that I feel confident in coming back to high school to teach to other people.  Every day I am reminded in so many ways that I am in a rare, privileged minority to have had the excellent educational opportunities, supportive parents and family, and outlets for creative expression I did. I consider it a part of my teaching mission to “pay it forward,” and act as an advocate so that other students access the same opportunities I did. My parents were very involved with their children’s education, and I gleaned from their example the importance of student-parent-teacher dialogue and collaboration.

I didn’t have the most wretched experience one could possibly have in high school, but I was far from popular, and often felt that I was on the outside, looking in. Regardless of one’s position on the popularity totem pole, I think adolescence is a time of profound alienation and shedding identities like a snake sheds its skin, as we all struggle to find belonging and carve a place in the world for ourselves. One of the key tenets of my teaching philosophy is that creating a safe. supportive learning environment is essential for students feeling comfortable enough to express themselves and contribute to class discussions. That my students treat each other with kindness is just as important to me as the acquisition of specific skills or knowledge. This understanding of the urgency of kindness will reinforce that they do have an obligation to the world, and that that code of kindness and respect will linger on long after the semester ends.

I like teenagers a lot, and I find that they get a bad rap sometimes. Older adults forget how energizing and anxiety-inducing it is to wake up in the morning and find that the world has changed, every single day.  That’s what being a teenager is like, I think.  That’s how it was for me. It’s a daunting thing to have to begin anew, every single day. I have always found that teenagers’ potential are consistently underestimated and undervalued by adults. That frustration already adds to the already-difficult situation of being a teenager. High school is already a difficult time (I mean, who entirely trusts anyone who had a blast in high school?!), and I would love to do my small part to remedy that misery.


Feb 27 2010

Pleased to Meet You!!

So now that you’ve all been properly introduced to The Height of Life, it’s high time that the girl behind the computer makes her introduction, all “Phantom of the Opera”-style. 

DUN DUN DUNNNNN!!

My name is Kylie, and here are some random facts that are vitally important to know about me.  Or not.

- I once got my fingers stuck in an elevator door.  Great story now…not so great experience at the time.                               

- I’m mildly obsessed with horses and ponies, and, growing up, had two wonderful horses named “Buckshot” and “Sir Legacy.”  Nowadays, I just have to make do with watching “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” over and over and over again.

- I hail from the wilds of Glengarry County, Ontario, Canada.  Ok, it’s not “the wilds,” it’s a dairy farm, but doesn’t “the wilds of Glengarry” sound so much more romantic?  Like I’m stalking across the windy moors, wearing this fabulous long dress made out of tweed and wool and velvet and iron, as well as shoes that are totally inappropriate for the weather,  and that my hair is all “effortlessly windswept” but not at all tangled?  Yeah, it’s exactly like that.

-  I have a pretty frickin’ fantastic set of family and friends.   Preeeettty frickin’ fantastic.

- I had 12 teeth taken out, in order to make room for braces.  Not all at the same time, mind you, and most of them were baby teeth, so my teeth look perfectly fine today.   Nonetheless, I like to bust that little story out during competitive “Dental Horror Stories” conversations and polite cocktail parties.  As you do.

- Not to brag or anything, but I play a pretty amazing air guitar, not to mention respectable air drums and air vocals. 

- I studied History and English Literature at school, and also have an MA in War Studies.  It’s a pretty badass-sounding degree, but I’m also discovering that ”badass” doesn’t necessarily equate to “employable.”  I also imagined that, as a Mistress of War, I’d be prancing around, wearing a long velvet cloak or riding my trusty unicorn.  Neither the unicorn or the cloak have materialized yet, but I’m keeping my eye on the mailbox. 

- One of my (many!) awkward tendencies is to inexplicably start laughing when I’m alone or in inappropriate situations.

- I have an imagination that runs away with me, and I absolutely love ghost stories.  Not a great combination at 4 in the morning.

- I try to live a life that I’m proud of.  I try to be empathetic and kind to others.  I try to surround myself with people who make me laugh, think, and who make me want to skip down the street.  I try to be aware of both the spectacular beauty as well as the deep injustices around me, and to right the wrongs the best ways I know how. 

- My motto is: ”Look for the ridiculous, and you will find it” (Jules Reynard)

photo

Sometimes, I look like this

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Or this

pyjama cowgirl

But I mostly look like this

It’s wonderful to meet you!  And what’s your name?


Feb 26 2010

Why hello, there! (A Welcome, Part II)

 

The tree comparison can be a nice one, sometimes

(Glorious image courtesy of spyderfyngers.tmblr.com)

Hello everyone, and welcome to the fourth-ever post to The Height of Life!  (I am now picturing monkeys crashing cymbals.)  I apologize for being so atrociously lax in my writing, and I promise, barring alien invasion or spontaneous barracuda adoption, that you can look forward to regular posts from now on.   Both my trusty computer and I were under virus attack, but we’ve since been de-bugged (tangent alert: what if my computer and I were infected by the same virus?!), and are good to go.   The computer has had to suffer the humiliation of reformatting, and I’m no longer clocking in more hours of bedrest than Colin from “The Secret Garden,” so onwards and upwards!

I figure that it’s high time I introduce The Height of Life.   This website is a celebration of all things kooky and wonderful and random that help make life so great; a celebration to which everyone is invited (and you don’t have to even bring anything, but if you do happen to have some artichoke dip lying around, I’m not going to say no…)

In addition to having a lifestyle-ish element that’s relevant to everyone (what, ramblings about “horses vs ponies vs unicorns” aren’t relevant to us all?!), much like the oh-so-punny title suggests, The Height of Life is also geared to those of us who happen to be taller than average.   I’ve found that it can sometimes feel lonely and alienating to be the token tall person, and I’ve also noticed that when one tall person encounters another, an immediate sense of friendship and familiarity develops.  I’ve found this to be particularly true among tall girls and women.  Aside from a few places scattered across the web, like the excellent tallchicksrock community over at LiveJournal,  there didn’t seem to be very many places where people could come together and share their stories, advice and experiences.    Inspired by the punk rock DIY spirit, I decided that if change wasn’t going to come to me, then I had better make change myself, and so I decided to claim this little corner of the internet as our own.  Consider this the metaphorical staking of the flag.  The idea came to me this past autumn, while I was taking a nap in a parking lot…err…I was in my car, waiting for my sister, if that makes it seem a little less dodgy.  When I woke up, I truly felt like I had a flashing-lightbulb moment, and had to stop myself from galloping down the street, shouting “Eureka!” at the top of my lungs!   With this website, I hope to inspire a sense of solidarity and community, and to discuss the unique and not-so-unique issues that we face.  Although we know we’re not alone, it is still comforting to be reminded of that.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve encountered more ridiculous stereotypes and assumptions about your height to fill up several lifetimes.   Although to be tall is kind of like having a spotlight on you at all times, we’ve somehow been reluctant to command the spotlight for ourselves.    The space tall people, especially tall women, take up in the pop culture imagination is not necessarily from images we’ve created and defined ourselves.    By not speaking up for ourselves, we allow others to do it for us.   The Height of Life is an antidote to “The Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman,”  “The Jolly Green Giant,” and all the other inanities we encounter, and strives to create and highlight positive representations of tall people in society.  In addition to odes to cheese, tips on the best places to people-watch,  and stories of epic car song and dance routines to one hit wonders while stopped in traffic, you can count on The Height of Life to feature advice on a myriad of things of interest to the tall community, including humour, news, inspiration, medical information, stories, fashion, and sports.    Essentially, The Height of Life is a guide, a reflection, and a celebration of living the high life in a world that is slightly less than. 

The Height of Life is so much more than a one-girl celebration; it’s a community where sharing your diverse thoughts, ideas and suggestions are welcomed and valued.  So hop on in!  We’re listening.  And there might even be some artichoke dip.

 

Much love,

Kylie