On honey versus vinegar: A lesson from Jack to take to the classroom

A lesson from my student teaching days whispered to me through the wind and the rain this morning. Sheila, my supervising teacher, taught me to attract bees with honey, not vinegar. Jack taught it to me again a few hours ago.

I am in a bad way this morning. My neck went out Saturday night as I fed Jack in bed every 30 minutes or so. We ended up falling asleep in awkward positions on and off all night. When my neck goes out, my lower back does as well. At the chiropractor’s office yesterday she managed to get the neck – was actually a rib that was out of place – back in order but my lower back was only made worse. The pain progressed with the day and this morning I can hardly move. Let’s add that to yes, another morning of constant feeding (Yippee for the 3 month growth spurt! Love it!). I was actually stuck in the bathroom, couldn’t stand up, Jack was screaming, really screaming, from the bedroom and that is what I felt like doing too. Scream scream scream. Instead, I started to sing.

You Are My Sunshine
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You’ll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away

I kept repeating that verse and then making up other lyrics with Jack’s name until I could get myself up and make my way to Jack and yes, even bend over to pick him up (at that point the singing got really loud as I did that instead of scream with pain!). The result –> Jack stopped his screaming pretty much as I started to sing. The singing was a release for my pain and frustration, a salve to his frustration and hunger until I managed to get to him.

In the classroom, as in my home, there is always an alternative to a harsh yell of frustration. If I have to sing in the classroom instead of yell, I will. Singing is much sweeter than the acidic vinegar of anger.

“But those researchers don’t live in my neighborhood.”

This quote got me thinking this morning, about using research responsibly. About recognizing that learning and change are contextual and that research done in a vacuum (as much academic research is) is not always valid.

(in reference to starting class earlier so that afterschool programs do not finish when it is dark out in a dangerous neighbourhood)

“The research says it’s better to start your school day later,” González says, referring to studies showing that adolescents often need to get more sleep in order to be at their best. “But those researchers don’t live in my neighborhood.”

from The Fragile Success of School Reform in the Bronx
Published: April 6, 2011

One of the issues I struggled with when I was working on my PhD (since abandoned :) ) was the stress in my faculty on research that focused only on a specific element, stripping it from its context in order to garner ‘reliable’ data. That research needed to be objective in order to be reliable.

It seems to me that this focus on data as opposed to context creates ideas that, while interesting on their own, may not be very helpful outside of academic discourse.

I remember a professor bringing up the question of why teachers weren’t using a specific eportfolio software he was instrumental in developing when the research showed it was effective, easy to use, helped in the development of metacognitive skills, etc… My response to such a query was that we can’t just develop something to be used by all teachers in all contexts because environment matters. Something that works in one school environment may not work in another.

I think we need to push González’ point further. For research to be worthwhile, researchers need to ‘live in my neighbourhood’, they need to be subjective, they need to care about who they are researching and not just about what they are researching.


Leading from the Heart was forced to take a little rest by our hosting company.

Never fear! I’ll be back up and running shortly (well, maybe not so shortly as I’m in the process of mining through 4 years worth of a MySQL database to try to locate my posts).

As a result of the MySQL mess, I have decided to try FlatPress, which doesn’t use a database, saves everything in text files. For my needs, it is certainly robust enough.

I tried it but wanted to modify the theme design and decided that I didn’t want to learn how to do so with a new platform. Maybe one day when I’m not nursing a 2 month old every 2 hours :)

In the meantime, Come see what I’m up to at Camping Out with Tracy & Jack.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!