Monday, 26 October 2015

What Is My Subject Matter Expertise?

I have really enjoyed working on this blog during the PIDP 3240 course and have also enjoyed reading others student blogs and presentations. I tried to create an engaging blog to answer two questions the first being, "What is the fundamental way we learn?" The definitive answer to me is through social interaction and sharing experiences. The second question is "What is my subject matter expertise?" Hopefully, I will always have a hard time answering this which to me means I will always remain curious, willing to try new things, and expand my understanding and knowledge of a vast array or subjects. Out of all of the farm animals I have kept goats really are the most curious.

Nature and Knowledge

Many things we see in nature are beautiful and interesting. This photo was taken while visiting the Vancouver Aquarium. My children were fascinated by the jellyfish tanks and how the jellyfish moved and existed which resulted in many discussions, internet searches, and questions about jellyfish and other marine creatures. Exposure and experience drive knowledge. It makes us curious. It makes us life long learners. Nature can be inspiring, relaxing, challenging, and endlessly giving if we take the time to appreciate it. Instead of watching another movie, reading another book, looking at another website, go outside. Go for a walk and listen to the sounds, look at the beauty and art the earth provides and find answers to some of the questions you have when you return. A jellyfish is not a fish it is gelatinous zooplankton.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Practical Application

I have been teaching Carpentry for Northwest Community College in Smithers which has been rewarding and  a learning experience also for me. In trades training students are required to complete practical projects like this cement form. Education of this kind needs to have a practical component to help students reinforced what they have learned in a classroom or from readings. In many cases students did not fully understand the process of building cement forms until they built the forms themselves.
This method of instruction and teaching is not limited to trades training. Cognitive apprenticeship is described by Brown, Collins, and Duguid as "the enculturation of students into authentic practices through authentic activity and social interaction in a way similar to that which is evident -- and evidently successful -- in craft apprenticeship."
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." (Maimonides)

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Farming For The Future

In 2000, when we purchased our farm, my partner and I had a discussion on what our goals were and how would we achieve them. One of the biggest goals was food security and knowing how our food was being produced. We consider it a luxury to be able to produce our own beef, poultry, pork, eggs, and a large portion of our vegetables. We never grew up on farms so the learning curve was more like a vertical line for the first few years. Now we find that there is always something new to learn about food production but have settled into the routines of farming. I see this as a luxury because, although it takes up most of our spare time, I know everything about the food my family is eating and my children are growing up learning the skills and nature of food production.

Three food documentaries of note to watch are:

Food, Inc.
Super Size Me
Just Eat It

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

Inspiration is different for each of us. I find inspiration in many places including: nature, music, people, and past experiences. In my working career I was fortunate to work at the Royal Opera House  in London England doing set construction. This to me was an inspirational event in my life because I realized the mobility in myself and my profession. Construction and carpentry can be as diverse of a field as you make it. You only need to challenge yourself to apply your knowledge and experience in a new way to create this diversity. Your work and training can take you to places all over the world if you allow yourself to dream.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Road to Dronninglund

Dronninglund is a town in Denmark and a place my family went travelling to. I always liked this photo and thought it would be a great photo to describe the concept of life long learning. There is always something on the horizon whether it is finishing the PIDP program, teaching a new course, trying a new sport, or reading a new book. In all ways we are continually growing and learning and we should embrace this as a privilege. There is never an end to our ability to acquire new knowledge only the choice to get off the road and let it pass us by. To quote Yogi Berra, "When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it." It is a choice to learn and expand our understanding and knowledge of the world we live in.

Reference retrieved from:

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Construction Safety

Construction sites are places where hazards exist and safety regulations must be understood and followed to maintain the health and well being of workers. The guidelines, for each industry, can be found in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHS).  In British Columbia Worksafe is the institution that regulates health and safety. It is the duty of employers to make sure this regulation is followed and to inform and educate the employees. People entering a new field of work should also take the time to inform themselves of these regulations. Safety is a concern for all working people whether you are in a classroom teaching or on a construction site. If you want you can even have the OHS regulation as a mobile app so you can have the information available on site.

Section 115(1)(a), Act - General duties of employers
(1) Every employer must
(a) ensure the health and safety of
(i) all workers working for that employer, and
(ii) any other workers present at a workplace at which that employer's work is being carried out…
Retrieved from:

Monday, 28 September 2015

Embodied Learning

Sometimes you just know when things are going to happen. Learning is not only the job of the mind but also of the body. I believe that being physically active and in tune with our bodies allows us to become better learners. Sports have helped me with anticipation, visualisation, and concentration all key factors in learning and interpreting new concepts. A healthy body, and understanding that body, benefits and enhances a healthy mind.

Simply stated, embodied learning involves being attentive to the body and its experiences as a new way of knowing” (Freiler, 2008)

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Carpentry: Timber Framing

Carpentry is a profession with many different fields. I enjoy this as my choice of careers because of this diversity and the satisfaction I get when looking at something I built. Knowing that it is built well and will be used for generations also provides me with pride and recognition something most people like to feel about their endeavours. 
This structure is my timber frame barn during the construction process. Timber framing was historically a way to build large wooden structures and was very utilitarian by nature. This method of construction has largely been replaced by steel beam construction. Timber framing has moved away from utility in today's world and has become a method of form more than of function.

Monday, 21 September 2015


My wife and I have been breeding pure bred Dexter cows since 2003. This is a small breed cow used for both dairy and beef production. Having a small farm has been a huge learning exercise for us as we did not grow up farming. I think it is a wonderful way to live and there is always something new to learn. The Canadian Dexter Cattle Association (CDCA) is a great site to learn more about Dexter cattle.
I have also learnt many things about keeping cattle from Temple Grandin who has done ground breaking work on handling livestock. She has also published works talking about the nature of the autistic mind. 

Canadian Dexter Cattle Association

Wikipedia: Temple Grandin
Ted Talk: Temple Grandin

Thursday, 17 September 2015


These are my boys Alex and Ian who bring joy and happiness to my life. I am constantly amazed by children and their capacity to learn, their willingness to try, and their ability to accept. I feel that most adults would learn a great deal more if they we not so grown up. This ability of children reminds me of the Shel Silverstein poem "Growing Down". Here is a link to an animated production of by Jess Chan. 

Growing Down