Oh! Canada

Photo by Benson Kua on Wikimedia Commons
Coming in to land after a long flight is always a great relief. You wait for the bump of the wheels after that second or two of sudden silence, and then follows the juddering, swaying, careening deceleration, before your plane finally taxis onto the apron and ultimately the stand. Well, it didn't go quite as smoothly as that on my first, (and then second) visit to Canada recently...

As we landed at Toronto airport, the plane immediately took off again at a steep angle, with whining engines, and as we banked steeply above the terminal buildings, and the plane shuddered with the acceleration, the pilot's calm voice could be hear over the intercom. "Ladies and gentlemen", he said, "I apologise for the aborted landing. We had to take off again, because there was another plane on the runway ahead of us." Good call, I thought. It could have been much worse. The pilot was alert and took a decision to avoid a potential catastrophe. It could have been much, much worse. A wheel might have fallen off, or our undercarriage could have been faulty. The pilot might have come to the door wearing a parachute and saying "I'm going for help."

We breathed a collective sigh of relief and searched in our baggage for fresh underwear, the plane banked around, and 10 minutes later, we landed and stayed landed. As we taxied over to the terminal building, and I prepared mentally for the week ahead of me (my keynote speaking slot and two workshops for the Peel School District Board Summer Conference entitled: Empower Modern Learners), I couldn't help thinking about the similarities between airline travel and going to school.

Firstly, you have to queue up to enter. Then you are sent to your designated seat where you sit next to all the others in rows, facing forward to where all the action is. You put your life in the hands of a stranger. A very well trained stranger, but a stranger none the less. You have a limited choice on the menu. You can only choose what is placed in front of you, and it's all or nothing (just like the school curriculum). There are lots of rules and regulations and they are strictly enforced by the cabin crew. Step out of line, and you are in trouble. Now and again you have to pay strict attention, but there are hours and hours of boredom and tedium. You are told to turn off all electronic devices.... I could go on, but I won't. Air travel is a necessary evil. You have to go through it to get where you need to be.

My Canadian experience was actually quite wonderful, once I had managed to get out of immigration and exited the airport. I would like to thank my hosts - all of the team at Peel District School Board for their hospitality and care, and to Lawrence DeMaeyer and Patrick McQuade for inviting me to speak. I was welcomed like an old friend, and the audience of >300 teachers impressed me with their passion and enthusiasm for education and their attention and response to everything I said. I enjoyed some very interesting and thought provoking discussions with several educators while in Toronto, and I am sure I have made some connections that will go on to become lasting friendships. The technology playground was particularly well conceived, jammed full of all the latest tools and technologies for teachers to try for themselves. It was quite simply a great event with more than enough CPD for everyone. If you want to check out what happened at the conference, follow the Twitter hashtag #PeelEML17. Oh Canada, I hope I will return one day, and that the plane will land on the first attempt.

Creative Commons License
Oh! Canada by Steve Wheeler was written in Toronto, Canada and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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