Parent’s Blog

On Thursday, B. came into the Dragon Coding Club, but indicated he wasn’t going to be able to stay–he was doing a physics experiment. The Dragon Coders were still settling in, chatting and snacking, when a voice down the hall called out something about “experiencing a universe beyond the laws of classical physics”. Of course, at The Dragon it is framed like a quest. So the rest of us came along with B. to the darkened room see the experiment in action. 

Physics teacher Ting Wang and his students had set up an after-school extension to the physics class to show a variant of the (amazing) wave-partial duality experiment called “Young’s Double Slit Experiment”. It also happens to have been one of the experiments that essentially overturned human understanding of the nature of light and later of matter; or as a student pointed out, [WAS this a student or a member of the scientific community?] “in classical physics it just shouldn’t do this”.  Dragon’s replication was MacGyver’d together with a hair, Scotch tape and a laser pointer aimed at a whiteboard on the far side of the room. A student traced the interference pattern on the whiteboard. (With a bit of trigonometry, this pattern  can ultimately be used to measure either the diameter of the hair or the wavelength of the light ).  The students, always curious, moved on to discussing some unexpected vertical effects on the beam of light, and to exploring whether there could be marks on the lens or diffraction from a small opening.  Everyone was pretty excited and busy speculating about further interesting and sometimes tangential extensions to this experiment (from the strange effects of measurement on light, to philosophical implications of entanglement, etc.)

It struck me that it was an amazing science experience that almost off-handedly touched on the ideas of curiosity, hypothesis and experimentation., seriously engaging with each other about big ideas while bringing experiments down to earth.  I was initially going to describe it as “accessible” to the Dragon scholars, but, that is very much the wrong word because “accessible” and “down to earth” still sound too passive.  It was really much more about “nurturing the seed” or “lighting the fire” than it was about “filling the vessel”.

I shared the story with my older son, who has done this experiment in grade 12 physics at another great school.  In his case it was done in class with some fancy looking lasers and a diffraction grating presumably ordered from some science education store.  I understand the experiment was presented as a “sage on stage” and produced no interesting anomaly or exploration. He honestly loved the idea of how much better it would have been to have experienced the $5 dollar laser pointer + hair+ whiteboard version, especially when followed up with the “real” experimental dialog. 

As he was facilitating and encouraging the group, I am not sure whether Mr. Wang even noticed the experience as being particularly unique per se; perhaps it’s routine for that class. But I wanted to pass along that it was awesome and highlight it was special in a couple of ways that those of us who have studied and love science really appreciate.  In my opinion it was a great example of what, at its best, the Dragon Academy can be.

 

–A Dragon Father

 

The Dragon Academy Presents: 10 Things I Hate About You

Join us for The Dragon Academy’s annual school play at the Robert Gill Theatre May 18th. This year we are doing something different — we have a fully student led production of the hit nineties rom-com “10 Things I Hate About You.” Advanced tickets are on sale for $15 online or $20 at the door. All proceeds go to enriching our Dragon students’ lives through the performing arts.
Cash only box office opens at 6:00pm. House opens at 6:30pm with the performance beginning at 7:00pm sharp. There will be one 15 minute intermission.

 

Open House March 1st

We have a tradition of combining traditional parent-teacher nights with open houses for prospective parents, in a uniquely experiential, Dragon way. We host a roundtable discussion on educational themes of central importance to the Dragon’s educational vision,then an opportunity to meet and mingle with current Dragon parents and to talk to your child’s teachers, while I host a tour for prospective parents. We look forward to seeing you all on March 1st.

Guild Meeting and Fox Talks – January 18th

On Wednesday January 18th the Parent’s Guild is having their first meeting of the year including a talk by our principal Dr. Fox called “Fox Talks”.
All Dragon Parents are encouraged to join us
6:30pm on Wednesday January 18th
for our first Guild meeting of 2017 and “Fox Talks”

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Entropy – Parent’s Blog

Entropy

Okay.  I’ll admit that I’m a bit of ‘neat freak.’  As a parent, I’m usually the one who moans at the kids: “Hang up your jacket.”  Or, I might intone sarcastically: “Really?” pause for emphasis: “Does that empty biscuit wrapper belong on the counter?” Or finally, the classic: “Don’t go to the kitchen empty-handed!”

In fact, I knowingly ‘waste’ hours of my time tidying my office as the prelude to starting a new project.  My desk and its environs need to be ordered before I can begin.  I pay off lingering bills, file wayward receipts that have been spilling from my in-tray for weeks and, wipe down surfaces speckled with dust and pet hair.  Finally, after what may have been hours of seeming procrastination, I’m ready to settle into the real task at hand — whatever that may be.  

My wife is the opposite.  Her powers of concentration cow me.  With a deadline looming, she’ll sit down at the kitchen table, push a pile of bags, books and plates aside to create a small island for the laptop to land on and start right in.   Hours later she will have produced an immaculate and well-crafted document amid total familial chaos.  

I am far too flighty for such feats of focus.  The mere thought of clothes lying dried and crumpling in a dryer pulls me from my intellectual labours.

And so, when I first walked into The Dragon in September, I felt a little unsure about what to expect.  Within in seconds, two students greeted me as they carried enormous plates of cookies to the front desk.  They’d spent the last day of summer holiday baking hundreds of sweet welcomes for their teachers and peers.  The desk itself seemed as though it might belong in an accounting cubical of an insurance company rather than greeting newcomers in the entrance of a school.  Wires trailed beneath it, paper lay in a haphazard array across its keyboard and surface.  One of the students pushed the debris assertively to one side and placed put a mound of cookies along one edge.

I sat on a wooden bench just by the front door.  Beside me a new student quivered with tears.  His shyness brimmed over so that his desire to disappear unconsciously filled the hall with a silent tension.  As Dragons filtered in, laughter and chaos echoed throughout the first floor.  Students gathered in groups and singly, chatting about vacation trips and Pokémon Go.  A din grew. Quick and hungry hands denuded the plates of cookies.

Three different Dragons approached the weeping new boy beside me.  They independently introduced themselves and invited him to join their cluster of friends.  One even offered to just sit silently with the newcomer in empathy.  Their efforts and compassion really struck me.

Eventually, the head, Dr. Fox, appeared.  She stood in the middle of the foyer shouting for attention and quiet.  Teenagers called out to her, interjecting comments amid her welcome to the new academic year.   Interruptions cascaded from the upperclassmen perched on the staircase above her.  Her speech sputtered and then gradually calmed the boisterous mood.  Finally, she dismissed the Dragons to class.

Laughter and stomping feet died away and I was left alone to contemplate the crumb-ridden floor, untidy desk and handful of haphazard chairs.  

The halls of my childhood school stand immaculate in memory.  But even as I recall their seeming order, they evoke an unease of oppression and boredom.

Within weeks, my new Dragon exuded a love and pride in the school.  He quietly harbours a slight neat freak sensibility which he gets from me, but he overlooks the mild disorder of the place because he senses a deeper imperative which structures his interactions and courses.

He stabbed at his chicken at dinner two nights ago, “You know, I’m really going to miss the teachers who are leaving.”   He waved a piece of dark meat ungainly in the air with his fork, “No really, I am.”  He paused.  “The Dragon is not like other schools.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know.  It’s just different.”

“But you’ve had other teachers leave.” I add, “And, you’ve even left other schools.”

“Yeah, but at those schools I just kinda socialized . . . . at Dragon . . . . “ He searched for words, “I don’t know. . . It’s different.”  He chewed thoughtfully and then glanced up through a mop of hair tossed on his forehead and hanging in front of his eyes. “I know what it is!”  His left eyebrow arched victoriously and the fork swung back into the air, “It’s a community.  It’s a social and an intellectual community.”  And as he beamed with certainty, he added, “And so all the people just matter more.

“Yup,” he mumblingly reasserted, “It’s a community.”

As he said this, my mind’s eye drifted to a vision of Dr. Fox’s office – located at the core of the Dragon building: right in the middle of the second floor – a comforting space that seems incongruously to be both her personal sanctuary and the hub of the school.   

The Dragon’s floors are not always swept and its furniture lined up assiduously with architectural geometry but it exudes a quiet harmony that my boy has tapped into . . . a quiet but persistent humanist doctrine orders its tutelage, rooms and ethos.  And even I will try to settle myself amid its benevolent chaos and absorb its learned devotions.  Entropy, after all, orders the universe.

Music Workshop with Kristopher Magnuson

Tuesday Nov 29th The Dragon Academy will be welcoming Kristopher Magnuson to lead a music workshop. 

Kristopher Magnuson is a composer from Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to his works for the Cleveland Contemporary Players Series and Cleveland Composers Recording Institute, he has completed works for the Genkin Philharmonic at SUNY Buffalo, guitarist Rob MacDonald, and multiple works for the Cleveland Ingenuity Festival. Since beginning flamenco guitar studies with Ricardo Marlow, one of the most prominent American-born flamenco guitarist of his generation, Spanish idioms have become a frequent focal point in his works. Mr. Magnuson’s “Palos for String Quartet,” based on flamenco song forms, was the 2014 winner of the University of Toronto String Quartet Composition Competition, and received its world premiere with the Cecilia Quartet at the 2015 University of Toronto New Music Festival. Mr. Magnuson holds a Master of Music degree from Cleveland State University, where he studied with Andrew Rindfleisch and Greg D’Alessio, and was the recipient of the Bain Murray Award for Excellence in Composition. He was recently commissioned to compose a work for the Eastman BroadBand chamber ensemble at the 2016 Soundscape Festival in Maccagno, Italy. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music where he studies with Gary Kulesha, Christos Hatzis, and Norbert Palej, and will serve as Composer in Residence of the University of Toronto Guitar Ensemble in 2016-17.

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School Six Days A Week – Parent’s Blog

It’s morning and chatter pulls me from my drowsiness.

Earlier, I woke at dawn, read for a while and drifted back into slumber. But my boy’s voice nattering to himself in the living room pulls me from my bed. He’s packing his school bag, humming and talking to himself. Finally, fully awake, I power up the coffee machine as he thumbs his way through Instagram on his phone.

“Hey! You need to eat. And make your lunch,” I remind him.

“Yeah. Yeah. I know.” His head remains bowed over his screen. Something a friend has sent from across the country has caught his eye. He’s not really in the room.

“I mean it. Breakfast! You need to eat.”

“I got it.” But he stands statically, caught up in his own thoughts.

“I’ll take your phone,” I caution.

Finally, he looks up, walks over to the fridge and opens it to hang on the door. He gazes uncertainly at the shelves.

“There’s ham, cheese. Make sure you take a piece of fruit and a snack.”

“I will. I will. I know what I’m doing.” He scowls at me. I notice him glance at the kitchen clock. He yanks the strap of his lunch cooler off the hook behind him

After pouring his cereal, he shovels spoonfuls into his mouth, splattering milk droplets onto his chin and t-shirt. A few moments later, after he deposits his bowl in the sink, his body paces, retreats and emerges from the fridge, cradling cheese, carrots, cucumber and apples in his arms.

He’s known for “not-hurrying” in our family. And I’ve learned that the more I urge him — and one other family member — the more his motions become slowed and sticky.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to call him endlessly from his bed. He had had two alarms set up; both across the room. Eventually he would clamber to silence them, but threw himself back under his comforter. No matter how early we started, it seemed as though he was always late for the school bell.

Since transferring to the Dragon, he’s up every morning and chattering.

Driving between chores on the weekend, he opines from the back seat before hopping out: “You know, I like school so much these days; I kinda wish we had classes on Saturday.”

Dragon Academy Open House Dec. 7th

You’ll want to save the date, Wednesday December 7th from 6:00 to 8:00 at The Dragon Academy.  This Open House focusses on our arts integration, with special guest Dr. Kristopher Magnuson, who is working with us on a reboot of our music program.  See the attached poster for details.  Parents, students, family are all welcome.

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Sometimes Silence is Golden

9 November 2016

Radio silence.  Not a word.

Last week and the weeks that preceded that, my son texted me throughout the day:  Some examples:

– When’s the census?

– Every 10 years, I think.

– Ok

I wait about 10 minutes before another text arrives:

– Are you there?

I reply: – Are you in class?

– Yes.

– Are you talking about the census?

– No

– What class? [Even as I ask this, I know that I’m now caught up in his web of distraction.]

– Math.  

A pause of several minutes.

– I think I’ll carry out the census next time.

– Fine.  Eyes front:  Concentrate on your work!

The previous day, I large ignored his “WEH” texts – a form of complaint that simultaneously means: “I’m bored.”  “Yuck.” “Help, get me out of here!”

Almost every other day, at his previous school, I’d received a stream of short imperatives:

-I hate school.

Sent 10 times.  OR:

– Can’t I come home?  

– Help.

– Can’t you home school me?

– I’m bored.”

Over and over again.

This is his first week at Dragon and nothing has come my way. In fact, I’ve had to prompt him at the end of the day. And I know that Dragon allows him access to his phone between periods.  Despite the fact that he can charm me — I enjoy listening to his curious and highly creative mind — his silence this week is heartening.  Long may it continue . . . at least during school hours anyway!

By – A Dragon Parent