Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hart House Farm

This last weekend I had the chance to get out of the city for a 24 hr. retreat with people from my program. As we're all from different departments and different specialties I don't often meet or run into them so it was nice to gather, meet some new people, talk shop, get into the country etc...

We went out to a university owned property north of Brampton. First day was a foggy mess but we had fun tromping through the wetness. Here are some pics.

I think the caption for this one should read something akin to - "I think there's supposed to be trees around here somewhere... we just can't seem to find them

The next morning was clearer and it was nice to get out, play some frisbee golf, etc...

Ontario is actually pretty in the fall, you just don't really notice it in the city. Often I go my house, subway, my office, subway, my house - I just don't get the chance to see much besides buildings and streets. So it was a nice escape. And then it was back to the real world and an impending assignment....

P.S. For those of you not on Facebook, I posted pictures of Daija and you can see them here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Education in Education

A number of people have asked me what I am studying here in Toronto and when I give them the 4 word answer they stare at me rather blankly and I know I've failed to convey what it is I'm doing here. So, here's the full-meal deal of what I'm doing for those who are interested or have time to waste and so my wife can read this and know what I'm doing as well! Ha. As well, I find the more I have to explain what I am doing, the more I refine exactly what it is I'm doing!

I am enrolled in the Ontario Institute for the Study of Education (OISE) in the department of Sociology and Equity Studies in Education (SESE). Within this I am enrolled in the Comparative, International, and Development Education (CIDE) program which is a collaborative program involving all the departments in OISE.

I am taking 3 classes this semester and completely neglecting any thought on a thesis - though in all reality the research projects I am working on in these classes are part and parcel of where I want to head with that.

Foucault and Research in Education and Culture: Discourse, Power and the Subject
This course examines the writings and theories of Foucault with an eye to how they can be used to challenge current thinking in educational research and practice. Foucault was a French thinker who looked at how we view history, how discourses are created and used, and how institutions (such as schools) have been created by these discourses. For my research paper in this class I am looking at how indigenous oral traditions have been devalued by the dominant discourses of rationality and logic and how we can re-center them for use in a critical pedagogy.

Indigenous Knowledge and Decolonization: Pedagogical Implications
This course looks indigenous and marginalized forms of knowing and how we might use them for educational and global change. The idea is to look at how we validate certain forms of knowing and to challenge how, not only have we devalued forms of indigenous knowledge, but also appropriated and commodified certain values or techniques as our own. The purpose then of using indigenous knowledges is for decolonization on a variety of levels. For this research paper I am still somewhat undecided (which is not a good thing!) and am considering looking at how we might use indigenous knowing as a methodology rather than merely as a topic of study.

Spirituality and Schooling: Pedagogical Implications
This is in the same series of special topics on pedagogy as the last class and looks at how we might inegrate spirituality into the classroom and research. It looks as spirituality as a vital part of the individual's lived experiences and looks to ways that we can include that in the classroom in hopes to create an environment that engages the learner in a more holistic way. For this paper I am going to look at how in Western cultures we have created this idea or discourse of spirituality in response to the hegemony of organized religion but in the process we have individualized the concept and forgotten the collaborative/communal nature of spirituality, and in doing so limited the power of transformation.

This hopefully gives you a loose idea what in the world I'm doing here. I am working with indigenous knowledge forms and all that entails to see how we can integrate them into school systems as to reflect the lived experiences of the students, the connect their experience to the schooling process.

That said, all this is bound to change to some extent as a I wrestle it down to a thesis question and then try and grapple with the thousand aspects that need considering.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wilco @ Massey Hall

This past Thursday I had the chance to attend a concert at the venerable Massey Hall in Toronto. For those not in the know, Massey Hall was the first theater in Canada built specifically for music performances in 1894, has held and had recorded some of the greatest shows in Canadian history (Bob Dylan, Dizzie Gillespie, Gordon Lightfoot, Oscar Peterson, etc..) as I learned by browsing the plaques/posters in their lounge. It also clued into me that this is the home of the Massey Lectures, of which I am a big fan of Stephen Lewis's 2005 lecture, Race Against Time.

It's quite an impressive venue, high vaulted ceilings with a real classic feel to it.

One of the posters from the 1940's I believe talked about how Massey Hall was THE place to be seen and last year's ballgown was just not good enough!

Now it holds a more modern audience and more modern shows and I was there in my jeans to see one of my favorite groups, Wilco. If I had a list of Top 5 concerts to see they would likely be on it - and it did not disapoint. I had a sweet seat as well, center 1st balcony half way up.

There's a good write up of the show, pictures, and video here at BlogTO - livewire opening act of Liam Finn from Australia, all the favorites from Wilco who rocked out (man, when they get all 3 axes going there is some serious rockin' going on!), special guest appearance by TO native Feist to perform her duet of You & I - it lived up to my expectations.

I had read a review of Wilco's first show the night before and it mentioned something along the lines that Wilco was now "dad-rock", which slightly shocked me seeing as I don't view myself as quite that aniquated. At the show I took the time to look around and realize I was certainly in the younger half of the audience and much to my chagrin there certainly were a good number of dads there. I guess I am no teenage rocker any more, no college rocker any more, just a lover of good ol' "dad-rock"!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Russian Imperial Stout Cheesecake

With Nolana gone (almost done week 1 of 3!) I took the chance to make something she wasn't all that appealed by - Russian Imperial Stout Cheesecake. Though I'm not sure why it wasn't appealing - what girl doesn't like a rich, chocolaty, cheesecake?

For those of you not in the know, Russian Imperial Stout is an old English style that was made extra strong for export to the Russian courts. It typically has rich chocolate and roasted malt characteristics. It's ultra dark and ultra big, often weighing in near the 10% alcohol mark.

I found this recipe over at BC Beer Blog and I used Green Flash's Double Stout. Normally I find Green Flash a little on the hoppier side of stouts but this had about a year of age on it and had mellowed considerably. For those in BC or Alberta, North Coast's Old Rasputin would work or Phillips The Hammer when it comes out in January, or any other Imperial Stout.

First step is degassing the beer which involved pouring the beer between 2 containers to get all the carbonation out.

Next main ingredient was the dark Belgian chocolate which was melted in a makeshift double boiler and was super tasty!

Everything was then blended into the cream cheese, and all onto the Oreo cookie crust.

Into the oven, and out comes an amazing chocolate cheesecake. All the while, the best part of cooking with beer is that there's usually leftovers!

For serving it I held back a few chips of the Belgian chocolate, melted them and drizzled it over the cheesecake and then just slivered some white chocolate on top.

It was fan-frickin-tastic! Decadent, rich chocolate flavor - can't tell there's beer in there. We paired it with Great Divide's Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout which was terrific. It's also suggested that you can garnish with a fruit and then pair it with a nice fruity lambic which would work in my opinion. If you could get your hands on bottles of Wisconsin's New Glarus Raspberry Tart or Belgian Red, those would be phenomenal with this.

After all this, I'm saving a piece for Nolana and I to share when she gets back - I'm pretty sure she'll love it.