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Once a teacher . . . July 16, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.

Flashlights   As you know, if you shine white light around at night while trying to view stars, the light can mess up your night vision. In biological terms, molecules of rhodopsin in the rods of the eye undergo a change in shape as light is absorbed by them. It takes about thirty minutes for the full effect to take place. One good thing about rhodopsin in the human eye is that it is insensitive to the red light waves, so many people use red light to preserve night vision as it will not deplete the eye’s rhodopsin stores. Thus endeth the biology lesson.

That said, I was justifiably annoyed when a kid at a picnic dinner at night insisted on blasting us all with her flashlight. I suggested putting it inside a paper bag to give off a pleasant light. The kid insisted on putting the flashlight in her bag. I did not want to take the flashlight out of the bag again so I quietly said, “I know, this flashlight bag can be your bag now.”

She grinned from ear to ear and went back to her dinner without blinding the table. Her mother said, “Wow! You must have a lot of kids.”

“Nah! Just the one,” I said. I paused for quite a long time wondering what made my reaction different. “Oh!” I suddenly remembered it, “I taught Special Education students for two decades.” Ah. That was it. The same situation might have resulted in several different and ugly scenarios, but when you come from a win-win situation for both parent and child you spend a lot less time on the mechanics of behaviour management and get down to learning.

Which is why I am beginning to think that teaching teachers how to use technology in the classroom is a lot less like learning how to work the programs and a lot more like learning when to use the programs. There is a right tool and a right time and teaching students when to use the tools and when not to use the tools is as tricky a thing as knowing how to use the energy of children in a constructive way.

This afternoon I was sitting beside a pool when three kids decided splashing me would be the most fun they had ever had in their lives. Without a moment’s hesitation I said, “Let’s see who can swim to the far side of the pool fastest.” I had their interest, appealed to their competitive nature, and did not let them know for a second that I wanted them far away from me. My wife noticed and muttered something like, “Once a teacher . . .”



1. Zs - July 17, 2006

That’s why photografers use red light when developing the film?

2. mcvey - July 17, 2006

Photographic darkrooms use red lights, and many black & white films are not sensitive to red. This is because red photons aren’t energetic enough to break the halogen-silver bond. Nothing to do with the eye.

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