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It's rude to ask, but...

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I’m in a snit.

This month makes two or three years now since even a single school has asked me to come to I Love to Read Month; prior to that, there were three or four invites some Februaries.

Maybe someone can let me know why – acknowledging, of course, that it’s bad manners to ask why no one asked me to a party.

Moving along...

Remember my story on UM’s dropping the Disaster Research Institute? Bob MacDonald of Quirks and Quarks fame tweeted about it, but he gave the credit to The Toronto Star.

So I looked it up on The Star, and the paper did indeed have a story, but gave the credit to the WFP for breaking it.

This is like the time when I broke the infamous story about kids being tricked into putting moose droppings in their mouths on a Grade 8 camping trip, and Huffington Post gave the credit to The New York Daily News, whose story ran three weeks after ours.

I emailed MacDonald, I’m a little disappointed that he never responded.

Speaking of a lack of responses...

My university newspaper Pro Tem has never responded to my response to its invitation to speak at a writers’ conference March 27... I still don’t know who else would potentially come to speak, who and how many the audience would be, and most importantly, if I’m expected to pay for a trip to Toronto mid-week out of my own pocket.

And now for something completely different...

It’s always appropriate to talk about soccer, so...

Greg and Stephen, that’s a really spiffy bilingual sign outside the soccer complex at UM, the one proclaiming that it’s the future site of an indoor soccer complex. Not to be impertinent, but don’t you maybe kind of think your governments have had their money’s worth out of that sign by now?

And seguing into schools and epochal sporting events...

After getting resoundingly chastised for my suggesting that it’s OK for students to watch Olympics while in school, I heard from another teacher, this time from a public high school. A teacher who was careful to note he was writing on his personal email and not on the school division’s email.

OK, full disclosure, he taught my kids, so regular readers will know he’s on the faculty of Manitoba’s best school.

And here’s what he said:

"I was reading your blog and wanted to comment on the value of watching the Olympics in a classroom setting. It allowed me to talk about the odd geography of having a winter games in a city/region with a Mediterranean climate. The history of that region of the world, why attached regions have violence and instances of terrorism and most importantly celebrate Canadian success! I thought it allowed many interesting academic conversations in my classroom. The community building aspect of teachers keeping classrooms open over lunch to finish watching hockey games. Getting together in library to crowd around a 32" tube TV to watch Jennifer Jones win a gold medal! My daughter attends (a highly-regarded school which our friends’ kids attended, a little outside our catchment area) and her class watched figure skating/curling and the class did research projects on Canadian athletes, eventually making a bulletin board display. I thought it was a great two weeks, it didn’t put me behind in any of my four classes."

And from another teacher, whom I don’t think I’ve met:

"I am a retired school teacher and I totally agree with your opinion that watching the hockey game at school was a worthwhile experience. I taught in the days of the (1972) hockey game between Canada and the Soviets and yes, we all sat in front of the tv to watch it at school. What it did was create an incredible feeling of solidarity as Canadians. Before and after the games we had the opportunity to discuss the big differences between Canada and Russia, the injustices in both countries, the money spent on the games instead of the needy. In short, everything the upset teacher says should be discussed instead of watching the hockey game. I suspect that we have a case of an individual who is not a sports fan. I hope it isn’t the case of a sour-faced, unhappy person who doesn’t realize that a lot of learning can come out of having fun while you are doing it.

Sigh indeed."

And a warning note to schools, but surely it couldn’t be the reason I no longer get invited to I Love to Read Month: I came back from a school yesterday and realized I’d added to my massive collection of visitors’ badges.

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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