More About the Author
Darren Cannell's father was in the Canadian military, which required the family to move every three years of his life until he was 17. He lived in Canada, the United States and Germany and in many different locations in each country and attended seven different schools. This childhood upbringing greatly impacted his adult life and assisted in giving him a worldly view. This childhood is commonly referred to as an 'army brat' which has been said to mean according to Ricketts (2007) "Born, Raised And Transferred Somewhere" (¶ 1). "An estimated 15 million Americans are former army brats. They include actors Jessica Alba and Robert Duvall, Senator John McCain and basketball star Shaquille O'Neal" (Brats without Borders, 2007 ¶ 2). One of the approximate 20,000 fellow Canadian Army brats, Michael J. Fox described it as a life style that "'encourages the family's closeness '.... and the frequent moves 'promoted a kind of positive extroversion,' he says 'It made me go out and meet people and relate to them right away' " (Gould, 2005 ¶ 7). Many army brats tend to act "like they have never met a stranger", (Howard, 2001 ¶ 2) and "feel the urge to move every few years and are reluctant to forge lasting relationships ....and are generally viewed as independent, outgoing and flexible" (Sokol, 2007 ¶ 5). Many of Darren's personality traits are a result of his upbringing. Army Brats "share personality traits born of necessity ....share unique bonds" (Sokol, 2007 ¶ 1) and after living abroad, returning to one's home country can be a severe culture shock and result in a different perspective than the normal Canadian peer. The result of living overseas leaves one "To realize that America is not the center of the universe" (Knight, 2007 ¶ 3). Becoming accustomed to other cultures makes for one not being "used to anymore being looked at primarily by race kinds of things" (Junne, 2007 ¶ 7) and "I was always out of sync with whatever was going on, with the culture, with the lessons, totally at odds with what should have been my peers" (Green, 2007 ¶ 8). "Army Brats have no 'hometowns' to go back to and rarely know their extended families. Brats learn to get along with anybody, from anywhere. They can move and take risks. They're not afraid of change" (Brats without borders, 2007 ¶1).
Being raised in the authoritarian military environment is a wide stretch from the general democratic society where 'anything goes'. The military tells a family where and when they will move. The military culture cuts across gender, race and class. An "attitude that's not just nonracist, but anti--racist" (Williams, 2001 ¶ 13). A military dependant's behaviour reflects on the whole family, and could adversely affect the military father's career.
Darren entered many schools in the middle of the year, to which his response was the same as Williams (2001) as he explains results in others seeing army brats "as worldly and sophisticated which civilians might label as 'sturdiness'" (¶ 16). This situation results in many army brats according to Williams (2001) as having to "make friends and have a social identity in a hurry" (¶ 20). Williams (2001) further explains that "military brats tend to be either super achievers in school, which gets the attention of their peers and teachers or they go the opposite direction and join the out group" (¶ 21). Similar to Knight (2007) who tries to explain the mind set as "do you ever quit? I went, of course not! And it dawned on me that other people quit....I just, claw, I hold on. I hold things til, you know, and in that persistence, I usually manage to succeed" (¶3). This might explain why grade eleven math was the best two and half years of Darren's life. Williams (2001) confirms "come in aiming to succeed. They've developed very high expectations for themselves." and " they tend to be very idealistic people. We've been raised in an environment where you do things for principle, to support an ideal" (¶ 22).
Darren's education history starts with him in tears for the first day of kindergarten which is not that unusual according to iParenting (2007) who state that "although highly anticipated, the first day of kindergarten also can be nerve-wracking occasion for both parents and kids" (¶ 1). Darren's parents were okay but his jitters continued as he was the only member of the class who did not make it across the stage at the Christmas concert as 'ant' number seven in the 'Ants Go Marching One by One' skit. The lack of appearance was blamed upon a tie that was too tight under his ant outfit. Lack of breath and stage fright and massive amounts of tears all combined to give him an unnatural hate for wearing a tie even to this day, but that is a totally different phobia. Public speaking fear is not uncommon according to Seinfeld (2003) who states "According to most studies, people's number-one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. 'Death' is number two! Now, this means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy" (¶ 1). "Sally sells sea shells down by the sea shore" was Darren's practice sentence in grade three given to him by his speech impediment instructor. Being four foot six and sixty five pounds and the smallest student in the class found in him in grade eight at the front of the class so he could see the board. Being that size was not a great asset when his favourite sport was volleyball. A situation that resolved itself as he grew almost a foot in grade ten, a change which was welcomed by him and his volleyball coach. Only to be replaced by a continuing issue of having to work twice as hard as his siblings to achieve grades that were still 10-20 percent lower than theirs. As stated above, grade eleven math was the best couple years of his life. He had to work harder for his marks than all his siblings and when he attended university he found that education environment easier than many because of his work habit. He just barely had the grade point average required to enter university but that grade point was achieved by a lot of work and study. This better prepared him for the rigors of university than the student who found high school easy and did not have to study or develop the study habits he did. As confirmed by the University of Akron (2005) to be successful in university one needs to "be mentally prepared for the environment into which you are entering. Be prepared for the workload...for competition with other individuals as talented, and many more talented that you are...Success can be attributed to the cliché: hard work" (¶14, 39).
His first degree from Brock University was a Bachelor of Physical Education. Physical education at Brock University used an approach to physical education which was unique. The focus was on Movement education which differs from the traditional physical education which employs direct teaching methods. As confirmed by Murray (1981) in an article that was written the year he graduated from Brock with "this method is teacher oriented, students are informed in a precise manner how to perform a specific skill" (¶ 10). Movement education is more of an indirect method and is primarily student oriented. Murray (1981) states "students are given the freedom to practice and experiment with movement ideas. As the onus is placed on the individual, both physically and mentally, decision making, kinaesthetic awareness and personal motivation is necessary" (¶ 11). During his time at Brock University he completed two other degrees, his Honours Bachelor of Physical Education and his Bachelor of Education. His honours required him to write a thesis called "A Perceived Needs Assessment of Volunteer Coaches in the Niagara Peninsula."
His first teaching position was as a classroom teacher for a grade eight in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. This teaching position required him to move to a new location in Canada, living in Saskatoon was his aunt and a grandmother who he had only seen a few times in his life. His first year of teaching was similar to all other first year teachers. It was busy. He was teaching all subjects and felt he was not well prepared all the time. As stated by Moir (1990) during that first year he went through the following stages "anticipation, to survival, to disillusionment, to rejuvenation, to reflection; then back to anticipation" (¶ 1). The first phase was anticipation. "New teachers enter with a tremendous commitment to making a difference and a somewhat idealistic view of how to accomplish their goals"(Moir, 1990 ¶ 2). Then he moved in to the survival phase "Beginning teachers are instantly bombarded with a variety of problems and situations they had not anticipated. Despite teacher preparation programs, new teachers are caught off guard by the reality of teaching"(Moir 1990 ¶ 3). He was so busy, he was just trying to make it from day to day. The third stage was a result of the amount of work and no time for reflection. The disillusionment phase was "coupled with months of excessive time allotted to teaching ...express self-doubt, have lower self-esteem and question their professional commitment". He lived through it and moved on to the rejuvenation stage in which his attitude improved. "A better understanding of the system, an acceptance of the realities of teaching, and a sense of accomplishment .... gain new coping strategies and skills to prevent, reduce, or manage many problems" (Moir 1990 ¶ 4). The fourth stage was reflection which occurred near the end of the year. "Reflection back over the year, they highlight events that were successful and those that were not. They think about the various changes that they plan to make the following year in management, curriculum and teaching strategies" (Moir 1990 ¶ 5). And he moved on to anticipation for the next year. This cycle continued right up until his final year of teaching in the classroom. The highs and lows of the cycle were never as extreme as in his first year but in the years that he changed schools they increased. During his teaching he taught in three elementary schools, and three high schools. In high school he taught art and physical education and in his final ten years of classroom teaching he taught only art. His days in the classroom were ended when he was chosen as the project leader for the Cyber School.
Other aspects of this Art teacher with a physical education degree which helped to make up his educational philosophy would be such things as Consulting at Universities, Presenting at numerous conferences, teaching at a Native high school, directing a musical, painting professionally, playing on the masters' national volleyball team, playing wheelchair basketball as an able bodied player, coaching a volleyball club for 11 years, being a director at Volleyball Canada, an edublogger and having a child.
Consulting at Universities was an aspect of Darren's professional career that taught him a very valuable lesson. If the consultation was a process put in motion by the administration and was not welcomed by the professors it can be a very difficult process. According to Zigarmi, Blanchard, O'Conner and Edeburn (2004) "Leadership, in its best form, is granted by those being led"(¶ 4).
Presenting at numerous conferences was interesting because it allowed him to share the cyber school vision and get feedback from other people who were venturing down the same path. Horibe (1999) explains "In a static world, the need to learn isn't very great. You generally do a lot when you're young and stop after a certain point. But in an uncertain world, learning never ends"(¶ 7).
Teaching for two years at a Native high school allowed him to experience the feelings of a minority, to gain a glimpse into and learn some of their culture. Knobbe (1994) explains "to come, follow me under my wings and listen to the teachings of my heart." We, as a white male dominant culture need to show greater respect by getting to know, on a personal level, a Native American person. We need to place ourselves in a submissive way under their wings, listen and learn from them with head bowed about the wisdom they can share with us. We need to place ourselves in a position of 'vulnerable invitation'" (¶ 7).
Directing a grade eight musical with 60 plus actors taught him that it is possible to convince people to step out of their comfort zone and achieve success. Simmons (2007) states "Deep within man dwell those slumbering powers; powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing; forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action" (¶ 2).
Painting professionally was a creative outlet which taught him the need for balance in composition, depth, subject and colour. This balance is translated into other subjects and aspects of his life. Bonnay (2004) explains "the opposing polarities and contradictions within nature, ourselves, situations and experiences. To explore them through painting enables me to integrate them to achieve a greater balance within my life"(¶ 5).
Playing on the Masters National Volleyball Team reinforced his national pride and culmination of years of training to play a sport at that level. As confirmed by Martin (2003) "to be committed to something, to practice every day; to see the fruits of his labour; to succeed and to fail; to get knocked down and to get up; to have courage; to have common goals and to be part of a team while learning when to lead and when to follow"(¶ 6).
Playing on the provincial wheelchair basketball team allowed him to gain an appreciation of how all people can contribute to a team. All have strengths and weaknesses. By recognizing those you can achieve more as a team than you can as an individual. Macafee (1999) explains "some people who think the sport should be left to those who can't run and jump. But he believes both groups have something to contribute. 'The mix works really well,' said Turcotte, 24. 'You really rely on your disabled athletes, and the smaller players can really set the pace of the game'" (¶ 5).
Coaching a volleyball club for eleven years allowed him to work with a wide variety of athletes and assist them in reaching their potential which translates into his approach within the classroom. Kleine states "to be an athlete, you first must learn -- that it's self-respect you'll have to earn. You must conquer you, or you'll surely get beat, cause you are the one, against whom you compete"(¶ 3).
After complaining about the way volleyball was being run in this country for the eleven years that he coached, Darren decided it was time to be part of the solution and worked his way to the highest governing body in volleyball in the country. Cheong (2007) explains why people coach and work for sport governing bodies; "wants to give back to the sport that played such an important role in her own life" (¶ 1).
Being an edublogger allowed Darren to diarize his thoughts and share them with his cyber school community as well as the global community. Owyang (2005) states "For the first time in the history of the world, nearly everyone has access to easy to use tools that anyone can use to publish, and the ideas and voices can be easily found. There is a global conversation now" (¶ 2).
Having a child made Darren realize that no matter how many university degrees he might obtain he still knows so little. Nooney (2000) confirms "Before I became a parent I had a certain arrogance about myself and my abilities. I was intelligent and resourceful, and I usually excelled in those things with which I chose to spend my time. I also had the luxury of not engaging in those activities at which I was not so good"(¶ 8).
The professional education philosophy of the pysed. art teacher who built a cyber school can be gleaned by the following descriptors; global, creative, risk-taking, independent, never-quit, student-centered, out of the box, parent, coach, blogger, national calibre athlete, artist, geek, respected, student, director, traveller, presenter, consultant, teacher, administrator and military brat.
Brats without Borders. (2007). About the Film. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from Brats: Our Journey Home: http://www.bratsourjourneyhome.com/about.htm
Cheong, T. (2007, September 7). Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from Successful Candidates for the 2007-08 CCAA Apprentice Coach Program: http://douglas.bc.ca/__shared/assets/badccaacoachappren49481.pdf
Gould, A. (2005). Retrieved December 11, 2007, from Allan Gould: Author, Journalist, Lecturer, Speechwriter: http://www.allangould.com/magazines/profiles/michaeljfox/magazines_profiles_michaeljfox.html
Horibe, F. (1999, March). Managing Knowledge Workers: New Skills and Attitudes to Unlock the Intellectual Capital in Your Organization. Retrieved December 17, 2007, from Frances Horibe - Beyond Theory and into Practice: http://www.franceshoribe.com/pdf/mkwch1.pdf
Howard, M. (2001, May 22). Personality Comes in Handy for Richmond, Va -Area Image Consultant. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from Richmond-Times Dispatch/ Tribune Business News: http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-8369697_ITM
iparenting. (2007). Cooling Kindergarten Worries: Easing Your Child's Stress on the First Day. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from iParenting: internet communities for parents: http://www.iparentingcanada.com/articles/1601/1
Kleine, R. (2001, December 10). Coaching and Kids. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from Coaching and Sports: http://www.pelinks4u.org/archives/coaching/121001.htm
Knight, L., Junne, G., & Green, M. (2007, February). Life as a Brat: Living Overseas. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from Brats: Our Journey Home: http://www.bratsourjourneyhome.com/life.htm
Macafee, M. (1999, March 2). Wheelchair Basketball not Just for the Disabled. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from Canada Winter Games: http://www.canoe.ca/SlamCanadaWinterGames/mar2_bas.html
Martin, D. (2003, January 15). Sports and Parental Values: A Father's Journey with His Daughter. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from Self Help Magazine: http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/articles/sports/sports_parental_values.html
Moir, E. (1990). Phases of First-Year Teaching. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from El Rancho Unified School District Teacher Support Program: http://www.teachersupportprograms.org/phases_first_year_teaching/
Murray, N. (1981, September). Movement Education: A factual statement. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from Sport Information Resource Center: http://www.canadiansport.com/newsletters/september/movementeducation.cfm
Nooney, G. (2000, December 3). Parenting: A Humbling Experience. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from The First Unitarian Church: http://www.siouxcityuu.org/parenting.htm
Owyang, J. (2005, December 22). Value of Blogging: Community, Converstations, Connecting. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from Web Strategy by Jeremiah: http://jeremiahthewebprophet.blogspot.com/2005/12/value-of-blogging-community.html
Ricketts, B. (2007, October 10). Brats...A Canadian Institution. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from Mysteries of Canada: http://www.mysteriesofcanada.com/Military/brats.htm
Seinfeld, J. (2003, May 20). The Pilot 1/2. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from The Seinfled scripts: http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/ThePilot.html
Simons, C. (2007, October 21). Give your Child the Gift of Self-Esteem. Retrieved December 17, 2007, from Baby Thoughts: http://www.babythoughts.ca/articles/index.php/category/self-esteem/
Sokol, J. (2007, December 7). 'Brat' offers glimpse of her world. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from OC Register: http://www.ocregister.com/life/jenny-sokol-military-1932678-life-military
The University of Akron. (2005, September 16). Study Habits: Secrets for Success. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from School of Law: Law School Survival: http://www.uakron.edu/law/lawadmissions/studyhabits.php
Williams, R. (2001, August 20). Military Brats are a Special Breed. Retrieved December 11, 2007, from American Forces Press Service: News Articles: http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=44766
Zigarmi, D., Blanchard, K., O'Connor, M., & Edeburn, C. (2004, August 26). The Leader Within: Learning Enough about Yourself to Lead Others. Retrieved December 16, 2007, from www.peace.ca: http://www.peace.ca/leaderwithin.htm