How to make school more useful

What is the purpose of school?

Seriously? Have you ever stopped to think what school is supposed to prepare us for? We’re so used to jumping through its hoops that few of us ever stop to look for the connections between school and life.

Most say, “to get a job,” but few can think of any instance where anyone learned about the types of jobs available to them, what they earn, or if they are suited to their personalities and strengths. If this is the main purpose of education, how come it literally is not part of any education curriculum?! The purpose of school is to get a job, but we don’t study jobs at all? Doesn’t make sense, does it?

Second, people will say school is to prepare us for life. It gives us the tools to solve our own problems. Well, let’s brainstorm a few things that adults need to know how to do…


  • Financial literacy: Trigonometry is mandatory but not personal finances? How about learning about types of bank accounts, interest, credit cards, learn how to pay for school, buy a house, get a job, save, invest, donate, pay taxes, balance budget, learn wants from needs, etc…
  • Have a family: learning how to maintain relationships, raise children, work through conflict, stay calm, learn how to de-stress, learn mindfulness….
  • Be healthy! Ah, but school teaches a health class, no? Yes, but when do students learn how to balance personal and professional lives? Go grocery shopping. Cook a meal. Yes, we learn about puberty and the Canadian food guide, but learning about health is much different from living it. And if you say students should learn this from their parents, well, look at your students’ lunches. We’re all on convenience mode – quick and easy. It’s hard to learn from someone who never learned it themselves. Learning about health and living it are 2 separate skills. Let’s try having daily phys-ed to start. Like, every single day! Even better, get teachers participating too! It also helps lift one’s mood and concentration. Let’s learn how to cook a meal! How does an oven work? No seriously, can someone teach me? I never learned this skill.
  • Politics: How about learning how the government works, what different parties stand for and the importance of voting
  • Capitalism: The means of production!

DUP2v_UU0AANbFiAll human knowledge is at our finger tips (i.e., the internet).  Why not learn about the soft skills.


For more inspiration, check out the School of Life’s video below:


Lesson Plan: Bullying & Entropy – Scientific Analogies

Question 1: Think of a time when you’ve been angry or mean or both!  What did you do?

You answer is likely that you were filled with powerful, negative emotions and you either took them out on yourself or others.

In simplified terms, entropy is nature’s need to dissipate energy.  For example, heat transfer is dissipative because it is a transfer of internal energy from a hotter body to a colder one.

The second law of thermodynamics states that the total entropy can never decrease over time for an isolated system, that is, a system in which neither energy nor matter can enter nor leave.

Entropy Comic:


Hopefully, you can already recognize where this is going and how it relates to bullying. Basically, when negative (or positive) emotions build up, they do not disappear, they dissipate or spread from areas of high concentration to low concentration.

Bullying and anger can result from a build up of negative energy, which the person spreads or dissipates to those around them. Since the person wants to get rid of that energy, and does not want those feelings returned, they often choose targets who are unlikely to return fire, which may be why some people, “kick the dog”.

Another conclusion from this is that NO HAPPY PERSON BULLIES. If someone is not filled with negative energy, they are not going to spread it around. No happy, accepted, loved person bullies.


Question 2A: Think of instances in nature where energy accumulates? How does it dissipate?

E.g., electrical energy in the sky becomes lightening.


Other examples include all natural disasters: earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes.

Question 2B: Can you think of any positive examples?

E.g., a seed becomes a tree, an egg becomes an animal, food becomes energy dissipated by the eater, etc….

Task 1: WATCH: “To This Day” by Shane Korzan

Task 2: Mind map a Negative scenario

  • In a group: think of an example when someone was mean to you. Often, we think of how other’s actions affect us. What we don’t realize is, is that we also spread those around. How might those around us react to our negative energy? Create a mind map of how far those emotions will spread or draw a picture.



Task 3: Think of ways to dissipate the negative feelings without passing them around

For example:

  • Listen to music
    • Play “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons
      • The metaphor works. Thunder is the effect after bullying.
  • Journal
  • Talk to someone
  • Exercise
  • Play a video game
  • Here’s a list

Task 4: Mind Map a positive scenario

  • In a group: Think of a time where someone was kind to you? How did you feel? How might you have spread the joy to others? Mind map or draw a picture.

Task 5: Share a smile

  • The simplest way to spread joy is to smile at someone. Give your best or silliest smile to a classmate and pass it around until the whole class has been smiled at.





Help refugees: Volunteer and donate

Many refugees will need extra help getting settled in Canada. Supportive social networks and service provider organizations are essential to the integration of newcomers, including refugees.

Through these networks and organizations, refugees can get information, find housing and jobs, improve their language skills, become civically involved, gain critical cultural knowledge and receive emotional and other support.

We encourage individuals, communities and businesses to welcome refugees and help them integrate into the communities.

Volunteer in your community

Consider volunteering with an organization that works with newcomers in your area.

Search our interactive map for federally funded organizations that may be in need of resources, visit Volunteer Canada’s website for ideas or seek out volunteer opportunities in your community.

Donate to help in Canada

New refugees have immediate needs, including furniture, clothing, food, dishes and much more as they resettle in Canada. Canadians can help by donating money to local organizations such as Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) that help support newcomers in Canada.

If you want to find out if an organization is a registered Canadian charity that can issue tax receipts, check the charities listings.

Local donations can go a long way. Not sure where to start?

In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Nunavut, you can visit or call 211 toll-free to find out how you can offer support for refugees. 211 is Canada’s primary source of information on government and community-based health and social services.

Consider donating through the

A few more ways you can contribute

Find out where the refugees are going

Learn which communities and service provider organizations across Canada are welcoming refugees.

Sponsor Syrian refugees

There are a few ways to sponsor refugees. Find out which way works best for you.

From Damascus to Toronto: Mohamed

Facing forced enrolment in the Syrian army, for a war he did not want to join, Mohamed fled to Lebanon, where his dreams of Canada took root.

Mensa for Kids – I need a Super Hero Unit

I Need a Superhero

Download the PDF version of this lesson plan.


Hereos pin

The idea of the hero is something that even very small children understand at some level. Many perennially favorite picture books feature heroic characters (such as Max in Where the Wild Things Are — a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey). As children grow, their exposure to different manifestations of the hero broadens. They encounter heroes in television, movies, books, magazines and music, and on the pages of their local newspapers.

The heroic archetype features prominently in literary analysis at the high school level. A clear understanding of, and the ability to manipulate and apply, this idea is critical to any approach to world literature for the high school student. Unlike most of the Mensa Foundation’s lesson plans, this one includes the reading of a long novel as its culminating assignment.

This lesson plan was designed to tie into the Mensa Hero Bracket Challenge that began in the October 2010 issue of the Mensa Bulletin, with the results announced in the March 2011 issue. It is not necessary to read the article, however, for students to benefit from the lesson plan. If you are a member of Mensa, you (or your students) may read about the Hero Bracket Challenge in the October 2010 issue.

Guiding Questions

  • What makes a hero?
  • Where do we find heroes?
  • How are heroes in books different from heroes in real life?
  • What is the journey of the hero and how does the archetype manifest itself?

Learning Objectives
After completing the lessons in this unit, students will be able to:

  • Explain what makes a hero and the elements of the heroic journey.
  • Recognize heroic figures in multiple media.
  • Analyze a literary work for the heroic archetype.
  • Analyze a piece of literature for elements of the hero and the heroic journey.
  • Write an essay comparing and contrasting heroes in two works.


  • Ensure Internet access to look up relevant sites.
  • Get a copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.
  • Print out copies of this plan as needed.

Kids Write 4 Kids Contest – deadline March 31, 2017


It’s Story Time!

Are your students sharing stories on Instagram, or Snap Chat?  Do they write outlandish stories for classroom assignments that bring tears to your eyes? Kids Write 4 Kids is seeking children in grades 4 – 8, who have an interest in sharing tales of adventures, travel or something that makes them giggle.

Kids Write 4 Kids is an annual writing challenge that provides winner(s) with the opportunity to be a published author before high school. In addition to author fame, the annual proceeds from book sales are donated to that year’s winners’ schools. School(s) are also provided with the option of selling their author’s book for fundraising. Winner(s) will have an opportunity to take part in the following year’s judging panel.

Kids Write 4 Kids has published 10 winning titles from youth authors across Canada. These books are available in the Apple iBookstore, Amazon Kindle and Kobo. Get these links at our website.

Want to know more about the experience? Watch this video that Safaa Ali, one of our first authors, shared with us, on how Kids Write 4 Kids impacted her and boosted her confidence.

View contest details here

For tips on writing a good story, visit

You can also visit here to take a look at some of the previously published Kids Write 4 Kids ebooks.


Anti-Bullying: The Validation Project

Founded in January 2013 by teen Valerie Weisler, The Validation Project is an international organization committed to uniting teenagers worldwide to use their unique talents to make their positive mark on the world.

They give teens:

  • volunteering opportunities according to their interests

  • leadership resources

  • connections with mentors in their desired field

  • recommendation for college

  • community service hours

  • proof that your age is not a barrier to make a mark

In addition to working with more than five thousand young people one-on-one, we also unite all our Validators through international campaigns. Our teens use their leadership skills and talents to implement ways to raise awareness and make an impact for a specific cause they’re passionate about. To date, we’ve raised $40,000 worth of items for people in need and raised awareness of 

  • domestic violence

  • bullying

  • homelessness

  • special needs 

  • advocating for equality


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