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Thoughts On Fredericton

So I’m back now from my trip to F-ton. And I didn’t even blog the whole time I was there! I must have been having fun or something.

I was there for a teaching & learning conference at the University of New Brunswick, where I gave a presentation & a poster on my work from my former job. The original plan was to have Tod meet me in F-ton after my conference and take some vacation time to tour around the Maritimes, but between the time when my conference proposals were accepted and the time of the actual conference, I got my new job and had to be back in Vancouver for a conference here this upcoming week, so there was no Maritime vacation for me!  But I’ve at least knocked New Brunswick off my list of provinces to visit, and off my 101 things to do in 1001 days list!

Random things from my trip:

  • The taxi system in Fredericton is very different from Vancouver. They don’t have meters, but instead run on a grid system, so there’s a set price for a taxi ride from the airport to the university. Also, the taxi drivers drive Fords instead of Priuses and use CB radios instead of GPS.  Which means that one taxi driver will stop another one to ask how to get to a given location.
  • Shortly after arriving at the university, I ran into Jane, a girl I knew from the science outreach program I used to run at UBC. She now teaches at the med school. And who just happened to not only be at this conference, but had the residence room right next to mine!  We had an awesome time catching up!
  • UNB had these signs up *everywhere* (despite the fact that it was 28 degrees C!):

IMG_4975 by you.

  • Downtown Fredericton looks *exactly* like Oakville, Ontario. In fact, I’m not convinced that I was really in Fredericton at all – I think they just added a few hills to Oakville and sent me there.
  • When Jane and I went out to find some dinner on Friday night, we discovered that almost nothing was open.  Downtown. On a Friday night. At 9 p.m.  (If anyone from Fredericton is reading this, what do you guys do on a Friday night?).  We eventually found that Mexacali Rosa was opened until midnight, so we had dinner there. Unsurprisingly, there is a Mexicali Rosa in OAKVILLE, further supporting our theory outlined in the previous bullet point.
  • Frederticton also has a Snooty Fox, which has the exact same logo as the one in Hamilton, right across the road from McMaster. Hamilton, of course, is very close to OAKVILLE.
  • Someone at the conference, who was staying in the same residence as me, was from New Hampshire.  Apparently they named their state motto after a Bruce Willis movie:

livefreeordie by you.

Seriously, who wants the word “DIE” on their license plate?

  • The conference banquet1 featured lobster, roast beef, or a lovely lentils-in-pastry thing.  Here are Cynthia & Jane about to enjoy some lobster:

IMG_4976 by you.

Unfortunately, there was no lentil bib for the vegetarians!  We were also sitting with a girl from the Netherlands, who had never tried lobster before. I’ve never tried lobster, even before I became I vegetarian, so I asked her what she thought. Her reply: “It tastes like nothing.”

  • Oh yeah, so I did got to the conference for the actual conference. Here’s a picture of me and my beautiful poster2.

poster2 by you.

I also gave a concurrent session, which I now get to write up to publish in the journal issue that will be generated from the conference sessions! It likely won’t be as entertaining as Snow, Snow & Gillis, 2007, but it will be good.

  • The theme of the conference was “Dilemmas” and sessions focused on one of four different dilemmas facing higher education (e.g., disciplinary education vs. liberal education).  The opening plenary speaker talked about the difference between an easily resolvable issue (just make a decision already!), a “problem” (things that are solvable – just do the necessary work to figure it out) and a “dilemma” (not really solvable  – must find ways to “transcend” the issue/move from thinking of these things as either-or and instead thinking of ways to find the best balance.  He was really big on 2×2 matrices (he even wrote a book about them!) and I think my favourite one of the many he showed was this once, used to help you refocus on what’s really imporant:
    Urgency
    Low High
    Importance High Long-term
    Priority
    Top
    Priority
    Low Waste of
    Time
    Out of
    Control

    ‘cuz seriously, how much time do we waste doing things that are highly urgent, but not really important?

  • I also got a neat idea for a way to help students learn to read scientific journal articles from one of the sessions. And since it appears that I’ll be teaching a course at UBC again (didn’t think I would with the new 5 day-per-week job out in Surrey and all, but I convinced them to make it a night class), I may actually get to use it!
  • Also got some neat ideas for helping students critically read things that aren’t journal articles (as well as helping your write things that other people might read critically!) from another session that I went to.  The book “They Say, I Say” by Graff & B was recommended during this session, so I’ve just put a request in at yee old Vancovuer Public Library so I can check it out.
  • And finally, from the closing plenary, a quotation that I really liked: “Cover less and let your students discover more.”

1The banquet was referred to as a “Maritime Kitchen Party,” but it seemed like pretty much every banquet I’ve ever been to other than (a) they served lobster, (b) people were dressed causally instead of in formal wear and (c) they had a live Celtic band. (The band was really good, for the record). I guess it’s hard to replicate a true kitchen party with 475 people.
2Props to Tod for the design work on that poster!

7 Responses to Thoughts On Fredericton

  1. Darren says:

    As it happens, I’m speaking at a thing in Fredericton in September, so I appreciate the write-up.

  2. Beth says:

    Definitely go to dinner before 8 p.m. And have you ever been to Oakville?

  3. Demonweed says:

    Down here we all know not to mess with people from New Hampshire. Think all the attitude of Texans scrunched down into 1% of the space. Our partisan primary election process is solidly entrenched and publicly financed (in spite of not even a peep from the Constitution about establishing political parties. *grumble*) New Hampshire always gets the first proper election in that process. In my lifetime, President Obama was the first candidate to win any major party nomination without being an obvious corporate lapdog (perhaps Al Gore is a free thinker today, but he didn’t run like one in 2000.)

    As such, those primary elections are particularly important. Every few years, the entire population of New Hampshire gets a little face time with each in a parade of Presidential hopefuls. Now that we’ve developed beyond reliance on horseback couriers, there is a strong argument for one uniform national primary event. Yet no such change is forthcoming. No one else really has the stones to tell the people of New Hampshire to back down from their cherished role as a national political barometer.

  4. Kalev says:

    Bruce Willis: ROTFLMAO

    We should rewatch that movie this summer.

    I don’t really get that matrix… I’ve had to study it quite a while to grok what it’s trying to say. In particular, it seems to me that something of low urgency but high importance would be the long-term priority. And “out of control?” Wouldn’t high urgency, high importance actually be people’s “top priority?” Like when you were doing the crazy grant application? I mean, that could get out of control if you let it but I don’t think it is unavoidably out of control.

    Maybe the most important, though, is the high urgency, low importance one, which definitely makes sense.

  5. Kalev says:

    And I’m not surprised Fredericton is shut down by 9pm on a Friday. Look at our “world-class” city, where most restaurants are shut by 10pm on a Friday… and we have, according to many, a super-livable, highly residential downtown core, where you’d think you’d be able to find decent vegetarian food past 10pm any night of the week, let alone a Friday.

  6. Beth says:

    @Kalev – Um, yeah, that could be because I transcribed the matrix incorrectly form my notes to my blog. Oops! I’ve fixed it now and you can see that high urgency-high importance is, in fact, “top priority” and “out of control” is actually high urgency-low importance. Sorry that you wasted so much time trying to figure it out, when it was really just me blogging while tired.

  7. Kalev says:

    I’m glad I wasn’t crazy. Yay not-crazy Kalev!

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