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Day 29 – Learn from Others #30dreamdays

25 Sep

EmpathyExperimentMy daughter Krista is pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work degree at Cedarville University in Cedarville, OH.  Her Intro to Social Work class just completed a poverty simulation today.  They got to be homeless for a day! The only thing they knew going in was that it would be 27 hours long, they were allowed to bring a sleeping bag, their bible and $3.25. That’s it.  Before she embarked on this journey she posted:

“While I’m kind of nervous, I’m also incredibly excited to see the work God is going to do through this experience! Please be praying for my class tonight! Thank you!”

I have yet to actually talk to her about this experience but below is her post upon completion of the simulation:

“Words can not even describe how awesome that experience was! I mean it was probably the most humbling thing I’ve been apart of and my experience does not even compare to what the homeless go through on a daily basis! I went a couple hours without eating, some go days. I had to walk for hours on end, my feet hurt and I was so tired, but some homeless people do it every single day. I mean the knowledge and resourcefulness of the homeless astonishes me, I doubt I’d even be able to survive on my own for two days, let alone months and years on end. Even with the difficulties that came about during my experience, I still had the comfort of knowing that I could reach my professors if anything too serious happened and that I’d be coming back to my dorm today, with a shower waiting for me, with food, and with a bed that I get to sleep in. This last day was such an eye opening and heart breaking experience but it was also a confirmation that I’m meant to be a social worker. I’m so excited to spend my life helping the people around me!” 

Empathy is a powerful learning experience.  We can develop a deep appreciation for the resourcefulness of the homeless or other’s who struggle with things we pray we never have to actually experience.

em·pa·thy

the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

When people talk of empathy they almost always refer to empathisizing with negative emotions or experience.  I value that ability and consider it a key to connection and relationship.  It also has learning benefits as my daughter Krista clearly articulated.  However, I don’t want to put EMPATHY only in a negative box. I want to learn from others who are passionate and excited about stuff that I know little about.

In college I had to choose a Philosophy or Ethics class to meet the curriculum for whatever degree I was pursuing at the time (I changed my major a few times and attended 3 colleges before graduating).   I chose Philosophy of Religion.  I absolutely loved that class.  It was taught by a Hindu professor and the main “text” we used was Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature by William James.   I misplaced or sold back my copy but was SUPER excited when I realized I could download the Kindle version for FREE from Amazon.  You can too…click on the hyperlink above.  If you don’t have a Kindle (like me) you can download a Kindle reader for your computer and read it on screen, print it…whatever.  My gift to you!

This book is considered “one of the most important texts on psychology ever written, not only as a vitally serious contemplation of spirituality, but for many critics one of the best works of nonfiction written in the 20th century. ”

What I loved most about reading it was that it dug into a variety of religions from the perspective of people who were REALLY passionate about that religion and who felt they had an encounter with the divine.  I didn’t feel preached to or like a target convert, it was more like  I was invited into a love story.

Sometimes I think we just need someone who LOVES something to introduce us to it in order for us to have a deeper appreciation for it.  We may even come to love it just as much, if not more, than they do.  Isn’t that what happens to kids?  Isn’t that how many of us first found the things we love and are passionate about?

Do you think we outgrow this ability?

I don’t like hiking.  Or at least I don’t think I like hiking.  But I have to wonder if my perspective would change if I were to be led through a hike with a person who was so passionate about that activity–the physical, emotional, spiritual side of it and could walk me through it step by step with why they love it so much.  Maybe I just haven’t had the right experience or I just needed a passionate guide.  Maybe I really haven’t even tried it…which I haven’t…not really.

Same goes for gardening.  I am intrigued but really clueless.   I am not passionate enough about gardening YET to bother to try to learn it on my own.  But might that be different if I worked alongside someone who was passionate about it and could share with me why they love it so much and make the hard parts easier?  Might I then spend hours trying to dig deeper and learn more?  Maybe.

I decided to look up Hobbies on Wikipedia to see if I missed anything (I’m still a recovering perfectionist remember) and found a rather thorough list.  The only one I would add to my “interests” that I am not currently pursuing would be Urban Exploration.  That one definitely seems like you would need a tour guide!!!

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I love learning.  I am committed to Lifelong Learning.  I want to inspire others to continue learning, especially those who hated school and who never considered the Varieties of Learning Experience that exist beyond the classroom.

People who are passionate about their interests and hobbies LOVE talking about them with others who share those interests or are curious.  You can learn so much by listening to a passionate person and you are building connection and encouraging that person simply by being interested and listening.  This is how I have kept learning over the last 13 years since I graduated from college.

I never thought of it this way.  But now that I have, I will actively pursue learning from other’s experiences and hope that I will discover even more things that interest and excite me.  I realize this is one of my favorite ways to learn and teach.

What are you passionate about?  Do you like it when people ask you about it?  When was the last time you learned from others?

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Day 26 – Lifelong Learning #30dreamdays

22 Sep

TDJAKESI love to learn.  I’m not sure exactly when I realized that.  I always did well in school.  It came easy to me but I don’t remember loving it,  at least not until college when as an adult you choose what you want to learn.

I’ve always been somewhat of a “super high achiever”, but I am working toward recovery.  I no longer seek to achieve simply to achieve.  Now I desperately seek to achieve the things that mean something to me on a very deep personal level.

So when I say I love to learn, I mean I LOVE TO LEARN.  I feel like I spend most of my free time reading, researching, envisioning the future I want to see come to BE.

Learning changes me.  It makes me feel ALIVE.  These days it feels like oxygen.

If you’ve read my other posts then you know that I would love to pursue a Ph.D.   I hope one day to do so.  If I never do that it won’t be because I chose to stop learning and researching.  It will be because I believe I don’t NEED to be part of a program to do either.  I do it everyday.  I choose what to read, what to research…and in case you haven’t gotten the point…a lot of it is on education and how I believe it is insufficient to meet today’s societal needs.

I’ve written about my daughter’s own struggles that drew me into this research.  I’ve written about how mainstream education is outdated and not built to produce United States citizens who are creative and can think for themselves.  I’ve written about the fictitious epidemic of ADHD in our country that is a result, in part, to over-stimulation outside the classroom and under-stimulation inside the classroom.  I’ve written about social entrepreneurs like Angela Jackson who are starting programs to widen the horizons for children who wouldn’t get that without her program.

And now, I want to address all the people out there who are reading this blog.  Did you know that you can take Massive Open Online Courses called MOOCs (such as Coursera) which are taught by professors from universities such as Stanford, Harvard & MIT among others?  FOR FREE…anytime,  All you need is a computer and an internet connection and that is available at the library if you don’t have either.

Not sure you are up for college material?  Try setting up a free account on Khan Academy and you can learn Math from Addition & Subtraction through Calculus.  They also have lessons in Science, History, Economics, Computer Programming…the list goes on and on.

Think you would rather LEARN TOGETHER?  I am considering organizing a Krypton Community College course in Norwich.    Krypton is an educational experiment that launches on 10/1/13.  These courses are led by volunteer organizers (like me) who invite friends (like you) to join them for 4 weeks to learn together.  The first course is based on the work of Seth Godin and is called Go: How to Overcome Fear, Pick Yourself, & Start a Project that Matters.  The curriculum will definitely appeal to creatives and business owners (that’s me & me) but I know for a fact that there are dreams buried deep inside all of us and sometimes it is simply FEAR holding us back.  Or we didn’t get picked for that job we wanted and we don’t realize we can pick ourselves to do work that matters.

Overcome Fears

Pick Yourself

These are soft skills of success and they are available to anyone willing to do the work to teach themselves these skills.  I just did both.  I picked myself as an organizer despite not being sure that anyone else will be interested or whether it will be too hard or won’t work (aka fears).  I did it because I think it is worth doing.   And I did it because I have repeatedly forced myself to do these things and while they get easier over time…I still have plenty of work to do!!!

Excerpt from Seth Godin (one of Krypton’s founders and the developer of the first course) regarding the class.

“The class doesn’t exist to test you on your knowledge. Instead, it’s a safe space to share your experience, to expose your fear and most of all, to push yourself to explore how to do work that matters.”

“My experience tells me that in the world of ‘pick yourself’, the doors are only open to those that actually show a willingness to expose themselves to the risk of walking through them.”

YOU’VE BEEN INVITED.  You can view course materials at this LINK.

Day 18 – Eradicate ADHD #30dreamdays

14 Sep

ADHDinAmericaI’ve decided to step it up a notch and DREAM REALLY BIG.   If I could eliminate ADHD, I certainly would.   However, this post is more about taking a different look at the ficticious epidemic of ADHD.  This is Part II on my Reform Schools Dream.  Again, I am just hoping to inspire more people to educate themselves about the outdated model our schools are built upon and to demand better for our children.  At the bottom is one of the first videos that got me fired up.  I hope it will do the same for you.

SIR KEN ROBINSON

You can watch the video at the bottom and here is the link to the full text: Changing Education Paradigms

Excerpt from the text…

“This is the modern epidemic, and it’s as misplaced and it’s as fictitious. This is the plague of ADHD. Now this is a map of the instance of ADHD in America, or prescriptions for ADHD. Don’t mistake me I don’t mean to say there is no such thing as attention deficit disorder. I’m not qualified to say if there isn’t such a thing. I know that a great majority of psychologists and pediatricians think there’s such a thing, but it’s still a matter of debate. What I do know for a fact is it’s not an epidemic. These kids are being medicated as routinely as we have our tonsils taken out, and on the same whimsical basis and for the same reason: medical fashion. Our children are living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth. They are being besieged with information and parse their attention from every platform; computers; from iPhones; from advertising holdings; from hundreds of television channels; and we are penalizing them for getting distracted. From what? Boring stuff.

At school, for the most part, it seems to me not a conscience totally that the instance of ADHD has risen in parallel with the growth of standardized testing, and these kids are being given Ritalin and Adderall and all manner of things. Often quite dangerous drugs to get them focused and calm them down. But according to this attention deficit disorder increases as you travel east across the country. People start losing interest in Oklahoma. (laughs) They can hardly think straight in Arkansas. And by the time they get to Washington they’ve lost it completely. (laughs) And there are separate reasons for that, I believe. It’s a fictitious epidemic.”

He goes on to explain Divergent Thinking which is the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question and lots of possible ways of interpreting a question.   When tested in Kindergarten, 98% of kids scored at the genius level and when those same kids were tested 5 years later, their scores went down.  Then again 5 years later, they were even lower.  These kids became educated and now there is only one right answer and that’s going to be on the test.  Does that sound engaging and exciting to you?  I don’t think so.

We have to correct this pattern in our education because our kids are not getting prepared for the level of problem solving and collaboration that our modern world and future challenges will demand.  I could go on and on…and likely will, in a future post.

I would love to get some feedback to this post.  Please share your comments.  Enjoy the 11 minute video.

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