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Tomorrow’s Child

I will change my routine week and post less often. I need to work on my dissertation topic. I want to enroll in the proposal seminar in June. If not, it will be next fall. I need to begin to set the table for the next part of life’s journey.

Today, I commented in an online forum about the state of public education. Another commentator asked, “Is there no hope for real change in the schools of America?” I am not American and cannot answer that specific question from where I sit. Instead, I answered, “I do have hope and, more importantly, I have faith that we can make the necessary changes despite the obstacles. What do we want for our children and grandchildren? This seems like the question we need to ask. Does change offer a sustainable future, not for me, but for future generations in an unimaginable, complex, and chaotic world? This need for real, flexible, and sustainable change reminded me of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

I found this beautiful poem by Brazilian poet Rubin Alves. He spoke of hope, but not hope as a soft and gentle aspect of life, but hope matched with suffering and resiliency which gives rise change and the hoped. I particularly enjoyed: “So let us plant dates/even though we who plant them will never eat them./We must live by the love of what we will never see.”

What is hope?
It is the pre-sentiment that imagination
is more real and reality is less real than it looks.
It is the hunch that the overwhelming brutality
of facts that oppress and repress us
is not the last word.
It is the suspicion that reality is more complex
than the realists want us to believe.
That the frontiers of the possible are not
determined by the limits of the actual;
and in a miraculous and unexplained way
life is opening up creative events
which will open the way to freedom and resurrection –
but the two – suffering and hope
must live from each other.
Suffering without hope produces resentment and despair.
But, hope without suffering creates illusions, naïveté
and drunkenness.
So let us plant dates
even though we who plant them will never eat them.
We must live by the love of what we will never see.
That is the secret discipline.
It is the refusal to let our creative act
be dissolved away by our need for immediate sense experience
and is a struggled commitment to the future of our grandchildren.
Such disciplined hope is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints,
the courage to die for the future they envisage.
They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hopes.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

49 responses »

  1. I don’t understand why education is not viewed as a way of creating a better world. Thank you Yvon, Best, Micheline.

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  2. beautiful there is always hope

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  3. I liked what you stated about “setting the table.” Lovely.

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  4. Mysteriously Quiet

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    Reply
  5. Thank you for the hopeful words. I think of the Bible verse that says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

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  6. I love the line that imagination is more real than reality. I paraphrase. Post as often as you are able. Following you dream is important. Education is so essesntial and in the US so misunderstood. When I was in grade school I didn’t realize how negative a thing it was to stifle a child’s imagination by telling them to stop day dreaming. i was one of those day dreamers anc there is nothing wrong with it. It’s good for you. There should be encouragement in education to create individuals not clones where everyone ends up the same. Good luck with your desertation. jk

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  7. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Posting less often is all good when you’re accomplishing real things in real life! Good luck :)

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  8. I wish you the best with your dissertation and selfishly I am so glad that you will still be here in our community, if less frequently..

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  9. Give them the knowledge, skills and tools and children can create miracles as adults.

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  10. There is always hope. Without faith and hope our lives and the lives of our children could become meaningless. I don’t think any one of us would want that. Children are our future. We must invest in them. Wonderful post on the subject.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

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  11. Inon, best of luck in this phase of your educational journey. I remember back many years ago I as began the same journey, realizing that this was just another passage to follow in my curiosity of wanting to know more about this live we live. Just remember, there will continue to be many passages of learning on the other side of your education. Best wishes, Bill

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  12. Best wishes as you move forward with your dissertation topic, Ivon. I’ve just spent the past 5 weeks working on a conceptual cognitive map of mine and am anxiously awaiting to hear back from my chair. (I cringe to think of making any changes, as it was so difficult to fit it into a visual representation with all the ones I made. But we keep moving on, right?) :)

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  13. I think your question is really what matters the most; what do we want for our children and grandchildren. And being aware that things are changing in the world we live in, and that technology will bring different types of work, and cause many things that we know today to disappear, we have to think of things that are close to the essence of what human beings need, beneath the fashions. Best wishes for success with your dissertation.

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  14. The poem you shared is one of the most beautiful I have read! You know how I write, and you know that i believe in embracing, faith, hope, understanding and love. I am reminded that we can change the world by feeding those precious treasures into our children when young and continue it through their lives, always reminding them of the good that always blossoms from them. I write with hope and faith, that one word or a poem, will change someones heart to view things differently, and maybe change the way they approach their lives. I believe the little good things that we do, produce a wealth of change in hearts and minds, beginning with a caring smile to someone that we do not know as we walk out our doors. With the children show them a peaceful love, a soft smile, let them know they are safe and can be children, growing up in a nuturing community without fear! Thanks for sharing your post, and may you be blessed with a great dissertation. You are truly a very good teacher, as i learn something new from you all the time. God bless you Ivon!

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    • Thank you Wendell. I am most appreciative of a wonderful comment about this poem. You are right that it is the little things that often go unnoticed which are most important in the transformation of the world we live in.

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  15. LOL :0 just posted this on one of your re-blogs :) If ever there was a transformer, he lives in you! I’ve just spent a wee while reading SLOWLY ;) your posts. Gifts. Love. Compassion. The Value of just breathing, my imagination is slower to catch up :) THANKYOU Ivan…Please go forth and multiply, the world needs more YOU’s! Love Dawny Xxx (take 2)

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  16. Hoping the dissertation process is going well. I have, of course, the charm of distance on my side, time-wise, keeping my shudders to a minimum. Long ago I swore a most solemn oath never to have a CV but always a Resume (2nd) or a succession of peculiar ventures. (1st)

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    • I like the idea of a succession of peculiar venture. Probably, because I have many in my life.

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      • I generally work with very abstract concepts, and as such, have made from time to time the acquaintance of the self-employed, some of them very very well off financially, most more so than average, who of course have some small need of someone such as me. We all know, of course about number crunchers, so… let us call me a symbol cruncher. At any rate, many of these men–for men they predominantly are–are quite brilliant. And what is more, they are brilliant in their own field–often a high paying one.

        A common thread I have heard over and over again is this: That when asked what prompted them to go the independent route, they often reply: “No-one would hire me,” or “No-one who hired me could stand me and vice-versa.”

        My answer is similar to these but different also: No-one would let me sleep when I needed to. I seem to need quite a lot of it. And at all hours. And this nuisance does not seem to plague me in 24 hour cycles but 26 or 27. For this reason (and no doubt for the other two reasons as well) I must be self employed whether I want to or not.

        But I am lucky in that I want to, or at the very least, don’t mind at all.

      • Despite all the points of agreement I have with the things you mentioned above, I have never been self-employed. We have always run some small side enterprises, but they were not the main source of income. Having said this, I wet back to university as an adult and my wife was the sole bread winner in the family. We did things our own way.

        I will be setting out on the next part of my life’s adventure in a few months and I will be ostensibly self-employed, but will have a pension and my wife’s income. I am looking forward to it, because I will have the opportunity to be a little more independent.

      • And very interesting!

      • Ivan, it all sounds so very exciting. I am quite sure it will go swimmingly!

        I have a mixed background, as you may surmise, which has placed me, at times, in a strictly academic environment. But strangely, all my closest friends “IRL,” as might ones granddaughter say, although very brilliant and diverse indeed, are among the autodidactic.

        I am not sure why this is. I have not expressed any preference either to myself or others; yet somehow it has happened.

        In fact, among them, is one extraordinary young man; so young, but already so successful in his pursuits. So brilliant, does he put most of us to shame, and yet has never been inside a school building, except for one year; because some time in his teen years, he wanted to see what it was like. He tells me he came out of the experience with one good friend–whom I have not yet met–and he sums up his experiences in that year as “quite baffling.” More than that, he will not say.

        But interestingly enough, our boy wonder will not hire anyone with a degree. The more prestigious the school, the less likely. Although, he does not claim this as his policy. Needless to say his enterprise is a conclave of “outside-the-box” thinkers.

        I have asked him about the surely very qualified that he must be turning away; to this he will only say, he asks of his applicants five questions. Thus far, only the self-taught have answered all five correctly. I have begged and cajoled him to ask these questions of me; naturally I would love to know their nature, as well as whether or not I would measure up to the young man’s standards. But, he tells me that there is only one way I will ever hear them. (The brat! Although truth be told, I admire his consistency and feel myself rather like the Devil trying to undermine it : )

        I am not at all sure, Ivan, why I am telling you all of this; but for some reason, our very pleasant, short, exchange–yours and mine–has caused me to ponder the young man further.

      • I have enjoyed the conversation. I wonder if schooling limits the creativity? Is that what this young man is seeing?

      • Perhaps… That is the impression I have although I believe it may involve other aspects. He is not as forthcoming as is usual for someone his age. From one conversation we once had, I think it may involve curiosity. If an individual has educated himself in, for example in nuclear biology it suggest not just drive, but also intense curiosity.

        There may be something else as well. I have wondered even as to the nature of the questions or topics he puts to his potential applicants. They may be technically oriented questions but they may be something else. It would only be a guess on my part though.

        Being a sort of hybrid myself, I can see it from both sides. Autodidacts sometimes have holes in their knowledge–that is the nature of studying areas of interest only. But this is not as common as one thinks. My most brilliant colleague, a mathematician also is self-educated. And if anything he is more versed than an average PhD. But in fields that are highly technical, one needs to know so much background which means that the “boring” subjects are unavoidable whether one is interested in them or not : )

      • I agree David with your last comments. It is almost like we take the fun out of the things we love. But, I do find that many great minds integrated much wisdom and knowledge into their thinking. I think this is still the case, but it is harder to find. Perhaps, there will be increasing room for the hybrid person or Renaissance person. We need them.

      • I agree, sir! (Although Renaissance man, I am certainly not!) In fact, you may find this interesting:

        When myself, not so very long ago decided to pursue a new field–music composition theory–highly technical and involved at the level in which I was interested, yet still well into the liberal arts, so to speak, here is what I did. First I should tell you that I am a fairly accomplished musician–though (excepting a few aberrations here and there) still and amateur.

        Performance and composition are very different disciplines, as you might well imagine, however. My only advantages were my musical proclivities and perhaps a “knack” for balance (as my sweet wife refers to it.) In any case, my method of self education was to investigate what the curricula were for composition at several different schools. It seemed a worthy short-cut as it is well known that to teach certain disciplines certain subjects are best learned in a certain order. So I did my best to follow an average of these I found. This is relatively easy to do these days, MIT, for example I believe still posts all their curricula on-line as part of a program the name of which I cannot now remember.

        So even in highly technical endeavours one has more information than one did in previous decades. When I learned digital electronics, for example, I was well versed in analogue electronics, but the two are quite different. My method then was simply to read one book until I found something I needed help, or a further discipline, to understand, and then read a book about that, etc. until eventually I no longer encountered those moments of discontinuity. This is not a very efficient method, perhaps. It felt harder. more “scatterbrained,” yet still took about the same amount of time, approximately, as the former method. Perhaps there is a difference in brain chemistry in the rather frantic, frustrated feeling of the latter : ) that helps build long term memory.

        Still…. I remember plenty of traumatic events accompanying my early university experiences as well.

  17. Hi! Just read this blogger’s post about teaching abroad and was thinking of you while reading it – wanted to share the link with you:

    http://theloquacionist.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/winning-the-lottery/

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    • Thank you. I will take a look at it. I appreciate your taking time and connecting this for me.

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      • Sometimes I read a post and the feeling that another of my community may enjoy it is so strong, I just have to send them a link, or else live in regret! So, hope you enjoy it – if not, I’ll try recalibrating my intuition! :)

  18. I wish I could have pressed a “LOVE” button instead of a mere “LIKE” button for this one. Thanks for sharing, friend of the world. Peace.

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  19. Ah, what hope you encourage. Yes, we must, in faith, live with the love unseen.

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