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Tag Archives: life-long learning

Imperfection

I re-blogged an Elisabeth Kubler-Ross quote this morning about resiliency. I am not always comfortable with new things or taking risks, yet I took huge risks in my adult life. I went back to university as a married adult with a family and, to some extent, we reversed roles for several years in our family. Kathy was the primary bread-winner. We sacrificed things others around us took for granted, but in the long run we ended up where we wanted to be, here.

I learned on this journey called life that bumps on the road are more worthwhile than perfectly planned and executed outcomes, if those happen. I found, the past few years, as hard as I wished for things to be a certain way did not make them that way. I hope it makes me a better person learning that things do not work out perfectly and that is part of the joy of life.

Elizabeth Carlson wrote this beautiful poem about falling in love with my imperfections. I am more complete with them.

I am falling in love
with my imperfections
The way I never get the sink really clean,
forget to check my oil,
lose my car in parking lots,
miss appointments I have written down,
am just a little late.

I am learning to love
the small bumps on my face
the big bump of my nose,
my hairless scalp,
chipped nail polish,
toes that overlap.
Learning to love
the open-ended mystery
of not knowing why

I am learning to fail
to make lists,
use my time wisely,
read the books I should.

Instead I practice inconsistency,
irrationality, forgetfulness.

Probably I should
hang my clothes neatly in the closet
all the shirts together, then the pants,
send Christmas cards, or better yet
a letter telling of
my perfect family.

But I’d rather waste time
listening to the rain,
or lying underneath my cat
learning to purr.

I used to fill every moment
with something I could
cross off later.

Perfect was
the laundry done and folded
all my papers graded
the whole truth and nothing      but

Now the empty mind is what I seek
the formless shape
the strange      off center
sometimes fictional
me.

Life’s Mission

Today was professional development day. The inconsistencies revealed in these exercises fascinate me. They are uninspiring, exhausting, and annoying. Frequently, I find these events are counterproductive. What they lack is personal choice. Yet, on my way home, I thought, “Am I seeing this the right way? What can I do to further the process of learning as a role model for students and other adults?” Learning is relational process between people and subject. We live in the world we learn. The world we create is lived out in and through these relationships.

My mission in life seems to have been one of a life-long learner. We sacrificed, as a family, and I obtained a B. Ed. When I felt that was insufficient, we doubled-down and I completed a Master of Education. Today, we have tripled-down and I am completing a PhD. I love learning and, when I am given choice, I believe, like many others in the profession, I make good choices. My learning is not mine. It belongs, in some ways, to those who contributed in many ways to keep the dream alive.

Live fully

Share fully

Learn one’s voice

Sing life’s song.

Whet my curiosity

Recognize gaps in wisdom

Attempt to fill

Best I can.

In each sense

Plant seeds of wonder

Water and feed

Grow rich with the wisdom.

Learn truths

Each moment contains

Be in relationship with the world

With others.

 

Gratitude

The last few days I passed 500 likes, 250 follows, and am approaching 200 posts. It is hard to believe. In March I had a handful of likes, about 10 followers, and posted intermittently. Blogging is a virtuous circle. It is humbling. Is anyone reading? It is statistically irrelevant. But, once you get into a rhythm it is uplifting and life honouring.

Part of my growth was and remains a supportive community, but we do not see each other face-to-face. Community involves sharing in ways that show the soul of people. I am grateful to find a place where I can do just that

I thank each of you who takes time, reads, and responds. You helped bring transformation in my life as a blogger, learner, and a person.

ivonprefontaine:

I think this is a thought-provoking question. It is possible conversation, like community, is in the midst of being redefined, but we should take care and retain the intimacy each brings into our lives. I felt a  kinship as I read this posting. Kathy and I, after almost 40 years, try to find time for each other. We always made time, and continue to do so, for each other. It is what makes a relationship healthy.

Originally posted on Broadside:

Talking in the evening. Porto Covo, Portugal

Talking in the evening. Porto Covo, Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This recent think-piece in The New York Times argues that we have:

At home, families sit together, texting and reading e-mail. At work executives text during board meetings. We text (and shop and go on Facebook) during classes and when we’re on dates…

We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.

One of the rituals my husband and I enjoy is my driving him to the commuter train station in the morning. It’s only about 10 minutes…

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What Was not Said at the World Cafe Events

I intentionally let the World Cafe Events and results lay fallow to provide reflective space so new ideas could emerge. What surprised me was it was not what was said explicitly, but what went unsaid—no reference to the importance of subject matter in learning and teaching was made. I considered this and arrived at possible explanations.

First, perhaps the group saw the area of expert subject knowledge as unimportant. This is the most unlikely assumption. There were educators in the conversations and I imagine they think this is important. Teachers  train to deliver material in specific subject areas. I have a Physical Education major and a French minor. I chose those areas and, while I no longer actively teach either subject on a regular basis, I enjoy both and feel they contribute positively to my teaching. I cannot generalize my experiences or conclusions to the work of all teachers, but one still could see it as important to teachers, as professionals.

Second, it could be, in education, life-long learning is a given; by definition educators are life-long learners. This is also hard to generalize, but I can speak from personal experience. Currently, I teach Science, Social Studies, and English Language Arts in a multi-grade junior high classroom. I consciously chose to shift from earlier subject area training. To be personally successful and for student success, I actively and purposefully upgrade. There is evidence teachers  serve as models of life-long learning for students when they engage in life-long learning themselves. A question here is, “What does life-long learning mean in this context? Is it different from other professions and work settings?” Defining life-long learning is hard to do. so my conclusions are, at best, specific to me and my experience.

Third, and I think the most likely explanation is based on the adage, “Students care how much you know as a teacher, if they know how much you care about them as people.” The ethic of care in education might be more important than it is given credit for. The World Cafe group acknowledged that mastery was based on meaningful and purposeful learning that prepared and motivated students to learn. Those observations suggest subject matter is important but, at the same time, a real focus on qualities such as communication, compassion, reciprocity, community, affirmation, mutualism, etc. require greater attention. It is easy to dismiss these characteristics as soft, but educational luminaries, Nel Noddings, Deb Meier, and Parker Palmer, have pointed out these are challenging and critical aspects of teaching and learning. Mike Seymour devoted the book Educating for Humanity to building healthy, vibrant, and truly democratic communities in schools. These purported ‘soft’ qualities build positive environments with relational trust and commitment only found in true community (a link to an article by Anthony Bryk) and suggests we should know students, their parents, and our colleagues. Engaging in and building caring, compassionate, and supportive relationships is hard work, but worthwhile. Why do we avoid this effort?

My reflections led to a hypothesis that teachers are expert in chosen subject matter and, when given choice, do continuously work at life-long learning. This means deep, mufti-layered, nuanced learning as opposed to superficial simple attendance to the latest fad. To make real differences, adults should care enough about students individually and collectively to reach and grow beyond themselves. This carries a responsibility with it that educators need to learn about students, their needs, and their environments outside school walls. That is relational and commits teachers, by the nature of a variety of choices, to be learners and co-creators of knowledge with students, families, and community.

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