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Daily Archives: April 13, 2012

The Heart of a Teacher

A colleague from Gonzaga sent me this video and fit the World Cafe conversations about learning, the best environment for learning to occur within, and the changing face of education in the 21st Century.

The video is Heart of a Teacher. I apologize for using a link and not the video upload, but I did not have the latter uploaded yet and wanted to get this out there.

I need to add this is another first; there are three postings today.

Community and Servant-Leadership

Community has been a recurring theme throughout the World Café conversations and events, with many descriptors alluding to communal practices and relationships needed for learning to happen. Reciprocity, connection, supportive, affirmation, and other words expressing interactions suggest community. The summary posters of the March 17, 2012 World Café Event confirmed this recurring theme of community and the table posters, to being posted, also bear this out. The theme of community is important not just in learning, but in life itself. Without community, can life and learning be as meaningful?

Parker Palmer recently shared in a Facebook posting: “Community does not mean living face-to-face with others—it means never losing the awareness that we are connected with each other…”

The servant-leadership conference I attend in Portland reinforced that, although community continually evolves, as a value it can remain intact. Here are some examples.

Professor Shann Ferch, from Gonzaga, spoke about the “beloved community” that the late Martin Luther King so eloquently referred to. It is the necessity to see each other, including oppressors and those who have done harm to us, as human. Dr. Ferch also quoted Viktor Frankl: “We are made to turn outward, toward another human being to whom we can love and give ourselves. … Only when in service of another does a person truly know his or her humanity.”

We easily dismiss these references to community as the extreme and needed actions and words of those in different settings. After all, Dr. King led the Civil Rights movement in its halcyon days and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Dr. Frankl survived the atrocities of concentration camps during World War II. What do their experiences have to do with simply getting through the day?

Kirk Young, a colleague from Gonzaga, elaborated on what could be understood as community in the form of a value. The communities we choose to belong to share one common ingredient: intimacy. Ferdinand Tonnies, a German sociologist, used the word gemeinschaft and described this form of community as “a tighter and more cohesive social entity. [It is] exemplified in family and kinship” suggesting when humans gather in community, intimate experiences are shared. Members share the good, the bad, and grow together towards common purposes, thus are mission driven. Values and mission serve as glue for community.

Father John Dear, a Jesuit priest, proposed in The Rebel Jesus, a second, mostly unnoticed miracle occurred during the Sermon on the Mount: the forming of community. Community allowed people to see the human nature of each other as Jesus instructed those closest to him to organize the large group (some believe well over 5,000 people) into small, more intimate groupings of about 50 people. Father Dear suggested that in these small communities, people interacted differently and shared as they made connections with those now close to them. People were no longer strangers; because moments before they were simply part of a large and increasingly hungry throng. In contemporary parlance, they were statistics.

By witnessing the humanity in each other, we form community and share intimacy without fear. Our humanity is the one thing we share with others and through it, we find purpose to gather and create community around the universality of human values and the value of humans.

What Has Blogging Done for Me?

I went back and checked my first blog posting of February 2011. Blogging began as a tentative venture and, at times, I felt apprehensive, unsure of my writing and topics. Over time, there is a different feeling in my writing, perhaps simply finding my voice in this medium. The Internet provides a new forum for publishing. We can publish and then edit.

The reversal of publishing and editing roles was a challenge. I want a high quality product when I post for others to read. In those early months, some people advised me that just being out there and taking the risk to be less than perfect was enough. That goes against the grain for me. Recently, I explored and read other blogs with regularity which pushed me to look at other people’s postings and ask questions. Were other bloggers posting with little concern for grammar, spelling, and clarity of message? The answer is an unequivocal, “No!” I toured, read, and saw others’ passion and was impressed with the professionalism with which they approached blogs featuring everything from text to  mostly visual to all points in between.

I  felt I had something to offer and the blogosphere served a purpose. I enjoy both learning and traveling. It is affirming and energizing to read others’ entries, communicate on them, and receive responses. Pictorial essays people provided took me back to my childhood in Northern Alberta, reading encyclopedias for fun. Even a die-hard hockey fanatic would not venture out when it was -50 degrees below zero with a wind chill. In a pre-TV and computer era, books served as a window to the world. Blogs with pictures of faraway places i.e. Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Yosemite take me back to the living room in Rycroft reading an encyclopedia and exploring the world.

I am enjoying blogging and I think, most of the time, I am finding it a space that fits my communication. On those occasions, when I slip into dull, pedantic, or obtuse writing, point me back to this cartoon.

I do tend to stray and can become this writer.

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