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What Have I Learned

I engaged in several virtual and face-to-face conversations over the past week about what learning and education should look like today. Gary Snyder summarized some of this in this thoughtful poem. I believe we need to focus more on the tools children need than the content. That is not to say content is not important.  It must stretch, challenge, and allow growth.

Curriculum has narrowed, become content, and the use of tools. It does not always focus on the proper use of tools and development of habits, skills, attitudes, practices, dispositions, etc. What role does discernment play in today’s schools? What eloquent questions, with no presumption of answers, are teachers and students alike asked? Content, in the form of knowledge and information, becomes the currency of the realm and wise application is often pushed aside. 21st Century education requires a mindful approach. An approach that recognizes the changing of the flowers in each moment.

What have I learned but

the proper use for several tools?

The moments

between hard pleasant tasks

To sit silent, drink wine,

and think my own kind

of crusty dry thoughts.

–the first Calochortus flowers

and in all the land,

it’s spring.

I point them out:

the yellow petals, the golden hairs,

to Gen.

Seeing in silence:

never the same twice,

but when you get it right,

you pass it on.

About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

19 responses »

  1. Thanks for visiting. Interesting blog. Will follow.

  2. I couldn’t agree more than formal education should be more about introducing tools than indoctrinating content. Well said.

  3. Standardized testing and universal curriculum standards along with encyclopedic text books in the K-12 curriculum, delight administrators and legislators, but frustrate faculty members and cheat the kids.

    If the students develop skills with “tools,” and bolster their motivation and imagination, they should consume content like the air they breathe.

    God bless,


  4. With this approach, Ivon, children would start thinking so much more critically, and would begin to question every man-made idea-structure in existence. Society wouldn’t be what it is today, and I think that frightens many people. Keep humanity in a safe but illusory box, and everyone feels secure. I wish your approach would come to pass.

    • I am finding more interest in it as I talk with people and listen to what others have to say. The idea has been out there for some time so I think it is important to keep pressing forward.

  5. Dear Ivon, I tried to figure out how to send you a personal note, could not find a way, other than commenting…
    I would like to ask you a favor to help me spread the word:
    I organize a creative workshop in France in September and figured out, that it would be much more fun if people who can not travel to France could participate online.
    The idea: I post a creative challenge in the morning on my blog and in the evening we will exchange our work on the blog.

    Why? Because doing art and being creative opens our hearts and makes us happier. People with an open heart and who are happy be¬come more compassionate in the long run.
    The world needs more creative and compassionate minds & hearts.

    I would love to hear from you.
    Thank you for your work & your creative spirit

  6. So beautiful

  7. A very good learning moment to ponder…you hit the nail on the head my friend!

  8. Always good tot have silence, flowers and passing beauty and poetry on…

  9. Totally LOVED this one…focus on the content is important but not THE most important part of 21st century education..


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