Nothing Stays The Same and Neither Should This . . . It’s Time

 

“Education needs to be recognized as an “organic” process-one that grows and expands not a “mechanical” process that too often remains static or slow moving at best.”            Sir Ken Robinson

 

We must view education through a different lens today. In times past and present education was and is still treated as a separate entity responsible to only itself for its governance. It has a job to do and is provided the resources to get that job done. We could say the same for health care services, the legal system, the penal system, transportation systems and defense systems. Although these systems are independent from one another there has always been an unwritten agreement there would be a collective sense of nationalism that directed some loose idea of community.

As technology speeds up our transformation from a fragmented community of independent service structures we are now faced with the reality that such a system cannot continue to function as it has. We don’t have the resources nor the infrastructure to continue to regulate such an entity. Up to now we haven’t shared our resources with each other. In deed we have competed against one another for those very resources ensuring that none of us will have enough of what we need to get the job done properly.

The managers, administrators, and leaders of our service structures want us to continue to follow their beliefs they know how to guide their agencies better than anyone else. However, by all appearances we are slowly and painfully recognizing that our major public services are now becoming more dependent on each for the other services necessary to provide a better more efficient over-all system but without any formal plan to do so. What’s left–Chaos. Services have become more expensive and in some cases less effective. The common expectation and refrain now is ‘do more with less.’ We’re a wealthy country-we shouldn’t have to ‘do more with less.’

A question, then, remains and that is ‘Is this the best we can hope for? We believe that many are doing the best they can with what they have to work with.

Police services are now more dependent upon the mental health services system. The judicial services are now becoming more dependent upon understanding and seeking the support and knowledge of mental health professionals in order to understand more concretely just who and what they are dealing with. The penal system needs some guidance and direction around what is the best course of treatment for those who suffer from mental health problems who are housed in their facilities. Child care services don’t have enough personnel to do their jobs as they would like too.

Like it or not agencies are becoming more dependent on each other and the expertise of others to offer the best possible service to the citizens who find themselves in need of the ‘treatment’ business they each offer. Unfortunately many of these agencies end up ‘dumping’ their clients on other services in order to keep their costs down resulting in waiting lists for services of up to 6 months for what should take 6 weeks. The judicial system finds it difficult to offer trial dates of up to a year for offences that need to be heard much sooner than that.

 Who takes the lead?

Education is at the heart of the ‘Social Survival’ organism which will need to become a unified service provider as opposed to a conglomerate. The current method of trying to provide all the social services demanded of it is too competitive internally to be as effective as it could be or needs to be. Health care competes with mental health and police services competes with fire protection services and they compete with judicial services for funds just to maintain their budgets and yet face greater demand for services. They are told to ‘do more with less.’ The result is a system that struggles to maintain quality services. Wait times at our hospitals are unacceptable. Waiting to hear a case in court can take years. Booking an appointment to see a mental health professional can take months meanwhile the suicide rates and the rates of separation and divorce are more often destroying our family structures which in turn affect our legal system. It is not difficult to link most of these concerns with an Education system that is from another era. It is broken and a new one needs to take its rightful place at the ‘head of the table’.

It is time to share the responsibility of creating a new paradigm, a new pedagogy and a new curriculum regarding how and what will a new educational system look like and what will be its purpose. We will need to define what the purpose of educating our learners will be and we will need to be able to do this working in concert with the other stakeholders.

We need to be very careful that the politicians and those who stand to gain the most don’t hijack education from those who deserve it and need it the most in order to be productive and happy in their lives. We are the only ones who can make a difference in the world we live in. Let’s not give away the opportunity and the right to fashion the world we want to have.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. Comments can be sent to me at: jim.lifechoice @ gmail.com or check out my web site at jimcloughley.com

 

Fatherlessness Can Kill Our Children

“More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father.  Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent.  If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.”–fathers.com 2012

We spend so much time condemning, chastising, and berating fathers who just ‘walk away’ that we don’t stop long enough to consider what exactly is going on with them. We see the headlines or read the story part way through and then don’t finish it thinking we know how the story ends. We get angry at  fathers for being low lifes who don’t deserve kids yet we seldom ask how can we help stop this from happening. We recycle old ideas and programs, pretty them up some, and then throw some money at the problem and declare that we have developed a new program or approach that will help to fix the problem but nothing changes. We don’t reach out to fathers to get their side of the story and we certainly don’t reach out to hear what the kids have to say. We don’t ask how to help but rather seem more interested with who is to blame.

Are there some moms out there who need to be helped–absolutely. Are there some men-fathers- who are guilty of abandoning their families-absolutely. Is that the case for all dad’s–absolutely not.

There are many dads who want to be involved in their sons lives who are legally prevented from doing so. Rather counter-productive in the end and its the child who is punished because the parents can’t get their stuff together..

How do we lessen the burden that many moms experience as a single parent? How do we do this without crushing any opportunity for a father to parent his son?

But what amazes me most is how the health systems and the legal systems can’t figure out why there is such a horrific drug problem among our kids. Why is there so much violence and growing suicide rates? Why are gangs becoming almost unstoppable?

Let’s take a look at some of the side effects for a kid who grows up without a father and then ask ourselves those same questions over again. Imagine being a kid and facing these issues everyday. In the U.S. they describe fatherlessness as having reached epidemic proportions. There are approximately 20 Million kids who are fatherless.

Poverty–Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families. Fathers are important too.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse–The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, “Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse.”

Physical and Emotional Health–Children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.

Educational Achievement–Children living with their married biological father tested at a significantly higher level than those living with a non biological father.

71% of high school dropouts are fatherless; fatherless children have more trouble academically, scoring poorly on tests of reading, mathematics, and thinking skills; children from father-absent homes are more likely to be truant from school, more likely to be excluded from school, more likely to leave school at age 16, and less likely to attain academic and professional qualifications in adulthood.

Crime–A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency.

Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy

Being raised by a single mother raises the risk of teen pregnancy, marrying with less than a high school degree, and forming a marriage where both partners have less than a high school degree.

Perhaps if we were to actually pay attention to evidence like this and if we decided to deal with the issues as a responsible society void of prejudice, bias, religion and politics and began to look at the issues attached as social issues that involve human lives worthy of our attention, energy and care we would be better off.

Let’s try to put the true welfare of the child FIRST for a change instead of considering what sound bite or position will get you votes. Let’s help BOTH moms and Dads be responsible for the wee life that they each helped to make. The responsibility of nourishing that life doesn’t stop at the front door or a border somewhere. Moms need to drop the anger and the outrage. They need to stop using their kids as a ‘tool’ to hurt the other parent. Moms need to help support and promote that relationship between fathers and sons not destroy or discourage it. It would be better for Moms in the long run as well. Legal systems need to stop punishing dads and come up with a better approach that encourages a co-operative approach. Parents don’t have to like each other they just need to put the needs of the kid ahead of their own.

Fathers need to step up and take care of business meaning looking after their family. First priority-bar none. If mom is the full time parent then help her do the job. Give her what she needs to do the best she can. If dad wont do the right thing then lets make sure that Mom has ALL the resources she needs to do what’s important.

Lets encourage parents to stop making the kids suffer for what the parents can’t sort out. It really is the parents who need to grow up not the kids.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best and thanks for stopping by–Jim

Comments can be made at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo resources by debuglies.com–used for research, education and criticism purposes. I receive no benefit from the use of this image)

Kids Need Parents Not More Friends. . .

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself — and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”—Jim Morrison

There is little that goes on in our lives today, if your are a parent, that creates more excitement, disagreement, and conversation than the discussion that ensues about whether or not parents should be their kids friend or remain their parent. There are also a number of misconceptions as to what that means. It is not black and white. It is not cut and dried. But it can get complicated if one of the parents or both for that matter can’t see the distinctions.

Is it possible to have a close, meaningful, active and fun loving relationship with your kids and yet retain a parent-child posture with clear boundaries and responsibilities? Absolutely. Whose the adult here and who is the child? The adult needs to establish, reinforce and demonstrate those boundaries often in helpful, nurturing and caring ways. It is up to the adult to present the characteristics of what the relationship with his/her children will look like and the purpose it will  serve. For some children a ‘friendship’ with Mom or Dad can be very confusing. Let’s consider the purpose or functions of parents. Parents are challenged and expected to be mentors, teachers, protectors and role models for their sons regarding how they need to act around others especially females and the importance of respecting others and their rights as human beings.

If your child is female then Mom needs to demonstrate what is appropriate and what is not. Dad needs to help her understand what to expect from a male and how she needs and deserves to be treated. He also needs to model that behavior when interacting with Mom. Our children need us to lead the way as their parents in this regard. Parents need to model appropriate behavior when settling disputes and disagreements with other people when in public or over the side yard fence. They need to model appropriate public respect and behavior for themselves and others in a way that is not punishing or embarrassing.

Parents also have experience to draw on so when junior asks the tough questions about relationships or what is right or wrong and why, he/she will get the correct answers or responses. Friends don’t do this kind of stuff nor are they supposed to. Many are also not equipped emotionally or mentally to provide responses that are clear, concise and understood. Friends seldom say ‘no’ where parents often need or feel the need to do so. If a parent says ‘no’ then they need to be clear about why they are saying ‘no’. These are the opportunities that present themselves as learning opportunities–another ‘something’ that friends are not able to manage.

Instilling a sense of self-confidence along with the ability to self-assess their skills and talents is extremely important to the overall development of a child. My belief is that this is one of the things that is lacking in many of our kids today. Too many feel entitled to success some how. It seems as though they were never helped to understand that they need to earn success.

The school system itself needs to own much of this criticism because of it’s unwillingness to treat and teach our kids as whole learners. ( To know more about this go to jimcloughley.com –click on Programs–Help Our Kids Learn) . Present day school systems are content to deal with education from the neck up believing that more data crammed into their heads is the way to go and that rote learning, which is an outdated and ineffectual way of teaching our kids today, is the way to learn. Having said this it makes the role of the parent all that more important today.

Our kids have friends to play with and to dream with and to experience ‘kids things’ with. They need parents to help them live life on life’s terms. This by no means suggests that parents can’t have a wonderful, close, meaningful, fulfilling, and fun filled relationship with their kids. It just means that there is more to the job than being an entertainment coordinator for your kids. Parents are the most important asset and resource that our kids will ever have. Let’s give them what they need to succeed. Their friends will take care of the less important stuff.

Anyways, that’s how I see things. Agree or disagree send me your comments and your thoughts to: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com. Thanks for stopping by.

(Image by advantage4parents.com. I derive no financial benefit for the use of this image.)

 

What Were They Thinking ? . . . (Re-posted From October 13, 2013)

In light of recent events south of us I went back to a past article I posted on a related topic. I don’t want this opening paragraph to come off like I am defending men or the decisions some make or have made. Not in the least. I offer this as an opinion or partial explanation as to these recent events and how confusing things can get. I also offer this thought for males and females both. Careful the places you find yourself–what are the messages that are being sent, received and acted upon or responded to.

Now that there is a new ass sitting on the Supreme Court bench it is safe to say that the rule of law and it’s meaning are in decline. If nothing else Kavanaugh should have been held in contempt of court for lying under oath about his drinking history. Those lies remain undisputed. Even if Ford’s story had too many claims that could not be proven under the rules and regulations laid out by the White House, he should have been held accountable for the ‘bullshit’ and the ‘B’ performance he put on at that table in that hall. And there is Trump in the background with that smug ugly face staring out at the world saying ‘hey, gotcha again.’ He is the absolute worst role model and the poorest example of strength and legitimacy that the citizens of the United States have ever had the misfortune of placing on the world stage for all to see.

As a parting thought here I thought that the hearings were worse than a cheap ‘B’ porn movie with the starring role played by a character called “Trump Kavanaugh”–just saying . . .

 

“What were they thinking. . . ?

Now that I’ve had a chance to think about this I find myself asking ‘what were they thinking?’

I have to admit that I am really confused, as a male and a human being about what the Y.U.N. chant thing was all about. But the big question for me was what the hell were these future pillars of society thinking about when they advocated the legalization of rape and child molestation? If they were trying to be challenging and controversial the only thing that has been accomplished here is the confirmation that supporters of this idea are not only misguided and bored but border on being misogynistic.

The main concern for me and the part that has me very confused is the number of females who were right in there supporting the whole premise. It didn’t seem to bother them that they were backing the idea that it is perfectly OK to force a young girl to have sex whether she wants to or not. So how young is too young? I mean underage is just that isn’t it? So when is it OK to feed alcohol to a 12 year old to the point where she is not aware or able to cry out for help? What ever happened to the arguments that women have been putting up for years now that say they and they alone are the arbiters of what they decide to do with their bodies? These young women who have supported this lunacy have set that whole discussion back to the stone ages. Truly now, if this was their sister we are talking about would they really feel the same way? Would they be all for it? And where are the women’s groups? I haven’t heard a great deal of criticism or dialogue involving those who have been advocating a ‘different’ deal for women. At the very least a clear statement of some kind speaking about respect and equality. Even just a touch of outrage.

And the men-I can’t call them men.  Are the males who support this so challenged and so unable to attract and develop a sexual relationship with someone who is functioning, emotionally, at about the same level that they need to pick on young girls who really are not equipped with the critical thinking that goes along with giving permission to share themselves with someone else in a meaningful way?  As a man, I’m embarrassed to say that this whole idea is about the same as reducing sex to scratching an itch on their ass. It is a conquest and a power-grab not an emotional act of any kind. This type of behavior is what clearly illustrates the growing lack of respect for self and others that seems to be so prevalent in the youth of today.

I have an adult son and daughter. My son and his wife have blessed us with a beautiful granddaughter. She’s two years old. If what this chant is promoting ever happened to either daughter or granddaughter, at any age, and I were to confront the perpetrators I would not report them. I might, however, bind their testicles with a liberal piece of piano wire secured to the bumper of my car and let them know that for as long as they can run they can keep them attached.

Perhaps a bit radical but then again so is this absurd idea that it’s OK to take what you can regardless of how the other person feels about things.

That’s how I see it anyway, Jim”

Comments?–Send them to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Use of this photo is for education, research and/or offering criticism. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

Have You Really Thought About The Quality Of Your Child’s Public Education?

Who sees your kids more than you do? School teachers. Who has more opportunity to influence your kids than you do? School systems. Yet parents, for the most part, spend less time speaking about or thinking about what is happening at school and what are they being taught. We send them off in the morning expecting to see them at the end of the day but beyond that we don’t give their day much thought. We assume that they are looked after and that they are learning something useful. We trust schools and school systems to know how to do their job and we just accept the fact that when they graduate they will do fine “out there.” That is happening less and less on many fronts.

I often wonder how many parents actually take time at the end of the day to talk with their kids and ask about what they learned at school that day or how did school go today or what was something you learned today that you didn’t know anything about? In other words what happened that was interesting.

And so it goes. Each day the kid goes off to a place that parents know little about being told or given tons of data/facts that really don’t have much relevance to the kids everyday living experience and we, as parents, can’t understand why our kids aren’t crazy about going to school each day and doing better. Could it be that school is long, boring, and not much fun? There are any number of kids that would say the same thing when they get home at the end of the day. It was boring and they ask why they have to learn that stuff. Plus they have an hour or more homework to do for tomorrow and they don’t have a clue how to do it or what to do about it.

They sit in a classroom 6 rows across and 5 rows deep or vice versa for hours listening to a talking head fire data/information at them with the expectation that they will “get it.” And we can’t understand why some kids are trouble makers, disruptive or hard to manage. How many of those get diagnosed with ADD and put on meds?

Many questions remain when I think about the relevance of the current pedagogy and the value and relevance of the curriculum that is presented each new school year.  Talk to some of the teachers and they will tell you what they think is going on but no one seems to hear what it is they are saying. They are trying to tell us that “we have to change how we do school-this system isn’t working.”

Along with those concerns is the bigger problem being the reluctance to change anything or update the overall approach of the public school system as it stands.

I know this much and that is that the system has become virtually unresponsive to the issues being mentioned. It needs to change dramatically and almost immediately if we hope to offer our children a chance to compete with other kids from other countries for challenging, rewarding and high paying jobs.

So how do we do that? Parents–whoever and wherever you are you need to get involved with what is happening with your kids future. That means you will have to become better informed about the options out there for your kids to gain an education that will help prepare them for the professional challenges of the 21st century. There are more options available than you know. The public system, although preferable, is not the only option. But to become more informed you need to talk to your kids and ask the right questions. Be prepared to listen to them because they are the experts on what is or is not working in today’s classrooms. They know what the changes are that need to be made and why they need to be made.

With a great deal of passion, assistance and input from a well informed and motivated group of colleagues and educators I have spent the last three years creating a new approach to educating our kids that addresses many of the issues I mentioned above.

First thing needed is to understand what some of the options are. Check out the differences and the pros and cons of Charter schools, magnet schools, public schools, private schools and home schooling. Once you understand some of the differences and the similarities you can now ask the important questions from the school board members and the trustees and you’ll know more about the quality and validity of the answers you get in return.

I’ll be writing much more about this topic in the weeks to come. I’ll share some of the solutions and suggestions that we came up with as a result of our research and from some of the actual experiences some of my colleagues had that worked in their classrooms but were never considered alternatives or even food for thought.

The following statement is the goal that we have identified for our group. It can be done but only if the parents who really care about the quality and the opportunity their kids receive speak up and are heard.

“To offer a new paradigm regarding a free, non-discriminatory, local, national, and global learner centered education program that merges enthusiasm, participation, and excitement with each learner’s unique differences, a capacity for high performance, and an innate desire to maximize self.”

I’ll be absent next week but I’ll write more about this in two weeks. Eventually I will provide an outline of the program we develop on my web page at jimcloughley.com

Anyways, that’s how I see things, all the best, Jim

 

 

Dress Code? Uniforms? What Would You Wear To Work?

There is a growing controversy centered on or around what kids are wearing to school these days. Out of this comes the debate about whether or not schools need to implement a policy about wearing a school uniform while attending school, imposing a dress code or allowing students to determine their own ideas of “what is appropriate for school” attire. It seems that the last idea is losing ground to the school uniform supporters. Where do the parents fit into all of this?

I often wonder if the parents even care about what their kids look like when they go to school each morning? Does it make any difference to them if Susie is wearing a little top that exposes her red bra and a generous portion of her chest or that Billy has decided to wear his new Joe Boxer underwear with the blue waist band and the generous view of his back side along with the bulk of his jeans hanging in a pile around his knees as he tries valiantly to walk down the front steps to the bus? I think the only people who REALLY care are the manufacturers of the jeans who are grabbing 70 bucks a pair and saying how cool he looks!! I feel badly for Billy in that it seems he can’t determine how to wear his hat. Front to back or back to the front? Does the beak point more to one side or the other?

It’s the schools which seem to be caught in the middle trying to be politically correct and yet trying to support the idea that kids need to be able to express their identities and their characters. Nice way to dodge the responsibility of setting reasonable standards.

To begin with there needs to be some serious dialogue offered to the “rocket scientists” who seem content on blaming a great deal of this controversy on the female population suggesting that dress codes are needed to curb the temptations they project onto the poor defenseless male populations in the school. Apparently these females are compromising the males ability to concentrate on the subject matter and therefore are in danger of not doing well in school. Perhaps they are not doing well because the curriculum is failing to deliver a source of interest for these unfortunate young men and some of the half naked females are a pleasant diversion.

First of all we need to look at the motivation behind the behavior which in this case is the propensity of adolescents to push the boundaries. Kids are being asked/expected to act like adults so they will promote themselves as adults. However, the idea that women should be identified and singled out as the main part of the “problem” is absurd and even more so when they are being told that THEY need to change but the males are free to carry on.

Advertisers and designers have, for years, been the driving force behind how our youth present themselves to the public at large. Nothing has changed except they have focused more on the idea that less is better and suggests more freedom of expression which is, of course, our kids right. So fashion sends the messages to the world in general: It’s more difficult to be accepted if you are not”fashionable.” Tattoos, the car you drive or the shoes you wear are often about the message you want to send to others around you. Males and females have now taken to carrying guns and knives as a way of sending messages to those around them especially at school. Weapons like this have almost become another part of the “current school uniform” as sad as that is to say.

Then there is the style that many kids-females and males alike-demonstrate. Gansta for one, other gang affiliations, the ‘tough guy’ look meant to intimidate and so on. I always think about what the message is supposed to be that these folks are trying to send the rest. Put that inclination in a school setting and there is a recipe for disaster and turmoil and puts education on the back burner for sure.

Lets not lose sight of the prime objective and that is to establish schools as safe and encouraging environments in which to learn. If schools represent the opportunity to learn, grow and develop the skills that will help us live our lives with success as we have defined it. How does getting caught up in the dress code vs. uniform debate help anything. It really has nothing to do with free choice or economics. The choice should not be about dress codes ect. The choices open to learners and the parents of those learners needs to be–are you going to school or not?

Learners need to dress for success meaning in this case that they dress each day as though they were going to work. How would you dress if you were going to work in an office space or as a professional of some sort? The first thing that needs to be done is to show some respect for where you are earning a living. Go to school dressed the same way. It’s an expectation not a debate.

Anyways, that’s how I see things. Thanks for stopping by, all the best, Jim

Comments can be made by contacting me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo, by abj.eics.ab.ca, is used for education, research or for the purposes of offering criticism only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

PS–My colleagues and I will soon be unveiling portions of our new paradigm for educating and preparing our kids for the 21st Century. It will revolutionize the way they learn and will do it better than we do it now.  More on this in a couple of weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting Then And Now. . . Is It Really All That Different?

When I look at this image I see 4 people who are older or younger than each other but I can’t tell what they are thinking or how they see the world they live in. I wonder if any of them stop to think about how our world has arrived at it’s present state. What has changed? Why is it so much different from the way it was say 50 years ago. One answer would be how we each parent or parented our children. Now the youngest one pictured in this image hasn’t had any parenting experience and very little life experience but it is what it is and so she has little to compare her present life situation with. Her life is ‘normal’ for what she knows.

Technology has certainly changed many things in terms of how we spend our time. We encourage and expect our kids to grow up much quicker now than before because progress has sped up our living experience. But we need to understand that the brain is a much slower developing organ these days than the human body. Don’t get left behind is the panicked message that most parents send their kids. The pressure to grow up fast and assume responsibility creates a great deal of stress that kids aren’t equipped to handle partially because they have never been taught how to do that. Parents aren’t equipped to do that work because THEY were never taught. It wasn’t necessary during their childhood or at least never acknowledged or spoken of and schools wouldn’t dream of touching that topic in school (check out my web site at jimcloughley.com for more information on what our kids should be learning at school). Over the last two generations thoughts and actions have changed from teaching our children about how to be good citizens to striving to get all they could  and to take care of themselves first. Compassion is not a word that is familiar to a great number of kids today. Bullying, gang violence and mass murders are a visual symptom of this.

As often happens the pendulum of common sense swings so far to one side or the other and does so very quickly. Consequently human beings find it difficult to keep up with the pace of change. Rather than seek a balance between rapid change and thoughtful consideration of facts and experience we jump on the first idea that makes a modicum of sense and go with that forgetting or passing by all the wonderful lessons and ideals from our pasts. These are things that worked for us and helped us navigate the world we lived in when we were growing up. We were guided by the concepts of respect for others and especially our elders, generosity of spirit, accountability for our decisions, hard work and the idea that we were not entitled to anything. If you wanted something you worked for it. Not every kid gets a trophy just for showing up. His/her self esteem will survive such a tragic event.

Today, many parents are at a loss to figure out how to parent their children successfully. I suggest we consider applying the lessons we learned that made a critical impact on the quality of our lives as we grew up and combine them with some of the great messages and some of the new ideas that are based in solid successes of the day. Instead, this generations’ ideas about how to parent have come from reading books and listening to the so called experts. We depend more on what others tell us we should be doing to parent our kids responsibly and not from what we believe, intrinsically, to be true for us.

True that life has changed and we need to change with it. That is not in question. The question is HOW will we do that? Consider how we create and nurture relationships. This simple act has changed dramatically. There are many more common law relationships and many more single parented homes directed mostly by women (exceptional growth of father-less homes) then there were a generation ago. Many parents struggle with just saying “no” believing in the “democratic” parenting method of kids making their own choices. There are times when there should be no options. Instead we, as parents, might need to remove any options until we feel the kid is capable of understanding and accepting the responsibility of making a poor decision. That is called accountability. A weak judicial system needs to be more responsive and creative when dealing with juvenile delinquency. Many children don’t seem to respect others property and physical welfare. They, not their parents, need to pay for the damage they create to society. On and on we go.

As parents we don’t want to risk damaging our kids self-esteem or dent their precious little egos. Yet the incidence of teen suicide creeps higher every year. There is growing evidence of depression at much younger ages and very mixed views on the roles that are presented by women and men.

Our “modern day” parenting approaches and ideas don’t seem to be working well. Perhaps we need to consider what we are NOT doing to parent our children responsibly and return to a time when we held our kids responsible for their behavior. A good place to start I think. There were consequences but also lessons learned that were often the difference between trouble and learning experimentally–a powerful and long lasting way of learning. Just a thought.

Anyways, that’s how I see things today.

All the best, Jim

Comments will find me at:    jim.lifechoice@gmail.com. Please pass this article along to friends and family.

This image (considerable.com) was used for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image.

So I’m Hearing Big Business Can’t Be Trusted . . .

Where was this picture taken?–could be anywhere. It seems this scene is becoming more and more common place these days. This could be the town YOU live in. Let’s hope that this pic wasn’t taken on an ordinary day.

There are, of course, pros and cons to the cap and trade program but for me one of the benefits of living with a cap and trade policy is that the quality of the air that ALL of us breathe will be better. We can only hope that water pollution and earth bound pollution would be positively affected as well. I’m thinking about my granddaughter and other peoples’ grandchildren and their children. What gives us the right to condemn them to a life of illness or cancer or lung disease. They don’t even get to have a say in what happens to them. Actually, they not likely think too much about pollution. Inherently they believe that the adults in their lives will protect them from the bad things that could happen to them. How we doin’ so far?

Meanwhile morons like the one just elected would spend 30 million dollars of our money fighting to open the gates to big business so they can continue to screw us over under the guise of working in our best interests.

Government paid lobbyists and spin artists will be paid millions of dollars to tell us why they are right and we aren’t. Just a minute–Our newly elected government citing fiscal responsibility as part of its platform will spend 30million dollars on court costs and fees and pay professional spinners many millions more so that big business can make more money by using our environment as one huge toilet. All of this while claiming to be operating in our best interests. Really? Don’t you just love politics.

To be clear if big business grew some “nuts” and worked to support the general population and to promote a sense of responsibility and true citizenship we wouldn’t need a cap and trade policy. This is more about their greed and egotism and yet they ask us why we don’t trust them to act in our best interests. To be clear I’m all for profit on investment but how much is enough and at what cost?

Anyone remember the”acid rain” concerns in the 80’s? It’s interesting to note that the U.S. has had a cap and trade program to curb sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions in effect since the 80’s and it is still in play without any of the ‘fears’ of the naysayers coming true. Emissions have been reduced by 50% with no negative ramifications to big business. The big winner has been the environment and a generally healthier population.

So some of the general concerns pro and con:

Businesses that have chosen to be more responsible concerning the environment can actually make a profit from a cap and trade situation. For instance, If they have already lowered their emissions below what they would be assessed at they can sell the balance of their emission allotment for cash. The cash would come from those companies who haven’t been able to or haven’t bothered to be responsible partners on the planet and are now required to lower their emissions or be penalised in order to continue to do business.

The government can also purchase emission credits and then resell those same credits at increased values to companies who are not in compliance and need to be or continue to be fined. The money that is raised either by fines or by selling emission credits would then be used to fund the development of new energy sources that would benefit businesses as a whole.  As capitalists there are times when we need to understand that to make money sometimes money has to be spent. Business cannot continue to suck the daylights out of the very people who contribute to their bottom line. Those companies who are forward thinking will be and should be rewarded for their foresight and their diligence–progressive thinking helps as well.

To those businesses who are whining about not being able to compete because of unfair differences of production costs I say–“If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”–can’t compete that’s your problem. Isn’t that what business says to us?

Perhaps some kind of a sliding scale of tax credits for equipment bought to lower emissions? Perhaps business could suggest something. Perhaps we could all work together with the best interests of everyone in mind not just those looking to get to the bank more often.

Anyways, that’s how I see things, all the best, Jim

(Photo image by cnn.com. Used for research, criticism and/or educational purposes. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

Comments to: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

 

 

What Does It Mean To Be Authentic?

I’ll try to keep this little meltdown “authentic.

The other day I was thinking about the struggles that some have around being who they really are. So few of us really know and understand who we are and what we are supposed to be doing. How are we supposed to respond to the things that go on around us? What are we supposed to think? How are we supposed to think? What happens if no one else feels as we do or sees things as we do or feels the same about things that happen as we do?

And my question is “why do we care?” And then I got to thinking about my own life and how it is going by so fast and the older I get the faster it goes. There is so much I have to do yet and not enough time to do it all.  Now I have written about this topic several times but this time it feels different somehow. Perhaps it is because I am still doing the work I do and many of my clients are people with real issues and real hurts. Some are so depressed and others are so lonely. Still others are just bewildered by life itself.

The one most common comment or factor if you like is that most, not all, but most spend much of their leisure hours watching reality shows. I cannot begin to tell you just how sad I feel that so many folks only feel alive when they are watching someone else living their dreams or what they believe is a magic world of some kind. There are many who believe that this is real life and they would be much, much happier if they could trade places with the people n the screen.

But it is not just reality shows as I’ve come to believe. It is about people who wish they were anyone but who they are. How sad is that?

There are those who spend thousands trying to look different physically. They gather the latest trends in fashion or style hoping to be blended into the crowd that is seen as “it.”  Appearance is everything because they are afraid to be who they really are. At what point did we become so insecure and so lost? We try so hard to be all things to all people that we forget who we are and how important that is. We want to be connected to other people so much so that we are willing to give up our own authenticity-our own identity and uniqueness. There is only one of us. Why would we want to give “us” away so that we could become like someone else? We need to celebrate who we are and how we became us.

My hope is that we can stop chasing dreams, phonies and folks who are trying desperately to be someone other than who they are. These people are acting out roles that have been scripted for them. Is that really who you want to be? Not me-not for a second.

One client asked me this week “how do I begin being authentic”–Number 1–start being real in terms of how you see the world. Don’t be afraid of being different-of not going along with the crowd and don’t be afraid of stating your mind-saying what you really feel, think and how you see things. Be willing to speak your truth about things. Afterall your thoughts and perspectives have value because they are yours. Don’t give away your power to someone else. You have as much right to be you as they do to be them.

Other qualities of an authentic person:

–They are open and sharing about things that they are passionate about. They don’t balk at wearing their feelings out where others can see them

–Learning is important to authentic people and so is learning from the mistakes they make.

–Usually indicate a clear understanding of reality

–They look for the best in others and celebrate their achievements

–They understand what motivates them.

–Their words and their actions are consistent

In this day and age where we live fast and loose we are forgetting about a very important part of our humanity and that is authenticity–being true to oneself and living a life filled with honesty and transparency, being able to look at ourselves in a mirror and like who and what we see, not being ego bound but rather able to share joy with others and to find the most important lessons within our own fields of experience.

Most importantly is the idea that we need to live for ourselves and for what we are passionate about and then call on our fortitude, strength, drive and conviction to follow that through. We need to see that passion become reality and not remain some fantasy. Even in the face of being alone and being criticized.

Anyways, that’s how I see things today.

Any comments can be made to jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

All the best, Jim

( Photo image by “joansanusi.com” used for education, criticism or research purposes only. I do not derive any financial benefit from the use of this image)

Teacher Centered Education vs. Learner Centered Education . . . Part 2

Last week I wrote about some of the on going discussion concerning how the earlier approach to educating our children has served us well but the time has come to reform the system so that our kids are more suitably prepared for the needs and challenges they will experience   when they enter the marketplace seeking employment. If we listen to our children and young adults we will hear them speaking about the need for a more relevant education and not being fully prepared to embrace the expectations that the marketplace will demand from them especially when that concerns a lack of soft skills–critical thinking, being able to collaborate and work in groups, to be a self starter and to demonstrate creativity and problem solving skills.

Recently I was asked the question: “Who has the most influence with our kids when we think about education and learning?” With little hesitation I responded by saying “parents–no doubt in my mind.” This is not a criticism levelled at parents–there is no “blame” intended here. Parents are the initial providers and guides responsible for their children’s view of the world they live in. Not only do parents send the messages but they also create the images that influence the thoughts, morals, values and insights their children will bring to the world. Unfortunately there are many parents who don’t understand this connection. Our children seek reassurance involving their search for their identity, their purpose and their feelings of being connected. If they don’t get those needs met at home they will get them met in other places but they will get them met.

Schools, then, become the next logical place to get that training. Schools and their purpose have changed dramatically in the last 20 years but curricula and teaching style/approach have not kept up to the need for change. Children have indicated that they need a different approach and so have those professionals who are asked to provide services to promote safer and more convivial communities. In many instances the services those professionals provide are stretched to their financial limits with no remedy in sight.

A group of colleagues who are experts in the field of providing progressive education have helped me put together a very brief outline of what this new approach could look like: (In no particular order of importance-it is all important)

–Kids learn at different speeds. Some are slower at grasping concepts than others. It doesn’t mean that they are slow learners but rather it takes a while to understand the concept and how to apply it in a practical way. We cannot demand that they learn quicker than they are able and therefore we need to do away with the “grade” system. There are alternatives that can be used to gauge a learners progress that are much less stressful. Grades are great for grading the quality of meat or eggs but not human beings. The “learners” will tell us when they are ready to move on to the next level or the next unit regarding a particular topic. To push them before they are ready or able just sets them up for failure.

–No homework or very limited amounts of it. “Home work” should be done at school as part of a group learning exercise so that more kids can learn at the same time rather than a teacher (educator) working with one student at at time. In some instances kids will learn from other kids by discussing solutions that other kids found. There is no proof that more homework promotes more learning.

–Learners (students) will work with their mentors/coaches (educators) and parents to design a learning/study plan that reflects the learners interests, skills, talents and strengths. Before you start with “Kids don’t know what they want or he/she will take all the easy subjects first” know that kids are voracious learners-they WANT TO LEARN and they will apply themselves more diligently if they are really interested in what and HOW the information is presented.  Kids need to have a sense of having some control and some input into what and who they become when they reach adulthood.

–Standardized testing is not particularly helpful to the child but more so for the program itself. Many funding formulae are attached to the outcomes of standardized tests. Schools with higher test results often get more money. Kids don’t benefit by being compared with how others are doing. At the least test results need to be discussed with the learner to find out what can be done to raise their own test scores if need be.

–In many instances hard-to-serve kids are not those with mental health problems or behavioural problems but rather those who are bored, disinterested or having trouble assimilating the information into their day to day lives and therefore don’t see the point to listening.

–Curricula must address the needs of the “whole learner.” Kids need to learn about the causes of stress, depression, anxiety and panic–what they are–and how to mange the symptoms. They need to learn much more about substance abuse and drug abuse and how they affect physical functioning and what is dependence?

There is so much more to know and learn about regarding learner centered education. Go to U-tube and type in Sir Ken Robinson. He is an expert in the field. He offers so much clear and basic information about learning and education. He does offer a book among the many he has written on this topic targeted specifically to parents to help them understand how to get in involved with their kids, the educational system and how to get the most out of it.

As parents we need to be interested and excited about what and how our kids learn. We also need to be concerned about what is going to happen next regarding education because it can help determine progress, stability, well being, quality of life, fairness and social justice,  freedom and solutions to world issues like homelessness, poverty, global health and wealth. I want to know that our kids will be prepared for what is coming and perhaps be an integral part of that change process. They are or can be the true agents of change. We need to make sure that they have what they need to to be successful.

Anyways, that’s how I see things, thanks for stopping by, Jim

Other videos about the need to change education by Sir Ken Robinson-click on the highlighted text.

Comments to: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo images by ‘gettingsmart.com’–used for the purposes of education, criticism or research. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

 

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