Should Learners Design Their Own Educational Futures?

Many people who are parents, professionals, business owners-large and small, teachers and students are beginning to voice their thoughts and feelings regarding the very question that headlines this article. Some are saying ‘yes’ and some are saying ‘no.’

My answer to this question is an enthusiastic “yes.” The following is “why.”

First of all there are the very basic thoughts about this question.  Of course there are many questions that will come from the question itself. Generally speaking some of the obvious ones are: Why shouldn’t they be able to decide what they want to do to earn a living when they grow into adults? Are learners mature enough to make these important decisions? Parents worry that junior will pick all the “easy” stuff and won’t be prepared to “do battle” upon graduation for those diminishing employment opportunities?  If I am willing to pay the cost of tuition and all the attached costs why shouldn’t I study what I feel adds interest and relevance to my life? There are many more but hopefully you get the gist of what I’m writing about.

There are concerns about education becoming too dependent upon technology to adequately educate our children and that we are moving much too fast. Learners still value contact and the connectedness they experience with human beings–mentors/coaches. If the learners aren’t getting what they need, they’ll slow down the use of technology.

For me my reasons speak to the need to grow the understanding that our learners need to be more competitive on the International stage. We need to demonstrate, more clearly, the need to address the long overdue changes identified with the current pedagogy. In 1962-Hall-Dennis suggested dramatic changes in how we educated our kids and not much was done to address those ideas. Now we are playing “catch-up” because many other countries who were struggling with global standards and ranking saw the need to change-did so-and now we are following their lead in many cases.

This is not a condemnation of our system. This is not a criticism of our teachers. This is, however, a comment on some of the decisions that were made years ago that have hampered our growth and our inability to change how we do things in education. The University of Toronto-a fine school by all accounts ranks 22nd Internationally tied with The National University of Singapore. U of T is the only Canadian School in the top 25. Oxford and Cambridge rank 1 & 2 Internationally. These are the 2018 rankings.

The point to this is we have to change the way we do business-the way we do education in this country and we need to start by letting the actual drivers of the system have a much greater say in how things are done–student satisfaction and success go a long way to changing the perception other countries have of us.

Here are my 5 reasons why learners should design their own educational futures:

  1. The most important driving force in education today is the learner. They are the ones who foster change in the system and we would be well served if we paid more attention to what it is they have to say. In a true sense the system is supposed to work for them and not the other way around. They would be the ones who regulate the overall content and the amount of influence technology would have on course design. They recognize the importance of the human factor in any learning environment.
  2. It’s a given that there still is some need for rote learning in a number of the courses the learners might choose. If we listen to the learners they will tell us (the system) how much is enough. It needs to be dropped as a practice but continued as a necessity for those professions that require it. It still can be a learning tool.
  3. Learners need to be able to select and study what they favour–what they are interested in doing when they grow up. They will never know what those interests might be if they are never exposed to the information and a hands-on opportunity to experience working in a particular field. We need to get over the idea that university is a 4 year  plan and that we know what’s best for them. If it takes 5 or 6 years to graduate then so be it. Kids learn at different speeds-It is too great a mistake for kids to be pushed through a course of study to graduation just because they changed their minds half way through a program. Better they have a chance to pursue something they are interested in than to work at something they dislike.
  4. In the future certifications will not hold much value. The true proof for a potential employee will be how well they do with on the job examinations testing for particular skills sets and how successful are they are with the competency based testing they are likely to experience. Kids need to select particular skill based programs that they will need to develop so they can be more successful. THEY are the ones that know what they need more than others. They should be able to choose what they need to be comfortable and more confident.
  5. Kids just learn better and faster when they choose to study and learn about topics that are of interest to them. The system needs to put together a study plan that includes these interests but also prepares them for the supporting education that helps them to succeed.

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

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(Disclaimer: Photo resources used in this article were used for Education, Research or Criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image.)

5 Reasons Why A Student-Centered Education Is The Right Move . . .

Ok so I agree that I have a definite bias when it comes to this topic and the answer. For a large portion of my life I was a confirmed traditionalist. Teacher centered education was the only way to learn what I needed to in order to succeed in life. Teachers had all the answers to all my questions. To listen to them one would think that they knew EVERYTHING there was to know about everything. I was wrong on both accounts. I guess my change process began when I was given my Grade 12 Diploma in 1966? (wow) and encouraged never to return to my school again. I wasn’t exactly sure about what had happened there but I knew that I was so happy to not go back to that experience again. It was boring, uninteresting and none of the stuff they were trying desperately to teach me made any sense. It had no relevance to me whatsoever.

Fast forward to 1990 and I was involved in College life and loving the opportunity. I had found a career choice that I was excited about and gifted with instructors who understood what I needed (how I learned) and encouraged me to do it my way. What a great experience. This was the kick start to many years of researching education and why the current pedagogy works for some and not for others.

Fast forward once again and it is now 2015 and a colleague of mine and I began to think about how WE would do it differently if we could change how education was presented. What followed were discussions about the differences and the pros/cons of a student centered education and a teacher centered education. Then we took the topic out into the public and we found ourselves in heated discussions with those who were dyed in the wool traditionalists as I once was.

What is clear to us now is that a change is coming. Of this there can be no doubt. The only thing left to decide is the “when.” Perhaps my mini comparison will sway some of the fence sitters. For the sake of saving my fingers I will let SC=Student Centered and TC=Teacher Centered. The question will be: What are the benefits of a SC education.  

  1. Learning How To Collaborate–Being able to share thoughts and ideas and to work with others in order to seek common solutions to assigned problems or develop new products and methods is vital these days. One of the strong points of SC educations is it usually requires group work, discussing ideas with a common goal in mind and being able to consider other points of view.  TC focuses on working as an individual and then providing a solution.
  2. Participating in active learning. Learning should be fun and exciting. This is what maintains a learners interest and keeps them coming back to learn more. TC is a passive approach to learning. It is learning in a vacuum where, for most learners, the process is not very stimulating. It gets done because it needs to be done but the passion that is generated in SC learners is seldom there for the TC learners.
  3. Hearing all the voices. By their design SC educations encourage all the learners to have a voice in what goes on in the classroom. Whether by open debate or providing a report on a piece of work followed by a Q&A session kids have an opportunity to learn from their peers-to hear other thoughts and ideas. In a TC classroom the only voice that is generally heard is that of the teacher. He/she is the one with all the answers and only their point of view or information is the one to be considered. It is widely accepted that kids will learn more effectively from each other than they do from the one voice at the head of the room.
  4. SC educations are “inquiry” based. TC are “knowledge” based. Part of the goal of education should be to teach our children how to learn. Once they know how to learn knowledge becomes a by product of that skill. Asking questions and seeking answers is more important than trying to remember prepared scripts that require nothing but memory.
  5. SC educations allow the learner to learn and progress at their own speed. Not all kids will grasp concepts and understand                    processes at the same rate or time. SC approach allows the learner to say when he/she is ready to move on to the next learning requirement. In a TC style education the teacher is often the one who decides what happens to the learner who might be a bit slower on the uptake.  Often moved on to the next challenge the learner may not be ready to take on the task of learning further information while not having a good solid grasp or idea of the work to be done and so he/she doesn’t do well. It is a set up for “failure” not to mention anger, depression or stress.

Alvin Tofler said, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”

There are so many other reasons why a student centered approach to education makes so much more sense but you need to figure that our for yourself. I will be writing more about this stuff in the weeks to come so stay tuned if your kids education and their well being are of interest to you.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

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Teachers Lives Matter Too . . .

Unless you have been passed out under a rock somewhere for the last week or two you will know that 17 young lives were taken for no other reason than they were where they were supposed to be and the murderer wasn’t. Among those who were wounded or murdered were the teachers who get up every morning with the very thought that this might be the day. That’s a hell of a way to start anyone’s day. Those I don’t admire-are those who refuse to show a backbone and have placed children’s lives ahead of the right thing to do. That would include the politicians who spend their time sucking up to those who are positioned at the underbelly of the NRA.

Those I do admire are those students and teachers who have not shrunk away to the shadows to feel sorry for themselves but rather those who have stood up, brushed themselves off and have shown more grit and courage and passion to do the right thing than the so called leaders who are supposed to protect them. These kids will be heard and they will make a difference.

I guess what bothers me the most is that whenever an African American or Latino citizen gets shot all kinds of marches happen and cries of racial bias and lack of caring fill the air. But who is marching for the Teachers? Who is out there chanting for justice to find them?

These Teachers are the people who actually hold the nations future in their hands and yet no one seems to recognize the significance of what just happened. It is about far more than losing the precious lives of these 17 human beings and their minds. The world lost their creativity and vision as future scholars and difference makers. Every time a tragedy like this happens more people decide to either leave the teaching profession or they get involved in another career choice. When a suggestion like giving guns to teachers is made it is not only the most ridiculous and repugnant suggestion that could have been made but it shows a COMPLETE lack of understanding and empathy for teachers and what they go through every day to try to do the best they can as educators. They spend their days with one eye on the door each minute of each day not knowing who may be on their way through it with malice in their hearts.

The NRA can and will keep this debate alive and well for as long as it can because there is a fortune to be made each day the rules stay as they are. This isn’t about fundamentals. This is about cash-pure and simple. I believe the law makers need to stop trying to ban guns and re-think how guns will be tolerated. Here are three suggestions they might want to consider:

  1. There is no question or doubt that assault rifles need to go. They serve no logical purpose and they are only made and sold for one purpose and that is to KILL other human beings. A 357 will do the same thing. So assault rifles are to be owned by law enforcement or military personnel only. Home owners do not need an assault rifle to protect and defend their property and their liberty.
  2. If you feel you need to own a gun to defend your property then you would be able to purchase a hand gun after going through the proper and most thorough process known to man. Only after completing the appropriate assessments, background checks, criminal records and after an appropriate waiting time do you get the chance to purchase a legal fire arm from a legal retailer–no gun shows-no magazine purchases. If you are found to possess a hand gun bought on the street the time served should be on a chain gang (first offence-1 year-no fine) cracking rock and making new roads.  If you are able to purchase a hand gun you take it home and it stays IN YOUR HOME. It does not see the street. It does not see the light of day. If you need it to protect your home then it should stay in your home-locked, loaded and safety on.
  3. If you have a burning need to have a rifle of some kind then you join a gun club where they have lockers that can be secured. Join a club where the targets move and you can hunt them. When you are done the gun(s) are locked back up again and you leave knowing that it will be right there for you whenever you want to go back and blow off another 100 or 200 rounds-who cares.

The problem today is the NRA has people believing there has to be one solution that fits all situations and of course that is never going to happen. The NRA will continue to spill the “life blood” of the citizens and businesses will continue as usual.

The bigger problem for me is that more innocent children will die. More teachers will die or quit. The educational process that is absolutely vital for any country to succeed or survive for that matter will become an afterthought instead of a priority. Nature hates a vacuum. Dictatorships are born from citizens who demonstrate a lack of education which, in turn, creates limited thinking and no political will. Laugh if you will–would never happen here you say. When you look around at the troubled countries of the world there aren’t many that have the freedoms we enjoy at present. Our high rate of education keeps us insulated from the chaos that other countries experience. To continue to do that we need to protect our teachers not drive them away or worse yet kill them off.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best and thanks for stopping by, Jim

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(Photo image used for education, research and criticism purposes. I derive no financial gain from the use of this image or any others.)


The “Me Too” Thing Is Wearing Me Down . . .

Just to make the point–do we understand that by their 18th birthdays 1 in 4 females will likely have been sexually abused. Also disturbing is 1 in 6 males will likely have been sexually abused–by a female perpetrator. I mentioned this only because it is wrong to assume that it is only men who assault EVERYONE else. It is abhorrently wrong in either and any case. I hope that we can all agree to this fact.

I was tuned in to a late night news show last week and one of the guests-a female guest-said something that I fully understood and totally agreed with. She said, “enough of the public outings.” Could all the people who have been assaulted please come forward at the same time. She went on to say that there needs to be another kind of process put in place where justice is done and the assaulted women (no men have come forward yet to join the growing line of people) have a chance to say, very clearly and without fear, how they were treated years ago and how the effects of that crime changed their lives. Assault of this kind, apparently, has happened or is happening in almost every walk of life. We are seeing men being accused from the entertainment world, the music world, which isn’t surprising to me, sports figures, business and spiritual realms. It seems like people aren’t safe no matter where they go and no matter who they are around. It got me to thinking about what is the true motivator that is driving this whole movement. I understand the freedom to speak part. I can see the how threat of disclosing the “secret” could end their career before it started and so the victims remain quiet, I understand the relief and the attempts to vanquish the horrible dark experiences that haunt some folks to this day. But I can’t help but think that revenge plays a large part for some in speaking out and the gratification of regaining some semblance of control after all this time.

My concern is that the rule of law seems to be passed by in many cases. As unfair as it may be regarding the behaviour and the seeming disregard for people’s human rights the law is still the law today. Many people have not been formally charged or had any time in a court of law. Many have not had a chance to describe their side of the story. I’m not naive enough to believe that every person who denies culpability is actually not guilty. But if we start to believe that anyone who denies guilt must be guilty then what’s the point of having a legal system in the first place. It is supposed to be a place that allows each to state their piece and then an independent body of jurists tries to determine who is guilty or not guilty based on evidence. Sometimes I think this would be a good spot for lie detector test. What compounds the problem is it has always been argued that old crimes prove to be very challenging because evidence disappears or witnesses pass on.

My greater concern is that there is so much collateral damage done when people are found guilty by public opinion before due process has been done. For example: John Doe, when a younger man, perpetrated a crime of assault 20 years prior. He did it on one occasion and has not been involved in anything like that since. He goes on to have a successful career, gets married and has three kids. He has always been a good father and partner. Unfortunately those credentials don’t mitigate the circumstances. He is outed in public and because of the rush to be seen as doing the right thing he is terminated from his job, his wife becomes a person non-grata and his kids are now a target socially and at school. These people had nothing to do with what went on and yet their lives are permanently altered for life as well as the father’s. The father’s–OK but the others didn’t have a choice in the matter. They are guilty by association and nothing more.

So how does the victim of 20 years prior get her justice, which she deserves, and have a chance to live her life with more dignity and respect for herself ? If we continue to find guilty those who have been accused but not had a chance to address their accuser in a court of law our democracy, in my mind, is and will be called into question. Another way must be decided upon wherein ALL people are granted the same rights. Remember as well that there is a strong possibility one of the accused is truly innocent of all charges–but who and in which case?

If someone is found guilty by a group of their peers then they get what is deserved as well. Having said that if I knew that someone had assaulted my mother or wife or daughter the world would not be big enough for a perpetrator to hide in. But I would have to know they are guilty.

In closing would or could someone please explain to me how an ill suited low life like Trump can strut around like some peacock bragging about how he has assaulted many women yet he escapes the legal consequences and makes a mockery of the US legal system every day. How is he truly above the law. It astounds me even more how any self respecting woman could vote for him and sleep at night.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, and thanks for stopping by—Jim

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Is It A Porn Addiction Or A Sex Addiction?


Coming to a house near yours: Certainly not the newest but one of the most harmful addictions to hit the public streets in quite awhile. Addictions to pornography and sex are insidious. No one is immune so don’t be naive enough to think that “that would never happen to anyone I know.” In all likelihood it probably has. I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist and I don’t want to be a fear monger. However, you need to listen and read what I am about to post. Believe it when I say to you–“you need to know this stuff and understand how it could very well happen to someone in your family–even you.” If it does what would you do?

In order to be on the look out and understand more about sex addictions and porn addictions you need to understand that not all porn addictions are the same. In fact unless you know the differences between a sex addiction and a porn addiction you will really struggle trying to figure out how or if you want to help your loved one in some way.

To indicate how ingrained sex and porn are in our lives here are some basics you need to be aware of:

  1. Pornography is not just a man’s issue any longer if it ever was. Some of the latest research and statistical information shows that 25-30% of viewers or participants are women who are into either pornography or are struggling with a sex addiction. That number is slowly rising and one group that is paying more attention to sex and porn sites are teen age girls. Sorry ladies but it is difficult to point that long pointy finger in our direction any more.
  2. Considering all the searches made on the Internet each day 68,000,000 are porn related
  3. US Internet porn sites generate 2.8 billion dollars per year. Considering world wide sites that figure jumps to 4.9 billion dollars per year.
  4. 40,000,000 million Americans are regular site viewers
  5. 12% of sites available on the Internet are porn related. That is 24,644,172 sites currently (give or take a few hundred thousand)
  6. Teens are regular viewers with the youngest age group beginning to gain more than a passing interest 10-11 years of age

The key to treating, helping or supporting someone who is addicted to porn or sex is to know that they are very different from each other. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING AND THEREFORE CANNOT BE TREATED THE SAME WAY.   

There are three very fundamental principles that must be accepted before going any further here:

  1.  There is no “cure’ for a sex addiction but sex addicts can enjoy a normal satisfying relationship with a partner.
  2.  Using a 12 step approach to “treat” a sex addict is not a very useful or helpful approach. Why? Because the goal for the sex addict is not abstinence or celibacy but rather to work to create a loving environment where a sexual relationship is possible with his/her partner. 12 step programs are abstinence based–they are regressive by design meaning that abstinence is the goal. The alcoholic needs to stop drinking. The gambler needs to stop gambling. The sex addict doesn’t have to stop having sex but needs to be enjoying it with his partner.
  3. The best most constructive help and support a partner can provide for the addict is a clear understanding and having the knowledge to see the two addictions as separate and not similar. If you can do that your role in the program will be much easier-not easy-easier and a great deal less frustrating.

So what is the basic difference between a sex addict and a porn addict.

As we can see there is there is quite a difference between a sexual addiction and being addicted to pornography. A porn addiction is centered around the creation of a fantasy world in which the addicted person is the central character and he/she controls what happens, with whom and how. It is a world that is very difficult for partners to deal with because no matter how great the real life sex is between partners, the “imagined” outcome of a porn fantasy experience will usually be better. It is very difficult to compete against an imaginary experience. Someone who is sexually addicted is living in a “real life” situation. His/her addiction manifests itself with real life people or circumstances. Some characteristics of a sexual addiction would include sex with prostitutes, anonymous sexual partners, high-risk sexual activities, voyeurism, multiple sexual partners, sex with a partner soon after finishing with another partner, feeling out of control, being in a depressed state, obsessive sexual thoughts and being unable to control those thoughts, and constant self-stimulation to name a few.

This has the potential to be a very serious in-your-house situation and not just with your partner. Your kids could be at risk too. Some folks would tell you that sex or pornography addictions are harder to shake than a powerful drug addiction. Don’t believe for a minute that this could not reach you and your family.

Anyway that’s how I see things. All the best, Jim

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My, My-Times Have Certainly Changed In 5 Years . . .

 Considering how things have been going lately I thought this article I wrote 4 1/2 years ago might be interesting to consider or re-consider using the lens of today. I’m not picking sides here but things have changed and the rules have changed and no one told us (Men that is). Common decency aside for a moment and the “It’s about time moment”–folks need to get their thinking together and decide how things are going to be. Once that’s done someone should break the news that things have changed. Check the date of the article.

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 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 under age 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, All the best, Jim

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To Be Or Not To Be . . . Why This Should Matter To You

” I love you” are likely the most misunderstood words to be strung together since language became important. This phrase has caused more grief and sadness and has brought more joy and happiness than most other statements made. What does the word love mean? How do you describe love? It’s much like trying to describe what a cherry tastes like. Can’t be done. But most everyone who walks the planet says or suggests they they “love” someone without really knowing what that means. People talk about loving their pets or a song. Really! The problem is most of us have our own understanding of what the word “love” means but not really knowing what it means to others. We just assume that it means the same to others as well. When our expectations regarding what it means to us aren’t met relationships tend to end or are seriously altered in some way and not always for the best.

Back when this declaration of “love”, for me, was primarily connected to hope, fervour, and fascination with someone else’s physical attributes. Sex was also something that, for many, was shared as one way of demonstrating “love” for a partner. The point is that sex was and still is an integral part of developing and maintaining that “loving feeling” human beings have for one another. But what happens to a relationship when the sex stops or is infrequent? When we are young we fall in love with a Hollywood image. It is often based solely on “looks” and when the looks change or begin to fail so does the passion and the closeness of the relationship. Just look at the rise of divorce rates and the instances of common-law relationships. Much of this change has to do with babies and boredom.

There are many “senior” relationships which survive all of this and enjoy a closeness, a respect, and a “love” that defies description. Perhaps it’s because they truly are “in love” with that special person they met a long time ago. I still haven’t come across any senior who can tell me what love really is or feels like but there is a twinkle in their eyes that says they got it.

Unfortunately there are many seniors who are unable to enjoy sex any longer. There are some who are relieved and some who see that inability as a sign of old age-that life is passing them by much too quickly. Not being able to enjoy sex for many is a sadness that deeply affects them. ( I plan to write a piece about this later on) It affects their self esteem and messes with their mental health. It is in our best interests to learn how to enjoy our partners and maintain our interests in our relationship with them without having sex.

I have put together a few ideas that some might find helpful.

  1. One of the things that we often share is the same sense of humour.  Even the young have to come up for air once in a while and so having a common sense of humour is most important for them. They wouldn’t stay together long without it. It is the same for seniors. They enjoy laughing together and finding they still have a common interest in what makes them laugh. It is a commonality that connects them and is special to them.
  2. One of the most exasperating things is to constantly be corrected by your partner and for you to do the same to them. As we age our minds will start to slip a bit, our hearing becomes a bit more taxed and our memories will also be challenged a bit more. To be reminded of these deficits is never pleasant to hear. No one needs to be keeping score about who is right or wrong more often than the other. Someone once said-“and he exercised his right to be considerate and kept his mouth shut.”   Real solid advice.
  3. Don’t be afraid to catch your “honey” under some mistletoe at Christmas or to steal a hug in public. I saw a beautiful couple the other day, I’d guess in their late seventies, walking along all dressed up in their winter gear.  As they approached what looked like a slippery patch on the sidewalk, the first thing he did when they got a bit closer was to grab for her hand to make sure she didn’t slip or fall. Kindness with no thought of reward still works really well to say how much someone cares. Try it. It feels good.
  4. Do nice things for each other. Most can still hold a door open for the other. It’s a show of respect and kindness for the other and not an imagined weakness. Screw the politically correct and the feminists. Since when did being considerate get pushed off to the side like a piece of trash. Try making a cup of tea or something as a surprise for the other. It says, “I was thinking about you sweetheart.”
  5. Always be on the lookout for something new to do that you both can enjoy learning more about–together.

Our relationships become dramatically more important as we move through time. Sometimes it gets down to deciding whether or not you want your last vision to be that of someone you “loved” or being alone because you didn’t pay attention to the really important things in your life.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim                      

(Disclaimer: the photo resource was used for education, research, or critical purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of these images.)

The Secret To True Happiness Is . . . ? What’s The Answer Worth To You? I’ll Give It To You For Free.

I hope everyone had a truly remarkable and enjoyable Christmas season. After all isn’t this supposed to be the season of Peace and Love and Joy? This is the time of the year that is supposed to see new beginnings blossom along with forgiveness of past transgressions. This is the time of gift giving and going above and beyond. But why do we wait for one season of the year to show our kindness and humanity?

Staying with this theme I decided to share a secret so special that many spend their fortunes to get a glimpse of it. Some get so close to it (at least they believe it is what they seek) only to see it vanish like smoke passing through their fingers. To be honest I came by this “secret” completely by accident but I certainly believe that it is true and the science bears it out. The truth of this is time tested. I will share it with you in a minute or two. So many stand in their own way of finding happiness. Many will only accept that the solution to find something as wonderful as this must be more complicated and difficult to realise. Some would ask, “If it’s that simple why isn’t everyone doing that?” Good question.

We have been told that the secret to happiness or being happy comes from hard work or earning vast fortunes or becoming important, powerful, envied, held in awe, being free and independent.  Not true. There are two things that money will not and can not buy. Those are class and happiness. It IS true that money can buy us comfort and power but not happiness–at least not true happiness. Not the kind of happiness that can actually extend the length and quality of our lives.

We have lost or perhaps misplaced the true meaning of the word HAPPINESS. Scientists, of course, have tried to explain it as a chemical reaction in our brains. Others have suggested that it is a state that is void of sadness. I believe that we will know it when we feel it. Who cares if we can explain it as long as we believe we have found it. The closest I can come to explaining it is to say that it will be a state of being that I have never felt before. That’s about as good as it gets.

The source of the “secret” is the Harvard Grant Study. This was a study that began in 1938 and continues to this day. It is one of the longest running longitudinal studies of its kind. The study began with 268 males. Females were not included in the study because Harvard, at that time, was an all male institution. It would be truly fascinating to do a similar study of females and compare the outcomes. Perhaps someone will take it on. Out of the original 268 men that were studied there are still 19 men living. They are presently in their 90’s. I have included a paragraph or two below which comment on some of the findings of the study and there is also a link that will connect you to the actual article outlining the study in more detail:

“Researchers who have pored through data, including vast medical records and hundreds of in-person interviews and questionnaires, found a strong correlation between men’s flourishing lives and their relationships with family, friends, and community. Several studies found that people’s level of satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels were.”

“When we gathered together everything we knew about them about at age 50, it wasn’t their middle-age cholesterol levels that predicted how they were going to grow old,” said Waldinger in a popular TED Talk. “It was how satisfied they were in their relationships. The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80.”

“The researchers also found that marital satisfaction has a protective effect on people’s mental health. Part of a study found that people who had happy marriages in their 80s reported that their moods didn’t suffer even on the days when they had more physical pain. Those who had unhappy marriages felt both more emotional and physical pain.”

“Those who kept warm relationships got to live longer and happier, said Waldinger, and the loners often died earlier. “Loneliness kills,” he said. “It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”

It is important to recognise that the reference to “relationships” is not limited to marital or intimate relationships only. It includes those relationships we may have with friends and community as well.

This may be one of the most important documents you will ever read on the net or anywhere else. Please don’t write it off as some silly science of some kind. This is an opportunity to see life for all the good it has to offer and to understand more about the pursuit of true happiness in our lives. This article and study could be the most important “gift” that you will ever receive–Merry Christmas. A bit late but no less important.

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

Comments can be directed to me at:

(Disclaimer:  Photo resources and quotes are used for education, research and/or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of either examples.)


Our Kids Aren’t As Smart As They Used To Be . . .


Now more than ever we think we are so much smarter than our predecessors. We equate technological “smarts” with “living smarts” when there really is no comparison. No one disputes that today’s teen  gets around a key board with little or no trouble but that doesn’t make them smarter when regarding life skills.

There is a growing body of work and research that suggests that kids from the mid 70’s were just as smart and in many cases smarter than today’s “wunderkind.” The following is an excerpt from a study done at Kings College in London, England that supports the previous statement.

(By Charlotte Bailey)

But average achievement was found to be similar in teenagers from both generations. Professor Michael Shayar, who led the study, said: “The pendulum test does not require any knowledge of science at all. It looks at how people can deal with complex information and sort it out for themselves.” He believes that the decline in brainpower has happened over the last ten to 15 years and could be a result of national curriculum targets which drill children for tests as well as changes in children’s leisure activities, such as an increase in computer games and television watching.”

As parents we have been told that our kids are growing up much faster than they did 20 years ago. There is a great deal of truth in that statement but only if you consider physical growth as the only criteria to be considered. Considering mental and emotional growth these test results say exactly the opposite. Are we expecting our children to grow up much faster than before and if so does that mean that they are better prepared to make “adult” decisions? Does that mean they are better equipped to deal with the consequences of those decisions? My answer to that would be a simple and emphatic “NO” they are not.

We, as those who are supposed to be responsible for preparing our children for adulthood, have, for the most part, been woefully ignorant or reluctant to do what is required in order to do that. Not all adults or parents of course but far too many. We expect the school system to perform that duty and parents are saying “that’s why we pay you guys.”  In the end we have a generation of kids who are trying to figure out who and what they are supposed to be. How are they supposed to behave? They don’t feel they can talk to their teachers or parents about the issues they face and are accessing public and social services at an unprecedented rate. Go to the Canadian Children Rights Council/Fatherless children in Canada to see just how dire this situation is.

So the question remains: “Are our kids as smart as they used to be?” If we believe the outcomes of these two studies and the information attached to the link I listed above–It is clear that we need to pay attention. Our children are not learning what they need to learn in order to be more confident, successful and hopeful in the new world they live in. When our children are trying to tell us they are more fearful of being bullied, that they are fearful of the outcomes of exams because of the pressure put on them to succeed–we need to pay closer attention to them. When their behaviour indicates that using alcohol and drugs is the answer to many of their emotional and spiritual problems–we need to listen. Perhaps if we pay closer attention we can help reduce the number of teenage suicides per year.

Our kids are doing their job by trying to tell us what they need from us. Now we need to do our job as parents. We need to expect much more from our school system. Education is more than just feeding facts and information to kids who are often bored and disinterested with stuff they don’t feel has any relevance to their future lives. We need to listen more closely to our kids and let them know that we have heard them and help is on its way. We need to stop believing that our kids are smarter than we were and they will handle life more effectively than we did because they are growing up faster. We need to understand that that is just not true. We must stop expecting them to make adult type decisions using a child’s view of the world around them. It just doesn’t work that way.

Anyway, that’s how I see things.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas

Thanks for stopping by, Jim


Please pass this along to family and friends. Comments are always appreciated–

(The study information and the photo image have been used for research, criticism or educational purposes. I derive no financial gain from the use of that material.)


I’m Not So Sure I Would Call It A Democracy . . .

I offer my sincere gratitude to those who witness and manage the outcomes of the human destruction and tragedy that seems to be increasing all around us. What they do is amazing and I’m not sure how they do it. I’m just glad they do. That goes for soldiers as well. Amazing people who are passionate and who care about their fellow humans. I thank them all.

I’m also thankful that I live in a place where most of my basic needs are met but saddened by the constant erosion of those rights in the name of my own best interests. Canada is truly the best country on the planet to live in-I would not want to live anywhere else. But I’m becoming more challenged to see it as a true democracy. The word ‘democracy’ suggests majority rules. The will of the people is supposed to stand above everything else. For instance, in a true democracy, Trump would have been removed from office a long time ago. He certainly does not have the backing of anywhere close to a majority. He wasn’t elected by a larger number of voters. I am not a ‘Hillary’ fan but she did garner 2million more votes than he did. Put two or three names on a piece of paper and a check mark beside the one you like. Count the check marks and there is your leader. Pretty simple stuff.

I don’t quite agree with the interpretation of ‘democracy’ as it stands. I do not want to put my vote in the hands of a politician who doesn’t know me or know how I feel on a particular issue. Why then should he cast a vote either yeh or nay in my name. If we lived in a true democracy we, being eligible citizens, would be able to have a direct say in the important issues that frame our lives in some way almost every day. A direct say would simply mean-ONE VOTE cast by each eligible individual. The person or issue with the most votes wins the day. It is considered to be the common will of the people. This is a true democracy to me.

And it is not true that anyone can run for public office. Money, time, support of power brokers, special interest groups and those who gain if John Doe is elected are some of the reasons why the ‘average Joe’ can’t run or would never win an election. Let’s at least be honest about that.

The following are some of the issues that I believe need to stay within the direct influence of everyday people and not left to the representatives we send to parliament to represent our best interests. I can’t remember the last time my ‘representative’ called me to ask for my thoughts??

For example: (I realize that rule by plebiscite isn’t ideal either. However, it is much easier to do now using the technology available and it sure is more ‘democratic’ than the current system.)

  • We need to have a way of impeaching a leader if he/she fails to live up to ‘election promises’ within a specified period of time. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver–it’s called accountability and honesty.
  • Declarations of war. Perhaps the leaders could send their kids to be among the first to fight the enemy. Would they be as anxious to wage war a half a world away?
  • Implementation of the death penalty. This issue should not be left to whichever leader has the strongest moral conviction one way of the other. It depends on what we collectively stand for and what kind of justice are we seeking.
  • Abortion-decision should be the sole decision of the mother.
  • Gun control. If you like to shoot go to the gun club where your secured firearm is located. It is different if you hunt for food and clothing. I understand hunting for sport. You just don’t get to keep the thing tucked away in your closet. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons should never leave the firing range or designated firing areas.  They are useful when hunting people and that’s about it. The NRA now wants to have silencers legalized. Apparently, it hurts their ears–HEY-get some friggin’ ear plugs.
  • Legalising cannabis–for medical purposes only and absolutely. It should be covered just as any other prescription is covered.
  • Major constitutional changes depending on what they are. If the outcome would interfere with how the government goes about it’s business then that outcome needs to be dealt with in a different manner.
  • Euthanasia–it’s MY life and it does not belong to anyone else. If I want to end it because I have had enough and I am deemed to be of sound mind then the state should not have a say in that.

These are some of the issues that we ALL should have a say in–a direct say-one vote-one eligible citizen across the board. If more people vote yes than no then it happens. If you don’t agree then go out and try to persuade as many others as you can that you are right and they need to listen to you.

Let’s leave the government to macro-manage the national systems like the railroads, highways, air travel, funding national education programs, global representation at the UN for example and negotiating international trade agreements, the judicial system, national medical programs, national defence, international climate change initiatives, funding R&D and energy production. These issues are discussed when elections take place-vote your conscience. The other issues are what we have to live with every day of our lives and for the most part direct the quality of our living experiences each day. We need to have a direct say.

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

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(Disclaimer: the use of the photo is for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no monetary benefit from the use of it)

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