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.

What Would This Great Storyteller Have Said . . .

As Paul Harvey might have said: And now for the rest of the story.

Last week I was very critical of 3D printers and the potential disaster they represent to the world as a whole. The technology will make it so much easier to kill others and to exact some wild idea of fair play. I went on to talk about how dangerous it will make the world and how it will be for those who are brave enough to try and defend  our way of life and to protect our civil rights. I think of those who concern themselves with the safety of our homes and family. They risk their well being to ensure our security. I’m still fearful of that being jeopardized by somebody with an ax to grind. I understand the frustration and the unfairness–I do. But if that is the only way that we can show our displeasure and anger then we need to go back to the drawing board because it only strengthens the true forces of evil that exist around us. It slides right into the argument that we need to protect ourselves when it is these same forces of evil that we are concerned about. The ‘bad guys’ get more entrenched and legitimate citizens pay the price.

With all that said I must say that the video that follows my offering today has certainly made me sit up–shut up–and pay attention to all the good that 3D printers and that technology can provide for many of us. It is amazing what can be done to further our efforts to provide for many of those who can’t because of a lack of resources or political will.

The advances and designs of medical equipment will be upon us at light speed. I doubt that we be able to keep up with the changes in our personal, industrial, and scientific lives either. Just about anything that we can see or conceive will be duplicated and improved upon using 3D technology. Any of you remember the 6 million dollar man with Lee Majors? Inside of ten years that fantasy is likely to be a reality. There are already or near ready some designs and plans to build a functioning heart for human use. Those who have lost limbs to accident, disease or birth defects will opportunities to use artificial joints and organs that are only dreamed of today.

I guess my thinking has changed somewhat although I still believe that there will be an element who will always pervert progress. In this case the benefits certainly outweigh the drawbacks as this video suggests.

I applaud this father who refused to give up and instead fashioned a solution to his little boy’s problem. That’s what Dads are supposed to do and this man does it in spades.

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

All the best, Jim

Any and all comments will reach me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

 

 

What Are Kids Saying About All This?

This doesn’t happen very often. It is both scary and exciting. I’m speaking about an opportunity to witness the creation of a new unique and life defining development in the history of mankind. Sounds a bit over the top, I know, but when seen in context to other remarkable human kind developments it really isn’t. Consider that most innovations are created with the idea of being a great service to humans but inevitably someone figures out how to use the great innovations for negative purposes. Lets look at a list of ten big ones:

10. Splitting the atom–nuclear power

9.   The airplane

8.   The personal computer

7.   The television

6.   Rocketry-being able to beat gravity

5.   The automobile

4.   The submarine

3.   Antibiotics

2.   The internet

1.    The radio

Now we can add 3D printing to the list of notable inventions and innovations. This is Star Trek stuff just a few years ago. Along with these innovations and inventions comes a huge responsibility for society to deal with and unfortunately that means governments will get to determine how the world will respond to 3D printer guns. Charles de Gaulle once said that “politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” This is my concern as well. If there is a way to screw it up they will find it. All the powerful will weigh in on this topic because there is either too much money to be made or lost. Either way society will have little to say about any outcomes.

Will the discussion focus on societies rights vs. individual human rights? Will the professional spinners (lobbyists) pervert the 1st and 2nd amendments yet again? Should it be the responsibility of government or the public at large being the people who elected the government officials in the first place. Both these groups should have an equal say in something so huge. This is the stuff that changes whole civilizations. I think about the first responders and how much they will need to change policy to survive. Anyone–ANYONE who has a gripe against a police officer, firefighter, EMS person, ambulance divers and the list goes on will become a target every time they go to work. How will that play out with the civil servants who are already dealing with shredded nerves. Try walking down a dark alley sometime late at night and wondering about who you might bump into or whether or not you’ll see your kids in the morning for breakfast. The police and others are already chastised for reacting to quickly to what the police believe are life threatening situations. Think about how it will be now when anyone could have a a gun capable of blowing your brains out. Hey, let’s pay them less and stress them out even more. I don’t think we can pay them enough to keep us safe-not now anyway.

I am not interested in sowing the seeds of paranoia and conspiracies. However, the reality is that no one will be safe from anyone who wants to make a point. No way of knowing which gang has what or which kid had a bad day at school or if his/her relationship just fell apart and he/she wanted someone to pay for that so BANG. Ooops, gee I’m sorry it won’t happen again. There is already a dearth of consequences for choices made in the judicial system so where will this go now? It seems that we make laws based on how much we can save the system if we excuse this or extend that. This is a train wreck waiting to happen–one that we are extremely ill prepared to deal with.

There will be NO way of tracking who has a gun now. No way of knowing how big and powerful it might be. I haven’t mentioned the threat from foreign agents/terrorists who will be a great deal more difficult to identify. I’m thinking that we are a great deal closer to a modern day “wild, wild west” then we were a year or two ago.

The group that I would be most interested in hearing from are the kids out there who have to live in this crap and fear everyday. When I say kids I’m referring to those who are teenagers and up. It’s their world as well and in some cases they have been hit much harder than the adults have. Let’s hear what they have to say. They seem to be much more energetic and creative about resolving these gun control issues that we adults struggle with.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best and thanks for stopping by, all the best, Jim

To  make a comment or two please send it to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(photo image by utube.com. Image used for research, education or criticism. 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’s The Big Deal With Killing ?

Quick-get your guns so we can kill these animals. The little ones will be big ones soon anyway so what’s the difference?

There is so much killing going on everywhere these days and I am having a hard time understanding why. I get it on some level. People are  frustrated and resentful and mean spirited and angry–so much anger abounds. We seem to be losing the spiritual and emotional connection we had with life not too long ago. Life meant something as a standard. That’s what concerns me the most. What are we doing to each other animals or humans and why? To experience what satisfaction? What do we get out of blowing some innocent animal or person away just because we can?

Within the past week there was a shooting in Toronto where a young woman (18) was shot dead and a ten year old died as well. Many others were taken to local hospitals and cared for with many receiving emergency and life saving treatment. Then I see a picture of some rich kid standing in front of her latest conquest. She had managed to kill a rare black giraffe–oh wow-good for her! Some feat this was. She was pictured in front of the dead animal after, no doubt, doing a victory lap. She was quoted as saying her prayers had been answered. Rack up another one for GOD I guess. For her part she had been tracking a giraffe, with the help of a guide who should be ashamed of himself or herself, armed with a high powered rifle and a scope sight that could see a flea from 300 yards. Now there is a challenge for ya. My point in question here is the skilled and talented huntress gets a pat on the back by those as sad as she is and the man who shot all these people gets labelled with a mental health disorder of some kind and yet they both indiscriminately murdered living creatures. We are not talking here about ants or spiders either. So my question is what is it about murdering living things that gets some people all jacked up. If it’s about the culmination and thrill of the hunt then hunt with freakin’ camera bozo. Shoot a frame and not a bullet.

Look at the picture of this lioness. Look at her posture and the look on her face and tell me that she doesn’t love her offspring just the same as the human parent who lost her child or children. Does this lioness feel pain when she knows that her babies are dead? I’m thinking she does. One is called sport and the other a tragedy. They are both tragedies to me. Why do we have to kill anything at all in order to feel ‘good’ or excited. There is something terribly wrong with that. Get some help. Really.

The truly amazing part of all this, to me, is that we are no closer to understanding the purpose–the rational–the satisfaction of killing other entities at will. Is it about “just because you can?” Do people become mass murderers as a result of a mental illness of some kind? No. There are many who slaughter others who are quite “sane”-so what’s going on with them?

When I think about young folks who are violent and who commit murder and mayhem on our streets and in our homes how much has social media , music, videos, movies, electronic games, horrible role models who are more evident every day who are obviously above the law, those who never seem to be held accountable for their behaviour and their decisions contributed to the newly developed “violent entitlement” culture of the young.

As parents perhaps our permissive parenting model needs some adjustments and the initial goals of pursuing that model need re-tooling a bit. This isn’t about blame this is about moving the pendulum back to the middle of the spectrum. Perhaps that move back needs to include more discussion about the sanctity of life for all creatures not just some.

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

Comments will find me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo image used under the “Fair Use” provision. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

One Thing That Men Need That Women May Not Realize

Over the course of time I have worked in this field I have worked with gay couples, older couples, younger couples, racially mixed couples, previously divorced couples, couples with blended families and whomever that leaves. The conventional wisdom suggests that counsellors at some time would ask the individuals to describe their view of what a relationship is and what does it take to make it successful. So off they go talking about the importance of trust, a similar sense of humour, similar likes and dislikes, respect, love, the need for acceptance of whom each is but seldom does either party mention the one element–the one statement that is vital to a relationship if there is going to be any harmony and joy. It doesn’t mean that a relationship couldn’t be created and functioning but it does mean that that 5% or so that many hold back gets committed as well–it’s ALL IN TIME and for some that’s hard to do.

Never having been female I can’t speak to what females feel or value outside of what conventional wisdom dictates. But I can state that in my opinion the male ego is likely the most “fragile” of all. The one thing most important to a man is to know that someone, hopefully his partner, believes in him. Sounds too simple to be true and yet there it is. When we look at the list of “ingredients” many women have that would describe a great relationship this “ingredient” is usually not there. How difficult is it then to develop a sense of trust in someone if you don’t believe in who he is or what he does or how he does it. Believing in someone means that we trust that person to do the right things; that he will keep his family provided for and safe no matter what happens; that he will “take the bullet” for the family because that is what a man does. A partner believes in his talent and skills as a man to do what needs to be done.

Now before anyone blows up here think about the next time that limb over the house needs to be trimmed back. Whose the likely candidate to grab the chain saw and climb the thirty feet to the top to trim the tree. He needs to feel that his loved one or ones believe he’ll get the job done–that he has the skills and the courage to get the job done because he is who he is.

It is difficult to move ahead and to succeed without someone telling us that they believe in us and that they have faith we can do whatever we want once we decide.

Amanda Marshall, an outstanding Canadian talent says it about as good as anyone when she sings I Believe In You. Take the time to listen to this great song to understand the full meaning of what I’m trying to say.

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

Please let me hear from you about your feelings on this topic. send them to me at:  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

 

(Photo image by islandweddingservices.com–used for education, research and/or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

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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