Teacher Centered Education vs. Learner Centered Education . . . ? Part 1

I will admit that the image I used at the top of the article is a bit overstated but not by much. Not every classroom looks like this regarding student interest but most are not too far removed from this image either. The point is there are some and that’s too many. After how many years of “investigating” alternate methods of educating our children we have come up with very little that would constitute any meaningful change and the learners in our school systems would likely agree. There has been a great deal of press coverage that has not done a creditable job outlining or explaining the new thinking about transforming education. It is so much more than just providing information and data and expecting the kids to pick it up or understand it in some form that they might be able to use somehow-someday-perhaps. The kids are telling us what they need and to date we have only paid them lip service.

I fully support, endorse, agree, and hope that we can find a way to listen to what our kids and the experts who know what needs to happen to move ahead are saying. We need to begin transforming education and the methods by which our kids are supposed to learn.

The place to start is to provide a simple, clear, no double speak and easy to understand description of the two options one of which is most likely to be implemented.

The first option is to tinker with what is happening and has been happening for a very long time. This option would see a minimum of change take place and not much improvement in the outcomes. Classrooms would continue to be served by one teacher generally at the front of the classroom who requires the learners (students) to be quiet and focused and to pay attention to what he/she is saying. This person is often referred to as the “sage on the stage.” The second option would represent wholesale change in that there is no “talking head or sage on the stage” but rather an educator who presents information by many different means–eg. technology, u-tube presentations, experiential methods–“Do and learn” instead of “learn and do.”

Many parents and the general public for that matter have been told a slightly different story about what a learner centered program VS. a teacher centered program is about.

Some of the misconceptions about a learner centered program suggest that the students will only study what they want. Many believe that kids aren’t mature enough to create a course of study that will be of use to them when they enter college or university. In fact the concern is that they will not be prepared to succeed at that level. Yes there will be some major changes in the study programs–certainly curriculum  will be different and yes the students will have choices about what they want to study according to their interests, skills and talents. Why would they study programs and try to incorporate information/data that they believe has no relevance to their ambitions or life goals. Although the challenge is about deciding and understanding the choices they make the other challenge is to decide HOW they will receive the data or information in a way that makes sense to them and that they understand. Here we are discussing the “pedagogy”–the method used or the practice exhibited when “teaching.” The old system would have students sit still, be quiet, allow the teacher to be in total control of dialogue and discussion. A new learner centered program would turn that around so that the students could speak, discuss, ask questions, work in groups thereby developing their skills regarding collaboration, communication and investigation but most of all it provides an opportunity for the learner to feel that they are in control or have some control of their lives, what they decide and which area of interest they want to pursue. This is as it should be. They want to be equal partners in the choices and decisions they are expected to make concerning their futures.

In the movie “Whose Life Is It Anyways” Richard Dreyfuss helps the audience see that we are each given a life which is unique to us and because it belongs to us we have a right to spend it as we choose.  It would be easy for a conversation about this topic to branch off in all directions. The point remains that we may not agree with the choices our children make about their education or any other decisions for that matter but as long as those decisions don’t encroach upon the rights of others to do the same–meaning make decisions that they believe are made in their own best interest, we really don’t have much to say unless asked for our opinion or feedback.

This is a 2 part series. Next week we will look at a variety of topics including:

–doing away with the need for homework; doing away with standardized testing; eliminating the use of “grades (grade 10 or grade 11 etc.) and grading in general; what it means to educate the ‘whole’ learner and who are the hard-to-serve learners? I’m sure there will be other topics as well.

We may not want to think about it but education and doing it in concert with the new social times is more crucial to address–NOW– than important issues such as poverty, homelessness, political correctness, immigration and on. This is not to take away from the importance of those other issues but this one is the one that will help solve the other social issues of our time.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

I welcome your views so please send comments to jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

All the best, Jim

(use of the photo image by ‘getsomezzz.blogspot.com’ used for research, educational or criticism purposes. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

 

 

Is There A Difference Between Selfishness and Self Interest? . . .Surprise!

I wonder sometimes if we, as a civilization, are becoming more of what we expected from each other or are we becoming more self-interested? And if it’s about paying more attention to self-interest is that a bad thing? What are the differences between selfishness and self-interest anyway?

Remember when we were kids our parents and grand-parents would tell us not to “brag”-that wasn’t nice to talk about yourself. Our churches preached on giving all we have to others first and not to pursue wealth as a goal. In my day to day work with other people I often deal with those who are conflicted by the use of alcohol or drugs or perhaps it’s a gambling addiction or a shopping addiction. Many folks present with sex addictions or being addicted to the Internet. Are all addictions simply about being selfish or can they be about putting their self-interests at the top of their list of what they believe is in their best interests? Who really knows why people use “stuff” until they realize they can’t live without it? One thing, it seems for sure, is that the line between selfishness and seeking self interests is fine at best and often blurred. Many struggle with trying to determine which is which.

When we watch today’s parents struggling with this dilemma in terms of what to tell or say to their kids it is somewhat easier to understand the behaviour of many of our kids today. They have not received a clear message regarding which is which and so they just do what feels right at the time with not a great deal of consistency. I often wonder if our struggles with bullying aren’t a by-product of the lack of an unclear explanation of which is which. Our schools say it is wrong to bully others but do they present a clear explanation of “why” it’s wrong? Perhaps the bully’s argument would be that when they are holding power over someone else that is the only time that they feel good about themselves. How do we counter that logic?

There are many instances when we have justifiably made a decision to react or respond to something or someone in a way that would suggest we put our own best interests and desires ahead of others. I remember a time when I had a chance to attend a function at the last moment and it was something that I really wanted to attend but I had told someone that I would do something with them. I chose to offer a bit of “untruth”and attended the function instead. We pass these times off as telling a “little white lie” with little or no harm done. I try not to do that anymore.

However, I still need to be able to explain the differences between the two states of mind. Is there a clear distinction between the two? I’m not sure there is but I can recite some of the principles that are recognized as being part of one camp of thought or the other.

Someone who is said to be “selfish” is one who gets his/her own way and does so by ignoring or not taking into account the rights and well-being of someone else. If I get what I want on the back of someone else I would be seen by most as being selfish. It is not a matter of getting what you need but instead it’s what you want. It then becomes a matter of not caring how your decision affects anyone else. At this point folks would say “yes, but what if I need so and so. Obviously if something is life threatening involving your life or the lives of others that takes priority over everything else. If you had to harm someone else in order to prevent harm coming to someone else therein lies the issue. I believe you do what you feel is right and deal with the fine points later.

The difference with pursuing something connected to “self-interest” is that you don’t continue on at the expense of someone else’s freedoms or rights. That doesn’t mean that we can’t carry on but we need to help the person who will be affected by our decision understand why we are doing what we plan to do and that we continue, not because we don’t care about the other person and their rights and freedoms but because we need to do what we are about to do–it is important to our well-being.

So the distinctions  are: selfish–wants met with no regard to how others could be or would be affected. Self-interest–needs met with regards to how others might be affected by our behaviour.  Not everyone will understand and there will always be some who see what we do as selfish. Hopefully there will be those who see what we did as being motivated by “self-interest.” There is no preventing the dichotomy that develops. Truly, I am more concerned about what WE are left with in our being and how we look in the mirror and say that was the right thing to do.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

Comments will find me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com. All comments are welcome.

(Image/quote resource used for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image).

Hypocrisy Is Alive And Well South Of The Border

Now don’t get me wrong here–I am no fan of Roseanne Barr. I don’t see the attraction but that’s just me. But I do disagree with how the whole business that went down around her crass and ridiculous comment went.

Comedians today have a carte blanche it seems when they perform their shows–anything goes under the protection of the U.S. Constitution. Early comedians and through the era of Vaudeville were controversial for their time,true, when they were considered to be entertainers. But they actually used wit, body language and circumstances to make fun of audience members or to engage the paying customers. They would paint a verbal picture of situations that were common place for most of the audience members so that they could basically laugh at themselves. Generally all in good fun. Unlike today. Today comedians have to embarrass audience members. The use of course language and innuendo are so common place that they are expected. Folks listening are disappointed if they don’t hear “F”this  and “F”that. Hardly a sentence is spoken without 4 or 5 expletives uttered. If I wanted to hear that I could go to any mall these days and hear the kids talking like this for nothing.

My point here is that anything goes these days and no one seems to mind. For Roseanne to claim that her mistake was the result of using some medication is really unfortunate. She simply went too far thinking she was being “funny” when sarcasm and ridicule seems to be the rule of the day for comedians. If a comedian isn’t making people laugh by making fun of another group or person they are considered to be not very entertaining. To me The Marx Brothers were among the best to ever grace a stage. Brilliant minds and impeccable timing–great comics.

Did Roseanne step over the line–absolutely. I am convinced that she knew exactly what she was saying and doing and plain didn’t care. She is used to getting away with anything that is supposed to pass as humor. She was sitting on top of the comedy world with the top rated show-who was going to complain to her about what she said. She was a cash cow. She could be brilliant if she wasn’t so concerned about maintaining her well deserved reputation for being crass and seemingly not caring about what she says or whom is affected. She is paid well for being the “bad ass.” Now all the good work she claims she has done to support and stand for the less fortunate will go out the window because she just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to shoot off her mouth. At the other end of this are the folks that had cashed in on her popularity who saw an opportunity to nail her and then appear to be the rescuers and supporters jumping on the current bandwagon issue.

Should she have been fired? As I said she needed to go. The mistake I believe the networks made was cancelling the show. They could have had their cake and could have eaten it as well if they had simply called her into the Ivory Tower and fired her right there for what she said. There is no way they could have condoned her comment. They needed to make a clear and immediate statement about what is unacceptable. However, by doing it as they did they overreacted and put how many people out of work? Those people didn’t make the comment–she did. Families lives were affected. Peoples careers were affected and it didn’t have to be that way. They went way too far for me.

When you put what she said up against what Donald Trump has said and admitted to doing what does he have to do to get “fired?” Is what she said any worse than the things that he has admitted openly to doing or saying? I think not. The Republican party needs to be ashamed of themselves for supporting such a hypocrite and by supporting him they show themselves to be nothing more than hypocritical as well. What a joke the whole bunch of them are.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best and thanks for stopping by–Jim

Comments to jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo image used for education, criticism and research purposes. I derive no financial benefit from using this image by USA Today.com)

Are You Resting Or Relaxing? The Benefits Are Important To Our Health

First of all we need to be clear just what it is we are referring to when we say that we are resting or we are relaxing. Chances are you have the terms mixed up or you use them in exchange with one another. They are not the same nor do they mean the same thing. However, both are vitally important to our overall physical and mental health and well being.

So what is rest? What does it mean to be at rest? We are living in a day and age where we have been told that if you are lying around doing nothing then you are lazy or you are unproductive and will never be successful. Success takes hard work and dedication we are told. I always thought that success was about being able to do what the other guy was doing only doing it better, faster and working more efficiently. There seems to be , most often, a feeling of guilt associated with inactivity. How many have experienced difficulty being able to “rest” when they go away on vacation. It feels as though there is always something to do or that needs to be done and somehow it is our responsibility to do it.

Being able to “rest” is likely one of the most difficult things for people to do. I believe that part of the reason for this is we tend to confuse relaxation with resting. We don’t really understand what it means to rest or to be to be at rest. Rest for me is finding a state of being that allows me to do absolutely nothing and feel good about doing it. It provides me with a chance to rejuvenate my senses and to enjoy who I am  are as a person–comfortable in my own skin. It’s being able to recognize the “rhythm” of life around me and feel a part of it rather than the cause of it. Rest can be about sleeping although it certainly isn’t the only time that we can enjoy being at rest. When I am able to reach a state of being at rest I am able to rededicate myself to being more aware of the world around me and I am able to see, smell and hear all the wonderful parts that life has to offer me but only if I take the time to pay attention. I was walking a street the other day when I came across the magnificent smell of fresh bread baking somewhere. No big deal but it was so pleasing. Hearing something that is so out of the ordinary or seeing the sunlight that travels through dew drops in the morning. Most of us pay little attention to such stuff–we’re too busy doing…? to notice things of simple beauty. Being in that state of  existence is being at rest for me.

Doing nothing and enjoying it is so important to our mental and physical health. So many people become ill because they don’t understand the need for the body and the mind to rejuvenate and to be”off duty” for a while every day. As marvellous as our bodies are they will carry us only so far before they begin to break down a piece at a time until they say to us–“I tried to tell you and this is what happens when you don’t pay attention to the messages I am sending you.” We become ill or we injure some part of our body because of a lack of stamina or a reduction of strength.

Folks have a similar problem trying to understand what it means to relax. Relaxing isn’t about doing things you like to do or that don’t involve work of some kind. How many of us work to live or do we live to work?? If you are not working then you are not “getting ahead.” Relaxing is giving our bodies permission to slow down and to replenish the energy resources and sources that we require to carry us through our days so that we can compete and provide for our families or to satisfy something that we believe we want or need. I was chatting with a buddy the other day and we got around to what he was planning to do that day. Going golfing was his response. Now this is a man who is quite competitive but has a handicap of about 18. But his goal is to lower his handicap substantially by the end of the season. For those who play golf most would say they enjoy playing the game but relaxing is not how they would describe the event. How successful cn one be trying to hit a round object with a bent club in his hand? I digress.

We need to be aware of what works for us when thinking about being able to relax and rest. These get to be choices we make and adjustments we make in our daily routines to accommodate the continued demands of our bodies and minds to provide us with the resources we need to manage ourselves efficiently and effectively. Your personal success and longevity could well depend on what you choose to do next.

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

Comments to me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Disclaimer: Photo resource used for education and research purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of these images. Thank you to ‘sanyangfrp.com

Is Sex As Important As It Once Was . . .

Now I fully agree that I am not a spring chicken anymore but I am not an old prude either. As I survey my life I have come to understand that one of the most important aspects of human life on the planet has changed dramatically since I wore a younger man’s clothes. Being able to enjoy sex used to mean something and I’m sure, to many, it still does but for many more it seems as though it means very little beyond “a stress reliever.” I generalise to be sure but if we look at how we refer to enjoying sex over the years and what it meant you judge.

In the 60’s sex was, for many, a way of relating to another human being in a way that said how much they cared for their partner. It was considered the ultimate act or “gift”, if you like, that one person gave to another. It was something to cherish and was beautiful. The consent by a female partner meant that she cared for her partner and that the act was a special way of saying that “you are more important to me than any other.” It was a way of connecting in an absolute way that was not matched any other way. I guess that was a time when “no” really meant no thank you and that was respected.

Then came the “hippie” era, of which I was a part, and the meaning of sex and it’s importance in defining relationships changed-dramatically in some places. That was a time when “freedom” to express oneself was growing faster than many of us could understand. Sex became much more casual. It was a way of meeting someone or a way to demonstrate that you were “one of the adventuresome.” It also was a way of saying that this is my body and I will share it with those I please, when I please and where I please. It was truly the the definitive statement regarding defining one’s independence. Parents were rendered almost useless in trying to establish any rule for “law and order” and in many cases self-respect. Now I’m not complaining because as a young man I “benefited” from this lessening of the rules as did much of the free world but the meaning and importance -the innocence and the sense of connection established between two people had  changed forever. Enjoying sex with someone had lost it’s defining quality.

In today’s world we don’t refer to it as having sex as often as we say that we are “hooking up” with so and so. This is “kid-speak” for being or trying to be adult like. Having sex for some is about as meaningful as going to the mall to hang around for something to do. For many it means very little other than a way of gaining more attention or acceptance into a particular group of others. To me it sounds as though they are going fishing or something. Enjoying sex might be as enjoyable today as much as at any other time but the meaning and speciality of the act is, in my mind, long gone by. It has become more selfish than it has anything else. Again in my mind I believe that when society adopted the era of “near unlimited personal freedom” without much thought given to the possible ensuing social problems connected to such a shift we now see that the lack of those same social norms have lead to a wholesale change in our culture and value systems. Caring for self and preserving a sense of dignity seems less important to many.

Today our kids face dangers the likes of which have not occurred and sadly it is by their own hand. The incidence of STD’s like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis have reached all time highs in US history. If it’s happening there it usually happens here as well. Half of the reported cases of being infected with an STD, which number in the millions each year, affect the age group of 15-24 years of age. One of the most disturbing statistics in this age group indicates that the number of  newborns born with an STD is rising rapidly. That is selfish and that lack of knowledge or disregard borders on criminal to me. Outside of rape of incest there is NO defence for this fact.

I may be getting older but I am not getting to the point, yet, where I cannot feel sorry for the kids today who practice a disregard for anything that is special or once considered sacred besides their electronic devices. Parents—Where are you? If there ever was a time when parents need to stand up and start a revolution of their own-NOW would be that time.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

Any comments will find me by sending an email to:   jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

 

I Think Some Parents Need To Go Back To School To Learn How To . . .

It sure isn’t easy being a parent these days and when I think about how it used to be and how it is now I can begin to understand why teen suicide rates have dramatically increased. I am not blaming parents for not caring. I am suggesting that parents need to go back to square one and begin to evaluate how they are parenting their kids and based on what philosophy–what approach?

Life has changed for all of us–both kids and parents. Young adults seem to be taking on parental roles earlier than they used to. The problem with this is that many young parents aren’t quite ready to BE parents yet-they aren’t ready to give up those days when they could still act like kids themselves. They work hard at being a “young and progressive parent” and as a result they end up trying to be their kids best friend–Sorry but research tells us this approach doesn’t work out well for either the kid or the parent. Kids don’t need their parents to be their friends. They likely have friends that they count on for friendship and discussing the worlds’ secrets and have much more in common with their real friends than they do with a much older person who needs to be acting as a parent first and foremost. They need the guidance and the experience that someone their own age can’t possibly provide them. Yet we see Moms who dress like their teenage daughters and Dads who want “junior” to emulate them-“a chip off the old block”as it were.

But the major life issues for our kids mostly go unnoticed or left unaddressed. Situations like childhood depression, stress, substance use and abuse, promiscuity, bullying or being bullied, difficulty at school both academically and behaviourally, loss of interest around friends, eating disorders, teen violence, watching porn, general high risk behaviour, more isolation, addiction to violence and “murder simulated video games. There is much more going on but hopefully you get the idea. It doesn’t strike me as surprising that teen suicide rates have and continue to rise dramatically. Yet parents are still in denial about the causes and possible reasons why this is happening. Here are some ideas around the “why.”

  1. Many parents have just stopped being parents. As with many things that occur these days we tend to gravitate to particular theories and instead of using a modicum of sense we go all or nothing. This has occurred with particular philosophies concerning parenting. A prime example of this would be the decision to parent by democratic process. Some would call it “permissive” parenting-allowing kids to make their own decisions from options they believe they can choose from. If this is the style you would like to employ as parents then as parents you need to create a list of options that are presented to the kids designed to provide maximum security and safety. These are options that parents believe are in the best interest of their child/children. No other options should be considered and kids still get to choose what they want from the list presented to them.
  2. Parents need to allow their kids to grow up at reasonable pace. Using phrases and sending messages like “when are you ever going to grow up” and “act your age” and “if you want to be treated like an adult then start acting like one-take some responsibility” are not very helpful and certainly don’t build any sense of security and maturity into a parental/child relationship. Let them grow as they will and when you notice a consistent change in behaviour make a positive comment about it. Remember that kids will grow and learn at their own speed. Some kids grow faster than others. But at ALL times they learn from watching and listening how their parents handle stress, how they communicate with each other, if they are respectful to each other or do they get their way by threatening the other parent. View violence as a mediator and kids will believe that’s the way things get done.
  3. You’re the parent–set some boundaries. Start by limiting the time that kids spend on their electronic devices. It’s OK to do that even if the kids don’t think so at the time. No devices or buds at the table during meals either. No phone calls during dinner time. Once you’ve go them there show them some interest by asking how their day went, how is school going, tell us about one thing that you learned that was interesting and why–anything to engage them in a conversation of some kind.
  4. Kids feel safe and secure and much more confident in a home that has structure. Be sure to create structure and rules for living that are not oppressive but rather democratic (when all agree) and realistic boundaries. For example, if you make a mess then you clean a mess. Don’t leave it for someone else to do and expect the same from your kids. They will eventually warm to the idea that rules can be a good thing. They provide consistency.

I’ve included a great resource for you to check out. Please take the time to do that. All or any of our kids or grand kids for that matter (grand parents need to be mindful as well) could be at risk and if we are not diligent and willing to do all we can at all times it may be one of us who is the receiver of horrible news. Are you willing to take that risk?    http://www.zurinstitute.com/teenviolence.html

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

All comments are welcome: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo by helpguide.com. Used for education, research or criticism purpose. I derive no financial benefit from the use of this image)

What They Don’t Teach Our Kids In School . . .

I had mentioned last week that I will be sharing my thinking on education and how there is a growing concern about how and what our kids are learning and hearing in school. Again, to be clear, I am not criticizing our teachers. I have no doubt that the majority are fine educators who care and take great pride in the work they do. My position has always been that it is not the teachers who are struggling but rather the system that they are expected to work in. I’m also quite certain that we are doing the best we can given the pedagogy but it is not good enough given the demands and expectations of todays marketplace. Business is saying so and a growing number of college and university students are saying so. The focus of “education” needs to be re-visited and a new definition of what education means needs to be agreed to. WE NEED TO DO IT DIFFERENTLY TO SATISFY THE DEMANDS OF THE NEW WORLD THAT IS COMING.

While saying this we also need to understand that our kids have changed as well. Their basic needs and demands are different. The world is not the same place as it was when we were school age kids. For as much as the world has changed it has not become an easier place in which to live. I have recently begun to read a book by Steven Pinker called “Enlightenment Now-The case for reason, science, humanism and progress.” Want to get a broader and more in depth idea about where we are going-read this.

So what is it our kids aren’t being taught in school. We seem to think that as long as we teach them about the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and how to remember enough about them that somehow we are going to be alright. We are about so much more than that and to assume that somehow schools have figured out what we need is naive at best. As we become more entrenched and more dependent on technology to lead us along. In the process we have become less dependent on our natural skills and less aware of what our human needs are. You can’t know what you don’t know.

Things that have happened recently in Toronto are easily explained away by saying the antagonists and perpetrators have mental health problems. In stead of taking responsibility for what is going on we are too busy looking to blame something or someone for what is going on. As a professional I looked at life at home first and then beyond. Our children are products of what they see and hear at home or by those around them. If we take a look at just one aspect of what is happening with our kids: teenage suicides have increased by 30-40% in the last 5 years–why? Some speculate that it is because of social media and spending upwards of 5-6 hours per day being “connected.” There is the whole cyber bullying thing going on and the pressure to “fit in” to a group. There are the inflated pressures of familial expectations to succeed-go to the best schools or to be all things-great athlete, great student, popular and so on. Medical prescriptions being written for our kids borders on criminal in my mind. Many of our children live in a world that doesn’t truly exist-often alone. They are usually right when they tells us “we don’t understand their world.”

The role of schools needs to be re-defined. I’m not meaning changing them into re-habs to treat drug and alcohol abuse or to treat mental health concerns but we need to recognize that there are other important things like real world issues that need to be discussed and understood. Our children need to feel they have a voice in these matters–that they are a part of something. Kids need to learn about how to recognize the symptoms of anger or stress or depression and be introduced to strategies and approaches that will help to reduce the anxiety they experience. They need to talk about these situations to adults they know or are familiar with–not referred to someone else a week or a month down the road. They need to hear that it’s OK to talk about these things. Education needs to teach the “WHOLE LEARNER” not just the student from the neck up.

Kids have far to much time on their hands that is not productive time spent. Technology was supposed to allow for people to get involved in other activities like learning new skills or finding out about pursuing other interests. For kids it was supposed to create more time to socialize and play. Kids also have managed to incorporate the word “entitlement” into their daily beliefs and rules for living to the point where they feel free to do what they choose to do in the name of freedom. The REAL world doesn’t work that way. Few observe or have no boundaries. That to me is what school needs to help them learn. How to live without this warped sense of what’s right and fair.

What happened recently in Toronto is evidence of where things are heading. This is not just an example of wanton destruction of human life but a real message that says something is really wrong with how we are living our lives as a society–PAY ATTENTION folks, our kids and trying to tell us something and we aren’t listening very well.

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

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

(Photo image by usatoday.com. Image used for criticism, research and/or education. I gain no finanacial benefit from the use of this image)

 

It’s Time For Parents To Do This . . .

I have struggled mightily to stay out of the darkness that surrounds Donald Trump and for the most part I think I’ve done OK. I won’t waste much of your time here going on about him. He isn’t worth our time actually but again but one never knows what he will say next. I’m not sure even he knows. We need to ask a couple of questions: “Is he a joke for our time or is he a person to be concerned with in our time?” I don’t think he will be remembered for anything that he did that was good for our time. We do, however, need to protect or insulate ourselves against the possibility that his rhetoric doesn’t infect our sense of positive world citizenship.

As Canadians we should be very concerned about whatever drivel comes out of his mouth and yet he is, in many ways, in control of what happens to us here. However, there is one institution that he can’t or hasn’t affected–yet–and that is our educational system. How we educate our children and how we create our futures. I do believe that certain aspects of our culture could be at risk. That’s why I feel there is an urgency for us to re-write/re-create the pedagogy concerning how we teach our children and curriculum concerning what we teach our children. But in order to do that we have to re-write or re-create a new direction and basis for what we do in our schools from public school to university. There needs to be a new focus and a new method in place that allows our children to have a say for themselves what they are excited about learning so they can continue to move toward the eventual enlightenment and enthusiasm that comes from a desire to have a meaningful place in the society they want to live in. Up to now we have managed to provide just enough interest in the mainstream student to continue to move ahead and not settle for complacency. That complacency is what concerns me about people like Trump who has the power to do almost anything he likes and no common sense to know what to do with it. It’s like having someone flip a loaded gun around with the safety off.

Education will be the worlds salvation-of this I have no doubt. Those who believe the same need to rise up and be heard. We need to be sure that our children have a chance to develop their own innovative opportunities, to trust in their own creativity, decency and the value of the global participation of like thinkers. We need to be focusing on taking care for those who can’t yet and we need to come to the place where we understand that better for “them” means “better for all.” There is close to 8 hundred million humans walking around on Mother Earth who are illiterate who would see life much differently if they could read and write. Marginalising them is not the answer.

There are pockets of people on the planet who are beginning to move toward this progressive way of seeing the world but that movement is fragile at best. It needs more fuel to feed the fires of change. We do that by managing our educational systems much more closely and we become much more interested in how our kids are doing when looking at other children in other parts of the world. We guard against the complacency that still exists and the blind trust that “they” will do right by us. “They” are those who have the power and control over how education is done today. How we educate our children is not working well now. We have been doing “education” this way for the last 100 years and it no longer suits the overall needs of today’s learner. So says the learners who have gone through the system and so says much of the marketplace who are looking for more soft skill capabilities from graduates.

As parents we need to scrutinize the curricula that our children are exposed to and whether the methods of teaching are appropriate for the times. Our kids need to be enjoying the opportunity that school provides them to learn, how to think and to be innovators and creators and not be deterred by those who would be critical and closed minded. Parents are the ones who can do this by supporting their children’s efforts to be those free thinkers. Kids need to be allowed to choose their own field of interest based on what excites them. It is their life not ours to spend. Some will err no doubt. Some will not accept the responsibility of choosing for themselves-no doubt. But so many more will decide to work on finding ways to solve the poverty and fresh water problems. They will work collaboratively to help solve the worlds issues and are more likely to support diversity and what being human really is about regardless of where folks live. We just need to look around and listen to what our children are doing these days to see that they are more interested in global issues than making large sums of money in a career that has no life in it.

You want to make a difference? You want to be an important part of your child’s growth into adulthood then get to the town hall meetings coming up in your area and ask the candidates what they think about the state of education in your area or province. Vote for the ones that see it as in need of change. If they have no thoughts about it then DON’T put an “X” beside their name. They don’t have your kids best interest or yours at heart.

I have been asked to contribute to this topic a bit more often so I will. Thanks for stopping by.

Anyways, that’s how I see things, Jim

Comments can be sent to: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo image used for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no monetary benefit from the use of this image)

Are We Becoming More Authoritarian or Safer? Tough To Tell For Sure.

When I was a younger man knives were used to do a few things. Cutting your food at the table, surviving (hunting, skinning something), securing or preparing a food supply or carving as in creating an artistic image of some kind. Sure there were other uses but these were the main ones. But today, as the research shows, a knife has become the weapon of choice used by more unhappy, angry, disgruntled or mentally ill people than at any other time in our history-well perhaps not if we take into consideration that time before guns were invented. Those who want to create more violence-deadly violence or just inflict pain on someone else are using knives and they don’t seem to be constrained by rules and regulations-not yet.

It is so much easier to get a knife than to get a gun. It is cheaper by far therefore more affordable. Any hardware store or any fish/tackle store, any hunting shop will be happy to sell a knife to someone. Almost anyone can walk into a hunting shop and purchase a 6 inch Buck knife with little trouble. A four or five inch blade is big enough to take a life. A two inch blade is enough to cut a throat. Knives are much easier to conceal and much lighter to carry. Many folks have said that a knife is more scary than a gun and they are quiet to use which again makes them scary.

Police have reported finding knives that are 2″ pen knives to large machetes on people when they have been arrested for something unrelated. Who needs to carry around a machete?? Really! It seems there is a great deal validity to the claims of vastly increased knife use. Crimes using knives and doing bodily injury or killing/stabbing people is up around 20% in the last year. In the last 2 months alone, in London, there have been 31 stabbing deaths many of which have occurred in the immigrant controlled parts of the city. As well, according to police, gang members are given points (not sure toward what great reward) for people they stab as a part of a game they play. These are crimes perpetrated by humans not by a group of runaway or uncontrolled knives or guns.

Having said all of this and made some points that suggest a modest shift in the world around us we are still missing the bigger picture. We are still either refusing or remaining stubborn enough to leave our heads buried in the closest dirt pile we can find. THE TYPE OF WEAPON that is used to kill or maim others IS NOT THE PROBLEM. What will it take for the law makers and the “great thinkers” to get it. There are two very important issues that are being ignored here, whether on purpose or not. How can we continue to disregard that which is apparent to so many of us out here. We cannot legislate morality or individual value systems. That takes education to do that.

The two important issues I spoke of are:

  1. The nearly out of control violence that has rendered our neighbourhoods nothing more than killing fields, is/has been perpetrated by fatherless sons–those young men who are or have been without the benefit of a strong and healthy male role model. These young men are full of grief and anger and violence and resentment and hatred. They populate most of the street gangs that steal our freedom and safety and security on a daily basis. Look at the figures. Listen to the experts and listen to the many young men who keep telling us what is happening on the streets and we STILL refuse to consider it is too simple an explanation.
  2. The other problem is that our broken education systems are not exposing information to our children that would encourage a solid developmental basis of self-management skills. Curriculums haven’t changed much in 50 years and have not met the changing times with relevant approaches but rather are just providing an environment to move data from a system that has been failing for a long time to a group of learners who are bored and not interested in what the “system” is trying to push at them. It is hard for the “system” to admit that what they are trying to “teach” is not relevant anymore and no matter how much they try they can’t find a way to make it interesting. There needs to be more than evolution taking hold in schools–there needs to be a revolution–a new birth of thought and approach. We need to be teaching our children how to think and to learn not how to remember. Bored kids will only find interest and excitement in other places and that’s what is happening now.

We are burying more innocent people and blaming a gun or a knife or an acid bomb for the travesty. Does that mean that that same weapon is now responsible for creating a remedy to the problem since it was initially to blame? That would be ludicrous. Legislating a solution will not work. It hasn’t so far and will not in the future either. People kill other people. If not with a gun or a knife or a bomb then it will be something else and I shiver at the thought of what that might be. It’s time we got real and started to recognize where violence originates. Deal with the Genesis not the symptoms.

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

Send your comments to:  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo image by telegraph.co.uk. Photo resources used for education, research and/or education purposes. I don’t realize any monetary gain from their use)

Can You Name The Most Important Social Issue Of Our Time?

I will likely keep writing about this until people finally hear that we are not doing a very good job of taking care of our young. Of course this is not about all parents nor does it refer to all kids. But there is a very important social issue that we are not acknowledging as we should and it is costing us the lives of the innocent. For instance the recent shooting in Florida was perpetrated by a young man who is/was fatherless. Of the 27 mass shootings in U.S. history 7 of those occurred after 2005 and were perpetrated by young males. Of those 7, 6 were committed by fatherless sons. If that doesn’t concern us it should. We are witnessing a problem that is more important to deal with than the other social issues we have identified. This is not to take away the importance of dealing with homelessness or poverty or abuse but rather to indicate just how severe THIS issue is.

I will soon write about the fatherless female issues as well but lets look at the young males first since they are the ones that are better researched.

Like it or not males and females are not the same. We are different with very different wants and needs and social issues and socialisation issues. Right from day one of our lives females and males are treated differently. Baby males are still mutilated at birth (the ritual of circumcision) in many countries and the act is seen as a “normal” thing where it is now against the law in many countries to mutilate young females. We have different genetic make-ups. A recent study reported in the Daily Mail identified over 6500 differences between males and females genetically speaking. So can we stop the rush to androgyny and concentrate on the real problems of fatherlessness that directly influences the characters and personalities of our children-both male and female. Can we just accept and allow our kids to be who they are without fanfare and love them for WHO they are and less about WHAT they are. I get there are kids who really struggle with their identities but the public and social issues connected to fatherlessness is considered by many to be at the genesis of much more violence, death, destruction and danger.

Take another look at the information at the top of the page (title box). There are about 24,000,000 kids (about 35%) who are living without a father influence in their homes in the U.S. In Canada 80% of single parented homes are led by Moms. The numbers and the consequences are proportionately similar in both the U.S. and Canada. That is a great deal of energy and potential that is running around with no place to displace it or take advantage of it except through violence, gang life and self destruction. So what are we not doing that we need to be doing to begin to rectify this massive social problem?

In my mind there are a couple of places to start. One, obviously, is the family home. The legal system needs to take a look at how it treats single fathers and custody rights, support payments, non-support payments and what is in the best interest of the child or children. To jail a father who is unable or even unwilling to pay support does nothing but separate the family and exacerbate an already terrible situation for the child or children. I’m not saying he shouldn’t support his family but threatening his job or incarceration is simply not the answer. It has never worked and it will never work going forward. Making it even harder to pay makes no sense. The other option is to redefine our school system and what education really means. I understand that our culture has changed and the “rules” of living have changed but the one thing that has not changed is people. We still have the same needs as we did 500 years ago. True we get those needs met in different ways today but they are still the same needs. Go back to Maslow’s Hieracrhy–food, shelter, clothing, water, air, sleep and to reproduce. Further on we need to feel we have purpose, we are connected to something or someone, able to receive love and be able to give love. This is where the whole process has broken down. We no longer pursue the traditional family system. We have many excuses for not doing so and since I don’t believe in coincidence (I’m mostly a cause and affect guy) I have to look at the changes we have made in family, church, values, morals, only to recognize that we are not near as well off regarding safety and security as we used to be. As a society and community we have allowed the break down of the “traditional” family and the values and morals that were a part of that to have little meaning. The question then is are we better off today? and if we want to change things how far back do we need to go?

Schools and their curriculum have a massive role to play. I’ll be commenting on why I say that and how that could work quite successfully in coming weeks. Education needs to include a “whole learner” approach meaning that kids are now in need of learning how to self manage their emotions, develop/learn new coping strategies in order to deal with depression, addictions, anger, stress, boredom. Key here is to learn how to deal with being fatherless in todays world.

Anyways, that’s how I see things.

All the best, Jim

If you have a desire to comment one way or another please connect with me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Photo resources are used for education, research or criticism purposes only. I derive no financial benefit from the use of these images)

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