Tag Archives: education

goals, learning and contracts

after my post about small and SMART goals on garfield’s blog, i got inspired to write another one at brainblogger about the pitfalls and benefits of goal setting, this time taking a bit more of an academic slant. larry ferlazzo took up that post and talked about goal setting in the classroom. it made me think about learning goals. i won’t get much into this right now but i found it interesting that when i was googling around a bit about the topic, pretty much everything i saw were not really learner-directed goals. they were either goals clearly set by the teachers, or contracts that were not really contracts, i.e. they don’t meet the criterion of containing mutual promises. a lot of learning contracts (and contracts in counselling, too, by the way) are of the mafia sort: if you don’t pay up, we’ll break your leg. fortunately, there is usually little leg-breaking involved in learning or counselling contracts but they tend to be one-sided. the promises by one party (e.g. the learner) are numerous and clearly laid out, and often there are no promises made by the other party, or they are not specified.

the dalai lama in vancouver

last week i had the pleasure again to see the dalai lama. the topic of the talk was women and peacebuilding. i’d like to share with you my notes, taken down as closely as possible in his delightful language.

this is the third time i’ve seen the dalai lama. one of the things that i enjoy about these talks is that they always underscore the same message, but from a slightly different angle. also, simply being in the presence of the dalai lama (even when he falls asleep partway through the session, as he did this time, so exhausted from his super demanding schedule) is inspiring. not because he is grave and religious. he is the funniest head of state i’ve ever encountered; a trickster, really. you know that smile that he always shows? it’s the smile not only of happiness but of someone who delights in having fun and making jokes, and that comes through all the time in his talks. and like any true comedian, he is irreverent, he always looks at the status quo and says, “hmmmmmmmmmm ….”.

another thing i absolutely love about him is the ease with which he says, “i don’t know.” wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people in authority would simply say “i don’t know” when they don’t have an immediate answer to a question? no spinning, no ignoring the question and talking about something totally different, no pretending you know … so refreshing!

the quotes below reflect in a small way, i hope, the dalai lama’s commitment to compassion, his view on the role of anger, the importance he places on motivation, his urging us to take action, his deep respect for diversity, his global thinking, and his deep passion for the environment, the alleviation of poverty, and the central place of education.

the dalai lama will be back next year, i hear. we here in vancouver are very lucky to have been chosen by him as the dalai lama center for peace and education.

compassion practitioner

some anger also have role

harsh method does not mean we feel anger towards the person

anger immediate motivation

be content and still outraged

serious concern for wellbeing of humanity

anything that is harmful, you oppose

“what is your greatest fear?” “environment. gap between rich and poor, not only on international level but also on national level.”

frustration creates anger, sometimes violence

the female? good talk, i like it

they call me many things. god king, living buddha, monster, feminist – don’t matter

if no more dalai lama – no important

in case female dalai lama can be more effective – why not?

where is compassion? in the slums

media should pay equal attention to the positive things

“do you feel optimistic about the world?” “oh yes! our life starts with compassion! our life begin with lovingkindness”

this body go well with peaceful mind

we need motivation

compassion really also from the beginning to the time of death

human nature gentleness

whenever i meet young people, i give them hope and importance

peace starts within ourself. then that creates a certain atmosphere

will we be an extremist for love?

the facts should be written down, and then there will be a change in consciousness

everything tight, fear, distress: no creativity

there must be opportunity to express human potential

different country, different situation

whole world become like one community, then implement local situation – but same goal

i want to say yes to everything!

research and education very essential



image by elton melo

taking a stand: what does it take to make a difference?

tarot: courage and strengthmy last post was inspired by the 20th anniversary of the tiananmen square massacre. in it i was musing about what it takes to stand up against whatever oppression we’re experiencing, be it political or in a smaller social environment.

making that decision

marie reflected: “i guess it’s a matter of deciding what is more important . . . standing up or staying safe . . . ?”

decisions – what does it take to make a decision to stand up? how often are these decisions planned, and how often do they happen in a split second? i wonder what it was like for the tank man at tiananmen square. hard to imagine that that was a deliberate, conscious decision. most likely, he saw the situation and just walked out. perhaps there was not even any self talk; it just happened, almost as in a trance. there is some controversy in the psychological community right now whether slow, rational decisions have a better outcome than “gut” decisions.  i haven’t seen these specific studies but imagine that they probably didn’t look at momentous decisions like the one made by tank man.  if he had made a list of pros and cons whether to stand in front of the tanks he wouldn’t have; he would have decided on safety.  but he did the crazy thing and continues to inspire people all over the world.

past experience and present support

“my guess is that it is a combination of past experience and current support.” – that’s what evan said.

that reminds me of something that happened just yesterday.  i was participating in a workshop that – well, didn’t leave me feeling very positive.  in fact, i felt trapped and disregarded, and it appeared that a few others did so, too.  i asked a question that tried to deal with that, which was answered only superficially, and when i became increasingly frustrated, a got up and left rather than making another comment.  so in terms of standing up it was okay but not exactly stellar (“you don’t have to be a saint, isabella!” said one of the other participants).

what was the past experience?  as many of you know, i grew up in post-nazi germany.  standing up to people who i feel use authority inappropriately is a huge value for me.  i have also stood up in similar situations before and while it is difficult every time, i feel proud and – clean, afterwards.  at the same time, not standing up can fill me with despair and disappointment.

the present support was that i knew myself surrounded – both physically by some of the participants and emotionally by my friends and family –  by people who i knew would accept and support my decision to speak up.  (interestingly enough, i think if i would have thought less about the decision to speak up the second time, i probably would have done it).

education, awareness and community

finally, sandy commented, “we find strength through awareness, education, a shared sense of community, and people in our lives who tell us we are valuable.”  i touched on education and awareness already with what i told you about my post-nazi germany upbringing.  the education and awareness came mostly through the stories i heard from my parents, who were involved with the resistance each in their own modest ways, and through my best friend, whose parents were holocaust survivors.  formal education was just an addition to that.  i think the point here is not so much that education doesn’t work but that there probably needs to be a strong, personally felt emotional impact for it to make a difference.

when i was doing my research on transformative learning, i interviewed a young man who had decided to become a forest ranger.  this decision came after having spent a summer with an older environmental activist who told him stories, explained larger environmental questions to him, and led him on many walks, intimately acquainting the young man with plants, animals, soil and the whole wide world of forests.  an education indeed – but again, a fully rounded education, touching not only the mind but also heart and body.

image by eric schwartz

collaborative learning

now i’m at a session on collaborative learning by michael yue and maria starosta. more live blogging!

some of the impetus for this session came from the philosophers café projects

“collaborative learning is better than learning by yourself”

presenter not an authority; he may have taken a bit more time to look into the topic but he is not an authority

we will learn collaboratively in this session, too [so will i still be able to live blog? let’s see!]

why am i (isabella) participating? because, among others, i see counselling as a collaborative event

what will happen here today: experiential learning (learning by doing) and social learning, co-creation (1+1=larger than 2)

just did an exciting little exercise. groups formed around 3 questions on flipchart paper (e.g. “what is the difference between formal and informal learning”), wrote down ideas/notes in response, then travelled to the other questions, added/subtracted/questioned notes.

debrief: the topic of “taking up too much air space” comes up – who gets to talk how much, who gets to/feels comfortable adding something to “someone else’s” flip chart. who owns the ideas/notes? how big should a group be to be most effective for collaborative learning?

is it even possible to do individual learning? maybe when you’re in nature? maybe not even then? same with the difference between face to face learning, and the difference between formal and informal learning.

concepts in collaborative learning – nonlinear concepts: he’s showing a wordcloud: dialogue, group, conversation, connection, social, informal. it makes learning exciting – and complicated. like a jigsaw puzzle

a lot of exciting projects come out of informal situations.

online book club as an example of collaborative, web-based, informal learning.

how do workers learn? mostly on the job experience, 80% informal. and where do corporations invest their resources? 90% of the funds go to formal training

but it’s difficult to validate informal learning.

VCC has a mentoring program. this helps with validation and also is a form of collaborative learning. in another company: define experts who go out and gather information, then share it with the rest of the organization. good way of integrating formal and informal learning

the stimulus of collaborative learning. also, collaborative learning is a tremendous help for team building. it can raise the collegial relationship to a totally different level. connecting intellectually, not just operationally.

now we’re doing a philosophers café simulation. it’s a way to dialogue. the philosopher’s café michael is talking about is also tied into a blog so that the café is open to anyone.

what about dialogue?  great info here!

another example of online collaborative learning: a text-based online book club.

you can also visit the enet blog.

stand up against poverty

as promised, a video about poverty every day this week – blog action day week. this one is a moving piece from last year’s day against poverty.

again, i want to take this opportunity and both thank some people who have been good to me, and also shamelessly use this linkbait to draw everyone’s attention to the issue of poverty. today, i’m tagging some of my friends from entrecard:

imaginif … a child protection blog
i’ll never forget the day i read a book!
healthy tips for a healthy lifestyle
how to deal with chronic pain
health eagle
everyone’s child
dungeons and dragons corner
chronic chick talk
a consummate life

one web day: democracy and open source

open sourcetoday is onewebday. from their site:

onewebday is an earth day for the internet. the idea behind onewebday is to focus attention on a key internet value (this year, online participation in democracy), focus attention on local internet concerns (connectivity, censorship, individual skills), and create a global constituency that cares about protecting and defending the internet. so, think of onewebday as an environmental movement for the internet ecosystem. it’s a platform for people to educate and activate others about issues that are important for the internet’s future.

when i hear the words “online participation in democracy”, my first thoughts don’t turn to politics. they turn to open source.

open source is a collaborative way to develop, maintain and change a “product”, from a sermon to software to pharmaceuticals. open source allows and depends on concurrent input of different agendas, approaches and priorities in decision making and contribution. the most widely known open source product is wikipedia. i guess the barnraising of old was also often an open source project. open source is grassroots-based and the opposite of centrally-directed, authority-based activity.

i know very little about open source yet but the way i see it so far, it seems to epitomize democracy.

here are some examples of open source:

and how can you help the web on onewebday?

1. if you’re a web user, use a standards-compliant web browser like firefox or opera. they’re free, faster, and more protective of your privacy. and because they conform to web development standards, they make things easier for people who make web sites. if you’re a web developer, test your sites with the w3c’s markup validation service.

2. edit a wikipedia article. teach people what you know, and in so doing, help create free universal knowledge.

3. learn about an internet policy issue from the center for democracy and technology, and teach five other people about it. there are real legal threats that could drastically change the way the internet works. we should all be aware of them.

4. take steps to ensure that your computer can’t be treated like a zombie. computer viruses can steal your personal information. they can also cause major network outages on the web, slowing things down and making sites inaccessible. vint cerf estimates that more than 150 million pcs have already been zombified, and are now awaiting their next order. to learn more about the threat of zombie computers, read this article.

5. join an internet rights advocacy group:

  • become a member of the electronic frontier foundation. the eff has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights, from privacy to free speech to internet service.

  • join the internet society. isoc is dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the internet for the benefit of people throughout the world, particularly by establishing internet infrastructure standards.

  • support creative commons by donating and by using their licenses to copyright your work. if you’re outside the u.s., help support their counterpart, icommons.

6. help promote public internet access. if you live in a city, there is likely an organization dedicated to providing free wireless access in public spaces.

7. donate to the wikimedia foundation. the wikimedia foundation supports not only wikipedia, but several other projects to create free knowledge: textbooks, news, learning tools, and more.

8. donate a computer. you can donate a new $100 laptop to children in impoverished countries, or donate your used computer to goodwill or a school.

9. write your onewebday story. talk about what the internet means to you and why onewebday matters at http://onewebday.org/stories

10. if your city is hosting a onewebday event, show up on september 22 and participate.

the open source image comes from marc wathieu

blogathon: what happened to SFU’s seniors’ program??

it used to be when you turned 60, you could go to university for free. a wonderful tradition and one that, i’m sure, didn’t cost the university very much at all. and then one day … well, read on. this is a letter to the editor by my friend ruth.

on january 1, 2008, i turned 60 years old.

i have worked since i was 17 years old, raised 2 biological children, 1 adopted child, several foster kids. i have owned and operated several small businesses and put 2 ex-husbands through university.

i was elated to learn that SFU had a seniors’ program whereby those who were 60 or older could attain degrees for free. i called the seniors’ advisor in february, paid my initiation fee and waited until now to register for two part time courses commencing this fall. all of this i was instructed to do.

today, i called the seniors’ advisor and was informed that the 36-year old tradition of offering such courses to seniors at no fee, had arbitrarily changed – without notice – in april 2008. again, there was no notice of this change, and to date, the university has not offered to return the initiation fee.

apparently, the president of the university and the board of directors made this decision, out of the blue, without even informing the faculty advisor or the chair of the seniors’ programme.

as it stands now, all seniors’ degreed programs are a fee for service unless one applies for low-income assistance, and even then, the assistance is minimal.
i would suggest to the president of SFU that this type of foolishness is tantamount to misrepresentation and theft, as fees have been accepted by the university under false pretenses.

why a person 60 years of age would pay for a degreed course, is beyond me. we’ve all had our careers. most of us would attend university for the purpose for which it was intended … vis a vis … to learn!

it is strongly suggested that SFU reverse its decision and at the very least, as a gesture of goodwill to a community which is growing – seniors – at least give one year’s notice of such a change so that seniors can make other educational arrangements. additionally, the return of funds accepted by SFU under false pretenses might be worth considering. unless that happens, i suggest SFU is guilty of theft and i for one am seriously considering picketing outside the harbour centre campus.

i’ve always had an inherent disdain for high academics. spending too much time in the airless halls of acadamia obviously leads to brain damage. it is incumbent upon the board of SFU to do the right thing. if they are going to end a 36 year tradition, have the decency to give notice.

i did just a tiny bit of background research and found in april, stephen rees already warned this might be a problem (but who listens to a blogger?). distastefully, the non-credit SFU seniors program says nothing about this change and just quietly mentions that “seniors pay the same tuition and student fees as all other students at the university”

canadian mental health association

this is an entry for my participation in the 2008 blogathon, a 24-hour marathon of blogging. please support the cause and donate – however much, however little – to the canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch). to donate, email me or use this URL: www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=d2252. you should be able to get there by clicking the link; if not, just copy and paste the link into your browser. it will take you to the appropriate location at canada helps.

thank you for visiting, reading, commenting and, if you can, donating!

blogathon: they’re all fighting the good fight

canadian mental health associationus vancouver bloggers aren’t the only ones who are participating in the blogathon. thanks to the wonderful organizing powers of day of blogs, people all over the internet are fighting the good fight and blogging for causes. here they are:

animal rights
trish is blogging for bay state equine rescue .
stacie
is blogging for the aspca .
kristin is blogging for the aspca .
the kapp pack
is blogging for mapaw siberian husky rescue .
erica is blogging for the aspca .
ellie is blogging for the aspca .
miss raye is blogging for wild horse rescue .
steve, kat, & wilbur are blogging for save our siberians siberspace rescue fund .
amie is blogging for world wildlife federation .
clairity is blogging for the aspca .
melissa is blogging for vital ground .
rachel is blogging for paws atlanta .

human rights
twyla is blogging for not for sale .
malagasy bloggers are blogging for zaza-vavy .
hilary is blogging for amnesty international .
brittany is blogging for invisible children .
starbase karma sci fi fan club is blogging for us campaign for burma .

poverty relief
jessica is blogging for sera je food fund .
linda is blogging for the christian children’s fund .

education/literacy
khouria jen is blogging for first book .
lindsey is blogging for first book .
lindsey is blogging for children’s literacy initiative .
shadarus is blogging for first book.

children/youth advocacy
karrie is blogging for the home for little wanderers .
nicki is blogging for camp to belong .
jeff is blogging for the tim horton children’s foundation .
tara is blogging for victory junction gang camp .
penni is blogging for the kasey kahne foundation .
jenny is blogging for the american society for deaf children .
crc is blogging for children’s hospice & palliative care coalition .

medical research
nikki is blogging for band of parents .
stephen is blogging for the autism clinic at montreal children’s hospital .
[title of group] is blogging for avert .
jen is blogging for st. jude children’s research hospital .
jessi is blogging for autism speaks .
jen is blogging for the american cancer society .
jl is blogging for aicr .
stefanie is blogging for st. jude’s children’s research hospital .
jennifer is blogging for amyloidosis research foundation .
aurora lamour is blogging for the national fibromyalgia association .
adam is blogging for the american cancer society .
bunni is blogging for band of parents.

health/well-being
renee is blogging for the depression and bipolar support alliance .
jennifer is blogging for jenny’s light .
scheherazade in blue jeans is blogging for the boston area rape crisis center .
marika is blogging for the national fibromyalgia association .
ellen is blogging for the american foundation for suicide prevention .
josie is blogging for guide dogs for the blind .
l-squared is blogging for leader dogs for the blind .
jenna is blogging for texas scottish rite hospital .
mj is blogging for helping uplift grieving survivors (hugs) .
clutterbug jen is blogging for the american cancer society .
reixe dyri is blogging for alzheimer’s association .
heather is blogging for national alliance on mental illness .
hope is blogging for rainn .
elizabeth is blogging for rainn .
gina is blogging for rainn .
moira is blogging for teenage cancer trust .
becky is blogging for rainn .
anna is blogging for planned parenthood mohawk hudson .
letterblade is blogging for planned parenthood .
isabella is blogging for canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch) .
cara is blogging for rainn .
melissa is blogging for kristen brooks hope center .
erin is blogging for rainn .