Sunday, September 11, 2016

Learning how to live



For as long as I can remember I have pushed and struggled through life. 

I have walk a difficult path. I have moved countless homes, schools and social groups, resisted and changed, conformed and rebelled, stagnated and progressed.

I have sunk and survived, risen from the depths. I have tried and wished, hoping all the while I wept. And finally I made it here.

I have crafted for myself a good life. From all the pieces, people, memories and lessons. Not the one I imagined, but a good life none the less.

The hard part now is learning how to stop. Just for a moment, to let go of the next challenge. To enjoy and relax. To remember to breathe deep and be calm. I don’t have to climb mountains any more, but I can if I want to. I can move away from anxiety because I don’t need to worry about the future. Through all the confusions of living, the moments of sadness and joy, I have gained a priceless gift. I have learned how to live well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Preciousness of Living



None of us get to choose how long we live or how we will die, at least not of natural causes. There is no choice in the random events or illnesses that can come our way. I consider myself lucky because I already know this, as a long term survivor of a life-threatening illness. 

I do my best to live each day well. Or at least to choose only the paths that lead me to meaningful things. Now obviously I am limited by my knowledge, imagination, fears and insecurity but I have looked death in the eye and I have chosen to lead a life that I believe in.

We don’t know how much time we will get on this planet. I can’t say how many years my hips will last, or if I will be fertile when I try to have children. All these things are left to nature, or science, all for life to decide. All I can do is to remind myself that life is precious and so very finite.

Often days can seem long and daily life tedious. How is it that I could have forgotten how fragile life is? Even after spending 3 years fighting to stay living? I guess it the arrogance of the living. That as a human when a crisis ends we are adaptable enough to keep on going. Our persona resumes its normal form, despite the changes now etched into our person by experience.

I know that at this very moment I am not living a perfect life. But I know I am living a very good one. A life I have created based on my preferences and the opportunities available. I know my choices have been limited as much by my internal fears as by external practicalities. But I wish to remind myself, a call to remember, how precious, fragile and unique the opportunity to live is. To experience, to do, to just be here.

My father only got 47 years. In November I will begin my 30th. How sad the thought my father only had 17 more years from here. If he had known he would die so young would he have spent so much time at work? Perhaps he would have chosen to spend more time with his family or on the golf course or even to travel the world and live a fuller life.

Sometimes my practical side gets caught up in what we are meant to do in life. But what do I really want to do, if I take away all the rules, fears and barriers? It is with this bigger picture that we all need to frame our lives. Not in thinking about what others will think, not worrying how it might look or how scary it could be.What is this life I might design? What paths will I follow and which threads will I let pass me by?  Knowing well that no one could ever control the factors and events that spin in and out of possibility, doors closing as others open. We all make choices about our lives unconsciously every day. I want to make sure that when I make them, I know the direction I am facing.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Anxiety

All the days of my life that I have spent considering and contemplating.  All the time I have spent wondering and wishing. The sleepless nights of fears and worries. The day dreams and fantasies.
All these moments and ideas existing in my head invisible and irrelevant to the world and yet making up the totality of my existence.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Data, Testing and Educating



In some schools the drive for data and testing has meant teachers have lost sight of our purpose as educators. We have become stratified, documented and so completely driven by data that the initial goal of teaching and learning has fallen down the list of priorities.

One of the pillars of teacher education is Lev Vygotsky’s theory of learning. Vygotsky understands learning as a socially mediated process, where individuals learn from others in their community. Vygotsky believed that community plays a central role in the process of "making meaning".

If we consider the diverse community of young people teachers work with, some students have already learned from that school isn’t really worth the bother. It is just a compulsory right of passage, where you will hopefully fit in and wont be bullied too much, let's not even talk about social media. Certainly the high achieving students care about learning and their education, but many do not.

Our job is not to test students into further disengagement, continually reinforcing fears of not measuring up. We need to find ways to inspire, to rekindle the innate curiosity of young people that is often crushed by formal education.If we want student learning to improve we must create opportunities and assessments where their self confidence and curiosity are sparked. Where they are challenged and provided opportunities for success. 

Learning should not be an ordeal. It should be a place where students feel supported. Safe enough to have the courage to ask questions and accept challenge. Young people are not robots. They are human, with moods, emotions, good days and bad. If we teach them that only their test results matter then we are never going to encourage innovation, creativity or self expression. We need to remember that learning can be measured in many ways, not just by testing.