Category Archives: Perspective transformation

Trying to understand …

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peace1A friend of mine tagged me in her Facebook post today, a comment about a protest she had passed by in the city that relates to the current turmoil in the Middle East. It’s such a drawn out state of affairs, one that I’m only just beginning to consciously notice. My friend’s comment prompted me to fossick through Google to uncover information that might help me gain more insight into something that is for me a minimally understood happening.

My perspectives on the world, and my connection to all that goes on within it are only beginning to open, and I struggle with my ignorance. Related to the current conflict in the Middle-East and other regions that are such a common feature of today’s global climate, I find myself at various times devastated, angry, irritated, frustrated, judging, impatient, scared of what the future might hold … the list of my useless responses goes on as I attempt to fathom the seemingly interminable turmoil and absolute disregard for human rights and dignity that is present on a daily basis.

I am not a lover of conflict, most happy to find a way around discord … sometimes to great effect through a flexible approach that endeavors to honor the unique perspectives of all parties, but too often with an aim of keeping the peace. Keeping the peace in a way that sometimes fails to contest and unpack reigning assumptions, or renegotiate and promote new ways of seeing and feeling, thinking and acting.

There continues to be such injustice in the world related to people with power trying to take from others/oppress those with minimal power or influence, and it is too easy to be lulled into complacency and a closed heart and mind by the numbing voices that saturate our mainstream media, in a society that too easily perpetuates the status-quo.

The work I draw on in my education focused PhD inquiry speaks about the disorienting dilemmas we can face in our passage through learning about life, and our responses to newly perceived and understood phenomena. As I turn my attention to these conflicts across our globe I am being challenged to sit with something that is horrifying and inconceivable to my limited perspective and life-experience, and in spite of my naivety and discomfort with such confronting realities, to open to new ways of seeing what has existed all along.

Malcolm X is reputed to have said ‘If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing’, and while sometimes I find it hard to differentiate the oppressed from the oppressors, I am reminded today … through listening with my eyes and ears and heart … that hearts closed by fear and anger will not bring about sustainable change. True understanding and resolution can only be achieved through open hearts and the provision of safe spaces where compassionate insight, mutual respect and understanding can be seeded and cultivated.

So as I open my own heart to new perspectives and the possibilities for my role in this change, I’ll quote another Facebook gem from today (Facebook is the font of all wisdom you know) …

Building walls in fear of loss does nothing to protect you from future harm, it only robs you of present joy. Tear the walls down

Cynthia Occelli

The secret to a good life

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According to Scott-Peck in ‘The road less travelled’ (1979), education comes from the word ‘educare’, meaning to ‘bring out from within’ or to ‘lead forth’. The art of teaching then, much like Socrates’ allusion to teachers as mid-wives (Plato’s Theaetetus), might be seen as concerned with drawing out what is already contained within the learner, bringing it into their conscious awareness.

In my experience, rather than trying to shovel information into people, the practice of learning and teaching should always be learner-focussed, most often achieved through facilitating a social ‘space’ where learners are given permission to go on a quest – an adventure of personal discovery into the self.

This space of learning can transpire through a social, collaborative process where individuals share and critique their own assumptions, experiences and perspectives of personal learning and knowing. Through this often disorienting quest to uncover/discover/rediscover the truths and strengths that lie within, individuals can begin to find new ways of seeing themselves and the world around them, and begin to consider the rich opportunities they have to engage with and impact on this newly perceived world. For me, mine is a process of supporting the ‘restorying’ of learners’ perspectives on what they see as possible for them in life. As an ‘educator’ of adults returning to study, I find the greatest satisfaction in supporting these transformations of self and potential.

Today, as I’ve been continuing my own PhD learning quest, pursuing a greater understanding of how we can best support teachers in their own transformative journeys of learning, I have come across an article from the Gallup Blog, the company that provides us with a myriad of statistics on all manner of fascinating stuff. The article is entitled ‘Teaching may be the secret to a good life, and in it, Brandon Busteed, Executive (Director of Gallup Education) and Dr. Shane Lopez (Gallup Senior Scientist) discuss their findings about the satisfaction rates of teachers in America.

Even while identifying the second highest levels of stress of all fourteen vocational areas surveyed, teachers rate the second highest level against emotional health and wellbeing. Though not perceived as a vocation pursued for financial gain, teachers surveyed responded that they get to “use their strengths and do what they do best every day”, and are most likely to report experiencing happiness and enjoyment (Busteed and Lopez, 2013).

This leads Busteed and Lopez to propose that as the title suggests, a career of teaching may well be the secret to a good life. They reflect on the benefits of working in such a richly rewarding vocation, and consider the value of great teachers in our lives … those who have inspired and encouraged us in pursuit of our sometimes lofty dreams, urging us to reach ever higher as the experience of life crafts us into the truest expression of ourselves.

I am not alone in knowing that the value of great teachers is true in many contexts. Those who have had the privilege and challenge of raising children and those who mentor, coach and lead with gentle strength each day in their work, sport and recreational lives may well have inspired and experienced the same richly rewarding outcomes.

So thank you to the educators in all contexts who continue to inspire and encourage us on our journey to the fullest expression of ourselves. May they realise the grandest of lives.

 

Busteed, B & Lopez, S. (2013) Teaching may well be the secret to a good life.  The Gallup Blog. http://thegallupblog.gallup.com/2013/03/teaching-may-be-secret-to-good-life.html

Peck, S. M. (1978). The road less travelled. New York: Touchstone.

Plato (circa 257 BC). Theaetetus Translated by Cornford, F. M. (1930) pp148e-151d. http://www.phy.ilstu.edu/pte/310content/philosophy/midwife.html

Finding the courage to move forward

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In his article ‘Which Leads to More Success, Reward or Encouragement?’, Deepak Chopra unpacks the notion of en-couraging people … supporting them to find their courage. In contrasting this approach of empowerment against the basic behaviourist strategies of reward and punishment employed by the ‘winners’ he describes so beautifully (see the counter response from one such ‘winner’ in the Comments), Chopra has expressed with such clarity an understanding very dear to my own heart.

Years ago, when I first read Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s search for meaning’, I was en-couraged and illuminated by his assertion that finding meaning in suffering provides the impetus we need to move forward when exposed to unimaginable realities. There are many days and many ways that we need courage to face the unknown and unimaginable, and it’s not a superficial reward or punishment needed that takes us into a primal response. What is needed most crucially is the connection to our heart … to the deepest core of our being that knows … the knowing beyond knowing. Not out of fear, but out of love and personal truth.

I am grateful for Deepak Chopra’s beautifully expressed knowing … do yourself a favour and read the article … I en-courage you …

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131116022900-75054000-which-leads-to-more-success-reward-or-encouragement?_mSplash=1