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Stay Involved, Don’t Opt Out

rp_Feelings.jpgSocial interaction is crucial to children learning language.  Watching a video or listening to an auditory version is not enough.  Are children becoming autistic because people in our world are becoming less and less involved?  What about a good old fashioned conversation or a satisfying read?  Being unable to interact with others is a very real problem and I can see the day when children have virtual play dates?  How removed from reality is this?  Will we all sit home and rely on clouds and the internet to keep us in touch?  Will the ethers be doing our talking?  It will no longer be necessary to read or write as computers will communicate for us just by talking and ultimately will thoughts and images not words be used to share ideas?

 rp_2269499855_31a018a8f6_m.jpg This just started out as a blog about how children need human contact to learn and ultimately to thrive.  Scarey isn’t it?  For example, someday people will not sign their names, not just because they did not learn cursive writing; but because reading and writing are no longer considered necessary.  We have done this since the dawn of the machine age and eliminating the human factor in creating things that we need and use.  Is it possible we are also eliminating the good vibrations that many skilled, dedicated craftsmen and craftswomen put into their work.

Flowers Versus Weeds. How Were You Raised? What Are You Raising?

rp_8150559597_f6b72c73b6_m.jpgIt all depends on your point of view.
The problem is that in your garden you may have been taught to see certain plants as weeds and which should be “weeded” out and others as flowers which should be cultivated.  Many people when they plant their gardens expect to get flowers but the truth is that when you plant a seed, you may get not get what you expected which is someone like you and you don’t know how to cultivate them.  How do you handle this mystery seed as a disappointment or as a wonderful new discovery  if you got what you were hoping for.  Why take it out on the plant, because you have to learn new cultivating  techniques and, for example, provide different amounts of water, different amounts of sunshine or shade, and different kinds and amounts of plant food as well as protection from different types of insect infestation.  Some require  more space than others or grow taller and block the sun getting to other plants and/or your view of them.  You can look on this as a pleasant surprise or as a serious disappointment and/or you might learn new things about growing different “plants”.

rp_300px-Drill.jpgThe famous Kennedy family had their developmentally disabled daughter unsuccessfully operated on to deal with her unconventional behavior and then institutionalized her because they couldn’t cope with her unfortunate behavior changes after surgery and her perceived inability to benefit (they thought) no longer from family life with the other children.  Could she who was seen as an unfortunate weed that needed to be changed been raised successfully (at least for her if not for them) in the in the Kennedy family compound? They felt that they couldn’t cope with her behavior and poor ability to comprehend and benefit from what was going on around her.  It was an unfortunate decision and at the time, they didn’t know that the operation would not help her, but injury her further.

Did you get what you individually needed to grow and flourish as the flower that you actually  were or were you treated unfortunately as an unwanted weed? Also what were your parents considered to be by their parents, teachers, and even peers?  Flowers or weeds? and how were they raised? you-are-exactly-who-you-are-suppose-to-beTaking account of the differences as well as the similarities is important in raising your own off spring or the children you have contact with, students, nieces and nephews,  etc. .  Consider such happenings  as a pleasant  surprise and  as a splendid way to learn new things and see life from a different point of view and not as dealing with an unwanted pest and, at best, as at least an inconvenience to have such a child and set them the child up for the rest of his or her life to be seen as a failure or to be at the least second best when compared with a sibling or or siblings who might more meet your expectations and fit your style of dealing with life itself.

Old Rolls Or Old Roles

rp_300px-Nuclearfamily.jpgOld rolls or old roles?  Which are staler.  Have you changed even so you might fall back into old roles when you are back in an old situation.  The expectations can still be there and you can’t resist them.  Does everybody eat at the dining role table when you eat in the kitchen even though you are not a child anymore.  Do you wait until everybody else has eaten before you even attempt to eat your food?  Anticipating a family visit can take you back to childhood, adolescence and possibly young adulthood. and when you actually get there it can be even worse.  The cues that used to set you or family members off, still do.  Okay, it doesn’t happen for you.  What about your partner when they visit their family.

Do we ever grow up in spite of our families?  Daddy’s girl or mama’s boy are roles that are easily taken up again when around mommy or daddy again.  Do you or did you have a sibling that used to boss you around, always got their way , or could beat you in a fight verbal or physical?  Were you the “STAR”, the one always recognized for your accomplishments or were you invisible and if you you did anything that achieved  recognition,  did certain or all other family members ignore it or worse yet  not even know that something like that happened?

Old habits die hard. Do family members that were used to giving you orders still order you around effectively when you are around them?  Do you pick up the check, wash the dishes, mind the little children while the rest of the family doesn’t even thank you and may even go off without you.  Enabling, double binds reassert themselves.  Do they order for you, refuse to get you a drink, or comment on your hair or what you wear or even go so far as to pick out what you wear.rp_Yes_stars_drama_logo.png

Worse yet do you become sick or somewhat spacey when planning to make a home visit.  Worse yet can be family reunions where you are given no choice as to what happens or do you do the opposite and wind up planning the whole thing with everybody else’s wishes, preferences, and time schedules in mind, not yours, because it is easier for you to just give in.  Do you find yourself not making a fuss even when you are grossly inconvenienced.  If it is your partner’s family reunion, do you get taken along for the ride and have a miserable time.  Do old dramas reoccur like Uncle George drinking all the spiked punch and getting sick and puking all over someone’s pants or carpet.

Do you wonder why you went.  Was it just to go and put in an appearance.  Did it even mess up your schedule and cause you to miss something else that you would have preferred to go to another family reunion, or a planned event with hard to get tickets.  Do the people there smoke, drink excessively, or cuss outrageously even in front of children?  How many of these events have you enjoyed? in the past ten years.rp_Send_It_On.png

Are you still the scapegoat at these events like a school reunion, etc..  Or worse yet do you still get bullied or even worse yet emotionally , physically, or sexually abused.  Some times sexual abuse by a family friend or member does not stop when the victim reaches adulthood.  Do the people there go off into their own groups (old school friends) and leave you on the fringe. Or instead do you lapse into old negative behaviors deliberately talking about things and doings while openly leaving someone out and who has a miserable time.

I suggest a spa visit before to get ready or better yet after to pamper yourself.  Aim to just live through it and give yourself some quiet decompression time possibly both before and after the visit.  Reward yourself for getting through it even if you only went out of obligation such as  “Honor thy father and mother.”  You might even go so far as to do or not do one thing that that you usually don’t do or do (almost helplessly) on these occasions.  Stand up for yourself, but be totally prepared for what might happen if you do this.  These people can still push your  buttons even if they have not been pushed in a long time.

Okay you are strong; you wouldn’t let this happen to you.  What about letting it happen to somebody else just because this was the way it always used to be.  You don’t want to cause any conflict.  Worse yet then they might pick on you too.  Have you really matured and do what you think is right rather than falling back into going along with the crowd.  “The crowd” can exert a lot of pressure and you may be seen as spoiling their good time.

Out With The Old, In With The New Or Is It In With The Old Out With The New?

There are a lot of articles about decluttering your house, your apartment, your dorm room or your room at home.  How about decluttering your life or better yet your mind!  How long do we hang on to old ideas like old clothes, old newspapers, or worn out shoes?   We haven’t used them in the last few years or we haven’t reevaluated them recently to see if they still serve their purpose or reflect who we are.  Have you ever noticed a woman or a man who hasn’t changed their style of dressing and/or hair style since they were much younger?  It may not suit them anymore but they continue to wear them.

Now Is The Time That....

Now Is The Time That….

When we are younger, we learn rapidly and may change our minds just as fast.  Have we changed who influences us and/or what we believe? even if we have found evidence or had experiences to the contrary?  Sometimes we are even proud of this.  Yes, if it still makes sense continue to believe it.  Or do you not change your opinions or the way you practice your beliefs because of stubborness and/ or pride.  Or are you afraid that someone will find you to be easy to be led by the ring in your nose? or just plain wishywashy?  Who controls your life?  Is that what you really want?

Who controls your life?  good?  or evil?  How comfortable are you about the decisions you have made?  Are you afraid of losing your identity. of not knowing who you are any more if you realize that rp_KUWtK_titlecard.pngyou need to reconsider some of the decisions  you have made about yourself and your life.  Remember what works for one person may not work for another and you may be unhappy if you follow the crowd and continue to judge yourself by what you think that the crowd thinks is important.  Anthropology is the study of different cultures in different lands and it might surprise some people if they study anthropology that different people find different things and different behaviors necessary to be considered civilized or attractive.  In our society, consider Kim Kardashian’s  posterior anatomy which some men find very enticing.

This is especially true if a person is raised to follow some standard because of what other people might think.  This is as true of teenaged gang members as it is or was of teenagers in Beverly Hills.  Isn’t it amazing that sometimes someone will do something or wear something that is very original that will start a new trend that then it seems like everyone now has to admire and/or follow?  I was raised that way and I wondered why everybody was more important than me.  Such a thing detracts from one’s self-worth.

rp_1360757052_a551272cf9_m.jpg

There is room for a lot of different beliefs in the world if one believes in freedom.  Why do some people think that they have to destroy or convert (often by threat of death) anyone who does not believe as they do?  Diversity can be a good thing.  It is often a good thing if most people like different things and activities.  If their were no people who liked to cook how would we get something to eat?  What makes one occupation better than another?  Who would fix our toilets or collect our trash?  Is an airplane pilot more skilled than an airplane mechanic.
When my brother was in the U.S. Air Force, he told me that in the Canadian Air Force that pilots were sergeants and mechanics were lieutenants just the opposite of what was true of the U.S.
Air Force.

Another thing to consider is if we should be constantly changing to something new like the new core curriculum in schools?  It appears too complicated for elementary students to grasp or even for adults?  Who is going to help children with their math?  Homework already has been difficult enough for parents to help with.  What happened to common sense?  What happened to the freedom of school districts to determine what and how to teach something.  Different teachers have different strengths and can use different approaches to teach the same thing from other teachers or within the classroom with different students.  Why are these choices being made more and more by people who are far removed from the very situation that  they are making the decisions for.  A good leader uses his or her employees’ or supervisees’ knowledge and strengths in order to make decisions.  They also delegate authority when appropriate..

 

Teaching Yourself

Saarbrücken, HTW, Mathematics Workshop

Saarbrücken, HTW, Mathematics Workshop (Photo credit: flgr)

When I was in school I was expected to learn how to do something and to master this skill on my own.  There was no teacher utilizing a method of instructing in math or reading.   Tutoring and such additional help is common today but was only used then in extreme cases where the student couldn’t master the subject.  If they were given extra help in class, the  rest of the class would fall behind.  Memorization skills  and good handwriting were expected and competitions were held in these areas with winners and losers.  To the gifted student, it was motivating and now we know it created  brains filled with much knowledge and good problem solving skills.

Such students still exist.  My son and I both figure out how to do math problems on our own.  I never was very good at helping with the “new” math homework when my kids were in school.  Surprisingly I took advanced math classes in high school and did well; but calculus was never offered.  I never did master calculus but I memorized derivations in graduate school when calculus was used in statistics class.

Computer Basics Class

Computer Basics Class (Photo credit: taylor library)

When methods are used to teach math, they often do not “click” with every student.  This is like with using the computer.  You need often to figure it out for yourself and when someone else teaches you, they teach you their way which may or may not work for you.  Everyone’s wiring is different and what works for one person may not work for another person.  There are many different ways to do things on the computer and how something is done in one program may not be the way something is done in another.  Frequently programs on the computer assume that you will already know something and skip explaining this step.  If you already know how some things are ordinarily done on the computer, you may be able to almost automatically fill in the missing step while a novice won’t be able to do this.

Assuming that somebody knows something or knows how to do something may make somebody look like an “ass” whether it is you or the other person depends on who determines the winner of the argument you or the other person.  I frequently find this a problem with men who feel that if you can’t convince them of something that you are automatically wrong.  Who determines the winner is the problem here.  As a result, I refuse to participate in such arguments.

 

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The Importance Of Problem Solving!

To learn and not to do is really not to learn....

To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know. (Photo credit: planeta)

This post is finished.  I am done with the revising and editing; but I wanted to put it up early so a class I am teaching could use it to learn something about critical thinking.

Cognitive development continues in adult life and some of the crucial elements are the individual’s creative and learned abilities to solve problems.  Do it “My way; but nicely” as a musical comedy (The King and I) song says is the way many parents and supervisors lead.  Could it be that the problem-solving skills of these individuals are also underdeveloped not just those of their children or their supervisees?  A good work relationship requires an able boss and a good employee, an able parent and a child with undeveloped potential, an able teacher and a willing student.  In all of these equations, both the leaders and those being led have to participate and make contributions.

How do we help this along?  It is by not letting an “I can’t do this” attitude from hindering a person’s development.  Learning does not stop at 16, 21, or 35.  It goes on for a lifetime.  I realize that I have, when confronted with a barrier or an obstacle, have not taken the time necessary.   I just want to get on with it so I continue on with that detail not attended to and also on depending on someone else to do what I have not learned to do for myself and not bothering to problem solve and master what may be a new skill for me.

Obstacles and barracades are opportunities to grow and learn and to acquire new skills.  How often have you said I can’t when you probably could.  Being constantly dependent on others to do things for us which we can’t or have not learned to do for ourselves can lead to anger both at ourselves and for our helplessness and at others whose whims we see ourselves are susceptible to.

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

Take on a new project.  Find one thing that you have not learned how to do for yourself and master it.  My spouse recently showed me for the nth time how to call up a missed number on the phone.  I had always depended on him to do it for me and if he wasn’t there I could get mad at myself for not knowing how to do it and at him for being in control of my life that way by not being able to return a simple phone call without him.

Now I have a growing list of things I should be able to do for myself which demands I usually met in the past with a feeble, “I can’t…”  Sometimes it is not easy; but, when mastered, these things give you more freedom to do it your way, not theirs.  Learning involves communication between pupil and teacher.  The student needs to build on what they already know in order to bridge the gap between themselves and teachers.  It is this communality that fosters learning.  The attitude, “This is so stupid.  Why can’t he learn this”, is often an example of the teacher’s tendency to give up and externalize the blame onto the student.

Finally, once you’ve solved the problem, remember to use what you have learned the next time you have that problem.  Remember practice makes perfect.  What you learn for yourself is often the best learning method.  You don’t leave any steps out or forget to define terms.  Focusing on the neuroplacity of the brain means that we can go on learning the rest of our lives.  It increases self-esteem,  it develops abilities you may be able to teach others as a legacy, it enlarges your sphere of life (now no more saying to yourself limiting yourself by saying, ” I won’t go there because I can’t do that and I am not willing to learn”.

Remember you sometimes can chose what you want to learn to do but you can’t always control others so that they will do things for you when you don’t know how.

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Perseverance

 

Chinese proverb. It says, "Study till old...

Chinese proverb. It says, “Study till old, live till old, and there is still three-tenths studying left to do.” Meaning that no matter how old you are, there is still more studying left to do (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

perseverancePerseverance breeds possibilities. Possibilities make themselves visible when we are optimistic about doing something.  Self-confidence breeds success.  Developing solutions to problems can become our constant mod us operandi if we think positively.  Thinking something is hopeless blocks our thoughts and cripples our creativity.  Being judgmental, especially of one’s own self and one’s abilities, can be self-defeating.  Is the first thing you say to yourself when faced with a problem or decision, “I can’t.”  Stops you in your tracks doesn’t it and you immediately give up trying to do something about the problem.   Also at a certain point when you get older, you are often told that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Perseverance is the key and we now know the brain can and does make new connections as we learn something new no matter what our age.  This is called neuroplasticity.

Perseverance is also necessary when seeking help.  I have come to rely on others who I think know more than I do about somethings like computers and technological devices or who, I think, have more mechanical abilities and even those who I think are physically less challenged than I.  They’re taller and stronger.  Sometimes, however, I still must rely more on myself.  For example, when it comes to computers, I have done two things:  When I do rely on others for help, I review my problem areas and compose questions whose answers I hope will help me get the answers I need to do what I do.  That way I can help myself to some extent and better use the help I get.  Or I try to figure it out by myself with the aid of any material I can find which will explain what I need to have explained at my level.  Even though I feel at times that the time I have spent “trying” to do some things has been useless, I have found that I did acquire some basic knowledge that helps me to understand and use the information I do get if any from other sources.  Learning is a complex process and to achieve it you must persevere.

Sometimes people do not appear to have to persevere at something to master it. Somethings appear to come naturally to others without perseverance, but that is often so because they want you to think that when actually it took blood, sweat, and tears.

For example, after I had finished my graduate schooling, I had to take a comprehensive exam in my area of study in order to be licensed by the state.  This required perseverance.  It was very strictly regulated and offered infrequently in a distant city.  I remember my former boss told me that he had taken it and passed it without studying for it.  I studied anyway for several months as I had been out of school for a couple of years and needed to refresh my memory about important concepts and applicable research studies.  The exam was very difficult and I would not have passed it if I had not persevered and done all the studying I had.  I now think my former boss was setting me up to fail by saying what he did.  I doubt whether he had passed it without studying or that maybe even if he had passed it at all.

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Whose Business Is It Anyway?

EXPERT

EXPERT (Photo credit: Pete Prodoehl)

Most of us have trouble controlling our own lives so why do we think we can do a good job of controlling someone else’s life, especially that of someone we really don’t know.   It seems that our media encourages this and hour upon hour of television news is spent speculating about people who are in the public spotlight and garnering opinions about them, who they are, what to do about them, and why they did what they did.  They survey dozens of “experts” and whether these experts know what they are talking about is often not very clear.

Usually this speculating starts before the facts about the situation (if we ever really get them) are all in and often the initial information from which people are drawing conclusions is sketchy, at least a little inaccurate, and sometimes just plain wrong.  This jumping to conclusions can lead to actions and  reactions that are not just inappropriate, but downright harmful.  Mob violence, for example, can be such a thing.  There is something to be said for delays in reporting some of the news until all the facts are in and for taking the time necessary to put together a full and unbiased report.  Even then should people, consumers and “experts”, be called prematurely to offer ideas as to how they would describe the motives of possible “suspects” and as to what should be done in terms of punishment and in terms of changes in the law that should be made.

How can some of us who may have similar problems of our own that we can’t or won’t solve and/or who have little knowledge of the problem in general tell others with that problem what to do?  In college, the sophomore who was taking introductory psychology always knew the most about the subject and was inclined to offer other college students who had not yet taken the class, friends, and family unsolicited advice and opinions about others’ behavior and psychological problems.  “Don’t look at me; look at them,” the person seems to be saying and often following this with unsolicited and unsound advice.  Control yourself, not others, unless you are officially responsible for them as a teacher, law enforcement officer, judge, or parent.

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Integrated Learning

English: Graduate School

English: Graduate School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There needs to be a foundation of past learning on which to build new learning.  The better a person can relate to a new subject, the more likely, he or she will understand and retain the new learning.  One gift of a teacher is that he or she can find ways to connect past learning in his or her students to new learning.  Not only do teachers need the gift of knowledge about a subject that they seek to impart to their students, but also they have to know how to convey that material to their students.

I have had the experience where a professor who was very well known in her field and who had done trail blazing research was unable to pass that knowledge on in a meaningful way to her students.  It was in an advanced graduate course where all the students had been at the top of their class when they graduated from college and were successfully mastering graduate work for their advanced degrees.  She gave a test  and all of the select group of students who were taking her course did not give the answers she expected of them.  In fact, she held the students over so that she could go over the entire test and demonstrate the answers she had expected of them.  What she didn’t know was that the students had regularly been getting together in order to figure out the correct answers to questions that she had raised and thought that she answered in class.  Every lecture she gave was even more confusing than the last.  No wonder her students did not know the answers that she had expected them to give on her test.  She knew her subject, but she could not teach her subject.

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Good Teachers, Bad Teachers

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I was not an education major; but my graduate education in my subject matter qualified? me to teach college in that area.  My experience as a student, eventually taught me what I didn’t know when I first started school.  Naively, when I was young, I expected that my teachers not only knew their subject matter, but they also knew how to teach it.  Initially I felt that if I failed to master the subject matter, it was my fault.  Then as I became a student in high school, I learned (what almost all students learn at that point)  that you could easily get the teacher off the subject he or she was teaching and on to their “favorite” subject whether it was the Vietnam war or something else.  This was the easy way out of having to listen to a boring lecture on some subject we didn’t like anyway.  For those of us going on to college, this was a disservice as we might be expected to have learned certain things before we took certain college classes.  This idea occurred to me when I was a high school student and I began to feel at least vaguely uneasy when some students would try to distract the teacher in this way.

Problems like this continued on into graduate school where some teachers, in what was supposed to be an overview of findings in a certain area, focused only on the research that they were interested in and/or agreed with.  Sometimes they were wrong and things that needed to be covered especially if you were going to eventually work in the general or applied field were not covered or were “proven” by them to not be scientifically based.  Even worse were the professors who during the “hippie” era decided to turn the class over to the control and direction of the students who were also usually allowed to assign their own grades as well.  Scarey?  I thought so at the time.  Fortunately I had some more responsible teachers whose insights into the subject matter they taught helped me discover things about the area studied that I would not have discovered by myself or in most classes taught in that area. Thank God for good teachers.

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