Tag Archives: learning

Service Learning: Teaching Children to Live With Intent

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The concept of living with intent, with a sense of purpose, can be taught to children at a young age. Parents lead by their own example, but great teachers can have a huge impact.

Carlthorp School, my daughter’s school in Santa Monica CA, has developed an incredible program with KidUnity, an organization that combines 21st Century learning concepts with service learning to create empathy, empowerment, and skills for children to engage in our world. My daughter is incredibly lucky to have participated in a year long program on civic engagement that culminated with a visit to Washington DC where the students heard from and made presentations to congress, media and organizations on subjects they had studied for during the academic year.

Here is a a reflection from my 12 year old daughter, Leela, on how the program worked and her experience: Continue reading

Making Science Cool and Getting Sleep

We live in a generation where teachers make a fraction of what professional athletes take home. People can become celebrities by being really good at Twitter and you could get an MTV show by being able to ride in a shopping cart and crash into things, so we think it’s kind of cool how science and learning is making it’s comeback and our current favorite is the #SciShow on Youtube!

Continue reading

Student Eloquently Points Out What’s Wrong with Education System in Five Minutes

It seems you can’t go five minutes without hearing about how apathetic today’s youth is about education – that they only care about getting famous or doing things that make them happy rather than learning. We are consistently bombarded with statistics about lower test scores, op-eds on why today’s college students aren’t ready for the demanding rigor of the current work force and the reminder that the United States is constantly slipping in rank when it comes to world education.

One Knox County, Tennessee student is going to tell you why. And you know what? It’s not because of apathetic students or lazy teachers. In five short minutes he breaks down the history of the “common core” and why it is failing America’s students, its teachers and the overall system. He explains the problem with treating education like a fortune 500 business and how a student’s success and quality of learning can’t be accessed by the percentage score of a scantron test. He stands up for his peers, their desire to learn, and for the hard working teachers that try to give them that opportunity to do so against seemingly impossible odds.

I come from a family of teachers. My mother just retired from teaching second grade. My father has been teaching at a community college for over 15 years and this fall my brother started his first year as a fourth grade teacher. When I go home for the holidays I will spend most of my time listening to conversations about lesson plans, parent teacher conferences and a rundown of all of the tedious paperwork that has to be filled out just to get a student diagnosed with ADD. When my mother was teaching she would often be at the school until 6pm, and when she came home she would be up until 10 or 11 grading papers, tweaking lesson plans or responding to parent e-mails. Every child of a teacher knows that it is a 24/7 job and that as the years go on it becomes more and more impossible. As the video points out, our teachers today are graded by percentage points on quarterly standardized tests rather than the desire to learn they inspire in their students. It doesn’t measure the important things like the amount of time spent helping struggling students or thinking outside the box. For the sake of their own jobs teachers today are forced to teach their students how to think like a multiple choice question rather than creating their own original ideas.

If we fail our students in learning how to think for themselves, how do we ever expect them to succeed in life?

If you know a teacher that could use this video as encouragement, share it with them to show your support! Or tell us what you think about this student’s speech in the comments below.

Video of the Day: A Teenager Brings His Class to Tears with a Few Words

Today Upworthy shared yet another hear-warming gut-wrenching story of what happens when love, kindness and patience mix with ingenuity. Musharaf “Mushy” Asghar had faced school years filled with bullying and isolation due to a speech impediment but with a little help from the movies, he is able to give a goodbye speech that brings everyone in the room to tears.

It just goes to show the power of educators and the spirit of children who want to learn! Be kind. Inspire.

What do you think of the video? Share with us in the comments below! 

Yoga Books and More: A Reading List Fit for a Yogi

Stacking Up and Defying Time (+1)Yoga is great for stretching. If you do it enough, you can touch your toes and improve your parallel parking skills by twisting to see behind you.

But, it’s also great for stretching and expanding things beyond your muscles—namely your mind. Through concentration and meditation, in particular, the mind becomes stronger and more agile, in the same way our muscles are strengthened by a Vinyasa class or trip to the gym.

Another way to stretch our minds is through svadhyaya or self-study, which encourages yogis to be students of their practice and the world. One easy way to do this is to read.  Since you’re reading this now, you’re off to a smashing start. BRAVO!

I recently had a request to share my favorite yoga and meditation books, so here’s a quick sampling of the ones I turn to most.

Modern yoga resources:

  • Living Your Yoga (Judith Lasater)
  • Eastern Body, Western Mind (Anodea Judith)
  • Yoga for Emotional Balance by my friend Bo Forbes
  • Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga by the late Georg Feuerstein
  • Mudras: Yoga in your Hands (Gertrud Hirschi)
  • Anything by B.K.S. Iyengar…

Classical yoga texts (each with multiple translations):

  • Bhagavad Gita
  • The Upanishads
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Meditation books:

  • Wherever You Go There You Are by mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn (and dad to one my dearest friends).
  • When Things Fall Apart by no nonsense Buddhist nun Pema Chodron

As an English major, former English teacher, writer, and proud nerd founder of the Om Gal Book Club, it’s no secret that I’m a major bookworm. I even have the knots in my shoulder and neck to prove it from lugging 2-3 books in my handbag at all times. I think it’s time for an e-reader…

And since they’re not all yoga books (not even close), I’ll share what else I’ve been reading lately and what I plan to read next.

Lately…

  • Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers by the inimitable Anne Lamott
  • Lean In by Facebook COO and feminist superhero Sheryl Sandberg
  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, also known as the book that changed my life most this year.  (If you don’t have time to read the book, watch her TED Talk).
  • Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield
  • Buddy: How a Rooster Made me a Family Man by my friend and editor of the Boston Globe, Brian McGrory.
  • Undiet by Candian gal pal and nutritionista superstar Meghan Telpner
  • New & Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (which I could read every day and still have my breathe taken away at least once on each page).

Up next…

  • Learning to Breathe by my friend Priscilla Warner
  • Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham
  • A literature heavy hitter… like Infinite Jest or Anna Karenina. If I start now, I can finish by Christmas, right?
  • The September issue of Vogue—seriously, have you seen this thing? Magazine doesn’t cut it. Definitely a book.

What about you? What are you reading? Which yoga and meditation books expand your mind, and which works of prose or poetry stretch your soul and fill your handbag?

Originally published on my website, Om Gal.

7 Interesting Things I Recently Learned

In a world where every minute of every day we are exposed to non-stop information from a myriad stream of sources, in the last few weeks there were moments when I sincerely felt I’d reached the point of information overload.

Generally, if you ask me what I consider fun, I’d say “learning something new.” Then I’d smile. Not what others might consider their way of having fun. Being Aquarian, an air sign, I love to bring ideas down to earth, to share with others. So when I was at the point of feeling overwhelmed, I stopped to look at what stood out, picking the seven most interesting and fun things I actually heard or learned about recently, also making note of how they showed up for me.

The first, was all about books. In my piece on my love of bookstores, I openly declared that I adore real books and don’t enjoy reading them online. Although I’m apparently in the minority, I was thrilled to learn about two projects that are determined to honour and preserve the printed book.

The first story was about a modern day “Noah”, Brewster Kahle, who personally has invested $3 million to buy and operate a real book repository. “We want to collect one copy of every book. You can never tell what is going to paint the portrait of a culture,” Kahle told the New York Times. Each week, 20,000 new volumes arrive, many of them donations from libraries and universities delighted to find a home for material that no longer has a place in the Internet age. “Wow” I thought. “How incredible that someone would undertake such a monumental task.” It left me smiling and definitely wanting to pass it on.

Then I heard about a small individual project started three years ago in Wisconsin, by Todd Bol. Called Little Free Library, today it has grown to include locations in at least 28 states and six countries including Canada, Australia and Afghanistan, with people from more than a dozen other countries expressing interest, according to Bol. The premise: take a book, return a book. What a simple, yet exceptional way, to engage people and contribute to building community. Both of these stories came to me via the Internet as links within emails. Glad I clicked on them.

Second thing I found really interesting, was revealed in a face-to-face conversation – my all time favourite way of communicating – by a young man I’d just met, who himself had literally just heard about this on the radio. A study by German researchers discovered that when people glanced at the colour green for two seconds before doing a creative task, it actually boosted their creative output in comparison to briefly looking at other colours, like white, grey, red, and blue. As someone involved in all kinds of creative undertakings, I was fascinated by this new bit of colour information. As I write, I’m trying it out by looking at a wonderful green elephant plant.

Number three came in one of my favourite daily emails, Gaping Void, with a tongue-in-cheek look at how we don’t really talk to each other anymore. The stats are pretty wild. As author Hugh MacLeod wrote, “Truth is we live in a world dominated by mobile phones – there are actually more phones than there are people in the U.S. – yet we barely speak to each other anymore.” Really? More cell phones than people in the U.S.! I got the details. According to a piece in the New York Times, there are 327.6 million wireless customer connections, equal to 103.9 percent of the United States population. Honestly, for me this wasn’t really that much fun to learn about. I’m with Hugh when he says, “Our phones have become everything but a device to speak into (unless you’re one of the iPhoners who talk to Siri).  Phone or no phone, we should talk more, don’t you think?” I do think.

The fourth actually took me by surprise. Personally, I support many charities and organizations that do amazing humanitarian work around the world and really thought I was well-versed in who was doing what. Then I learned about World Neighbors, who have been building self-sufficient, independent communities for 61 years in over 45 countries around the world, and I had never heard of them! Their current campaign “Stop Saving The World, Start Changing It,” is a great opportunity to join a movement that shows the world how to actually bring about lasting changes, not just offer short term aid. They’re truly changing the lives of people living all over the globe, all on less than $1 a day. This one arrived compliments of a dear friend who herself had just been introduced to the inspiring work World Neighbors does.

Health and food items are always biggies for me, so this article in a real printed magazine caught my attention and became number five. It’s about a condition called fructmal (fructose malabsorption), which is little known, yet makes it difficult to digest fruit sugars or fructose. Yes, this means even healthy fruits like apples, dates, pears, mango or cherries can upset your digestive system. It’s associated with tangible symptoms that range from bloating and gas to depression.

Number six I heard about from a friend who saw it on a Sunday morning television show and told me about it over the telephone. (Make mine a landline, of course!) Already included in my piece about old things becoming new again, I liked it so much, here goes again. Old typewriters are making a comeback! Love it! Yes, old-fashioned typewriters are making a comeback, not only with collectors, but with a new generation of users too. “Type-ins” are a new kind of social event for those in their 20s and 30s. “You type so much quicker than you can think on a computer. On a typewriter, you have to think,” Brandi Kowalski told the New York Times. She began a vintage typewriter business last April with a partner, and so far they’ve refurbished and sold more than 70 machines, many to first-time users. Their slogan is perfect: “Unplug and reconnect.” And yes, I did find my 1970s portable Smith Corona in its original box in my collectibles-filled basement.

Number seven on the list was a fun one I heard on the radio. It seems there is a new wine on the market called “Hot Flash” created by B.C. winery House of Rose, especially for middle-aged women. Great product name. It caught the attention of the media when Brooke Shields ordered two cases after wrapping up production on her new movie called The Hot Flashes in Louisiana. I don’t drink, but I’d love someone to let me know how this one tastes. Apparently it’s not only for women, but men too!

I admit, there is so much to learn. It never ends. What interests one person may pass by another without even a glance. Sometimes I wonder how we can possibly continue to keep up with so much information? I can only trust that whatever I need to learn will show up for me at exactly the right time. It always has so far.

In retrospect, I had a really fun few weeks of learning. How was your week? Love to hear something interesting you learned or heard about recently.

Visit me at: www.beverleygolden.com

photo by: eflon

Are We Learning to Live in a Living Universe?

When our physical body dies, will we recognize ourselves as a subtle body of light, love, music, and knowing? Will we recognize the unique orchestration of our being, the distinct way we light up the world? If we fail to recognize ourselves in this way — if we require the assistance of a physical body to anchor our self-recognition — then we are profoundly limiting ourselves.

The afterlife is unknown; however, our invisible body of music, light and love that lives in eternity is knowable. Every person that we encounter can instantly recognize these unique and invisible qualities within us. Our responsibility is not to be concerned with the afterlife, but to be so fully present in this life that we recognize the familiar resonance of who we are, wherever we might be.

Many spiritual traditions tell us how important it is to be awake to our soulful nature at the time of death. What happens after we die seems likely to forever remain a mystery. However, if we do not become familiar with our subtle self while we have the precious vehicle of a physical body, we can fail to recognize ourselves when our physical body dies. Because we are created from an invisible life force, we may die and not see that this life force is who and what we are. Our physical body is an anchor for light illuminating light, knowing recognizing knowing, and love appreciating love. If, in freedom, we have not made friends with ourselves during this lifetime, our physical bodies can die and the animating life energy of our being may dissipate and lose its coherence. We may then require the constraint of a material world to enable us to encounter ourselves once again.

Why should we be concerned with recognizing the eternal being within ourselves while we are alive in this physical realm? Jesus gives an important answer when he says, "In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you." (John 14:2). I believe Jesus is saying that, in the vast ecology of the living universe, there are spaces suitable for all beings.

Buddhists also believe we must discover our subtle, inner nature so we can recognize ourselves when we die as pure awareness or as the "ground luminosity." Because the essence of who we are is so subtle, when we die we can become confused, disoriented, and unable to sustain self-recognition. To keep from becoming overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, colors, and visions that arise in the passage through bodily death, Buddhists teach that we must attain some degree of stability in self-recognition in the here and now. If we pay attention to the natural wakefulness and feeling presence at the core of our everyday consciousness, we will be familiar with ourselves at the time of death. The Dalai Lama counsels that, because we don’t know when we will die, it is of great importance to be prepared as, at the time of death, the total responsibility for awareness falls upon us. He writes, "The body is compared to a guest house; it is a place to stay for just a short time… When the day comes for consciousness to leave, the guest house of the body must be left behind."

If the universe were non-living at its foundations, it would take a miracle to save us from extinction at the time of death, and then to take us from here to a heaven (or promised land) of continuing aliveness. However, if the universe is alive, then we are already nested and growing within its aliveness. When our physical body dies, the life-stream that we are will move into the larger aliveness of the living universe. We don’t need a miracle to save us — we are already inside the miracle of sustaining aliveness. Instead of being saved from death, our job is to bring mindful attention to our enduring aliveness in the here and now.

Our awakening is not the end of our spiritual journey, but rather, the barest beginning. As we learn the skills of consciously recognizing ourselves as beings of light, love, music, and knowing, we are meeting the basic requirement for our journey through eternity. Once knowingness knows itself directly, then that knowingness can live and learn forever as a luminous stream of being in the deep ecology of the universe. Awakening is never finished: We will forever be "enlightening" ourselves — becoming lighter — so that we have the ability to participate in ever more free, subtle, open, delicate and expressive ecologies of being and becoming.

When we die, we will not need to remember the material details of our lives because the knowing-resonance that we are already embodies the essential wisdom of our lifetime of experience. In the words of the spiritual teacher Thomas Merton, "Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul." As we cultivate our capacity for mindful living, we lessen the need for a material world and a physical body to awaken the knowing process to itself.

 

Why Learners Are Heroes

On an airplane. Reading about psychology and education.

Came across this quote from American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz: “Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.”

Powerful. Transformational. And that’s why I salute the brave thinkers among us.

The very act of learning something new disrupts the way you’ve always seen things-and the way you’ve always been. A fresh idea pushes you out of your comfort zone and threatens the very foundations you’ve built your view of the world on.

That’s scary for nearly everyone. Truly frightening for the vast majority. So rather than experience any form of discomfort, most people regress – and return to their Safe Harbor of The Known. It feels better. Seems safer. But, in truth, it’s not.

The problem is that refusing to learn and grow is the beginning of the end.

Leadership-and life itself-is all about making tomorrow better than today. And stepping into your next level of excellence with every passing hour. To cling to the thoughts and ways of performing that you’ve always known is to resign yourself to being average. And mediocre. A spectator versus in the game.

Neuroscientists will tell you that a single new piece of learning actually changes the very nature of your brain. The circuitry shifts. And the wiring expands. But in order to reach these new lands, we must lose sight of the shore-even for just a little while.

And that takes guts.

And a pure bit of leadership.

Keep Leading Without A Title!

Robin

Read more from Robin Sharma at www.RobinSharma.com.

FREE audio program available from Robin Sharma – Download Here!

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / KJGarbutt

Elevate! Awaken! Take Action!

 

I was honored to be invited to attend TEDxBerkeley this past Saturday on a press pass for live tweeting the event. I won’t take you through a play-by-play of the fantastic day—for that, you can read my @meimeifox tweets or view the videos when they appear on the TEDxBerkeley website. I just want to share key takeaways from a few of the 13 inspirational speakers, all of whom are deeply engaged with making positive change in the world.

Nearly everyone spoke of elevating our consciousness, increasing our awareness, and taking concrete action to make a difference. Yet they approached these topics from many different angles, depending on their areas of expertise.

Marti Spiegelman, who holds a BA from Harvard, an MFA from Yale, and has studied for years with indigenous shamans around the world, took a sometimes hard-to-follow deep dive into the subject of consciousness. She argued that while, as humans, the core of our being is perception, the magic is awareness. Evolving our consciousness means feeling rather than thinking, allowing our intuition to flow. “When we practice consciousness, we become people who are in love with everything and everyone!” Spiegelman passionately intoned towards the end of her talk. “Here, here!” I tweeted from the third row.

UC Berkeley urban design professor Walter Hood brings consciousness to cities by adding greenery. Not parks or community gardens, but woods, wild and untamed, like what he’s helped to create on The Hill in Pittsburgh. With great gusto, Hood spoke of the benefits of having places for urban kids to get dirty, imagine they’re lions, and hide from mom and dad. So here was a literal, practical solution for elevating our awareness: Bring nature back into our daily lives.

In the corporate arena, Chip Conley, the CEO of boutique hotel chain Joie de Vivre and author of Peak: How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow, spoke of the importance of creating meaning in our lives—even, no especially, at work. With remarkable vulnerability, Conley admitted to becoming depressed and near suicidal post-breakup during the economic downturn two years ago. He recommended these three strategies for fixing the business world:

1)    Teach business leaders how to get in touch with their emotions.

2)    Evaluate employee performance based not only on results but also relationship building, as they do at Joie de Vivre.

3)    Teach MBAs not to be superhuman, but to be super humans.

Google product manager, yogi and meditator Gopi Kallayil offered practical steps for elevating our consciousness on a daily basis. He recommended:

1)    Focus on the essential: Narrow down your list of what you think must get done.

2)    Do one thing at a time. Multitasking doesn’t work (studies prove this).

3)    Practice One Minute of Mindfulness every day. That way it becomes an unbreakable habit rater than an unfulfilled commitment. 

4)    Decide what’s non-negotiable and stick to it.

5)    Friend yourself: Listen to the tweet of your own heartbeat!

 In an extremely engaging talk, Shore Slocum, founder of the conscious social network SoulNeeds.com, urged us all to “wake up!” We can do this, he explained, by moving through the Four Levels of Consciousness:

Level 1) I feel like life is happening TO ME: It’s the weather’s fault, my parent’s fault, the economy’s fault. This is the victim mentality.

-> To exit this stage and evolve to the next, we must give up blame and take responsibility for our lives.

Level 2) I feel that things happen BY ME: I understand that I can take charge of my life and get different results. It’s a matter of effort and willpower. The danger with this level is that we become burnt out from constantly striving to achieve.

-> To exit this stage and evolve to the next, we must give up control (especially challenging for us over-achievers!)

Level 3) I believe that things happen THROUGH ME: Life becomes effortless because I am plugged into the Universe. Success begins to flow.

 -> To exit this stage and evolve to the next, we must give up our sense of self.

Level 4) Life happens AS ME: There is no separation between you and me and all the world. We are one.

Jason Atwood, the young founder of a solar-powered computer learning center in Africa called Ethiopia ConnectedED, started the day nervously, stumbling through his talk. And yet I choose to end my post with his rallying cry as he exited the stage:

“Privilege + opportunity = Responsibility.”

I couldn’t agree more. We, who are educated, who are well off enough to take our laptops and high-speed internet access for granted, who don’t worry about our Twitter feeds getting censored and text messages being turned off by our government… It is up to us to heal the world. Going to TEDxBerkeley served as a terrific source of inspiration, ideas, and advice. But now each of us must take up the mantle and go make things happen. We must “be the change,” as Gandhi said.

NOTE: TEDx events, which are independently organized but officially sanctioned “baby TED” conferences, take place around the world all the time. Best of all, unlike TED (which costs thousands of dollars), admission is restricted to $100 max. Click here to find a TEDx event near you!

Hacked website

After my unsettling experience with being labeled an "infected site", I’m pleased to relate it’s safe to browse once more on www.allanhunter.net. 

Actually, it turns out it always was. The software had a glitch.

So why am I writing about it here? Well, the amount of learning that resulted was enormous. And probably the biggest thing I learned is that such events offer opportunities.  Opportunities that included being able to ask for advice, being humble about my lack of knowledge, and grateful for guidance. Better yet was the whole experience allowed me to mobilize my patience about technical issues that normally I don’t give my patience to.  As such it opened up an entire world of new ways of responding to uncertainty…. and anxiety.

Even this cloud turned out to have a lining of gold, laced with diamonds and rubies.
 

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