Monthly Archives: October 2014

Never-doubt-that-a-small - Margaret Mead

Can you make a difference?

My previous post How much of a meliorist are you? attracted many comments and much lively discussion, including comparisons of seemingly pessimistic or optimistic views of the future and the validity of each.

This discussion surprised me as my intention in writing the post was not to delve into the damage that we humans have wreaked upon the world, but simply to express my belief that we humans, should we desire to do so, have the power to improve the world. We may not be able to change everything we would like to see changed, but we can make a start within our own circle of influence.

Few-will-have-the - Robert F. Kennedy

Or, in the words of Michael Jackson, one can “Look in the mirror and make a change!”

My chosen avenue for making a difference is education; through maintaining my own interest in learning, through attempts to keep alive a love of learning and a curiosity about our world and others, and through improving learning opportunities for others throughout their lives beginning at birth (or earlier!).

The contribution each of us makes is unique and reflects our own values and life choices. I am grateful to others who help me grow in my understanding of what motivates and drives us, what excites our imaginations and stimulates our curiosity, and what propels us towards choices for improving our individual and combined futures.

Its-the-action-not-the - Mahatma Gandhi

Among those who encourage my learning and stretch my thinking are you, my wonderful readers, who selflessly contribute thoughts and ideas to extend my understanding. To you all, my teachers, I express my great gratitude.

Thank you

While I may often fall short of the mark and need to make frequent reminders to myself, these are just a few ways I try to make my little spot in the world a better place:

Smiling

Being friendly towards those I engage with throughout the day

Being polite

Being kind, sometimes randomly and anonymously without requiring thanks

Listening attentively, to understand and without interrupting or interjecting

Accepting graciously and without whingeing and whining

Finding humour in situations which enable me to laugh, especially at myself

Changing behaviours to reduce my impact on the environment

Seeking ways to ease the burdens of others

Accepting and encouraging others to be themselves

Recognising and accepting my ‘mistakes’ and shortcomings, and those of others

What about you? What do you do to make your little spot in the world a better place? Please share your ideas so we can all learn from your example.

At times in my life I have been told that I take life too seriously. At other times I have been told that I don’t take it seriously enough. I think life should be about enjoyment and fun, so I’m going to turn the seriousness of this post on its head and leave you with another quote, this time by A.H. Weiler:

“Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.”

I welcome your feedback. Please share your thoughts and ideas about any aspect of this post, whether you agree with me or not!

How much of a meliorist are you?

Recently I was sent a link to an article titled Cheer up, it’s not all doom and gloom published by the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s The Drum.

This article mentioned a book by Steven Pinker called Better Angels of Our Nature which had been recommended to me by Geoff Le Pard in a comment on my post about childhood illness. The premise of this book is that humanity, over the ages, has become less violent. After to listening to Pinker’s history of violence, I’m pleased that I live these relatively peaceful times.

 

The article also introduced me to a new term ‘meliorism’ which means having a belief that the world can be improved by the actions of humans. While the term may have been unfamiliar to me, the attitude is not and I attest that I am a meliorist.

I have a very strong belief in the power of education to improve the world. Education empowers individuals, and educated individuals empower societies to build improved futures. It becomes very difficult to sustain negative practices in the face of overwhelming evidence and information.

What better place is there for education to begin than in the home?

In a recent post I referred to a new book by Michael Rosen called Good Ideas: How to Be Your Child’s (And Your Own) Best Teacher. At the time I had not read the book but now I can say, with great delight, that I have listened to most of it. With messages such as those contained in Michael’s book, it is easy to be a meliorist.

I think Rosen’s book should be available to, perhaps compulsory reading for, every parent; I consider its message to be that important. In fact, I am off to the shops today to purchase copies to give to parents of young children I know.  It will become part of my gift to new parents that also includes Reading Magic by Mem Fox and a selection of picture books. I have previously blogged about that here and here.

The “Good Ideas” contained in Rosen’s book, if implemented, will keep alive the natural curiosity of one’s children and oneself. They will encourage the development of thought, creativity and responsiveness.

In the next few weeks I will post a more detailed review of the book and some of Michael’s ideas for stimulating curiosity, whoever and wherever you are.

What about you? Are you a meliorist?

I welcome your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

Thank you

Put a Nose on It

This is a great little post from ‘teach to educate’ about flexibility in thinking. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Thanks for reading. 🙂

Teach to Educate

A two-year old had been working on drawing circles, so his grandma decided to amp it up a bit.  She said, “Can you put a nose on it?”  And he did.

nose on it picture

With a smudge on his nose, he lifted his head with pride and accomplishment!

So, this is a cute, cute story.  It’s easy to appreciate this young child exploring the world and functioning without learned behaviors or expected outcomes.  In the same mind that plays these thoughts, other hypocritical thoughts contradict these beliefs.  Are we even aware?  Do we see possibilities in the “wrong” answers from our students and consider it to be neat?

If I were the grandma, I would have followed this “answer” with…”Can you show me another way to add a nose?”  This approach helps the child develop flexible thinking without destroying his own thinking mind or confidence.  He added a nose.  It just wasn’t the…

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Who’s the best teacher?

Two recurring themes, amongst others on my blog, are ways of encouraging a love of literacy and of questioning in young children.

If you read my post Going on a treasure hunt! you will know that I greatly admire the work of Michael Rosen and its contribution to literacy development. You may have followed the links and checked out the riches in store on his website.

My post Child’s play – the science of asking questions introduces my thoughts about ensuring that children’s inborn curiosity is maintained through the encouragement of their questions.

You can imagine my delight, then, when I read a review of new book by Michael Rosen. (Thank you, Anne Goodwin, for alerting me to it.) The review, posted by Sabine Durrant in The Guardian on 6 September 2014, discusses Rosen’s new book How to be Your Child’s (and Your Own) Best Teacher. I confess that I have not read the book but I am very excited to see that it is now available as an audiobook, so it is next on my listening list. So much about the book appeals to me.

Rather than review the review I will simply leave with you the links to the review:

Michael Rosen: Why curiosity is the key to life

and Michael’s website.

I’m sure you will find much to enjoy.

Thanks for reading.

Thank you

Education in five minutes

And now for something a little lighter, I share with you Father Guido’s proposal for a five minute university.

I hope you enjoy it. There is a little bit of truth hiding there in the fun!

Thank you

Thank you for visiting my blog.

I appreciate your feedback. Please share you thoughts about any aspect of this post, or education in general.