Tag Archives: Back-to-School

Is ‘Learning’ for a Reason, Season, or Lifetime?

A quick answer: Yes! Although this response depends on what ‘learning’ means for different people. Learning how to read, for instance, could mean something different from learning how to rap, text, or even write a blog. With countless examples like these, people can come up with all kinds of reasons for learning.

Same goes for the seasons for learning. They are timeframes that could range from months in a year, years of age, or an age and era representing the sign-of-the-times. It would follow that a lifetime for learning includes learning that never ends and continues throughout every stage of living.

So why the question? Well, simply to highlight the power of choices, but the limitations that comes with decisions. The question, “is learning for a reason, season, or lifetime” can suggest a selection that must be made between them. If made, at that very moment, learning is limited by that decision. In fact, learning is even limited by posing a question with only three options.

So I leave you with a thought: What would learning be without limitations?  Imagine if we never had to make up reasons for learning, such as having to wait next Fall to start school,  or planning for milestone ages of 30, 40, and 50-years-old as new opportunities to learn more.  

If learning was limitless and without these options, what would you choose?        



Engaged-Learning: Linking Education to Everyone

What do you think? Should education be a right or a privilege?

To be fair, I’m mostly talking about education beyond high-school or even college. But with rising costs of tuition, the inconvenience of attending, or the enormous time pursuing,  it offers us this kind of choice of going back-to-school or continuing as already predetermined.

In this way, education is a privilege afforded by those who either have the money (or worse, student loans), the time (balancing work, school, and life responsibilities), or convenience (or at least managing it).

But what if education was a right?

Where institutions of higher learning would provide free and low-cost continuing education; where employers would give money and sabbatical time for renewing and gaining skills; where society would embrace lifelong learning and education, as learning for-its-own-sake, to become more informed and enlightened citizens of communities.

This is what engaged-learning could be—and should be: Linking education for everyone at all stages of life and learning.

So, returning to the question: Should education be a right or a privilege? Or better, should we never have to answer this question because someday we will experience no difference.

Recommended Risk of Learning

When the topic of learning comes up, it soothes like a panacea of good wishes. Learning in its many forms as taking classes, getting certificates, diplomas, and degrees are all nice to pursue, especially telling others about it. However, learning is not pure.  There are some nagging risks that linger.

Receiving failing grades, incomplete work, or “hating math” are possible symptoms.  Unfortunately, elementary school, high-school, college,  teachers and learners have given us unwarranted and unwanted comments of performance. These negative experiences can paint internal caution-signs to never re-entering continuing education.   

This could be telling why many adults don’t pursue available science, technology, or engineering jobs.  Perhaps many years ago, that school teacher, other student, and even parent diagnosed you were unqualified.

But, we are to blame too. 

We add our own damaging messages such as:

“I’m not smart enough,”

“I’m stupid; I’m going to fail,”

“I’m too old,”

“too far behind,”

“too (fill-in-the-blank)” all-the-way-to-infinity…

These thoughts give credence to other harmful decisions to learning something new or seeking another career.

A risk in learning is the sickness from our excuses without finding a cure.

Since we know how to create and collect excuses, why not design and plan opportunities? I worry that because we have pre-scribed programs to help get credentials and skills, we dismiss the art of customizing learning  that considers our  needs, means, and feasible timetable.  A strategy or remedy may come through measuring our pace with our own reflective grading system. A system and solution that takes into account our entire life and learning experience.

‘Waiting for Superman’ Creates a Secret Hero

After watching this compelling work about the nation-wide damage to American elementary and highschool education, it leaves me bewildered. I’m taken back by how America continues to allow failing schools, bad teachers, and disadvantaged students—On second thought, I’m not surprised.

The documentary looks into the lives of at least four kids at different stages of their academic marathon. Unlike a marathon based on skill and talent, these kids hope to be selected to better schools based on a lottery, a game of chance where the probability of acceptance is too narrow to draw-out a starting line.

The highlight is that instead of “waiting for superman,” a few have taken the initiative to save the educational system one-child-at-a-time. An example is Geoffrey Canada (his name not the country) and the lifelong teaching improvements from his school in Harlem, New York.  These mere-mortals are featured as signs of hope in this real-life tragedy.

Actually, in this episode, “Superman” is the government; or any wish that America, with its equality-promise, would save us from our educational calamities:

Guess what?  No-one came. All are not saved.

If there’s a superhero, then there must be a villain.  Clearly the film picks one:  Teachers unions. 

Teachers unions, with their out-dated policies and bureaucracy, make for an easy target with overwhelming facts against them.  These unions are also politically organized. I suspect some push-back for ‘playing the bad guy’ without given a script—yet again, I’m not surprised.

As in any story, there’s a cliff-hanger conclusion:  What will happen next that could really make a difference to our schools?

In response, I’m not surprised about the facts and figures, friends and foes, in our educational system, because they support a status quo.   How else could we see the same damaging arguments, but different groups with different aims come up with different responses? 

The conclusion is no cliffhanger at all: Adults and job security are getting in the way of real education. 

As any comic book, I’m left with a moral message (somewhat opposite than what the feature intended): 

I see  the secret and potential ‘real superheroes’ are the parents and communities.  They are the ‘kryptonite’ to the educational system including all teachers and institutions: good, bad, or from another planet. 

In other words, if parents became lifelong educators, mentors, and guides, then the community would not seek out good teachers, but create environments where education is another standard of living, like money, food, and a good movie.  Parents add to childrens’ learning by teaching them, being living examples or what to do and what mistakes to avoid. 

In this new direction: Hope turns into responsibility and results. It takes education out of the hands of teachers into the arms of a national family that includes all.  Thus the new heroes are not only a few supermen and women or dynamic duos; but a mighty multitude, a courageous crowd that continually teaches and learns.

Wake Up! It’s Time for School: Yeah You Too

BigStockPhoto_DmitriyMelnikovBack-to-school sales, crates and boxes, papers, pens, and ‘Post-Its’ are here again, falling on us like autumn leaves soon to follow.

Yet this time it’s different: The students are not just the toddler skipping to kindergarten; the teenager roving through highschool halls, or even the college freshmen with backpack, foot-locker, and laundry bin. The students today are the actual parents of these youths and young adults. They have jobs (or at least looking for one) with bills, mortgages, car-notes and responsibilities more than turning in homework.

Recent stats suggest the average college student is getting older, over 25, looking for an education. With many adults having to change jobs or keep-up with their career, going back-to-school is now a shared experience across generations.  Thus, three (3) critical roles about this trend we must reconsider: 

1) Changing the role of education:  No longer should education be reduced to schooling with abstract facts and irrelevant concepts.  Education is a part of life and living. So the content should change along with our mindset. We must view education not as an end, but a ‘continual beginning.’

2) Changing the role of ‘teacher’: Throughout the history of education, the teacher was the main character.  The teacher was all-wise, all-knowing, keeper of ruler, chalk, and grade report.  Today , the role of teacher must act as partner.  A partnership where all parties have some knowledge, experience, and most importantly, details making learning a living story; an enlightened and educative soap opera at best.

3) Changing the role of society:  When we see the news on education, they usually refer to elementary and secondary schooling.  Rarely is their discussion about the adult learning community.  I mean, learning beyond basic literacy, english as a second language, or the how-to, self-help presentation.  Our society must include the 45-year-old mother of two enrolled as a first-year college student.  Or a returning military veteran, taking advantage of the G.I. Bill headed for a new direction. And lastly, the unable-to-retire workers, who make very little and see the only way to make more is to pay the costs of classes: at night, on-line, or at their community college.

The alarm bell is ringing, and some of us have pressed the snooze far too many:  We must get-UP!