Paths of Learning
Resource Center Newsletter : December 2001
Article by Don Trent Jacobs on Time for Real Education is below....................
Happy Holidays! In this month's e-news, I begin with some reflections about courage in teaching from Don Trent Jacobs, and then move to a preview of our upcoming issue #11 of Paths of Learning. From there out are summaries of several curricular options--ideas, workshops, and programs--that begin to address the human condition by looking at topics within education including human rights, experiential learning about solar designs, and Partnership Education. While I have a tendency to stray away from curricular topics to focus on resources, systems, and teacher development, I also know that teachers and parents are on the constant look out for engaging topics to explore. If you are already naturally engaged in such topics, perhaps this e-news will shows you some additional directions in which to go with your or your students' inquiries into life and learning. If you have anything interesting, innovative, or reflective about the values in connecting with teachers, students, or parents in your area, you are welcomed and encouraged to pass it along. For longer articles, I encourage you to send your ideas to our magazine editor, Richard Prystowsky, PathsEditor@home.com. For shorter "snip-its" or announcements about your work or learning within educational endeavors, send them to me: robin@PathsofLearning.net.
Contents: A Time for Real Education Paths January 2002 Issue Teaching Human Rights Experiential Learning about Passive Solar Design Partnership Education in Action
A Time for Real Education
by Don Trent Jacobs
Don Trent Jacobs is a friend and faculty member at the Center for Excellence in Education at Northern Arizona University, currently working in social studies education. When recently chatting with him, knowing his concerns about the state of the world as well as about teaching, I asked him to write a follow-up piece to September's events that puts the value of teaching into perspective. Here is what Don sent to share with Paths of Learning E-News readers, and the four points that were later added at the end of this piece are well worth considering, especially for teachers wondering if, how, or whether their courage in the classroom makes a difference. (It does, as does the covert or overt acts of developing courage.) In fact, while he doesn't come out and say it directly, "real education" for Don appears to imply that teachers find courage again, or perhaps more accurately that they reconnect with the courage that is within them. --
The tragedies of the debacle referred to as the "war on terrorism," though largely unknown to most teachers who only have access to popular media, nonetheless offer an opportunity to these guardians of democracy. It is to save democracy while encouraging Americans to give peace a chance and to begin a process that might end the roots causes of terrorism. At all grade levels and throughout the communities of this beautiful country, teachers can stimulate the right kind of conversations, the authentic research and the inquiry necessary to regain our critical, creative thinking- before it is too late. No need here to describe current human right violations, war crimes, unexploded ordinance, lies, poverty, arms sales, oil pipelines, or unimaginable injustices that relate to the U.S. supposed responses to the 9-11 tragedies. No space to talk about the current administration's challenges to our constitution and judicial system. These are subjects for caring, courageous educators to study independently. They may or may not come to similar conclusions as I. As a social studies teacher, I do my best to find primary, credible resources, or I try to triangulate a variety of secondary sources. Upon learning probable realities, I wonder why so many schools and school policies continue to squelch histories, past and present, that might help us prevent repeating the terrible mistakes of the past. (No need to list these here either.)
People in other countries believe it is because Americans are like children who prefer glorious distortions and allow themselves to be led by a propaganda machine designed to keep people as happy consumers. I have faith in teachers as the guardians of peace and democracy. If they found courage, they could get young people thinking again and recognizing their abilities to contribute to society. This, after all, is or should be the goal of the profession-to get individuals thinking creatively, intelligently and critically about important matters so we can all live in a good way amidst the democratic ideals we all acknowledge as being right. They could guide students toward service learning and activism- now. They could, with this bravery, save us from ourselves. Perhaps even leave a legacy of peace and equity for the seventh generation.
I don't believe I am alone in this quest. On December 7th, 2001, at the Centennial Symposium of the Nobel Peace Prize, one hundred Nobel laureates issued a statement about events surrounding the "War on Terrorism." In it they said, "It is time to turn our backs on the unilateral search for security in which we seek shelter behind walls. Instead, we must persist in the quest for united action to counter both global warming and a weaponized world. These twin goals will constitute vital components of stability as we move toward the wide degree of social justice that gives hope of peace." Hopefully, we will all have the courage as educators to work toward these goals.
This was Don's original writing, but then I wrote back inquiring into what gives him such faith in teachers, and where can "teachers" look to develop their own courage during the trying times in which we live. He wrote back in four succinct points about courage with respect to self awareness and its importance in teaching.
1. In the chapter, "Becoming Connoisseurs of Fear" in Primal Awareness, I show how feelings of separateness increase irrational anxieties, so a sense of spiritual awareness of our great and often mysterious interconnections helps with developing courage in young people. [For more about this book, see: http://www.gotoit.com/titles/priawa.htm]
2. I also talk about how "fear" creates a hypersuggestibility to the words of perceived trusted authority figures. In my Prentice-Hall book, Patient Communication, I show how first responders can come upon an emergency scene where a frightened victim is bleeding, and owing to this fear phenomenon the confident first responder can cause the patient to control his or her own autonomic nervous system and stop the bleeding. This is an important consideration in classrooms because children are similarly receptive to the words of teachers who can either unintentionally use the child's fear to increase courage or decrease courage. This hypnotic phenomenon as relates to fear is well researched and shows why awareness of self-talk is a powerful way to help build courage in young people.
3. I am Creek/Cherokee and write about American Indian worldviews. The highest form of bravery in many Indian cultures is generosity. Research shows that too much extrinsic reward and punishment in school leads not only to diminished generosity but also to diminished courage. Think about this carefully, for our usual approach to teaching is based on extrinsic rewards. So we are developing a culture lacking in courage and generosity. (This may be showing significantly in our response or lack of response to the current world events we are allowing to take place.)
4. Once these understandings about courage are in place, procedures are relatively easy. The most important is practice. In psychology, the best way to overcome phobias, for example, is to following hypnotic visualization work with in vivo exposure. In other words, go do it. So the key to teaching courage is to have constant awareness and evaluation and meta-cognition followed by going through fears in stages and then reflecting on how it felt to do so. -- For more on Don's perspectives, I invite you to visit his web site: www.TeachingVirtues.com where you can find more of his books and works, or the summer 2001 issue of Paths of Learning, which includes an Online Action Guide about a Native American educator's (radical) view about character education. *******************
Paths of Learning: January 2002 Issue
From reports that I've heard so far the upcoming January 2002 issue of Paths of Learning may be our best yet. Here is a preview of the contents: Honoring Others in the Moment, or, Loving Without Regard to Outcome, by editor Richard J. Prystowsky Partnership Education: * An Interview with Riane Eisler and David Loye, by Ron Miller * Partnership Teaching, by Sarah Pirtle Features: * A Day (Off) in the Life of a Teacher: Why Do I Do This?, by Mark Kennedy * High Noon for High Stakes: Alfie Kohn at Middlebury College * Study Circles: Education for Our Times, By Cecile Andrews * Living by Wonder, Working with Love, by Richard Lewis * Poems for Scott, by Lori McCray As always, we also have a small section about resources for learning more about getting involved with the topics highlighted by this issue, along with an expanding Resource Directory of organizations whose missions are aligned in some way with Paths of Learning. While this Paths e-newsletter can provide some little "peeks" into holistic and learner-centered options in education, the magazine is really the best route for complete windows about what is possible in education from the educators and learners who are on the front lines of educational change and personal development. If you do not yet subscribe to Paths of Learning and are interested, please call 1-800-639-4122, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teaching Human Rights
In early November, one of our readers (Barbara Angersbach) wrote to me about curricular materials for teaching about the Declaration of Universal Human Rights. Barbara wrote:
The simple idea that I suggested to Barbara was "to go to Google.com and type in "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and "teaching" and I'll bet you'd find some resources by that route." She said that was helpful. Later, I found a few other leads on this topic that might interest readers as well: * Robert Muller School, in Texas...Robert Muller was the undersecretary general of the UN some years back and he started this school based on some of these important principles of Universal Human Rights. See: The Robert Muller School Fairview 340 Country Club Road Fairview, Texas 75069 > http://www.robertmullerschool.com/
* Phil Gang, currently with The Institute for Educational Studies. He does an Internet-based masters program that is also concerned with global issues that might touch directly on (or he might know of curricular resources related to) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. * A group of teenage students at a school in Vancouver, Canada, felt that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was missing certain elements with respect to education, and so they developed the "Declaration of Learner's Rights" -- for more information on this school, see The Wondertree Foundation for Natural Learning, http://www.wondertree.org/ -- and contact my friend Brent Cameron who is the coordinator for these efforts. Finally, if anyone else has other suggestions on this topic, please let me know and I'll share them in an upcoming newsletter.
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