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Anti-fragility Training

Bikram Yoga as Anti-fragility Training

Bikram Yoga helps people develop distress tolerance which is the ability to withstand challenge– some of which include emotional distress, difficult physical sensations, mind-racing or distorted thinking, and general discomfort with staying in the present moment. What’s the point of being able to withstand challenge? Shouldn’t we just eliminate challenge to make the world and all of our experiences in it nicer? Um, no.

Bikram yoga is EN–COURAGING.

That means you become courageous through practicing self-study for self-realization. What is self-realization? You pay attention to how you respond to challenge– to being YOU, and you practice nurturing the thoughts and habits that make you flexible and resilient and discard the habits that make you weak and fragile.

Anti-fragility: Yogis bend; they don’t break! 

The fear, pain, and challenges NEVER go away (someone will hurt your feelings, steal from you, and other injustices, even the injustices you inflict upon yourself from negative thinking; shaming etc— count on it because this is human nature), but you CAN DEVELOP YOUR ABILITIES AND CAPACITIES to cope, survive, and dare I say even thrive! This development is one of both MIND and BODY.

QUIZ

QUESTION: So guess what the antidote to stress (whether from fear, threats (real or imagined), problems, mean people, oppression, offensive “violent” language, vulnerability, confusion, and bullying) is?

(*HINT: It’s not running away and it’s not distraction.)

A. Living in a bubble of protection, safe-spaces, and being coddled thus missing valuable opportunities to grow stronger, courageous and wiser.

B. Practicing with gradual exposure to difficulty and challenge to develop trust and faith in your abilities (that maybe you didn’t know you had!) and gain a greater sense of self, independence, and personal power.

C. See the world as good versus evil (without room for nuance) or worse “good groups” vs “bad groups” and fight the enemy until peace, justice, and perfect equality reigns (i.e. utopia)

D. Ignore compassion, forgiveness, friendship, and that people are prone to error, bias, negativity, and flawed and working through their own trial and error

 

Podcast HERE

The answer is B.

Yes, of course, there are actual injustices, abuses, and REAL threats to our safety, but the “concept creep” that Haidt & Lukianoff, 2018 talk about in their book has created a culture of coddling– a fear of fear and pain; a world where we try to control others to make our own always-pleasant-safe-spaces where trigger warnings will alert us to any potential intellectual offense that may make us feel emotionally distressed or uncomfortable. Where nobody gets hurt– ever. A place where behavior and ideas that differ from our own cannot possibly be tolerated because they cause us discomfort.

The best learning is uncomfortable and stressful because it catapults you from a safe space to an unsafe space; from a place of security to insecurity and back again and it never ends. Might as well decide you will try to enjoy this process, otherwise you will continue to suffer more and be forever frustrated that you cannot control other people and your environment or anything that may threaten. Accept vulnerability and pain and see them as your best teachers. This is the practice of yoga.

Sure, people make mistakes and bad things happen, but DO NOT accept continual extreme physical or psychological abuse or extreme danger, even the kind you might inflict upon yourself. There are extremes, but these are well, extreme, thus highly unusual or out of the norm. MOST transgressions are forgivable and can be managed as opportunities for personal growth.

One of the worst things you can do is deny people, especially young people/kids, opportunities to build resilience and hone their skills for stress management.  Altering the learning process of direct experience– by censoring it, sanitizing it, limiting it, short-cutting it, or overly-controlling it is disempowering too. This kind of tyranny will destroy creativity, cooperation, friendship and growth. It turns out that facing your challenges and learning to cope with them is what makes you healthy and gives you purpose. As we say in Bikram Yoga– we will not spare you your struggle– to do so is an injustice! You practice suffering to get better at it rather than fighting tooth and nail to be pain-free which is an exercise in futility.

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Podcast 17: LEARNING as OPPORTUNITY MINDSET

In this podcast, I read Part V: LEARNING from

Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness (2019, Amazon).

The podcast includes subtopics like:

*Vulnerability as intrinsic to learning process and creating meaning

*Parenting without safe-space or victim mentality

*Schooling discourages failure and uniqueness

*How and why to continue learning as a lifestyle and as a moment-to-moment mindset

*Curiosity and Possibility (Adopting a Landscapes for Learning mindset)

 

Stream the podcast here, Download it, or visit Landscapes for Learning @ iTunes.

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Opportunity Mindset = Meaning & Wellness

Q. What is Landscapes for Learning?

A. It’s a mindset—-an opportunity-focused way of looking at the world of personal experience.
You can CHOOSE to see your life any way you decide. Just decide!

Q. Why did I name this blog and my independent education website and business,
Landscapes for Learning?

A. Lots of reasons, but primarily because I discovered that life is a landscape upon which we all travel and all of our experiences–– whether the experiences happen on our ‘inner’ landscape: within our mind and body, deep down within our hearts or our souls, in places nobody but us is privy to where the absolute truth of us lives, or on the ‘outer’ landscape: the social and natural world (that appears to be separate from us but arguably isn’t), which is the public world beyond us––are FOR LEARNING.

Just like Will in Goodwill Hunting,

We are MOST ALIVE & WELL when we are learning. I don’t mean only when we are reading, writing, and doing arithmetic!

Like Will learned, all the knowledge in the world will not help you live well and fully actualize if you don’t know who you are by learning from your direct experience with your suffering, your challenges, i.e. your opportunities.

I became somewhat (okay, very) disillusioned at the end of my career as a high school teacher because my students had been conditioned to believe that “learning” was limited to “schooling” which was a competitive race to achieve. This made me sick because it was making kids sick. It is a terribly limiting way to go through life. Because almost ALL of the attention and energy was given to this type of “learning” in school, students were stunted in their growth as whole, fully-expressed human individuals. AND they were getting more ill (more anxious about grades and their identities more narrowly confined to socially-constructed images) over the years that I had spent time getting to know them as human beings with unique natures.

As a Humanities teacher, I was interested in knowing the people I worked with, relating to and connecting with them, beyond merely interacting with them in a coldly rational, business-like manner, as if they were academic specimen expected to produce and meet various outcomes (e.g. for parents or college admission). I was interested in the process of learning, not the outcomes of schooling. It became a difficult problem for me, for kids, and for parents.

Now, I help people get out of “Safe Spaces!”

I was and still am interested in empowering young people to know themselves (in a deep way through body and mind, not just by acquiring information) and their human nature and uniqueness in order to express themselves from a place of truth and integrity, and to take responsibility for themselves, so that they can unconditionally love and parent themselves, thus live with meaning and optimism and enjoy their lives which will include great challenge, adventure, suffering, fear, and pain.

My job  was and is to en-courage people, that is, teach them how to develop courage by facing problems and their fears, manage vulnerability and stress that comes with it, develop discipline to do what’s challenging, and see these challenges as opportunities to discover more truth about themselves–– more of who they are and who they are becoming, what they are made of, both assets and weaknesses, and to reveal their endless potential to themselves to actualize as a never ending trial and error process!

Trying and failing in school is WAY different than trying and failing in life.

Institutionalized schooling prevented students growth and my own, so I left to teach a wisdom and wellness curriculum (rationale, tools, and practices) that will absolutely meet kids where they are at and to TRULY en-courage them to be LIFE–LONG LEARNERS— in the REAL sense, not in the hypocritical, limiting sense promoted (with perhaps the best intentions) in institutionalized public schooling. It seems to be a gargantuan task and an uphill battle, but I like challenge! It felt incredibly subversive to teach in ways that opposed the system, and it’s incredibly freeing to be able to share my mission now beyond it “in the real world.” I am trying to independently educate young people (and all people, anyone who is interested!) with a wisdom curriculum for their wellness, and since more people can be accessed online, I hope to reach far more people than I could while stuck in a classroom in a building. I’m not sure anyone has read any of my blog posts, but I continue to have faith as Ray did in Field of Dreams, that if I build it they will come. And if not, that’s okay too! I don’t focus on outcomes; I trust the process.

If one person at a time can grow in wisdom and wellness and express their true, unique nature, then that’s good for everyone. The “secondhand smoke” effect of one healthy person can transform the world, one person at a time.

You have no idea how many lives you can change for the better simply by being the best YOU possible!

My curriculum––a self-study for self-realization guide––can help you whether young or old,
highly ‘educated’ or not,
to get started on
traveling the landscapes for learning!

 

 

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What You Won’t Learn at School

Engage in Self-Study to
Prepare to Thrive in the Future

“What’s good for everybody is to get to know yourself better because we are now entering the era where we are hackable animals…and there are corporations and governments that are trying to hack you
whether you are a student or a billionaire…If you don’t get to know yourself better you become easy prey to all these organizations and governments that are hacking you as we speak… you have to run faster..
previously you had no competition, but now you do.” 
—Yuval Noah Harari*

Listen to and/or read the following interviews from Yuval Noah Harari for the reasons why self-study is the most important curriculum to engage in at this point in history.

YUVAL NOAH HARARI
Author of Sapiens,Homo Deus, and 21 Rules for the 21st Century

If you want to avoid being hacked, being irrelevant, or overwhelmed by constant, stressful change, then get ahead of the curve by knowing yourself for proper self-development now and for the future.

The five lessons or “practices” of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human self-study program are designed to help you learn to know yourself. In the program, you will learn:

  • How to understand and manage your own attention (Harari says “Your best skill is your focus to form a clear map and vision of reality.”)
  • How to become self-aware and know yourself better than anyone else
  • How to do what’s difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging to gain strength, grit, and resilience
  • How to respond rather than to react to challenges in the environment using self-control
  • How to approach life as landscapes for learning and see every experience as an opportunity for growth

KNOWING ONESELF IS THE ESSENTIAL WISDOM needed for the coming decades. Landscape for Learning’s Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study for  Wellness Program can show you how to get to know yourself and the unique human that you are!

The workshops, resources, and wellness programs provide the tools and information you need to take 100% responsibility for your own life. This program will enable you to take the necessary action and develop the habits and character through direct experience to know yourself and become the best, strongest, wisest you possible.

There are no teachers in this program except you. You follow no guru, no generic prescription or step by step, magical, one-size-fits-all  program. Your experience with Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Human self-study program is specific and unique to you because you are one of a kind!

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, YOUR FREEDOM IS GONE!

WHEN TECH KNOWS YOU BETTER THAN YOURSELF
(INTERVIEW AND TRANSCRIPT)

Subscribe to be first to receive updates about the Wisdom and Wellness Programs online coming soon!

References:

*Waking Up Podcast #138 

When Tech Knows You Better Than Yourself

Yuval Noah Harari’s website

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Human

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Teen

THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION TALK

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Yuval Harari on the Value of Self-Study

“What’s good for everybody is to get to know yourself better because we are now entering the era where we are hackable animals…and there are corporations and governments that are trying to hack you whether you are a student or a billionaire…If you don’t get to know yourself, you become easy prey to all these organizations and governments that are hacking you as we speak… you have to run faster…previously you had no competition, but now you do.” 

—Yuval Noah Harari*

Listen to and/or read the following interviews from historian, Yuval Noah Harari for the reasons why self-study is the most important curriculum to engage in at this point in time.

WHEN TECH KNOWS YOU BETTER THAN YOURSELF
(INTERVIEW AND TRANSCRIPT)

YUVAL NOAH HARARI
Author of Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Rules for the 21st Century

If you want to avoid being hacked, as Harari advises, then get ahead of the curve by starting to know yourself now for proper self-development.

The five lessons or “practices” of the Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Teen self-study for wisdom and wellness program are designed to help teens learn more about themselves by teaching them:

  • How to understand and manage your own attention (so nobody else can control you!)
  • How to become self-aware and know yourself better than anyone else (so nobody else can take advantage of your ignorance).
  • How to do what’s difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging to gain strength, grit, and resilience (so you are disciplined enough to do what’s necessary to thrive with a life of purpose and meaning).
  • How to respond rather than to react to challenges in the environment using self-control (with self-awareness and practiced control of one’s inner reserves, you can handle any sort of challenges calmly for good health)
  • How to approach life as landscapes for learning and see every experience as an opportunity for growth (instead of acting the dependent victim).

Knowing oneself IS the ESSENTIAL WISDOM needed for the coming decades.

Here’s more motivation:

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, YOUR FREEDOM IS GONE!

While everyone else is busy subscribing to learning the old skills and outdated curricula focused only on hard skills and content knowledge, students engaged in self-study using the Landscapes for Learning products and services will be gaining a hugely important edge in learning the new, most important life skills as the foundation for thriving in the coming decades of the 21st century.

We do ourselves and our future world a serious disservice if we continue to try to cram knowledge into our students’ heads within the same old industrial model of education, using outdated curricula and  testing. It’s simply not enough to be smart for the future. We must also be learning how to be wise. The first step is to focus inward to know oneself as best as one can. 

You can learn anything you want online or in school. But do you have the discipline to do it? Do you have the work ethic, focus, or control over your own attention to sustain the learning? Are you motivated intrinsically to grow and improve your skills and work on your weaknesses? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Do you know your own personality? Foundational to any kind of learning you do, from whatever source you access it, you must know who you are and what you are like to succeed in the endeavour to learn.

The Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Teen Self-Study for Wisdom and Wellness Program is what every student can use individually and independently to know themselves better, and  it’s what every teacher can implement in their classroom, and every school administrator can implement school-wide for more wisdom and wellness within a school’s community and culture.

The Landscapes for Learning simple yet powerful curricula can help high schools improve its culture and update its curriculum to prepare students more appropriately for optimally healthy lives in a world of rapid change, more pervasive AI, and a dramatically different future compared to any previous generations.

Complete the form below to subscribe for: more information about Landscape for Learning’s Self-Study programs,  resources, journaling program and curricula for students; to schedule a consultation for developing self-study for wisdom and wellness workshops and events at your school; and to get early access to the products and services that will be available online very soon!

References:

*Waking Up Podcast #138 

When Tech Knows You Better Than Yourself

Yuval Noah Harari’s website

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Human

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Teen

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Return to Uniqueness

Why can’t we inform people that they can be their truest selves sooner, encourage them to slow down to  practice stillness, to listen to their inner guide, and give them the loving support and tools to do so? That’s a question I ask in my book and am answering with the creation of my coaching workshops, curriculum, and journal program.

Return to Uniqueness

In “The Key to Transforming Yourself” Ted Talk below, Robert Greene articulates better and more concisely what I attempted rather poorly to convey in my first book draft of, It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling. I won’t bore you with the details about the failures of the draft, except to say that I am back to the proverbial drawing board. (Revision is writing, after all according to Stephen King)

Greene talks about a “return to uniqueness.” He talks about how each of us are exactly who we are, different from everyone and everything else in the universe, but how we lose our sense of this uniqueness when we are socialized. He says when we listen to other people tell us what is good or bad about ourselves (and believe it) we often become strangers to ourselves. It is a crisis of identity when we know ourselves to be who others say we are or when we define ourselves according to what’s conventional or “normal” rather than according to our own inner wisdom. 

He also talks about “primal inclinations,” our desires and interests, which he says are beyond rational. These are the activities and subjects we are simply drawn to as children. He claims that it is our path in life to return to our uniqueness and those primal inclinations that define the true self in order to be the person we were actually born to be, a one-of-a-kind individual. 

In my book draft, I tried to convey how I came to understand this disconnection and reconnection that Greene describes. I explain how my identity as a child had been co-opted when I went to school and was shaped by its norms and the inherent cultural values of competition and comparison transmitted by parents, teachers, and friends. The inculcation from my environment thoroughly influenced how I understood myself. My interpretation of who I was lacked depth and authenticity because I had become too distant from my inner world, not entirely but enough to do some damage. Though compared to everyone else, I was “normal.” Because my typical, American, middle-class, suburban life was so busy, fast, and competitive in the drive for wealth and achievement, (you are productive and successful if that calendar is jam-packed, yes?) I had very little time to find stillness, meditation, or introspection, even if I had known those would be helpful habits to cultivate for my health and wellbeing. Nobody filled me in.

I established a relationship with myself based on who the world told me I should be, which was inauthentic, but who is conscious that this process is happening to them when they are young? I recognized the same development pattern and process of co-opting identity while teaching high school students. I saw teenagers suffer with a lack of self-understanding, integrity, and self-compassion. They consistently defined themselves according to the values of competition and comparison, never felt good enough, were forced to “find their passion” on the external landscape which really should come from the primal inclinations that school or parents likely squashed out of them long before. I saw them frantically completing their to-do lists and packing their resumes with activities and awards to gain college admission. I saw them hustle through the hoops of schooling rather than authentically enjoy learning. I saw their mental and physical health decline. I saw them suffer–and in my opinion, unnecessarily.

Greene seems to believe this phenomenon of disconnection from our unique selves happens to a lot of people. It’s something I’ve also heard podcasters, Joe Rogan, Cathy Heller, and Rich Roll talk about often. Roll wrote a book about his “midlife crisis” of sorts when he realized he only went to law school because it was expected of him and he didn’t know who he was enough to decide for himself. His awakening came initially when he found sobriety and later, more earnestly after a health scare in his late forties shocked him into reconnecting with his truth. I hope these stories of recovery are more common than not. I feel lucky to have found yoga and journal writing as my tools for my eventual “return to uniqueness.”

So I say, why can’t we inform people that they can be their truest selves sooner, encourage them to slow down to  practice stillness, to listen to their inner guide, and give them the loving support and tools to do so? That’s a question I ask in my book and am answering with the creation of my coaching program, curriculum, and journal program.

Stay tuned…

*Check out Rich Roll’s conversations with Noah Harari about meditation, AI, and education, and John Joseph on Bhakti yoga and PMA, transcending labels and transforming lives.

Also Joe Rogan’s conversation with Henry Rollins

And Cathy Heller’s conversation with Martha Beck

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List for Learning: 27 Take-Aways from It’s Not About the Grades

 27 Take-Aways

from

It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling

Since everyone seems to be publishing books with rules for life and lists for “best” something or other, I thought I would make a list of possible take-aways from It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling, my newest memoir of a life in school currently in progress. Truth be told, I am revising the manuscript and wondering what the heck it is I am trying to convey to readers, so I wrote a list for myself and so why not share it with you?

Here goes…

  1. The landscapes of our lives are for learning. Experiences are opportunities for change and growth.
  2. Schooling: content knowledge, prestige, and degrees aren’t the key to happy life. Keep the value of schooling in proper perspective, especially if you consider the potential demands of the future.
  3. A “successful” or meaning-filled, healthy life of wellbeing isn’t pain-free and it isn’t about the grades.
  4. Know thyself. This will be the way to self-realize, self-actualize, leverage schooling AND meaning for wholeness and continual growth throughout your entire life.
  5. Connecting with your inner landscape requires more time alone and more attention for introspection and less time traveling the external landscape of social media, screens, distraction, noise of society and culture.
  6. The values of culture in the extreme (competition, comparison, consumerism) will fuck you up if you stay asleep/ignorant to the influences upon you and don’t know who you really are.
  7. Passion happens for you; you need to practice listening and pay regular attention to your inner guide.
  8. Disconnect and reconnect to one’s truth: more mirrors (through writing or yoga) and fewer screens (see #5 and #6)
  9. FOMI instead of FOMO will better serve us for the unknown future.
  10. PAUSE: Pursue An Understanding of Self by detaching from Externals.(see # 5)
  11. Yoga is union and self-realization. Connection to one’s inner truth and divinity can get lost or watered down substantially, but can be recovered with attention, compassion, and hard work over time. If I can do it, anyone can.
  12. The answer to “who am I?” is right under your nose (your breath).
  13. Life is suffering.  Don’t run away. Pick the better poison, instead.
  14. Pain and fear are your best teachers. Face them with an attitude of interest and as lessons for learning. (A crack or a canyon is also an opening– peer into it and see what you can find.)
  15. Put your oxygen mask on first. The world needs more heroes and fewer martyrs.
  16. Good teachers aren’t models to copy but witnesses who walk alongside you on your journey. They have no real authority over you. You can learn from them but you aren’t them and never will be.
  17. Humanity, shared humanity, and one’s own humanity should be the center of every curriculum.
  18. Education for the future should be more about soft skills than hard skills and take place in person with moral and ethical teachers who know their own truth. (see #17)
  19. A lack of integrity causes illness of all forms within individuals and institutions.
  20. Be authentic from inside out. Be loyal to truth, not merely social roles and identities. Avoid labels.
  21. Travel all the landscapes beyond schooling.
  22. Wake up. Express your truth with your unique voice, without shame. Be vulnerable to learn. Tell yourself the truth. DO YOU.
  23. Love yourself unconditionally so you can do the same for others. That’s foundational to social justice.
  24. Learn about the nature of limits. Test all limits (internally and externally). See forks in the road and obstacles as endless possibilities for change and growth.
  25. Teaching discipline is the most important part of parenting.
  26. Live with the desire for balance. Keep trying to achieve it. Avoid extremes.
  27. It’s amazing how much we don’t know.  Reason to keep learning…forever and to be humble.

 

27 is my favorite number, so I will stop there.

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Podcast 013: It’s Not About the Grades: INTRODUCTION

It’s Not About the Grades: Love for Learning Beyond Schooling is very close to completion, so I am recording a reading of a few chapters for feedback, as a faster way of getting “peer review” before I write proposals for publishing the final manuscript.

INTRODUCTION 

Download Episode HERE

I would LOVE your input, insight, constructive criticism and HONEST feedback to improve this manuscript draft. And, of course, please share with teachers, parents, yogis, friends on your social network so I can get lots of good input! I would appreciate it!

I am days away from putting the final touches on the manuscript and readying it for readers for review. Enjoy (I hope!)

 

 

 

 

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Podcast 012: Preface, It’s Not About the Grades

It’s Not About the Grades: Love for Learning Beyond Schooling is very close to completion, so I am recording a reading of a few chapters for feedback, as a faster way of getting “peer review” before I write proposals for publishing the final manuscript.

THIS PODCAST IS A READING OF THE PREFACE, A LETTER TO STUDENTS

DOWNLOAD MP3

I would LOVE your input, insight, constructive criticism and HONEST feedback to improve this manuscript draft. And, of course, please share with teachers, parents, yogis, friends on your social network so I can get lots of good input! I would appreciate it!

I am days away from putting the final touches on the manuscript and readying it for readers for review. Enjoy (I hope!)

 

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Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Who to Be or What to Do!

If you don’t take responsibility for designing your own life by figuring out who you really are, then people will forever be telling you what to do and who to be, and you’ll be miserable.

I used Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s Self Authoring Program and the Big 5 Personality Test he recommended a while back, which enabled me to understand why I was craving change– in my career, in some of my relationships, and my personal mental and physical habits. I recommend both tools to find out more about who you are. They are incredibly helpful, as long as you are honest about what you’ll learn about yourself.

Practicing yoga, writing, meditation and other activities that foster introspection and self-awareness and understanding are the key to deeper, more true and honest connection to your “self.” These are ways to know yourself better than anyone else, and will qualify you to be the authority of your own life! No more unhealthy co-dependence on anything outside of you– people, money, self-help articles!

When you understand MORE about who you really are on the inner landscape, it guides your successful travel on the outer landscape where you can design your life as you see fit.

For more information and insight, listen to Joe Rogan and Dr. Peterson’s excerpted conversation from the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. And once you are done, disconnect from the internet and connect to yourself in one of the ways suggested above!

The episode clip above is excerpted from the JREpodcast #877 with Jordan Peterson

The Joe Rogan Experience Podcasts

Self-Authoring.com

UnderstandYourself.com Big 5 Personality Test and More

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Grounded Parents= Grounded Kids

ground·ed
ˈɡroundid/
adjective
adjective: grounded
  1. 1.
    well balanced and sensible.
    “the kids have money and a rock-star dad, but they seem grounded”
  2. 2.
    (of a pilot or an aircraft) prohibited or prevented from flying.
    “you don’t taunt a grounded flier, especially after he’s had a few beers”
    • informal
      (of a child being punished) not allowed to participate in social or recreational activities.
      “the problem is, I’ve got more grounded friends than available friends”

     

https://www.davidwolfe.com/the-damaging-effects-of-helicopter-parenting/

 

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Podcast: A Parent-Teacher Conference

Solo Podcast: A Parent-Teacher Conference

“A Parent-Teacher Conference about Values” is a solo episode about my book-in-progress It’s Not About The Grades: Love for Learning Beyond Schooling which I hope to revise and publish in the coming months.

I provide a brief, yet incomplete, overview of the book in progress and read an excerpt from a chapter that is about the parent-teacher conference I wanted to have while a high school teacher but never really could. Now that I have resigned from my position, I am able to discuss what I see as the critical piece missing from a complete education for high school students and how it is severely overshadowed and almost drowned out completely by the over-valuing of grades.

I invite parents (and schools) into a conversation about a serious reflection on their values and our culture’s values and the mental health of teens, not merely to help kids to be successful students and achievers but rather to be whole, healthy, individual human beings who are able to self-actualize and blossom throughout their lives. This is the process of yoga, an exploration of the inner landscape!

I welcome your comments on the podcast in iTunes or feel free to share your thoughts by emailing me at landscapesforlearning27@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.

Thanks!

Image credit: https://www.geeksaresexy.net/2011/02/12/bad-grades-1960-vs-2010-cartoon/

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It’s Not About the Grades: Love for Learning Beyond Schooling

This is a hypothetical letter to high school students that I am using for the opening of my book-in-progress, It’s Not About the Grades: Love for Learning Beyond Schooling. I am under no illusion that a high school student, a 14-18 year old, would likely be engaged in actually reading such a lengthy “text” such as this, nor would I write with this voice and style if I was honestly trying to engage a high school student. The “Dear John” is merely a tool created to engage the primary audience which is parents, mainly, or others with any casual or serious interest in the world of learning, school, or education.  Partly, I imagine that parents may be concerned about a teacher who is attempting to influence (or otherwise inculcate) their child and so be interested in reading. They ought to pay attention if they aren’t already.

Dear High School Students,

There are landscapes for learning which extend far beyond school, one of which is an inner landscape that is waiting for you– waiting to be explored in order for you to know your truest, most essential self– your authentic self. You will acquire knowledge on the external landscapes that will certainly help you navigate the social world, the world outside yourself, that one clamouring for your attention all the time, but you will also gain wisdom from time spent learning on your inner landscape– the landscape that you might have an intuition exists but perhaps you haven’t been able to access properly or effectively. You need both landscapes for learning, where you can acquire both knowledge about the external world and deep, important wisdom within to be 100% authentically you– the truest you that the world needs– who you are in each and every moment and destined and meant to be as you continually change and grow.

After a long career in education—as a student on many levels of school, as a softball coach, high school English teacher, and teacher-educator, and single-mom of four college-educated young adults, I finally discovered, at midlife, that being “educated” in the traditional academic sense is not the key to a meaningful, quality, healthy life. I wished someone had taught me about the landscapes for learning sooner, especially the untapped inner landscape, which is why I am writing to you. I was limited in my understanding of learning and I discovered that my “education” was, indeed, incomplete, in the same way I believe formal education, especially high school, still is today. I’d like to offer you insight to possibly improve your experiences at school, to value the process of schooling in a new way, and challenge you to do something difficult that will afford you the great payoffs of fulfilment and meaning for your life: spend time alone, quietly, reflectively, through introspection getting to know yourself–your truest, most authentic self, as often as possible, every day. If you can manage to eat each day, then you also can feed yourself daily, regularly, repeatedly with your own attention— which, like good, nutritious food, is life-sustaining and necessary for vitality, wholeness, and wellness.

In order to be a successful social creature, you need to know who you are, as an individual—before you can consciously agree to identify with or define yourself as a member of a particular group or groups in the external world. If you do not gain the courage or the ability to spend time focused on your own inner landscape– the world of you, and value this lifelong quest as critical to becoming the fullest and truest you possible, then the social world: your parents, your friends, your society, the media and the market will shape you relentlessly without your consent, as you remain blissfully unaware, a product of your environment unbeknownst to yourself, childlike, and immature. Growing up, being an adult and “joining” society at large is not about going to college, getting a career, gaining prestige and money; rather, it’s knowing who you are at your core– it’s an understanding of how your body, mind, and spirit works; it’s about understanding human nature and your own specific human nature– all of it: good, bad, and continually changing, and taking 100% responsibility for this person that you ought to know (and love) better than you know anyone or anything else in the world. I learned most of this when I left the world of formal education to become a yoga teacher.

It’s Not About The Grades: Love for Learning Beyond Schooling is one product of my larger Landscapes for Learning project, which is my way of escaping the narrow confines of the high school classroom to begin a serious conversation with you and your parents and teachers about what I see missing from a truly complete education for teenagers— that is, teaching and learning about the wholeness and vitality of the individual human being, from the inside out. I hope to show you that a more conscious application of the principles of yoga can change your life, as they did my own.

Ironically, I quit my job to dedicate myself to yoga, writing, and more authentic forms of learning– that is, to continue to teach unencumbered by the inherent problems of a formal schooling environment.  My personal story about what I learned about myself from the experience of teaching inside high school and getting outside the confines of the classroom is meant to make you and other people think, mainly your parents, about the definition of education and its purpose and challenge them to rethink the “why” of educating you. I hope to encourage reflection from educators about their identity as teacher and the role they play in schooling as well as more authentic forms of learning. It’s also meant to positively influence you to be the best possible individual you can be which begins with encouraging you to look up from your phone and inward. Rather than aiming at a narrow definition of achievement in school prescribed by tradition or following the contemporary cultural narratives about material success continuously and relentlessly vying for and dominating your attention, which appears to be in ever shorter supply and severely limited, you need to focus more attention on what it means to simply be— be who you are, in each moment, rather than overly-anxious or “stressed out” about “finding your passion” or what you are supposed to do based on what everyone else thinks you should when you grow up. You have no idea who your future self will be if you don’t get to know the you of now!

The story of my travels both in the classroom and beyond school is about the journey of self-actualization that took place both geographically, around the world and back during my brief absences from teaching high school, and within my own inner landscapes through yoga. As an escaped teacher freely roaming the landscapes for learning, my story contains observations about what I learned about my own humanity and our shared humanity. Ultimately storytelling is about empathy, a shared experience between the storyteller and the listener, so in this respect, I hope that your experience with my story will inspire you (and your parents and your school) to find more balance upon the landscapes for learning, that is, to do more yoga in order to become more vital, more alive, and more healthy and well throughout your life. I will help you do just that, by example and through explicit instruction, as I lay out my experiences in the pages ahead.

Namaste,

Your Yoga Teacher

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Podcast Episode 005: How to Be The Hero of Your Own Life Story

“You ARE the hero of your own journey, and [this course] is the most important course you will ever take. You should be at the center of your own curriculum and let the rest of your schooling experiences supplement this foundational study of yourself…This is a solo mission– a private, individual, one-on-one class where you are both teacher and student. You only have to deal with and answer to yourself! Nobody can tell you what to do but you!”

A Humanities Course: Heroism 101
Lesson 1: How to Be The Hero of Your Own Life Story

If I could create a course especially for young people this podcast would serve as a sample introductory mini-lecture about the importance of knowing thyself within a larger course that I would call The Hero’s Journey or Heroism 101 (credit to Jospeh Campbell, Carl Jung, Jordan Peterson and many many others from antiquity to the present).

Typically, English teachers in public high schools are required to “cover” specific works of literature and teach specific language arts skills to students. We grade the students on their skills performance and progress, and assess their understanding of the literature under study. Coursework usually begins  with reading required stories where students are encouraged to make personal connections– to see themselves in the characters and explore human themes that might resonate with them.  The value of a humanities class, especially today, cannot be overstated! But, I thought, why not reverse this approach and begin a humanities course with students studying their very own lives– their own “selves,” their inner landscapes– the inner world of who they are, and  encourage them to see that they are actually, really, travelling on their own hero’s journey? The essential guiding question for such a course is : Who am I and How do I know? I think this is a valuable and precious piece of education that is needed for young people today, therefore the curriculum I am creating at Landscapes for Learning that will include podcasting, a journaling program, coaching sessions, video and other tutorials, and lots of other learning materials.

So, I would say to kids, why not just examine your own actual life rather than starting with examples and metaphors? I mean, for sure, archetypal stories and archetypal characters can teach you a ton about yourself (think Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Simba, and many more). Definitely, do your schoolwork! But instead of only studying fictional examples in the confines and context of school, I am reversing the approach by starting with YOU and your life– you, as the character of your own story, and encouraging and motivating you to examine the conflicts and themes that are human, relevant, and your real, actual life. Maybe things like your struggle with and hatred of school, or how you feel about yourself– maybe you lack confidence or feel ashamed of your weaknesses, or you lie a lot– or problems with friends & parents, or bullying and social media, anxiety and depression, and many other issues that are part of being a human being. These are the dragons you must slay, this is your road of trials, as the hero of your own life.

This curriculum I am creating is for you and is focused 100% on YOU and YOU becoming an expert on you and your own human nature! I will merely get you started– the rest is really up to you.

You ARE the hero of your own journey, and it is the most important course you will ever take. You should be at the center of your own curriculum and let the rest of your schooling experiences supplement this foundational study of yourself. The more you get to know yourself– the better you will see the world and understand others. All of your subjects in school will have more meaning for you– biology and chemistry and history and literature (I don’t know about math– probably math too!!). You will perform better because you will know your weakness and strengths, and your inner wisdom will help you find the grit, character, commitment, and motivation to do better and to be better all around! So, in this — your hero’s journey “course,” you will read, write and speak about, listen to, and think deeply about you! This is not more tedious slogging through a class or course simply to achieve a good grade. That is schooling. This is real, authentic learning.

This course– you and your life, NOW, is the learning that trumps all other forms of learning, and it’s actually important that you try to do the best you can — be the best student of yourself that you can be, since you will be the one who benefits most (although others will too, by default). And it is none of anyone else’s business what you are doing in this, your own class. This is a solo mission– a private, individual, one-on-one class where you are both teacher and student. You only have to deal with and answer to yourself! Nobody can tell you what to do but you!

You can assess yourself and decide about how much or little homework you do (I call it “soulwork”); and your attendance is totally up to you. You are in charge and you are responsible for you and only you.

So, I challenge you to put yourself at the center of your own attention, learn about what you are like and how you handle yourself– your thoughts, feelings, discomfort, boredom, whatever….and start figuring out who you’d like to be and get going on making it happen.

I hope I can get you to consider committing your time and your energy to self-understanding– spending more time with yourself, learning how to become your own best friend, and making yourself the best YOU you can be because you are full of amazing possibility, and the design of your own life is 100% in your control.

Enjoy this introductory lecture and stay tuned for more to come, more lessons you can use to teach yourself about yourself as you continue in this course– the course about YOU.

If you are interested in becoming the best you possible, subscribe to http://landscapesforlearning.com for email updates on new posts, podcasts, curriculum, and materials for your personal development.

 

Podcast Intro Music by:

Earthling-Political Lunatics published by DAWN STARS MUSIC 
Creative Commons License

Click HERE to Listen to Podcast 005

Listen on Apple ITunes Podcasts