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Archive for the ‘behaviour’ Category

The core “self”, the Spiritual Self, what is it? What makes it tick?

I’m not going to delve into a religious or scientific perspective here, I want to look at the core values that guide us. In one of my earlier postings I mentioned the 7 Grandfather Teachings. These are the traits that are honoured and taught in the Native culture.

The 7 Grandfather (or Sacred) Teachings
* Wisdom
* Love
* Respect
* Courage
* Honesty
* Humility
* Truth

Wisdom
In the previous blog about this topic I mentioned that “Wisdom” is knowledge plus experience. As mentors in children’s lives this means that we need to be providing experiences and opportunities for exploration, for discussions, and for meshing knowledge with each of their stories and perspectives of life as they know it.
“Have you ever experienced something like this before?” – questions like this guide the thinking to past experiences, helping to make those connections and, thus, create Wisdom.

It is important to provide the time to think about the connections. We could stand back and hope that they get it; we could wait for them to some day make the connections between the knowledge and how it applies to their lives… or, as teachers we could guide their thinking, ask the questions and plant the seeds, helping them make the connections and ensuring that the thought process takes place.

Perhaps we could expand the definition of Wisdom to:

Knowledge + Experience + Contemplation = Wisdom

This, then, indicates that our job as mentors is to provide knowledge, to provide opportunities to discover knowledge, to provide opportunities for exploration and experience, and to provide time and strategies to contemplate the experiences (conversations, journals, pictures, etc).

Doing a quick proof-read of the above, the image of the Fire of Truth again pops into my head. The children are sitting in spots around the fire, each with their own unique perspective. To expand our understanding of the Truth we need each individual, each child, to have the best understanding that they can have of what they see and have experienced. That means that they need to be constantly expanding their understanding of life – from their own perspective – continually developing their Wisdom, not just knowledge.

We, as the others sitting around the fire, rely on all the children to see life through their own eyes, to mesh the knowledge with their own experiences, with their own way of looking at life, with their own way of interpreting things. We need them to be able to share this Wisdom, their Wisdom, their unique perspectives with us, which then expands our Wisdom and our understandings of the Truth.

If we, on the other hand, force the children to see things our way, to interpret things the same way that we would, then we are robbing ourselves and robbing humanity of that one beautiful thread in the tapestry in life. The coat of many colours that Dolly Parton sings about would be a plain old blue coat. It may be better accepted by society, it may “fit in”, but we, as a whole, (and the child him/her self) have lost something as a result of the conformity.

Bringing this back to school settings in particular, perhaps if we can see projects and reports as strategies to help students make this knowledge-experience-contemplation connection and to help them share their perspective, their Wisdom, to make their contribution to the “Fire of Truth”, then perhaps … perhaps we can take the education system into a whole new level of effectiveness and purpose.

It isn’t about a grade, is it?!
* It’s about developing Wisdom and contributing to the greater good.
* We, as mentors, are empowering the participants of the circle.
* Our assessment of how well we do our jobs (and not of the child’s successes) is whether or not a child is able to make connections, develop Wisdom, and share their unique perspectives with others.
* We are building the cognitive skills, the communication skills and confidence to share.
* We are building the ability to listen to and respect every unique perspective regardless of who is sharing it and how the viewpoint fits with our own understanding of the Truth.

Imagine: at the end of a school day or time together after working on some project, everyone sits in a circle and shares their Wisdom, their perspective of the Truth. Everyone listens intently, adding the other viewpoints and insights to their own. And then everyone takes time to contemplate again, thinking about what the united perspectives means, what even greater Wisdom they have now.

This is my perspective. What is yours?
Fire of Truth - Uniting our Perspectives

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Change .. we have a love/hate relationship with it. Change means that we are stepping out of the known into the unknown. We may look forward to the new but at the same time be a little fearful, perhaps, of the possibilities. We may want the change but at the same time cling to our old ways because they are comfortable, even if they cause us physical, emotional, or psychological pain.

The old ways are what we know: we know what will happen, what the outcomes will be, how we cope with the situations, who will do what and when, and so on. There is safety in this knowing and acting out of habit takes little conscious effort.

Doing something new, on the other hand, demands that we think. “What will happen if?” “How will he/she respond?” “Will I be hurt or embarrassed?” “Should I…” “Could I…” Questions and worst-case scenarios may be running through one’s head. It can be overwhelming. So why do even bother to change? Why don’t we just stick to the familiar?

Well, some people do exactly that. They get stuck in patterns, in situations, and in their safety zone and stay there for their entire lives. Observers will wonder, “why don’t they just leave?” or “When will they ever learn?” or “When will they hit rock bottom?” But the messages that play in the minds of “the stuck” are strong and loud. The ego voice is very good at convincing them that the “known” is the best option to keep safe, even if the “known” is physically abusive.

Some people are stuck because they don’t know what else to do. Some don’t even know that there is another way! Some people choose to stay stuck because of the fears and others have perceived beneficial outcomes that are worth the sacrifices. Perhaps there is a sense of power, perhaps it is a roof over the head and food on the table.

As a Consultant, my job is to help identify the goals and the messages that are playing. My job is to help individual decide if they want to stay in the “known” or to move into something new. It is my job to help them identify and implement the steps to cope and/or to change.

My brain likes to process information by fine-tuning it into the smallest parcel as possible — what are the basic elements that sum it up? For change, I summed it us as the following:

Elements of Change
Awareness
Belief
Motivation
Skill
Self-Control

Although some change is forced on us the above elements still apply. Before change can happen, we first need to be aware of the issue. We need to be aware that there is a problem, that there are options.

Once having the issue brought to our attention, one way or another, for change to happen, belief comes into play. We need to believe that change is possible; we need to believe that the change is important to do (even if it is to do what is being forced upon us); we need to believe that we have the ability to change.

Belief alone, however, does not mean that change will happen. Motivations, conscious and subconscious, hold a lot of power and can keep us in old patterns. I like to give the example of a young child who believes in following her parent’s rules and expectations. She always comes home right after school. One day, however, her peers invite her to stay and play. Although she believes in going right home after school, the motivation for socialization with her peers, for the sense of belonging to the group, is stronger and she chooses to stay and play.

The identification of motivators is vital to the process of change. We need to know what motivates us to change as well as to stay with the tried-and-true. Knowing this, awareness of this, gives us the power to make conscious decisions as to which direction we take and choices we make at this time. We can look at our choices and check to see if they mesh with our belief system, our philosophies, and our self-image.

“Skills” is perhaps the easiest part of the process. What do we need to know and what skills and resources do we need to make the change? Some research, some advice, and perhaps some purchases gives us what we need to make the change happen.

And then comes “Self-Control” – the will to stick to the plan, to not use the old ways, the old habits. We all know what it is like to not follow through with plans. Some times it is just easier or we don’t have the time, energy, or patience to put the effort into doing the new actions.

“Self-control” means we have to think; we have to make the sometimes hard choices; we have to practice the new ways over and over and over until they become the easy way, no longer taking the effort that it did when the change began. We have to be conscious, living in the moment, and be aware of our motivators in any given moment and be honest about these motivators. And we have to be strong in our commitment to the change.

A wonderful resource for this self-control is outside supports. Finding others to share the experience with others, perhaps with those who are also engaged in the same change process, helps us talk about and clarify our beliefs and motivators, and helps us share and build the skills to make the change and make it successful. It also builds a support network to help us stay on track, to point out when we are reverting to old ways, and when the old messages are being played trying to drag us away from our goals.

In regards to education, we are currently in the mix of becoming aware of the problems and of the possibilities. As we toss around ideas and new strategies, we are building a new belief system, a new image of the education system.

I think we already have the motivation for change. We want to teach our children to be healthy members of our society. We want to see success stories for all students. Keeping that as our priority relies on recognizing our other motivators, those that want to keep us in the old ways. Perhaps burnout has robbed us of the energy to put into the change and we have to protect our physical selves by not shaking things up. Perhaps we have a strong need for power and control and we love the position of the teacher at the front of the classroom. Perhaps.. well, we all have our motivators; we have to be honest as to what these are.

The skills — we are working on that, trying to find the best practices for the right students, to empower them, to open them to learning, to growth, and to new experiences.

Self-control is always a challenge. Networks are a real asset – networks with peers, with parents, and with students building a team of people committed to the new ways and with a wide variety of perspectives of the issue and of the possibilities.

Are you ready for the change? What are the messages that play in your head that validate the old ways? Which old ways do you want to bring into the present and future? What are your motivators? How do you plan on maintaining the self-control? Who is in your support network?

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Writing this blog series has already had an impact on my awareness and perception of what I believe is the intention of education.

My initial goal for writing this blog was to share my belief that we need to focus on core values as we guide/teach/mentor our children. Although this is still my goal, I have shifted my perspective of these values being another component of the whole child, one of the spokes on the wheel, to being at the hub, uniting all of the pieces. The outcome is the same but, being a visual person, this really helps to bring it all into focus for me.

SPICES hub

Today, I want to take a closer look at this hub, at the core values that I want to drive all of my choices and I want to pass on to the next generation.

Key Components:
* all things are Sacred and deserve to be treated as such.
When we remember this, then we don’t hurt others (from people, to desks, to trees, to water) and we look for the lessons behind experiences.
This core belief can be used to manage conflicts, to protect the environment, to take proper care of belongings, to cope with disappointments, etc.

* all things individually contribute to the Greater Good, the bigger picture
When this is one of our guiding principles, we do things with the intention of giving, helping, and contributing rather than getting. It truly is about the “we” rather than the “me”.
When greed, bullying, and selfish behaviours pop up, this core value can help shift perspective and actions.

* all things have a purpose, a Sacred Gift, passion, skill, talent, perspective
We are all different and we each bring something special to the big picture. Our purpose in life is to discover our gifts, develop our gifts and share our gifts.
Believing in this uniqueness also creates empathy and respect for others, respecting their journey even if it seems to be in conflict with our own.
Self-image, motivation, and bullying are all impacted by this core belief. As mentors it drives how we mentor and what we teach to each individual child.

* it takes all perspectives of the Fire of Truth to see the full picture
Each person’s uniqueness, as described above, provides a different perspective of “the truth”, of the big picture. To see and understand the whole truth we need to listen to and learn from all others. Again: empathy and respect.
Conflict resolution, group activities, classroom dynamics, and topic research are all about the “fire of truth”, combining perspectives and gathering wisdom from a variety of sources.

* all things have a Female & Male energy
We each have a male energy (action) and a female energy (introspection). One without the other leaves us in danger of walking the wrong path or not walking it at all. We need our inner wisdom (female) to guide our choices/actions (male). We need actions (male) to use our wisdom (female) to contribute, to share, to do.
Motivation and the inner voice working together to make a difference.

* life is a continuation of seeking, discovering, celebrating, and sharing of Wisdom, skills and resources
This is a reminder that things will always change and that there is always something more waiting for us. It reminds us to find the lessons in our stories, to share our stories, to celebrate our stories, and to use our stories to help others and their stories.
Recap, contemplate, assess, learn, grow!

* guiding forces within each of us are the Spiritual Self and the ego self
Being aware of the inner voice and the ego voice helps us recognize our motivators, good and bad, and to choose the good.
Checking in, think before you act, choose wisely.

These core values are what we are teaching. How we teach them, how we utilize them, and how we empower them will differ depending on our own uniqueness, the children in our care, and the circumstances of the moment.

Picture two children fighting about something. Our typical responses are “play nice”, “we don’t hit”, “what’s the problem” and so on. Let’s take that a step further; let’s go to the core beliefs. “Remember to treat each other as Sacred.” (That sounds funny, doesn’t it!) How about: “Remember to treat each other with respect.” For me, although that is more comfortable it seems to lack something. If I am one of the children, I probably don’t feel like respecting the other guy at this moment. However, when we take it to the core, to being Sacred, well how can I argue with that?

With this scenario there is an opportunity to introduce, validate and utilize many of the core values. But that’s another story… let’s start here. How do these core values fit for you? How would you word them? How can you and how do you already utilize them? How do they impact how you parent/teach/mentor?

I look forward to reading your feedback, to receiving your Wisdom and meshing it with my perspective!
~Debbie

(The first blog of this series can be found here.)

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