The Skillful Teacher

I came across this quotation from Confucius many months agoand I have been waiting for an opportune time to include it in my blog.Please forgive Confucius for his use of the term ‘man’ only in his descriptionof the skillful teacher. The most skillful teachers I know are women. When a superior man knows the causes which make instruction successful, and those which make it of no effect, he can be a teacher of others. Thus in his teaching, he leads and does not drag; he strengthens and does not discourage; he opens the way but does not conduct to the endwithout the learner’s own efforts. Leading and not dragging produces harmony. Strengthening and not discouraging makes attainment easy. Opening the way and not conducting to the end makes the learner thoughtful. He who produces harmony, easy attainment, and thoughtfulness may be pronounced a skillful teacher.– Confucius,Book XVI – HSIO KI (Record on the Subject of Education)Isn’t it remarkable how Confucius seems to capture all that we would nowcall best practice in teaching others.She leads but does not dragMost learning practitioners would agree with this – for adults the mantrais adults learn what they want to learn and what they find Read More …

लीर्निंग फ्रॉम स्लुम्दोग Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire – Official Movie Site This was a super film that pushed and pulled at your emotions throughout -the direction, editing, photography and acting all combined to create an absolutly absorbing experience. I think great films live on in your head after you’ve seen them and this was the case with Slumdog. What of the story! Without giving too much away – the basic premise centres on the Indian version of the TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. People (especially the police) do not believe how the young tea boy from the Mumbai slums can answer all the quiz show questions. He must be cheating! How could he know all this stuff? We find out that he really does know the answers because each question connected with particular events and experiences in his life history. This film is a good example of important connection between experience and learning. Some people describe themselves as not having much learning and yet the may have many years experience in work or other areas of activity. This experience counts for learning and for anyone thinking about returning to learning it’s a good idea to think about all of your experience as Read More …

Storyteller’s Concert in Lough Rynn Castle

So we were down in Leitrim for the weekend and didn’t we discover as we arrived that this was the most interesting of weekend’s to be in Mohill. The Storytelling festival and the horse fair were both on. Maire and I went to a storytelling concert in Lough Rynn castle and it was an enthralling experience. What struck me above all was the manner in which we become mesmermised by good stories and how the craft of storytelling is still very important in the modern world.Coincidentally the previous day we had a Friday lunchtime seminar on learning and teaching in the College and the importance of stories and good case studies was emphasised. The role of narrative as a vehicle for learning has always been important -it is perhaps the oldest way of education.Often I come across instrumental approaches to teaching -the idea is to break up the content and to distil the important points and ‘give’ notes to students for later reproduction. We then seem baffled when there is little retention or deep level learning. The stark presentation of abstract concepts is of little value to students grappling with these concepts for the first time.Old wisdom was handed down Read More …

An Organic Approach to Teaching and How Digital Media Make it Possible

In recent years the trend in digital media design has been toward extending the natural reach of human capacities.Digital cameras for example are not just getting smaller and lighter but they are becoming easier to use. Background technologies now compensate for low light levels, camera shake, poor composition and other errors. All the user needs to do is point and click.The irony is that increasingly complex technology often gives rise to simpler and more natural functionality. Give a camera to a six year old and watch what happens.The same trend can be seen in other designs -technologies such as the wii controller, voice recognition and intuitive Internet interfaces are helping to hide technology and foreground functionality. Ironically, these advanced digital technologies are becoming more transparent and users take them for granted. These designs give rise to new possibilities in teaching and learning.Traditionally, we’ve organised much of school teaching around the development of essential skills the so-called 3r’s -reading, writing and arithmetic. There are few who would deny the importance of these skills for the modern world and because they are important we can’t wait to get our children up to speed as early as possible. The progress of children in Read More …

Great Music and Quick Fingers

Had a call from Tom with an out of the blue to join him and his son Shane at a gig in town -part of the Ireland Guitar Festival. Josco Stephan and his band and later joined by Tommy Emmanuel were the bill for the night. I have to confess that I had not heard of these before and was not sure what to expect. As the small theatre filled up (The Suger Club) I was convinced that everyone attending was a guitar head and was a little worried that the show would be my taste. How wron I was! These guys were brilliant! and one of the freshest sounds that I’ve heard in years. Technically the musicians were awesome but more than that they lived every note and made the music meaningful engaging. Have a look at the you tube videos and see what I mean and watch out if they ever come your way. Afterwards Tom, Shane and I had a really interesting conversation over dinner on whether music and art were historically situated in culture or more fundamentally rooted which minds me to point the reader toward this podcast from Benjamin Zander http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.htmlwhich addresses the same issue. Read More …

The Web and the Unconscious

Most psychoanalytical models of the human mind use a depth metaphor to suggest the division between the conscious and the unconscious. Typically Jungian approaches use the idea that the mind is like an island jutting out of the sea with only so-much showing above the surface. The visible component represents the conscious, the tidal zone the personal unconscious and the zone below the collective unconscious.A sense of depth is itself a value laden construct. We envisage the bottom of the sea with ugly fish and black darkness. That’s a scary unconscious. There is another way of looking at this what I think is a more useful metaphor. Look at the following system -the Internet. We could, metaphorically, view this as a form of cognitive consciousness. Alongside this we have individual and societal processes that build, shape and grow the Internet system. This other system is not overtly evident on the Internet it is only accessible through the symbol system of the net. If we were to imagine an alien species that had no way of contacting humans but by some fluke of science could find access to the entire Internet we could ask -what way would they ‘model’ human beings Read More …

Storytellers

We are all storytellers and we are the stories we tell The above is a quotation (in fact it’s the opening line) from a book I’m reading called Identity and Story Creating Self in Narrative by McAdams Josselson and Lieblich (2006) APA Washington.Why do we tell stories about ourselves?There are always at least two people involved the storyteller and the listener. I like to think about a self-story as a type of connection between two points in time and place. A bridge between two sets of events the narrative and the present -the moment of telling.Self-stories are constructed in the telling and they are an important fabric in the perpetual process of self-identity formation. posted by Leo Casey

Jung

Some notes Carl Jung and Motivation Jung and others emphasise the unconscious.The suggestion is that we need to question the contribution of the unconscious to motivation. Jung uses the terms psyche and psychic rather than mind and mental.Jung sees the unconscious aspect of the psyche as different but complimentary to the conscious. Jung sees the psyche as a dynamic system, in constant flux and self-regulating . He calls the psychic energy libido acting out a form of opposition and compensation. Forward (progression) and backward (regression) movement of the libido -think of adaptation (to one’s environment) and accommodation (change in mind). Some idea of flow between the conscious and the unconscious. And by the way regression (which often gets a bad press) is not a bad thing.Jung also talks about symbols and signs. A sign as a substitute or representation of a real thing while a symbol is a wider representation. The conscious aspect of the psyche may be compared with an island jutting out of the sea. The island could be seen as the ego the bit above the water. Now there’s lots of stuff that we either forget, have repressed or suppressed; all of these occupy the personal unconscious. Read More …

No Country for old Men

Went to see No Country for Old Men http://www.nocountryforoldmen.com/ with J. Quite a good film typical Coen brothers. Lots of open country and murders. Yes murders! But what of the plot. Well quite a story really and a puzzling ending. We talked about it afterwards always a sign of a good film. What else can be done on a wet day. What about the ending. I think it’s courageous for a box office type movie to take on such a creative ending.The sherif Bell tries to sort out his world as he begins his retirement. Here is a section from the script: LORETTA (CONT’D) … How’d you sleep? BELL I don’t know. Had dreams. LORETTA Well you got time for ’em now. Anything interesting? BELL Well they always is to the party concerned. LORETTA Ed Tom, I’ll be polite. BELL Okay. Two of ’em. Both had my father. It’s peculiar. I’m older now’n he ever was by twenty years. So in a sense he’s the younger man. Anyway, first one I don’t remember so well but it was about meetin’ him in town somewheres and he give me some money and I think I lost it. The second one, it Read More …