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For the Love of Learning

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Reflecting on why it is I keep coming back to this blog and I realise that it is purely for the reflective time spent on why I believe learning is a “life blood” that naturally runs through all of us.

For some it runs freely and smoothly while for others it gets “clogged” up with an insistence that there is an ongoing blockage for the need to learn. Whether it be excuses or resistance to upset the “norm” of our lives.

As I think about young students in a classroom, or anywhere for that matter, there is a insatiable desire to learn. It may not be in the Maths lesson Period 7 on a summer afternoon in a classroom with no air conditioning but in their overall “desire” is to understand their world and “make  a dent in it”.

As adults, this desire seems to waver in some but thankfully not all. It becomes a load, and “overwhelming luggage” to get to our next destination. I have heard colleagues discuss learning, whether professional or tertiary based, as too unbearable and painful as if they were pulling a wheelbarrow between their teeth up a steep incline.

Whatever happened to “For the love of learning”? For the pure knowledge that your cognitive space is motivated and enhanced. That your world may seem more interesting to try to understand. That your life may become more educationally 3Dimensional.

Learning is not a given. Learning is not something that you “order” to suit your needs at that moment in time. Learning is not about already knowing something and resisting the new knowledge. Learning is the new! Learning is pushing through obstacles and finding things that you didn’t even know existed. Learning is about stopping at a particular moment and inhaling new found knowledge. Learning is about success and failure. Learning is about discussing with others and coming up wth knowledge that is new to you.

If we are relying on “learning” to be a slow moving, gentle cruise along the mild river of life, we are shutting our eyes to so many “adventures” along the way. I know I want my learning to be a “water rafting” ride in life. I want the ups and the downs, the screams of fear and the screams of success. And I want to know that at the end of my life, I have had the “learning” ride of my life.

So many of us have learning lapping at our fingertips within the reach of our keyboard and computer but we find the reasons for sending it away or upturn our noses at the chance to learn. For others on this planet, learning is so valuable that they risk their life. The village people of Atuleer Village in China are such brave advocates for the power and privilege to learn. (see video)

Atuleer Village China Risk Their Life for Learning

The next time you have the opportunity to ‘learn something” don’t look for the excuses nor  make the excuses. Instead, strap your helmet on, grip the oar as tight as you can and get ready to run down the river with the white water rushing around you. You’ll see it can be the best ride of your life!

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The Conscience Takes A Back Seat

Unknown-2     The most rewarding role in my life is that of mother and educator. I have been blest with three children who give my life essence. My daily thoughts are on helping these children become “decent”, well respected and well loved, empathic human beings who have a strong understanding of what is right and wrong.

But to do that is to assume that a person’s values are shared by all and this is not necessarily the case. What I value in life someone else may deflect its relevance in their own lives. And worse still, deflect its value as being important in my life.

The difference to me, as a mother and educator, is not just morality, i.that is right and wrong based on rules or “norms” but awareness of our conscience.

A conscience, is upon personal reflection, morality’s effect on others. An effect or a by-product of our choice of values, norms or rules.

I distinctly remember being taught about my conscience. Phrases such as “using my conscience” is part of my upbringing at home and school. This thinking was impossible unless I was “trained” to think about the effects my moral decisions had on others.

I worry that conscience is being shadowed by morality on its own. It is very easy to discuss “right” vs “wrong” with children, and let’s not be ill informed, many adults could do with a discussion on morality and the conscience. But do we give enough credence to thinking about our conscience. Do we “train” our minds alongside our hearts to think about how our words and actions will effect others especially if they do not share our own value system.

Morality can very easily play kingpin in life but the conscience allows us to steer our moral values so that we are able to look at ourselves in the mirror and live with our decisions, words and actions. The conscience is a reminder that the world does not exist to satisfy our own self or our own needs at the detriment of others. A person could assume their moral understanding because they know right and wrong in their own value system but if it isn’t shared by others we need another factor i.e., the conscience to level out the field.

As a child I was informed about the body, the soul and the mind and thankfully, I had the wisdom of educators who taught me the dimension of the conscience. This allowed me to reverence the idea that I may need to miss out because others’ needs are just as important.

There is an integrity to the value system when the needs of others are served before the needs of one person are catered for. The conscience, as I say to my own children, is your best friend to help you make solid, integral decisions and processes. The conscience, unlike morality alone, emphasises the person’s desire and accountability to do right rather than just the thinking of what is right and wrong.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s used their conscience today at all?”

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Qualified to Love

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I first wrote in this my educational blog site nearly two years ago where I was introduced to reflective writing and critical reviews by a visionary lecturer who knew knowledge and understanding didn’t amount to word counts only. This blog site has been a place where I could share thoughts on learning, teaching and leadership in the educational domain. Subjects such as mission integrity; ethics; shared moral purpose and authentic leadership were thoughts that helped me to understand the importance of my role as a teacher and leader. It has been quite some time that I have been at this site but sometimes my reflective thoughts inspire me to write.

Recently, I completed a Masters in Educational Leadership. This was a degree that I worked very hard to achieve all the while trying to juggle full-time studies with raising three young children, working part time, looking after a home and caring for an elderly mother. For me, it was not only an achievement for myself but for my children to see that at any age learning is a priceless gift. And learning is to be cherished as this gift.

But sometimes, life throws situations by you and clouds your reality and makes life a fog filled highway.A highway you don’t always want to be on. Unsure whether your thoughts and reflections throughout two years of extensive university study will lift some of this fog. But strangely, for me, it has. For you see, I remember many years ago, when my first daughter was born, a parent at the school asked me ‘Do you think you will be a better teacher now you are a parent?” I remember thinking what a silly question to ask. It is only recently that I reflect deeply on my role as a teacher and parent that this question makes more sense. I may never be an inspirational classroom teacher again, who knows what is install in my life. I may never be a proud leader, who knows what life has installed. But I do know that my role as teacher to my children is constant and the most rewarding educational role I will ever hold. That is something that can never be challenged or questioned, and the last 11 years have proven to be the most valuable of my life.

A smile filled with pride; a hug at random times of the day; a question enveloped in curiosity are all parts of this educational role that are immeasurable. Am I a qualified teacher, very much with 25 years of teaching experience. Am I a Master of Educational Leadership, at least proven academically. But the one question that I can answer with assurance and confidence is that my teaching expertise in the everyday of my children’s lives is my ongoing vision, it is my daily focus, and it will be area of expertise that I value more than anything in life.  Just recently a dear friend said to me “Parenting can be boring and dull but it is a responsibility that we have been given to look after above our own needs”. You could take all my degrees and qualifications away from me but at the end of the day, my responsibility as an educator lies right at the feet of being a mother to my children first. That qualification is framed in my heart and mind, and is untouchable!

For GBF, HMF and NDCF xxxx

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Mission Integrity: Holding On By Our FingerTips


images-1School leadership, in modern times, is faced with challenges from every corner. Social, economic, religious and political. Catholic school leadership is facing these challenges but with the extra weight of keeping to the mission of the school and that of Catholic education especially when they continue to “receive significant support from public funds”(Grace, 2002) and are heavily driven by market values just like any other school. The Catholic schools are also varied in their identity, their multi faiths and multi ethnic populations and yet are still committed to uphold to the mission of their schools. The question is why and for how long can they maintain this? Continue reading

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Shared Moral Purpose and Shared Leadership Are a Compelling Force

imagesShared Moral Purpose is a communal sense of intention based  in shared values. Shared moral purpose is a powerful and challenging aspect of school cultures.

Shared leadership suggests that the collective staff share that purpose and speak the same language in regards to conceptualising what it is we want for our students’ learning to give them the best outcomes to shape their lives.

At this point, can I just say how encouraging it is to know that these conversations on moral purpose, authenticity and shared leadership are being had in schools. Regardless of what stage a school or individual is at in these arenas, the fact remains that we are challenging ourselves as people and professionals whose impact on the lives of others is exponential. We are challenging our expectations and our reasoning as teachers and this can only be a “good thing”. (Fullan, 2001)

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Digital Archaeologists

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Whether or not we like it, technology is here and it has arrived with a large bang over the last few years. That “bang” is not getting any quieter and personally, I think it is the sweetest sound in the classroom in the 21st century.

At no other point in history has so much been at the direct fingertips of our students …and their teachers.

At no other point in history has so much of the planet’s knowledge been so accessible to our students …and their teachers.

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Eli, Eli Lema Sabachthani

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(Image: Staples, 2015)

Up until now I reserved this website for more educational based writings but the events of recent times involving two of my fellow countrymen, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have led me to put my thoughts down in a post.

Both these men are known to nearly every breathing Australian. Known as the “Ringleaders of the Bali 9” and currently smelling the incense of death as they have been sentenced to execution by firing squad. These two men allegedly tried to smuggle eight kilograms of heroin into Indonesia. They were found guilty…accepted.

But through the media we hear of their transformation as human beings and the transforming effects they have had on other human beings especially those sharing the stench of prison surrounds.

Tonight as I read a Tweet posted by a friend, where he sits in prayer, in a vigil organised for them and my hearts cries out “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani” just as Jesus apparently cried out when he was on the cross. This means “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me”.

My God, where are you to show me that these men are worthy of salvation. How much more worthy can a person be? I hear the limp reasons for supporting their execution. That they put other people’s lives at risk. How many of us have never put another person’s life at risk simply by speeding along a freeway; or not regularly checking the rubber on our vehicles’ tyres. No comparison I hear you say, I beg to differ! I was young and stupid once too but disguised as mature, responsible and job holding. Now I see the error of my ways but when I was younger I just smelt the fresh air in the open window and music to singalong with as I drove along the road. Not heroine, correct but still a deadly weapon was my car. How many truck drivers take drugs to keep to a deadline. Yes, workers trying to feed their family but still a deadly weapon when they fall asleep at the wheel of a truck. How many foreman have allowed their construction workers to work in unsafe work environments without harnesses or head gear. Not heroine but still a deadly weapon. And the list goes on. Do we accept execution for these people?

The argument continues that if my “child” died from one of these overdoses would I feel differently about them. My answer is no. My “child” made that decision just as others in my community choose to take alcohol in excess and put their own life and put others’ lives at risk.

I’m not contemplating that these men should be freed and perhaps, maybe through some mystical presence Joko Widodo may inhale this thought. Perhaps these men’s purpose for existence in life was to be caught and be imprisoned so that they could do what others have failed to do. To save; to show compassion and dignity to other inmates; to transform the lives of so many; and to challenge our laws for the rights of the ruah of the human being. Would I have been writing a post about people in a prison if they hadn’t transformed my own life and the answer is quite clearly no. These men, like so many “misfits in a perfect society” have served their fellow man in ways many of us can’t imagine let alone achieve. And I ask, if someone like Jesus came across these men what would he say to them? I have no doubt that they’d be embraced with the most outreached arms and a forgiving heart. The thought of even possibly hearing that they have been executed makes my heart stop. I pray every day as I don’t want to cry out “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani” if that time comes.

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