Decision time is upon us and Facebook is loaded with the latest news of acceptances. It is easy for someone to get carried away by this whole process, as I’ve learned the hard way when I was denied access from my dream school. I feel I have a lot to say about this. So here is my message to the people on both sides of the decision.

To those denied:

As I opened the letter that held the admission’s decision from the school I thought was my dream school, I could tell it wasn’t good news. I read the first few words, and slumped back on my couch and cried. I questioned my life’s path, I questioned my own worth, I questioned everything. It felt awful to say the least. I put my heart and soul into the essays and personal statement. I envisioned myself at this school and imagined all the good times I would have and how successful I’d become if only I could attend. But alas, I got denied. I’m still dealing with the emotions from this, but for those denied access from their dream school, I promise in the coming days it will get better and you will become excited about something new.

Who you are is not dependent on a decision made by a few people who barely know you. Who you are is not dependent on the name of the school you go to. Heck, who you are isn’t even dependent on the experiences you have while you are in college. You’ll be the same person, and just as successful whether you attend your safety, or Harvard. Things have a funny way of working out, so you’ll do what you are meant to do no matter what you do during college. I promise you that. If you will it, things will work out.

Getting rejected sucks. I feel that right now, and reading CLASS OF 2018 statuses still stings. But we can’t tie our worth, and we can’t tie our identity to where we go to school. Because if we do then we are nothing. This is a valuable experience. Those of us rejected from our dream schools are having an experience that a Harvard education couldn’t possibly provide for us. We are learning to deal with rejection, to deal with things not working out. We are the ones who will have to learn how to be happy without the perfect plan. We will have to rethink, re-evaluate, and redirect our paths, but in the end this experience of being rejected could be just as valuable as the education we would have received had we been accepted.

To those Accepted:

I’m proud of you all. It is great to be accepted and you all deserve that feeling. Nothing anyone can say can take this from you and I hope you are celebrating. The education you receive will help you on your way to fulfilling your goals and I hope you all take advantage of that opportunity. Connect with as many people as possible, try that weird club your school offers, take that class in that subject you were curious about, and most of all, do what makes you happy.

I’m sure it feels great to be accepted and I must say, I am jealous. Yet I urge you all not to let yourself be defined by the schools you attend nor by the acceptance letter you just received. You already are who you are and your experiences will shape you, but don’t let them become you. You are all awesome people I am sure. So don’t make the school you go to become the only source of your awesomeness. You are who you are. Don’t forget your goals, don’t forget why you are doing what you are doing. Imagine getting denied admission, if you couldn’t be happy in that situation, then there will be situations in the future, when things go wrong that you may become unhappy. Realize that the college alone won’t make you happy. It has to be you that does that. You are worthy and you are important even without that school you just got accepted to, so don’t let anyone tell you differently.

Please take advantage of your situation. Do what makes you happy. And never forget who you really are and why you are doing what you are doing.

http://jonoaks.com/im-not-a-lazy-teacher/

I love getting responses to the ideas I put out. In fact the responses I get are the reason why I blog. Jon wrote about how he was fired up after reading my post, and I think by fired up he meant he wasn’t happy. The goal of this post is to clear up some things that I feel need explaining.

First of all, I agree with the title of his post. Jon is not a lazy teacher and I’m sure the lessons his students learn are valuable and even life changing. In fact many teachers get through to students in a way that is meaningful and life changing. Unfortunately the system that exists obstructs that much of the time. I never would ever call a teacher lazy. I have no misconceptions about the work teachers put in. I, of course, don’t understand the work of a teacher because I am not a teacher! But I would never say a teacher is lazy. In fact I often speak in defense of teachers when a friend makes a comment calling a teacher lazy. The only mention of the word lazy I made was the name calling of kids who hate school.

A part if Jon’s argument was that students should shape their education rather than take it the way it is and just hate it. And I must say I couldn’t agree more. Yet there’s a flaw. 1. We have classes we are required to take. Hence education can never become our own. 2. The classes that could become fun and interesting are often unable to due to things like testing and current models of rote learning. 3. Curiosity/asking questions often is hard for a student as the culture of school is answer answer answer. Students should ask questions I totally agree, but its hard to play an active role when school is one size fit all.

I really agreed with Jon on many things. Hope this clears things up.

About two weeks ago I had a sore throat compounded by a stuffy nose, a cough and a headache. I had a sinus infection and I was thrilled. I’m not someone who enjoys feeling sick and I’m not someone who loves getting sympathy, so why was I happy about being sick?

I’m sure you already know why. I was happy to be sick because it meant I got to miss school!

We all know people who get excited to see there temperature rise above 100 degrees. We all know people who fake sick to get out of school. In fact, who hasn’t seen Ferris Bueller’s day off? The question is, why would kids rather suffer and lie than have to endure 6-7 hours at school?

The reality is that when someone hates something, they don’t want to do it! This is not rocket science. The other point that isn’t rocket science is that if people hate something, it should be changed. I know these conclusions are obvious, but people just shrug kids’ complaints off as laziness. Parents say “we went theough with it”, but in saying that they admit that school wasn’t something that they liked.

On another hand, school also causes sickness. Not just the depression and the mental sickness that comes with school but also the physical sickness that comes from keeping kids in seats instead of playing on the field. Or the stomach aches and headaches that go along with stress. In fact, it isn’t an understatement to say that school is a sick place.

Even with this knowledge, people still rationalize this version of school as necessary. Parents, teachers, even principals I urge you not to shrug off your child’s complaints. They aren’t being lazy. They are being humans. They are alive. Don’t stifle their living by forcing them to go to a place they hate. Don’t let their curiosity go to waste. Listen to their complaints. Learning can change, school doesn’t have to be this way.

Recently I was having a conversation with some friends. The subject of education came up. Usually this conversation always revolves around our frustration and the latest about stress we feel because of school. Naturally, we started talking about solutions and what we see as the point of education.

One friend began, he told us, you see its all about economics. We have to let kids have marketable skills, and we have to level the playing field for kids in inner cities without the resources people like we (my friends and I) have.

Another friend nodded his head and began by saying he thinks it’s all about democracy. Preparing kids to become responsible citizens and that leveling the playing field was part of democracy.

Lastly, another said he believed it was all about out competing other countries so as to keep America, the golden beacon to the rest of the world, on top.

No, this story didn’t happen. I made it up. But I’m recounting a typical conversation I overhear. To be honest, it is frustrating for me to hear this kind of thing. Not to say that anyone is wrong, though, I don’t see the point of education as being to enhance any country’s standing. In addition, I don’t believe America is a golden beacon to anyone.

Anyway, lets talk about the first two friends. Democracy of course is a good thing. So is innovation, new ideas and skills that go along thinking about education in terms of economics. Yet I feel something is seriously missing from both these friends.

You see, I’m not a philosopher or anything, but I think there is something to say for being happy. Democracy and fair/innovative economics is certainly part of that! But to say that it is the only part of being happy is a far cry from the truth. See, what we are missing from all this talk about education and what we are missing from education right now is the human side of things. Me, you, my friends, we are all people with distinct passions interests and dreams for the future. Therefore education must feel personalized and people must feel free to follow the paths they’d like. On the other side, we all share one thing, that is being human.

See, we often forget that in the debating and in the policies there are kids who suffer. I’ve often thought about whether or not people working for the College Board, principals or other people felt guilty about the sadness, stress, and emotional strain they put on kids. But I realized, they don’t see it as that. They see that they are enhancing kids lives and they are proud of the work they doing. They view education as a means of creating skilled people and enhancing peoples economic standing and therefore lifestyle. This of course is a good thing! Yet in doing so they take the human aspect out of education and therefore out of what other people deem success.

The human aspect must exist in everything we do. In fact not just the human aspect, but rather the life aspect. The everything aspect really. Us, animals, the world, its oceans, land, and everything else in it are part of everything we do. When we think about compartmentalized issues, in education things like just standardized testing for instance, we make an issue out of something that is just part of the bigger picture.

Skills are important, democracy is important, moving towards equality is important, but none of these are important without humans finding meaning and happiness.

I don’t think the answer is more structured classes. It is not more rigorous standards. It is not “smarter teachers”. It is not smaller class sizes. It’s not a debate about teacher’s unions nor is it a debate about charter schools. It is not more discipline. It many deeper things. It finding passions and exploring them. It’s drawing connections to the world and the people who make it up.

I believe we all have passions. They just evolve and change as we learn more about the world. Explore.

When did it become acceptable to tell a person their vision for the world was unrealistic? Of course it’s unrealistic… If it was reality no one would have to envision it.

Ideas exist outside of how we’ve already created them in this world.

There are many types of people, two of these types are those that make the world, and others who merely become it.

Every problem has depth. That means every solution has depth. Not  an incomprehensible jumble of intricacies. But a coherent mesh of people and the complexities that make them human.

People don’t do things that they are about, the do things that they feel they have to do. Why don’t people do things with passion rather than become weekend warriors living for 2/7 of their life?

I am an idealist, and that is good.

So remember the Global Classroom idea I told you about?

Well, the vision of my friend and I has come to the life in the form of a Facebook group called Sekvacio.

Sekvacio is a combination of the Esperanto term “Sekva Generacio”, meaning next generation. Esperanto was a language created with the goal of it becoming a universal language. Understanding between people of every corner of the world is the only thing that will bring us towards peace and harmony. Being that the goal of our group is to empower world thinkers, we believed Esperanto, a language for the world, and Next Generation, the people who will soon make our world tick, really summed up our purpose.

Sekvacio can become anything we want to make it. A platform for discussion at its most basic level, but from there. . . anything. Even coming to the realization that there is a whole world outside of our doors filled with people, places, ideas and wonder that we can experience is enough to just think about for years, but when we actually interact with each other even more doors are opened up. 

Sekvacio will foster connection, a world view, a view of the complex, an appreciation for culture and history, and so much more. 

WARNING: This is a ramble!

I have a lot of ideas.

Expressing these ideas, to this day, presents a problem for me. I wish I could take my mind and give it to someone else for a few minutes so they could see my ideas the way I do. I don’t mean this in an argumentative type of way, even though that is very important. What I mean is just explaining an idea can be very frustrating when you feel someone doesn’t see things the way you do.

Communication, as the saying goes, is key. But in addition to good communication, an important thing is to understand that people have different minds. That preconceived notions may skew something you say. That changing how another person sees something is incredibly difficult.

In explaining my ideas about life, learning and the world, I often encounter myself at a loss for how to best describe my ideas. They are too complex I suppose, but I guess saying that gives me more credit than I deserve. In reality, the cliche “Have an open mind”, really applies to understanding what I think and believe.

I’m not sure why it is hard to understand my ideas. I guess that it is even hard for me to understand my ideas. I know they are evolving. I know they are complicated. I know all my ideas are connected. Putting these two things, the complication and the connectedness of all things, together puts the world in a frame.

I can’t claim to have all the answers when talking about learning. I don’t have a step by step map to the a learning utopia, nor do I consider myself an expert AT ANYTHING. What I can provide though, is a knowledge that the problems we see in all things aren’t unsolvable. A knowledge that to solve the “unsolvable”, we must acknowledge complexities and connections that make up all of our problems. A total rethinking of how we learn has to include a rethinking of everything. Pinpointing certain problems will get us somewhere, but it can also just distract us from the big picture. Specific goals are good, but are a lot better in the context of larger ones. So fixing one aspect of school is important, but it won’t do much of anything unless it is along with the big picture.

Education is a complicated thing. It is affected by the “real world”, but also shapes the “real world”. In thinking about education we can’t keep it off in a bubble where solutions come without thinking about the rest of the world.

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