Monday, July 25, 2011

Everybody Can Learn

There are different learning styles.  Some people learn better through hearing (auditory), some through seeing (visual), and others like to experience things first hand.  There are also different ways to communicate like it is expressed in the Johari window.  A Johari window is a cognitive psychological tool created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955 in the United States, used to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships. It is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a learning exercise.

Disregarding these personal approaches we go through a process which many educators are familiar with which is called the “Conscious Competence Learning Cycle (CCLC).

The stages of learning have first been developed by Noel Burch in the 1970s while he was designing a new workbook for Teacher Effective Training (TET).  Some people believe that it is originated by Abraham Maslow.

I found it fascinating because I have been thinking a lot how to access the subconscious mind and how we can break barriers of resistance.  The CCLC is useful to know about when we want to learn a new skill or change a habit.

We all are aware how difficult it is to overcome ignorance and resistance.  Sigmund Freud  first introduced us to the idea of an unconscious mind.  This discovery helped educators to put together this model for learning:

Stage 1 - Unconscious Incompetence

We don’t know what we don’t know.”

At this stage we are in a state of blissful ignorance. We have a complete lack of knowledge and skills in the subject in question. On top of this, we are unaware of our lack of skills, and our confidence will therefore exceed our abilities.

 --> There is a crucial point when we come out of the unconscious realm – we face a lot of resistance from the ego.  The first step to break this resistance is to accept and be aware of this ignorance.  We need a lot of encouragement and support from others.  We also need to be humble because we need the help of others who are more experienced.  At this point we don’t want to listen to our mind, rather follow your heart.

Stage 2 – Conscious Incompetence

"We know that we don't know."

At this stage we find that there are skills we need to learn, and it may come as a shock to find that there are others who are far more competent than we are.

As we realize this, our confidence drops, and we go through an uncomfortable period as we learn these new skills.

With persistence and repetition we will enter the next stage.

Stage 3 – Conscious Competence

"We know that we know."

At this stage we are acquire the new skills and knowledge. We put our learning into practice and we gain confidence in carrying out the tasks or jobs involved.

We are still concentrating on the performance of these activities, but as we gain more practice and experience, the exercising of these skills becomes increasingly automatic.

Stage 4 – Unconscious Competence

"We don't know that we know – everything becomes so easy."

At this stage our new skills are now habits, and we perform the task and exercise our skills without conscious effort – we are functioning “on-auto-pilot” and thus with ease. We are now at the peak of our confidence and ability and the new skill become our second nature.

The benefit of knowing these four stages is that it can help us in all areas of learning: new skills, new habits, and any changes we need to make in life.

“There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.  We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.  But there are also unknown unknows – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
~ Donald Rumsfeld, former United States Secretary of Defense

Let me give you an example:

*1 – When I first came to this country, I didn’t know any English besides: Hallo, thank you, come on and a few other words.  I thought all Americans were chewing gum and I couldn’t understand because people were talking too fast.  I tried to repeat what people were saying, only to be laughed at many times.

*2 – I determined to only speak English, no matter what, even to the point that I didn’t speak at all.  I was afraid to make mistakes, and was hesitant to express myself.

*3 – At this stage I was reading from billboards, newspapers, and made simple sentences just like kids.  Nothing complicated yet, just repeating what I heard others say.

*4 – Then, one night I started dreaming in English.  From then on, I could speak more freely, and felt comfortable to have small conversations.  It took about 4-6 months but I basically learned English during that time.

Now I feel more comfortable to speak in English.  When I talk to my family, or write letters, I have to sometimes use a dictionary.

This is just one example how we can learn new skills, change habits, or just plainly expand ourselves.  When we go from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence, knowing these steps, we can pace ourselves better and stay on course, rather than listen to the internal critical voice and get discouraged.

Monday, July 18, 2011

National Parents' Day 2011

National Parents' Day is celebrated in the United States on the 4th Sunday of July each year.  It is a special day to honor our parents and to celebrate the family structure and family values.  The role of the parents is crucial for the health and wellbeing of the children as well as the society.

Parents’ Day was first established in 1994 when then President Bill Clinton signed a congressional resolution recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in the rearing of children.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
~ 5th Commandment (Exodus 20:12) 

The first 4 commandments are describing our relationship with God.  5-10 commandment deals with our relationship among men.  It is no wonder that our relationship with our parents is addressed first.  They are the source of our life. 
The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together, all the rest — schools, playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern — will never be enough.” ~
President Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the United States

Parents are the role models for the children.  It took a father and a mother to create a child, and it is no secret of what kind of effect parents have on their children.  Parents give their genes to their children, but more so, their childrearing will have influence for the rest of their lives.  It is not what the parents say and teach but rather how they conduct themselves in every day live.  The family is a natural institution for everyone involved to learn the important lessons of life.  With that the family is the school of love and the source of lineage.  Without the perpetuation of lineage there will be no continuation of mankind.

Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the unification church, calls the family the school of love.  God is our original parent.  Within the family we experience all different types of love: parental love, conjugal love (between husband and wife), children’s love and the love of brothers and sisters.  By learning these types of love, we can manifest all the different relationships and are prepared for life in the society, job market, and to be good citizens.
Let’s celebrate Parents’ Day this year by honoring our parents and most of all, our heavenly parent, God.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Mystery of the Meager Raspberry Harvest

Some years ago I brought home three raspberry plants from our relatives in Minnesota.  They are spring bearing plants.  Over the years they multiplied and I have 2 twelve feet rows now.  I take good care of my raspberry plants, fertilize them in the spring with alfalfa meal, cut out the spend canes (they are usually brown and woody), and loosen up the soil.  For the past years, during June and early July, I had a bumper crop of filling up tray after tray for many days, enough to make delicious jam, freeze some for Jello and eat some with my breakfast cereal.

This year, after making all the same preparations, I harvested for the most part, maybe 10 berries on some days. What happened?
We had a lot of rain during the spring season here in South West Ohio.  Could that be the problem?  Then I heard a report on TV about the disappearing honey beesI do all my gardening with organic fertilizer (I read that organic farms are not plagued with honeybees disappearing).

It seems that honeybees have been disappearing nationwide.  That maybe o.k. for my amateur garden project, but what about the fields of farmers who are providing our food supply?  I did some research on that and found that it is a dilemma which may threaten our food supplies in general.

Honeybees and other insects are important not just for the sweet honey but for pollination of all the fruits trees, bushes and vegetables.

Even scientists are puzzled by this phenomena.  The discussion goes from global warming, increased usage of pesticides, cell phone usage  (increase of electrical disturbances), to general collapsing of bee colonies.

For those of us living in cities and suburbs the disappearance of honeybees maybe good news, especially  for parents of children worrying about getting stung by a bee.  But it is a  real concern for the farmers who supply our foods.

From the vanishing bees website:

Have you ever thought about what bees do for us?  By flying from flower to flower they gather nectar and pollen.  One bee only produces very little honey in her lifetime.  That’s why they live in colonies, their power is in the numbers.  The greater importance than producing the sweet honey is their function of pollination.  By flying form plant to plant they are touching the stamen and the pistil and pollination takes place.  For plants which are not self-pollinating, this is crucial for producing fruits and therefore new life.

I am crossing my fingers that next year I will have a better harvest.  I saw some bees buzzing over the cleome flowers which always self-seed themselves.  That gives me hope for the next season.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day 2011

Today in the history of our country:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!