Document of Learning

How would our civilization differ if the land bridge between Alaska and Russia stayed there and did not submerge underwater? Think about that. I know I did. So did everyone around me. I asked my classmates, friends, family, teammates and then recorded a number of answers in the list below.

  • “Indian” culture would be much better preserved.
  • Trading’s between the whole world.
  • Killings by the Europeans would not be so great.
  • Not as much “European” inspired culture today.
  • Cultures would have merged together more.
  • Columbus would have not sailed to find a path to India, because he would have known about the Americas being in the way.
  • More wars because of wanting to conquer more land??
  • Less wars because the Europeans would know about the different tribes of people in the Americas already conquering that land.

In a parallel universe, where the land bridge stayed, there lived a TALONS classroom, similar to ours. This is where our story begins…

“So TALONS class, you understand the assignment?” Mr. Jackson, my elder asked. The question I tweeted yesterday was “How would our civilization differ if the land bridge between Alaska and Russia went underwater and stayed there instead?”. Wow. Just think about how different our world would be. Instead of our cultures being mixed from all the trading and mingling that has happened over the thousands of years. Maybe Europe might not have even known about North and South America until they had enough technology to boat across. For all we know the world could be torn into wars from different races hating each other, for weird reasons like “racism”. That wouldn’t happen with our land bridge because our cultures are too mixed. Thankfully, here in Sochi Columbia (British Columbia) it’s peaceful as always because of  our strong relationships with the other countries of the world. For all I know, if the land bridge wasn’t there, the First Nations could have never showed the rest of the world their ways of sharing resources. That could even lead to wars. I’ve decided for my Socials assignment I will write just a short bit of a parallel universe of what I would be doing if the land bridge was not there.

-Translated from Parallel Universe North America’s language to Modern-Day English.

In conclusion, we do not know what would happen if the land bridge between Alaska and Russia stayed, but we can inference different answers if we think of how humans have reacted to different situations in history.

The First of Many: The World of Columbus

So we just recently started our social studies unit on Columbus, and to be totally honest; I’m as lost as a seal in a walrus world.

http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-christopher-columbus

Not that I do not follow along with the class discussions and such, it’s just the fact that one thing leads to another, and sometimes I don’t know where we’re going. I would ask questions, but sometimes there are too many things going on to ask one, and sometimes I feel like I would ask the wrong question. I will admit, the following weeks will be  little hard to follow, but at the end, I know I will get it. (Or least some of it).

Carrying on, my question, which is “What did Spain get out of death and brutality in the Americas?” could have a lot of answers to it. This kind of question, cannot be answered with a simple respond like “gold”, because the Spanish got a lot more than just gold. The Spanish got power, land, reputation, and all led to the evolution of modern society. When asking this question, you probably need to be a little more specific in order to get a a more understood answer. For example, “What did Spain achieve inside their culture when they invaded the Americas?” This kind of question would get a more specific answer to a question. The reason I asked this question and the topic I want to focus more on as I continue with this subject is “Is it necessary to destroy a civilization to grow a better one?”  This question intrigues me because in history, many civilizations are colonized and faded, but I wonder if it is possible for new societies to grow without old societies  becoming a thing of the past. And I believe that to build a better civilization, you must know what causes it to become worse. This principle can be applied to everything in my opinion. To learn and grow, we need to make mistakes and cause our own problems.

https://imgflip.com/gif/6pzjm
Credited by imgflip
Okay okay, I must admit. Compared to everyone’s GIFs and photos, mine does not look good at all. And I agree. I’m still very new to GIFs and the fact that I didn’t know what we had to do 100% made it a little harder.
Anyways, my GIF was taken from a scene in Home Alone, created in 1990, which starred a little boy being home alone for the winter holidays. The reason I took this scene and created a GIF out of this one is the fact that Columbus showed no mercy towards the natives when he arrived. As the person in the GIF shows, he shot blindly into the area in front of him, not knowing the consequences he would have caused. Columbus can be compared to this situation as he decided his actions blindly and did not care about the consequences, metaphorically, shooting in all directions.
I hope this sums up the things I want to learn out of my question, and that even though I’m a confused seal, anybody can pretend to be a walrus.

Socials: Mill’s Ideology

Mill’s Ideology in a nutshell could be defined by the statement: “For the Greater Good.” Why try to make peace with your warring neighbors when you can massacre most of them quickly and efficiently?

Afternoon TALONS will understand this meme without the need for explanation, but essentially, during a class discussion on ethics with regards to ‘insert sarcasm here’ the greatest humanitarian ever, Christopher Columbus; Emma, thinking no one would hear, quietly spoke: “It’s easier to just kill everyone.”

Now, because I don’t want Emma to be investigated because of the lack of vocal inflection in the written language, I’ll make sure I clearly state that she was not serious.

In our TALONS Social Studies *cough* Philosophy *cough* class I recently came across one of the more intriguing ethical dilemmas that history can throw at you: Is the mindset of accepting atrocities as the price for greater human progress still with us today?

To answer this question, I must first separate it into chewable bites.

1) What, in clearly defined terms, is this “Mindset?”, and

2) How do we (dis)prove that we have evolved from our oftentimes, seemingly barbaric roots?

The latter is rather difficult to address, however the former can be shown very cleanly by the piece of media above: “It’s easier to just kill everyone.” This statement demonstrates the disconnect between what I, and many others regard as moral (e.g. not aimlessly murdering), and the concept of efficiency = good.

Keeping that in mind, I can now examine whether that ideology of seeing atrocities as acceptable when needed, has changed since Columbus.

I understand I will not be fully accurate, especially seeing as I live as a privileged, white male who arguably has never experienced true hardship; but I shall remain a student of perseverance.

The reason it is difficult to find out whether or not we accept atrocities as: uncool, but okay if it brings us new stuff- is mainly that history is generally dehumanized. Howard Zinn futilely attempted to ignore the effect that examining the past has on the story itself, but to no avail. Bias leaks through, and the humanity of it always, always bleeds away. Despite remaining consciously aware that it is happening, you can read about the most awful events to ever occur in human history and feel less emotion than you would if you stubbed your toe.

“Those tears, that anger, cast into the past depletes our moral energy for the present.” -Howard Zinn

The past simply does not bring up the emotion that the present does, and so it is frustrating to answer Question #2 because you cannot examine history and identify the feelings that it conjures up. So you have to look at the present. Anyone can do this, in fact, I recommend that you attempt this for yourself in a second: really think about the world, think hard about something that is happening right now, or something that you could postulate happening in the future.

For example, think about the revolutions in the Middle East: does the deposition of corrupt governments justify the thousands, or tens of thousands of people that have died and are dying?

Or what if North Korea did actually initiate war instead of only threatening it? Personally I can’t see an outcome where North Korea emerges victorious, but again: does the reintegration of a culture back into the international world actually outweigh the lives lost, the families ruined, the homes destroyed?

When I think about these questions, I get angry because my answer seems to vary depending on how empathic I feel that day, which isn’t exactly ideal for when you want to write down something concrete.

But ultimately, the answer is something personal. So if you want to find out, close your eyes, do you best to imagine those scenarios, and feel.

And then take those feelings and dissect them with cold, hard logic.

Skateboarding – In Depth #2

I am very reluctant to have found a mentor, and on Sunday, I got to meet up with my mentor, Brad Abram. I was introduced to Brad by my soccer coach, after I asked my team if anyone could teach me to skateboard. Brad learned how to skateboard when he was a teenager, by his father, so he definitely has plenty on experience. He also has background in coaching his son’s baseball and soccer teams, so he will also have experience in coaching. On Sunday, I met up with Brad at the skate park at Town Centre, where he *tried* to teach me the basics of skateboarding. It was pretty hard to even balance on my reasonably loose skateboard, but it allowed me to learn how to stop and turn easier. Although the first day was cut short due to his other commitements, I at least gained some knowledge about how to turn, stop, and glide on skateboard. The first step is always the hardest…right?

Future of Society

My theme is all revolved around the moral value of society, and what it will look like in the past, present, and future. From this, my inquiry that has interested me is,

“If the more powerful society/nation still oppress others for individual gain in modern time like the past, what will the future’s society look like?”

Columbus

 

After I found out my computer was too slow to process and render a video, I created this picture, which represents my question, comparing my views of the future to “The Capitol”, described in the Hunger Games Trilogy. I will be explaining my thought process, by going over the past, present, and my views of the future.

From our discussions and readings in class, Columbus and his men showed little to none kindness or empathy towards the natives, nor did they talk about any doubt or guilt in their cruel actions. The Europeans were more advanced in weaponry, and were ruthless in their actions. Overall, Columbus and the Europeans, being able to take advantage of the natives’ peaceful lifestyle, showed next to no moral values, wiping out the majority of the natives.

Now in modern time, society has developed since the 1500’s and we have a general knowledge of what is right and wrong. Cultures have developed set common morals, ethics, and beliefs, which has helped guide people to make “right” decisions according to that culture. Even though the majority of humans stick to their moral values, powerful groups still abuse their power. In the 20th and 21st centrury, there have been wars because one country’s want for land or resources, such as both World Wars and the Iraq War.

Now, what does the future hold? Of course, no one can answer this completely accurately, but it really reminded me of the The Capitol, in the Hunger Games. I find it relates to my question because in the books, The Capitol is the central and dominant state in the country, Panem. The Hunger Games illustrate how the dominant society (Capitol) abuses their powers with no moral values, all for personal gain and pleasure. They do this by holding an annual event, where they select two twenty-four tributes from all of the lesser, poorer, districts, and force them to fight to the death for their amusement, and to remind the other districts of the Capitol’s power. The citizens of the Capitol show no empathy towards the other districts, stuffing their faces with food while watching others fight for their lives. Of course, this is the worst-case scenario, but it intrigued me how the Hunger Games related to what our society may look like in the distant future.

Document of Learning – The Puritans, History, and The Holy Bible

 

The thought came to me while Mr. Jackson was talking about the criteria for the project. Not the holiest of ideas but I’m probably damned anyway – so I figured I’d go for it. With total certainty now, I decided I was going to chop up a bible.

I went home and found a bible in my basement. Don’t worry, it wasn’t nice and I don’t think (?) there was a curse inscribed in it. I brought it upstairs, then looked online. The search ‘controversial bible verses’ yielded some good results. I found an article describing the chapters where I could find words on genocide, rape, and even slavery, which was perfect. Something I never thought I would say about those things.

So I looked them up in the bible, and without further ado, I put them under the knife, cutting out the right verses. The next step, after I had them all out, was to mount them on something. A cue card nearby was conveniently placed, but also the right size. I pasted the verses together, making them say what I needed them to. After mounting, I finished off my project but taking a sharpie to some parts of it – effectively redacting the parts of the verses that weren’t in the message I was going for.

I snapped a picture, photoshopped it excessively, and here is the result:

image

 

Sorry, that may be a little hard to read. But essentially, it is every section of a bible that mentioned controversial things that I could find.

My question was “How is the selection of bible verses by the Puritans to justify genocide, slavery etc. different from that of modern religious extremists?”

What I believe this represents is the justification of the Puritans in the 15 and 16 hundreds. They selected verses of the bibles that best fit their actions against the natives to justify actions against the natives, enslaving hundreds and killing thousands in the name of God. My question asks if this is somehow different than the cherry-picking of biblical lines by groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church to justify opposition to things such as homosexuality or foreign people in America.

The cutting and pasting of the verses for me indicates the picking and choosing that went on and still goes on throughout history, as well as the sharpie lines that effectively redact and eliminate words or phrases that do not fit with the actions. Additionally, I have cut out some independent words and pasted them together to form messages, such as in ‘striking eachother with their swords‘ I think this represents the use of two verses, likely from different chapters or possibly even from different testaments, put together as one to justify actions. An example of this is by the Westboro Baptist Church using both verses from the Titus chapter, and from the Matthew chapter to justify their picketing of the hilarious comedian Jeff Dunham. I’d link the post, but a) the URL (godhatesfags.com) is not something I want to blacken my blog with, and b) I’d hate for them to get the page views of you checking it out.

At any rate, I find many parallels between the Puritans and modern religious extremists, most of all their picking and choosing of bible verses to act as a shield of holiness. I believe the bible is not a get out of jail free card for anything, and that simply stating that you do it for religion is not protection for actions from genocide, to slavery, to being extremely homophobic.

Another Step Into the Past (InDepth Post #2)

 

Dear image is refusing to rotate -_-
Dear image is refusing to rotate -_-

 

Me being me I actually had some problems with the simpler things in my hunt through history. I couldn’t tell if I had the right people or not… Speaking with my mentor and reading over a few how-to’s I came to the conclusion that to fix my problem I had to: actually talk to someone who knew them or knows a lot about them, get some dates and a name, maybe even some siblings, and go with my gut. It took me an hour to figure all of this out… Along with how to connect my tree to a tree that someone else had already begun to fill out and locating some pictures.

 

Recently I have gone from 5 to 65 people in my family tree, even tracking back to when the Mullins came over from France and became Mollons, although I haven’t found the Irish and English branch yet. I have also managed to get ahold of some of my relatives and recieved some helpful information as well as some photos that I can use in the future. My mentor also supplied me with some giant charts for me to fill in once I have gotten a little farther in my research.

I still have at least 50 people that I have to scrape together by the time InDepth night rolls around, that as well as writing all the diagrams up and retrieving all of the charts, photos and items that I have kindly asked to borrow. It’s actually kinda fun because most of the time whoever I’m asking will say I can keep the item in question. :3

Hopefully this will all continue to fall together as I dig deeper into the past. I’m sure I’ll be asking for plenty of help from my mentor.

Talonsss: Your History is Served

Now, based on the title of this post you may be wondering where I’m going with this and what my question is.
Well, my question was,”Is there something else that historians are leaving out or glazing over, another important fact that they didn’t want to be common knowledge?” I came about this question while reading about our good friend Columbus and the other European explorers who were involved in genocide and plundering of “Indian” civilizations. When I thought about it, it’s only been recently that we are being told about the other side of the men who we were told were heroes. All through my life, up until two or three years ago, no one – not even the teachers who are paid to teach us about history and what really happens in the world – would tell us the whole truth about what happened to the Arawaks and other native tribes that were encountered.

Its not only in this part of history that this happens though, all of history is a few true facts mixed with the opinion of someone who was there or was told about the event. Whoever the historian was would want to make himself look the best he could in the occurring events that he was recording, altering it as much as need be to save face. An example of this is when a crew member of Columbus’ ship spotted land before himself and rightfully should have recieved the 10,000 monetary reward that was being offered, but Columbus wrote in his log that it was he who had seen the land before the others, changing the actual events so that he may rep the rewards.

Of course, none of us were there so we can’t verify any facts that we are given personally, we just have to trust that they are as close to the truth as humanly possible. My visual aspect for this little project depicts how history may start out as one thing, but by the time we get it it has been reformed into something different from the original product, different from the truth.

 

                   

On Memorable Learning

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Whether working with the TALONS, philosophers, or the #IntroGuitar community, I am fortunate to get to spend a good deal of time planning lessons and thinking of learning experiences that are not only ‘memorable,’ but hopefully also: personal, meaningful and – optimally – transformative. I would agree with a definition that sees learning as Jeanne Ellis Ormrod describes it:

“A long-term change in mental representations and associations due to experience[.]”

The theoretical approaches that I bring to this view of learning are largely inspired by constructivism and sociocultural theory, as well as the networked processes at the heart of connectivism. Defined in this week’s EDCI 335 reading, constructivists:

suggest that people create (rather than absorb) knowledge from observations and experiences.

More and more I have come to see both the ‘hidden curriculum‘ and the provincially required curriculum as bound to Foucault’s vision of Enlightenment, which should not be considered:

a theory, a doctrine, nor even as a permanent body of knowledge that is accumulating; it has to be conceived as an attitude, an ethos, a philosophical life in which the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them.”

I’ve come to think that memorable learning resides in such “experiments with the possibility” of going beyond our limits, when we are able to experience transgression of our boundaries and the potential and peril that such risk-taking involves.

Last spring I reflected on the work of:

Gregory Bateson, [who] describes these learning opportunities as “breaches in the contextual structure,” whereby individuals gain an understanding of the process involved in implementing “corrective change in the system of sets of alternatives from which choice is made.”

This sort of “third order” thinking is driven by a confrontation with “systemic contradictions in experience” (this is taken from University of Virginia prof Eric Bredo); to the outdoor educator, this double bind is represented by the necessity of learning to provide both the freedom to explore, as well as the structure and guidance that creates safe opportunities for growth.

Gardner Campbell points out that learning in this capacity puts participants – teachers and students and parents alike – to vulnerability. “It puts the self at risk,” he says. “The questions become explosive,” and “involve “the kinds of risks that learners, at their best, will be willing to take.”

It is a vision of learning that I think goes beyond the mass concerns of institutional education obsessed with accountability, but speaks to John Dewey’s dual intentions for public schooling:

    • To transmit the facts, dispositions and cultural heritage society considers to be of value; and
    • To raise a younger generation with the skills, persistence and ingenuity to transcend our historical moment.

In addition to being encultured to the traditions of our society’s ideals, meaningful, memorable learning is what Richard Dixon meant when he told me that

“Every class is just another opportunity for young people to practice forming communities.”

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The British Columbian outdoors have lent themselves admirably to this task:

We walked out into the woods and within minutes were greeted in our silences by the persistent hooting of an owl presiding over the camp for the duration of our solo. Scattered across the forest floor, in a blackness that enveloped all but the distant moon shining off the lake below, the owl rang its voice across the treetops, cradling us all. When I called out finally for the solo to end, seconds swelled and stretched in silence as no one wanted the moment to be gone.

Our ambition as TALONS facilitators is often to nurture these individual worlds, where everything needed for survival, or even thriving, is brought along in backpacks and the people assembled in a given place. Enjoying the peace of sitting in the woods at night alone, a serenity connected to the most basic of human fears of loneliness, made possible in the company of trusted peers.

IMG_0061

As have the annual rituals provided by annual TALONS events and adventures, when the (two grade 9/10 cohorts) each set about “creating something that is honest, magical, and their own.” On a night like the annual Night of the Notables, for instance:  

There is prolonged  thunderous applause. Standing ovations.  In all, it is quite a thing to see happen. Truly. Even if it is hard to say just what it is that happened up there on that stage and in the halls of our school tonight.

Because just as it feels a little bit my own, how I take in the night’s triumph against the backdrop of those that have preceded it, how everyone in the room experiences the evening is measured against their own sense of the vulnerability felt by those in the present ‘hot seat.’ From the college kids in the back to the grade nines sitting in the second row (to the teacher grinning in the balcony), everyone in the TALONS orbit has gathered to give it up for those whose task it is this year to set aside their fears, come together as a group, and dare to do something exceptional.

Something exceptional, like forming a band and playing your first gig just after locker cleanout on one of the last days of the school year:

On the last day of class, many of the Bears made a point of hanging around for a few minutes to take pictures with one another, shake my hands and otherwise linger in the magical atmosphere the guitar classroom had been transformed into by their efforts.

“This class was more than a class,” one of the young men who was graduating told me on his way out the door. “Just what it was, I’m not sure. But it was pretty great.”

Or teaching fellow singers in a Cuban fine arts school the English pronunciations in their new choral number:

What each of these learning opportunities have in common, I think, is that they put the student/learner at the center of the experience, where their individual perception of themselves or their world is expanded somehow. They perform feats not thought possible beforehand, or experience “breaches in the weave of contextual structure”:

  • Swimming in the ocean before breakfast,
  • Capping a night by first experiencing bioluminescence, or
  • Learning what part they can best contribute to a group.

Those are the sorts of things that lead to long-term changes in mental representations and associations. 

That is learning.

Mentorship Week #4

Laurent A. Daloz (1999) states, “Education is something we neither “give” nor “do” to our students.  Rather, it is a way we stand in relation to them” pp. xvii).  His notion fits well with our program’s autonomous learner model and its philosophy. He asks an important question in Mentor Guiding the Journey of Adult Learners, “The question for us as teachers is not whether but how we influence our students.  It is a question about a relationship: Where are our students going, and who are we for them in their journey?”  (p. 5).  You may recall that we chose one word to describe what we, teachers and learners,  will focus on for this year.  My word was “relationship” or to be more action-oriented, “to relate.”    The mentor and learner are in relationship with one another. I have decided to dissect this relationship in-depth for the next four months. Daloz (1999) points out that the mentor performs three tasks.  They support the learner.  They challenge the learner. Finally, they provide vision for the learner.

 Like Daloz, Lois J. Zachary (2000) uses the metaphor of “journey” in her book, called The Mentor’s Guide Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships. During the next few months, I am going to be reflecting on her eight chapters:

Chapter one: Grounding the Work: Focusing on Learning

Chapter two: Working the Ground: Considering Context

Chapter three: To Everything There is a Season: Predictable Phases

Chapter 4: Tilling the Soil: Preparing

Chapter 5: Planting Seeds: Negotiating

Chapter 6: Nurturing Growth: Enabling

Chapter 7: Reaping the Harvest: Coming to Closure

Chapter 8: Regenerating Personal Growth Through Mentoring

 

Chapter One:

The in-depth project focuses on the learner and the direct experience.  Berends (1990) writes, “Everything that happens to you is your teacher.”  The mentee is an active partner and the mentor is a facilitator.  The learning process is self-directed and the mentee is responsible for their own learning.  The length of the relationship between the mentee and mentor depends on the goal not the calendar.  There will be many mentors over a life time and multiple ones for even one project!  The relationship is not limited to face to face interactions even though there is a lot to be said for this approach.  For example, we gain tacit knowledge, not easily taught, by working alongside a mentor over long periods of time.  It is process-oriented supported with critical reflections, such as edublog posts, and applications beyond traditional schooling (Zachery, 2000).

The mentor and mentee relation is a learning journey for both partners. Our past and current experiences shape who we are and would like to become.   It is about self-discovery and learning. Helgeson (1995) writes about personal ecology and a web of relationships. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a god mother, a teacher, a snowshoe-er, a gardener, a kayaker, a pianist, to list just a few.  In these diverse roles, I relate to various people in various situations.   The mentor and mentee are another relationship in this complex web of relationships they already have with others.

Another concept frequently mentioned in the Talons room is the notion of facilitation rather than teaching.  The facilitator, or mentor, in this case, must

  1. create an effective learning environment
  2. involve the learner in planning and what they  are going to learn
  3. encourage the mentee to design their own learning contract/ plan
  4. support the learners to find their own resources and accomplish their objectives
  5. and finally, help the learners to implement and evaluate their own learning (Zachary, 2000)

 

Throughout this entire process, the mentee, the learner, will self-reflect as part of their learning cycle.

Something happens? –> What happens?–> So what? –> Now what? –> Something happens? and so on.

The mentor will need to be aware of the following guidelines:

  1. How fast the mentee’s learning should progress?
  2. When should the mentor intervene?
  3. How best to collaborate with the mentee?
  4. How to keep the focus on the learning process?
  5. How to set up the best environment for learning?
  6. How to structure the learning relationship and process?

Zachary (2000) concludes in chapter one, “The role of the mentor is to facilitate learning in such a way that the knowledge, skills, or competencies connect to action in the present and possibly in the future.  This requires building on the learner’s experience, providing a conducive environment for learning, and appropriately challenging, supporting, and providing vision for the learner” (p. 28).

Questions to think about for your post #2:

  1. How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
  2. What were those experiences like for your mentor?
  3. What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
  4. What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?

 Quirien Mulder ten Kate

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