Assistance, Please?

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​I am currently planning on teaching a writing class for one of the local continuing education groups. I think I’m in a good place as a writer and former teacher to try this our for a semester or two, and I have several ideas on what I’d like to do. I think I have something to offer.

I also want to make sure I cover as much as expected in a first time class, so my question to you is what do you look for in a writing class or workshop?

Recs to Keep Learning Alive

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At my kids’ elementary school it has been the tradition that the fifth grade field trip at the end of the year goes to the Six Flags. It’s an adventure, it’s exercise, it’s outdoors, and it’s friendships. Recently, this year when my son is in fifth grade, they decided that the field trip isn’t educational enough so it was canceled.

My first reaction was can’t you let kids be kids.

My second was that as educators they should know that there is education in everything, and Six Flags is no exception.

Instead of canceling it, they could have created learning experiences within the field trip experience. Scavenger hunt. Math problems when buying food or souvenirs. Map-making. Journal writing. These four ideas were literally just off the top of my head as I typed this. It’s sad that an entire school and school board couldn’t come up with a compelling reason to continue this fun tradition as these students go on to middle school and thoughts of career and puberty.

There are so many ways in your everyday to keep learning alive. My three favorite things are:

1. Read. Read. Read. I’m constantly talking about my Kindle Fire, but it’s not the machine as much as what it allows me to do with my limited time and my limited space.

Read the books sitting on your shelf for years. Re-read child favorites. If you like historical fiction, check out some of that history on the Internet or the Outernet, like at your local library.

2. Visit a local museum or historical site, or take a tour of the local attractions as if you were on vacation. I’m often surprised at how much has happened in my little corner of the world. Instead of trying to get away to do fun things, stay home and do what the tourists come to your neighborhood for, and learn something new!

3. Google. When you’re scrolling down your Facebook newsfeed, click the link, read it, and then hit Google for more information on the subject. It’s amazing at how much is left out of those quick posts. Get the other side of an opinion piece. Find out the history of what’s going on in the headlines.

Most importantly, remember that learning is fun, and it’s not all taking place in a formal classroom between the ages of 5
five and twenty-five.

Pope Francis on Education

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“Education cannot be neutral. It is either positive or negative; either it enriches or it impoverishes; either it enables a person to grow or it lessens, even corrupts him. The mission of schools is to develop a sense of truth, of what is good and beautiful. And this occurs through a rich path made up of many ingredients. This is why there are so many subjects — because development is the results of different elements that act together and stimulate intelligence, knowledge, the emotions, the body, and so on.”

“If something is true, it is good and beautiful; if it is beautiful; it is good and true; if it is good, it is true and it is beautiful. And together, these elements enable us to grow and help us to love life, even when we are not well, even in the midst of many problems. True education enables us to love life and opens us to the fullness of life.”

— Pope Francis, Address with Italian school teachers, parents, educators, pupils and other workers, May 10, 2014

Continuing My Education

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Whether we know it or admit it or not, life is a constant series of learning new things. More and more of us are redefining what getting an education is. It used to be over 60s were considered a non-traditional student. Then, housewives who were trying to break back into the work force. Then the second careerists were non-traditional, and then the youngish ones who made bad choices or were waiting to have enough money.

Now, all these groups and more are less non-traditional and more changing with the times. Schools are needing to adapt through course requirements, including credit for practical experience and travel and life lived to new financial aid options, although this will always financial information even though parents are paying less and less if any of their child’s college bill.

When I started college, it was expected that I’d go. As much as I wanted to write, I was encouraged to go into something practical. I was pre-law. There was never any question about paying for school. We never even talked about it. My parents paid from that moment through all of my formal secondary education. I was stuck on a trajectory that I would have liked to have changed.

I’ve will be spending the better part of this week in a classroom, expanding my knowledge, meeting new people, meditating in nature, contemplating my journey so far. Spring Enrichment with my Diocese is still new to me, but it si also comfortable. I have my notebook, my pen, my camera and I am ready. There is something kind of spiritual about being in a classroom, especially hearing new things about religion and its place in history. Imagining myself there is something I’ve always reflected on my readings, whether they be Scripture or historical text. I’ve since discovered that this form of contemplation has a name: lecto divinia. I had always called it daydreaming. 😉

This week’s immersion  into so many Catholic ideas and opinions give me the thoughts that not only do I belong but I can continue to grow as a spiritual person while learning something new.

Education or Retreat or Both?

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This is my second year.

There are still jitters and anxiety of what people think, how I look, that I don’t fit in the auditorium seats, but there is also familiarity. I know where to park. I know where the back door to the events center is so I can get to the air conditioning quicker. I know where to get my ID and my schedule and how to use the online interactive map. I remembered to print out the bathroom, food and wi-fi highlights.

I recognize people like the wonderful storyteller from my last retreat, and she recognized me. And waved. I’m taking two classes with her this week. I recognize the musicians and the introductory speakers from the Diocese. I recognize the Bishop who has a wonderful way of making you at east with a smile that illuminates how much he believes and the joy of bringing that to the people of our Diocese. The Bishop Emeritus has his own way, a little less smiley, but no less welcoming to a new face.

The chatter continues and I forget about what I’ve forgotten at home and fill my senses with the buzz around me. It could be cooler, but part of that is in my head. I people-watch. People hug, people wave, people wave back. I got my own hug from a familiar friend and smiles towards me from new ones.

We are all in good company and we know it. All friends here, though most not yet met. And this week of open minds and new ideas and history remembered begins with music and the opening prayer in Spanish. Gracias a Dios.