For those who wonder what I do. I am the technical consultant for this project in the Lao PDR….http://globalengage.org/news-media/press-release/ige-conducts-peace-building-team-workshop-in-laos#
I’ve had a Twitter account since 2009 but only a few weeks ago really learned to use it. Before that I could not think of one use for it in education…it seemed such a frivolous waste of time. But students use Twitter with more regularity. I was shocked to hear that Facebook is ‘so old fashion.’
Just because the trendy new gadgets that frequently vie for our hard earned dollars show up in our classrooms with each new batch of students, doesn’t mean that if we have them too, our teaching will get any better. Clawing ones way up the learning curve is only the front end of successfully using technology in Education.
But once I actually figured out how to use Twitter and hear others share how they are using it, I begin to let my imagination run wild and came up with a few uses. A few examples are below…
- Does anyone under age 25 read email? Twitter could be used to supplement class announcements and reminders.
- It could be used to have a whole class scavenger hunt where sending an assignment relevant picture, retweeted article or research link wins points.
- Lastly, I could keep my class apprised of my travels should they, or you the reader for example, be interested.
Hea good buddy, my Twitter handle is @JonRudy. While traveling this August, you can find my tweets at #jonslaotrip3
It is gratifying to see a thread of the content that I developed and presented at Etown College and/or MPI being woven into a training conducted by someone else. In a recent training with religious and government leaders, some of my former students facilitated a module on identity I had recently taught them.
Of course the peacebuilding materials I develop are not truly my own. I stand on the shoulders of giants who have formed and given the foundation for my development as a facilitator. The content I use is woven from the fibers of a myriad of trainers and trainings. The wisdom and experience in this field of peace is cumulative and I add a small measure of tint to the already vivid colors in the strands of knowledge.
Because the educational model I am immersed in is a learning model, the wisdom of thousands of participants in peacebuilding training from literally a hundred countries is collectively added to the tapestry of peace education. So while I might have my own unique way to present the modules being taught, the fabric of content connects us all past, present and future.
“I don’t know” is probably the most informed and honest thing I have ever said to students in response to some questions they pose. The limits of my knowledge and understanding are revealed with stark clarity the more my experience tempers my knowledge. It is as if for every truism I find, there is an equal and opposite truth. Admitting I don’t know something is not admitting I know nothing. It is simply saying that I have not plumbed the depths of paradox (mystery). Richard Rohr, Franciscan Spiritual writer, reminds us that:
…each of us must learn to live with paradox, or we cannot live peacefully or happily even a single day of our lives. In fact, we must even learn to love paradox, or we will never be wise, forgiving, or possess the patience of good relationships. http://allsaintschalloch.wordpress.com/34-2/
So perhaps education is not so much about knowing what we know but learning to live in harmony with the unknowns, the unknowable and the mystery that is so much more vast than ALL human certitudes and assurances. Perhaps admission of my limits is the beginning of true peace.
Both as a development worker and later as a facilitator of peacebuilding education I have often asked myself what is the end game of education. A fascinating TED talk by Sugata Mitra entitled Build a School in the Cloud starts with why education was needed in a Colonial world.
In summary, before the internet, before computers and before air travel, colonizers needed to rule the colonies and they needed to build a uniform and consistent human infrastructure that could carry out the overseeing of that rule. Reading, writing, math and following orders were essential and thus a system to remove creative thinking from cadres of servants who could follow orders from superiors. That was the ultimate wielding education for the purpose of shaping people to fit the task.That form of education no longer serves humanity when creative problem solving and learning how to learn are crucial skills needed to solve the world’s problems.
In an era of ubiquitous internet and personal mobile devices with huge
computing power held in the palm of a hand, we now have powerful tools that can positively resource problem solvers. An Educause video on mobile devices suggests that, because of mobile devices, educational content can now go with the student 24/7 rather than the student needing to go to a specific place and time to get knowledge. Through the Temple University Teaching for Higher Education Certificate program I have recently gained an appreciation to how our wired world is changing the very soul of education. With the ghosts of colonial education still wandering about, I wonder if that is not such a bad thing.
Education is in my family. My mom, a former 3rd grade teacher of 35 years, would tell stories of the classroom at the supper table. My dad is a former pastor. My brother is a university professor. I have aunts, uncles and cousins who were/are teachers. My two sons are flight instructors and Carolyn, my wife, does some medical training at her job. So it should not surprise me that I find myself committed to educating the next generation of peacebuilders at Elizabethtown College.
I stumbled into teaching at the tender age of 20 when I was thrown in front of a Sunday school class of my peers and told to teach. At age 30 I filled in for an electronics tech school teacher and also gave my first amateur radio class. I took a course on facilitation at the Summer Peacebuilding Instiutute in 2000 but never expected to use it.
My family and I moved to the Philippines in 2001 and I was on the Management Committee of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute a fledgling experiment in training persons working at middle-out and grassroots sustainable peace. Only in its third year, MPI was, and still is, based on an elicitive model of education that values and invites participants to share what they have learned in a highly participatory classroom
environment. That year MPI had invited an international facilitator who, at the last minute, was unable to secure a visa for the 2003 training event. Out of necessity, I was pressed into co-facilitation with a colleague who was a born facilitator. Deng Giguiento patiently worked with me as we developed the Fundamentals of Peacebuilding Course and then facilitated it. Since then I have co-facilitated a few courses each year at MPI.
As I look back at my own history with teaching and learning I wonder if all of us find ourselves, at one time or another, facilitating learning . . . both in ourselves and in others?
Education will be the theme in the coming blog postings while on this trip to Laos. I have chosen this focus partly because I am finishing up a Teaching in Higher Education Certificate course from Temple University so that topic is fresh on my mind. The courses in this certificate have really empowered me as someone involved in facilitating learning.
Another reason for the theme is because my travel to Laos is as a technical adviser to a peacebuilding curriculum writing process. This is a 10 month involvement for me that will involve 3 trips to Laos by the end of October. See my blog posts from the first trip in January. This curriculum is envisioned to be flexible enough to support college age youth in developing a more peaceful home and school life while offering capacity for communities facing ethnic and/or religious conflict. The government of Laos has an interest in utilizing the curriculum once it is done.
Lastly, I have put an enormous amount of time into redesigning my fall course entitled Conflict Dynamics and Transformation. Updating all aspects of this course including online-course tools, I have spent my summer immersed in many facets of teaching and learning. What follows in subsequent posts are some of my thoughts.
Much to my chagrin a friend pointed out that I misspelled the topic of my last post (since corrected). Ceasing, the word I first used, is to hold back from doing, disappear slowly and end activity while seizing is grab, take, catching and forceful holding. Now, I could claim travel fatigue as I wrote that posting during my 48 hour transit through Asia. I could further claim jet lag from shifting my bio-rhythms 12 time zones. Or I could just be forthright that spelling is not one of my strong suits.
But upon deeper reflection, perhaps this Freudian slip actually illuminates an important dynamic of power. In some ways we are all powerful by virtue of the life force and breath each of us exercises. And to cease manifesting this power is to cease living. In this context seizing power is to claim the divine right to live and move and have our being on this planet. Seizing power is to exercise our creativity and imagination to overcome problems confronting us as individuals.
In the political and social sphere seizing power is almost synonymous to ceasing power. To overpower, force through coercion and violence, is an indicator of imaginative defeat. The exercise of violence is an admission that we are not powerful enough to devise respectful life affirming solutions. Seizing power is to cease to draw upon the serendipitous creativity that the universe has in unlimited supply.
My routing home from MPI was through Thailand. The country has been paralyzed by a political polarization that sees the red shirts pitted against the yellow shirts. Right before I came to the Philippines, the Thai Supreme Court ousted the prime minister, sister of the former ousted prime minister and supported by the red shirts who are largely rural. The yellow shirts…those tired of corrupt politics are largely urban and have powerful allies in the Thai Supreme Court. It is complicated. It always is. Simple conflicts do not usually reach this level of polarization and intractability if they are actively transformed.
The Thai generals took power to break the impasse that was paralyzing the country but it is not yet clear if they have a plan to put the country back on the road to democracy. The last time they seized power was in 2006 when I and a Mindanao colleague were passing through to Laos to conduct a workshop.
My question is the implications of a long term reliance of ‘power over’ to break deadlocks in the political arena. What kind of precedent does this set? Does it truncate the slow, plodding methodical task of building the institutes of democracy? These types of answers are beyond my pay grade. I suppose my colleagues at Etown College in the Political Science Department have better historical and sociological research at hand to address this.
One thing I know from my 30 years of observing the use of violence to effect positive, sustainable change is that the use of coercive militaristic power to solve problems never delivers what it promises.
Posted in: Musings
Retired Archbishop Capalla came to our class today and spoke of his role in bringing leaders from Islam and Christianity together in support of peace in Mindanao. Speaking of years of personal relationship building across conflict lines he related a story of one dialogue that became stuck and bogged down. In the middle of this heaviness, they all decided to go for a picnic at the beach. This time for ‘play’ gave the talks some new energy and broke down some barriers.
The Archbishop, when asked what he feared for the peace agreement, said “war is business.” Peacemakers are an obstacle to the arms trade. The Archbishop has had 4 attempts on his life. The miraculous nature of his survival attests to a higher power on the side of peace.
“Look around the world and see the bad things being done” he summarized, “do the bad things being done outnumber the good being done? I don’t think so otherwise we would have all been overwhelmed a long ago. I believe in the capacity of the human being to change.”
Posted in: Philippines