Wordsanctuary Revisited

Musings of a writer-teacher-counselor.

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Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

I am inquisitive and have worked in writing, editing, and teaching. I am a citizen of the USA and also concerned about the world. This is an addendum to my original blog, Wordsanctuary. That's at www.wordsanctuary.blogspot.com Please check out my column at www.insidehighered.com, "A Kinder Campus." Click on Career Advice to find it. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 15, 2010

On Finishing the College Process

A new semester has begun. At two of my four locations classes are up and running. Three and four will commence this week. I discovered an article that touches on why some students do not finish. Click on it, if you are interested. Best wishes, learners in school or out. Why many college dropouts say they left: the need to work

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Photo: Public Domain

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Everything is urgent": Haiti

The scope of the disaster in Haiti seems unreal, but it is all too real.

May survivors make it through. May helpers not be overcome. May flowers bloom again in Haiti.

I found a scholarly paper online that might interest some.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Beginnings, First Days, Initiations, Setbacks

I have asked my memoir group, snowed out and unable to meet, to write for next week about "Resolutions: Kept and Broken." One member said, "Already?" Yes. We don't get enough sunshine in Cleveland; we have mounds of snow.

The expectation of a first class is shattered. Skiiers might like the snow -- and energized wolves -- but some of us get dispirited. We must find ways to shed our own light.

Robin, our stray, seems exhilarated in snow. In Robin's honor, I post the wolves.

A critical habitat is a specific term explained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Without pushing the analogy over the edge, for anyone to flourish, we need appropriate contexts. May readers find such places for themselves and remember to consider their importance for creatures on our planet in 2010 and beyond.

Photo: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Part of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Compassion in Every Language

I chose this title, "compassion in every language," because I googled the phrase and wanted to see if anything would appear. Nothing did. "Compassion is a universal language," by contrast, garnered 27,000 hits. I like to be unique, but (above all), I sincerely wish I knew the word for compassion in every language. Love may be too lofty an aspiration for humans. But compassion ... how richer our lives are or could be for genuine encounters of it.

Photo Credit: Another fabulous picture (chipping sparrow) in the public domain, taken by Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Click on it. Get a bird's-eye view. Notice the cute little cap. This was a bird I learned about from my son, when he was tiny and enamored of birds. He had innate compassion for creatures. Most children do. Why can't we hold on to it, universally?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Master Teacher

This moving story is in a recent Chronicle. So much of teaching is heart to heart, mind to mind. Technology is a tool, but if passion isn't there, no teacher, learner, or class will achieve its potential.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Will Thinking Make it So?

For a fascinating article in Chronicle Review, click on this. I had not heard of the counterclockwise study, either. I very roughly paraphrase: Aging men were put into an environment that simulated that of another, positive time...a time of their youth. Before entering the controlled environment, they wrote about their memories too. (The writing part of the experiment especially interested me, as I've observed such interesting reactions in students of all ages revisiting their past on paper.) In the study, the men's bodies, minds, and spirits responded well to this shift in place (and time). A movie starring Jennifer Aniston will come out about the counterclockwise experiment soon. I wonder how that script came to be!

Image: Clip Art

Happy Birthday, Louis Braille

What do Jakob Grimm, Sir Isaac Newton, and Louis Braille have in common?

They were all innovators and creative thinkers and all born on January 4th.

As much as I am a packrat, I do not have the memorable reports I wrote in childhood. One, on Louis Braille, I remember in vivid detail. Pushing graphite pencil to paper, I ended the paper with his name in Braille. I remember , also vividly, his own eye injury in childhood, with an awl from his father's leather shop. Very sad, and his vision gradually diminished. The other eye also lost sight. Here is a brief online source.

I attempted a unit on creativity and innovation at JCU this past semester. There were some ups and downs along the way. In a college setting, many students are "implicitly" creative -- trying to weave together course loads, multiple responsibilities, work, and so on. Making what is implicit, explicit takes some time. I'll keep working with the unit in 2010.

Photo Credit: This beautiful picture is taken from the website http://acharya.iitm.ac.in/disabilities/br_intro.php

Packrats, Unite!

Now that I have at last (at least?) learned to link, I can have fun with images. I can also shamelessly self-promote articles you may have missed the first time around (assuming that any of my readers have checked this blog before).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

An American Dream ...

This semester at Notre Dame College, I taught an op-ed by Nancy Mairs, a disabilities activist with an impressive writing record. Mairs' op-ed originally ran in the New York Times and was reprinted in the Bedford Reader. The provocative title Waist-High in the World is one of her books and a curriculum by the Unitarian Universalist Association.

In teaching Mairs' op-ed, I wanted students to consider the impact of disabilities as well as sensing the possibility of translating their own close-to-home ideas into public discourse and even, in some time and in some way, social action.

I sometimes teach through demonstration. I wrote and rewrote, wrote and rewrote--about my cousin and her family's private dilemmas that do indeed reflect social conditions at large. The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran the op-ed I wrote; I am grateful. I have not yet followed the fine print of what's happening in Washington, D.C. I know that many people have worked hard on the health bill, and others are opposed to it...I don't quite know what the answer is...My gut feeling is that it may not go far enough on affordability and access. I truly hope that I am wrong.

Image: Public Domain
Read about Betsy Ross's creativity and life here

Multicultural Musings

One of the highlights of the past semester was a course in multicultural education that I took at John Carroll University, taught/led by Joan Steidl. The text by Derald Sue and David Sue, Counseling the Culturally Diverse, was a launching pad. Reading the comments about the book on Amazon is a spirited mini-course in itself.

We thought about issues of older Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Arab Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, women, immigrants of other groups, people with disabilities, people who are gay . . . and many other populations. The intermingling of insights of the class was fascinating and, I feel, opened some interglobal understanding, too. Even if more questions were raised than answers, that is fine...

For many weeks, classmates who are community counseling and school counseling students did carefully researched presentations on the history, conditions, and interventions helpful with various groups.

I considered myself "multiculturally savvy" before this class. I grew up in a multiethnic neighborhood, with different languages spoken all around me. I have worked in environments in which a variety of backgrounds is the norm. I teach students who represent the world at large. I use literature and creative nonfiction in the classroom, works penned by creative souls of many races, eras, and experiences.

Yet -- and maybe in part because of this awareness -- the course led to an explosion of new insights and more and more questions. It was a challenging, illuminating, and even heart-rending experience.

I revisited my interest in American Indian/Native American studies, especially history and trauma; I have just scratched the surface again. I sensed echoes of what Taylor Branch said in a talk I covered once for the News-Herald; I'm paraphrasing loosely; he said that all history might be considered, in a sense, a chronicle of what happens between insiders and outsiders. Those of us living on North American soil might have a special reason to learn a bit more.

In 2010, I wonder if anyone still reading this far might consider just one more mode of insight into the "other," however you choose to define it. Another article. Another conversation. Another class.

Photo credit (public domain): Coastal Area 51 (Pacific), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blue is believed to be a good color to promote creativity, I read in a Psychology Today article recently. Sadly, no source for that--but maybe experience is enough. Click on the picture. Say: Ahh!

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Bit of Humor, Just a Little Bit

At Inside Higher Ed, one of my pieces of gentle humor ran recently.

See "A Syllabus Syllabary" at http//www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/12/29/stewart

The piece was borne of procrastination last fall. I had developed several syllabi and had one more to go.

I began to play with the syllables of syllabi.

There's a lot to play with.

Photo Credit: (Public Domain) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, University of Kentucky, Pearl crescent and American painted lady butterflies atop black-eyed susans

A stunning picture, really.

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