Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Curiosity and Inquisitiveness

(Luis Valentino) Among the many challenges in raising our son is helping him to understand the social construct that is school, the community he engages with, and the home he inhabits.  Setting expectations, providing opportunities for him to practice and reflect on them, and establishing a system of accountability for a six year old an important part of our parenting.  However, establishing boundaries for him cannot, and do not (at least we hope) stifle his creativity and his curiosity.

As Gini Cunningham describes in the article below, Curiosity and Inquisitiveness, keeping our children's curiosity alive is a collective effort.  Together, we can help students to be explorers and discover their world, and not stifle its possibilities.

By Gini Cunningham

Kids are naturally curious as they inquire about their surroundings and the rest of the world. Few
children refuse to admire bugs, even going to the extent of picking them up, petting them, and often trying to sneak them into the mouth for a quick flavor check. Kids wonder at sparkling rainbows, gurgling streams, fluttering birds, and flashing stars. Their curiosity grows as older siblings, friends, family, and parents inspire study and discovery. This curiosity is snuffed when this same group is too quick with explanations, thus extinguishing exploration, or with discouragement when it comes to figuring out answers through experimentation and wonder. Some of this tamping down may be a necessity in a burgeoning classroom of students or with harried, exhausted parents racing to meet urgent needs, but it is sad to watch kids slink into "Just give me the answer" mode for the sake of speedy teaching and learning.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Myth of the Hero: My Reflection For A New Year

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature. - Joseph Campbell

One of my favorite scholars is Joseph Campbell who is known for his PBS video series, The Power of Myth.  I appreciated the edification it provided viewers, and the impact Campbell had on George Lucas' production of the Star Wars series.  We were the beneficieries because were were able to enjoy amazing science fiction movies with powerful messages.  And now that the new blockbuster, Star Wars: The Force Awakens,  is all the rage, the works of Joseph Campbell are once again being reflected through the words of journalists, critics, and audiences.  And while the philosophy behind the movie was impressive, I was even more affected by his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  The book reflects Campbell's grand narrative through myths and tales told throughout history by peoples around the world. It is the monomyth of humankind's heroic journey; a journey we all take.

I was later reintroduced to Joseph Campbell while working at Paramount Pictures.  During the shooting of a movie (whose title I can't recall), a memo was shared that focused on the writer's journey.  It described the Jung's archetypes, and framed the hero journey through Campbell's outline. As you know, many novels and movies reflect the mythology that Campbell introduced.  

Meaningful for me was the emergent construct, which lent itself to answering universal questions about the meaning of life, who I am, and what I am doing here on earth.

As I look to 2016, I can't help but reflect on the work of Joseph Campbell.  He has created a space for me to to reflect on my own journey, where I've been this past year, what I accomplished, how I handled the challenges faced, and what I am looking forward to creating for myself and my life moving forward.  The  frame I'll use is comprised of the 4 phases of the Heroes Journey cycle.
  • Call to Action/Adventure:
  • Supreme Ordeal/Initiation
  • Unification/Transformation
  • Road Back/Heroe's Return
Embedded in these phases are 12 steps that describe discrete actions to help me better understand the key aspects of my journey.  These aspects include:
  1. Moving my family to Albuquerque and buying a home
  2. Being hired and resigning from my new job after only a few months
  3. Starting the Valgar Institute: A Book Publishing Company
  4. Reflecting on the results of those actions and the learning it has provided
  5. Revisiting family connections
  6. Identifying the next steps
  7. Creating new opportunities
Along my journey and reflection this year, I am hoping for sound lessons that become a part of who I am and what I represent. For as Margaret Wheatly says, "Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful." Through this process I believe that I will be creating new possibilities that build upon the blessings I have received throughout my life, manifesting a face along the hero's journey.