Archive for the ‘Learning Reflections’ Category

Learning from the Seasons

October 15, 2007

The crisp air of Fall 2007 awakens the senses as I hike down our long, winding street. I marvel at change in vegetation colors as the carpet of maple leaves continues to grow under foot. This is a great time to reconnect with the beautiful outdoors and to marvel at what we can learn about ourselves as the seasons change.

A few thoughts to ponder:

  • We are a product of our natural environment as well as our upbringing and life experiences.
  • We need to listen, observer and feel the change in nature in order to awaken and enrich our creativity and energy
  • In respecting the natural envrionnment, we are respecting and enriching ourselves.

Nature is one of our greatest teachers bu will we open our minds and hearts long enough to learn from her lessons? We must change to grow and changes in the seasons are an ideal time to reflect on who we are and how we can rekindle our personal connections with our family members, friends and colleagues in order to enrich and expand our horizons.


Learning 2006: Laughter is the BEST Medicine – Loretta LaRoche

November 18, 2006

One of the most uplifting and energizing general sessions at the Learning 2006 Conference was presented by Loretta LaRoche who is “an international stress management and humor consultant whose wit, and irreverent humor, has, for over 30 years raised the humor potential in all of us.” 

Over the past 10 years, I have attended three conference sessions presented by Loretta and each time I have been brought to tears through belly laughter and timeless humor that pokes fun at the lunacy of the human experience.  Can you imagine over 1,800 learning professional loosing their inhibitions and voluntarily  holding hands, dancing, and singing to Dean Martin’s timeless tune “That’s Amore”?  Well, Loretta is guaranteed will open your mind and give you a new lease on life that will spark your playfulness and energize the child within.  We are all too serious and definitely need an occasional jolt in order to open our minds to different activities that will not only enhance learning but also reduce stress and prolong our lives. 

Here is a selection of Loretta’s quotes and wisdom for a fun-filled energetic life:

Ø      Break the spell with “juicy” words: “I’m feeling BRILLIANT today!”

Ø      Be in the moment every day

Ø      Engage not enrage

Ø      Look at the bless in the mess

Ø      Disarm and defuse the tension by saying: “Get off the cross and stop complaining-someone else needs the wood!”

Ø      Stop “squeezing” when faced with situations you cannot control

Ø      Do a little twirl to reduce stress as you say with puckered lips: “Oh no!   What am I going to do about it?”

Learning 2006 Conference: Online Collaboration Rules!

November 14, 2006

Last week I attended Elliott Masie’s Learning 2006 Conference in Orlando, Florida.  I joined over 1,800 learning colleagues from around the world for an energized and fun experience based on the theme “Learning in a Flatter World”. 

Amongst the plethora of online pre-conference experiences, the social networking colleague community really stressed the point of online dialog, exploration and collaboration around personal profile pinpoint connections for My work, My style, My topics, and I’m seeking.  I connected with a number of overseas colleagues with similar interests via e-mail then physically met a number of these folks at the conference. 

At the conference, various session attendees (including myself) volunteered to act a “scribe” and then made the commitment to place notes on the wiki page/s for the session.  Over 150 PCs and Macs were set-up in the Exploratorium for conference attendees to access all online resources and to continue adding comments while also checking work and private e-mail accounts. 

Since leaving the conference, a number of people whom I met face-to-face have invited me to join their network on the LinkedIn social networking systems.  Once again, this is another powerful online learning and collaborative experience to extend post-conference activities. 

I intend to write additional blogs about my experience at specific conference sessions that I attended.  Stay tuned.

Storytelling for Personal Learning: Andy Andrews

October 17, 2006

I just finished reading the Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews which is a New York Times Best Seller.  Please ready a synopsis of the book here.

This is no ordinary self-help book of the usual genre.  It is truly inspirational and uplifting to the point that I could hardly wait to read more each day.  What impressed me most about the book was Andy’s ability to tell a series of stories that combine historical facts from the lives and times of such luminaries as Presidents Truman and Lincoln and Anne Frank with unforgettable life lessons that awaken the mind and engage the heart. 

How often we forget that history has so much to teach us and that the art of story telling is probably one of the most influential ways to impact learning and to foster behavioral and attitudinal change.

Milton Hershey: Visionary, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

October 11, 2006

Last weekend my wife and I visited Hershey, Pennsylvania.  This was our first visit to the “Sweetest Place on Earth”, the home of Hershey’s Chocolates, Hershey Museum, Hershey Amusement Park, Hershey Gardens, plus other institutions and interesting attractions. 

Apart from the glitz and commercialism of Hershey Chocolate World, we were very impressed to discover details about Milton and Catherine Hershey’s love for learning and their desire to create a philanthropic legacy that continues to this day: the Milton Hershey School Trust.   Read some background here and here

One very interesting detail we learned about Milton Hershey from the Hershey Museum was that following a trip to Europe and Egypt, Milton was due to return the USA on the fatal voyage of the Titanic.  However, at the last minute, he forfeited his $300 deposit and booked package on a German ship.  This vessel arrived safely in New York one week ahead of the Titanic’s planned arrival.  It’s interesting to ponder what may have occurred to all of Hershey’s endeavors if Milton continued with his original plans to board the Titanic……

Atmospheric Learning: Commercial Spaceports

September 13, 2006

The September 18, 2006 edition of Newsweek magazine has a short article titled: “The New Space Race”. Read it online here.

The article explores the burgeoning industry of spaceports around the world dedicated to commercial space travel for tourists who have beaucoup bucks to spend. Both Richard Branson of Virgin fame and Microsoft’s Paul Allen are partnering with governments and other investors to build these facilities.

One can only imagine the potential learning opportunities that will evolve as the price of as rocket-bound tourism comes within the reach of non-millionaire citizens. Sub-space flight has become so routine that we forget the early learning thrills that travelers experienced when the commercial flight industry made domestic and international air travel possible (and affordable).

Rocket fever is definitely expanding as many adventurous souls yearn to break the pull of gravity in order to view our earth-bound home from a different perspective (and perhaps learning more about ourselves and the fragility of our planet).

Health Learning from Contrarian Viewpoints: Dr. Robert Jay Rowen

September 4, 2006

Are you fed up with conflicting and one-sided views on illness, drugs and a whole range of medical issues?  Do you need and alternate view that not only questions the conventional wisdom on healthcare but provides practical advice that is backed-up with solid complimentary medical evidence? 

I highly recommend you investigate Dr. Robert Jay Rowen’s “Second Opinion”.  His monthly newsletter is always read from cover to cover by my wife and myself and we actively implement many of his recommendations.  Dr Rowen is not adverse to controversy.  He covers topics from a contrarian counter-establishment perspective that make sense (in my opinion). 

My eyes have been opened and my health has definitely improved from a systems and integrated approach to health and wellness.  Thank goodness people like Dr Rowen continually urge us to reflect and to be skeptical about the plethora of highly questionable medical claims from multi-national drug companies that bombard us daily. 

Upon reflection, the most important health learning for me personally has been that knowledge is power and lifelong learning is the key to a more fulfilling and healthier life.

“Wired to Learn” versus “Programmed to Perform”: A Reflection

August 20, 2006

Humans are naturally very curious and imaginative and yearn for knowledge from a very young age.  Observe any group of pre-schoolers who become absorbed when inventing fun games or investigating why something works a certain way.  Our wide-eyed and innocent pre-schoolers are “wired to learn”.

As time progresses, youngsters become enculturated and schooled in societal norms.  Bit by bit, they loose their spontaneity as they are encouraged to conform to the “right” way of thinking and performing.  By the beginning of middle school, the most children have lost their spontaneity and are “programmed to perform” in an educational system that rewards conformity, high test scores on standardized, and academic excellence.  This trend continues through high school as the pressure increases to master the SAT as a prerequisite for attending the “right” college with the “right” pedigree.  Subsequently, there is some relief as four years of an undergraduate degree becomes a quest for critical and independent thinking.  Nonetheless, the fun is once again interrupted with a jolt as the need to attain that allusive 4.0 GPA for the degree draws loser. 

College quickly fades as we join the rat race for that great job in the corporation.  The more corporate “cool aide” we drink the more we are “programmed to perform” as we gain all the vestiges of success-house, car, credit cards, and mounting debt.  The cycle continues as our lives morph into unbridled performance for the corporation at any cost through more work, more stress, less leisure time, and mounting resentment.  Welcome to “life” in the 7X24 world….until the cracks appear and disillusionment takes over.   What have we become?  Why has life become such a drag?  Why aren’t we having fun any more? 

Bit by bit we question more and more and are reawakened to the fact that there is a life outside the corporate facade.  It’s now time for more fun, experimenting, and learning for the heck of it.  We’ve regained the inquisitiveness of our pre-schoolers and are reinvigorated to learn, albeit with new perspectives and insights from our extensive databank of experiences.  There is always hope and the promise of a better life if we make the conscious decision to question, reflect, and change.  Thank goodness for the indomitable and optimistic human spirit!