What I most want people to know

March 30, 2009

I was recently part of a mini-workshop on authentic speaking, in which each of us was asked to answer the question, “What do you most want people to know?” It was a difficult question for me to answer in the 60 seconds we were given in that workshop. I’ve been thinking about it ever since then, mainly in the context of how I describe what I do in my work.

Here’s one version, and my thoughts related to it:

I give parents the tools and community to become better teachers and role models of  lifelong learning for their children.

What we’ve collectively forgotten as a society is the fact that parents are teachers, consciously OR unconsciously. We’ve separated learning from everyday life. But it’s not separate. It IS everyday life. Children are learning from their parents, their peers, their teachers – in short, from every situation in their environment, all the time. What they learn has something to do with who these people and what these situations are, but it also has a lot to do with how these people and situations are explained to them. In the process of going through experiences, and hearing them explained, children eventually develop the ability to explain things for themselves. Lack of explanation is also a form of teaching. It’s called modeling. It’s a lifelong process to continue consciously learning from the people and situations you encounter – a process I believe is instilled from an early age, constantly reawakened in adulthood, and refined throughout a lifetime. This is what I call “lifelong learning”. And somehow, we’ve run out of time, energy, or ideas about how to explain the world to our children. It’s worth it for all of us to remember that even if we don’t explain in words, it is the model of our actions that does the teaching for us.

How you see things changes the things that you see. – Wayne Dyer

How’s that for inspiration?

Imagine that you have the power to change what you see by changing how you see. Imagine that by teaching someone a new way of seeing, you can actually change what that person sees. Read the rest of this entry »


A long-term strategy for a short-term crisis

March 13, 2009

I was fascinated by President Barack Obama’s speech last Tuesday at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He proposes education, a long-term investment, as an integral part of the solution to our current economic crisis.

In it, he lays out a call to action for education reform in this country. More importantly, he urges young Americans to remember the historical roots of our nation’s path of greatness, and he ties economic progress with educational investment.

The source of America’s prosperity has never been merely how ably we accumulate wealth, but how well we educate our people.

This brought back memories of many a dinner-table or car-ride conversation with my parents, who are both immigrants from Taiwan. They arrived here in the 1960s, fresh out of National Taiwan University’s College of Pharmacy, having been admitted to PhD programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago. My father studied pharmacology, my mother the more esoteric field of pharmacognosy (medicinal botany). Read the rest of this entry »