New Years Resolution Goals

Ring in the New Year by the Ringing of the School Bell

Resolve to Learn

The year is rapidly coming to a close, with it a flurry of activity and holidays are being celebrated worldwide.  This is a time of excitement and joy. It is also a time for introspection and goal setting.

Come December 31st, millions and millions will create resolutions with the intent of improving themselves and their lives in the coming new year.  Among the top resolutions are losing weight, exercising, quitting bad habits, and finding a job.

What if this year, you resolve to learn something new?  Learning exercises your brain, creates balance in your life, leads to better decision making capabilities, and could help you land that job or improve your chances of promotion at your current employment.

Surfing the Web to Learn

Continuing education is more readily available than ever, delivered directly to your laptop, tablet, or phone. Here are some resources to jump start your lifelong learning habit.

Udemy Like shopping on Black Friday for all the deals? Then this learning platform is for you!  Forget the latest craze, sign up for a class! Udemy has a Black Friday special going on right now with courses costing only $10!!  There is so much to learn, and with this deal, you could chose to learn more for less.

SkillshareSkillshare offers short courses on specific skill sets from photography to e-commerce, this website has opportunity to grow in your career and hobbies. The lack of long term commitment for classes makes this an ideal place to start.

Open Course WareVirtually every major university offers open courses online for the public to take at will.  These courses are free and are the same courses offered at the university itself. While you cannot earn a degree through these courses, you will still learn from top notch professors. In addition, you could test drive a program or major.  Lastly, you can use the courses to prep yourself for CLEP examination which can earn you college credit.

KHAN AcademyFree video based courses for kindergarten through adult education. KHAN Academy covers diverse subjects with an intense focus on science, math, and computer programming.

YoutubeAside from the funny videos and viral pranks, Youtube offers an immense amount of knowledge for free.  There are videos on every subject and many skills to be learned in a “one-on-one” setting.  Decide what you would like to know how to do in the new year and find an appropriate Youtube channel. You may have to dig around to find the presenter who works best for you, but don’t worry there are 300,000 new videos loaded every day!

Looking for more online opportunities?  Check out this list of 20 Places to Educate Yourself For Free! You are sure to find something to tickle your fancy and expand your mind!

Offline Learning

Online learning, elearning, and virtual coursework are all the rage right now. The Internet does surely provide unsurpassed access to information and is a flexible tool allowing educational opportunities to reach where traditional schools never could. However, online classes are not the only means of continuing education in the 21st century.

If online classes just aren’t your thing or your bandwidth doesn’t accommodate videos, learn the old fashioned way-through books and other people. Books are still just as valuable as they were pre-Internet days.  Find a good book on whatever you are yearning to master. Don’t have a skill you need to learn? How about you just read some good classic literature?  Your brain will get pumping and you will surely expand your vocabulary. All around, a worth while endeavor!

In addition to amazing books, see what learning opportunities exist in your area. Is there a club offering demonstrations? Could you sit in on a course offered at your local trade school or college to learn more about the study program?  Libraries offer a vast array of programs, course, and groups that can enrich your lifelong pursuit of knowledge, oh and they also have books–many, many books!

How will you resolve to learn this coming year?

 

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Learning Beyond the Books

Education matters.  It changes lives and ultimately changes the world.  Global Learn Day is committed to promoting education and inspiring learning. However, we often only think of education as book learning, focusing on the core school subjects.  This however is a narrow view of how we must educate our child and ourselves.

Life Skills Matter, Too

Life skills are essential to every human being.  They are the learning that is often passed on through families and tradition.  These hands on lessons are so very important and no less worthy of time than quantum physics.

STEM lessons may be what creates the next big invention, but life skill learning is what keeping the world going.

What Are Life Skills?

Life skills are those abilities that are needed to live a productive life. They are often not quantitative achievements and so are often overlooked in the modern push for rank and reward. However, mastery of life skills will not only make living in the world as an independent adult possible but will also enhance your employability, despite not being featured on your transcript.

Some examples of life skills are:

  • cooking
  • basic repairs
  • personal care
  • planning
  • public speaking
  • time management
  • stress management
  • self awareness
  • note taking
  • problem solving
  • ingenuity
  • conflict resolution
  • negotiation
  • nutrition and meal preparation
  • budgeting
  • bookkeeping
  • house keeping
  • gardening

These are just a sampling of knowledge that enhances your life and gives you an edge in the work force.  While some of these may seem obsolete in the digital age, being self-sufficient leads to a better understanding of the world around you and the ability to navigate pitfalls more easily. In addition, working with your hands lends itself to innovation by fueling creativity.

The Mother of All Invention

We have all heard the phrase that “Necessity is the mother of all invention.” This is mostly true and need most definitely inspires new answers to problems. However, another, often ignored, skill goes hand in hand with invention. It is making do.

In the progressive and prosperous western culture, this skill is rapidly being lost.  The illusion of unlimited resources leads many to consume continually instead of conserve.

Making do involves using what you have to get what you need.  It is a side effect of becoming self reliant.  Life skills lend themselves to creating individuals who are more resilient and capable to care for themselves. As One Planet, One People, these skills are not only a boon to our own future, but a gift to the world around us. Consuming less and understanding more aids the life of everyone around the world.

Another R to Learn

With the race to become the best in STEM and technology, we must not forget the less flashy learning that is essential to our survival as a civilization and a global community. Self-Reliance and self-sufficiency skills need to be taught along with the 3 R’s and STEM to create whole, productive, adults for the future–a future of peace and prosperity for all.

Families, schools, and communities must to find ways to pass on these abilities to build creative and competent citizens of tomorrow.

How can you pass on life skill wisdom?

 

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Empty Classroom

What Education is Not

 

The news and the talk around the watercooler are often centered on “the state of education,” “reform in education,” and “needing a good education.”  However, what is education?  Is it just school?  Is it a degree or certificate?  Do grades determine education or is it curriculum?  Is education solely what happens under direction or is it self motivated?

 

Education is defined as:

  1. The act or process of educating or being educated.
  2. The knowledge or skill obtained or developed by a learning process.
  3. A program of instruction of a specified kind or level: driver education; a college education.
  4. The field of study that is concerned with the pedagogy of teaching and learning.
  5. An instructive or enlightening experience: Her work in an animal shelter was a real education.

 

Now that we know what it is, let’s look at what it isn’t.  Education is not teaching, it is learning. We often confuse the two.  We use educating and teaching interchangeably. However, they are two different ideas and processes.

 

Teaching is imparting your own knowledge to another and requiring some demonstration of understanding to conclude the lesson.  The student produces a reply to his teacher’s lesson.  This reply is then evaluated and the student is deemed successful or not.

 

On the other hand, educating is the process of learning, the method of understanding, and the obtaining of knowledge.  In this way, the educating is done by the student as she learns, not by the teacher as he teaches.

 

In pursuit of a quantitative means to evaluate the level of education of every student, assessments are devised.  However, assessment is not education, either.  While they will rank students based on their ability to reproduce the given information, it is impossible to evaluate the qualitative. It is in the quality of a student’s use and synthesis of facts that education occurs.  These could take months, years, or a lifetime.  There is no way of putting it onto a timeline.

 

Education is enlightening, the spark of an idea should be triggered in the brain. An idea leads to more study, deeper learning, a hypothesis, testing, and conclusion.  At times this enlightenment come naturally through a sudden understanding of past life experience colliding with the presentation current information.  Other times it is a tedious unfolding, as layer upon layer of instruction and study build the foundation until the true enlightenment of learning is reached.

 

Education is not a collection of grade levels. It is not a building or designated area. It should know no time nor space.  Education is not a list of rules, a checklist of assignments, a test booklet of bubbles to fill, or a syllabus of study.

 

It cannot be measured by paper degrees, resumes, or ranking percentiles.  Education is a matter of the heart, brain, and psyche.  Always a personal matter, not a pedagogy.  It knows no limits and accepts no boundaries.  To be educated is not to know what the “right” answer is or what to think on particular topic. No, true education is the ability to think, to reason, to make conclusion and decide your own point of view, but be willing to delve deeper to ensure you are correct in that view.

 

When we limit education to a time or place or method or material or outcome, we limit the capabilities of an infinitely capable mind. We turn humans into computing machines.  Take data in, spit data out.  Algorithms are applied, but not higher level thinking.  Outcomes are achieved, but material is rapidly forgotten.

 

Education is a process that never ends. Just as each child learns to walk and talk, learns about hot and cold, learns the wetness of rain and the brilliance of sun; so, too, we must all learn about our world through a process of personal discovery. Providing education to the world cannot stop at supplying books or school supplies, it must continue in the pursuit of dispensing the tools and enticement to grow not only in factual knowledge but a wealth of understanding.

 

What is education?  It is what it means to be truly human and fully free!

 

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The Summer Slide

Recently, I attended a meeting that spoke about “The Summer Slide”. This is a situation where students lose skills as a result of having the summer off.  After eight or nine months in school, students take a few months off and typically go to summer camps, on vacations or just spend time in their community. It’s a well-deserved break, right? After all, we would not want to push kids too much, would we? What if kids could enjoy their summer and not lose skills? In the US, programs are being created to help.

It was while learning morning about the Summer Slide that I found this article. In it, we can read about year round learning (an interesting idea) AND “National Summer Learning Day”. This is a great program that brings awareness to the Summer Slide and encourages communities, families and elected officials to engage students during the summer months. This year it is July 13th and you can learn about it here.

In addition to checking out the National Summer Learning Association, there are additional options for families to encourage their kids during the summer and avoid the Summer Slide. Parents can enroll their children in the Kahn Academy a nonprofit that has a wealth of information available to students. Parents are able to monitor student’s progress through subjects by grade level. Videos and exercises are both available and at no cost. This is definitely a program that is building a better future!

At home, with my children, we set reading goals at the beginning of the summer. We also work to brush up and get stronger on subjects that the kids had a tough time with the previous school year. This year, it is Math. We will buy books, definitely use the Kahn Academy and drill. Usborne Books have amazing keys that kids can use on the go (a low tech solution that is fun)! As a parent, it is my responsibility to help my kids fight the Summer Slide.

 

BUT…

 

What happens when we finish our school days? What is the equivalent to the Summer Slide for adults? And… if there is one, how do we fight it? The answer should be that we never stop learning, we never stop picking up new skills.

Global Learn Day celebrates mankind’s learning. We appreciate and respect those who innovate education and help spread it to all corners of our planet. In order to truly be, One Planet, One People, we must educate. We must spread our knowledge to all corners of the planet. As a people, as mankind, we can all fall into the Summer Slide when we stop learning and growing our knowledge base.

So now, we can choose to fight that slide. Let’s join together in Building a Better Future by spreading our knowledge around the globe. Celebrate Global Learn Day with us!

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