Friday, May 3, 2013

The case for "Vulnerability!"


Bren Brane Shame

So this video popped up in my Facebook feed recently and it caught my eye, and then my attention: Brene` Brown- Listening To Shame--TEDx.

This annual speakers conference 'Ideas worth spreading' builds community conversations across the globe and attracts some of the brightest minds from everywhere.  TEDx has developed a cult like following. 

So I watched it and found myself drawn to this very simple, yet powerful message...'Listening to Shame.' Hmmm; I thought, where is this going? 

I found a few very distinct and powerful messages here.

First off, vulnerability is good.
Vulnerability is essential to wholesome living.
Vulnerability is a our most accurate measurement of courage.
Vulnerability is not weakness.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.

On shame:
Shame and guilt are two different things.
Shame is a focus on self!
Guilt is a focus on behavior! 

Shame is, "I am bad!" 
Guilt is, "I did something bad!" 

Guilt..."I am sorry, I made a mistake!" 
Shame..."I am sorry, I am a mistake!"

It might seem simple but it is quite easy to feel a degree of failure and 'shame,' about things that don't seem that 'big' in the scheme of things and its lingering effects can be surprising. The fact is, perceived failures can take hold and seep into so many other facets of your life. 

While there may be no element of a mental breakdown in most instances, there might  still be the constant 'hard-on-yourself'  feeling that stays far too long or the judgmental tendencies and the constant measuring of self against others, that may creep up on you.  

In the context of this class, it is easy to feel vulnerable, unsure of if you are hitting the right mark; not being able to fully wrap your arms around the various nodes of 'connecting';  and feeling the energy it gives back.  Absorbing  feedback or the lack of it can make one second guess ones impact. If you are not careful it can have the feel of a mere 'handshake,' rather than a full hug, leaving you with the notion that you haven't really fully experienced it. There are so many places and directions in which to take this course but it can be a bit daunting. As Brene Brown intimates..."vulnerability is not weakness" so, "avoid the vulnerability hangover." 

I can relate to that kind of  hangover. I recently participated in the ESC women of color Personal Learning Assessment Class (PLA) in which you were interviewed by professors on camera and youtubed. The idea was to share within a particular community, the outcomes. Once they were posted, I panicked and almost pulled my permission to broadcast (which I had hesitatingly signed), just at the mere thought of others viewing my most 'vulnerable' moments. I resisted the urge happily however and I am so glad I did. 

Do you agree that we all suffer through these issues of shame, vulnerability and perhaps even some guilt?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Connecting Across Cultures

Having spent the last few weeks mired in work and overwhelmed by its many demands; demands not isolated from some of the stuff germane to this class... connectivism, use of technology, transliteracy, metaliteracy, global communication and the like, I began to feel a bit guilty and unsure of how to re-engage. I decided that the best way is to use what I have. A lot of what I have been doing involves, seeking out and sharing and using technology to communicate; be it Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools.  So I decided, (in my flummoxed state), that best way is to jump right back in, sharing some of what took me away in the first place. If you are in the business of disseminating news and information, you distribute said information to the various media channels that serves your target audience. 

My natural target is the Caribbean American audience, however if we are true to ourselves about 'connectedness' and operating in a global space; information pertinent to ones ethnic group or the other, should in some way or the other (or for one reason or the next) at the very minimum, inspire some interest. These great United States are a meaty composite of all different races, creed, and ethnic backgrounds. The natural process of assimilation takes place (as it should) for new immigrants. You are in your newly adopted land so adapt you must but as many of us well know, there is the need to hold on to a bit of who you are. And its is real and tangible and present. As a result pretty much every ethnic group has its own unique identity and cultural connection on which to rely.
There are some pertinent questions to be answered: How important it is that we share a bit of who we are with each other? Do we have a moral (might be too strong a word), social responsibilty or civic obligation to show interest in our neighbors? Who they are? What they do? How they lives their lives? Should we all be open to cross-cultural  immersion? 

I have enjoyed reading, learning, experiencing the food, music, art, dance of many a- culture,  as I am sure many have mine (and others too). It is a neat way to look at life, to  open your eyes; see what's around you. There is a lot of beauty there. 

To bring it back home, I will share some of my recent activities as the quest to connect ensues. 

Caribbean Athletes at the Penn Relays

For close to 50 years Jamaican athletes have competed at the now 119 year old Penn Relays. Many of the island's top athletes have graced the track at these relays; names such as Herb McKenley, George Rhoden, Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-PryceAsafa Powell and Usain Bolt come to mind. 

Team Jamaica Bickle, a 501 (C) (3) not for profit, offers hospitality services to some 650 athletes and coaches, who attend these annual relays, providing meals, chiropractic  care ground transportation and many more services. The athletes hail largely from Jamaica but the contingent has grown to include such Caribbean counterparts, as Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines.

The organization holds several activities leading up to the relays to raise funds for the program. A signature feature is honoring an Olympian who has gone on to work or contribute on the growth and development side of the sport. The 2013 honoree was Deon Hemmings-McCatty, OD, the first Jamaican and English Speaking Caribbean Woman to win an individual Gold Medal at the Olympic Games; this in 1996.

Now, is this information that the typical non-Jamaican, non-Caribbean, non-sports fan finds interesting? I don't know but I am certainly willing too share, hopefully connect and even more importantly, find out!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

GeoLiteracy. Is It An Idea Whose Time Has Come?


I recently came across an article in National Geographic which speaks to the idea of Geo-Literacy. The premise of Geo Literacy is simple; We are living in a global world, we are  inter-connected and we need to learn about each other. Whether it for the purpose of relocating, travel, doing business, gaining more insight into other cultures of just understanding the world more, it is important that we do.   

In the article titled Geo-Education for the 21st century, written by Daniel C. Edelson, for National Geographic, Geo-Literacy is described  as preparing individuals for the challenges of the 21st century. For one to be considered Geo-Literate they must have a good understanding of these areas: Interactions, Interconnections and Implications. 

Interactions: A geo-literate individual understands the social, political and cultural systems of a society.

Interconnections: A geo-literate individual understands how the social, political and cultural systems connect people.

Implications: A geo-literate person will use those understandings to make well-informed decisions. 

The three components of Geo-literacy are:
  • · Understanding of human and natural systems
  • · Geographic reasoning
  • · Systematic decision-making 
I believe Geo-Literacy has a place In the world of connectivism, open courses and MOOCs, . TechnologIy not only allows us to connect but to also learn new things. We have the opportunity to interact with more people and make new discoveries easily; to understand that the decisions we make not only impacts us but can have far reaching implications to others elsewhere in this world. It is often our choice about how much we choose to engage or take in but make no mistake the means are there. 

By Daniel C. Edelson, Ph.D.Tuesday, September 25, 2012...Geo-education is about preparing people to make the important decisions we will all face in the 21st century. At National Geographic, we call people who are prepared to make these decisions geo-literate.Geo-literacy requires three kinds of understanding......Read on....More

Source: National Geographic 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wrapping My Head Around Connectivism


In my quest to better understand connectivism (a fairly new learning theory championed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes), In fact Siemens is said to be the originator of that theory; I have spent hours reading, listening, researching, assimilating----all in an effort to wrap my head around the idea. I have watched videos, read blogs, listened to audio and wait, wait, I do think I am making some progress. So, next step...Putting my thoughts on paper (which I believe) will force me to illustrate my 'oh so slight understanding' of this newly coined term/idea? 

The more I immerse myself in this space the better I should get at it (understand it), right?

Connectivism is described as a "theory of personal learning."  It appears to be the clarion call of the digital age. In a more expansive way, experiencing that 'learning' should happen across different networks.  Learning as a concept exists within community and how you engage that community while utilizing 'the new' tools that exist to facilitate open learning, is a indicator of how well the process is working.  How we treat our experience across different web platforms and employ new media tools is also a good gauge for how well we are connecting. Well, maybe. Using the digital world to organize your life, populate your personal learning space and coordinate scattered remants of information, gets it done, right?....aaah so simple. But wait; not so fast. 

Simply having the tools doesn't automatically put you in 'wonk' sphere. Without knowledge of how to use them you are indeed lost in the digital space.  You have to aggregate, curate,  be better streamlined to become a more efficient user. 

'Connectivism' is an educational exercise and in this bold new thrust many will be left behind. It is important that you also approach it with an open mind; be open to the idea of 'connecting'. 

In an article Downes published (Huffington Post 2011), terms like aggregation, remixing, repurposing, feeding forward, were used to illustrate how connectivism works; a formula of sort on how to treat information, learn in that environment, to connect, use the information, make it your own and how to disseminate and share.  

His Slideshare presentation gives a wonderful overview of the concept, especially for those new to the idea. At first blush it seems daunting. It takes some doing. 

You have to be aware and proficient in the use of the digital components needed for it to be truly real and even more importantly effective. He explains the use of the following tools  (and the like): Flikr to store (and share) photos, to store (and share) videos,, a place to write and edit essays;, a way to stay in touch and up to date with current events as they happen;, a way to save on phone calls;, to know where he is staying before he gets there; and so on.

For individuals like myself who are probably introverts and not so quick to embrace the 'openness' this requires, it is a big step.  I recently started tweeting and am working at getting more proficient and comfortable in that space. A tumblr account isn't yet 'tumbling' and scoop it is waiting on my curating skills. But I am blogging [here] and hope for consistency. 

A friend at a major radio station is going through that metamorphosis of sorts. Seems the station has decided that all announcers (in fact all staff) should get connected; everywhere! Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, etc; and he is [terrifyingly] embracing it because to survive, he has to. We have been laughing [sort of] at the new world demands. So I will get a call saying "did you see my posts on Facebook? Did you see my Tweet?" "I am doing my homework." And on he goes with his handbook of all the 'social/digital' places he needs to be. 

One can quickly get overwhelmed. But overtime it becomes apparent that you can ease slowly into the different modalities. With consistency and fixed determination becoming a 'connectivist' might become a song!

The world Downes points out is filled with free learning resources. [For me] the message? Find what works for you and make it work. There is no one path but it is critical that you figure out how to traverse across these various arteries of learning, Create your own, modify what exists and adapt them to your learning environment. So I guess the word is get 'connected'. What say you? 


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