Archive for the 'Education' Category

Using Your Voice

Over the last few days I physically lost the ability to use my voice. Some sort of virus and trying to make myself heard while coaching hockey combined to where I couldn’t actually create sound without pain. Everyone I know thought this was very amusing and it must’ve been extraordinarily hard for me to not talk for a few days. 

While I did miss conversing and talking, the silence for myself was actually very nice. Being forced to slow down how I communicate and look for simpler ways to express myself, was amazing! This experience has truly driven home the message that communication is about so many different aspects. It’s not just about what I say, it’s about how I say it, the environment I see it in, who I see it too, my demeanor, and the words I choose.

Coming back into my voice today, I now have two new goals to work on in my life.

The first is to make sure I take that extra pause and really think about the message I’m trying to communicate and how I communicate it. I know this will be hard for me, and I will fail a lot at the beginning, but in the long run it will be better for how I interact with everyone around me.

The second stems from the first. Only by expressing ourselves can we truly make a difference in our own lives. Before we can ever help others or make a difference in their lives, we have to learn to use our own voice for ourselves. I do not mean simply speaking up, or talking to others. I mean understanding who you are and expressing this in what, where, when, how and why you choose to speak up. To speak up on behalf of others, you need to have a very clear understanding and confidence in who you are and what you believe then. Otherwise when the inevitable pain comes, you will be unprepared to sustain your voice.



I know it’s a little behind schedule but I just finished reading Outliers and years of responses to it; as well as many articles   proving/disproving some of the ideas within. I was most struck not by the book or the ideas (which I did enjoy and liked) but by the standard American response. Instead of discussing the nuance of the ideas, we either jumped on board or firmly denied with little or no middle ground.

There were no fewer than five really thoughtful ideas on why people are succesful, yet we seem intent on the 10,000 hour idea. So much so that there is a whole industry now around 10,000 hours and all else in the book might as well not exist! What about the idea that Harvard should just do a lottery of their applicants (which by the way would be fair becuase it would remove the inherent bias in the admission process)? Or the idea that being lucky enough to be born in a specific month or year are key contributors to success?

Instead most Americans became fixated on a binary approach to an extremely complicated question. An approach by the way that the book clearly says won’t work by itself!!! 

Why is it that Americans so often respond with the emotional maturity of a 14 year old to these pressing societal issues? Why are we so intent on quick fixes or something having to be 100% correct or incorrect? Hasn’t life kicked each of our individual asses enough times to know this is rarely true?

I didn’t wrote this post today to tell everyone why we are a BiNaration. I wrote it so next time you became engaged in a new process or idea, you stop and think before you fall into this all in or all against mentality. 

Cheers and Rock On

Avoiding Extremes

When we look at any situation, we bring all of our upbringing and baggage (good and bad) with us. All of this background data and noise creates our own sense of what we see, hear and believe. Thus the title of this blog Filterpret. 

Now something all of us can learn is to slow down our reactions and recognize how and why we react in the manner we do. This is important as we learn to suspend our naturally occurring judgements or “stop” the tape. Which also leads to avoiding extremes of thought and reaction.

There are two articles in Salon I rad today about David Bowie and underage groupies. Taken together they are a good look at each side of thought and how we can look at a situation and not go to the far extremes of opinion or reaction. 

I find this to be truly important in daily life and larger unique events. Looking at a situation and showing empathy to all parties, regardless of agreement or disagreement with their stance or action, is vital to being human being.

Here are those 2 articles. 

David Bowie Dark Side

David Bowie another perspective 

Being Mindful on the Cheap

Eva Wiseman’s article in the Guardian about the Cost of Mindfulness  reminded me of several conversations I’ve had on the topic. During these conversations I’ve heard some great ideas and had some interesting counter points made. I’d like to concentrate on two of these ideas for this post:

  1. Meditation/mindfulness providers should be able to charge what they want if the market will bear it
  2. Why we are willing to pay the exorbitant costs for many of these trainings/seminars/sessions

I’ve chosen these 2 points because of their obvious connection.

Based on my experience with meditation, mindfulness and yoga (and of course business) many people attend pay sessions out of fear! They believe one is less likely to be ridiculed or feel out-of-place if they “pay” for non-standard self-development! Many Americans feel having a cost makes it more “valuable”. Therefore, typically free sessions bring the converted (or those very interested in being converted), pay sessions bring the unconverted. This is a huge issue when discussing a practice which not only makes us individually healthier, but a more interconnected human being.

This is even more problematic because many of the current yoga and mindfulness trends exclude those with no disposable income (or well more than half the population or perhaps more than 2/3’s!). This unfortunately leads to the appearance (and many times reality) that these wealthy participants in costly self-improvement practice, are simply non-Christian Prosperity Doctrine disciples!

Looking at this from the other side, there is nothing wrong with a teacher getting paid for sharing their knowledge and expertise. Unless a under a vow of poverty or free-sharing, a teacher should in fact only share their trade for some remuneration. This is their chosen profession, and they need to support a basic level of healthy living. The problem is not that yoga, meditation and mindfulness instructors get paid, IT’S HOW MUCH! Charging a $10 to a couple of hundred dollars (dependent on attendee quantity) is vastly different than several hundred to thousand PER PERSON.

Finally, we come to the core importance of what we’re supposed to learn during healthy self-development. To truly go beyond basic mind calming and control, our shared connection and humanity becomes paramount. If you are espousing the importance of helping others, empathy and shared growth, are you really demonstrating these inexorably intertwined traits through exclusion? Are you really a Guru or a Master when you seek to enrich yourself at the cost of not developing those who need it most? Are you really in touch with yourself and your fellow humans when you only cater to those whom can buy your next vacation or hand-made suit?



University Tuition

Here is an interesting take on the 3 decade long exponential increase in University tuition in the US. I think the author is on to something, unfortunately, I also think it’s not so clear-cut. In the last few years, the amount state governments put toward their University systems has definitely exacerbated the problem. Additionally, many students don’t think of University as a must to be counted in the haves. They view it as their own option to potentially avoid being in the have notes. Nor does the article take into account the never ending drive to build new buildings and enlarge endowment.

A coupe of key quotes from the article to make you think.

“Everyone in the age of inequality knows that the purpose of a college education isn’t to benefit the nation; it’s to give the private individual a shot at achieving a High Net Worth.”

“Agreeing upon that, everyone from state legislators to the Secretary of Education naturally began to ask, Why should I pay for someone else to get rich? Those people need to foot the bill themselves.”

“Werth quoted an administrator from Lehigh University who put the new philosophy succinctly: “If it’s going to be a world of haves and have-nots, we sure intend to be among the haves.”

If Only They Could Share

NPR website recently had this blog post about language influencing our worldview. I have read a good deal on this subject across academic fields and wish we could get someone to sit down and actually compare all of the research. It seems to me that we have the answers based on what Psychologists, Anthropologists, Applied Linguists etc., have already published. If only we could get them to share…..

For those who may be wondering, I fall firmly on the side that language definitively impacts how we view and perceive our reality.

Empathy and Power

To follow on my most recent post this article in Salon by Matthew Salesses is an excellent non academic look at empathy, power and judgement (and the need to suspend judgment).  Some quotes to think about:

“It reminds me of when I would listen to complaints from white Americans, when I was in Korea, about Koreans. Then I would hear complaints from Koreans, about Americans. But when I tried to defend Korea, the Americans would shut down, placing me as not American and thereby devaluing my opinions. And when I tried to defend America, the Koreans would shut down.”

“I wrote back that men bear more responsibility for establishing equality because of the power males have in our society, and that approaching relationships as if a gendered power structure doesn’t exist is to perpetuate that power structure.”

“God how I wish people would own their privilege. I am a man, and an American. Those things carry a certain power. I write this with a certain power. If I ignore the power I have, if I pretend not to have it, if I downplay it, or if I say someone with less power is “special” or “valued” (read: exotic), I am perpetuating the power structure by trying to hide it from those who lose in it. If we ignore the power structures that are there, if we try to make them invisible, they don’t go away. We just validate them by putting the onus for them on the disempowered.”




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