“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

― Albert Einstein

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The final stretch

Days 14-18 (Sunday July 20th - Thursday July 24th)  

It's been five days since the Foundations Institute course was completed.  I didn't blog during the stretch and last week of the institute because . . . well I was reading, writing and editing so much I wasn't seeing straight.  I couldn't imagine sitting at a computer writing any more than absolutely necessary, even as fun and light as this blog is.  Several of us started getting eye twitches from the strain.  We are all fine, but it is a rigorous and demanding course. 

I did complete all of my Foundations Institute assignments. In the end produced a 32 page document, which is just a sampling of the documents to come over the next several years.  I was halfway through re-editing the document a third time when Jerry and the kids texted that they had arrived.  It was also 9 pm and the library was closing.  So I decided to print it and email it to my advisor right then.  

I toyed with the idea of looking at it one more time that night.  There was still time to edit it again, but I decided that things like this may never be finished.  I could re-write forever. So I decided there has to be a time cut off, when the work must be abandoned.  Besides I will have many opportunities over the next few years to write and write, and write some more. 

I did take time out on a couple of occasions during that final stretch.  Here are some photos. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can," said theLittleBlueEngine and Me.

Days 12 and 13 - writing and researching

With only a few days left keeping up stamina is the key.  I honestly have very little time to reflect on the experience, much less blog about it.  Just let it be known that in the past three days, and today in particular, I have been pushing myself to my limit - taking a one song dance break and then going back into it until I am again at my limit.  Physically moving and doing something creative clears my mind and rejuvenates me.

Here a a couple photos from the past two days.

Xavier Hall

where I studied to day in the Bloomfield building - student lounge.

a close up of my table top where i coded my learning narrative

I loved this book all my life.  It helped me to win gold in my school for the flexed arm hang.  truly it did. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Learning Curve - more like vertical climb . . .

Day 11:  Last time I went to school there was a card catalogue to find the books.

I've only left my room twice today: to get a hole puncher and some food for lunch and supper and in search of a yummy treat.  I found peanut butter ice cream with chocolate bits.  It was delicious.

"Why have you been in your room all day?" you ask.  Well, it wasn't really my plan when I woke up this morning.  I had intended to work an hour brainstorming about my learning plan (the 20 page paper) and then spend a couple of hours finding and organizing sources for my reading list.   The reading list took 3 times that long and its still not done.  

They describe adult education as an ice berg because people only see or recognize a small portion of all the adult educating that is actually happening.  Well, the amount of topics, journals, books, articles, etc is another iceberg . . . or two . . . or three.   Not all sources are equal though - more recent, more relevant, primary source vs. secondary, peer reviewed or not, all these play a part in determining is a particular source is actually worth the time to read and annotate.  With that in mind, maybe "the needle in a haystack" comparison is a better one when it comes to research and compiling a reading list.   For such a small field they have a great deal of data.  

Did you know that nearly everything you need can be found on line?  I kind of miss those tiny drawers and cards - it kind of felt like you can found a clue to a mystery or you held a piece of a treasure map in your hand.  Now all periodicals, or journals, are on-line.  Book chapters and sometimes even whole books.  There are several data bases with search functions - not just the libraries.  Did you know there was such a thing as "Google Scholar"? You can refine your search to only look for peer reviewed journals.  Amazing, isn't it?  You would think researching would be faster, wouldn't you?  NO.  There are so many things to look through, so many considerations to make.

Did you know that there is a online program that will keep a list of all your sources - like a research notebook.  You can click a button on a database page and it automatically sends the reference to your online research notebook.  You can link this program to word processing program and click a button to have it fill in your citation for you AND at the click of a button it can insert your bibliography.   AND if you need to change the style say from MLA to APA, with the click of a button it will change everything for you.   Can you imagine?  No more writing each source on a card, no more referring repeatedly to your notes or bibliography to transcribe accurately the authour's or publisher's name. They just pop up in a window and you select the right one.   It's not always perfect, it can make mistakes, but for those of us who did it the old fashioned way - wooo-hooo!!  this is amazing.

BUT it's been a huge learning curve!!!  
my room this morning . . . 

my room tonight.
only i could tell the difference,
but this is where I spent the day.

No lessons or quotes today, except - i hope this gets easier the more i do it. 

walking:40 min  NO cardio and i couldn't tell you how many abstracts I read today. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Where do you look when you look when crossing a river?

Day 10:  Insights and foresight

Each day we have sessions, or lectures, on history, philosophy and theory of adult education and then every other day or so we have a review of one of the six tasks that we will be working on over the next several years.  They call them phases.  Each is actually a class AE 500, AE 510, etc.  They will each get a grade and have a certain number of credits attached to them.  They all must be completed, they are required for the course - much like this Foundations Institute I am in right now.

Today we reviewed AE 510.  The Literature Review.  That may sound like a nice little article you might see in a magazine.  Unfortunately, it's not that kind of review.   This is a synthesis of all that we have read up to that point, we are to "weave together" the ideas and themes of the most current and relevant articles, books, thesis, etc.  - that is all that we can find that is relevant to our area of interest. Hopefully, in the process we find (we hope we find) a gap, an area un-researched, or not thoroughly researched.  It will be sometime down the road before I get to this phase.  The reading list that we are compiling now, will be the source material for our Lit. Review later.  It's good they give us a glimpse of where we are headed.

Carol used a great analogy today - she told us of this Japanese saying or story.  She said when you are going to cross a river, you may look across and pick a landmark or a spot to aim for on the other side. You plot out a path across the rocks that you think you'll try. But you can't keep your focus on the landmark on the other side, or you might slip off a rock and fall in as you try to cross. So you must, look down and pay attention to where you are right at that moment and carefully take your steps.  She said you can stop for a moment and look across the river.  When you look up you may realize that you may have gotten off course and need to change your path, so you might make a correction or too. Then you must look down and pay attention to where you are, and do the step immediately in front of you.

I like this analogy so much.  It is so different from the "keep your eye on the prize" or  "focus on where you are headed" kind of advice I have often heard.   You really need to break things down to the immediate and small steps to take you where you want to go and only check in on your direction every now and again.

We also had our first session about RESEARCH.  yeah!  the playground, the fun stuff.  That's what one proff described it as.  Today we were talking about Paradigms.  I loved the lecture and discussion - at last something I am familiar with!!  I'm glad Jim, Sharon, Deb and Deb have always brought this notion to our attention.  You have to know yourself, and know yourself in the work.  What glasses do you view the world with?  What is your world view?  Good questions for everyone to ask themselves.

Try on someone else's glasses for a minute of so - then try on their view point.  :)

The Angus L. Macdonald Library

Quote of the day
"Research is formalized curiosity.  It is poking and prying with a purpose."
Nola Neale Hurston

"Research is seeing, tasting, feeling, being"

1. Looking ahead can cause you to slip today. 
2. Reflection helps me sort and put order to my day and my mind.
3. things that sound too good to be true, sometimes are - like RefWorks.  It sounds fabulous, now if only I could get it to work.  :)

walking: 40 min   cardio: 40 min

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Seven behind, Seven ahead

Day: 10 - the halfway point

Today marks the half way point of the 14 days of the Foundations Institute.   We had a session today about our Learning plans - a 20 page document that I will be writing between now and next Thursday.  Thankfully, we get a writing day this week to work on that - our 60-70 item reading list, our 6-8 annotated bibliography and our 2-3 page paper about reflective practise and learning journals.

I finished my article presentation today.  I think it went well.  It was more work than I had anticipated.  I suppose that's always the case, isn't it. :)

I'm so tired, tonight I am going to be really early - like just a few minutes from now.

Before my presentation today I slipped into the meditation room in the Coady building.  It's just down the hall from my classroom.  It was great to sit and just breath.

no brain power to reflect on lessons learned or quotes or to record pages read etc. - perhaps I'll add it at a later time.  

my goal is to be in bed by 930 and asleep by 10.  sigh . . . 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Food for thought and body - thanks Connie!!!!

Day 8:  Back to class

I really don't have much time to write today.  I spent the day in class - we heard an excellent lecture from Gord Cunningham from the Coady Institute on "Asset Based Citizen Driven Development" and he spoke about a way of facilitating discussion in a method that they have now digitized.   It is called the Digital Leaky Bucket.  It was inspiring to see all that people and communities are doing in the world.  We talked more about Adult Education Philosophy and heard presentations from 3 of our classmates.

The main focus of my day, evening and now night, has been to prepare for my 25 minute presentation on the article I read called, "Arts-Informed Research".  It's a great article, but alot to summarize in a meaningful way.  I think it's done now, but i have yet to time it to see if it's within the time frame.

the library where I spent my late afternoon and evening

Everyone in my cohort was invited over to a fellow student's house for dinner.  Connie is amazing, but she also is an amazing cook!  She made Indian Food and homemade ice cream and sorbet!  it was delicious.  It was so kind and thoughtful of her.

the beach at her house - that's salt water there

i have no thoughts to add at the moment
no time to type lessons learned
and no time to exercise today

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Creativity, Artistry and Strength - 3 Attributes I'll need

Day 7: The 151st Antigonish Highland Games bring Inspiration and Balance

I arrived here on campus a week ago today.  That hardly seems possible at all - I feel as though I have been here much, much longer when I think of all that I have done and all the things that I have learned. It's also been a bit of a blur.

I realized last night that I would be remiss if I did not take some time in my day to go to the Highland Games.  I brought with me readings and assignments and found the only spot of shade on the entire field and sat and read and thought.  At one point I looked up to from my reading to find myself surrounded by a sea of kilts, as a pipe band had come to the shady spot too.  It was a great way to decompress - listening to the music (i like bagpipes outside), see the darling dancers and be astounded by the Heavy Events - these were shocking really, especially the caber toss and the tug-of-war.

I also got to finally eat the wood oven pizza that I saw at the street fair on Wednesday.  It was fabulous.

really awesome pizza

Quote of the Day

"  "

1. Unwinding from time to time is a must - I actually worked better during and after the games.
2.  The theory of Adult Ed that most resonates with me is a mix of 3.  This is likely true of almost everyone. :)
3.  It's important to be humble, slow down and observe, think things through and ask questions. Walks and journaling bring clarity.  

Walked: 20 minutes   Cardio: 30 minutes     Pages read:  50  Finished pages written: notes/journal only