Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr.

As I watched a History Channel show last night about Martin Luther King, Jr., I was impressed by his tireless persistence to make the world a better place. Not only was he the "moral leader" of the civil rights movement, but he reached out across races to dig down to the greater issue of poverty. Much has been accomplished in the 40+ years since his death; however, there is still a great deal of work to do. Racism (and other ugly siblings like sexism, religious and ethnic bigotry or other intolerances) may not be as blatantly obvious as it was 40 and 50 years ago, but it still certainly exists in the hearts of too many people. King preached non-violence in a time of violent reactions to peaceful protests, yet violence today is still a way of life around the world. Poverty continues to plague not only the world, but the cities and rural areas of our country. If we are to continue to grow and prosper, we all must continue to work toward acceptance of differences and finding peaceable solutions to our problems. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Underwater Hockey?

I tend to receive quite a lot of material in the mail from a variety of sources which sometimes makes for interesting reading. Such was an article in the National Federation of State High School Association's magazine High School Today about the sport of underwater hockey. 

Underwater hockey? 

Yes there actually is a sport that is growing and after doing a little search I found the website for USA Underwater Hockey and read a little more. Interesting how creative individuals come up with such a wide variety of new things to do. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's the Benefit?

As I was looking through some notes from the NNER (National Network for Educational Renewal) conference this past summer, I came across a small note on which was written, "Ask the Q: How does/did it benefit me/us?"  I began to think about that a little and it brought me back to many of the professional development activities in which I have participated over the years. I recall many times hearing other participants say they got nothing out of a certain presentation or activity. Maybe it is being overly optimistic, but I have always felt that I could get something worthwhile, however small it may be, out of such activities. 

The note I uncovered reminded me to look at all situations and ask myself how it can benefit me or my organization through gaining new knowledge or skills. To rephrase that question a bit, we might continually ask ourselves, "what positive information, learning or knowledge can I take from this?" whenever we are in a workshop, training, presentation, or any situation for that matter.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Building success

The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual - Vince Lombardi.

I came across this quote and thought since we have a Vince quote on the webpage (as of this writing) I would post another to the blog. Organizations are built of individual entities,such as divisions, departments, etc. Eventually every part of the organization comes down to the personal level. All organizations are made up of individuals and therefore rely on the effort of the individuals to succeed. The greater the contribution of each individual, the greater the achievement of the organization. As individual persons, we should all strive to contribute our greatest talents and effort to achieving success together.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Giving and Service

It is every man's obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. - Einstein

As I read this quote, I thought of the term Service. If we all followed Mr. Einstein's advice (or admonition), the world would be a much better place. It reminds me of the current struggle in the economy, with all the failures in the market, and the reasons behind those failures. It seems to me that service and giving back have taken a back seat to making more money at any cost. This ties in nicely to many of the gratitude pieces I've read over the years. If we continue to give more than we get, we'll actually increase what we get. It certainly seems we would all be better off if this advice was followed.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

21st century skills?

If you've read anything about education the past few years, you will certainly have come across a plethora of writing espousing the importance of 21st century skills. Jay Mathews, an education writer for the Washington Post, feels the hype given this topic is overwhelming the truly important changes that need to be made. In his article, Mathews argues that "This is the all-at-once syndrome . . . (saying) changes must be made all at once, or else." Another point he makes is that kids struggling with reading, writing, and math are going to struggle with 21st century skills. Using 21st century methods to teach may make sense, however, the focus should be on making sure all students have those fundamental skills. 

Monday, January 05, 2009

Education and jobs

Another reason to stay in school and get more education:

A newspaper article I read today told of the growing number of bachelor-degreed persons experiencing unemployment (over 3% now.) However, the overall national rate was 6.7% and for those without a high school diploma, the rate was 10.5%. I always tell students (adults, as well) that education opens doors and provides opportunities. In times of economic distress, I would say this is even more true. 

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Achieving goals

I ran across some advice from an e-newsletter I get on achieving New Year's goals, and thought I would summarize it. Of course, New Year's seems to be the time for a lot of people to come up with resolutions for the year, but these steps are helpful any time a person sets a goal. Hopefully, these tips can help you not become one of the estimated 90% who do not keep their New Year's resolutions. 

1. Set the right goals - set goals you are enthusiastic about accomplishing. 
2. Set priorities - don't set a ton of goals, one or two big goals is sufficient. If you have more, put them in order, then work on the higher priorities before moving on to others.
3. Focus - don't allow minor tasks or distractions to get in the way of accomplishing your goals. 
4. Put in the time - many goals can be accomplished if you simply put in the time. Plan time to work on your goals.
5. Chunk it - just like the answer to the question, "how do you eat an elephant?" is "one bite at a time," goals can be more easily accomplished if they are chunked into smaller tasks. 
6. No Excuses - work on the important things - those related to your goals. 

Hopefully these tips will help you toward accomplishing the goals you set this New Year as well as throughout the year.