An anonymous quote I found states it well: “If you worry about what might be, wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.”
As a longtime educator and coach, I have greatly benefited from past experiences and have also planned for future situations. But I have determined for me, as much as possible, it is best to live in the now.
What is the correct balance of the past, future, and present in your life journey?
In this post, I want to focus briefly on each of these three timelines and illustrate how the past and future can be beneficial and/or detrimental to you. However, I want to encourage you to focus on the present.
Remembering our past can be useful, but fixating on it too much can be damaging. It’s essential to learn from our past experiences or the experiences of others, but sometimes we can dwell on previous mistakes or regrets and that can hinder our progress. Learn from the past, but move on to the present.
Preparing for the future is also very important. Advance preparation and planning can help alleviate potential adverse situations and gives you an opportunity to utilize your past experiences to better prepare. However, daydreaming and always thinking about the future can take away from what you are doing right now. Personally, I sometimes struggle in my mind with the “what is next” mentality instead of enjoying or maximizing the current moment.
So how do you stay engaged in the present? I would like to share three practices that help me:
Set a goal and focus on manageable time frames. For example, if you work a six to eight-hour day, break it down into smaller units like an hour,half an hour, or even fifteen minute intervals or shorter.
Be flexible and react in a positive way to interruptions.
I hope you choose to read this blog because that decision is yours.
From my limited research on the Internet, it is estimated that every adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day. Our choices can be something as trivial as what socks to wear, what to have for lunch, or whether to watch a particular show or movie on TV. However, I want to focus this post on decisions that matter, because some of the choices we make do have a significant impact on our lives.
Whenever I have a decision to make of significance between viable alternatives, I have learned to use four steps in the decision-making process and in evaluating the results.
First, I want to do what is right. This starts with asking myself, “Are any of the possibilities dealing with a right or wrong choice?” It is important to me to be a person of integrity and I want to eliminate any alternatives that would compromise my values.
Secondly, once my alternatives have been set, I list the pros and cons of each possibility. This helps me to potentially eliminate certain choices based on my review of the possible negative and positive outcomes.
Next, I have found it is important to involve the opinions of others. If there are people in your life whose words of wisdom you value, it makes sense to get their advice. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but your consultants may think of something that may be of importance or give you feedback on something you did not consider.
Finally, after the decision has been made and I have had ample time to review the results, it is always a good practice to evaluate whether it was a good or bad choice. Obviously, you are not always going to make the best decision each time and it is important if we can learn from the positive and negative outcomes.
So if you have to make a decision that matters today, I hope these four strategies can help you with making the best choice!
Regrets only, On some invitations to special events, the person who sends the invite is asking for “regrets only” or just wanting to be notified if the invited person is unable to attend. If the host or hostess doesn’t hear back that the invitee cannot show up, the event coordinator expects the invited guest to be a part of the festivity.
Have you ever received this type of invitation?
If you do not have an obvious conflict or an unplanned emergency and if you really want to attend, you most likely will enjoy going to the special event.
Relating this reply to other everyday situations, I hope your life is not filled with many “regrets only” responses if you really want to be a part of something. Using a sports analogy, I hope you choose to “get in the game” by being an active participant, not a bystander.
As you may well know, there are some obvious risks for participating, both good and bad, and usually, we focus on the negative. Adverse outcomes like failure and criticism (it is especially easy to criticize today with the availability of many types of social media) are not uncommon. Some choose not to participate because they do not want to deal with these possible unfavorable results.
However, experiencing failure and withstanding criticism can actually help a person in many ways. What is the impetus for improvement if you never fail or are criticized? The by-product of learning successful problem solving and coping skills can only be developed by overcoming these obstacles as well.
I particularly like former U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt’s perspective on involvement:
“It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… Who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Please consider this blog an invitation to participation in the life arena of your passion and choice.
Recently I have been asked by friends and family what I see for the future of education given changes in technology, changes in society and changes in the political environment. I think people approach me with this question because of my years in education and because I am making a formal study of education. But the short answer is: No one knows.
In the future, education will look completely different. Also, in the future, education will look exactly like it always has. How can both be true? If you think of education as policy, technology and funding, then education in the future will look wildly different. If however, you think of education as the very human endeavor of sharing and acquiring knowledge, then it will look just like it always has.
Trends in Education
I am not a futurist. I admire people who attempt to thoroughly explore the possibilities of the future and how these possibilities may arise from the present. But I am a bit cynical on what can be predicted. When people look to the future, they often start with current trends. This is flawed in my opinion. Trends are indicators, but they are superficial. Just as I cannot tell you what kind of pie I’m sampling by tasting only the meringue, I cannot tell you what the future of education holds by looking at trends.
Additionally, the trends which bubble up to the general public’s awareness are often driven by technology and money. A trend in education may arise because technology makes something possible and money is available to promote it. If there is no real need for the trend or no real problem that it solves, it is likely to fizzle as a fad rather than continue as a sustainable part of education. More than a decade ago, when technology made online course delivery possible, the trend suggested that classrooms of students would create personas to learn in virtual environments as avatars with knowledge “gamified” and levels of learning achieved by characters which they would direct. Um… Not so much.
Back to the Future
So, I am not a futurist. In reality, I am more of a historian. I have written a history of a school and I am currently working on biographical pieces about educators at that school. It is instructive to look at educational trends in the historical sense.
Education became formalized because societies became increasingly complex. The oral tradition of ancient cultures was no longer sufficient to preserve knowledge and heritage. So writing and reading came into being and as these were not daily life skills, they were taught in a separate environment which came to be known as school. Thank you ancient civilizations! Since then, education has been a swinging pendulum of forces.
“We educate only certain classes who will lead society!” “No, we educate all!”
“Education is the responsibility of the family.” “No, Education is the responsibility of the state.”
“Education should be standardized and taught in a factory model.” “No, education should be individualized and taught in a progressive manner.”
Education is to prepare citizens for basic life functioning.” “No! Education is to inspire youth to transcend daily life.”
You can probably hear these arguments echoing from ancient Babylonia all the way to today’s current education debates. Along the way, students continued to learn, teachers developed and shared ways of teaching, and societies made practical decisions about structuring and funding education. We will continue to do this.
But aren’t you worried?
So, we find ourselves today and my friends express concern regarding the current state of education and the technological, society and political forces at work. Am I not kept awake at night by what I see in Education?
No. I am not fretful. I am energized by current discussions around education. When my neighbor who farms is as interested in the discussion of education as the professionals at my state department of education, I am a happy person! There is a recognition that education is too important to be left up to politicians and professionals only. Even though it is a challenge to sort through all of the rhetoric and argument, the pendulum of forces has been swinging back and forth long enough that we can see certain truths stand fast.
Education is the transmission of culture. We may disagree as to what cultural lessons are shared and in which ways. But “We, The People” will ensure that education serves this need to bring our human heritage along with us as we move forward.
Standards are for packaging, not people. We use the device of educational standards as a practical way to package up information and set guidelines. We are packaging up knowledge for the development of people. We should not believe that we can package up people in a standard way. We The People will always need to address human differences even as we create guidelines and goals.
Learning is a human endeavor. No app, no technology can open your heart and mind to learning. Even a skilled teacher needs a student willing to learn. A teacher without a willing student is a performance artist. Education is something We The People do together.
The view from my desk
A current trend that is being noticed in education is the trend toward personalized learning. This is an extension from competency-based learning and stems from the idea that students are individuals whose educational progress will vary. Various groups will descend upon this idea to either promote it or decry it for political purposes. Any number of for-profit enterprises are already seeking ways to monetize this idea.
After the work you have put into the college application process, acceptance letters finally start to arrive. Now that you have your options laid out in front of you, how do you know which college will be the best fit for you? For some students, one school sticks out from the rest and it’s an easy decision. For others, they may feel torn between schools.
Take a deep breath and be grateful for choices.
Compare all opportunities for final decision-making.
Make a pros and cons list for each college choice.
Compare your initial reasons for applying to a specific college to how you might feel about the opportunities after you graduate.
Remember that your college campus will become your home away from home. Select a campus that will make you feel happy, confident and challenged.
Practice etiquette when accepting an admission offer.
Sign the acceptance letter and submit the required college deposits on time. Keep in mind that May 1st is the deadline for most colleges.
Housing, financial aid and scholarship forms must be returned before deadlines.
Order a final transcript and AP scores to send to the college.
Make notes on the calendar when tuition and room and board fees are due so that you don’t forget to pay them.
Attend pre-admission college events to meet future classmates and get to know the campus.
Remember to inform other colleges that you’ve decided to decline their offers.
Send a written note (preferably not email) prior to May 1st.
Be grateful for their consideration.
Provide which college you will be attending and why.
Thank staff members who assisted you with the college admissions.
Note if there was a specific recruitment effort that sparked your interest to apply to their college.
Check out the UNL/UNO/UNK Tips for the Education Journey concerning housing, financial aid and scholarships.
Lots of choices can be overwhelming, but with the right process, you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you.
I almost did not write this blog, I just kept putting it off, putting it off and putting it off. I finally decided to make a procrastination acrostic with statements and thoughts that hopefully can be helpful to you if you have issues with being a procrastinator.
Procrastination is a problem of self-regulation.
Recognizing that you are a procrastinator is an important step.
Opt out of putting things off by saying, “I will do it tomorrow.”
Coping mechanism for a lot of people.
Really would rather play video games or do something else.
All people procrastinate sometimes, you are not alone.
Set goals and list the steps needed to meet them.
Time management skills development (use a planning device).
I work better under pressure! Is that really true for you?
Nice to have someone who will help keep you on track (an accountability partner).
Adopt anti-procrastination strategies like a daily to-do list.
Treat or reward yourself for getting something done early or on time.
Idleness is okay sometimes (we all need a break from our pressures).
Opt out of looking for distractions, so you don’t have to do your needed task.
Never give up on improving your procrastination habits!
Famous American patriot, Ben Franklin, once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” but well-known American author, Mark Twain, also stated, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”
It’s your choice which advice you will follow! All the best to my fellow procrastinators!
For some of us, a trip back to high school means going back in time, for some (like myself) at least 40 years! What’s interesting though, is that I have a very vivid memory of those high school years. I can easily remember my many wonderful teachers and friends, but it was the high school experience that really stuck with me and pushed me to further my education.
I feel fortunate to be able to hold onto those great memories of fun times and great friends, and not look back wishing that I could redo my experience.
Much of this has to do with my experience during this time. High school was a time of expanding my knowledge base beyond the core academics of English, math, science and social studies. I had the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded public education that included many electives in areas outside my core classes. Forty years later, I am still proud of what I accomplished during my time, but even more grateful for the excellent teachers who invested in me during this time in my life.
To avoid the pitfall of wishing for a redo, I offer this advice: Challenge yourself. Push yourself. Venture into the unknown areas of the curriculum that you never thought you’d try. Take as many advantages of this learning experience as you can, because you can. No one can stop you from trying out for any of the sport teams or plays, or speech debates that are available to all students.
This advice may seem intimidating, but it starts with small steps:
Start early. If there is any way you can get into a program at your future high school the summer following your last year in middle school, do it. This could be participating in a weight lifting program during the summer. If the school offers drama, music or speech opportunities during this time, take advantage of them. This will give you a chance to meet fellow students before the school year starts, it also gets you involved right away in activities offered at your high school.
Each quarter or semester, remind yourself of your priorities and goals. You are there to get the best education and learning the school has to offer. What grades will you demand of yourself? Build a study schedule and then adjust according to degree of difficulty as you go through the year. Once you reach a goal, cross it off and establish a new one. Push yourself to accomplish any goals set.
Take advantage of unexpected experiences as they come your way. You never know when an opportunity becomes available and if it does, be willing to take advantage of it. For example, school announcements mention great experiences for students, whether it is an opportunity to volunteer at the recycling center or to audition for a school play. Take a chance, get involved and you’ll find that stretching your experiences pays a benefit to yourself and usually expands your skill set.
Keep a record of your “beyond the classroom” experiences. After high school, you may be looking for employment before taking on the next educational experience, so keeping track of any community or volunteering activities you participated in, can put you in the driver’s seat of employment opportunities.
High school is a time to grow your experiences, your own learning opportunities and develop social and developmental relationships all around yourself. Forty years from now, you do not want to be that person that says, “I should have participated in the band. I should have gone out for wrestling. I should have participated in debate.”