Struggling to Thrive

Thrive: The Purpose of Schools in a Changing World by Valerie Hannon

Several years ago I subscribed to a newsletter put out by Education Re-Imagined, a non-profit organization that connects people and programs that work on the frontiers of educational innovation. It was through reading one of their recent newsletter issues I learned of this book, Thrive. Its co-authors are Valerie Hannon and Amelia Peterson.

Thrive: The Purpose of Schools in a Changing World Thrive: The Purpose of Schools in a Changing World

Hannon is co-founder of the Innovation Unit of Global Leader Partnership and Peterson, has a PhD in Education from Harvard University.

Thrive gives a research-based overview of existing evidence and case studies of innovative school programs world-wide with a framework of suggestions to realign educational goals towards creating conditions that promote “thriving.” First, the authors set about defining what they mean by “thriving.” They give four levels of thriving:

A. Global
B. Societal
C. Interpersonal
D. Intrapersonal

Then they identify four key questions:

1. How can all learners best prepare for economies with technology-driven opportunities and development?
2. What tasks can humans perform better than machines and conversely, what tasks can machines perform better than humans?
3. What knowledge and skills do humans need to shape and direct computing power?
4. How can people best be prepared to learn and relearn skills to do human work, rather than be second class robots?


There is a central theme throughout the book of generating a more sustainable relationship with the Earth and its resources in the future. The authors identify both economic globalization and migration as key issues effecting the future.

They prioritize a different relationship between humans and our environment as a key desired outcome. The authors make the claim that education’s purpose is not to merely position kids for wealth acquisition in the job marketplace.

Hannon provides ample school examples already creating conditions for thriving with descriptions of their programs. She discusses an Ecosystems Approach that addresses:

A. Equipping learners for a disrupted jobs/work landscape (published post-Covid)
B. Educating for building respectful relationships in diverse, technologized societies
C. Creating local sustainability endeavors that address problems in local communities
D. Providing real-life application of knowledge, addressing “learner agency”

I liked hearing about how innovative schools in others locations are already adressing and accomplishing these tasks. I would have liked to have seen more data about learner outcomes attached to this overview of innovation. More could be done to follow up on these outcomes. How well did students of these types of programs do on measured learning standards, and perhaps for the more established programs, how did the graduates measure in terms of life happiness, mental health, employability, and the broader goals of interpersonal and intrapersonal thriving as they became adults? Where results were available, it would have been nice to hear more of it although the lack of data is not the necessarily the fault of the author.

The book does accomplish the goal of helping the audience become aware of what is currently being done in schools across a broad range of issues to address global problems we face. Teachers interested in innovation and change will be interested in this book.



View all my reviews

Book Review: Electric Body, Electric HEalth

Electric Body, Electric Health: Using the Electromagnetism Within (and Around) You to Rewire, Recharge, and Raise Your Voltage by Eileen Day McKusick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

McKusick’s second book conveys a broad explanation of the body as an electrical entity living in an electric universe. It is divided into two main sections. The first deals with this general paradigm shift in thinking, and the story of how she came to work with subtle energy fields. The writing style is easy to read and easy to understand.

In the second part, one chapter is devoted to each chakra where she discusses how to optimally maintain the vibrancy of that energy center through affirmation, choices, habits of speech, thought, and attitude.

As another reviewer already pointed out, this book explains more of the what and why, but almost none of the how. If you want a taste of the the “how”, check out her first book, Tuning the Human Biofield.

Biofield Tuning training classes are currently sold out on McKusick’s website. Foundation classes of this healing approach are going for about $1600 with an additional $1600 for the complete practitioner training.

After reading McKusick’s first book I was curious enough to contact a local practitioner for a session to try it out. I was really surprised by how different it felt from say, a Reiki session, or other kinds of energy work. It felt powerful and yet I was at a loss for words of how to explain it other than saying, “it definitely rearranged some stuff energetically.”

Many questions remained for me. Would recorded sound waves work just as well? Can people effectively treat themselves using tuning forks? Do different frequencies have any negative effects?

Though many efforts are made to call this a hypothesis, much more research will need to be done to validate it and understand it fully. Still, it certainly opens some new doors of possibility.







View all my reviews

2022 and “Responsible freedom,” polarization, Technocracy, digital currency, and revolutions

Freedom stretches only as far as the limits of our consciousness.” – Carl Jung

For those who might be interested in understanding the longer astrological cycles we are in, and the historical overview as it relates to the astrological transits, Daljeet Peterson has created a great video which explains the trends.

Saturn in Aquarius and Uranus in Taurus is a prominent theme throughout 2022. I love Peterson’s breakdown by square aspects and the corresponding historical correlations for the past 45 years. He gives some good descriptors to explain the themes of the Uranian-revolutionary and structured-Saturnian qualities of our current times.

solastalgia

In 2005, a new term was coined to describe “an emerging form of depression or distress caused by environmental change, such as from climate change, natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, and/or other negative or upsetting alterations to one’s surroundings or home.” The term is SOLASTALGIA.

As a resident Houstonian for almost 40 years of my life, I have certainly witnessed the deforestation of its outlying areas and the continual urbanization and over development for commercial, industrial and residential interests. Even new residents have expressed to me in their distress and depression at witnessing the clear cutting of lots for development in their neighborhoods. I can recall my own distress at witnessing the removal of old growth trees along a road I traveled everyday that was being widened and how the changes taking place made me feel as I observed the landscape around me.

“We have room for all these cars,” I was thinking, “but no room for the beauty of nature to exist.”

I would ask myself, “Where are the deer and other animals going to live that were once living in this little patch of trees?” I know it might seem eco-wimpy to the business-minded, but I honestly felt true sadness and a sense of loss, anger, and hopelessness at this thought of displaced wildlife. Where there once was a huge patch for thick forest, there stood a massive shopping center with dozens of stores, restaurants, and other businesses that I never asked for.

Houstonians are now quite familiar with distress of solastalgia, which for some may feel like weather-induced PTSD. We have naturally dealt with hurricanes and flooding many times, but the severity has increased to such a degree that for several years in a row right before Hurricane Harvey, people experienced their houses flooding every year for multiple years.

I realized while teaching first graders in 2019, that whenever a storm started to brew outside, many of my students were unusually fearful. I attributed this to experiencing these successive years of catastrophic flooding.

Lately, I have been more intentionally spending time in the outdoors, working in my garden, talking walks to observe the sunrise or sunset, and making sure I get exposure to sunlight, fresh air, and bare earth. It has been a form of therapy.

As a teacher I worry about the young people I work with and this trend of solastalgia. In big cities such as Houston, kids do not have much access to forests or other prairieland unless their parents take them to one, which involves getting into a car and driving there. Even kids in the suburbs will be hard pressed in our environment to find anything remotely “wild” enough to consider it “natural.” I am sure there are millions of children the world over that have a similar experience. I have seen children in recent years who are terrified by a bug flying past their face on the recess field at school, or those that are terrified of a few ants on the ground. We have become this disconnected from nature.

The gigantic Loblolly Pine Forests that surrounded Houston by may become so rare that children will only be able to enjoy them in photos on their devices. I have half a mind to start organizing trips to nature areas in the form of an afterschool club to allow more kids the opportunity to go to a forest before we run out of them completely.

Truly, if we want to protect nature, we need to understand it. And if we want to understand it, we need to spend time in it for starters. For parents, this means getting our kids off their devices and doing healthier pastimes that get them outdoors.

How will we transform our relationship to the earth? Where can you connect this concept of your relationship to the earth and its climate in your life? Our current 12-14 year olds are the forerunners of the Pluto in Capricorn generation. I wonder how the current generation of 12-14 year olds will work with this despair, this growing mental illness, and how they will transform it. Pluto is the transformational planet and Capricorn is CARDINAL EARTH. For those studying astrology, consider which planets represent our connection to the earth itself? Which signs best describe this connection? Earth signs? (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) With Pluto representing TRANSFORMATION, life, death and rebirth at a deep level, we can imagine that this Pluto in Capricorn generation will do some heavy lifting in terms of transforming our connection to the earth. How will we support them in building a strong connection to nature? We won’t get to a healthy environment by continuing what we have done so far. It is time for new thinking about this issue and how children spend time indoors versus outdoors.

Some have connected SOLASTALGIA to the idea of WETIKO. Read more about it here. Share your comments, please! Have you experienced distress about the environment?

Reboot the new year

If you failed to set New Year’s resolutions this year, now is the perfect time to redeem yourself. We are getting a little jump start from the planets. For the first time since March of 2021, all of the planets are in direct motion. Mercury stationed today (Feb 4) and four pairs of planets were partnered up in conjunctions. Uranus and Jupiter are the only two “loner” planets right now, not paired up with another planet in a conjunction. (On 2-2-22, there were 4 pairs of planets in 2’s!)

Photo courtesy of Dottie Leone

While we have the next three months of forward momentum, commit to making progress on your most important dreams, goals, and intentions. Define them with more detail and timelines. Or, recommit yourself to existing goals. Whether you fell off the wagon dieting and exercising, or if you failed to organize that messy closet, it is not too late. Big, or small, you can always take some action towards a goal. Actions will accumulate over time and become the building blocks that make your dreams come true.

Here’s how the four planetary conjunctions may influence us in the current time.

Moon/Neptune – 21 Pisces was exact today on February 3rd. Avoiding negative people right now can help, though the moon moves fast and this may be wearing off some now. This combination of energy can make us “emotional sponges,” picking up the energy of others around us. Though this energy may also be quite humanitarian in nature, you may need to guard yourself and be your own advocate.

Sun/Saturn – 15 Aquarius was an exactly conjunct on February 3rd and will be separating. With this transit it may be a good time for organizing and planning or bringing FORM to projects that have been in incubation. It may also be a time of low energy, so watch your physical health.

Mercury/Pluto – Next is Mercury/Pluto within 2 degrees and approaching, and becoming exact of February 11, in the late degrees of Capricorn. This combination rules all kinds of propaganda and indoctrination. Be ware of your sources of information and how it impacts institutions. Make sure you have all of the facts.

Mars/Venus – Last is the Mars/Venus conjunction voyaging through Capricorn. They will be exact on February 12th. When Mars is conjunct Venus it is a good time for creative work that requires you to be physically active, and generally produces an interest in the opposite sex. Notice where and how the masculine and feminine come together to create and learn and where the lack of healthy outlets for this energy can cause discord.

Uranus in Taurus – Rethinking our resource management and overhauling what we can do to conserve will continue for some time. We are only at 10 degrees of Taurus and will still only be about halfway through Taurus by the end of 2022 thanks to retrograde periods.

Jupiter in Pisces – Jupiter is currently at 7 Pisces. It will ride the fishes all the way until May 11, and enter Aries. It dips back into Pisces in the late months of 2022 and then goes direct November 23, returning to Aries very close to the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21-22.

All of the planets will remain in forward motion until late April, when Pluto is the first (planet) that goes retrograde, followed by Mercury in May, Saturn and Neptune in June, Chiron and Jupiter in late summer. By September of this year only Venus and Mars will remain in direct motion while everything else moves retrograde.