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Posts Tagged ‘lifelong learning’

If you happen to be an Apple iPhone geek, then September 10th was a ‘don’t miss the announcement’ day!!  With an impressive range of announcements, it was left to CEO Tim Cook to introduce the new iPhone 11 which was completed, of course, with much fanfare.  If you missed it, scroll 47 minutes into this video on the Apple webpage.

Any Apple news however, can’t help but remind the world of its founder – Steve Jobs.

And, as if by coincidence, I just recently came across a post by YouthSense titled: What Steve Jobs Can Teach Gen Z About Life Choices which included an extensive summary of statements made by Steve Jobs in his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address interspersed with salient facts about his life from Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs biography.

The message shared is clear and simple.

Follow your passions and love what you do!”

Jobs encourages the 2005 graduating class to not fall into the trap of doing something just for the sake of doing it or to fulfill someone else’s dream.  Instead, he urges, make the most of time.  Decide what it is you want to do and do it.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

(12.30minutes into Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address)

As we near the end of the academic year, our current cohort of Year 12 students are faced with making decisions about their future.  It’s a tough time.  The temptation to follow the pack or do what parents expect is not easy to shake.  Statistics, such as those cited by YouthSense in their post underscores the fact that within the first year of studies, more than 20% of students drop out.

Teachers and professionals working with these young students should take note.  We, like Steve Jobs, should be encouraging our Year 12 students to take time to find out what they are passionate about, what they really love to do and to then put in place a plan to pursue their dreams.  For some, it will indeed be enrolling in university courses.  For others, though, it will be starting on a long journey to discover what it is they want to do.

As teachers we too can be found to be guilty of not pursuing our dreams.  Not all of us really love what we do. Not all of us are really pursuing our passions.  Caught up in the ‘politics’ of schools, it is easy to be side tracked away from the joy of teaching.  The intense pace of working in education and the demands placed on teachers can often sideline the joy of learning, exploring and experimenting.  Getting the ‘job’ done, teaching to a set curriculum, ensuring that students are ‘ready’ for end of year exams so that results reflect that we really are excellent teachers, can so often overtake the ‘education’ we should be providing our students.

Over my career, I have had the privilege of working in a wide variety of schools.  When told, soon after commencing at one of those schools, that Year 11 and 12 students are too busy to be able to come into the library to spend time with the teacher librarians to hear about recent acquisitions, great books available or to just be inspired to read for the pure love of it, I felt heartbroken.   How, I wondered, is it possible that reading could be relegated to such a back seat position in a school?  What ‘educational logic’ could dictate that reading is not important?

Nothing, absolutely nothing, will ever shake my belief that reading is the cornerstone of all education.

The many challenges facing teachers today often make it hard for them to remain passionate about their jobs.

And that, is very sad.

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So said Lorna Prendergast after being awarded her Masters of Ageing at the recent University of Melbourne’s graduation ceremony on July 29th 2019.

Acclaimed as one of the oldest students to complete a masters degree at the graduation ceremony, her teacher, Associate Professor Rosemary McKenzie, referred to Mrs Prendergast as an “inspiration” noting that she reflects the societal shift occurring as more and more older people in Australia’s aging population take up studies in Australia’s universities.

“She really is, I suppose, the vanguard of people who are becoming lifelong learners who take up university study at any age.”

Living in the country town of Bairnsdale, about 300 kilometers east of Melbourne, Mrs Prendergast enrolled in the online course in her late 80s and proved to others that age was no barrier to continued learning.  Taking the travails of distance education and the complexities of technology in her stride, Mrs Prendergast was keen to fill her days with meaning and gained inspiration to learn more about how music is being used to help the aged after watching an  ABC science program Catalyst.

In an interview after the graduation ceremony, Mrs Prendergast proclaimed that there is no such word as can’t in the dictionary!  “Nobody is too old to learn”, she said.  By speaking about her experience of returning to study, she hopes that others will realise they are never too old to learn.

As we age, it is easy to let the days drift by.  May this woman’s passion for lifelong learning be a continued inspiration for all of us to follow!

Congratulations Mrs Prendergast !!

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I love it when I find confirmation of what I truly believe!

We’re never too old to learn!

Late last year a news article reported on research confirming that those over 50 have the ability to adapt to new jobs and their technology demands.

The survey of 5973 Australians aged 18 and over, conducted by Lonergan Research on behalf of insurance company Apia, found 77 per cent of people over 50 believe their creativity levels increase or stay the same with age.

The study found more than half (56 per cent) of people over 50 believe they can keep up with the latest trends in technology until at least the age of 80 …..”

80% of the third of Australians over the age of 50 are Baby Boomers, with the vast majority being technology literate and keen to learn and adjust to accommodate our rapidly changing world.  For so many, staying in contact with family and friends overseas via email, sharing photos online are a given.  So too are online shopping, banking and holiday planning.

Yet sadly, this article highlights the very real issue of age discrimination as demonstrated by employers who have a  reluctance to invest time retraining those who may have a limited number of years left in the labour market.  In short, this is a terrible loss for both prospective employers and employees, for business and for society as a whole.

Overcoming the stereotype that older workers take longer to learn new skills and are less technology savvy is a challenge that needs to be tackled.

A poke around the Australian Human Rights Commission: Age Discrimination website makes for some interesting reading as does an easy to read pdf titled: Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability which summaries the findings of a report undertaken by the Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner.  Some of the conclusions reported upon can be read in the Commissioner’s foreward

The Inquiry found that too many people are shut out of work because of underlying assumptions, stereotypes or myths associated with their age or their disability. These beliefs lead to discriminatory behaviours during recruitment, in the workplace and in decisions about training, promotion and retirement, voluntary and involuntary. The cost and impact of this is high, for individuals and for our economy.

People who are willing to work but are denied the opportunity are also denied the personal and social benefits—of dignity, independence, a sense of purpose and the social connectedness—that work brings.

Discrimination has an impact on the health of individuals, their career and job opportunities, their financial situation and their families……

It also has consequences for workplaces. These include higher absenteeism, lower or lost productivity, higher staff turnover and increased recruitment costs, as well as lost business opportunities from abandoning experience and corporate knowledge…..”

It is because I constantly see the skills, talents and capabilities of older workers on a day-to-day basis that I find I am passionate about the need for society to recognize the value that older employees have to contribute to the work force. My passionate belief in the value of ongoing lifelong learning supports this stand.

Throughout my career, as I’ve stepped from job to job, I’ve found myself appreciating anew the power of the multigenerational staff with whom I work.  Indeed, as I penned some time ago: Older teachers rock!

Young employees have an unabashed enthusiasm for their work and a keenness to learn and experiment while older employees have a wealth of experience and foresight and a willingness to share and mentor.

The blend of the two is powerful beyond words!

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Just last week a dinner guest asked me to elaborate on my occupation because today, he said with assured confidence, there’s no need for librarians, Google can provide all the answers!

With desperate determination to not let him see my eyes roll in despair, I launched into a defence of our profession explaining why Google wasn’t the panacea for all learning.  It’s a topic I blogged about more than five years ago: 10 reasons why Google can’t replace learning

Ho-hum …..  I guess the message just needs to be repeated and repeated and more – much more – needs to be said and done to continue impressing on the public the valuable role performed by those of us working in the field of librarianship.

Then I came across this fabulous post on the State Library of Victoria blog: So you want to be a librarian?  For those who have been in education for a while it serves as a lovely trip down memory lane.  For those of us who are newer to the field of librarianship however, it provides a chance to look back, contemplate and realize how vastly different the role of librarians are today in the 21st Century.

From my own vantage point, working as a teacher librarian in a senior school library, its comforting to know and see how much our image has changed.  I’m left questioning though whether we are doing enough to communicate how much we can teach, assist, mentor, guide and support our library patrons – both students and teachers.

Publicizing all that we can do and give needs to extend to the wider school community as well if we are to achieve that end goal of helping the general public understand why we cannot be replaced by Google!

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It was a long time ago that I shared the message here on NovaNews which was given to me by one of my first professors – Dr Leo Murphy:

Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is.  Treat a man as he could be, and he will grow to be that man.”

Back then, I never dreamed that his words would have such a huge and long lasting impact on my professional and personal approach to education and learning.  Both in and out of the classroom, I hold dear to the principal that success breeds more success and that achievement feeds into continued achievement and growth.  I have always believed that a positive, warm and non threatening environment in the classroom in which risk taking is encouraged are important ingredients to nurture lifelong learning skills.   I also believe that the same holds true to successfully encourage teachers to pursue their own lifelong learning and wrote a series of articles in Educational Technology Solutions in 2015 actively promoting this concept. (See Articles 1-5 ETS listed in the side panel here on NovaNews under the Favourite Posts tab)

Written in my very early days of blogging, I really summed up my own philosophy well when I wrote:

Providing our students with tools to develop as lifelong learners must be paramount in our approach to teaching.   Providing our students with opportunities and situations in which they can safely and confidently develop knowledge and skills should be equally paramount in our approach to teaching.  As I have eluded to in past blog posts, risk taking in a safe and secure environment is a wonderful way to learn.   Establishing a level playing field, in which we recognize that teachers and students are able to learn much from each other is also equally valuable.   But establishing expectations that our students can become whoever it is they wish, is really a focus that has dominated my approach to teaching.   Instilling confidence in our students that they are able to learn and achieve at a level well beyond their present level is a gift that I strongly believe is of the utmost importance in an approach to teaching.”

Not long after, I encapsulated my philosophy to learning into a graphic:

Learning begets learning inc C

So coming across a TED video by Carol Dweck, a  world-renowned Stanford University psychologist, titled “The power of believing that you can improve!” vindicated my educational philosophy.  Reporting on researched based evidence in terms she describes as

the power of yet vs the power of not yet”

Dweck forcefully presents the argument for motivating ways in which to engage, challenge and inspire our students to grow and succeed.  Throwing up rhetorical  questions for us to ponder, Dweck questions how we are raising our children:

  • Are we raising kids who are obsessed with getting A’s?
  • Are we raising kids who don’t know how to dream big dreams? 
  • And are we raising kids who need constant validation of their success?

Dweck talks about building bridges:

  • praise kids, not for their talent but for the process they adopt to engage: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their improvement – traits which will develop hardy and resilient kids

Dweck speaks clearly and forcefully.  Take 10 minutes to listen to her advice and the research evidence she has in abundance to support that advice!

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There are so many inspirational people in the world.  TED and TEDx talks are replete with them.

This TEDx was published less than a month ago.  In it we hear Roei Sadan talk about his latest challenge and along the way he shares advice which is not only meaningful but is very moving.

You may have heard of Roei Sadan previously.  He received world wide media coverage as he completed his solo journey cycling around the world.  It took him five years to complete.  In that time he traversed 66,000 kilometers, 42 countries and six continents. An amazing feat.

Six months ago Roei embarked on his next challenge – climbing The Himalayas.  But he slipped and fell over 500 meters.  Roei was very badly wounded, injured in every body part, including his head.

Roei set himself a goal to present at this February 16, 2016 TEDx to share what he calls ‘The Dreamer Toolbox”.  They are four simple tools he used daily when climbing mountains and still uses today.

  1. The Mountain Always Looks Bigger From A Distance
  2. Be Grateful For Challenges
  3. Not Every Dream Needs To Be Fulfilled
  4. Put Your Ego Aside

Take the time to listen to this man sharing his advice.  What he has to share applies to each and everyone of us and provides such valuable lessons for the students in our schools.

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Whether participating as a reader or a writer of blogs, engagement with the Blogoshphere provides an opportunity to learn, explore and discover the knowledge, opinions and thoughts of others.  It is an exciting and vibrant world which invites readers and writers to freely express and explore an enormous range of topics.

Having the opportunity to tease out the various aspects of blogging – how to blog and what can be gained from blogging – is an opportunity that was extended to me by the Australian publication Education Technology Solutions and is the fifth and final article in a series about lifelong learning which I have written for this magazine over the last twelve months.

Aiming to provide concrete suggestions for the novice blogger to help get started as well as providing thoughts and ideas of the benefits to be gained by engaging in the Blogosphere. Blogging: Powerful And Addictive!  has just been published in Education Technology Solutions – Issue 69, December/January 2016.

ABSTRACT: Blogging is a powerful way to determine our own growth and development. By pursuing topics of personal interest, by considering the words and thoughts of others, by writing reflective and informative posts, a rich, supportive network is built. Engagement with the Blogosphere enables educators to enhance their own skills, knowledge and experience and in the process define their own path of lifelong learning.

Also published on the Educational Technology Solutions website, I’m pleased to also be able to share my article here:

Blogging: Powerful And Addictive!

pic-1By Bev Novak.

Blogging is a powerful way to learn, explore and discover.

Replete with an infinite source of information on a limitless number of topics, the blogosphere is a perfect location for educators to create and direct their own learning path. That which is learned from either reading or writing blog posts expands both their knowledge and their thinking. By posting comments on blog posts, it is possible to engage in a form of social networking that is distinct and different from other social networking platforms. Connecting with those who write blogs or with those who read their blogs is exciting, stimulating and inspirational.

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Being free to direct our own learning is a gift.

The days of ‘one size fits all’ type learning programs, so typical of teacher training programs and professional development programs rife in our schools can at last be replaced by online learning programs in which teachers can determine their own learning path.

Writing about the inspirational value of learning online is an opportunity that has been given to me by Education Technology Solutions, an Australian based publication.

This, the fourth in a series of articles I have written for this magazine around the theme of lifelong learning: Be inspired! Learn Online! in which I describe a range of issues relating to online learning programs including the exciting possibility of schools developing their own ‘in house’ online learning programs has just been published in Education Technology Solutions – Issue 68, October/November 2015.

ABSTRACT:  Online learning programs are a tangible alternative to traditional professional learning programs and enable participants to learn anything, anytime, anywhere with anybody in their local or global community. Online learning is a powerful way to increase skills, power lifelong learning and rejuvenate how teachers learn. Learning and sharing in cyberspace with educators across the world enables experienced and inexperienced teachers alike to share and exchange ideas, thoughts, and pedagogy.

Also published on the Educational Technology Solutions website, I’m pleased to also be able to share my article here:

Be Inspired! Learn Online!

pic1By Bev Novak.

Teachers, like the students in their schools, need to discover the joy of learning and its inherent power.

Whether it is the exploration of new skills, new tools or new pedagogy, the value of pursuing topics of personal interest in an online learning program in which self-directed exploration and discovery feature is a very powerful way to engage and excite the interest of teachers and can be the catalyst that lays the foundation for continued lifelong learning.

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The freedom to learning anything, anytime, anywhere and with absolutely anybody is a gift that today’s online world affords educators.  It is a gift which empowers educators to create their own learning opportunities and challenges and enables them to meet up with other like-minded people who have similar interests.

Writing about the process of learning within the safe boundaries of a Personal Learning Network is an opportunity which has been given to me by Education Technology Solutions, an Australian based publication.  This, the third in a series of articles I have written for this magazine around the theme of lifelong learning: Develop a Personal Learning Network to inspire lifelong learning in which I describe the nature of PLNs, how to create one and what can be gained from participating in one, has just been published – Issue 67, August/September 2015.

ABSTRACT: Encouraging teachers to become self-starters, who are able to take control of their own learning, design its path and learn based on their own interests and needs should be the aim of all school professional learning programs.  Participation in Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) is a resource which can liberate teachers from the confines of traditional learning opportunities such as those offered in staff meetings, curriculum days, workshops and conferences. PLNs in which connections with other learners is a key component is the perfect vehicle to attain this aim. Participation in a PLN is both exhilarating and inspirational and is the essence of lifelong learning!

Also published online on the Educational Technology Solutions website, I’m pleased to also be able to share my article here:

Develop a Personal Learning Network To Inspire Lifelong Learning!

pic1By Bev Novak.

Encouraging teachers to become lifelong learners should be the aim of each school’s professional learning program. Learning success inspires a sense of achievement, self-satisfaction, increased confidence and motivates continued learning, leaving teachers feeling empowered to set their own agenda and pursue knowledge just for the sake of it.

To motivate this kind of learning, there is perhaps no better resource than that of Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), a resource which can liberate teachers from the confines of traditional learning opportunities such as those offered in staff meetings, curriculum days, workshops and conferences. PLNs, in which connections with other learners is a key component, are both exhilarating and inspirational.

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I’m passionate about the importance of teachers not just modelling lifelong learning, but being active learners themselves.

No matter how busy we are, making time to read, engage, discuss, learn and share is an essential practice.  School administrators need to play an active role in not just encouraging this practice, but making it an achievable goal for our teachers. It’s time to consider alternate ways to excite teachers’ interest in their own lifelong learning.

The second in a series of articles I was asked to write for Education Technology Solutions Reinvigorate professional learning programs to inspire lifelong learning!  has just been published – Issue 66, June/July 2015.

ABSTRACT:  Exciting, stimulating and meaningful learning programs in our schools are vital to entice teachers to become lifelong learners.   Alternate program delivery which incorporates creating time for teachers to learn on the job and encourages professional reading, active use of social media and a new look at conference attendance as well as exploring how the skills of both students and teacher librarians can contribute to the professional learning of teachers should be considered as ways to upend traditional professional learning programs.

Also published online on the Educational Technology Solutions website, my article can be read here:

Reinvigorate Professional Learning Programs To Inspire Lifelong Learning!

picBy Bev Novak.
Exciting, stimulating and meaningful learning programs in schools are vital to entice teachers to become lifelong learners.

Apart from updating basic skills, teachers must constantly master new skills and new pedagogy that continue to evolve at an overwhelming rate in a fast-paced world. Rather than having to sit back and wait for learning opportunities to come to them in the form of staff meetings, curriculum days, workshops or conferences, teachers should be encouraged to embrace those many learning opportunities that constantly present themselves in both formal and informal settings. By developing independent learning skills, teachers will discover a wealth of learning opportunities they never knew existed.

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