Author Archives: DrMahaBroum

on Leadership, annotated articles

8 Differences between Traditional and Collaborative Leaders

The modern workplace is changing, producing new problems that require innovative solutions. Educational leaders are trying different approaches to increase student outcome and engagement.  The traditional leadership style of top down management is slowly evolving into a collaborative approach that empowers teachers in the responsibility of developing schools.

http://www.innocentive.com/blog/2013/11/21/8-differences-between-traditional-and-collaborative-leaders/

 

Building Effective Collaborative Leadership: some Practicalities

Recent research shows collaborative leadership as a hallmark of successful schools. What are some of the indicators of CL? And how do you develop it in a school?

http://www.nassp.org/tabid/3788/default.aspx?topic=Building_Effective_Collaborative_Leadership_Some_Practicalities

 

Shifting From Pedagogy to Heutagogy in Education

At the base of the new shift from pedagogy to heutagogy is the fact that people are naturally very efficient learners and that they can more effectively make use of this fact in current education and training systems. What is ‘Heutagogy’? What are its roots? And how do we introduce it and manage it in education?

http://www.teachthought.com/learning/self-directed-learning/shifting-from-pedagogy-to-heutagogy-in-education/?

Can Design Thinking Help Schools Find New Solutions to Old Problems?

Thinking out of the box works very well for schools that are tackling tough problems like truancy, student engagement and parent involvement. How do we approach problems in new ways? Explore these 3 ways the article presents.

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/08/28/can-design-thinking-help-schools-find-new-solutions-to-old-problems/

 

What Is Really, Truly ‘Best For The Kids’?

As educators, we want the best for the kids. How does that translate? And are we working to achieve that? This article touches on the purpose of education as well as on the values, attitudes and skills that students need to be their best.

http://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/whats-best-for-the-kids/

6 Reasons to Reject Common Core K-3 Standards — and 6 Rules To Guide Policy

Quite a few educators argue that common core standards are inappropriate for K-3 students… Here’s why they believe so.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/02/6-reasons-to-reject-common-core-k-3-standards-and-6-axioms-to-guide-policy/

 

 

Our Greatest Enemy

Our greatest enemy is our ego.

When we discipline our ego and control it, we win the toughest war in life.

Educated and wise people have a balanced and well-rounded ego because they know how small they are in the realm of universe. On the other hand, those who know little, think they know everything and have big egos.

A big ego is the source of all pain. It prevents a person from loving, opening up and seeing the truth.

A big ego takes everything personally and makes it a big thing affecting all relationships negatively.

A big ego wants to win every time, and at any expense.

A big ego wants to be superior and have things its way.

A big ego feels powerful and uses this power to destroy others.

A big ego holds you back.

People who have big ego tend to blame, judge, criticize, complain and gossip.

Big egos identify themselves with all positive traits, and apply negative traits to others. They like to label people their own way.

Big egos feel entitled to happiness, success, and all material possessions, and think they have the right to get angry and upset at situations. They don’t understand the randomness of life.

Big egos need others. They need them to reflect and enhance their own image.

According to Eckhart Tolle, in his book “A new Earth”, anger, resentment, fear and envy are products of the ego: “The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, person and family history, belief systems, and often nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you.”

He leads us to the way to free ourselves from the Ego. Tolle suggests we

  • Observe our thinking and recognize any negative thoughts.
  • Distinguish between the voice of Ego and the real situation.
  • Change pessimism to optimism because pessimism is limiting. You do that by describing the situation without getting too emotional: “This happened. I have to deal with the new situation and do that.”
  • Don’t fight our ego because this way we make it stronger. We just need to recognize it in our thinking and approach situations with little or no expectations.

Ego is the ‘I’ that differentiates us from others and shows our uniqueness and individuality. A healthy uninflated ego will open our mind, heart and life to true happiness.

Listening to our own voice

These days, we are too busy listening to the world around us that we don’t pay attention to our own voice.  And the world is too noisy!

What do we hear when we listen to the world?

  • Voice of media and commercials: loud music, 24-hr. TV, pop-ups on the net, visuals that encourage us to buy (and feel bad when we don’t), ads that tell us how to look, what to eat, how to dress, violence and wars, terrorism, destruction and fear, etc…
  • Voice of the community (tradition): Things are done in one way “We have always done it this way!” and there is no room for the individual to think wisely for a change for the better.
  • Voice of authority, be it government or religion: “We will tell what is right and what is wrong”. “The others are coming after us to kill us! Be afraid! Here, you take some weapons to defend yourself!”
  • Voice of competition and material success: “To succeed, you must be famous and rich”. It also means paying for media to collect fake awards and recognitions as well as followers on social media.
  • Voice of perfection: The world makes you believe things can be perfect. Not true. Better compete with yourself to improve, and be realistic about getting to be perfect.

Losing yourself is the most painful feeling, while the biggest satisfaction comes from being yourself.

Mindfulness and listening to our own voice is a very courageous act, and for that we need to be ready to be ourselves, a unique person with unique ideas. With the essence of humanity deep in our soul, we can overcome all threats to achieving our own distinction.

We should trust our own voice. We need to believe in ourselves, in the good in ourselves and in others.

We need to slow down and not do too much to the degree that we don’t have time to sit quietly with our own souls.

We need to find a quiet place to listen to our souls to allow for dreaming and creating. Our inner voice leads our way and recharge us every minute of the day to overcome challenges.

Pray, meditate, dream! There are many routes to tap into ourselves and discover what lies within.

Our voice is who we really are.

Listen to others. BUT do not lose your own voice! “Be yourself”. Don’t allow yourself to be judged by the wrong people and their standards. By those I mean the negative people who doubt you and your abilities to achieve your dream.

The height of wisdom is to “Know yourself” (Greek saying).

History of Time

How Time Became a Stressor

Excerpt from ‘Parenting Under Stress’, Trafford Publishing, by Maha Broum, Ph.D.

We complain there is not enough time in the day. We run late, rush to catch up to our schedules, and have long work days. For tens of thousands of years, people did not have clocks and did not keep time the way we do now. So what happened that we became under the stress and pressure of not having enough time?

In earlier societies that relied on hunting and agriculture, times of the day, months and seasons were defined by reference to astronomical factors such as the sun and the moon. Nomads and farmers measured their days from sunrise to sunset and their year from seedtime to harvest, in terms of the falling leaves or the ice thawing. The measure of time was cyclic, not linear. To the ancient Greek, Chinese, Mexican or Arab, time alternated of day and night, and the passage of season to season. Older devices of measuring time were approximate, inaccurate, and unreliable.

Modern time keeping is linear which adds a year to previous years, ‘thus creating a process of looking at the past and aspiring for a better future…’ The clock dictates a person’s movement and actions, and inhibits other movements. Time keeping turns time from a process of nature to a commodity that is ‘measured, bought and sold like soap’. ‘ Charles Einstein sees that ‘A linear measurement of time is a major source of stress, anxiety, and insecurity and has, as a consequence, the abstract future. When nature provides everything in abundance, there is no need to worry and plan for the future. But modern mentality is time-bound, where we always have to do something to increase our future security. We feel that things are never ok the way they are when life is a struggle for survival. We deeply believe that without the abstractions of future and past there would be no progress. However, progress need not be unnatural and destructive.’

Before the industrial revolution the focus was on completing a task at one’s own pace and time. People were in control of their time and worked irregular hours depending on the task. As long as work was done, things were good. The industrial revolution started a strict measure and discipline of time. Time was regulated as a tool to measure productivity and to pay wages. The goal was to achieve high productivity in the shortest time. Benjamin Franklin said: ‘Time is Money.’

Private ownership of clocks became common in the 17th and 18th centuries. The ‘protestant work ethic’ became associated with this new invention of the clock in Protestant areas in Europe, such as Geneva, Bavaria, the Netherland and England, where people focused on the development of this new tool. Nineteenth century religion and morality made all this ‘productive’ value of time acceptable and moral, and proclaimed ‘wasting time’ a sin. Mass production of clocks made people time conscious, and punctuality is held as the greatest virtue in church, schools and at work. Failing to conform to these ‘moral’ rules has been faced with social disapproval and economic ruin by losing job.

With the development of clocks and the accompanying time discipline, modern communities fell under the tyranny of time and people are now forced to work nine to five or go to school and follow a rigid schedule. Individuals become obsessed with tracking time making use of every minute of the day, and relying on multitasking. People treat their bodies as machines. Currently, it is widely acceptable to have hurried breakfast, to rush and catch the train or bus, to work on schedules and deadlines without paying needed consideration to the digestive and nervous disorders that ruin health and shorten life. The criteria now become quantity rather than quality: ‘More is better’, ‘Faster is better’. The joy is taken out of work where we spend most of our time.

Time measurement accelerates human separation from nature. Dividing the day into units, an artificial process made by human, makes time ‘objective’. In nature, time is not divided equally and the relation between day and night is always changing. Clocks turn time into a standardized part of the world machine to facilitate the engineering of the world. The alarm clock is an intrusion of socio-economic time into their natural sleep cycle.

Another intrusion in the natural body cycle is Daylight Saving Time (DST). Humans want to control nature to their ends and interests. Electricity and artificial lighting ended our dependence on the weather and made daylight insignificant to measuring time. The digital clock that replaced circular clocks obliterated the last remaining link between time and nature.

Industrial societies are time-conscious. North Americans have a future orientation. Tomorrow is more important. We plan events, and plan for our future, we have schedules and appointments, classes, work to hand in, even our favourite show on TV becomes a source of dominance and stress. The clock is supposed to help free people by a smooth running of society, coordinating activities, and reducing unnecessary labour to a minimum. Reality is: The clock dominates us. We become slaves to the clock, especially the alarm clock which wakes us up every morning to rush through life. In fact, quite a few people express their anxiety about getting sick, and believe they can not afford to take a day off work.

Time perception is learned: We teach kids the importance of being on time to fit in society. What we are doing is teaching our kids how to be slaves to time. ‘Every child learns a time perspective that is appropriate to the values and needs of his society.’ (Guerrero, DeVito, & Hect, 1999) In his book, ‘The Ascent of Humanity’, Charles Einstein says:

“Not only do we make ourselves slaves to schedules, but also our kids who live life according to others’ plans. In modern society we are too busy to do anything self-fulfilling, to do anything we like or dream of, to spend an hour looking at the cloud, or play with kids, to be human. There is a widespread anxiety in modern societies that there is not enough time. We must do something useful every minute of the day, and be productive. We cannot afford to be sick or to have leisure time. The expectation is that we need to exercise more control over the world to enhance comfort and survival. We schedule leisure with other commitments and thus lost our primal right to our own time.”

Einstein adds: “The pace of modern life continues to accelerate, and we extend this regimen to our kids starting with the hospital visit of the newborn. Children’s days are endless with scheduled school and busy afternoons with programmed activities; children are too busy to play. The reason comes down to survival anxiety. Play is luxury, frivolity left to fill in a gap within productive, educational, and developmental activities. The competitive demands of adulthood dictate that no minute is wasted in play when this time can be used preparing for the future. We think that play is time off, so we train kids to learn good study habits, good work ethics. We raise our voice because of time pressure and when they do not cooperate.”

We do not believe that play is good or important. We think it is only for the lucky few, the artists and geniuses who get to do what they love. The fact is: genius is the result of doing what you love. Discovering what you love is a very important issue, and childhood is just the time to discover it.

We always think we do not have time until it becomes a habit of thought and a way of being. Children resist scheduling, and to conform, parents use force. Children want to do what they like to do as long as it takes, but we are in a hurry, lose our patience and temper and raise our voice. When we slow down, we do not yell at our children any more.

The busy-ness of modern life is one of its defining features. In an effort to deal with the stress of time, people are taking courses in time management. In fact, the history of time management started with the industrial revolution with industrialists managing their workers’ time. Now we manage our time thinking we are in control but it is social perceptions of time that control our lifestyle and push us to manage time without wasting a minute. People also resort to multitasking as another tool to cope with the rush, but it has been proven to be extremely unhealthy. Stanford researchers have found that those who usually engage in multitasking exhibit cognitive deficits, are less productive and have trouble focusing on just one single task, often thinking about the task that they have left.

Being aware of the development of the concept of time leads to better quality of life and more enjoyable journey!

Twelve things parents do that unintentionally hurt kids

  1. Not letting them fail…
  2. Doing everything for them
  3. Giving them everything they ask for
  4. Over-structuring their day … Rushing them through activities and not allowing for reflection time
  5. Telling the kids to do something such as take care of themselves and not being a good model for their kids to follow…
  6. Not allowing for free play
  7. Comparing them to others
  8. Dressing them in label clothes
  9. Telling them what they will be in the future
  10. Giving them no or too many responsibilities
  11. Complaining in front of them
  12. Complaining about them to their friends

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the awareness that comes when we pay attention to ourselves and to our surrounding in the present moment. We are not stuck to the past and have no previous thought on how we perceive a person, a situation or an activity. We are not stuck to the future either and worried about what it might bring of disasters. Contrary to what many may think, it is about NOT LIVING IN OUR THOUGHTS all the time.

Awareness means paying attention to where we are, what we are doing or who we are with. So it does not advocate for multitasking. It is being focused on one thing right here, right now. Mindfulness wakes us up in the moment. If we are not fully present in the moment, we may miss on happiness waiting for it to arrive to our life in the future. NOW is the most valuable moment in our lives.

Research has shown that practicing mindfulness has its great benefits:
1. Mindfulness quiets the mind when we are worried and reduces stress.
2. It boosts our ability to concentrate with clarity and improves listening ability.
3. It allows us to cope with life challenges and fast-paced lifestyle.
4. We are in better control of our emotions, words and actions and thus improves relationships in the family, community and at work.
5. When mindful, we can take criticism and objections positively.
6. Mindfulness improves our chances of success because it enhances creativity, memory and problem solving skills. It gives us the ability to make better decisions with clarity.
7. Mindfulness results in better health and better quality of life.

Mindfulness can be nurtured through attention training, self-knowledge and self-mastery, and creation of positive mental habits. Mindfulness training has been embraced by companies and by a number of individuals, including surgeons, musicians, military personnel, lawyers, and financial advisors. Perhaps it is time to take it seriously in our life and profession.
In the fast-paced life of today how can we nurture mindfulness?
1. Practice breathing. All we need is to sit still and observe our breath as it goes in and out of our lungs, without changing our breathing. The breath reminds us to tune into our body for a few moments. This allows us to be more aware of our thoughts and feelings with a greater degree of calmness and a smarter eye.
2. Mentally scan each part of the body as we take deep breath.
3. Slow down and spend time in nature.
4. Establish mindfulness triggers associated with any recurring events during our day.
5. Eliminate needless rush.

 

Conference 2.0

Conference 2.0 

Conference 2.0 is a natural product of the digital revolution and its impact on teaching/learning and on professional development. With the rise of alternative online learning and of personal learning environments within school and university settings, new models continue to emerge in education. 

Similar to professional learning communities (PLCs), where professionals work collaboratively within a particular work environment or field, Conference 2.0 is a professional development and growth community that extends beyond the one work environment and the one school to a larger community to share with and learn from other schools and educational professionals and leaders.

While the traditional Conference 1.0 views the purpose of the conference is to transfer knowledge from the learned elite to the relatively untrained, within a structure of keynote speakers, panels and presentations, Conference 2.0 focuses on the sharing of a vast body of knowledge and wide experience brought to the conference by attendees eager to discuss sweeping changes and pressing issues, and learn from peers. Through interaction, the purpose of the Conference 2.0 is a meaningful experience that provides a trusting environment for the long-term professional development.

 In Conference 2.0, there are a few or no presentations, and no program or schedule of activities ahead of the conference day. Attendees determine the topics to be discussed at the event in small groups where there is no distinction between a speaker and a learner. Everyone actively contributes to the session which may well be a workshop. Sessions are not long in order to provide face-to-face networking opportunities.

 The new model of conferences will prove its advantages. Successful Conference 2.0 will require a shift in the leadership role from leader-centered to shared leadership, a must in the near future for education. Conference 2.0 is gaining a great deal of acceptance and popularity among professionals in all fields, especially in the field of education. 

 As an educational leader, are you ready to lead the shift?