29 May, 2010

On Education...

I lost count on how many groups I joined and how many pages I "liked" on Facebook. I could honestly say that in general, the types of groups and pages I support falls into four categories: acting/performing, personal growth/development, martial arts/lion/dragon dancing, and Oakland. Yes, Oakland California.

The majority of my Oakland groups on Facebook are alumni related. There are several pages or groups reflecting the high school, jr high school, and elementary school I attended. I never switched schools. The elementary school was my elementary school from K-6 grade. Jr high was 7-9 grade, and high school was 10-12 grade. I switched around like crazy after high school to make up for not switching around. I'm proud of what I learned and who my teachers were over the years in the Oakland Public School system. I am able to read, write, and perform enough mathematics to be able to navigate my way through the annual 1040 forms. (*knock on wood*)

5 years ago, I worked as an academic enrichment mentor for the Oakland Public Schools before the state takeover. Within one academic year, I found myself jaded and determined to send my own kids (WHENEVER I decide to have kids) either overseas to Singapore for school, or home schooled. Teaching students was NOT a priority for the school. Rather it was a priority for a student to show up to school at almost any and all cost. I later learned that the reason was financial. The school receives money from the State of California when students attend the school.

The final straw was when we created a field trip for a group of the highest risk 8th grade students to an alternative high school. This high school won numerous awards and recognition for their innovations of teaching within an urban environment. As an academic enrichment mentor, I was there to create relationships with the high risk students and encourage them to continue on their education and support them on their endeavors. The students we took on this field trip were students whom we spent the majority of time persuading them to attend class and to do the class assignments. When they toured that high school, they were transformed into self-motivated students. We did NOT recognize them. During a visit to an English class, the teacher gave her students their class writing assignment and asked if the "visiting guests from **** Middle School" would like to participate. To my surprise, ALL OF THEM did. We left that school with a stack of applications for our students and their parents to fill out.

Several weeks later shortly before the application deadline. The mentors responsible for the field trip were called into the principal's office. She explained to us that the status of the alternative high school changed from belonging to the Oakland Public Schools to an autonomous charter school. Therefore we had an obligation to maintain attendance for OPS. She then took all the applications filled out by the students and parents and threw them out. They were to attend their default high school. I was in disbelief and attempted to explain how motivated those students were when they were there. The principal assured us that as mentors we did "an excellent" job motivating those students, but we were required to perform "within the guidelines."

I don't know the fate of the students who wanted to attend that alternative high school. I don't know if they continued to the default high school, managed to enter in the alternative high school, went to another school, or dropped out altogether. When the state took over the school district during the following summer, our program was cut and we were no longer able to follow-up on the students. Another year following that, the entire middle school was closed down.

I love Oakland. It is the city where I grew up in. It's where my roots are grown. I have been in the personal growth and development world for the past two years. I really feel that what I've been studying these past two years are missing elements to what SHOULD be taught in the education system: how to manage money, how to make money, how to change your attitude, how to set goals, how to handle adversity, how to achieve goals, how important is is to continue learning, how to effectively listen and communicate, how to value yourself, and did I mention attitude? That's just as important as cramming reading, writing, and mathematics down the students throats. Have you looked at the test scores? The school system isn't even doing a good job of cramming things down the throats of the students apparently. I donated a study course called Thinking Into Results developed by Bob Proctor who was in The Secret to my old high school. All I know was that it was delivered. The more I delve into personal development and human potential, the more I realize how gifted everyone whom I come across really is. The tragedy isn't that we waste our God-given talent, the real tragedy is the fact that we don't realize we had it in our possession in the first place. To me, that is the real purpose of education. The Latin root word educere means "to bring forth what is within." Education not only should create an environment of learning, it needs to create an environment to draw out and develop talent from within. The fallacy of the "No Child Left Behind" is the fact that it depends more on external learning and not much emphasis on developing the inner being of the student.

In times of changes, the learners will inherit the earth, while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
-Eric Hoffer

01 May, 2010

Well Versed and Fundamentals

Just how important are the fundamentals? Well ask anyone who relies on technique. Whether it be a contractor, mechanic, athlete, artist, dancer, singer, ect. There is always a fundamental technique that needs to be mastered in order to excel in that particular endeavor.

It's no secret that for the past 2 1/2 years, I've been immersed in this journey called personal development. It wasn't planned that way. At the end of 2007, beginning of 2008 I didn't expect to devote my time to take an in-depth look at myself and put forth all this energy and effort to change my thought and action habits. It was just that I approached my late 30s sick and tired of being sick and tired. I got sick of meeting and dating psycho bitches from hell while my other peers were happily married starting families or were in committed relationships.

At the end of 2006, I found myself in a hospital requiring amputation for my left hand due to a mysterious infection. 4 Days before Christmas, I left the hospital with my left hand intact miraculously. Several weeks after that in the beginning of 2007, while learning about green screen video editing, The Secret was utilized as an example of the green screen by my technical film friends. I really didn't pay any attention to what they were discussing in regards to video shots with a green screen in the background, I was mesmerized by the contents of what the panel of speakers declared. I'll admit that I wanted to hunt down Joe Vitale who was one of the speakers because I felt personally insulted that he insinuated that I "attracted" my mysterious infection and hospital stay. I was not able to completely view the entire film, but the message was still clear.

In May 2007, after ending a month long dating relationship which resulted with my car being vandalized, I sought help online. What the hell was I doing to attract such a bad situation? By chance, I was on Myspace where I located a guy who was working for a former mentor of mine, Marc Accetta. I contacted him and inquired about Marc's trainings. The next thing I know, I'm visiting Oklahoma City for the first time in my life. They were doing a 3-day personal development training there, and I felt urged to go. Upon leaving I thank the guy from Myspace for accommodating me so last minute and asked if they were opened to allowing me to their 5 day advanced retreat. In August, my personal birthday gift to myself was a 5 day retreat in Scottsdale Arizona. Now if you know how these retreats are ran, it's no surprise that I was having a little lighter step and stride when I returned home. When my friend from Denver visited me in the Bay Area a week after my return, I learned that she herself was en route to a retreat called the PSI 7 Life Success Course. Upon her completion of that retreat a week later, I found myself and her getting into a pissing contest on who benefited most. So we placed a bet on a specific event in January where the loser had to take a course from the winner's retreat.

I lost.

So in March 2008, I'm sitting at the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco taking a 4 day course called The Basic Seminar taught by PSI Seminars. For some reason, this course not only made sense, but the two courses I took in 07 taught by Marc Accetta made more sense, and on top of that all the personal development courses I took 12+ years earlier back during my college drop out days made sense. (Just FYI, those courses taken some 12 years prior was taught by Marc Accetta and Marc's mentor)


Think about what the titled of the course was called: The Basic Seminar. It was. I make no apologies in acting where I'll take a beginning fundamentals acting class every now and then, and you should see me yell at the newbie lion dance/martial arts students about their horse stance. (Martial arts fundamental foundational position) Yet, I was pretty resistant to taking a personal development course called "The Basic." Think about it. Had I taken and applied the courses taken before The Basic, would I have needed to take the class at all? The Basic was really the core fundamentals of personal development. You see, the first time I took a personal development class was an advanced course called "The Millionaire's Workshop." I'll admit I remembered being emotionally fired up and mentally stronger, but if you asked me what exactly did I learn in the course, I'd couldn't answer you.

Earlier this evening, I was driving some students home and they inquired about my audio CD playing in my car. I was listening to Bob Proctor's Science of Getting Rich. They thought it was the same audio as the last time I drove them home a week prior. It was. So they were like, "aren't you tired of listening to the same course? You already heard it." My answer was that I keep on listening to it in hopes that the material will eventually sink in. They were dumbfounded. They weren't able to comprehend the idea of listening to a course over and over again until I fully understood it to the core. Their attitude like most students is study enough to get a good grade and if you remember it you do, but if you don't, at least you have a good grade. (I'll get into another discussion in the future of the state of education)

I received the Science of Getting Rich course a little over a month ago. Why I keep repeating it over and over is because it goes back to why the Basic Seminar made so much sense. There was a basic fundamental information that needed to be mastered. When I first pursued acting, I was taught 3 fundamentals: voice, movement, and acting technique. Work on the fundamentals of all 3 areas, and when you're exhausted, work on them some more. The same with martial arts and lion dancing. When I joined my first lion dance/martial arts studio at age 8, my first 6 months of practice consisted of learning the horse stance, the left bow and arrow stance and the right bow and arrow stance. They were the fundamental foundational positions. The mistake of personal development is that after a 3 day, 4 day, or even a 10 day course/seminar, people think they're completely changed. No, we just got introduced to the fundamentals, and sometimes the advanced stuff. It takes time to build your foundation. This isn't only true in just personal development, but in everything.

So what are you pursuing now? When was the last time you worked on the foundation? Maybe if you reviewed the foundation, you may come across a gem that'll enable you to take your endeavor to the next level.