What Future for Education? Reflection Week 1

Based on your experience as a learner, what do you think you will be able to get out of this course? And what ideas do you already have about the future of education?

As a learner, throughout this course I hope to develop my understanding of learning processes, purposes and the factors influencing learning. As an educator myself, I feel it crucial to develop a more comprehensive understanding of learning in order to maximize learning within my own classroom, as well as to develop my own capabilities as a learner.

The future of education appears murky, as, at present, educational reform and evolution is being largely influenced by two conflicting, diametrically opposed theories or approaches, those being child-led, constructivist approaches and teacher-led, goal oriented approaches. Increasingly, research appears to favour learning approaches which avail and engage children’s existing understanding to construct and develop new learning. However, at the same time, standerdized testing and results-orientated education in which children’s own development of understanding is a secondary element to learning exam based material. These conflicting theories are largely seen as divided between primary/elementary schooling and secondary/high schooling, with the former encouraging child-led learning and the later demanding exam-focused learning in order to succeed thereafter.

Depression Diary Entry 1

Long time no me, but I’m back and as one might infer from the title, more unhappy than ever – or close to it. It’s ironic – well, not truly in accord with the definition of irony, but more-so based on the colloquial connotation now possessed by the widely misused term – that I should have spiraled into despair having previously posted on how to endure and overcome such misfortune. I’ve decided to return here, to this empty space devoid of any judgement but my own, so as to document my experience and reflect upon it in the hope that it is somehow cathartic while also enlightening. Here it goes – and don’t dare interrupt with a snide “…and how does that make you feel?”, because the answer will inevitably be clear in the text and likely sad.

Well, right now I just feel overwhelmed, like I have every time prior, but worse in some indescribable way. I feel like life is escaping me, seeping away like sand between my fingers, treacherously fleeing in the favour of gravity and the certainty it offers. Choices that should be mine to make seem to ignore my opinion, and the ones which remain within my reach weigh too heavily, crushing me with the burden of eventual outcome and consequence. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t, but either way the devil has my soul. My life trickles away and I feel every instant, every moment as it floats from the future to the past, and I am acutely aware that I’m losing far more than I’m gaining in every exchange. There is no solace to be attained, no joy to be derived. Everything I envisage seems doomed before it is established, every effort reduced to redundancy as I march toward the stygian darkness, drawn by the relentless crooning of Mistress Death and the mischievous Master Time. Are my experiences in fantasy writing beginning to shine through? My analogies are taking a peculiar turn with distinct influence.

I’ve always had to endure this constant conflict, this battle in my mind between the pointlessness of it all and the importance that I not let it be so, and right now one side is fighting far harder than the other. I’m still so young and yet I feel like my life is set in stone, already scripted by the almighty hand of destiny. I have completed my first novel, and despite my efforts to contact lit. agents, my submissions were all but ignored (save for one response, which was, of course, a rejection) – I have a suspicion that my e-mails may have been perceived as spam, because all those I submitted to had stated that they would respond within a certain time period even if to reject, but meh. I’m still writing, partially through a sequel and already half-way through a different novel, but I’m finding it harder than ever to motivate myself when it seems fruitless. So much effort for nothing – does that statement encompass life in general or is that just my dour perception? I had been planning on starting a new degree, but now I’m debating whether that is worth the effort. This sorrow has not only soured me, but drained me completely of my meaning, ruined me with my own torturous thoughts. It’s crushing, this weight I’ve created for myself, and I’d love to set it all down, cast it aside and say “F*** it! F*** it all!” but I can’t, because then that truly would be resigning to my doomed fate. It would mean accepting that I’ll never be anything more than I am now as I sit at home, slapping these keys with my head thumping and buzzing with bitter thoughts, completely mediocre and average, unimportant for now and for ever. In the face of adversity we must persevere – but do I continue doing so when it seems to no avail?

Life is losing its flavour for me, joy turning sour and the glorious colour of it all fading to the harsh tones of grey which seem to carpet the wintry skies. All I see around me is the pain and suffering of the people I love, the needless sufferance of people who are living just to survive, and surviving in the hope that there will come a time when they might live. It hurts. Its unbearable. I want to give up, but I know I won’t. It’s not in men to succumb to the self-pity, to seek an exit rather than to continue along the path, regardless of the struggle. So is that my answer? Just keep struggling? Hardly an answer when the question I’m asking is “why should I?”

“Sometimes we ask questions not to learn the answer, but to pretend we didn’t already know it.” Book I’m writing  (copyright me)- not gonna give out a name seeing as their seems no point in self-promoting in this vacuous room of nothingness. Also, on that note, why is life so prickly when it lacks a point?

On Depression

The recent, tragic passing of the late, great Robin Williams has put depression back in the forefront of the public mind, and subsequently had dredged up my memories of my own darkest days, during which I dwelt in the dreary depths of depression, which I intermittently slip back into even to this day. I never defeated depression, for the enemy within cannot be banished, but I overcome it now. I feel it would be prudent at this time to discuss depression in my own views, banishing the misconceptions – as a disclaimer I will openly state that depression is a broad term, encompassing many experiences, differing with root causes and the environments in which it occurs, and so one man’s depression is not the same as all others.

Firstly, sadness does not equate to depression. Depression is not a state of constant sadness, but rather it is the hopelessness which burdens a person when they are trapped in a pit of despair and simply cannot conceive of any way out, no matter how much the try to puzzle out a solution. It is inexplicable in how overwhelming and overpowering a sensation it is – I would liken it to being caught in cartoon-ish quicksand: one is mired in sadness, stuck in this horrid place where the world is painted in blacks and greys and nothing is right, and yet with every movement, every attempt to free oneself, the person sinks deeper, freedom becoming a more distant dream every moment. Depression is not a sadness brought about by an inconvenient situation or a painful event, but rather a sum of situations and events which compile to become so onerous, so overbearing that one feels there is no way to continue bearing their weight; fears, worries, responsibilities, financial problems, social problems, personal inabilities and inefficiencies  all lying on your shoulders, crushing down with their immeasurable force, and yet in your mind there is no way this burden could be shared or dropped, no way to avoid it.

The most poignant and precise description I have ever read of the feeling I experienced when depressed is that which I found on Tumblr (the home of many great, and not so great, finds):

The worst part of depression is not the sadness, but the feeling that there is no way to end it. All possibilities seem…impossible. People tell you to stop being so gloomy and unhappy, commanding you to “lighten-up” as if it is something you can simply choose, as if you can shrug of this horrendous weight you bear on your mind. And they can never understand. For some reason, you convince yourself that telling someone, no matter what the ads say, just won’t help, and may actually worsen the situation, the person laughing at you, deciding your misery is something to be ridiculed. All possible help just seems pointless, some redundant action which may even worsen the situation. So what is the solution? What is the magic formula that turns depression into happiness?

There is none, and to reduce something as complex and multifaceted as depression to something solvable by some set of steps would be offensive and a falsity. however, there are certain actions which can help.

Talk to someone. They say that talking to someone shares the burden – Pah! Rubbish! As if the weight of all my problems will spontaneously lessen when I share them with another! All that will do is heap the same worries I have onto another’s shoulders so that we both have to struggle – sharing the problem solves nothing! Wrong – You know when you encounter a problem which poses difficulty, or your mentally carrying out some sum which is proving tasking you start to speak aloud, usually muttering, but sometimes progressing to full blown conversations with yourself? Well, that’s a natural response to difficulties. Voicing problems does not solve them, but often times it lends clarity, allows one to see the problem without the bustle of the mind getting in the way. While you might fear talking about your worries and problems with someone for fear of ridicule or perhaps burdening them with your problems, there are still ways to overcome this – there are plenty of confidential, secure helplines which offer a willing, and considerate ear – sometimes there is apprehension in calling some of these services, some thinking that the service just isn’t for you; if you’re depressed, it is, and your not going to be judged for using it! You may also be apprehensive in sharing problems with family or friends, but there is certainly someone who is willing to hear your problems and take them seriously. Talk to someone, because even hearing your own problems spoken aloud is helpful, and having a caring person to discuss problems with is infinitely better than retaining one’s misery out of misplaced pride or unnecessary care.

There’s always a solution! There’s no way out! There’s no way I can concur all these problems – there’s too many and they’re too big! I just, I just can’t! Of course there’s a solution, and just because you can’t see it does not mean it does not exist. We all have encountered problems that are too big in our lives, daunting tasks which seem too great, which fill us with fear and plague us with worry.Depression is often the product of an accumulation of these problems, so many of these unconquerable walls springing up before us that we are boxed in, trapped within a cage set by our problems. It is important that these problems be tackled one at a time, broken into small manageable chunks – instead of attacking all the walls with a hammer, focus on one, and once that has been broken down move on to another. Another essential component here, to abuse the platitude with overuse, is to talk to someone. It may sound tired and cliche, but it really does help.

Suicide is never the answer. We have all been there, our minds drifting to that most final of decisions in the darkest of night as the tears and the pains keep us awake. While the problems always seem insurmountable, such a situation is only temporary, but the decision to end ones life is irrevocable and final. Life is filled with pain, laced with suffering and tainted with struggle, but it is no less a wonder. You have one life. Once it ends, you end. You will never know its like again, though it will matter little once it is finished. There is so much for you to experience yet, so much joy yet to be garnered if you would only live to see it. Did you know that studies have found people to be most content and pleased in old age, when they have retired? Your best days are yet to come! You are greatness, every undiscovered wonder of the world and every joy yet to be had still within your grasp. Do not steal that opportunity away from yourself. Do not let the potential of your years let to be lived go to waste. 

It is likely that no one in need will ever get to read this, and for that I am sorry, but ever a needy eye should ever stumble upon this, I hope it helps you. If you do happen to read this, and require a ready ear, I am ready and willing to chat if you leave a comment.

My deepest sympathies to the families and friends of all those victims of suicide and self-harm, I mourn their loss and the world will never know their like again.

Curse of the Friendless

The curse of the friendless is to ever desire friends. In truth, this is a curse which burdens all of mankind, from the shy to the gregarious, but one group placates their pain by some what satisfying this craving for companionship. Today, as everyday, I was reminded of my social ineptitude pained by them and limited by them once more. Please don’t misinterpret; I’m not a horrible person, not egocentric and narcissistic, not smarmy and snide – I do, in fact, have friends (by some minor miracle), I am simply not good at maintaining those established friendships, shying away in some inexplicable fear, subconsciously worried of incurring some displeasure or ridicule by way of my sometimes flawed understandings of interactions and misreading of cues. I think it all stems from a childhood where I was often preyed on, an easy target to abuse as the tagline of a joke, people I considered friends poking fun at me and sharing secrets I had entrusted to them in the form of public jest. I now carry the taint of paranoia, colouring my perspectives and dictating my actions. Despite this fact, despite all my inadequacies and inabilities in the world of socializing  I still yearn for the friendship I don’t have, still crave it though I am fully aware I am too afraid to seek it out. It is innate, part of the human condition to seek out human companionship, and it would be considered a defect not to hunger for such relations, and yet every day I wish for such a condition, whereby I could live without the pain of knowing how alone I am and will remain, and the pang of wishing for it to be otherwise. I wish for friends, dream of them and hope for them, but more than this I wish that I did not wish for friends at all, that I could live comfortable in isolation. I am cursed the same way as all others, burdened in the same fashion as all my fellow man, destined and doomed to a life seeking the adulation of peers I will never gain. I am the friendless, ever seeking it to be otherwise. 

Boredom Blogging

A blog. I’ve finally started one, though when I say finally I’m unsure as to why – I never had a reason to begin one before, and certainly still lack a good reason. Boredom. Surely it was boredom that produced the great beginnings in this world (if we overlook the more prominent driving factors such as need or desire!), pushing writers to spew their thoughts forth onto crisp white pages, forcing the artist’s hand to slash and cut across the innocent canvas, prompting minds to toil idly at the underlying mysteries of quantum mechanics in all it’s serendipitous  ambiguous beauty… and then I became bored, and the path to greatness took a sour twist. This blog is for me, a place to consume wasted time in a relatively productive fashion; as might be told from my clever titling of this blog, I am an aspiring author (I’m proof reading my rather gargantuan first novel, sure to be a disappointment come time to fling at any eager publisher), and by day I am a primary(elementary) school teacher, and so I wish to write, if only to continue doing so. I am not going to promote this page in any fashion, nor will I ever utter its name to a friend or acquaintance for fear of social ridicule (anxiety tends to dissipate with the anonymity offered by the internet, and I intend to abuse that fact!). This will likely never be read by eyes other than my own, and I rejoice in that fact. This blog will be a vast, empty room in which I can shout my thoughts to the non-existent audience, allowing me to reflect on them in a new light when the echo returns to haunt me. This is the nothing, the wall to be vandalized by my wondering mind. This is tedium. (This is Sparta!). This is Boredom.