Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Transformational Learning, Halloween and Everything In-between...

     Sound like a strange title?  Well, it's a strange week.  Halloween is approaching, or as my character, Mistress Midnight would say from our play, Dr. Frankenstein's Party --- "All Hallows Eve",  it is interesting that I should be reflective and have a sense of renewal.  (That's suppose to happen around Spring not when the leaves are falling off the trees).   Life is interesting though.  Today my husband and I spent time setting up lights, the stage set and everything else that needed to be done for the play tomorrow. Yet as tiring as it was, it was also rejuvenating.  We were working in sync with each other, as we have been known to do for many years (probably why we stay so happily married!), and it all hit me!  It was fun and not just 'fun', it was really, really fun.  I would do it again in a heartbeat (okay, maybe a few months from now...but definitely again).  There is something about us getting a job done that is like nothing I have experienced before with anyone.  My husband is so great at getting something accomplished.  I know it sounds like I'm surprised, but I'm not.  I have known that for many, many years.  I just love seeing it in action.  It makes me love him even more.  If that's possible.  Thank you, honey.  It was great!  Let's hope the show goes just as great tomorrow!

     Well, that's the part about Halloween.  Here's the transformational learning part.  I have my final, final, final paper due for this first course and as I have said in previous blogs I had difficulty picking a transformational change that occurred in my life to use as an example.  There were too many.  Finally I wrote the paper, choose a change and proof read, edited and edited again.  Still I am hesitating clicking that 'submit assignment' button that looms on the screen.  So I ask myself, why?  I said in my paper that I still can feel fear and anxiety over my college class, but that I am 'formulating a plan of action' (that's one of the seven phases people go through during a transformational change according to our textbook) so what is it?  The plan, I mean?  Just stop feeling these feelings.  That's really not a good plan (I don't need to be in college to figure that one out).  Going through this kind of change can mess with your head.  It's not just about experiencing a disorienting dilemma (like something that messes with your head), conflict, or problem.  It's all about reflection and seeing if you can challenge your own assumptions about life.  Crazy?! Who would want to go through this.  Well, frankly, all of us, adults, do it all the time.

     According to Jack Mezirow who suggested Transformative Learning in 1991 it's far from crazy.  It is how we, as adults, learn, grow, and eventually change.  We go through all these phases to get there and then, here we are -- in a new way of thinking.  Literally.  And it doesn't work like the fairy godmother in 'Cinderella' either, it's painful...very, very painful.  Kinda seems like Cinderella started her transformational change after she attended the ball, doesn't it?  She had to realize that living at that house with those step sisters of hers was living in hell and it was time to move on.  Of course, it depends on the version you read of the fairy tale.  I think that's probably why I liked doing transformational changes with the characters when I adapted fairy tales for my theater group.  Long story, anyway, we need to have transformational changes so that we can learn and grow.  Okay, I'll accept that.  (And before we get off the subject of 'Cinderella', just how hard of a transformational change is it to marry the rich guy who will one day own the kingdom? Then again, she did have to 'transform' eventually into a Princess.  That just might have been terrifying for the girl.  But Brothers Grimm and all those fairy tale writers didn't tell us about that.  Just Disney.  Yes, they made a sequel and yes, it was all about 'Cindy's' transformational change into being a Princess.  And yes, I did see it.  But hey, I worked for Disney for a few years and I really like fairy tales.)

      I think what is most frustrating about this transformational change for me, going to college again, is that I can simply fall into my old habits.  Bad habits.  Fear, anxiety, worthlessness, and so on and so forth.  How can it be that I can be proud of my accomplishment (creating a theater group, writing books) and yet, I can still see college as a place where I am small, insignificant, and unworthy of.  I know it is strange, but then again look at my title to this blog -- strangeness is just the beginning of this week of Halloween.  Will I ever feel like I can truly be this college girl I want to be?   And when I do, at times, feel like that, why can't I hold onto it?  Frustration is only the beginning.  But then again, 'Jack' wouldn't have called it a transformative change for nothing.

    I wish you all the best with your transformational changes (if any of you are experiencing one right now) and a very Happy All Hallows Eve!

    Until next time...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Presentation Went Great!!!

     First I have to say I did very well on the presentation to the graduate class about presentations.  I used a fake therapy called 'TER Therapy'  I had developed for a book I wrote last year.  It was so much fun to discuss my 'fake doctor', 'fake therapy' and all of that.  I think I enjoy putting that lie inbetween two truths for a story, just 'peppering' my stories with factual information along with fictional information.  I have developed this little technique for some years now, I think.  It's always important to me to make a story believable and yet, unbelievable at the same time.  The doctor, Dr. Whiete, who is in my story about 'TER Therapy' is a neurologist and pyschariatrist, however he is also a 'transidenent' that can literally 'go back and forth through the world of the living and the dead'.  Yes, it's unbelievable, though my husband who is a ghost hunter may find him to be very helpful on investigations, but the fact that he studied neurology and psycharistry and is a medical doctor puts him in a more realistic frame.  That's what I strive for --- a bit of fiction, a dose of reality and an intermingling of both to make a fun, interesting story. 

    I am now moving onto my fifth and FINAL week of the first course in college!  Yea!  This week I only have to post one discussion all about Reflection on the last five weeks, which I completed earlier and posted, and then a final paper on Transformational Learning.  I am always worried when it comes to papers because the directions are vague sometimes.  For instance, in this paper I am to write two to three paragraphs briefly describing transformation learning stages and then give an example of having one.  All right, to be honest, I could go on and on about a transformational learning I have experienced.  After all, I founded a theater group, had different jobs, had a child, married, went back to school, etc.  Yet, all of those experiences would take far too long to explain in merely a few paragraphs.  I could write and write and write.  Scary, I know.  So I'm stuck for what I should use.  Should it be very personal or should I just use my college experience as my current transformational learning?  \\

      Since transformational learning is like 'walking through hell, getting tossed around a bit, getting burned, stung, beaten up, and then being spit out' to finally realize what you couldn't realize before, maybe I should use a very personal experience.  I don't know.  It's such a fun experience...every time.

     Well, I guess it comes down to.  What do I want to write about?  Problem is I want to write my stories and another book.  That doesn't bode well for my class assignment today.

    Until next time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Off to Present...

     Well,  here I am all ready to do a presentation on PowerPoint for a college class.  A little nervous but very excited.  I cannot believe all that computer training and presentation style paid off!  Finally I can talk about what a good presentation looks like, etc.  YEA!!! 

     I'm on Week Four of my five-week course and I've almost 'graduated' to a 'real' class.  I know this is real, it has grades and all, but I can't help thinking that this is introductory and the next class will be, too.  Sadly, I wanted to go back to college to really 'dig in'.  I did, but I 'dug in' so much that it's tiring a bit.  And I'm only at intro class....(insert scream here). 

     Anyway, that's it for now.  I think I'm too excited about doing this presentation about presentations to continue.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

Until next time...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Metacognitive Moments...

Where to start?  Well, I’m onto my third week of my class.  We received our points for the first week – I received all the points!!!!  Yea, so for now, I have 100%.  I am very excited about that.  I feel I worked hard and was very concise, if not a bit much with the amount I wrote for the assignments (there was no limit on the amount you could write.  Big mistake to give to a writer.  While many in the class wrote a paragraph or two, I was working on four or five and even more at times.  I guess I just had a lot to say and I did a lot of research).  The entire class is about learning how you learn the next week’s lesson (I’m a little ahead) and using metacognitive (learned that from the Critical Thinking chapter) thinking.  I didn’t know what it meant until I saw the definition: “thinking about one’s own thinking.”  I thought it was about ‘above thinking’, you know beyond yourself, like metaphysical.  I guess in a way, it is.

Overall, class has been exciting, frustrating and fulfilling.  If those things even go together.  I have learned about the Theories of Learning.  Yes, they exist.  How we learn.  Why we learn.  If we learn.  Honestly, there is a lot to learn about learning.  I found out that psychologists, socialists, behavioral educationologist (just made that one up) have a lot to say about learning.  The three theories we worked on:  Gardner’s Theory of Intelligence, Bloom’s Taxonomy (structure, I had to ask) and William Perry’s Learning Stages (which I found out in my research he hated that term and liked to use ‘positions’ instead).  Our discussions took us to new worlds of understanding ourselves and how we learn.  Pretty fascinating, right?

To be real though I think what I have learned the most is how to communicate and interact on line in discussions.  We post our discussion (assignment) and then we have to comment on two others.  I find this part fascinating and frustrating (I just love when two adjectives have the same first letter, it’s just like that phenomenon that people with the same first letter get married.  i.e. Antonio and Allyson.  Sorry, that’s me!).  First of all, commenting on posts is difficult if you don’t know what to say about the posts other than those annoying one word encouragements I talked about in my last blog.  “Yea! Wonderful! Great!”   Secondly, if I have more to say I started to worry about my wording, the sound of my intention and all those things that happen when you are allowed to use words to get meanings across.  As a writer I enjoy that medium, but as a person writing these responses it is worrisome.  What if I sound too overzealous about someone’s post?  For instance, I read the grading rubric on what makes a fair, poor, good, great post.  Watch out!  Here comes my over thinking.  Always working towards the grade, yep that’s me.  I want to receive the best score possible, right?  Why wouldn’t I?    Why wouldn’t anyone?  So I add in references, use the textbook information and try (try, try) to be insightful, pose questions, etc.  Then my brain goes into overload.  What if the person on the other computer screen thinks I’m pretentious or elitist or whatever?  I don’t mean to be.  It’s not my intention.  So, I panic.  I write, re-write, re-write and re-write until I have the wording completely, unbelievably, painstaking perfect.  As if there is such a thing.  Now I hit ‘post response’, that scary, intimidating button on the bottom of the response screen.  And wait…and wait…and wait…and wait.

            Finally, an answer…and then another…and another.  Yea!  It sounds all right, no one seems upset.  Of course, if I loosen up even a little on my wording maybe someone will get upset.  So I don’t.  Then, as fate would have it, the next chapter is all about Formal versus Informal writing.  Oh good, now I have “experts” who can tell me how to sound a certain way to not offend.  Here I go again…

I learned from writing about William Perry’s Learning Positions that I have commitment.  (It’s a whole process we apparently go through according to Perry, who by the way, did his research on Harvard Freshman, following them for 15 years from 1950s and 60s – yea, I know way too much research.  It wasn’t in the book.  I just like to know who those researchers are and who their study groups were.  Seems like I understand it better that way).  He came up with “positions” that help us learn:  Dualism, Multiplicity, Relativity, and Commitment (and by the way if you thought I did that from memory – nope.  I only remembered what they are, not the name for each). That’s how according to Mr. Perry, we all learn.  Anyway, my commitment about Formal versus Informal writing is: Informal writing (for me) can be so much more difficult.  I want to make certain the intent is correct when I write it. (I was tempted to say “I want to make certain the intent is right when I write it”.  I thought that was funny.  See, Formal Writing helps you not say those things.  I guess that means this is all informal.  Considering they use blogs as an example of informal writing would make sense). 

            After we learned writing style, we learned how to write and critical thinking.  Critical thinking is defined in the book as “self-assessment”.  Self-assessment is defined as thinking and evaluating our quality of thinking.  Ok, difference between metacognitive and critical thinking?  Any answers appreciated.  Self-assessment, (steam rising as I’m thinking, insert here)  I have done a lot of self-assessment over the years and critical thinking, I guess.  I question my decisions. I wonder why I do what I do. And I always come to the same conclusion – something I did wrong, and not just wrong, but aggrievedly wrong.  Something I can really dig into and remain not happy.  Why be happy when I can find so many things to be miserable about as well?  Yea, it doesn’t work well and maybe it’s human nature or ironic, I would really like to be happy.  There are so many things to be happy about.  My husband, our daughter, my friends, my abilities, the world in its changing autumn colors, Christmas is coming (I love that season!), and so much more. 

            I had a critical thinking and metacognitive moment last night.  I found out that I am a “self-fulfilling prophecy girl” (oh yea).  Now I can actually see how I push people away without meaning to.  I have hard evidence. Believe me, that is scary and sad…and now knowing it, accepting it, has actually lifted my spirits.  I said some things to friends of mine yesterday that I have wanted to say for years, but couldn’t because I was afraid.  Afraid that the “other shoe would drop”, afraid of my own feelings and feeling very, very insecure.  The feelings were that I loved them and I didn’t want to lose them and I am not trying to push them away.  It felt good to finally get it all out.  Now the hard part comes in the transformational learning process (another thing I learned from this book, helpful, huh?): Implementing the solution.  I need to live it and stop myself when I get insecure.  That’s it.  I’ll see how I do.  But right now, I want to do well at this.  I want to be me. The real me not the one held back by ‘baggage of the past’. 

Well, that’s my metacognitive thoughts for the day. 

Until next time…