Welcome

I guess you are here because you have discovered one of my books and enjoyed it enough to find out more about the author, me. Either that or you’re a potential employer who is investigating me to see if I would be a good fit for your organization. In which case, surprise, I write books as well as teach. Some might look at that as a bad thing, and if so, please explain to me how.

For whoever finds my site, I want to welcome you, and also allow you the opportunity to follow me on a regular basis. Anybody is welcome as long as you keep your posts appropriate, and respect the other followers to this site. As long as everybody follows those two simple rules, I won’t have to kick anybody off. Let the friendly banter begin.

I am hoping to create an interactive site that everybody can enjoy. Of course, I will keep you up to date on the latest writings coming out of my head, and I will also let you know when and where I will be in the world, so someday you might be able to meet me in person. Most people regret that decision, but who knows, maybe you’ll be in the minority.

I will also tell you about my world-wide travels as this is something I do on a regular basis. I’ll show you pictures from places I have been (this one is from Dubrovnik, better known to fans of The Song of Ice and Fire as King’s Landing), and tell you the exciting stories that happen to me along the way. You are also welcome to ask me any questions you may have about the place I have been, and I will try to answer them in a timely manner.

I know it all sounds amazing, and I can see you wondering why you haven’t been a part of this fantastic experience so far, but let me tell you about the most exciting part of following this site – the interactive part.  You were probably wondering when I would get to that part I had promised you earlier. Well, I plan to create a list every month, and I want you to participate in its formation. I do love countdowns, but I am always disappointed in them. So I have decided to take matters into my own hands. You will be able to post your top ten of each monthly list and at the end of each month, I will comprise the total list to give you the countdown for that subject. Look for each new subject on the first day of each month, and the final list of the previous month by the fifteenth.

Otherwise, it is very nice to have you a part of this experience, and I look forward to all of our future posts together.

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Above the Tweets

Please do not feel pity for the hunchback
‘Cause he had the perfect view of beauty.
Even though companionship he did lack,
Which some think is how you find yourself free;
Instead, he got to look down on the crowd,
And judge them based on their humanity.
Something is not true ’cause you say it loud
But not always for that society.
From his perch on top of the cathedral,
He is free from the pain dealt by their words,
He does not need to be hurt by their ills,
Making all his friends from the carefree birds.
Don’t regret what it is you never knew;
Instead, sit back and enjoy the view.

Reunion

As the breeze blows over the patio
Allow me to refill your empty glass.
There is not a place where you need to go
And you should never let a moment pass.
You know you enjoy the conversation
As we let the time of the night tick by,
For our memories are the connection
Of where our relationship really lies.
Though it may be that only once a year
That our lives are able to intersect,
It is these little moments that appear
That move my heart with the greatest effect.
I want to thank you for the night’s meal,
Also the way the time makes me feel.

Laughter on the Outside

I have forgot what it means to be dry
Because I have lived in this rain too long.
I hope my personal weather will sigh,
Allowing the time with the sun the time to be strong.
Until then I will sit under this cloud
With my drenched clothes clinging to my body.
A fool in the rain can never be proud,
Punishment for never being naughty.
I will continue to wear my smile
‘Cause others depend on the attitude.
Dripping laughter will become my style,
Never expecting any platitude.
Will any ever understand my pain,
Just a wet man, standing in his own rain?

The Ultimate Boon – Experiential Education Day 3

I love teaching the Hero’s Journey, not because it is really cool to see how many stories fit into the archetype, but because it is fun to think about how it applies to our lives. We all get to go through the journey so many times, and if we look at each adventure we have from this perspective, we can grow so much as individuals. But the only way that we can do this is by looking for that ultimate boon every time we leave our houses to go on one of these adventures. This is the thing that makes the experience worth our time. It is what we can look at as a symbol of how we have grown. Sometimes it is something physical that we can hold on to, but most of the time, it is held within a memory of how we were before the experience, and how we have changed because of it.

This is why the experiential education trip I went on with my student became so meaningful. It was an adventure that they needed to go on. They could not avoid the call to adventure, and there were many trials along the way that pushed all of them to their limits. I can’t remember how many times the students came up to me and told me that they had reached the apotheosis. Keep in mind that they are teenagers, and they all believe that they have reached that they have reached the moment when they have died, ready for the moment when they could experience their rebirth. And they all wondered when they would get to cross the return threshold and go back to their bed. But none of them thought about what they brought back with them. This is the thing that will last the longest from the trip, and for each of them, it was something different from the trip that allowed them to connect with the reality of who they really are. This is really applying what they learned to the real world. It is that ultimate boon that will make them resilient to the problems of they face in the future, and overcome them.

So as the trip closed down and we finished up the final moments, I enjoyed the fact that I got to see so many of these young men and women grow as individuals. I could see them make those connections as well, but that was because we framed the trip under the context of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth. It forced them to look for meaning on the trip, and when you are looking for meaning you usually will find it. This is the type of education that transcends the traditional classroom, and should be implemented in more schools across the world.

So the next time you go out on your next trip, I challenge you to look for your ultimate boon. Like many heroes before you, what you find might not be what you are looking for, but it will definitely be what you need. It is what will make that adventure one of the most memorable ones you have ever been, and you will find a little piece of yourself that you never knew existed before. It will make your next trip, more than just a vacation. It will become an epic adventure.

The Changing Weather – Experiential Education Day 2

One of my favorite memories from all the times I have been camping comes from when I was in my early twenties, and on a whim, a couple of friends and I decided to brave the outdoors. We quickly loaded up the car with what we thought was the appropriate gear, and headed up to the mountains of Colorado to find a place to pitch our tents. Unfortunately, our lack of planning and the fact that we did not look at the weather forecast closely left us in the middle of the woods without much of what we needed as we got rained on. But we were determined to make the camping trip a success and our motto for that experience turned into “Adapt and conquer”. We ended up using the strangest things from speaker wire to pulp fiction paperbacks to make it through the evening, and in the process had probably the best experience ever. It really proved to me that we are at our best when we are struggling. The same thing happened on the second day of my Experiential Education trip with my students.

The hurricane that hit Hawaii earlier in the week had traveled further in the Pacific and ended up hitting Japan, and even though it officially never hit the Korean peninsula, they were still experiencing a lot of rain that came from the storm. The first day of the trip, we did not see a lot of the rain, but the second day of the trip, we went through this cycle of nice dry weather, followed by rumbling thunder, followed by a torrential downpour. It meant that we had to constantly make adjustments with our plans in order to make the trip meaningful for the students that we brought with us.

There were many outdoor activities planned for the day. Students were to go through three different rotations where they would learn how to shoot traditional Korean bows and arrows, go through a series of challenges on a low ropes course, and battle each other through another series of challenges on boats made from recycled material. The kids were having a really good time at the rotations, and we were able to get through one and a half of them before the rains that we were promised started to arrive. We were able to wait out the storm and go to finish our final activity, but the rain pretty much washed out our afternoon activity, a hike up to the top of the mountain that overlooked the camp. It was time for that old saying of mine, “Adapt and conquer”.

Fortunately, I was no longer that foolish idiot that decided to go camping without bringing with me the supplies that I needed. I knew that there were rumors of terrible weather on the way, and I brought back-up plans to the back-up plans. I just needed to make sure that there were places where these activities could take place. I needed a group of people working with me that were flexible enough to make the sudden changes so the kids we brought with us could still have fun and get something out of the challenges. The trip would have been a failure if it wasn’t for those fellow teachers that were with me who took on the challenge that the weather presented. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them.

Even though I would have liked for the trip to have gone as planned, and we could have enjoyed the challenges that Boramwon has at its facility, I was still happy how the second day went. I did go through pretty much all of my clothes that I brought with me because of the on again/off again that I got experience that day, and I was through with always being wet, but the crew I was with was still able to pull off one of the greatest trips that I have been to ever since I was asked to put these things together in the first place. It turned out to be not only a hero’s journey for the students, but for all of us as well, and we all came through the day stronger people.

Getting Out of the Classroom – Experiential Education Day 1

Being a teacher, what I am about to say my be considered blasphemous to others in the profession, and there is no way that I will be sharing this post with my administrator because I am pretty sure that she feels the opposite way. But the classroom is a toxic place to the education of modern students. Tests do not teach anything except how to fill in bubbles. And in order to prepare these students to solve the problems that will grow in their futures, we need to quit thinking about the way that we have thought about education and need to move it beyond the confines of the four classroom walls.

Even though I say these things often, there are not many people in the profession who agree with me, or if they do, they are not willing to make that change to a messy form of education that might be more conducive to create the skills that their students will need in the future. I would even admit that during the belly of the school year, I fall into the same trap of going back to what is easy and more familiar. In others words, I do not always practice what I preach.

The school I do work at right now does recognize that it is important to move beyond the classroom in one of the programs that it does promote, and I love the fact that I am a part of creatine one of the experiences for the students at that school. Every year, three weeks after the first day of school, we pack all of the sophomores in the school into a bus and ship them out to the center of South Korea to a camp called Boramwon. There we have created challenges for the students that get them to think outside of the box more, and learn those skills that they will need to take on the challenges they will face later on in their lives. We structure the experience around Joseph Campbell’s monomyth and it has grown into a greater experience every year that we have gone out to this. There are still some holes in the story, but the fact that the evolution of the trip continues to grow, and the students get experience the hero’s journey for themselves shows that they start to internalize the experience more than just get ready to fill in the right bubble when it come up for them on a test.

The trip is designed to take the students out of their comfort zone, and learn about the real world. They start to learn that they do not learn from only their teachers but from every person they encounter, and every moment that they live. It helps to shape them into who they are. We started our first day by visiting various retirement homes around the Boramwon area. There the students put on a performance for the residents, and then they taught them about an American game that many of them had never experienced before, Bingo. This was a great opportunity for both the students and the residents. Because of the language barriers, and the teaching of this game, the students were forced to interact with the residents. There is a lot that they can learn from these interactions. The people that they are working with become the mentors to them, and eventually teach the students what it means to be a mentor in the first place.

We also were able to take students out to show them a little bit about their Korean heritage. The school I teach in is an international school with a predominately American curriculum, and sometimes American values and culture is prioritized over the culture of Korea. Not all of the students that attend the school are Koreans, but there is a huge portion of them that are, and they do not learn much about their history or culture. I believe the opportunity for them to learn a little bit about where they come from is essential and this opportunity becomes their special weapon that they can take with them into the future.

The cultural experience that we took them to on the first day was a pottery museum near Boramwon. Here, they not only got to look at traditional Korean pottery, but they got the opportunity to create their own piece of pottery using clay from the region. They were really able to learn about where they are from while getting their hands dirty working on a creative project. Yes, some of these same activities are available within my school, but students do not always look for the creative classes thinking that the ones that lead to a test that proves their worth with bubbles is more important. Sometimes, the act of creating something from scratch can be more rewarding.

It was the perfect set-up to the bigger adventure that these students would go on, and I am happy that I was able to be a part of it once again. It shows me what education can be and how the future of this world depends on educators getting their students out of the classroom more often.

Things

I know that I haven’t seen you in a year,
But that does not mean I do not miss you.
You hang out in the dark, living in fear
That the time we spend together is through,
But now that I am here, you can let go
Of the trepidation that holds you back.
We can share all the memories we know,
Falling in the pieces we may now lack.
Though our time together may be little,
We should savor the taste while it lasts.
The relationships we have are brittle,
Living in the shadow of what fate casts.
But it is time for me to lock the door,
And put you back to where you were before.