Here you will find writings that give some insight into Trinity’s programs.

Leadership and Learning: Part 1

Posted on Jun 29, 2015 in

I want to talk about education.

From its Latin roots the word education means “ to lead out” or as I like to add sometimes “ to lead out into the light…

Education is a social construct.

In the past, there was no form of education as we know it but a formal and informal system of apprenticeship.

Education is a product of the way a society wants to educate its young and address the continuing learning of adults.

Education is a system and not synonymous with learning.

Learning is the creative activity of a person.

You were already an accomplished learner before you entered the education system.

Before your first day of school you had already learned to read the body language of your parents and siblings. You had already put 1 + 1 together many times over. You had reflected on the beauty of a butterfly and learned more about its life as a caterpillar.

Many of these learnings brought you pleasure and joy, as well as considerable self-esteem and awareness of yourself as a person who could be competent in life.

Unfortunately, the education system can interfere with this innate capacity to learn.

A large part of education in our present era involves transmitting already formed knowledge and skills between a teacher and student. And there is a certain merit in this.

But transmission education can also have a deadening effect on your innate ability to learn, especially its emphasis on tests and grades.

Our leadership Lab program is about leadership- in particular about ‘Self Leadership’, meaning taking a leadership role in your own life… to “lead out” your own life from desire and potential to accomplishment.

To do this you have to continue to exercise your innate capacity to learn

Which means triggering your curiosity and open mindedness,

Knowing yourself, participating with others,

And which means knowing your surroundings

Reawakening that joy in learning you have already experienced.

 

Vulnerability and Creating Communities

Posted on Jun 26, 2015 in

This week has been a whirlwind of meeting new young people, diving into deep discussions with seniors, and quickly learning new computer skills to get the online course ready to go for the students. Needless to say, it’s been busy over here and wonderful in all its busy-ness.

First, our team of Teaching Assistants, Mentors and Peer Leaders for this year’s course are simply delightful. Their positive and infectious energy reminds me how important it is to enjoy the moments when we encounter new people. They have all thrown themselves into the program and bonded through laughter, serious discussion of difficulty in each of their lives, and music. While they are all connected through their association to Trinity and the Leadership Lab course, their connection runs deeper. They are all individuals who are willing to be vulnerable with others- they value the strength of vulnerability in themselves and in turn that same strength in others. Furthermore, these young people have the emotional and social maturity to recognize how this vulnerability is essential in making real bonds with other people and creating a healthy and thriving community.

So often we allow our challenging experiences and the manic pace of life in cities like Toronto to halt our engagement with others. With Trinity, though, I am encountering people of all ages and life stages who have equal appreciation for creating community through a sharing of our authentic selves- all the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So, here I sit playing the fly on the wall as our circle of leaders and retired educators share experiences of “transitions”, opening up and trusting in the strength of one another to take on – with love and respect- their fears, challenges, and joys. What a unique and priviledged position I’m in- I get to be the audience to a community coming into being.

-Meredith

Assertiveness, Intergenerational Relations and Wilderness Stewardship

Posted on Jun 22, 2015 in

This past week was a whirlwind of a time as we ramp up our preparation for the start of the Leadership Lab in under two weeks, so the blog was delayed until today. Between the running from meeting to meeting and sorting out glitches in the online platform for the course, there was very little time to really process all that has been going on around the office and all that is Trinity. Following the weekend though, I can confidently say that the biggest take aways from this week were the importance of understanding and reflecting upon assertiveness, reviewing and appreciating the intergenerational relationships one has in their life, and taking even short moments to appreciate being out in nature.

First I want to mention assertiveness. This is such a huge concept that I never really spent much time contemplating until this past week when we tried to flush it out with our retired educators. It became incredibly clear to me just how delicate and complex this concept is. So often, assertiveness is misrepresented or understood as being about aggression and thus a really negative thing but it is an incredibly necessary skill to develop a life that is true to each of our needs and wants. So how and when do we learn this skill? I can’t really think of the first time I asked for exactly what I wanted or how I learned to ask/demand something respectfully, I only know that I did… at some point. Furthermore, how do we learn to know our wants and needs enough to know when it is essential to assert our selves.

Second, through the discussion with our retired educators, I realized just how important intergenerational relationships are in our day to day lives. The different experiences of assertiveness, for example, made the discussion so much richer than it ever could have been were the conversation to be limited to a single generation of experience. Sharing thoughts and stories between generations is essential, in my experience, in developing character and a sense of person, place, and community for oneself.

Finally, I spent a great Friday morning in meetings with our team for the Quetico Foundation camp trip at the end of August. I was completely unfamiliar with Quetico Park prior to starting my work with Trinity and after Friday, am wishing I was a young, new Canadian so that I could explore this park with such an amazing and supportive team! This provincial park in North Western Ontario is putting a huge amount of resources toward teaching youth about wilderness stewardship and the myriad opportunities for getting outside in nature. Having walked to and from work a few times last week, the importance of spending time in nature every day, became abundantly clear. This Quetico experience gives students the skills and immersive experience that encourages lifelong appreciation of the outdoors and all that Ontario in particular has to offer people of all ages. Oh how I wish I could go!

-Meredith

 

Peer to Peer as Theatre Part 3

Posted on Jun 22, 2015 in

The Peer to Peer program is part of a larger group of programs we call Creating Communities We Want.

The act of preparing Peer Leaders to step away from their own studies and work with the younger members of their school community in a theatre process does more than just address the vulnerability of the transition to high school.

It addresses the need of the Peer Leaders to grow socially and emotionally by participating in their school community as more than just ‘consumers’ of academics and skills.

As such it addresses the need for all of us to create the communities and world we want instead of experiencing both as something that just happens around us.

It is a shame that we unconsciously create school communities where the unspoken curriculum is that it’s ‘every man for himself ‘– that all life is about is acquiring information and skills and then going out into a world that basically is operating the same indifferent way.

In this unconscious curriculum, we prepare our young for the idea that wealth and personal comfort are all that matter and that ultimately you can only look after yourself and perhaps those closest to you.

But the fact of living – despite our curriculums- is that we are not happier the more we possess but with more contact with others, more creative activities and more meaning arising from both.

We are happier when we feel part of something bigger than us. When we see the results of our efforts in the faces of other people and not in our acquisitions.

Creating the Communities We want is an enterprise for all of us.

Alan Insights

Posted on Jun 17, 2015 in

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Peer to Peer as Theatre Part 2

Posted on Jun 16, 2015 in

The other issue that blocks people from seeing the Peer Leader process as an act of theatre is the perception of content.

In the traditional practice of theatre, it has always been assumed that audiences are interpreting the play’s content the way the playwright and actors etc delivered it to them. But the fact is the audience is always taking in the play according to the dominant social intelligence of the period -despite the likelihood that certain individuals in the audience were capable of seeing more.

In the Peer Leader process the leaders are addressing the social/emotional development of the ‘audience’ members. To do this, they use the content to nurture the inherent life ‘insights’ of the group members to surface during the workshop. Basically, this allows the ‘audience’ members to create their own vision of the content and witness other’s.

This is essentially not very different than the use of content in traditional theatre.

The ‘gift’ of the theatre process is that its participants simultaneously recognize themselves in the content of the ‘play’ while also as members of a community. This is a very beautiful aesthetic and community process.

The poet Mary Oliver once wrote:

“ What does it mean…that the earth is so beautiful? And what shall I do about it? What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life I should live?”

“What is the life I should live?”

How do we continue to deliver the theatre process in the community? What lives could we all be potentially living- beyond the inherent voyeurism and passive consumption of other’s wisdom?