RIP Maya Angelou

A great writer, poet and thinker – spiritual in every way – passed on today. Thank you Maya, for making spiritual sense of this muddled up, mixed up world. In her own special way, she used words to express spiritually what the world meant to her, as she saw it with her own eyes and heart, and with that unique talent of hers, she has enabled many to share her spirituality. She truly is ‘a light in the world’.

In the 1990 Paris Review, Angelou was asked, “You once told me that you write lying on a made-up bed with a bottle of sherry, a dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, yellow pads, an ashtray, and a Bible. What’s the function of the Bible?”

“The language of all the interpretations, the translations, of the Judaic Bible and the Christian Bible, is musical, just wonderful. I read the Bible to myself; I’ll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is. Though I do manage to mumble around in about seven or eight languages, English remains the most beautiful of languages. It will do anything,” she replied.

The Paris Review reporter then asked, “Do you read it to get inspired to pick up your own pen?”

“For melody. For content also. I’m working at trying to be a Christian and that’s serious business,” Angelou asserted. “It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy—it’s serious business. It’s not something where you think, ‘Oh, I’ve got it done. I did it all day, hotdiggety.'”

She continued, “The truth is, all day long you try to do it, try to be it. And then in the evening, if you’re honest and have a little courage, you look at yourself and say, ‘Hmm. I only blew it 86 times. Not bad.’ I’m trying to be a Christian and the Bible helps me to remind myself what I’m about.”

To read the entire wonderful article from Christian Post, click here. Thank you Maya, may you rest in peace.


7 Habits of Highly Spiritual Teachers (who use technology)

I came across this article over the weekend – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teachers Who Use Technology – and decided to do a take on what these habits could be for Highly Spiritual Teachers who use technology effectively.

I do think they would share very similar traits with those in the article, just with a bit more emphasis on soul-healing and spiritual-unravelling. Just my thoughts, so feel free to chip in with comments and remarks.

Habit #1 : They are always inspired (and inspiring)

Firstly, they are always in search of divine inspiration and seek to stimulate and engage using technology for the right reasons and outcomes. And more often than not, the outcome is to point to spirituality and challenge their mentees (is there such a word?) to ask questions and seek further enlightenment. People see them and what do they see? – A spiritual sojourner.

Habit #2 : They care

That one word says it all – care. They care that their audience learn, are interested and inspired enough to do something about what they’ve seen or heard. They enthuse, cajole, encourage, rebuke and mentor incessantly to get the point across. And their points must always open new doors, new thinking and bigger perspectives. It all starts from a spirit of caring. They are addicted to spirituality and everything they do imparts a little bit of that addiction to the people they meet and touch.

Habit #3 : They are magical

Everything they do, they do it with panache. That’s crucial because confidence is contagious, and when you’re taking people outside their comfort zones, you need to imbibe in them a sense of ‘I can do it too’ – otherwise, that becomes a form of disempowerment. What’s the definition of magical? Well, it’s only magic because you don’t know how it’s done, right? Try this – anyone can do magic with technology… And magic is literally the magic wand to break down the barriers of ignorance.

Habit #4 : They are absolutely, fantabulously, madly, truly and deeply serendipitous

Did I emphasize that enough? There is no greater responsibility and opportunity than that which arises out of a questing mind and heart. Serendipity – a talent for making fortunate discoveries while searching for other things. And we all have to make our own luck these days, right? So, to improve our luck, we must have at our fingertips (literally) a huge toolbox of ideas, resources and cool stuff to keep stimulating and engaging questing young minds. A highly spiritual educator who uses technology effectively is always collecting, organizing and looking for opportunities to turn the spark into a flaming inferno. If you’re looking for tools to help you, rewind to an earlier blog here.

Habit #5 : They are seminal

There are too many useful and appropriate definitions for the word seminal for me to list here, but if you’re keen to explore – click here. What I am interested in though, is to focus on the ability and opportunity to ‘seed’ for the far future. Think back on your own journey, who and what was the scenario that had made a significant and lasting impact on your values and character? How did technology play a part? In my own journey, these ‘seminal moments’ have been seeded long ago and are triggered when I face certain life-scenarios. As educators, we have the opportunity to do the same and create a future legacy. But, how will we do it? Begin with the end in mind and see what makes people think here.

Habit #6 : They are vulnerable

Now, this may seem weird and counteract habit no 3 but like Woody said of Buzz in Toy Story, ‘That’s not flying, that’s falling – with style!’ Vulnerability is honesty, transparency and authenticity. The worst thing you could do as an educator is to try and show that technology is perfect and works exactly how it should ALL THE TIME. The same goes with spirituality. When you add them both together, you need to be vulnerable and open to learning yourself. This stance will be mirrored and give your mentees (that word again!) the opportunity to be vulnerable too and seek enlightenment. Being human is part of the spiritual journey. In my experience, the best way to involve and bring the learning into the personal and intimate realm of the audience is to encounter problems and together, we overcome them. Tech failure or issues are cheap, and they happen all the time. But, in taking the audience on the journey and getting them involved, they learn and gain the confidence that you’re like them, and they’re like you. That is the best form of empowerment I’ve ever known.

Habit #7 : They always end with the why

I am a firm believer that as an educator, the class or workshop is the beginning, not the end of learning. That’s why I think every educator should use technology to stimulate and engage, but the trick is to keep the engagement going after the class or workshop is finished. And that’s the reason I say, ‘Educators must always end the learning with a why’. And the ‘why’ must be able to be personal and different for everyone. To do this, educators need to think about the What-How-Who-Why in the lesson and utilize the technology in a way that leads the learners along that path.

And there you have it, my thoughts on the matter. If you agree or disagree, feel free to comment and we can have a conversation about this. If you’re looking for more guidance and tips, here’s a PDF Apple has just issued for Teachers – it’s a guideline for using the iPad and what you should consider when selecting the right apps to use. Very comprehensive and refreshing, if you ask me.

Here’s an additional bonus for those of you who wants to change the world – it’s a design toolkit for educators developed by one of the leading designers on the planet, IDEO – follow this link. Enjoy!

So, what will your verse be?


Don’t we all…

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
I wish I could say all the things that I should say
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole wide world to hear

I wish I could share
All the love that’s in my heart
Remove all the bars that keep us apart
And I wish you could know how it FEELS to be me
Then you’d see and agree that every man should be free

I wish I could be like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be if I found I could fly
Well I’d soar to the sun and look down at the sea
And I’d sing cos I know how it feels to be free

I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
I wish I could break all the chains holding me
And I wish I could say all the things that I wanna say
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole wide world to hear
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole wide world to hear

One love one blood
One life you’ve got to do what you should
One life with each other
Sisters, brothers

One love but we’re not the same
We got to carry each other Carry each other
One One One One One…

I wish I KNEW how it would feel to be free
I wish I KNEW how it would feel to be free

Do yourself a favour this weekend and watch the best movie about soul-sickness (IMHO) ever and #haveagoodweekend.

Be Thankful

Thankfulness is one of the most important and overlooked character traits you and I need to survive these days. In a sense, thankfulness or gratitude is an antidote to worrying and anxiety, and let’s face it, who isn’t worried these days?

I mean, look at some of these facts – if you weren’t ultra worried before, you should be after studying them. Here’s one of my fave from the list.

What can we do to nurture a spirit of humility, thankfulness and gratitude in this age of entitlement with our kids and students? Plenty, in fact. Here are some suggestions.

1. The grass is greener on the other side? Maybe, maybe not – Have a look at these photos – it’s a set about what people around the world eat (and the calories consumed). Or this one, same idea – but of a family’s consumption instead. Puts into perspective how blessed we are, no?

2. What about bedtime? Here’s a gallery of how kids in different parts of the world spend their nights. Take note of some of the propaganda on show, wow – scary to think how some of them will grow up thinking?

3. What about we create a digital prayer and reflection space? Try this video by Louie Schwartzberg – The visuals and narration (including the message about gratitude) works perfectly to challenge, confront and direct us into a mental and spiritual space that’s filled with gratitude.

4. How about some life altering questions? Here’s a link to some really thought provoking and potentially life-changing questions. Suggest you pick a few rather than overload with the whole set!

5. Personally though, if I had the opportunity, I’d go full left field and take an excursion shopping. I’d tell each student to prepare $2.80 and pick a friend from class to buy a gift for – something to thank him or her for being a friend. Then, I’d take the whole class to Daiso – where you’ll find more than 200,000 products, all priced at the same price of $2.80. (Mind you, a huge majority of these products are designer made – the Japanese are still leaders of single purpose designed products and Daiso is one of their flagship proponents of this thinking globally). And watch what happens. Will it work? God knows!

6. If all else fails, we can try my personal mantra, “It Could Be Worse!” – Can you guess where I picked this from? I had this all my life, and I only (re)discovered where it first seeded more than 2 decades later… If you thought of that classic scene by Mel Brooks, I’d have to say that was the scene that reinforced it, but not seeded it. Guess again…  🙂

Have a grateful rest of the week!


A little idea

Came across this article recently. The author suggests 5 TED talks teachers should watch with their students. Pretty awesome list.

Teachers are finding more and more resources to share and use to stimulate and engage their students. The art of telling answers is now giving way to the art of asking questions.

Knowing the right question to ask can develop thinking and seed a seminal moment while in the past it was all about answers, exams and results. Learning for learning’s sake – wow, what a concept.

For me, I think this video is the one I would choose to watch with students. After the video, I’d ask, ‘So, who’s a liar?’ and watch the sparks fly!

Who says learning isn’t fun?

Incidentally, if you’re looking for a list to check how you’re doing as a teacher, I’d recommend this one.