Education Issues

Discover Who We Are: We Aren’t Who We Think We Are

Ironically, one of the main things that keeps us from awakening to our true nature is knowledge. We think we know things, and knowing these things keeps us from being awake. Our belief that we have true knowledge keeps us caught up in our perceptions, labels, and opinions, making them appear as realities rather than the biased points of view they actually are. If truth is a matter of perspective, can we call it truth? If situations change depending on how we look at them and on who is doing the looking, can we really trust our judgments to be true knowledge?
Getting past the assumption that we have all the answers is the first step in moving toward a higher, more inclusive truth than the one we currently perceive. In the Far East, they call it neti neti. It means not this, not that. In Western cultures, we call it via negativa, which means a way of nothingness. It’s really about unlearning – letting go of all that we think we know and simply being – without bias or opinion.
People who succeed in releasing their assumptions see life as a passing of events and don’t get attached to anything. They witness events as they pass and don’t claim them, don’t identify with them. Try just observing events sometime, being part of them without becoming them. Experience them without saying, “This is mine,” or “This is who I am,” or “This is my event, this is affecting me.” Instead, attempt to just watch the events that occur. With that detached, witnessing perspective, you’ll find that life becomes much more quiet, much more peaceful, and much more enlightened.
In many ways, it’s like going to a movie. We watch the movie, we enjoy the movie, but we don’t become the movie. It doesn’t become our all-encompassing reality. We have fun observing the story, and yet we’re always aware of a larger truth outside the movie theater. What happens in the movie touches us, but the events don’t so overshadow our sense of who we are that we stand up shouting for joy when something good happens, or consider suicide when something bad happens. We know it’s just a story, just a film. We know that while we participate in it emotionally, on a deeper level we’re just a witness to the movie. It can’t reach into our core so deeply that we forget who we are and become the movie.
Try regarding the events that happen in your life the way you would look at a film. Rather than deeply identifying with everything that’s happening, simply witness the events. That doesn’t mean you don’t take action within your life, turning into an irresponsible or passive observer. It does mean, however, that part of you – the witnessing part, the I am awareness – wakes up and becomes conscious in you, right in the midst of your daily activities. When that happens, even your own actions and thoughts don’t absorb you completely – the greater part of you is always watching a story.
The value of this expanded life perspective is that life doesn’t hurt or overshadow us the way it used to do. Things can still sadden or bring us joy. On the other hand, nothing can shake the deep serenity that we have discovered within. It’s rather like wind, whipping up waves on a lake. Part of the lake – the surface part – is involved in all the drama and excitement of the storm, but the deepest part of the lake is forever unmoved. It remains still. Practice becoming conscious of the deepest part of your own nature, and you will find a stillness and peace that endures in the midst of all the turmoils of living.
Observe your thoughts when your mind chatter says things like “This is mine” or “I’m such-and-such.” Take your mind away from such thoughts to an awareness of your simple being. Witness the occurrences in your life, and experience them richly and fully without identifying with them, without becoming them.
Our minds so quickly want to identify with events: “Because I acted nicely toward that lady in the store, I must be a nice person.” Or “Because I was rude on the freeway when that man cut me off, I must be a rude person.” These are the illusions we’ve become trapped in. “I am” – the deepest part of us – is neither nice nor rude. It is beyond such polarities. It simply is – the consciousness at the root of all thoughts, actions, and experiences.
Let yourself just witness your behavior, both the positive and negative. Rather than identifying your actions as you, let them be. Allow yourself to experience life as a flow. Go with life, and release the labels. Instead of hanging onto the judgments, find your way to the bigness, to the is-ness. Do this by practicing neti neti, reminding yourself when you start to identify with something that is not your genuine identity: “I am not this, and I am not that. I just am.”
At your core, you are. You aren’t this and you aren’t that, because those things change. Anything that changes cannot be permanent. So identify with that which is permanent. And the only thing that is permanent is that which you are.
Identify with what you are. Identify with “beingness.” And you’ll find that all the labels – good and bad – fade away and fall off, so that you can experience the bliss of being in the here and now, all the time.
We can all get too attached to our opinions, our theories, and our interpretations of reality. What if you let them go and be like the sky? Opinions and thoughts are like clouds that come by, but the sky is beyond them. It is bigger than them. Instead, the sky is merely the backdrop upon which the action happens.
Think of yourself as the sky that is the backdrop to all the events of your life. But you are not those events. Step back from being the cloud and return to being the infinite sky, which you have always been and always will be, even though you’ve forgotten that. You’ve forgotten because you identify with all the different occurrences in your life. Let that go, and an expansive freedom will dawn, surprising you with joy.
We become attached to events, and that is why we suffer. When we lose the attachment, the suffering goes away, too. The mind constantly wants to dwell on events, things, people. Instead, just be with yourself; be the witness. Explore who you are, rather than constantly being distracted by everything else. Get back to the root of your own being. In that state of I am, all the false identification disappears. What you’ll be left with is the infinite reality of now.

General Article

What Does It Mean to Create Knowledge?

What Does It Mean to Create Knowledge?

The process of adult learning in any classroom environment involves the acquisition of information, interaction with that information through assigned activities, and the creation of new knowledge. One of the primary purposes of adult education programs is to establish classroom conditions that are necessary for learning to take place. Throughout the process of learning knowledge creation is likely to occur as a product of this environment.

Adults acquire knowledge through informal and formal processes. Informal learning occurs through everyday activities, experiences, and also trial and error. An adult may acquire knowledge as they perform job-related tasks. Knowledge may also be developed through the process of critical thinking, which utilizes logic and reasoning. When adults seek specific knowledge that they believe they cannot acquire on their own they may choose a formal classroom learning environment.

Formal learning involves a structured process with established learning objectives and goals. A common goal of many classes is the completion of learning activities that demonstrate the learner’s progress in meeting specific course outcomes. An adult also does not automatically create knowledge by receiving and reviewing information that has been presented within the class assignments and course materials or by participating in assigned activities. The creation of knowledge is most likely to occur when the adult has taken information and interacted with it in a meaningful way.

Adults are self-directed learners by nature and come to the classroom with expectations about the learning process, along with prior experiences and existing knowledge. Adults also seek knowledge that is relevant to their lives and their particular needs and they will only work towards meeting those objectives if it is determined that the learning goals are aligned with their needs. Most colleges and universities acknowledge the adult’s need for relevant and meaningful knowledge and design courses and programs that will meet the needs and professional goals of working adults.

Knowledge creation within a formal classroom learning environment is the product of adults interacting with information. The information adults work with typically includes textbook reading, literature and scholarly articles, knowledge that they already possess, or any other sources that the adults seek throughout the duration of the class. Adult learners also interact with their instructors, other learners, and the classroom environment. These interactions include an exchange of ideas, experiences, and knowledge. An adult’s active involvement in the class forms the basis of adult learning and the process of knowledge creation.

Websites For Education

Towards Knowledge-Based Economic Communities in Africa

About half a century ago, African leaders established the Organization of African Unity partly to promote socio-economic structures aimed at improving the welfare of the citizens and general integration of the continent. But owing to decades of political tensions and weak economic infrastructures, the goals have not materialized.
The success of the single European currency, Euro, which has become very central to many recent transformations in Europe by offering more efficient means of transacting businesses and using the human and institutional capabilities of the continent to foster more prosperity has shown the power of integrated monetary system in a globalizing world. As the world moves towards knowledge-based economic structures and data societies, which comprise networks of individuals, firms and nations that are linked electronically and in mutually dependent global relationships, the power of a single African currency has become very important. A single African currency, if realized, would radically redefine Africa’s social, political and economic landscapes and position the continent on a solid footing to tackle the enormous challenges of the 21st century.
This plan is poised to offer an African market with no internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured. A single currency stands for an Africa of unity, integration and strength. However, there is a possibility of potential failure of a single currency if implemented haphazardly with enormous consequences to not only Africa’s image but also the member states’ economies and, ultimately, the citizens.
Irrespective of the challenges and opportunities, a single currency will not just solve Africa’s problems overnight and it would be a mistake to hedge all the future developments of this continent on this venture.
As the new chairman of the African Union, Libyan Muammar al-Gaddafi, goes to work towards realizing the United States of Africa (by the way, I prefer, Union of African States), it is important that we evaluate this project beyond politics and solidarity. While it is possible to be carried away by the success of Euro, it is imperative that African leaders understand that the EU has been cooperating for decades and it took many years to realize the single currency after the Treaty of Rome. Signed by six nations (France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands) on 25 March 1957, the Treaty created the European Economic Community (EEC) that provided the foundations for European unity based on the common values of peace, freedom, equality, the rule of law and democracy. Today, the EEC is the world’s largest free trade area.
An African equivalent of the Treaty of Rome is the Abuja Treaty signed on June 3, 1991. That Treaty created the African Economic Community (AEC). AEC provides the platforms for larger African market for negotiating favorable trading terms bilaterally and globally, boosting investment and economic diversifications. A larger market will support economies of scale, better market access and production efficiency through competition.
In addition, economically integrated Africa could provide stable exchange rate, increase cross-border trade with efficient banking clearing and payment systems. There will be more potentials for improved consumer welfare, stronger political and security ties in the continent. It promises to offer better fiscal and monetary cooperation among states with long-term macroeconomic stability.
Nonetheless, despite these potential benefits, the problems of poor transport and communication structures in Africa continue to limit more intra-regional and intra-continental trades among members. The incessant political tensions across the regions continue to affect the creation and expansion of trade. From South Africa to Nigeria, African nations continue to trade heavily with their ex-colonial rulers over African Union partners. As a result, many African products get to member states via Europe. For many of the fiscally undisciplined nations, a loss of national autonomy on macroeconomic policy could be challenging. Losing autonomy on currency devaluation and revaluation, fiscal and monetary policies on interest and exchange rates will present major worries across African capitals.
How this integration will play out is still not clear. Take for example, the Francophone Africa is considered an ‘undertrader’ despite the CFA franc zone having one of the most extensive monetary unions in the world. Projected data in case of doubling of trade (from integration) suggests that some of the five regional economic communities will have net welfare gains, while others will have losses. Yet, while the feasibility and desirability of a united African currency union could be debatable, the structure and dynamics of the globalizing world makes economic integration a necessity if the continent must survive global competition.
All the continent has to do is to approach the adoption of the single currency cautiously. African Union must work to strengthen the regional economic communities (REC) for better currency unions and financial integrations. This will involve transforming them, I suggest, into Knowledge Economic Communities (KEC) where knowledge will become the main factor of production with coherent trade shocks among member states. This means more funding for science education, better information networks and transportation systems, revamped innovation and entrepreneurial environment and vibrant democratic institutions. Afterwards, these KECs will converge to a single African economy of one currency to be managed by a continent-wide supranational central bank. A knowledge economic Africa with our vast resources will transform every aspect of modern commerce and industry and move millions out of poverty.

General Article

The Easy Way to Renew Your Ohio Cosmetology License

The Easy Way to Renew Your Ohio Cosmetology License

Cosmetology, hair designer, esthetician and manicurist licenses expire on January 31st of odd years (2013, 2015, etc.). There are severe penalties for practicing cosmetology with an expired license, so you don’t want to let your license lapse. Follow these steps to make sure you renew your license on time.

Continuing Education: The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology requires licensees to take 8 hours of continuing education. The Board pre-approves providers and courses. The type of course you need to take depends upon your specialty. For example, hair designers must take courses about hair, estheticians must take classes about skin care, manicurists must take courses about nail care, etc. An exception to this rule is that the Board does allow you to take approved business courses. The good news is that you can earn these CE hours through an in-person or an online class. Approved providers and courses are listed on the Board’s website. The site allows you to limit your search results to internet courses only if those are of interest to you. Some online providers offer their courses through affiliates, so you might find the same approved course available on different websites.

Online License Renewal: After you complete your 8 hours of continuing education, you need to visit the Ohio State Board of Cosmetology’s website to renew your license online. Before you do, make sure you have your username and password, a valid email address, and a credit or debit card available. Although you are not required to renew your license online, the Board highly recommends it. Online renewals are easier to process, which means you will get your license in half the time it would take if you mailed your renewal information to the Board.

Tips to Remember

Consider taking your continuing education and renewing your license during the December prior to the January 31st expiration date. This will help you avoid the last-minute rush during the last couple of weeks of January.

If you received your initial license during the two years before the upcoming license renewal date, you do not have to take cosmetology CE to renew your license. For example, if you received your license in May 2011, you do not need to CE to renew your license prior to the January 31, 2013 renewal date.

If you have more than one personal license, you must fulfill the continuing education requirements for each specialty. For example, if you are an esthetician and a nail tech, you will need to take 8 hours of CE for your esthetician license and 8 hours of CE for your nail tech license.

You are required to pay a late fee to renew your license after the January 31st deadline.

General Article

My Greatest Productivity Breakthrough in Years!

My Greatest Productivity Breakthrough in Years!

I imagine your life is a lot like many things to do and not enough time to do them! This seems to be the curse of our technological age. We have great tools for improving efficiency, but we are also expected to be infinitely more productive.

As you know, most of the time, I write about improving education for our students. But today, I want to share something specifically for you as a parent and/or educator. Like me, I’m sure you are under a lot of pressure to get things done. Recently, however, I stumbled across my greatest productivity breakthrough in ages! It is a practice that is so flexible it will work for anyone: working parents, stay-at-home parents, teachers, administrators, and any other type of job.


I’ve never had a time in my life when I have felt less overwhelmed or gotten more done. Not only is this a major accomplishment, I had some specific constraints:

1. I was out of the office for six of the first nine weeks of the year. Most of this travel was for business, which is exceptionally exhausting and frenzied.

2. SOARA� is growing rapidly. This is a good “problem” to have, but there are more demands on my time than ever before!

3. I have two lively and lovely (yet VERY high-maintenance) children with ADHD.


Perhaps you’ve already heard of the block-buster system, Getting Things Done (GTD). I heard about it for years. A good friend of mine even owns a large firm in the Netherlands, teaching people how to be more productive with GTD principles. (He’s the Dutch “GTD King!”)

However, I never paid much attention. I’ve always been a very organized person. I’ve read hundreds of books and articles on the topic of organization.

They all say the same thing.

I had even attempted a few elements of GTD before, but I didn’t take to them very well. I now realize that I was missing the most important element of the whole process…

I was not keeping an appropriate written record of *all* of my commitments (a.k.a. “to-do” items).

How is this possible?


Or, so I thought.

David Allen, author of GTD, describes *anything* we have to do as an “open loop,” no matter how big or small. His description made me think of a fish hook; a type of loop that would cause a serious snag. In this case, Allen explains that open loops cause serious snags in our attention. These attention snags build and eventually, cause a feeling of overwhelm and dread. They are a constant strain on our mental bandwidth.

The brain cannot categorize these loops. It does not distinguish between a “big” loop or a “small” loop. To our brain, every open loop feels like a large, looming task. Something as simple as “stop by the dry-cleaners” has the same impact on our mental bandwidth as “clean out the entire house.”


Allen suggests that we capture *all* of our open loops in writing. I was used to having a weekly to-do list of 10-15 items. When done correctly, however, Allen says that most people will have over 150 open loops on their list.


I always avoided writing down little, mundane tasks. They seemed too insignificant to put in writing. Perhaps I was afraid of becoming more overwhelmed with a bigger list. It turns out, the opposite is true. Without a system to capture those tasks, they would swirl around in my head. They would pop into my attention at the most inconvenient times. I never realized what a drain they were on my consciousness, my energy, or my productivity.


I have a drawer in my bedroom filled with VHS tapes I will never use again. Every time I walked past that dresser, I would think “I should really clean that out,” and my stomach would sink ever-so-slightly. It bothered me, but I was never conscious of it. I certainly never thought to write it down. Just as soon as I thought about it, I thought I was forgetting it. I now realize that it was compounding with all of the other “I shoulds…” I would think of throughout the day. B-I-G M-E-N-T-A-L D-R-A-I-N!

As soon as I added this task to my list, I have *not once* thought about those tapes when passing that dresser. I still haven’t cleaned them out, but I enjoy the fact that they are NOT bothering me anymore. I must have been waiting to write this article, just to maintain a specific example of the power that writing everything down can have!

Allen recommends investing a few hours in creating this list. I followed his recommendation and walked all around my house, recording every open loop I noticed. Then, I went through my office and my email to capture everything possible.

By the time I was done, I filled three pages! My new Action List includes *everything,* from the prescriptions I have to pick up tomorrow to ideas I might not address for another three years. In other words, everything my brain dreams up or for which it feels responsible. Since I only have one brain, I keep personal and professional commitments on ONE list.


I have been completely and utterly AMAZED to experience the transformation of creating this master list! I review it every week and make decisions about what I will cover the following week. (This weekly review is another, completely essential step in making GTD work.)

I don’t have words to describe how mentally freeing it is to get everything out of my head. My brain takes much comfort in knowing that it no longer has to track every open loop. As a result, I am sleeping better. I am working faster. I am…

Getting Things Done!

Education Learning

Relevant Communication Replaces Static Rituals

Religions may regard themselves as forward thinking, with thought focused on an imminent immortality or a secure afterworld, however, this thinking is locked into time. By-standers notice that religions looking so far forward have a tendency to live in the past. Those religions are paid attention to about as well as flight attendants going through safety features on an airplane. But religion still has a job to do and it can be a practical guide to society when grounded on honest education and information.
One definition of religion from the New Webster’s Expanded Dictionary is; an acknowledgement of our obligation to God. In other words, it isn’t an acknowledgment of an obligation to static rituals and codes and creeds already outgrown by humanity.
Religion will continue to play an important role in life as it triggers advanced concepts of God and creation. But, communication of an advanced concept of God must be pertinent. Physical and psychological barriers are then broken through the proper use of applied knowledge, improving the very way human consciousness filters the world. It is important that religions recognize and participate in the now, today, otherwise the religion will no longer be recognized.
Although there is no one religion perfect and complete, it doesn’t mean religion is irrelevant. Religionists who staunchly battle the imaginary dilemma of a dying religion, by acknowledging an obligation to person, place, or thing, actually contribute to its death. However, to the contemporary thinker, religion is not going to die. Even in this new era of globalization there is evidence of religions acknowledging God, recognizing one another, and accommodating the interests of others.
Religion is relevant as discovery and understanding are given relevant manifestation. As our obligation to Truth, Life, and Love is honored, human consciousness transforms and accepts a practical forward mindedness living in the now.