Posts Tagged ‘lifelong learning’

“Why do you work so hard to help kids overcome learning difficulties?” – Readers

“What if you are smarter than you think?”

                   J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)
                   Your Trusted Learning-Teaching Guide

Why do I work so hard to help kids?

Many people have asked me, “What got you into the work of helping children and adults overcome learning difficulties of all kinds? How did you become a neurological learning specialist?”
To digress for a moment:
I prefer to use the words “learning difficulties” rather than “learning disabilities” because “difficulties” seem to encourage hope (if you work on your difficulties, you can probably overcome them). Whereas, “disabilities” seem to denote something permanent, like a crippled leg or something that is not easy to overcome.

So how did I get started?

I guess people are curious to know my career history, especially after they find out that I was very successful all the way through all of my schooling, right from grade 1 through to my postgraduate degrees.
They wonder why I would care so much about struggling students when I had no experience with that myself.
 Maybe a seed was planted when I was five years old. I got rheumatic fever and I was too sick to go into grade one with my friends. So my mom homeschooled me all the way through that grade one year. She was intelligent and a good teacher, so I did well, but perhaps I did feel a little bit of an “outsider,” being isolated from my friends at school.
I do know that kids struggling in school sometimes feel like an “outsider,” alone and isolated in their anguish. Maybe later I resonated with having had some of that anguish when I was young.

I didn’t know what career to pursue

When I finished my grade 12 year, I wondered what I should take at University.

I loved the English language, and loved being a member of the debating club, so I thought I might make a good lawyer. I didn’t want to be a corporate lawyer. Too dry and dusty I thought. 🙂

I wanted to be a trial lawyer, to handle what I thought would be exciting litigation work in the courtroom. Dramatic arguments in front of the jury and all that. 🙂

But then I was concerned that if I went into criminal law, I might end up accepting tainted or stolen money in order to earn a living. So I set that aside.

I was drawn to the world of healing (perhaps because I was so sick when I was younger), so I wondered if I should try to get into medical school. My Dad, a journeyman electrician, had a modest income and I felt that even if I worked hard to earn extra money (which I was doing all along), I could probably not afford the high tuition fees demanded by medical schools.

I did not want to run up a $200,000 student debt as some of my friends were proposing to do. (The equivalent medical student loan now runs to $350,000 – $400,000, I’m told.)

Yes, I could repay the debt out of my future physician income, but I have always been pretty cautious about debt.

(A friend of mine ran up a huge student loan debt, and then was struck down with an extremely rare medical condition and was unable to finish his medical degree, so he was/is “toast” in terms of income, both present and future.)

As my dear friend said: “It’s difficult to predict… especially the future.” :O

What would have the most impact long-term?

I thought about the impact of being a good lawyer, or being a good doctor, and I felt that the effects of my work with my clients or patients might, in one sense, be relatively short-lived.

Because it began to dawn on me (maybe because of something I was reading) that teaching, even though it wasn’t necessarily well-paying, could have long-term or even permanent effects if done well. All through mortality perhaps, and maybe even on into eternity if I turned out to be an outstandingly inspirational teacher. 🙂

Provided the students were learning well. And loved learning.

I was always such a learning sponge, voracious reader, knowledge “addict,” and ultimately an enthusiastic lifelong learner, that I wanted that for everybody I guess!

I became a fiery advocate of lifelong learning for all, and I realized that for struggling kids in school, that wouldn’t happen if they were learning to hate learning.

All kids should have a chance to love learning!

Doc Meek, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada, Nov 25, 2014

DSD and Nutritional Music and Dance

Even though I have advanced degrees, I have continued on the pathway of active learning all my life. This not only provides me with an endless supply of new learning and new knowledge which I can apply to help children and adults overcome learning problems, it keeps my brain active and my thinking sharp.

Isn’t that what we all want?

I am constantly reading new material and engaging new ideas. I just completed reading a book by Dr. R. Douglas Fields (2009), The Other Brain: From Dementia to Schizophrenia, How New Discoveries About the Brain are Revolutionizing Medicine and Science. Engaging! Exciting! New frontiers!

Look to my future posts for more on this entrancing new brain science.

Reading, Thinking and Walking

I am also trying to remember to walk every day. If I take different pathways on my walks, I not only am increasing my blood flow and oxygen uptake throughout my body and brain, I am engaging new learning as I encounter new scenery and different people on each of these excursions. Some days, I walk the same way and still encounter new things to engage my brain, if I remember to stay attentive to my surroundings.

dementia walking

Photo from The New York Times, December 20, 2007, Walking May Lower Dementia Risk,” By TARA PARKER-POPE

Of course, some days, I just walk along oblivious to my surroundings! I am running my brain internally only, grinding on, or playing with, some problem or new idea. It’s probably better to use the brain in a new and different way, than to grind on the same old problem, eh? 😮

Your best refresher from problems pounding you down is DSD.

DSD? Do Something Different

Many of my clients told me it saved the day for them, whether as a student, or as a mother, or as an employee, or as a private person.

The more different ways you can engage your brain in new learning, the better the brain works, and the sharper your thinking remains (or becomes).

I really should take up something  completely different from my “routine” reading and walking and driving and flying. If I could carry a tune, I could take up singing, eh? How about painting, the artistic kind? Winston Churchill did that to keep his brain refreshed.

How about learning to play an instrument? Music engages the brain in novel and inspiring ways, and creates and enhances learning channels in superior ways we don’t fully understand. Even just playing gentle music (say, Baroque, or any music with about 60 beats per minutes) in the background when you are reading or studying helps the brain to learn.

Music lubricates learning, so to speak.

So does learning a second language. Even when we are older. 😮

Square dancing anyone?

I used to go square dancing every week. It was different from my usual desk-work and research habits, and I loved it! Challenging! We had to listen to the caller’s dance instructions while we were in motion. So we were getting a brain triple-play: music, physical motion and rhythm, and and auditory workout to boot.

Photo from “History and Heritage of Modern American Square Dancing”:

It always seemed such an odd thing to me that whenever it came time to go square dancing, I was too  mentally tired and unmotivated to go, even though I knew it would be good for me. So I devised a simple “personal policy”:

“Go anyway.”

The amazing thing was that I would come home from square dancing, exhausted physically, yet I was less tired and more motivated to do whatever showed up, than I was before I plodded to the dance in the first place. Amazing. Talk about seemingly “backwards logic,” eh?

Doc Meek, Active Learning Strategies Specialist

Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

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