Earth Day!

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If we are ever to halt climate change and conserve land,
water and other resources, not to mention reduce animal suffering,
we must celebrate Earth Day every day – at every meal.
Ingrid Newkirk


 

It is strange that such an event goes unnoticed, so poorly promoted. Yet I think it should be amongst the most important occasions not to celebrate but to meditate about our “Home”, planet Earth. Our home’s address that consists of a single word: Earth.

It is also strange that we are preoccupied about claiming resources on other planets where our own is left forsaken by the same who anticipate how to colonize other worlds. Such a thin excuse to cover what in our own house we are unable to keep things right.

Shall we keep on using our critical resources and leave our own waste and trash moving on to cleaner places and redo the same?

I find it very ironic when many official sources and NGOs promote recycling and the fact of being “green”, they drown us  discoursing about sustainability. Speaking of recycling without proper civic education is in itself a waste of time and energy.

The real sustainability is out of our hands if we do not consider ourselves as part of this sustainable balance. Alas we grant to profit the biggest part and allocate so little to the base foundation of people wellbeing and profit prosperity that is our planet.

Interchanging between people and profit has proven so far that prosperity has not benefit masses, as many populations still suffer from hunger and lack of decent life.

How odd it is that research dedicates many efforts to extend people’s health and life where millions do not have clean fresh water and proper food, not to say they are left starving and lack knowledge that will grant them their autonomy and freedom. Do these technologies care for making some people work longer to grow the profit of the few?

Earth Day is such an important day!
Wishing you to male it yours not just on April 22, but every day we still live on this amazing place we call Earth!

Until our next chat,

Michel ©

 

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The Forgotten Language.

 

Blog April 201


 Strange that we all defend our wrongs
with more vigour than we do our rights.
 Gibran K. Gibran
(Sand and Foam)


 According to the site “Ethnologue” site (Ethnologue.com), considered as a trusted source on linguistics and world languages, there are approximately 7100 used (spoken, written,…) languages today amongst the 7 billion people living today.

 There are many regions in this world where populations strive very hard to protect their own language as it refers to their history and legacy. 

 Among all these spoken languages there is one, just one that seems to be missing, or should I say forgotten. Yes that language existed some time ago, the human language.

If each nation is proud to protect and speak her own language, what about human kind who seems to have really forgotten what it is to speak the most exclusive one? The one that does not need years of learning, school attending, grades and tests, its learning starts from the first day we come to life.  Yet the one that is disremembered so easily.

 Whatever country we live in, we are solicited from every source of information. Whether it is daily messages, formal communications, political discourse or social and personal exchanges, the human language seems to be left out. Left out to the benefit of other expressions that progressively dehumanize the essence of our own behaviour.

 The frequent use of comparatives, affirmations and how often negative expressions tend to be the only menu that is served every time we are receiving any sort of information. This tends to be a precarious exposure to a new standard of personal acculturation.

 The use of verbal innuendo became the panacea to seduce people, double meaning is, alas, king. Messages often transmit the form and seldom the substance.

 It is not a matter of syntax or grammar, it is rather how the true meaning of things are transmitted to people. The true nature of things.

 News networks are fondly using sensational expressions, words that will glue us to the screen, from a simple event made a drama, and for a global concern a simple piece of news.

 The scale of values has swung from an extreme to another.  Networks in general seek to wow people so they come back and listen to their daily flow of “things” they present as truth, even if unverified and poorly validated. They have “processed” their audiences to trust their certainties as solid facts. Whom else should they believe when they parse every piece of news with their regular panel of experts who seem to have found all of the answers to complexity and problem solving?

 And if the information appears to be missing accuracy, another event covers the previous and the 24/7 ingestion of what people need to listen and believe goes on.

 I wonder how many people can explain clearly what they understood from a live TV coverage. Sometimes I just keep record of how many times the reporter repeated the same expression under various fashions. It is very disappointing that most important events are so poorly covered. I had a friend who used to say on such situations: “It lacks substance!” Before turning off the TV.

 And yes, substance is all what it is about. Substance mixed with true human attitude.

 Compassion, empathy, are human related expressions. Care, concern, may be considered as  human attitudes. Truth sincerity and clarity,  describe professional and public attitudes.  Aren’t these the fundamentals of human universal language?

 How many times in a day we would use the positive words even to express a negative answer? Don’t we really miss that kind of culture? Let us prevent the actual to become the norm our young ones will learn as the adults of future, our world is really in need for a humanized change.

 Until our next chat,

 Michel ©

 

 

The Concerns of Today’s Education Model: Imagination!

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To teach, is to learn twice.
Joseph Joubert[i]


 

The concerns of today’s education realities! An Education model that lacks imagination!

If you have joined specialized social networks on education, you likely must have crossed specialists from various disciplines: mainstream and special needs education teachers, care givers and other persons dedicated for the learners’ wellbeing.

There are many ongoing discussions about new technologies, and many topics covering what some like to call a “reinvented education”, a new pedagogy (also known as “modern pedagogy”), after all these people’s efforts are mostly commendable in regards to education.

Concerns and efforts are well addressed and discussed, I sincerely admire these persons who dedicate their thoughts, minds and efforts to this domain. You may ask yourself if such being the case, then where I am getting at. I would like first to reassure readers of my full agreement that maths, grammar, science and writing skills are very important given the many challenges students will have to overcome during their entire life as learners and adult productive citizens.

However we must remember that these essentials are not the only skills students need to learn and become able to make use of all what they learn during their schooling life. Collecting knowledge is not only to memorize information, knowledge consists also in discoveries, comprehension and linking all the elements together as part of one global entity: our world, our universe.

Students need to learn about their local environment, they need to understand about citizenship culture, other people’s history, the traditions of ethnical diversity from other countries, and so much more about the sources of knowledge preparing them to be the real citizens of their own world, and not ours.

We are witnessing great changes into today’s world. Such changes are shaking most of the principles and the foundations of our model we have lived by until now.

The meaning and the true essence of human principles are being rewritten by the few who surprise the rest of the population with a fait accompli about such changes.

These events transpire on the future of education as well, students are asked to spend so much time in books, memorizing, and sitting for tests, instead of also discovering and retaining the result of their observations, their discoveries and what is real life about.

This will result in graduating future employees who will lack the necessary curiosity to go beyond what they are asked to do. The sense of initiative and the spirit of creativity will be seen as well as non-compliant behaviour, that the system in place will correct very rapidly.

I sincerely do not know through what kind of phenomenon it has been decided to push a very simplistic mode of grabbing and retaining information retention (funnily called “modern pedagogy”) rather than collecting and understanding knowledge, the excuses invoked to justify such approaches are the never ending statement “the guarantee of a job!” Ah! Yes! Impressive!

Creating more jobs! Can you believe that? Forgive my sarcasm, as it has never been much of unemployed youth in the so-called industrial and advanced countries than ever.

We see these young graduates who must, once their studies are completed, return to small “odd jobs” until something better happens, such jobs have nothing to do with their field of studies. SO next time you go to a coffee shop or a department store, and notice these young adults not showing a smiling face, you might understand the real reasons of their state of mind.

What comes top off for desolation, some specialists who speak, sometimes too often, about the virtues and benefits driven from new technologies, spread into ravishment at the borderline of mental ecstasy while the essential foundations of education is sorely lacking. Humanism, Social Sciences, a wider grasp and knowledge about other countries, cultures and populations.

Some time ago I expressed comments about how an educational system “treats” children (students) with learning difficulties. How kids must complete certain goals, achieve objectives, follow the one-size fits all model, when he or she fails a couple of times, then the student is simply tagged: “Child with educational special needs!” At that moment the kid is taken into the maze of the processes and never ending evaluations that will disconnect him or her from the feeling of being like other kids, worry the parents and extend such unclear diagnosis that retag the kid once for all: “Special Needs”. What a sad admission of failure! We could agree that not all kids who fail must have a behaviour problem! Sometimes it is about the model and the mind map of the person that does not click!

I know, most likely and probably I have been one of the many, one who has never been tagged as such! Yet I was labeled as “lacking attention> or “must put more efforts in memorizing”. Yet I managed to go through as I had the most important help and support: my own parents who believed I needed to find my own way in learning.

I do not deny that children with learning difficulties do exist and such cases are true realities, however it appears that the actual process tends to classify, sort and convey in a funnel all of who do not answer correctly to expected responses, do not reach and attain results and achievements as defined in that actual model, that is alas the inevitable rate of success.

As late as this morning I was reading several articles on the “famous recipes”, loads of advice, recommendations and tips to follow in order to achieve educational goals successfully!

For the love of life, could we change this sanitized language, which does not say much! Moreover these papers pivoted around the wonders that were attributed to the functionality of a given tablet!

Unfortunately so little was shared (a reminder: this paper was addressed to education specialists) about pedagogy, approaches, how the mentioned device would fit to these educational skills and not the other way.

Sincerely speaking, 7 over 10 papers promote the tool over the learning curve and the benefits kids or learners will get from using a given approach (please let’s call it pedagogy)

Correct me if I am wrong, it was never said that the tablet was at the core of the educational Yet specialists and experts made it the pivot of today’s learning! The core of the model is most likely the core of a bargain deal: “use the tablet so you can pass or succeed” and that looks wrong, very wrong! At least to me!

Specialists are tireless in finding educative values to new technology tools, I would rather expect them to act diligently in the opposite way: find the appropriate tool that fits the educational needs.

The educational model and the teams of experts seem to only promote brands and the gadgets surrounding that come with. Yes these applications are really cool yet how much value is in these for the sake of a good suitable education of our times? How much can we assure today’s clients (kids). We need to stop making these tools look indispensable to their own wellbeing, before they can understand and then decide what is the best tool for their knowledge.

I will never say enough how much of a fully persuaded and convinced user I am on new technologies, I own a couple of amazing tablets, tow e-readers, a very smart phone, I use most of the social networks, medias, clouds, remote printing, video-conferences. All my personal banking and communication activities pass through the net. Be assured I am not close to a cave man at 62 years old!

I have started connecting to the Web in 1994, a years after the first Web site was publicly launched by Tim Berners-Lee, my CompuServe© account number at that time was 3 digits, and my first personal site was created on those not so good looking black on grey background HTML pages! In the middle of the 90’s I contributed to the first e-learning program (e-learning not computer based training using a true portal also known as LMS – Learning Management System), and more activities I could have dreamed of in a life time. Yet my sole and only concern was and remains: people at the core of any educational solution.

If I would summarize my own vision about education: what can be taught with a couple of sheets and pencils and a true blackboard and chalks, can with no doubt be used with tablets and sci-fi equipment. All the true secret about education is focusing on how learner can learn with any tool, else they will always see what others use and keep at the bare minimal level of learning, becoming expert users of tools.

The point we miss today, is considering people’s need to learn how to learn! During all the teaching years I have cared to ensure that learners understand why and how instead of memorize, I used to say that books are useful when the educator is not available, helping learners to discover the thrill of finding new things and come up with an intelligible answer to their own benefit.

We badly need to learn how to learn!

Until our next chat.

© Michel J. B. – 2015


[i] Joseph Joubert, (7 May 1754 in Montignac, Périgord – 4 May 1824 in Paris) was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées (Thoughts), which was published posthumously.

 

Meet Jerry or a Lesson about Human Dignity

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When we deny the poor and the vulnerable
their own human dignity and
capacity for freedom and choice,
it becomes self-denial.
It becomes a denial of both our
collective and individual dignity,
at all levels of society.
Jacqueline Novogratz[i]


This is a true story that occurred today. The name was changed as I promised to Jerry not to divulge his real name, nor his whereabouts.

Jerry is a homeless itinerant, very hard to guess how old he is, yet after listening to his discussion ones knows he’s the kind of guy who’s seen and lived a lot. The circumstances of my meeting with him, unplanned, unexpected yet “never say never” as they say, we did meet.

The place, downtown Montreal (Canada), on St-Denis Street, at a well-known Coffee Shop (BTW they have an exquisite long double espresso with enough “crema” (Italian word for that rich and thick foam) only a professional barista can make. Ladies who ordered a latte had a little extra flower or heart toping the foam of their beverage).

Since I am not working on a regular basis, I go to the downtown rarely, unless I meet with former coworkers for a coffee or lunch, and for my hobby in taking pictures of places, buildings, these objects we care so little to notice, and last but not least I move where the action could happen and be at the right moment the right place to take the picture of the year” kind of thing!
So today was one of these days, and the St-Denis Street was a random choice, I’d say it was the first time I headed this area of my city, especially early in the morning. No shopping malls, or department stores, but many restaurants, pubs, cool places where people enjoy to hang on evenings, in other words the Montreal night life extravaganza! Not to forget the 24/7 coffee shops.

After an hour of taking various pictures, my caffeine crave was badly hitting its lowest level, I had to have some real good coffee.
I easily found the place, to get there you had to climb a couple of steps, I waited out of courtesy for the person in front of me to go in, he held the door, that is when I saw his face and clothing and felt surprised, very surprised to see an itinerant homeless person waling in such a place! We humans, are, at times our own worst enemies, we judge other people by their look, their hair, their clothes, I mean we categorize them according to certain (wrong, very wrong) social criteria and values based on the way they are dressed. When looking at Jerry (that’s his name for the sake of my paper, so guys this Jerry, Jerry these are the people who are reading this story!) I felt the shame rising to my face, as I realized how badly I misjudged the person as he was holding the door with a kind smile for me to get in easily, nodding very politely.

There was a line-up, the place was nicely designed various isles to allow people to enjoy a relaxing moments, the inevitable counters where students could spend long hours glued to their screens, headphones of their ears, you could wonder which planet they were visiting (I wished I could go back to these times of my life *Smiles*).

When Jerry’s turn came, he ordered a latte, a medium latte with an extra coffee shot. The young woman taking orders, whispered the barista that this order was a freebie.

My second cliché reaction surfaced instantly saying it was normal for “these people” to get their order for free, well hello for the humanistic and responsible citizenship I had been an advocate for so many years: I was judging a person in a situation based on appearances but also on accepted ideas (misconceptions) towards people who aren’t the same we are!

I guess the employee lacked discretion as Jerry heard her and said in a well-mannered French denoting this guy was not just well educated but had substance in his syntax and use of proper word, he expressed his disagreement about refusing charity, he also said it was a matter of human dignity to pay for something he purchased. He handed a five dollar bill, and tipped the young lady when getting his change back.

This guy felt obliged to prove to the people in the coffee shop he really earned the money and never begged for it, as we mostly think. That is when I felt how humiliating it must have been to defend himself, should he wore different clothes I’m certain nobody would have cared!

I felt my entire world shrinking to its smallest expression, such a sad scene. Nobody in the shop said a word, but how terrible can be a collective with stern faces all looking at the same person in such a screaming silence! It is sad to note that people who aren’t in conformity to our clichés seem to disturb the order of things, we tend to associate the external appearance to the so-called “standards” we are given in our days.

It was another chapter of my lessons learned not just for the day, I guess for a lifetime!

Jerry and I sat on facing separate tables, he opened the newspaper he took from the stand and after reading some of the headlines asked the manager for a pen and started solving the crossword challenge of the day. I noticed he smiled and laughed when finding the correct word. Not sure if ever someone among the present people ever cared what this guy was doing, he was training his mind and brain to keep on learning (his own way, but what an amazing way). I wonder how many of us who once done with college, keep any kind of learning pace for their own benefit.
Although Jerry needed a haircut, a shower and a change of clothing, he was shining among many others through his courage and will to keep up with his mind and self-esteem.

I engaged some conversation asking if the crossword grid of the day was an easy one, he smiled and said he usually solved it in less than 10 minutes he then said in a lower tone so I could be the only one to hear him “That is why I sit at this table I have the wall clock in front of me so I could time my challenge!” I felt wordless if wordless is enough strong to express the state of mind I was at that moment! I was, and beyond appearances in presence of a great mind, a great human person, someone who kept his own dignity with pride who did all what it takes to protect it.

I could read in his shining eyes that pride in his ability to challenge himself with mind games but also to win his challenges. It was for me time to head back home, so I thanked him for his company when asking permission to take a picture he laughed and said joking “Don’t go and sell it and make profit on my behalf!” We both laughed and I assured him I wanted the picture as a souvenir for this particular moment.

To say the truth, this guy not only made my day but showed me the most amazing lesson about human dignity! A lesson that will be hard to forget.

Until our next chat

© Michel – 2015
___
[i] Jacqueline Novogratz is an American entrepreneur and author. She is the founder and CEO of Acumen, a non-profit global venture capital fund whose goal is to use entrepreneurial approaches to address global poverty. Acumen has invested over $90 million of patient capital in 80 businesses that have impacted more than 125 million people in the past year. Any money returned to Acumen is reinvested in enterprises serving the poor. Currently, Acumen has offices in New York, Mumbai, Nairobi, and Accra.

What is wrong with our educational model(s)?

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Education is my lifetime passion. “Educare” means raising someone or take his hand and elevate him from the state of ignorance to knowledge. I am the opponent of the theory of apprenticeship as of the information age, they have distorted pedagogy[i] while accompanying children.[ii] – Dr. Antoine Courban – 2015[iii]


The model of actual schooling expects teachers to perform like movie stars, in other words to bring the wow effect, as in a more academic expression: ensure these kids become job ready candidates once they finish school! In a world where once educators have finished their job, learners are in principle prepared for a reality that sustains the vocational education model and so much less their many years spent discovering and collecting and appreciate the limitless possibilities of knowledge!

My statement may seem odd, I know and I am fully aware of that. The art of education is – and I am a true believer of Dr. Courban’s definition – by itself a humanistic process, walking with the students towards knowledge until it is reached when learners (kids) are fit to walk into their adult life.

As much as odd my statement may seem, I frankly recognize that in many situations it is sadly the case. It must be very disappointing for graduates (and their teachers I assume) to find out how different are the realities of the job market. It must be very disappointing not to say upsetting to be told they may work in different fields than what they studied for all these years.

If the present model is in anguish from within, it does not mean it is completely wrong, at the same time the vocational education model is also facing many challenges and criticism, that model cannot be completely wrong as well.

The two models would gain a lot, for the benefit of the learners to connect, to communicate and put together the best they could bring to the wellbeing of learners. I guess this is where thing go wrong: no link between the two!

Students cannot become good employees or skilled workers, while spending 15, 20 years or more studying in domains that keeps them in ivory towers far from the real world, but at the same time will never benefit of intense vocational training, one will see the entire forest and ignore the tree as the other will have the opposite situation. Learners need both realities.

If academic education is the food for the mind, vocational education is supposed to adapt such knowledge into the real world with the support of soft skills[iv] (See the endnote section). In order to avoid misunderstandings, let’s define soft skills as the various series of behaviours that help people work and socialize together. It is important not to confuse it with what hard skills that address the technical abilities someone learns and masters to perform specific tasks.

Both models are required to provide to graduates what they need to join the workforce. Vocational education will never replace academic and neither academic will ignore vocational. Both are meant to exist together and closer than ones may imagine.

Both models need to clearly understand that students are not recording machines who have to memorize data, more data, and nothing but data. If students cannot make any use of this data then education has a major problem, far more serious than what is ongoing nowadays.

For many years, I criticized the academic top-bottom model, for many years I defended and worked for a radically opposite model (bottom-top) , and I confess I was wrong!

I was wrong simply because I excluded one for the benefit of the other, in my mind as in many other people, if a model dos not respond to the expectations then we change it for another. Well if there is anything unique to education, it is a matter of people, human, minds, emotions and unpredictable behaviours and reactions. Besides if a model worked for so many years, there must be something (at least parts of it) good and profitable about it.

We are part of an entire complex environment in which the most intangible parameter is to know how people act and behave! No science, no course and no model could ever predict that!

Education as in capital “E”, is above all, knowledge (and know how) that interacts with human, with people! That could be the first amendment we ought to consider and then seek of where both worlds connect for the common good of people (learners). Knowledge is in no way data, just data, and learners are no either demographic or statistic data!

Educators and vocational specialists need to meet, need to share their art! Their partners, the learners, at the core of their thinking.

Turn your data into a story, into a game, into art! (Mark Sample), I discovered this quote a few years ago during a research I was conducting about modern pedagogy vs. the “old school pedagogy”. The words snapped into my mind, I found finally a simple but how real description of what I was hoping to offer in education program development. A definition of what a real pedagogue must be: an artist about linking the best of people and the wonders of endless knowledge. Oh! It is no secret to say there is no such thing “old school pedagogy” it never ages as it walks hand in hand with learners of all times!

We are desperately short on true pedagogues[v] who will inspire educational models to foresee the real challenges and more importantly the perpetuation of the real spirit of pedagogy in harmony with the 21st century realities.

The clock is ticking. Every year we lose in sterile discussions (eventually in no discussion at all) will provide another wave of people who will hold a grad in “drop out from school!”.

Until our next chat,

Michel – October 8, 2015

___________________

[i] Pedagogy is the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education; it thus concerns the study and practice of how best to teach The word comes from the Greek παιδαγωγία (paidagōgia), from παιδαγωγός (paidagōgos), in which παῖς (país, genitive παιδός, paidos) means “child” and ἄγω (ágō) means “lead”; thus literally “to lead the child”.

[ii] Original translation (French): L’enseignement est la passion de ma vie. “Educare” signifie “élever” ou prendre quelqu’un par la main pour l’élever du niveau de l’ignorance vers celui du savoir. Je suis un des ennemis de la théorie de l’apprentissage et de celle de l’information qui ont dénaturé toute pédagogie dans l’accompagnement des enfants

[iii] This citation is a free translation from the French original citation from the author, an eminent Medical Doctor, Teacher, Educator and Humanist!

[iv] [iv] Soft skills is a all term referring to various behaviors that help people work and socialize well with others. In short, they are the good manners and personality traits needed to get along with others and build positive relationships. Unlike hard skills, which include a person’s technical skill set and ability to perform certain functional tasks, soft skills are broadly applicable across job titles and industries

[v] The word pedagogue was originally used in reference to the slave who escorted Roman children to school. On the way back children used to discuss with them about what they learned and the discoveries they made The pedagogue’s job is usually distinguished from a teacher’s by primarily focusing on teaching children life-preparing knowledge such as social skills and cultural norms. There is also a very big focus on care and well-being of the child. Many pedagogical institutions also practice social inclusion. The pedagogue’s work also consists of supporting the child in their mental and social development

Please do not keep your knowledge to yourself!

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Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility. Robin Morgan[I]


 

There were many changes during the communication era, the power of knowledge and the value of what it can provide not only to individuals but for humanity. Today, we stepped into the times of connecting among each other a step far above information, and communication. The admitted and promoted purposes were stated by many leaders, experts, people of interest and influence. Initially such promised knowledge is supposed  to serve the wellbeing of populations. At the same time, globalization was sold to people as the solution for that wellbeing.

There are still too many countries struggling with internal issues such as starvation, lack of basic quality of life, poor education, difficulties accessing essential resources, and so more disappointing results. Ones may say not to blame it on globalization! I would fully agree and support such idea if it weren’t at start that the whole idea of a Healthy globalization did not carry a hidden agenda that would empower more than ever the key players who are building their wealth at the expense of less fortunate populations.

I am a true believer that we, the people living on this planet, can solve our own problems and fix all the things that aren’t really Okay! We can stop wars, provide food and education to whom has none, build true relationship among nations, and still strive to advance in technologies and reach places no one has ever imagined. I know it takes the will to do it, but I am also convinced that nations in need, have to take care of themselves according to their traditions and cultures. For that to happen, they need knowledge. Knowledge that is abundant for some, let’s admit it, less fortunate people do not need international aid programs, nor blankets or wheat even milk or baby food. What they really need is the knowledge to take care of themselves, to learn how to manage their water, their fields, their basic resources.

I once saw a documentary that seemed to hit a wow among viewers, showing an international aid team going to a country where the access to milk and its derivatives to build a factory to collect milk and transform it to various sub-products. One little thing the documentary did not say: there weren’t any cows in that country!

Sharing our knowledge and skills is critical to our own kind and oddly such thing would cost ways less than sending cargos of emergency supplies to the same people in need.

Our journey in this life is relatively too short if we compare it to the timeline of our history, shall we burry this richness in our minds, vaults and servers and pretend we want to help humankind?

Until our next chat,

Michel – August 7, 2015


The picture is from the Blog site of Women in Business


[i] Robin Morgan American Poet

Robin Morgan is an American poet, author, political theorist and activist, journalist, lecturer, and former child actor. Since the early 1960s she has been a key radical feminist member of the American Women’s Movement, and a leader in the international feminist movement. Her 1970 anthology Sisterhood is Powerful has been widely credited with helping to start the second wave feminist movement in the US, and was cited by the New York Public Library as “One of the 100 most influential Books of the 20th Century.” She has written more than 20 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and is also known as the editor of Ms. Magazine.

Is Global Citizenship at Risk?

00 Global Citizenship


We are citizens of the world. The tragedy of our times is that we do not know this. Woodrow Wilson


 

A few weeks ago I shared some thoughts about Digital (or Virtual Democracy), and was pleased to note some interest about the topic. Of course sharing a personal opinion is meant more of an awareness and food for thoughts, a tremendous job is awaiting the various sources and organisations who will have the task to define the foundation, thus the foundation of such new social and political paradigm.

Digital democracy can – at least for me – be only of one type, nations and territories, frontiers can no longer exist when it relates to such political format. Such democracies are built by Global Citizens (Call it Virtual Citizens as well) I am not a big fan of existing political views that exist in our world today, yet I respect each as I find each is in its growth process, changes will occur when times comes and when most elements in favour of such change are met. Digital / Global Citizenship is on its own path and its pace can be compared to the speed of a travelling comet! Not so sure any human force can stop it, eventually slow it somehow.

Virtual Citizenship is inevitable just looking at the trends of today’s virtual world: in some countries the ratio of intelligent devices is almost a 1 on 1 (952 smart devices per 1000 capita). If I translate it into my own language or comprehension, it means (to me) that people, need to brake their loneliness and connect to other people regardless of the barriers, frontiers and regulations to slow migrants to move from a place to another. People care to connect more than any other mean for a wellbeing when they are given the choice.

It is not uncommon to observe lots of criticism about the duality of real and virtual life. Still people claim these aren’t the same. They are right from a rhetorical and etymological point of view, the fact is more people connect every day on popular social networks and get friends with other people whom they would never imagine meeting in real life. These persons can be considered as the first generation of virtual citizens, I may say Global Citizen.

If you are member of one of these networks just look at how many people you got in touch with, numbers add up so rapidly. As a matter of fact I did that “human” inventory of the acquaintances and friend and business contacts I have made for the last 12 years, figures are overwhelming! One of the interesting thing is that I spoke to each of them not less than a couple of times, some occasionally but many on a regular basis. If I had to spend time in real life that would took me most of my life to reach half or even less people to speak or just say hello.

That brings me to share more thoughts about the title of my paper. Is Global Citizenship at risk? I guess it will be if we as citizens of this world do not first consider ourselves as ones who are part of this planet, and second if we do not care about who and what will provide what every community requires to ensure a better life in this virtual realm.

Digital Democracy is something new to most political systems, Global Citizenship is newer than ever. As most countries and their organisations are still limited with goals that speak of nation, borders, identity, ethnicity, and more of what defines a nation rather than a group of nations.

Imagine for example that each government decides to create the virtual or digital version for his citizens, what would have changed? Nothing much I guess! For believers that it is a viable mean to expand ourselves into a digital realm, keep in mind that if it happens it will inevitably come with all of the drawbacks that our reality is carrying and enduring since ages.

Global Citizenship requires a new social contract, a new paradigm as it will affect the entire planet. Education, communication, trading, and even human relationships. I am not trying to speak from an idealistic approach, on the contrary, let us think of what has changed so far in our day to day activities. Banking, purchasing, official communication with our governments, ordering food, learning, virtual visits to places we would never think of, and more to come. Under which system will this Global Citizenship be regulated? Who will be eligible to be recognized as such, will there be segregations, shall we admit and tolerate illiteracy in our own places of living not to say the rest of the world? Will the news channels dare to interpretation of critical events and serve these as our daily meals three times a day?

Global citizenship can start from home and our neighbourhood, our communities, just spreading good ideas, discussing, sharing our opinions, regaining the ownership of our decisions and freedom of choice.

I am not against laws and order, they are meant to keep a nation in order how about our planet, but it takes free minds to ensure the very existence of a true democracy!

Until our next chat,

Michel – August 6, 2015


The picture of this paper is from: Global Citizen Daily