Alternative Education

Education

There are some really innovative program offered at my university, many of which I have/will take part in. My initial major, Interactive Arts + Technology, involves a trip to Seattle for one course and most course use group projects and hand on applications instead of exams and mid-terms. I just auditioned for the acting program (aka: BFA Major in Theatre Performance) which is also highly immersive. I love that when I go to an acting class I learn so much about life and humanity just by observing other people and reflecting on my own experience. Yay!

Outside of these “special” programs there are also some courses which are quite innovative. Next semester I am taking SFU’s Semester in DialogueAccording to their site…

The Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue addresses what we believe is the principal challenge for contemporary education: to inspire students with a sense of civic responsibility, encourage their passion to improve Canadian society, and develop innovative intellectual tools for effective problem solving. Each semester we develop an original and intensive learning experience that uses dialogue to focus student education on public issues.

Our topic is Sustainable Food Systems and after my studies in permaculture I am quite excited to explore this topic. We have already planned a camping trip for our first week to visit a farm on Vancouver Island! Cool!

SFU also has some really cool geography courses that go on trips for learning, in addition to field studies (such as ItaliaDesign) and exchange opportunities. And I have a couple friends that did an experiential learning course called The Change Lab. I am so lucky to attend a school with so many opportunities!

Thinking back on it, I have had a number of alternative education experiences in my lifetime. In elementary school I was identified as “gifted” and received special support throughout my education as a result. In grade three I got to be part of the “challenge” program which basically meant I got to skip class once a week and the principal would drive me to another school where I got to learn about a special topic with other kids in the program. My topic was circus! In grade 6 I did some special testing and was accepted into Surrey’s first ever MAC class where I stayed for a few months before returning to my “home” school. It was really cool to connect with other kids who learned the same way I did. I am still friends with some of them today! Then in high school I considered joining Inter-A (a largely self-paced learning environment with independent research opportunities) when I entered high school, but I had already established friends and volunteer commitments at my home school so I chose to stay where I was. At my home school we had a gifted coordinator and about once a semester we would meet with her, and the other gifted students in our year to discuss our “issues”. I really valued the opportunity to meet with other kids who were “like me” and I always thought we had a special bond. We all got to make Independent Education Plans (IEPs) and the coordinator tried to put us in classes with other gifted kids, and tried to support us in doing special projects and other initiatives. I got to skip one year of high school social studies through this method. I was also a year ahead in Math. Online courses were another opportunity I took advantage of. I took English 11 online and some other courses later on (Math 12 and Chem 12 to upgrade my marks) through Surrey Connect. I also recall a district Gifted Education Coordinator (staff person). She supported me in joining a gifted environmental conference planning committee. I got trained to be an SFU Philosopher’s Cafe facilitator as a grade 10 student which was pretty cool. I am realizing that I always felt really connected to other “gifted” students and educators. I think it was my idea that we were somehow the same and had something in common if only through or labelling.

Moving forward

In my own city we have the discovery school

Discovery School is a unique program of choice within the Surrey School District. The school draws students from around Surrey and other parts of the Lower Mainland.  Approximately sixty percent of the students come to Discovery from outside the Whalley area.  This is a public school, and there are no tuition fees.

Classrooms are free of clutter.  There are no desks, tables or chairs.   Toys, books, manipulatives and other equipment are stored on shelves lining the rooms.   This uncluttered environment allows for maximum flexibility in arranging small groups for a variety of activities and, most importantly, allows the whole group to sit in a circle, which encourages inclusiveness. Students’ artwork, and other art related to the themes being studied, is treated with respect; mounted and hung on the walls of the classrooms and in the front hall.  Otherwise, walls are generally clear and free from distractions. Even the playground reflects the ideas of cooperation, imagination and tradition. Along with the common adventure playground, Discovery has ‘logs and rocks’, string games, hand games and other areas where children learn to play timeless games with their peers.

I have also heard of Windsor House School, a democratic school in BC! Cool! I am sure I will continue to discover alternative education mediums. Vancouver has a whole brochure of them!

Today I…

Photo by Andrei of Wintercoast

Photo by Andrei of Wintercoast

  • Made fresh squeezed orange juice!
  • Made a Kale Salad!
  • Had a clearing conversation!
  • Bumped into a friend at the Bus Stop!
  • Went to the top of a mountain!
  • Gave a gift!
  • Printed posters!
  • Attended a student dialogue about experiential learning!
  • Went to a meeting!
  • Supported a student initiative!
  • Planned a trip to Victoria! YAY SO EXCITED!
  • Applied for and was granted funding for an event!
  • Had a life realization!
  • Fell asleep on a bus – literally! haha!
  • Saw Captain Charles Moore – credited with discovering the Great Pacific Garbage Patch!
  • Learned about the ocean!
  • Thought about how I can help the ocean!
  • Bought bananas!
  • Danced ballet!
  • Sweat!
  • Put up posters at SFU Vancouver and SFU Surrey!
  • Was featured in a newspaper!
  • Helped someone plan a Valentines Surprise for their partner!
  • Bought vegan food!
  • Made a vegan cucumber sandwich!
  • Finished a proposal!
  • Was inspired by people online!
  • Wrote this list!

BAM! 3 Campuses. 1 Day. 1 class. ROCKSTAR! The state of mind, not the energy drink! Life is amazing : )

Night! Dream pretty : )

What’s New in Jenni-Land

It’s been a while! I am so excited and inspired at this present moment! I want to write and share and dance and sing and jump and love and pet a cat!

So now I bring you… UPDATE ON WHAT I AM DOING!

My New Falling Whistle Came Today

My New Falling Whistle Came Today!

I have adapted and expanded my online presence. I currently maintain my Facebook Page, Twitter account, Rainbow Blog, Tumblr, THIS BLOG, Professional Website and I AM AN OFFICIAL SUPERFORESTER NOW (love it when my dreams come true).

At school this semester I am taking Acting II, Dance (we are doing Contemporary/Modern Ballet) and “Writing for Design, Media and Informatics” which I need to graduate. What an amazing semester! I am at all three campuses and downtown at the new Woodwards campus 4 days per week! Love it! I am close to Gorilla Foods too hehe

I am still running The LOVE Club (Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation) at SFU and am an active member of the SFU Improv Club. My big projects at the moment include the LEAD Project I am mentoring and some stuff for the Student Society. And I’m working with the MOB to raise funds to build a school in Berna this year. Oh! And the media collective I am starting with some awesome people! Good things to come : )

I am still contemplating my next year… the semester in dialogue? an internship? citystudio? Graduate on time? So many options! I love living in possibility.

Oh and as usual I have been spending a great deal of time pondering how I can… bring more love into the world, reduce the trash I produce, eat more raw organic food and sillyness! Yay sillyness : P

But enough about me… (Or in the words of the theatrical adaptation I saw of “The Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoevsky recently… “I’ve talked way too much but it’s because I liked you all immediately”)

What are you up to? What is inspiring you today?

Yay! Love!

Jenni

Talks on Education

This past month I presented at ICE: The Inter-University Conference on Education. Some of the talks from this event have now been posted online.

This was the only talk I was present for but I really enjoyed it.

I strive to create conditions in which you might learn.

Wise words from a wise prof.

More talks can be found here: http://www.cisa-acei.ca/ice/?p=ice2011

My Workshop at ICE 2011 – Learning from Life: Unleashing Unconditional Happiness

UniverCities Conference from above

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of presenting at the Inter-University Conference on Education. Apparently my session was one of the most popular! Around 30 people attended and the evaluations I saw were very positive. Here’s some more info about my presentation:

Learning from Life: Unleashing Unconditional Happiness with Jenni Rempel
By separating external events from personal experiences, it is possible to open a way to seeing life as a path way to unconditional happiness. This workshop will explore circumstantial learning, techniques and tools to look at life and perceived obstacles as opportunities for growth and development.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE PRESENTATION: Learning from Life: Unleashing Unconditional Happiness

The main points I was sharing were related to choosing happiness and creating a positive life. I also brought in some laughter yoga techniques as I do at all of the workshops I facilitate.

I showed a clip from this lovely lecture:

And I also played zen meditation music as people entered to set the mood.

It was really beautiful. Just sitting in the room with the sunlight sneaking in. And listening to people talk about what they are grateful for. I am blessed.

One of the main points I covered was the Cafe Gratitude Clearing Process…

So basically, it’s a conversation to get you to be present, in the moment, and living an amazing life.

There are two people: The Clearee and the Clearer.

  1. The clearer asks the clearee some variation of “what’s stopping you from being present?”, there are many ways to say this… “what’s in the way of you being here right now?”… “what are you resisting?”…
  2. Then the clearer repeats back what the clearee says VERBATIM. Simply let them be heard, without judgement, advice or opinions given. Do not paraphrase or change what they say. The clearer tries to get the clearee “out of their head an into their heart” by asking them how they feel and putting an emotion to it (letting go of anything conceptual or anything other than their experience).
  3. The clearee breathes in the emotion they are feeling, and then exhales and lets it go.
  4. Then the clearer asks the clearee a different question. Some variation of “what are you grateful for?” or “what do you love about your life?”  … “what inspires you?”
  5. Then the clearer acknowledges the clearee and tells them something empowering. Thank them for being there and be moved by them.
  6. And then they switch! That’s it!

If you want more questions visit this google group, they email two new ones out daily: http://groups.google.com/group/question_of_the_day?pli=1

There is a much more detailed description of this process in the books “Sacred Commerce” and “Kindred Spirit” by Matthew and Terces Engelhart. They also have a DVD about clearing that was recently completed.

 

 

 

Which one is your favorite paradise?

At present I am thinking about my plans for the future. What do I really want in life? What should I devote my time to? And most pressingly… where should I be this summer?

I could stay here in BC and return to my summer camp leader job from last year. I could apply for a job at a different camp. I could go WOOFing (http://www.wwoof.ca/). I could apply to intern at GIFTS (http://www.giftsfilms.com/). I could be a Community Advisor at SFU Residence for the semester. I could take classes and not go anywhere (well except back to Hawaii for a week at the end of the summer).

I could go to California. I could intern for TOMS Shoes, Invisible Children, Falling Whistles or just go get a place and apply at Cafe Gratitude…

Where do I really want to be? At the end of last semester I was SO SURE I wanted to be in California and that was the place calling my name. But now… And even if I apply to all of these amazing opportunities, I don’t control the results of who selects me as the ideal candidate. But maybe that’s good. Maybe the decision will be made for me.

I saw this article today with amazing photos asking:

Which one is your favorite paradise?

http://abduzeedo.com/random-paradises?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+abduzeedo+(Abduzeedo+Feed)&utm_content=Google+Reader

And it really made me wonder. I think in general warm places appeal to me more. I’m one of those people who is cold very often. Last summer in Hawaii I still wore sweaters, but I wasn’t cold. And that was awesome. So maybe that’s the type of climate I should look to live in. But then, what of my life here? Hmm. Much to ponder.

Every Semester Needs…

  • a sick day
  • a hot TA
  • a Dance Party
  • a field trip (even if it’s just for an afternoon)
  • a new friend
  • an early morning
  • an all nighter
  • a movie night
  • a beer
  • an internet outage
  • noodles
  • an energy drink
  • a lesson to learn

This is from my experience at University at least. What about you?

Money Matters (or does it?)

My prof today asked us who wants to make less than $30,000 per year after getting their degree and I was the only one who put up my hand.
He asked why.
At the time I said something about not wanting to contribute to consumerism and my desire to live off the land, but I think I should have just said that there are more important things.
Plants are more important.
People are more important.
In the end, money really isn’t a very big part of the equation. But maybe that’s just me living at home still being young and naive…. and permaculting. But hey, be in the moment right? Loving it : )

Spreading the love

I’ve done some creative projects in the past few weeks that I never got a chance to post about. I hope something here makes you smile!

After my Summer Camp Leader job ended we had all these binders that we wanted to leave for students to take. We put them outside of the student lounge and wrote little happy message on each one to encourage people to take them : )

For my student union we upcycled a bunch of cardboard boxed into this awesome display to promote FroshOne (Frosh is a two day event for first year university students to get to know each other and the university). We made a “Price is Right” style wheel and wrote nice things on the sides. I made a video so you could read the cool stuff : )

Love,

Jenni

Fall Classes

A TON of people (almost everyone I talk to) is telling me to only take 3 courses while enrolled in IAT 233 because of the high workload. I’m really lucky to have people concerned about me and it’s really awesome to have so many people to draw advice from… However I feel that I can do it. Is it going to be busy? Yes. Is it going to be hard sometimes? Yes. Is it also going to be awesome because I LOVE everything I am committed to? HELLZ YES! I’m so excited for another year. I am a really hard working and motivated person.

Let’s do a little recap…

Last year I started university.

I took 4 courses first semester and was SUPER bored.

I volunteered as an assistant director/production assistant for two Theatrix show, “The Little Princess” and “Les Miserables”.

EDIT: I totally forgot I was in a show too! Rocky Horror went up during first semester. DUR.

I was also the TechOne Rep on the Surrey Campus Committee (SCC) but this required minimal effort.

I volunteered at a bunch of the university events as well.

I took voice lessons and competed in three categories at a festival which took some time to prepare for.

I took a dance class through the SFU Rec program.

Second semester I took 5 courses while still volunteering with the two Theatrix shows.

I found that this semester was a good workload for me.

I also commuted to all three campuses last year

This year I will be starting my second year of university and…

taking 4 Classes

being a Tech Teams Leader

being an Orientation Leader

being the Interactive Arts + Technology Student Union (IATSU) Communications Officer

acting in Into The Woods with Theatrix

Should be fine : )

I can’t validate only taking three courses and my Mom isn’t a big fan of that idea. I’m not working because my focus is going to school so I really want to immerse myself in the experience this year (something I could have done better last year). All my courses are in Surrey which will save me TONS of transit time. I am telling myself I can do it and I will do it. Everything will be fine, or better than fine. Everything will be wonderful. It’s all for the best : )

PS: As I was writing this I made friends with a racoon. Thought you should know. Yay for backyard blogging!