Adj Marshall

Posts Tagged ‘Sailing’

A World of Education

In Education on January 3, 2011 at 9:50 am

“Schooling isn’t worth anything unless it creates for people the capacity to believe that they can change the world. If our kids don’t believe they can change the world then I think we ought to say that our education has not been strong enough”.

-Jean Piaget.

These past 8 years my life’s work has been Education. As a firm believer in service learning & experiential education I have come to embrace this methodology as my own teaching pedagogy. In particular I appreciate the pedagogy’s focus on the instructors learning  in the process of guiding others learning as well as utilizing education as a means for creating change.

In my past work I have had the opportunity to partake in and guide  service learning and experiential education programs across the country and globe. In the states, this has included programs in San Francisco CA, New York NY, John’s Island SC Jamez Pueblo NM, Lawrence MA, and Providence RI. Abroad I have worked with the communities of Mindelo Cape Verde, Guayaquil Ecuador, Wellstead Australia, and Ermera East Timor.

Oliver Hazard Perry RI (OHPRI)

Last week while surveying the local news I came across an article in the lifestyles section of the Go Local Prov news detailing RI Commissioner of Education, Deborah Gists’ approval of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry to serve as the states At Sea School Ship upon its completion in 2013. The program is described as a “floating classroom” that will  “Incorporate at-sea, on-shore, and classroom experiences that transcend regional and cultural boundaries, OHPRI will bring students together to learn about the oceans and the marine environment and it will expose our young people to exciting maritime and oceanographic careers.”

I find the OHPRI project particularly exciting as it will take learning outside of the classroom. In the wake of RI’s educational crisis, I view learning methodologies that challenge the current practices of standardized testing as a  means to a more human centered and fulfilling educational experience.

While I was living in Australia I had the opportunity to partake in a month long experiential educational program upon the Leeuwin II  similar to what OPHRI hopes to offer. After my voyage upon the square rigged tall ship, I chose to volunteer as a crew member for 6 months, where I served as an experiential educator and honed my skills as a rigg climber. My experience instilled in me an affinity for sailing, which I don’t get to do very often, and also spurred my interest in rock climbing an integral activity to my current life. Below is a video detailing the experience of what a Tall Ship Classroom experience might be like.

I often ask students in my service learning/experiential programs  to share with one another their greatest learning experience. When we have completed the exercise I work with the students to find the commonalities and differences amongst their experiences. The one commonality I can be sure of with certainty is that their greatest learning experience will have happened outside the confines of a classroom.

Climbing the Rigging on the Leeuwin II

While no where in the article is the term experiential education mentioned what is being proposed  by OHPRI is exactly that.  The individual championed as the father of Experiential Education is John Dewy. I am currently reading Education in Democracy and skimming Experience in Education. Dewey’s approach to education relied heavily on experience as the central element in the educational process. For an experience to be educational Dewey believed it needed to have continuity, the idea that one experience fosters in an individual the interest to learn more and interaction that ability for one to grow by meeting their own learning goals or needs. Experiential education is often employed as a method of teaching that takes into account the variety of learning styles needs and goals each individual brings to their education.

As the only member of my immediate family non diagnosed with a learning difference, I have come to recognize the immense benefits of experiential learning. While I feel as comfortable in a book as I do in the real world I have deliberately chosen to make experiential learning a part of my education.

In a high school class of over 500 I was the only student to pursue both an AP college prep track  and vocational track. In college I chose to study the social ill’s of society through my Sociology degree while simultaneously choosing to make changes in these structures through my service learning work in my  Public and Community Service degree. In each of my jobs since college I have consciously chosen work that allows me the opportunity to work directly with individuals while offering me the freedom to step back, reflect and make alterations to the larger structures at hand.

This year I have chosen to focus my energies on creating my own self designed  LEAP( Liberal Arts Education Plan). Overarching themes include Education, Art, Business, Communication, Foreign Language, History, Music, and Physical Pursuits. In a variety of formal and informal ways I have chosen to pursue an experiential learning path that I direct. One where I learn music as part of a radical community marching band, foreign language as an ESL tutor, and history from the local library. This blog will be a space for me integrate my various educational LEAP objectives while serving as an arena to reflect upon the continuity and interaction, to use Deweys’ terms, of my experiential education this year.

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Where Do I Begin?

In History on January 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm

History is understanding the relationship between the past and the present. -unknown

Recently, while sailing with a new friend I was asked, ” Tell me your history”. The question, originating from a deeply authentic place of interest, caught me a bit off guard.  My friend noting my silence followed up by saying “For us to be friends I need to know you, and in order to know you, I need to know where you come from”.  As I mulled the question over, I thought to myself Where do I begin? and  How much am I willing to share with this new individual?

In that moment I was given the reigns to define my history, allowed to pick and choose the elements of my past I found most essential in defining who I was. It was refreshing. Often times those with means are given the power to define others history especially if you count yourself among the marginalized. While my past is static and unchangeable my history is ever evolving. With every new life experience, conversation, and interaction I am given the opportunity to redefine my history- the relationship between my past and my present.

Determining what I share about my past is always directly proportional to the sense of comfort I feel with a certain individual in a particular moment.  Determining where to begin however is often times more problematic.  Where does my history begin?  In the hyper individualized western culture I live in, history is often limited to ones own personal existence or possibly that of themselves and their parents. This concept made me question the relevance of ancestors  in our own personal history and the ways in which our individual history becomes a part of the larger fabric of a families’ history.

To determine my ancestors’ relevance, I had to first  determine who my ancestors were. With only one living parent and grandparent, my access to information was limited. This brought me back to ancestry.com For over a year I have been leisurely imputing information into a free ancestry account with no agenda or purpose other than to create a record.

Using the public library’s subscription to Ancestry I was able to access records my free home account could not. Each time a family member is added to your tree Ancestry informs you of records that may match your ancestors including, census records, military records, church records, community records and much more.

With the assistance of the data base and some prior research I was able to find records for:

Nellie Worthley my Fathers Grandmother

Nellie Worthley Age 5 1930 Census

 

Nellie O’Mahoney my Mothers Great Grandmother

Nellie O'Mahoney Age 10 Months 1910 Census

I also found the WWII Enlistment Record for my Fathers Father Charles Marshall

Charles Marshall WWII Enlistment

And a record of Mothers Grandfather  and Great Grandfather Floyd and William Kelly as boarders with the Mac Farlane family.

William and Floyd Kelly as Boarders 1930 Census

Each document I stumbled upon gave me more insight to my families past.

On my mothers side I learned that my Great Grandfather was born in Canada emigrating to the United states in 1909 and that my great great great grandparents were the generation to emigrate from Ireland.

On my fathers side I learned that my great grandmother was 108 upon her death and her parent my great great grandmother and father were married at 30 and 33 a bit late for their time period and unconventional as my great great grandmother was almost 4 years older than her husband.

So these were my ancestors… the generations that came before me. When I began my research I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but I know what I found will change the intersection of my past and present. Learning about our past allows for us to grow in our understanding of connections to others  and the world around us. This growth allows room for positive change to take place.

My research has changed the way I view community. I no longer see myself as an individual that exists in the present alone, but as part of a larger community that extends back generations into the past and extends forward generations into the future*. Communal family history is cyclical and I live somewhere along its continuum.

*That is of course if we don’t destroy it by then.

Websites of Interest:

Ancestry Website

Providence Public Library Subscriptions

Note: If you would like to submit answers to more than one post please click on the heading of each post to go to to posts individual page.