Ethos Community

Brain, Mind, Body and Spirit

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, A.C.T, MCC, SCAC

My introduction to the EthosConsultancy Community

Even though I barely have time to bathe anymore, I was pleased to receive Hazel's invitation to join this particular blogging community -- especially since you are new to me and I to you. I was doubly excited by the potential of the invite after reading her impressive Terms of Service - extremely WELL done, in my view, and right up my alley.

HOWEVER -- I'm starting to feel like a "virtual" fool!

  • I also create 99% of the content for (supported from the USA, primarily informational in nature, taking a great deal of research and reading, if only in the archives of my own content.
  • I let loose with my quirky sense of humor on (a community similar to this one, rather like an ADD Facebook, hosted by Bryan Hutchinson from Germany).
  • My community on the actual FaceBook was intented to remain a blend of family, theatre, college and high school friends who ALL knew me long before knowledge of ADD crept over my horizon -- and who will probably unfriend me in droves the nanosecond the teetering balance of posts tips toward more ADD content (primarily from the ADDers who have found me there and requested my "friendship") -- when reading my wall becomes a toleration for them
  • LinkedIn is already a toleration for ME - blatant marketing more than much of anything truly interesting
  • Yada, yada, yada! - how does anybody find time for anything besides keeping up with the internet anymore?
  • Here in on, I hope to have conversations, particularly those of a more philosophical nature.

In service of that fervent hope, THIS post is a philosophically-based "About Me" designed to let you know what to expect from the posts I write here in what I will always think of as New Zealand.

Who I am and Where I "Come- from"

I consider myself a brain-based, systems development coach, trainer and advocate -- meaning that I keep up with the neuro-fields and use what makes sense to inform the assemblage of structures I develop with and for my clients and students.  Understanding the workings of what used to be considered that "black box" between our ears is the only way to Learn to drive the very brain you were born with -- even if it's taken a few hits in the meantime™

It would be truthful, but not accurate, to say that I work within the community of the "neuro-diverse" -- which might seem to exclude the "neuro-typical."  Accurately, we are ALL neuro-diverse.  Our brains are as individual as our fingerprints.  No two of us link and learn in exactly the same manner, and each of us develops best in bespoke environments.

The best educators innately understand this reality only too well.  They also understand that only tutors have the luxury of creating micro-learning frameworks, one student at a time - a sad truth, but one we must somehow learn to live with as long as cash remains king and teachers are seen as public "servants."  It behooves us all to have an educated populace, however limited and ineffective the enforced learning environment that serves the potentiation of economies of scale.

Another sad truth is that not a lot going on in the science fields these days makes a lot of sense to me -- meaning that it is truly fascinating, and useful in combination with a great many other research studies and points of view, but not particularly useful otherwise: mapping every nano-particle of a wing tells us precious little about flight.

I am probably at odds with most of my scientific colleagues, with the possible exception of that mythical Affective Neuroscientist who has tenure to protect his or her livelihood, and a trust fund to pay for the research.  We seem to have made a sharp reductionist u-turn at gene mapping; the origin and impact of emotions is no longer in vogue with those who hand out the grants these days - or with the press, the lawmakers and the skeptics.

I am not a Skeptic, nor do I genuflect at Logic's alter without the tempering influence of human emotions and - horror of horrors - a nodding acquaintance with the embodied Spirit.  I side with Hamlet on this one.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."


Dreams of MY philosophy

While I champion the thought that co-occurring and causative are two completely different things that often look the same, I also remind myself and anyone who will listen that cause and effect are often circuitously linked and frequently irreplicable.  That flies in the face of "science" and currently accepted distinctions and methodologies. 

When the definition of "evidence-based" confines the term to "double-blind, placebo-controlled, peer reviewed, journal published, scientifically replicable - consistent with the body of knowledge in the field," I can't help but wonder if those engaged in the pursuit of proof will ever glimpse Truth through that particular lens.  The "controlled experiment" has many uses, but at bottom, forcing anecdotal report to genuflect at its alter is short-sighted.

"Life is an uncontrolled experiment: confounded, confounding, and, above all,
completely impossible to replicate—tragically so, and wonderfully so.
I try to remind myself of that as often as I can. Sometimes it helps."

~ Kathryn Schultz, The Self in Self-Help, Jan 6, 2013 New York Magazine

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Comment by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie on February 9, 2013 at 20:24

@Hazel -- I love "ako" - it brings to consciousness the reality that it is impossible to teach without learning.  We frequently say that "the best way to learn a new subject is to teach it," but I have noted that lessons of growth and development ride along with midwiving the growth of another.

Each new client brings a deeper cut in my own life, as I work with them on distinctions and shifts.  There have been many times when I have said to myself, when a particular category of development is brought anew by a new client, "Darn. I thought I had that particular lesson knocked.  Guess NOT!"

Where did we "go" wrong?  I'm not sure if we didn't START OUT wrong, we "civilized" societies.  Our goal has always seemed to me to be more in line with trade-school objectives than that of expanding thinking and individual-specific awareness that will lead to societal contributions beyond the replication of what is already set into place.

How many times, upon hearing that a student is majoring in World Literature or Philosophy, has the joking rejoinder been, "Oh that'll make it easy to get a job?"

Our schools almost seem to proceed as if education itself were optional - something to be picked up on the side, perhaps, while we are acquiring skills - "the 3 R's."

In my clientele especially, even as I firmly believe it is impossible to move forward until one understands the neuro-differences that underlie prior struggles, I wish I could jump right into MUCH larger issues immediately: standards, values & vision, self-efficacy, community and legacy, for example.  

It is a dilemma similar to the one that our more "traditional" educators face every single day - exacerbated (in the US, at least) by the need to "teach to the test" because the repercussions of substandard metrics are harsh.

The home schoolers and the Montessori schools seem to be making a dent in the same-ole, same-ole (and their graduates are proving the methodolgy by being invited to attend the top colleges and universities, but relatively few students are fortunate enough to have that kind of learning opportunity.

Too simplistic a thought, I realize, but I wonder sometimes if the linear approach doesn't hold self-replication as its goal.  Even in the ADD Coaching field, where most of the population thinks holographically, the linears tend "rise to the top" because they are the ones with the administrative skills necessary to get there.  It seems to me that they believe unruly creativity is, at best, looked at as something to tolerate and work around rather than to include and celebrate.

I wish I could find an answer among my questions.

Comment by Hazel Owen on February 4, 2013 at 22:18

I'm sitting at my keyboard, finger poised, mind whirring. The things flicking through it include a feeling of resonance with what you write. I wonder - is personalised, tailored learning (professional or formal) ever going to be a reality with our current model? Perhaps, if we looked to other models (Personal Learning Networks, negotiated curricula, and peer-tutoring, teaching and assessment to name but a few) could we all learn in ways that really recognise each of our brains are as unique as our fingerprints?

Today I have been at a hui, and one of the sessions focussed on the way in which the Maori used to teach/learn (the word "ako" carries both meanings in the one word). The community would raise with a child as he or she grew, and as they showed a real liking or flair for a specific skill, he or she would be supported in their learning. There was no deficit model. Assessment was part of the learning process (diagnostic, formative and summative). And, at the end of the day, the community gained by the addition of a bold, confident, enthusiastic member, who contributed their talents to the full.

Where did we go wrong? Is it because the research we conduct around learning often treats the learners as an exercise in the scientific method, rather than accepting that with humans, as with life, everything is beautifully messy? Often, qualitative research is seen as second cousin to the quantitative 'king', even though the latter often tells us only the 'what' and very little about the 'why'.

So, maybe the next step include jumping into the pool with both feet and trusting that the 'why' is likely to help us way more with the 'how'. 

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