Syllabus, 2015-2016

I’m 8 weeks away from walking Seattle University‘s commencement stage–receiving a Master of Arts in Adult Education & Training, with a Human Resource Development specialization. How’s that for a mouth-full?! Human learning, evolution and development is a wonderful and inspiring thing. We learn all of our lives–taking-in, processing, and using the learning subconsciously and consciously.

In “adult education” classes, we talk about the following types of learning, particularly for humans age 16-on:

  • Somatic learning (knowledge through the body)
  • Affective learning (emotional-visceral-holistic, aligning with passions and motivation)
  • Artistic ways of knowing (through expression, creativity and the arts)
  • Indigenous learning (rooted in a particular culture and passed down)
  • Women’s way of knowing (a sixth-sense of knowing that women in particular have)
  • Transformative learning (worldview change because of discovery)
  • Transpersonal knowing (becoming aware to an extent that it impacts both worldview + way of living in society)
  • Spiritual knowing (meaning-making + connectedness to self and others)
  • Experiential learning (through prior or current experience, through loss, from others)
  • Self-directed learning (when you go out and get what you want to learn / know)

734780_10151167590221883_1147898177_n From a very young age, my grandma Adele (pictured right) demonstrated a women’s way of knowing, experiential learning, and self-directed learning in marked ways. She shared with me that she consciously chose to learn from individuals of various lifestyles, ages and generations not only so she’d stay in touch with how the world was changing throughout her lifetime–but so she could connect with people in real ways.

12049339_10153317766251883_2877383185999744960_nMy friend Roberto (pictured left) not only has extensive formal education in college and grad school (he’s a licensed couples and family therapist), but has engaged somatic learning as a professional dancer and many levels of spiritual, transpersonal and transformative learning as his worldview has shifted over the years. We sat in a midtown cafe in New York City a few weeks ago talking about all of the above.

This past year has been full of not just the documents and required textbooks for courses I’m taking in grad school, but much self-directed learning–serendipitous pieces of experience and information that have truly transformed my worldview. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 2.33.31 PMIn college and/or university, a syllabus is an outline of all that will be covered in a particular class. In life, we don’t have a “syllabus” or learning map from the start. Our learning and influences take shape along the way–through the confluence of experiences, people, opportunities, and events.

I mentioned in my last post the value I’ve found in looking at my own life and naming what isIf you were to write a “syllabus” or document of all the things, events, books, media, and people that have influenced you this past year–what would be included for you? TwitterInstagram and Facebook are great places to start. Look there at what you’ve posted or shared from what others posted. Those spaces catalogue some major experiences we track, name and share as significant.

With a collage of photos additionally below, here are elements that make up my 2015-2016 syllabus. This isn’t comprehensive, just a lot of them! For example, this doesn’t include anything to do with graduate school, relationships and social encounters, professional opportunities, my full-time job, freelance work, activities and exercises (though I mentioned some of those in the last post), etc.

Disclaimer: This particular year has brimmed with more traditional, formal, public activities than most years of my life. I recognize that life goes in seasons and waves, and this 2015-2016 season just so happened to overflow with events in particular. I’m sure if I were to pen a similar “syllabus” for the self-directed learning of other life seasons, it would look quite differently. Silence, solitude, and time spent in nature are just as significant and important. Seasons of my life have had shorter and less glamorous syllabi that have been just as impactful as this 2015-2016 version.

Events >>

  • Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat Pray Love” and “Big Magic”)
  • Saul Williams (poet, rapper, author)
  • Richard Dawkins (author of “The God Delusion”)
  • “Scratch Night” with C. Davida Ingram (Town Hall Seattle artist-in-residence)
  • Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin
  • Leslie McSpadden, uncle of Michael Brown
  • Colum McCann (author of “Let the Great World Spin” and other works) & John Freeman (editor of “Freeman’s” Journal and “Tales of Two Cities” anthology)
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates (corespondent for The Atlantic, author of “Between the World & Me” and “The Beautiful Struggle”)
  • Bryan Stevenson (lawyer, social justice activist, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a clinical professor at NYU School of Law, and author of the award-winning, New York Times Bestseller “Just Mercy”)
  • “The Moth,” podcast live taping at Fremont Abbey Arts Seattle
  • #BlackLivesMatter PechaKucha at Seattle University
  • Syrian Refugee Conversation, hosted by Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center
  • Reparations, Seattle Event
  • City Arts 2016 Future List Party
  • Greek Festival
  • Italian Festival
  • Croatian Festival
  • Iranian / Persian Festival
  • “Disgraced,” Seattle Repertory Theater (x2)
  • “Come from Away,” Seattle Repertory Theater (x2)
  • “Brownsville Song, B-Side for Tray,” Seattle Repertory Theater
  • TEDx Rainier 2016, “The Space Between”
  • Interlake Artists’ Open House
  • West Seattle First Thursday
  • Joe Machi (comedian) at Parlor Live
  • “Intimate Impressionism” exhibit at Seattle Art Museum
  • “Day of the Dead / Día de Muertos” at Seattle Art Museum
  • “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” exhibit at Seattle Art Museum
  • “The Liar” play at Shakespeare Santa Cruz
  • “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible” exhibit at Met Breuer New York
  • “Lush Us” / Gay City Arts Showcase
  • Recovery Cafe Arts Showcase
  • Shane Koyczan & The Short Story Long (spoken word), Triple Door
  • Rain City Poetry Slam (x2)
  • Seattle Poetry Slam (x3)
  • Nuyorican Poetry Slam (NYC, NY)
  • Youth Speaks Poetry Slam, EMP Museum
  • Ninetendo Exhibit & Ongoing Exhibits, EMP Museum
  • “Sleep Health for the Whole Family” workshop
  • ATS Student Personnel Administrators Conference 2015
  • Seattle Race Conference 2015
  • Global Street Papers Summit 2015
  • Collaborations for Cause 2015
  • Narrative Therapy Conference 2016
  • “HipHop as a Vehicle for Activism,” MOHAI Museum Seattle
  • Pat Mitchell (of The Paley Center for Media and former first female president & CEO of PBS)–in support of Seattle’s Women’s Funding Alliance, closing the gender equity gap and changing systems of oppression for women and girls, including pay disparity and access rights
  • “Race, Justice & Democracy” with Mayor of Seattle, Nikkita Oliver, Marcus Green, and WA State Supreme Court Justice, Steven Gonzalez
  • “Showing What We Tell: Building Cross-Racial Relationships” Racial Justice Lecture, with Darlene Flynn and Robin DiAngelo
  • Color Me Rad 5K
  • Shore Run 5K
  • Bellingham 10K
  • Hot Chocolate Run 15K
  • Vancouver BC Half Marathon
  • Matthew Vasquez (lead singer of “Delta Spirit”), concert
  • Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, concert
  • Dr. Dog, concert
  • Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, concert
  • Seattle Men’s Christmas Chorus, concert
  • SmashPutt Seattle 2015

Books >>

  • “What Does it Mean to Be White?” by Robin DiAngelo
  • “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell
  • “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson
  • “Not That Kind of Girl” by Lena Dunham
  • “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari
  • “Be Thrifty. (…not cheap!)” by Catton and Suntree
  • “Race Matters” by Cornel West
  • “Canowic” by Ben Bishop
  • “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss
  • “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo
  • “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • “But I Don’t See You as Asian” by Bruce Reyes-Chow
  • “Guide to Getting It On” by Paul Joannides
  • “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
  • “Self-Compassion” by Kristin Neff
  • “Comfortable with Uncertainty” by Pema Chödrön

Media >>

  • “4-Hour Work Week” podcast, Tim Ferriss (especially Derek Sivers episode)
  • “You Made it Weird” podcast, Pete Holmes (especially Rob Bell, Richard Rohr, Elizabeth Gilbert, Judd Apatow, David Bazan episodes)
  • “Paper Tigers” documentary
  • “He Named Me Malala” feature film
  • “Straight Outta Compton” feature film
  • “Do I Sound Gay?” documentary
  • “Where to Invade Next” documentary
  • “Demolition” feature film
  • “Good Will Hunting” feature film, specifically the scene at the bench
  • “Magnifico!” Italian Film Festival series, Seattle Art Museum (weekly, January-March)
  • TED Talks, including “A Kindler, Gentler Philosophy of Success” by Alain De Botton, “New Data on the Rise of Women” by Hanna Rosin, “Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong” by Johann Hari, “Why We All Need to Practice Emotional Hygiene” by Guy Winch, and “Is there a real you?” by Julian Baggini
  • “25” album by Adele
  • “Pacific-Atlantic” album by The End of The Ocean
  • “Our Version of Events” album by Emeli Sandé
  • “Rocco DeLuca” album by Rocco DeLuca
  • “Live at Whelans” album by Gavin James
  • “Heart on My Sleeve” album by Mary Lambert
  • “Open Season” album by High Highs
  • Multiple albums by The Tallest Man on Earth
  • Multiple albums by Freddy Massamba
  • Multiple albums by Sylvan Esso
  • Multiple albums by Fink
  • Live KEXP Sessions 7/26/2014 with Noah Gundersen

Travel >>

  • Texas
  • Canada
  • California (x5)
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon (x3)
  • Washington
  • “110 Walks in Seattle” book I’m working through (at #70 now!)

People >>

  • So many individual people! I don’t want to miss anyone, or over-elevate one over another, so I won’t list here formally. You know who you are. Thank you for all that you have taught me. Many of these events and media were recommended to me in conversations with strangers and friends alike. I am grateful.

Quotes from the event: Colum McCann

“Some people think stories are up in the air and kind of new age and fairy type stuff, but I don’t think so. Stories can heal us. In the end, death can take away an awful lot of things, but the only thing that cannot be taken away is our stories. We’ve got to not put them in a little tissue box.” // “I was fascinated by the fact that there was no word in the English language for a parent who had lost a child. There is a word in Hebrew, Arabic and other languages. The desire to write this story came from the desire for a word in English that doesn’t exist.” 

Quotes from the event: John Freeman

“Beauty isn’t always pretty.” // “We confuse empathy with ‘I could be you.’ No, it’s ‘I feel what you feel.’ Civilization depends on the fact that what you feel, I feel. Our moral contract with the world and each other. We’re responsible for each other.” // “Craft <writing> is empathy (if you’re good enough).” // “When it <writing> really works, it takes History with a capital H, and makes it intimate and interesting.” // “Stories are made by pressure.” 

Quotes from the event: Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin

“‘Be a part of the change.’ You don’t need to love your neighbor. You need to RESPECT your neighbor.” // “Three things you can do. Be a registered voter; vote–know what’s on the ballot, don’t let things slip through. Go to jury duty. Do your time and participate in being an active juror. Participate in a local nonprofit, in Seattle. Do your research…be a part of active good. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel–it’s already rolling.” // “It’s going to take a room like this for the change. A multicultural group. Look to the person to your right, look to the person to the left–the person behind you.” // Four women and one man stood who had lost children to racial and youth violence. “When you leave this room tonight, give them a hug. Don’t speak to them. Don’t say anything. They’ll know. Just give them a hug.” // “Your frustration is valid. But this movement will take not just African Americans. It will take a multicultural community. Those that worked with Dr. King weren’t just black. You have to remember–I’ll give you an example. It’s like a giraffe and a turtle. They do not see the same thing. The turtle looks around and doesn’t see any of it on his level. The giraffe may try to tell the turtle what he sees, but the turtle can’t see until he gets to the giraffe’s level. My brother was in a car accident and is a quadriplegic. I don’t need to be in a wheel chair to understand a little bit what his struggles are.” // “All the organizations need to unite–human rights, civil rights, black lives matter, gay pride–if the 10,000 here and 10,000 there would unite, it would be 2 million.” // “I come to universities; I say yes to talk to students every chance I can–because it was you that stood with us. You put on your hoodies and marched and posted on social media and stood with us.” // “I don’t wear this pin ‘I am Trayvon’ to remind me–I wear it to remind you.”

Notes & Quotes from the event: Elizabeth Gilbert

“As my good friend Rob Bell said so well: ‘Never give up the great for the good.'” // “You’ve heard the old adage: ‘Fight for your limitations and you get to keep them.’ Your fear and your creativity are like conjoined twins. You can’t kill your fear, otherwise you’ll kill your creativity.” // Paraphrase: “Creativity isn’t just expression, it’s living a life of delight.” // “I write a letter to fear and strand on a chair and read the letter aloud. It goes something like: ‘Dearest Fear, your sister Creativity and I are going on a road trip. You’re welcome to come along because we know you always do. You can sit in the back seat, and have a voice because–we both know you have a job. And that is to make me freak out before I do anything interesting. But let me be very clear… You don’t get to hold the map. You don’t get to drive. Me and Creativity are the only ones that get to make any decisions.” // “Perfectionism is the great serial killer. It kills everything that is good–creativity, love, forgiveness…” // “Specialization is very good for capitalism but not very good for creativity.”

Ok; your turn. What is in your 2015-2016 syllabus?

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