On the “Crisis of Significance” in Education

_DSC8868_v2_Xr_v1, a shot from my new trip in the galaxy Pascal Rey via Compfight

#EdublogsClub Prompt 36

    In my old time, there were a few main differences between how we lived as students and how our youth cope with it today; perhaps the most subtle difference concerns the inner feeling of the rhythm of time: it seemed to be flowing away at a slower pace.

     The curriculum was much lighter than it is now, at least in the present education system of my country; still, it was already overloaded by this enormous weight of technical knowledge and very little space was left to learn how to reflect and raise deep questions.

   I was in a boarding school during my 7th and 8th grades: after the lights were down and only a very sweet blue light remained twinkling in the dark, I knew that was the time for reflection: it was the indispensable “me time” that we weren’t given during the noisy, busy, cheerful and collective work day. Then I would sneak silently out of my dormitory and would walk all along the school corridors; I would revisit the classrooms, only guided by the street lights that came through the large windows in the corridors.  I needed that nocturne walk to really decentre myself and process all the multiple and colourful stimuli I had received during daytime.

     I remember to feel astonished by realizing the fact that so many different people had dwelt in these same spaces during the day; the silence and obscurity of the late hour brought back to me the echo of sounds, movements and events, but in such a way that they seemed changed, ceasing to be familiar and turning out to be strange; only then they would unveil their hidden face and exhale a mixture of strangeness and enchantment: “So much life has been here, all this has happened, and this fact is in itself a deeper mystery than everything we learn in class”.

  I used to think that we were dealing just with things most of the time, that there was no wisdom in what we learned; we were expected to build a certain amount of  objective knowledge,  but nowhere the meaning of life was addressed as a human and essential question, except in Moral lessons, which were given by an awesome woman and Dominican sister who revolutionized the system. 

      School subjects were clever, interesting and utile, but we could grasp the sense that nothing crucial was at stake. Finally I found my way when I was older, in faculty, studying Philosophy. As Michael Wesch puts it so clearly: “The crisis of significance: the fact that many students are now struggling to find meaning and significance in their education.”

In the end, what really counts and gives sense to the school, is also and perhaps first of all, learning how to raise the vital questions we can’t solve as a mathematical riddle, the questions passionately human and genuinely urgent that engage the totality or our being; the questions with which we find ourselves involved and that need our own personal commitment in order to unveil their impressive and effective power to transform both our world, the reality around us and our inner selves.

     The wisdom to take the risk of a life quest that accepts the challenge of the ultimate questions, that’s what I would like that schools in the future could nurture and encourage.

# Edublogs Club -“Literary Scene”

#Edublogs Club    Prompt 18 (catching up)Imagem: CAD – Cena Literária 

     I would like to introduce my dear colleagues Carla, Paula and Paulo, as they take up the impressive challenge of Beauty, by teaching different Arts in our School, each of them trhoughout their own special passion.

 These colleagues strongly contribute with their singular gift to the unique physiognomy of our School, and more than that, they keep weaving its own secret soul, by putting their talents at the service of our students.

     Thus, they help their younger fellows to discover their hidden talents  and encourage them to come out with their unique personalities, to offer their best both to their own young lives and to our school community.

     But  beyond that, they challenge our students to go further, in order to enlarge even the whole horizon of their generation. By giving away the best of themselves, our youth add meaning and strength to the perennial quest of mankind.

As the post would turn to be too long, this time I will only chose Poetry: CENA LITERÁRIA

Imagem: Teacher Carla playing Conspiração no Palácio

    So, Carla – who teaches Portuguese and Literature – is an actress, in a Theatre Company, – temporarily closed –  playing main roles in different kinds of drama and comedy plays.

    She has a singular passion for poetry, so that she created a monthly event at school, each one to celebrate a different poet, whose chosen poems are recited or read aloud by voluntary students, in the library, open to an audience of all ages.

    Portuguese Poets like António Gedeão, Mário de Sá Carneiro, FlorBela Espanca, Fernando Pessoa, Afonso Cruz, Almeida Garret, José Saramago, Sophia de Mello Breyner, Walter Hugo Mãe, are brought to life by the young voices and the brave hearts of students.

“To Be +” : Welcoming The New School Year

Imagem: CAD

       Each new school year brings to our School – and to the people who gives it life and soul – a challenge, a dream and a surprise.

      What is at stake is always the effort to move further away towards a so vast horizon that we will never reach it, but from where blows the refreshing winds of an irresistible freedom.

      This time the challenge invites us to look more deeply into the foundation of our living relationships: values that structure our school community, the exquisite reticulum of friendships that she carefully nurtures, and also the inner and intimate quest of each of us.

    For each one of the ten months of the school year – and echoing to the rhythm of our Feasts accorded with the liturgical calendar – 10 Values are disposed as a blazon of honour, facing us with their sphinx-like gaze, their hidden force of questioning.

     “Are you alive? Are you someone who may be questioned?” – Thus Shakespeare expressed the transforming sense of a reflection that can’t be articulate without a vivid commitment both to oneself and to others.

      The program for the whole year lays upon that inventive and unavoidable contribution of each of us, by deepening the living links among the different groups that we constitute  due to the variety of our roles: students, employees, teachers, sisters.

     In such common space of human presences that share themselves, giving the best of their differences, the sense of a living community may  be nourished and strengthened:  a human space of freedom, where each one exists so that others may be more.


A Favorite Tool: “Tridimensional Notebooks”



A Favorite Tool or Resource – Prompt 34

   I was strongly inspired by the post of Nina “Everything”, where I learned about “Poundland Pedagogyand Nina’s creative way of really transforming almost anything in a learning tool.

     Some years ago, I read the wonderful book “Slow Down to Speed Up” by Lothar J Seiwert and, in particular, the chapters shared by Ann McGee-Cooper, who helped me to understood quite clearly how my way of managing time and sustaining motivation should be carried away with success, differently from what the traditional and respectable methods driven by “the left side of the brain” suggested.

     According to this author, people using mostly their right side of the brain are keen to a “Poundland Pedagogy” approach of tools to be used creatively in the classroom.

    So, I spontaneously invite my young students to improvise and try new ways of doing things, in particular, finding inspiration to write, creating a mix of drawing and writing, trying new ways of spreading beauty in whatever their imagination is dwelling upon.

    This brings us back to the learning tool question. As we work together in a writing workshop, I do my best so that each young student may have a special and highly personalized notebook. We even try to make it look like a “tridimensional object”:

  • I usually cut every picture, image or even a piece of colored wrapping paper I think that may be found beautiful or interesting by my kids and give them to be fixed with glue on their notebooks.
  • I also use those pictures or images as a motivation to keep them writing as I do myself.
  • They often use plenty of different sticky notes.
  • We collect small size pictures of modern and ancient paintings stamped in napkins, or different qualities of paper and illustrate our writing with them.
  • We fix along the notebooks pages, with glue or “bostick” glue sticks, little empty transparent plastic bags or small colorful envelopes where they may collect ideas, little secrets or just to keep personal thoughts inside their writing notebooks.
  • We also decorate our notebooks with our own photos, or artistic stamps, even small pieces of fabrics.
  • We use multicolored pens, and often we inextricably intertwine our thoughts with those of others, just by changing notebooks while writing about a common subject, at regular intervals.


Interview – A Singular Path

Words for LifeCreative Commons License Leonard J Matthews via Compfight

#EdublogsClub – Prompt 33

      Today we share the joy of welcoming in our Writing Wworkshop, our dear ex-student, Júlia Marçal,  organizational psychologist and free lancer in a series of enriching initiatives  that have been building her singular path in the professional realm.

     OE – Júlia, please share with us a life experience that may have been passionate for you throughout your early school years.

     JM –  What touches us deeply remains recorded not only in our memory but also in our soul. So are the souvenirs I keep while being a student at Colégio Amor de Deus. A very funny  episode, that I remember vividly, refers to my experience, while a 6th grader, during a visit to the Lisbon Zoo. As we were having lunch –  students and teachers all together –  near the monkeys jail, one of the tiny ones, suddenly approached and seized the yoghurt from Mrs Sandra Pedrosa. There was a burst of laughter!  l 😊

     OE – Could you indicate the main factors that have modelled the original path you have been mapping as an independent professional?

     JMParticipating in different kinds of projects, being in touch with a variety of  tasks and people have been the main motivating factors so far.   Projects as my own book: “A Comida como Almofada Emocional – Why do we eat withouth feeling hungry?” become possible and allow me to put my creativity in practice and make my work known.

     OE  Which advices would you give to a young person newly arrived at the job market in order to be guided in this complex world, in the search for a job?

      JM –  The advice I would give to these young people is to choose a job aligned with their own values and personal interests, as it makes it easier to keep motivated. Another advice would be: don’t stop looking for different and better opportunities, in order to learn new competencies and abilities, which is fundamental in a job market facing constant change.  

     OE – If you could enjoy two years of financial freedom to survive with a moderate well-being, what activities would you chose to devote yourself. Why?

    JM –  Under these conditions, I would devote to writing, one of my great passions, as well as to projects related with empowering people at both  personal and professional levels.  

    OE – Thank you, Julia, for accepting to participate in this Edublogs Challenge. And keep up with your joyful comitment and creative work.

Júlia Marçal and Inpi

Author of “A Comida como Almofada Emocional

and Unforgettable Student at CAD