On The concept of “Clarity”  by Greg McKeown

https://www.saent.com/2015/01/15/essentialism-greg-mckeown/Imagem: Saent.com

     In his book “Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less”, the author aims  at deepening the understanding of such concepts that may help us to stick to our own genuine goals, and, at the same time to figure them out more clearly, by rejecting or avoiding everything that is non-essential to getting us closer to them.

     One of this concepts, in chapter 10, “Clarify”, is precisely Clarity, concerning both purposes and roles and may be perfectly applied to our teacher teams or to our personal work.

     Then, to attain this efficient “clarity”, the Author suggests we must take the crucial decision of choosing what he calls “an essential intention”. It must be, at the same time, deeply meaningful and totally concrete in order to detain enough power to inspire and the minimum objectivity to be measurable.

    Greg Mckeown gives an example of an essential intention “Everybody in the UK will have internet access until 2012” described by  Martha Lane Cox when she had been invited to a  mission in this realm . He said that it enabled all her team work to distinguish clearly what each of them should do (and not do) in order to get there.

    How to formulate the “Essential Intention”?

   The Author gives the advice we may ask ourselves the two core questions that will configure all the decisions to come:

  • “If we could excel in just one thing, what would it be?”
  • And “How do we know that we have arrived there?”

     When the author made that discovery he was comparing different ways non-profit organizations declared their missions; he found that the really powerful inspiring declarations were, actually, the most concrete and measurable of all.

     This school year, our global theme “to be +” may seem a too vague and immeasurable “essential vision”, but – as the light refracts in its seven hidden colours in the rainbow – each month, we work only one value like “to welcome” in September, or “to be commited” in October, so that the times chosen favour the achievement of concrete, “ready –to-live” occasions, and so, “step by step”, we may be approaching the goal.


Celebrating Teacher’s Day

#EdublogsClub Prompt 38

Image: Kindness of the Author, Kate

     Two years ago, two dear colleagues, Kate and Teresa, teachers of Physical Education and of Natural Sciences, went, as volunteers, to spend a couple of months  in Mozambique, in a small farming school, in a place called Milevane, near to the Molucué river, on the base of the mountains of Gurué, in the province of Zambezia.

     Milevane can’t be found on google maps because it isn’t even a small village, but just a location, a vast extension of red land and striking green landscapes.

     Image: Kindness of the Author, Kate

     There, the “Farming Family School of Milevane” is run by six sisters of the same congregation of our school; they have built – some with their own hands – this farming and boarding school for 6th, 7th, 8th grades – by the demand of the population itself, about 25 years ago; the school property occupies about 50 hectares of red land and 100 more lent to be used for different plantations, mainly yukka and “mapira”.

    On the last trimester of last year, Kate went there all by herself, as a volunteer, earning no wages, travelling at her own expenses, with just a bag pack full of empty balls for the kids in the forest to play soccer, volley, basketball and to help with Portuguese and Math lessons; all through her adventure she has been supported by our students  campaigns to help her get all the balls and by their joyful messages during her stay.

Image: Kindness of the Author, Kate

    As two years ago, all the welcoming community of students and teachers had a great time with her, in the midst of a “never ending work” and all sort of challenging obstacles: the day begins at 5 in the morning, students sleep over thin mattresses on the floor, there is no hot water, they must walk about 1 km to school, everybody must clean and cook, by teams…

    This year, as a bridge had fallen, many teachers couldn’t come; the playground that had been bravely conquered to the lush vegetation was now recovered by the force of greenery and the balls were useless for a good time. White ants in the library had half eaten the study books brought last year, so that a fierce battle to get rid of them and save parts of the books took several weeks. And all was achieved in a cheerful mood and invincible hope.

Image: Kindness of the Author, Kate

     I chose to share this brave and true story to celebrate our day, because in some way, it represents something that touches the essence of the teacher’s mission: just walk away from comfort, participate in depth, enjoy heartily and love deeply.

Quoting Christian Bobin

Beauty by inpi17  #EdublogsClub prompt 37

    We can use quotes as someone who appeals to a master’s authority, in order to reinforce our own perspective and make it more easily acceptable. But, most of the time, quotes are loved and collected by themselves, for the “ power of rapture” they hold upon our hearts.

   Quotes are similar to a noble metal like gold, king among trivial metals, in this sense that they are made of rare and highly condensed “thought material” (if I’m allowed this paradoxical expression). They are beautiful to contemplate and they put us in a special wondering state of mind.

   They could also be compared with precious stones that sparkle their radiance around them even if we can’t grasp them with our hands: in fact, some are difficult to penetrate at a glance and put our minds in movement thus defying us to think.

   Their intrinsic creativity is contagious: they may touch, in us, deep chords of the soul and provoke the sudden feeling of an inner revelation.

   They can fill us, in a moment, with a joy that springs from the intuition of a hidden truth; they have the power to encourage us when we feel inclined to deception; they may turn us wiser by pointing to the preciousness of life even in the midst of pain.

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.


En Honneur des JMJ

Image: Jeunes Cathos

“Chers jeunes, votre chemin ne s’arrête pas ici. Le temps ne s’arrête pas aujourd’hui. Partez sur les routes du monde, sur les routes de l’humanité, en demeurant unis dans l’Église du Christ !”

Jean Paul II, Messe du 24 Août 1997 

Nous célébrons les vingt années des JMJ à Paris avec le bien aimé Jean Paul II, du 18 au 24 Août, 1997. Ces journées ont été si intenses qu’elles demeurent vivantes dans  les archives du cœur.

 Elles y demeurent, non pas comme un glorieux souvenir du passé, mais, plutôt, et précisément par la force d’avenir contenue dans ces moments surabondants de liberté vécue, elles soutiennent toujours le moment présent, dans ses soubassements, ayant gardé intacte toute la puissance de leur interpellation.

Ils étaient à peu près 800.000 jeunes lors de la vigile Pascale à Longchamp où le Pape a baptisé dix jeunes au total, deux de chaque continent. À chaque question posée lors de la profession de foi, et après la réponse du catéchumène, Jean Paul II demandait à la foule :

« –  Et vous, mes amis ? »

Sa voix portait plus que le son des mots humains, elle posait comme un tendre et inexorable défi, qui traversait la foule immense noyée dans la nuit, et rejoignait   le cœur de chacun, comme si le Pape était en face à face avec chacun de nous.

Image: Paris Notre Dame

Et voilà que vingt ans après, presque jour pour jour, 72 personnes, jeunes célibataires ou jeunes couples avec leurs enfants, partent aux quatre coins du monde, avec Fidesco, pour aller là où un appel au secours a retentit dans leurs vies avec plus de force que tous les risques qu’ils devront affronter.

Ils s’en vont en Indonésie, au Rwanda, en Inde, aux Philippines, à la République Démocratique du Congo, au Cambodja… pour offrir une ou deux années de leur vie au-près des enfants des rues, des handicapés, des étudiants pauvres, des médecins et infirmiers en détresse et sans recours.

Comment ne pas penser que c’est là encore un fruit qui a germé, une réponse à hauteur du mystérieux défi, tel une semence du Royaume, traversant cette nuit lumineuse, pour être déposé  dans le secret des jeunes cœurs?