I recently watched as a man cared so passionately about those around him that their lives were transformed into something so much more beautiful, healthy and alive.
I saw with my own eyes how this man took one person after another – people that were in so much visible pain, even to the point that they thought they wanted to take their lives – and with this pure, powerful and joyful love (full of blunt honesty, humor, and heart) they saw truths in themselves which shifted their view of everything!
Even when they were mean and cruel to him, through the questions he asked and comments he made, he discovered and saw past their mask to the core of them, and helped them see it too.
He guided them to discover for themselves where the suffering in their lives really came from, and assisted them in uncovering where those beliefs came from. He then invited them to consciously decide whether to keep the old beliefs they unconsciously developed over time or to see a different picture which is more true to the core of what they really want and who they really are.
In realizing the meaning they attached to the past in a new light, they could see an opening, an awakening of a compelling future, and their whole physiology and focus changed. It was obvious there was not pretense or pretending in their change – it was real and deep.
He did the same with people in relationships where couples had become so blinded to who they were and who their partner is that they were either simply complacent through losing the joy and passion in their relationship, or they were actually vicious to each other. In a few hours, relationships that seemed hopelessly lost to me were revived with passion, hope, meaning and excitement.
It is amazing how frequently all of us tell ourselves disempowering stories about ourselves, others and the world which just aren’t true. Ironically we usually do to protect ourselves from our two greatest human fears: 1. that we are not enough, and 2. that because we are not enough, we will not be loved.
There is so much power when someone can be bold and honest from a place of love (a love which we can not deny if we are being honest) and help us see how the map we have been using to see the world has elements in it that do not serve the core of who we really are and who we are really meant to be. The result can be instantaneous in how new, colorful, and alive everything seems, how it even breaths life and excitement into things that we once thought were dead (our passion, our relationships, our emotions, our purpose, our life).
So, what is a miracle?
Perhaps one of the most beautiful and powerful miracles is each time a human being sees, feels, and knows a bit more of who they really are – instead of who they think they have to be – and through living that truth they lift and inspire us all to want to do the same.
Life really is meant to be lived and experienced with passion – as human beings we are meant to dream, grow, and love others so completely that we forget about ourselves in a pursuit to give them (especially the woman or man of our dreams) what they need most – love, growth, excitement, absolute trust and dedication, honesty, laughter, and joy.
What does “critical thinking” mean to you? (Or do you like better the idea of “crucial thinking”?)
How do higher level thinking skills apply to the work that you do?
How do you think you can develop your ability to effectively think through complex issues (asking more crucial questions)?
In preparation for the upcoming ICT4D Consortium workshop in Tanzania, Tersia, Erkki and I met with Tim Unwin (UNESCO Chair in ICT4D) and his capable team at Royal Holloway, University of London. In addition to the Edulink related meetings, I appreciated how Tim also allowed us to participate in some of the other classes and discussion groups he held.
On the first day he held a discussion with a group of his PhD students on “critical thinking” (based on Paul, R. and Elder, L., 2008, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking). The discussion stimulated a lot of my own thoughts.
This blog entry is my attempt to capture some of my “take-away” thoughts, and to see how they resonate with others:
• As a term “crucial thinking” not only avoids some of the negative connotation (in English) of “critical thinking” but it also suggests something that is more essential and important. I like it.
• Whatever you call it, higher level thinking skills are so valuable, and so needed in making sense of this complex world, and in asking more powerful questions that can help us get at the heart of essential issues.
• Notice the distinction between seeking to prove something vs. seeking to learn/discover (especially in research questions).
• Often we don’t ask questions we should ask. Sometimes it might be because our parents or culture has taught us to ask less questions? Sometimes it might be because we are afraid of looking like we don’t know something that maybe we think we should know?
• Our typical school system rarely teaches us truth seeking curiosity, but rather the typical “learning” mechanisms (e.g. lecture, assignments, etc) and assessments (tests written and graded by a teacher vs. competence based real world projects with expert guides assisting) usually reinforce a lower level of thinking.
• Ask more questions (particularly “why” questions) – be more curious (be more vulnerable in admitting ignorance through asking a lot of questions). What other questions could I be asking?
• Ask myself: What assumptions I am making in the questions I am asking?
• Ask powerful questions – I should post another blog entry sometime on what I mean by this.
• Ask myself: How open am I to that I might be wrong in the solutions I am hypothesizing or that I might even be asking the wrong (less helpful) question(s) to begin with?
• Where do you start and build from in analyzing a situation to improve it? The weaknesses/problems or the strengths and what is going right? Whereas “critical thinking” might imply beginning from being critical of what is not right, crucial thinking could lend itself better to the attitude of starting from strengths, what is going right, (appreciative inquiry), etc.
• What is your claim? How do you justify it?
• Sometimes true crucial thinking is penalized by the existing system, because it often requires you to challenge the status quo (going against sources of money/power/etc). How willing am I to ask honest questions to myself and to those in authority (for the sake of truth), even if they could be seen as a threat or it might mean less privileged favors in the future?
Those are my thoughts. Do you have any to add? Or any answers to the first questions that began this blog entry?