Sheila K. Collins Website



September  2012  

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Dear (Contact First Name),


So much has happened since last month, it seems it must have been a longer amount of time than the calendar reports. Our family had been focused on the month of September, in expectation of a new member joining our clan. But as my mother used to say, "Babies come when they decide to come," and my granddaughter came three weeks ahead of schedule, just before the August blue moon.


This month's theme is a willingness to continue learning and nothing insures the need for that quality more than witnessing the entrance of a new life. I'm blessed and humbled and ask you to renew with me, our willingness to let go of what we're sure of, and be open to learning something new.


Enjoy the new fall season and let me hear what you think about these ideas,




Enjoy the rest of your summer,   


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Enter the darkened birthing chamber. Nurses scurry around, a mother wipes her daughter's brow, step-dad and the doula have cameras at the ready, the baby's daddy massages and coaches the soon-to-be mom, while she follows the movements springing from her belly with her chant-like breathing.
September 3, 2012 
Apparently we weren't the only people who hadn't heard of the museum, because although it was the height of tourist season, several dance students and their accompanying family members were the only other people there mid-morning.


On a recent vacation trip to Montreal I encountered an exhibition in a gallery at the Notre Dame Cathedral with the intriguing title "Life Before Death." It reminded me of a tribute a friend made to his father. 


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Learning Our Whole Life Long

Years ago, when I was already a university instructor of Social Work, I decided to get a doctorate. Around universities, the PhD is assumed, and not having one can be more than a small deterrent to one's career advancement. Though I knew most teaching professors weren't required to have, even a single education course, I selected the field of adult education and life long learning. I reasoned that my students were adults and they were entering a profession whose knowledge base was broad and rapidly changing. Alvin Toffler Throughout their professional lives, to keep their credentials and licenses, they would need to understand something of their own learning styles, and become committed to learning, unlearning, and relearning.


To be engaged in life long learning is still one of my most cherished values. What I wanted for my students, my children, and myself was to experience learning as enlivening and fun, and to realize that a commitment to continue learning our whole lives, results in more enriching and rewarding lives.


Later, when my partner and I establish

Peter Senge on the creative process
Peter Senge on the creative process

a behavioral health care clinic, one of the key qualities we were looking for in associates and employees was their willingness and commitment to continue learning. Peter Senge's book Fifth Discipline lead us to want to create a learning organization. His definition for such an organization -a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continually transforms itself.


We knew this would not be easy since, when learning something new, adults tend to want to add it on to what they already know. We can experience difficulty adopting something that doesn't fit neatly into our current paradigms, let alone when we have to let go of what we know that is no longer so. Giving up the security of our expertise as we make mistakes trying something new can take tremendous strength of character. But fast forward to present day, where this flexibility has become the new imperative. This comment by Thomas Friedman says it all.


"Lifelong learning is the key to getting into,

 and staying in, the middle class."


I love that access to information has gotten way easier thanks to the internet. Typing something close to the correct spelling of what I'm looking for and getting an almost immediate complex response seems magical compared to what we had to do in the olden days - hours spent pouring through card catalogues in libraries, putting in requests to inter-library loan when your own library didn't have the needed volumes.


But this same technology has created new problems and rules. It's no longer enough to work hard and play by the same old rules. As Friedman describes it, "The truth is, if you want a decent job that will lead to a decent life today you have to work harder, regularly reinvent yourself, obtain at least some form of postsecondary education, make sure that you're engaged in lifelong learning and play by the rules". 


TEDxDirigo - Eli Stefanski - Making Systems Thinking Sexy
TEDxDirigo - Eli Stefanski - Making Systems Thinking Sexy
What is Systems Thinking? Smiles =)
What is Systems Thinking? Smiles =)


Sheila K. Collins, PhD 
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