Speakeasy Opportunity!

We have a few people interested in starting an informal group of people who’d like to hone their public speaking skills… no dues, no structure… just an occasional get together that allows us to “practice” speaking in front of a non-threatening group and receive constructive feedback. We’re betting some of the presentations will be pretty interesting too! We’re finishing up a public speaking class on Tuesday April 17th and those who think they might be interested in something like this are invited/encouraged to attend the class. We’ll start at 6:30 PM at the Piscataquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative Center on Morton Avenue. Prepared speeches aren’t required, but if you bring one we’ll listen! Any questions, send me an email or give me a call at 343-1842


Mental patterns and routines allow us to take in, categorize and handle great amounts of information, but they also account for most of our “stupid mistakes.” With awareness, we can manage the process and increase mental flexibility. After experiencing first-hand the flexibility and potential of the mind, participants learn how they can develop important mental skills such as fact-finding, problem-solving, and “happying.”

Sign up for this class and get a new brain! Class is scheduled for next week–Thursday, April 12 at SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft from 6:30 PM until 8:30 PM. Call 564-6525 to register!

No News Is Not Good News–media relations-publicity class

You may be making news, but is it news if nobody knows about it? This class will explore the basics of “getting the word out” through approaches that work for small businesses and non-profit organizations Participants will learn the how’s and why’s of getting a story in print or on television and take home samples of formats as well as a number of tip for maximizing their business or organization’s exposure in the press.

This course is coming up fast… runs Tuesday, April 10th at SeDoMoCha in Dover Foxcroft from 6:30 PM until 8:30 PM. Call 564-6525 and reserve your spot!

Giving Up Teaching…

No, I am not announcing retirement. That is what we call an “attention-getting headline.”  Before you charge me with misrepresentation, understand that I’ve actually been “giving up teaching” for quite a few years now.

Ho Hum, we’re being taught.

When I substitute teach I introduce “Rule #2” into my classroom: “We will enjoy learning.” I convinced myself to follow this course because I do love to learn and, hope to instill that love in my young students. I believe learning should be as much fun as possible. When it’s not fun it should at least be rewarding. That’s no less true for adults.

A recent article in Harvard Review, Twilight of the Lecture, by Eric Mazur was very affirming. Mazur says he is “more interested in learning than teaching” and demonstrates with research that moving the focus away from the lectern to the “physical and imaginative activity of each student” is the key to improved learning. In practical terms,

The active-learning approach challenges lecturers to re-evaluate what they can accomplish during class that offers the greatest value for students. Mazur cites a quip to the effect that lectures are a way of transferring the instructor’s lecture notes to students’ notebooks without passing through the brains of either.

For anyone who teaches, this article is a “must-read.” I’ve witnessed this first hand when working with second graders through adult learners. Many second grade readers will stumble over a word and look at me with inquisitive eyes. My instincts are often to give them the answer, but I know that’s not very engaging. So we might “sound it out,” break it down, or consider the context. Sometimes we find a dictionary and look it up. They don’t always like it because it means work. But I think it also means learning and engagement.

Can’t you just tell me the answer?

Adults like this even less. Real estate pre-licensing courses require testing and passing grades. I introduce every course with this observation, requiring students to write it down at the beginning of their notebook:

If you study to remember you will forget. If you study to understand you will remember.

That sort of process doesn’t usually work very well when I’m lecturing–students are writing down and hoping they can remember what I say. The harsh reality is that I’m doing all the work and hoping they are “with me.” It seems a bit odd that we are both hoping it will work. Hope is a wonderful thing, but effort tends to get more results.

Interactive learning is more work for the teacher and the student. It’s also not traditional, especially with adults. Teachers/lecturers like maintaining control of their classrooms. What we need to understand is that interactive learning does not translate to giving up control of the classroom–it simply requires a different set of skills and a higher level of engagement on the part of all involved. The ultimate classroom management takes place when we engage the learners’ mind as well as their pencils. Mazur says, “Active learners take new information and apply it, rather than just making note of it.”

No, I’m not retiring… and I’m actually not really giving up teaching. But I’m constantly doing it differently because I think teaching is really about learning.

Is There A Writer In You?

Of course there is… or at least so a lot of people seem to think. Of course getting him or her “out” might be a bit of a challenge.  And then, of course, there’s the question of whether or not he or she is a good writer. If you are one of those people who has aspirations of becoming a professional writer I have an essay you might enjoy:

Is Everyone a Writer?

The essay is from a blog published on The Chronicle of Higher Education — a bit of a newspaper and resource geared  towards college level faculty and administration. It’s definitely a site worth poking around… I found an interesting tip suggesting that when you are proof reading your manuscripts you should change your work to an unfamiliar font. That makes so much sense on several levels. (You can change it back when finished.)

Speaking of writers… I’ve got one you should “meet.” His name is Jim Henry and he conquered illiteracy when he was in his mid-nineties. (He started by practicing signing his own name.) Then he hand wrote a book when he was 98. That book, In a Fisherman’s Language, is about to go into its third printing.  Check out his site, blog and the “port to port” literacy program.

Walter Boomsma (“Mr. Boomsma”) writes on a wide array of topics including personal development, teaching and learning. Course information is also available here!