Monday, April 18, 2011

Ph.D. Journey - Phase I Complete!

Well, last week I completed the course work portion of my Ph.D. program at the University of Manitoba, last assignment submitted! It was a demanding, but very educational and interesting ride. Seven courses in 18 months. I must say the program so far has lived up to its title: Transformative Teaching, Learning & Leading, or TTLL. This was truly a growth process, I know some people question the value of higher education, now this is part of my career choice, however, the growth goes way beyond a mere job - but that is for another post, perhaps.

I was extremely fortunate to be part of a cohort experience, I strongly suggest this for anyone embarking on such a journey, if it is possible. I have heard other cohort experiences are not all good, however, the TTLL cohort became like a family, sharing, supporting through good times and bad. Just like a good PLN, it is all about the people , the connecting, the discussing, a person to talk to, to give strength when things looked bleak - and believe me, at times they did. I think everyone of us at one time or another had second thoughts. To illustrate the sense of family, for our last weekend class, we held class at Danielle's beautiful home, shared a meal, a few drinks and more learning, what a great way to have a class! We often met outside class hours in various size groups, at Degrees (restaurant at the U of M) after Saturday class, for coffee, a meal, to talk. We shared flurries of emails, created a Ning group - until it went to a paid format - shared writing & feedback, news from our lives, resources - I fully expect this activity will continue!
my work area for final course assignment

The people in this cohort are varied in background, interests and learning styles, this variety added much to the mix, and broadened our thinking (at least for me!). I have been very lucky to come to know these fine people. And, though the journey is not over, we will probably see less of one another, but we will keep in touch and continue to support one another.  I want to give a BIG SHOUT OUT and thanks to my cohort friends; Natalie, Jen, Cathy, Danielle, Lark, Pam, Margaret - and new member for this past year, Candy and for the last course, Heather and Duane! You are tremendous, caring, talented people, good luck to all of you in the rest of your program!

I would be remiss if I did not mention the great Profs I had at the U of M as well, all were excellent, but I will mention the cohort 'four';  Dr. Francine Morin, Dr. Thomas Falkenberg, Dr. Clea Schmidt and Dr. Wayne Seribrin. They exemplified the ideal that the process was about growth and learning and provided us with a challenging environment - and even though we often threw their careful plans out the window, allowed us our voice.

Now comes the next phase - the candidacy exam. At U of M, it is three months of ... terror? stress? hard work? learning? satisfaction? The exam (mine anyway) consists of four questions, 100 pages of writing and stacks of reading. My summer is spoken for, I don't know if I am ready, but, here it comes!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Ride Home: Salmon & other things!

salmon swimmingphoto © 2008 Russell Bernice | more info (via: Wylio)
note: This post is not about digital technology. 

Wednesday (I did start this post last Thursday - another priority since then) , on my ride home from class in Winnipeg, I listed to the radio program Ideas on CBC - I tuned in a little late, but caught most of the show. The episode was called Saving Salmon (you can hear it by clicking if you missed it!) and it featured a story - pretty well a monologue - by biologist Alexandra Morton (click to go to her web site). Now you might say "salmon - they are tasty, but an hour of someone talking about salmon??", and I might have thought that too, but what I heard was a very passionate advocate for the planet Earth and all its life, including humans. This was not a raving 'tree-hugger' - not that there is anything wrong with that. She is a biologist who lives in B.C. and spent years studying Orcas. So what do Salmon have to do with Orcas? Well, they eat them, so when Salmon suffer, Orcas suffer. On her web site , she writes:
"After 26 years in the wilderness of coastal British Columbia I have learned that wild salmon are one of those generous species that feed the world. As a biologist and mother I have taken a stand for these fish because we need them."
Ms. Morton speaks passionately about the environment, how all living things are connected, how we should be able to live with nature. At one point she pointed to the fact that 'we' fence off areas of wilderness in order to protect it - from 'us'. She also is not very complimentary about politicians and corporations - and I say good for her!  The almighty dollar has way to much influence! This episode is worth a listen, a wonderful portrait of the importance of the natural world!