Success is capitalizing on economic opportunities yet treating others with over-reaching kindness. When I think back over my career, I am struck that my fondest memories are of people rather than experiences, places, or accomplishments. What did I learn from the turning points in my life? Look for great colleagues, role models, and teachers. Be certain to understand the opportunities relative to the risks, and how the risks can be avoided. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and act accordingly. Play to your strengths while you work, but work on your weaknesses.
Many things that happened in my career were the result of random acts. The important thing is to keep your eyes open to recognize the right moves. I switched fields twice in my academic career — I believed the entire experience was part of growing up. The lesson here for young people: Do not hesitate to switch interests, majors, or fields of concentration. Success is a journey — not a race. Prepare well, retain good practices, and make a habit of effective strategies:. An important lesson in life is learning whom you can rely on, depend on, and trust, and whom you cannot.
Thanks again. So thanks for the great post and keep up the awesome work! My biggest worry is being on the road for 5 years, how not to get sick or tired of it all. The idea of traveling is wonderful but the reality of living out of a bag for 60 months is a reality and the novelty does wear off. Great lessons learned Matt. The rest of us just spend money when we travel. I just got back from a month in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. I realized that traveling lights me up in a way like nothing else does. I have to wait until my doggies leave this world and I need to prepare for this financially as well.
Thanks for putting your stories out there. This is really cool I just got back from Europe. I went to 6 countries in about 3 weeks. I plan on going to Moscow next year and traveling all the way down to Singapore. It was scary this last trip because I was by myself and got lost alot. As soon as I got back to the states I was wishing I was back in Europe or some other part of the world. You only live once so do not worry about money there is always more to be made. I have a bunch of money saved up so I am fortunate.
Good luck to all you travelers out there. Very inspiring post! I love that you make a distinction between being frugal and being cheap. Keep Carpe Deiming, my friend! I have been fortunate enough to visit 40 countries. My son by the age of 12 had been to 20 countries and my ukrainian wife has been to about What have I learned? To do a lot of research first. There is still room for being spontaneous but when you travel as a family it requires a bit more preparation. I have been accidently tear-gassed in the West bank, travelled through Gaza when single. Yes we had a whole hotel by ourselves and had a wonderful time but I felt sorry for the locals.
We always bring a nice gift for the ones we stay with. I belong to 2 organizations that have been a help to us on our travels. First is one which anybody can join. Its called hospitalityclub. Our id is iraandtim so check us out. We have stayed for free in Israel, lithuainia or maybe it was Latvia?
Also Denmark and New York with a famous author who was born on the exact day and year that I was born. And we have had people stay with us when we were living in Canada in British Columbia. Its all about showing hospitality to others even if all you can do is share a meal or give them a tour of your area. Last time I looked there were over , members. You might be lucky if you travel solo. The other organization I belong to is more difficult to join.
In Jordan the witnesses insisted on picking us up at the hotel and after the Sunday meeting took us out and we had a barbeque with the local group and some amazing stories of life in the middle east. There are some dangers to traveling. I have been robbed of all my belongings in The Ukraine yet they are some of the most generous people I have ever met. Many would share their last meal with a stranger.
Please enjoy your travels but always exercise caution even with other travelers. I speak from 40 years as a traveler who has seen more than most. I am not.
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That is all. As a landscaper for 30 years I offer an experienced opinion with those that want help in landscaping. The same with travel. Oh and what is our favorite country? The city we liked the best is St. Petersburgh in Russia. It helped that my wife speaks Russian. Any anyone that goes to Budapest please dont forget to see the Labryinthe under the Castle which has the fountain of red wine. Enjoy your travels. Ciao Tim.
Such bad manners on my part!! Warm regards Tim. Wow, 5 years of travelling, thats amazing. It is amazing to look back at the last 5 years of travel and still enjoying every moment of it. Thanks for the inspiration. I especially like the point about not being cheap. I missed out on so much during my first couple years of travel only because I wanted to save a few extra dollars here and there.
Earlier this year I did it without hesitation… and the memories I have are priceless. These are amazing thoughts. It helps in appreciating more where we go into rather than trying to keep up with our schedule and stressed out on everything we must do and go to before we go out of the place.
I, myself, have been once in that situation but I find it more worth it to simply relax and enjoy. Thank you for this post Matt! I find it very inspiring. Especially the point about not worrying about the future. Hi Matt! This is a great post and I can see that you are really dedicated to reading each of these comments! I myself am taking a year off after graduating from college and am currently teaching in China. Sorry a bit of a perfectionist haha.
I have put much consideration into college because I do want to have a career and make good money someday. But I always come back to traveling. I just want to get out and be free. Anyway what I want to ask is can I leave at 17 or Is it possible to save up enough for a plane ticket somewhere? And make it? Thank you for the article:. I googled things to think about whilst travelling and came across your blog.. Its taken me 45mins to every post but its definatly been worth it!!
Me and my boyfriend are travelling next year and im super excited.. I liked that you said plans change along the way so im going to bare that in mind before i start booking plane tickets for dates i have to stick to. Can i just ask, if you could recommend me and my bf 1place to go out of everywhere you have been , where would it be.??
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I am so happy that I have found your blog as it is really helpful! I am leaving on a round the world trip in 13 days and I am so excited! I am gonna keep an eye on this blog: really cool stuff. I am currently planning an 18 months trip, with my partner, and i am really considering working anywhere and everywhere as i go along with the flow. Is that possible? Wow its great fun to roam around the world…. I am heading toward world tour soon like you. In case will meet if path crossed…All the best Matt….
Thank you for the reminder that most people are good and life can be fun.
I learned that in Japan but just recently have forgotten. Having kids raises the fear for some reason and I am the least fearful of my friends. Anyway, remembering and hearing it again makes me want to travel more. Have fun! Hey Matt my name is Zach Ohrtman and I wodering if you have any advice for me. Ok my goal is to leave by December 13 and travel to Dublin Ireland on a one way ticket. From there start a trip around the world ending back in Arizona my home state. What would you recomed to start with on a trip like this money, supplies maybe even places to visit. Hey, Matt!
To work in the internet and travel the world — is the best life for me. My and my best friend plan on leaving America and wondering the world once we get out of highs school we feel like this is the best possible thing that we could do. We want to live life on the go not stuck at some dead end job. I was just wondering if you had any good advice for us?
Id love to hear what you have to say about our idea! Sincerely Hunter Greene My and my best friend plan on leaving America and wondering the world once we get out of highs school we feel like this is the best possible thing that we could do. Sincerely Hunter. I always go to different countries for holiday every year…but i really hope one day i have a chance like you…to be a true traveller…. Wonderful article that makes very good common sense Matt, thanks. I totally agree that They are also looking for us to share some of our experiences with them.
I live in NYC and the statement that rings most true is that to many people never stop take some time from their lives to enjoy more than their existence of going to , then return home, and back to work the next day. I always schedule and budget time and money every year for vacation travel for my family, including impulse weekend getaway trips. I travel every opportunity I get even though my work schedule is demanding. I guest I want to start traveling too after reading this post, seriously.
This is really inspired, though. This is really wonderful — i wonder if I could ever imagine to get out of the office and other responsibilities and take time out to travel for 5 yrs… not 5 but atleast for 6 months would be fun and so energizing. You are not everyone. What if you had a mortgage or rent to worry about. A Retirement to consider in your future? Everyone should.
Everyone can do this. Search this site and you will find senior retirees, couples, families, and more profiled on this site countering your very argument. I had all the things you talk about. You are free to not believe the advice on this site and to think that travel is just for the young and carefree but there are plenty of people proving you wrong and only you are missing out! My friend sara and i have been reading your blog and its inspired both of us! Your the man. Your website is awesome and very informative. I just loved it. Thanks for inspiring us.
Nice site! Not sure, but pondering east coast, Canada, Alaska, Iceland, Europe. Ps- my buddy Joseph Joe Wimp is a world traveler. He will have a book out later this year or next. Check it out! Teachers are denied the opportunity to do anything but fine tune and adjust the means for accomplishing ends determined by others. Teaching becomes merely a technical activity. A third aspect of the failure of reflective teacher education to promote genuine teacher development is the clear emphasis on focusing teachers' reflections inwardly at their own teaching and students, to the neglect of consideration of the social conditions of schooling that influence the teacher's work within the classroom.
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This individualist bias makes it less likely that teachers will be able to confront and transform those structural aspects of their work that undermine their accomplishment of their educational goals. The context of teachers' work is to be taken as given. While teachers' primary concerns understandably lie within the classroom and with their students, it is unwise to restrict teachers' attention to these concerns alone.
They must take active responsibility for the goals to which they are committed and for the social setting in which these goals may prosper. If they are not to be mere agents of the state, of the military, of the media, of the experts and bureaucrats, they need to determine their own agency through a critical and continual evaluation of the purposes, the consequences, and the social context of their calling.
We must be careful here that teachers' involvement in matters beyond the boundaries of their classrooms does not make excessive demands on their time, energy and expertise, diverting their attention from their core mission with students. In some circumstances, creating more opportunities for teachers to participate in school-wide decisions about curriculum, staffing, instruction and so on, can intensify their work beyond the bounds of reasonableness and make it more difficult for them to accomplish their primary task of educating students. It does not have to be this way, but care needs to be taken that teacher empowerment does not undermine teachers' capacities.
A fourth and closely related aspect of much of the work on reflective teaching is the focus on facilitating reflection by individual teachers who are to think by themselves about their work. There is still very little emphasis on reflection as a social practice that takes place within communities of teachers who support and sustain each other's growth. The challenge and support gained through social interaction is important in helping us clarify what we believe and in gaining the courage to pursue our beliefs. More research in the last decade using a socio-cultural lens has focused on the importance of communities of practice in teacher learning eg.
One consequence of the focus on individual teacher reflection and the lack of attention by many to the social context of teaching in teacher development has been that teachers come to see their problems as their own, unrelated to those of other teachers or to the structures of schooling. Thus we saw the widespread use of such terms as "teacher burnout" which directed the attention of teachers away from a critical analysis of schools and the structures of teachers' work to a preoccupation with their own individual failures. A group of activist teachers in the Boston area argued some time ago that: Teachers must begin to turn the investigation of schools away from scapegoating individual teachers, students, parents, and administrators, toward a system-wide approach.
In summary, when we examine the ways in which the concept of reflection has been used in teacher education we find four themes that undermine the potential for genuine teacher development: 1 a focus on helping teachers to better replicate practices suggested by research conducted by others and a neglect of preparing teachers to exercise their judgment with regard to the use of these practices; 2 a means-end thinking which limits the substance of teachers' reflections to technical questions of teaching techniques and ignores analysis of the ends toward which they are directed; 3 an emphasis on facilitating teachers' reflections about their own teaching while ignoring the social and institutional context in which teaching takes place; and 4 an emphasis on helping teachers' to reflect individually.
All of these things create a situation where there is merely the illusion of teacher development of teacher empowerment. It is not inevitable that efforts to foster teacher reflection will reinforce and strengthen the subservient position of teachers. There are examples in a number of countries of efforts by teacher educators to encourage the reflection of student teachers which focus on the ends as well as the means of teaching, which include attention to the social conditions of schooling as well as to teaching, and which emphasize reflection as a social practice within communities of teachers.
These examples support the genuine development and empowerment of teachers to play important roles in school reform eg. One example of this work is a focus on helping prospective teachers understand the reasons and rationales that underlie different choices that have been made in the classrooms in which they have completed their field experiences, to encourage their cooperating teachers talk with them about their thinking about what they do and would like to do, and to talk about how they have adapted instruction to meet the varied needs of their learners eg.
Even when student teachers are not able to act on the results of their analyses student teachers are able to gain a level of awareness that helps them see possibilities, that helps them see that what is, is not inevitable and that it reflects particular biases. All of this is good. I want to argue though that even if teacher development is genuine and not a fraud, that there is another consideration that needs to be taken into account in examining reflection in teacher education.
Reflective teacher education which fosters genuine teacher development should only be supported in my view if it is connected to the struggle for greater social justice and contributes to the narrowing of the gaps in the quality of education available to students from different backgrounds in every country of the world.
Just as the case with teacher reflection, teacher development and empowerment should not be viewed as ends in themselves. Even when reflection is used as a vehicle for genuine teacher development, it is often seen as an end in itself, unconnected to broader questions about education in democratic societies.
It is often stated or implied that if teachers reflect about what they do they will necessarily be better teachers. Kemmis has argued that reflection is inevitably a political act that either hastens or defers the realization of a more humane, just and decent society. All teaching actions have a variety of consequences which include 1 personal consequences- the effects of teaching on students' social and emotional development and social relationships; 2 academic consequences- the effects of teaching on students' intellectual development; and 3 political consequences- the cumulative effects of school experience on students' life chances.
In my view, reflective teacher education needs to address all of these dimensions, and it should not be supported unless it makes a contribution to the making of a better society for everyone's children. What does this mean in practical terms for those of us who prepare teachers? First, we need to recognize that reflection by itself means very little. All teachers are reflective in some sense. It is important to consider what we want teachers to reflect about and how. A number of different conceptual frameworks have been developed over the years in several countries to describe different ways to define the focus and quality of reflection.
Connecting teacher reflection to the struggle for social justice that exists in all countries today does not mean only focusing on the political aspects of teaching.
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Teachers need to know the academic subject matter they are responsible for teaching and how to transform it to connect with what students' already know to promote greater understanding. They need to know how to learn about their students-what they know and can do, and the cultural resources that they bring to the classroom. Teachers also need to know how to explain complex concepts, lead discussions, how to assess student learning, manage a classroom and many other things. Connecting teacher reflection to the struggle for social justice means that in addition to making sure that teachers have the content and pedagogical background needed to teach in a way that promotes student understanding rejecting a transmission model of teaching that merely promotes rote repetition , we need to ensure that teachers know how to make decisions on a daily basis that do not unnecessarily limit the life chances of their pupils, that they make decisions in their work with greater awareness of the potential political consequences of the different choices that they make.
While education actions by teachers within schools obviously cannot solve societal problems by themselves, they can contribute to the building of more just and decent societies. The most important point is that teaching can never be neutral. Teachers must act with greater political clarity about whose interests are served by their daily actions. They may not be able to change some aspects of the situation at present, but at least they will be aware of what is happening.
In summary, in this paper I have attempted to briefly identify some of the dominant trends over the last 30 years in both the rhetoric and practice surrounding the concept of reflection in teacher education.
Today, 25 years after the publication of Donald Schon's The reflective Practitioner, there is still much work going on in teacher education all over the world that is focused on the idea of preparing reflective teachers. Recent research has shown the importance of carefully structuring and scaffolding the reflections of student teachers through such things as the development of reflective tasks rather than just telling student teachers to go off and reflect with little guidance eg.
Models of student teacher supervision have shifted to focus more directly on fostering teacher learning and reflection than on the summative assessment emphasis in the past Pajak, Research has also shown the importance of teacher educators modeling the kind of thoughtfulness and praxis that they expect from their student teachers Loughran, In recent years, the rational approach to reflection largely based within the USA on the work of John Dewey has been challenged by a variety of scholars like Fred Kothhagen in the Netherlands who have focused more in the spiritual and intuitive aspects of refection and teacher learning eg.
There has also been a wide consensus among scholars that stage theories of teacher reflection that seek to help student teachers transcend reflection about technical issues of teaching so that they can focus exclusively on the social and political aspects of teaching are misguided eg. Despite all of these and other developments in the work on teacher reflection, there is still much conceptual confusion in my view about what people actually mean by the term reflection-whether they are attempting to promote a genuine kind of teacher learning that moves beyond the compliant implementation of external directives, and even if the teacher learning aimed for is genuine, whether there is a link in their efforts to struggles within and outside of education to bring about a world with greater social justice for everyone.
In recent years, deprofesionalization of the work of teachers has intensified in many countries throughout the world in response to pressures from neo-liberal and neo-conservative policies and the very idea of public education is in doubt in many places eg. Given the political and economic situation in much of the world today it is very easy for teacher reflection to merely become a tool to more subtlety controlling teachers.
The real challenge for us is to work against the grain and make our work in teacher education contribute to a lessening of these destructive tendencies and to connect what we do in our teacher education classrooms to struggles of educators and citizens everywhere to move us closer to a world where everyone's children has access to the means and conditions that will help them lead productive and rewarding lives. It is my belief that unless we make our work part of this broader struggle, reflective teacher education is not worthy of our support. Unfortunately in my view, most of the rhetoric about reflection in teacher education today, even after all of the critiques, fails to incorporate the kind of social and political analysis that is necessary to see and then to challenge the structures that continue to undermine the achievement of our noblest goals as educators.
I am optimistic though that teacher educators will rise up to the challenge and ensure that the goal of reflection in teacher education does not help to unconsciously reproduce the status quo. The goal of working for social justice is a fundamental part of the work of teacher educators in democratic societies and we should never compromise on anything that will help us make progress toward its realization.
Neither the teachers colleges nor the schools can legislate democracy. But something can be done to empower teachers to reflect upon their own life situations, to speak out in their own ways about the lacks that must be repaired, the possibilities to be acted upon in the name of what they deem to be decent, humane and just. BOUD, D. Promoting reflection in professional courses: the challenge of context. Studies in Higher Education , v. Rethinking portfolios: case records as personal teaching texts for study in pre-service teacher education. Counter narratives : studies of teacher education and becoming and being a teacher.
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The global assault on teaching, teachers and their unions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan,