Reflections

S2 Ep26: How Do We Encourage Social Relationships and Human Connection in Online Learning?: A conversation on digital literacy and connected learning in the 21st century.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ggw5t-11836cb

In this episode, I speak with Canadian author, educator and social media strategist, Garth von Buchholz, about why continuous and connective learning, and digital literacy is so important for online learning today.

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

Garth brings a wealth of knowledge to the conversation and shares powerful insights on opportunities for teaching critical thinking skills through digital literacy, e-learning, social media and social change, systemic white privilege, micro-learning, and so much more!

Social hub: garthvb.com

Web-blog:  www.globalisland.ca

Twitter: @Garth_vB

S2 Ep25: Captain Underpants is the Gateway Drug to Shakespeare: Igniting a passion for reading through habit-stacking to promote positive outcomes and inspire successful leaders

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-d9sk9-116ba34

In this episode I speak with Dr Danny Brassell.  A former inner-city teacher, internationally renowned speaker, trainer, author, and leadership coach.  He is co-founder of TheReadingHabit.com, the world’s top reading engagement program. 

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

Danny is on a mission to bring joy back into education and the workplace by transforming struggling and reluctant readers into more passionate and proficient readers through habit-stacking. Danny believes that if you’re not reading, you’re not advancing and provides a plethora of tips for creative reading for success at all ages… that includes reading biographies in the children’s literature section, listening to books on audible, and turning on closed captions on your television set. He says ‘You are what you read, so read good stuff’.

Danny encourages everyone that he speaks with how to make reading a lifelong habit and trains successful leaders how to communicate their messages through effective and inspirational storytelling. Danny has so many nuggets of wisdom, stories of inspiration, and motivational mantras that you absolutely don’t want to miss!  Come, #ListenAndLearn

Twitter:  @DannyBrassell

Website:  www.thereadinghabit.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dannybrassell/

S2 Ep 24: Overcoming Cultural Conflict: Learning to do things differently to encourage being seen, heard, and respected on both sides of conflict.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-thr5j-115f6b6

Happy New Year and welcome to the first episode of Season Two – 2022! 

In this episode, I speak with Jerry Fu, a conflict resolution coach who helps Asian-American leaders advance in their career and life journeys.

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

Jerry and I discuss his experiences growing up as a first generation child of Tawainese immigrant parents in America and how he used these experiences for conflict resolution in his professional work.  Jerry provides insight on leadership, resolving conflicts, and embracing your own experiences to better yourself and to better others around you.

While Jerry experienced many instances of cultural and racial aggression, and stereotyping as an Asian American, he maintains a positive attitude and a desire to encourage awareness and understanding in those who would contribute to the marginalisation of diverse people groups.  He explains that ignorance is unacceptable, because we are too connected, and adheres to an ethos of teaching and learning to do things differently, and that conflict resolution can be a powerful mirror to being seen, heard and respected on both sides of conflict. He says uncomfortable conversations are important because if you don’t have them, change cannot happen. 

Jerry shares three of his many powerful life hacks including 1. Don’t waste time on people who aren’t willing to change their minds on things.  2. Whatever you decide is your decision and you need to live with the consequences. If you don’t like the outcome, you have the power to change it.  3.  Go global.  Open yourself up to a wider worldview. 

Jerry has a gentle yet effective approach to conflict resolution and believes that using our own struggles with conflict is a very important aspect of successfully mediating conflict.  He shares several mistakes that he has made in the past as wise words of advice for us all that include: avoidance, charging ahead, over compensating, interrupting and insisting on taking sides. 

He also suggests enacting the five C’s in conflict mediation encouraging Compassion, Courage, Curiosity, Collaboration, and Closure.  Jerry says that success doesn’t always mean restoring relationships to 100% but going forward in a positive manner.  In conflict, we must listen to listen, not listen to respond.

Jerry shares stories and anecdotes that are so useful in tense situations within our workplace, schoolplace, or within our community.  He is a fount of positivity, gentle and wise.  Come, #ListenAndLearn

Ep 23: Are They College Ready? A conversation about how you can send your student to college without losing your mind or your money.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-ctzhr-10feb34

In this episode, I am joined by Shellee Howard,

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

Shellee is founder and CEO of College Ready and CR Tutoring and Test Strategies. She is a Certified Independent College Strategist and  best-selling author of the book ‘How to Send Your Student to College Without Losing Your Mind or Your Money’.

Shellee talks about the inspiration behind her organization, College Ready.  As a single mother of four children, she knew that college would be expensive and sought to put them through school without going broke or in deep debt.  It all starts with the unique approach of creating a profile and a stand-out strategy for students that gets them into top tier schools without going into debt. 

Shellee says that the optimum planning for college is when the student is ready to have the conversation and the understanding of the effort that needs to be enacted to stand out.  She explains that the level of student maturity matters, as well.  Students don’t need to know exactly what they want to ‘be’ when they grow up, just a desire for higher education.  It is all about finding out their expectations for their grown up life and talking through individual motivation for success.

Shellee talks about why she wrote the book ‘How to Send Your Student to College Without Losing Your Mind or Your Money’. It grew out of a desire to just give, and to help parents and students navigate the important decisions that come along with the journey to higher education.  Shellee says that today, students can’t just have a good gpa in order to be a strong candidate to access grants, scholarships, and funding for their dream school.  They need test scores, community service, and extra curricular activities.  It is a multi-tiered scenario.

Shellee started Passion with a Purpose to help students see volunteering and community service as something they would love to do for the rest of their lives.  Not just sign up, show up, check the volunteering box, but something they can appreciate and look forward to as they grow, mature and go through life.  Giving back and giving to others is a passion and mission of College Ready.

The College Ready website https://collegereadyplan.com/ can be navigated easily and Shellee encourages visitors to explore the options and opportunities. In 2021 alone, College Ready helped students earn over $10.7 million in scholarships!  College Ready provides several options for financial planning and advice for families which helps you to see the return on investment. From $495 to $4,000 depending on family need and desire for support.  But…

Shellee also says that she gives away tons and tons of free advice on their Facebook page.  All you have to do is visit and follow for free advice for your family and students. Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/CollegeReadyPlan/  Shellee also provides her own funding opportunities and scholarships to students through an annual essay writing submission.  She also says that if you reach out to her on her website, and request a copy of her book, she will provide it for  you free of charge. 

College Ready is a US based organization, but is available for students who want to attend college abroad AND for international students and families who want to send their students to the US for their college education.  Shellee is offering all of my listeners a 30 minute call with her to see if you and/or your student is on the right track for third level education.  Just schedule on her website.

Shellee’s final words of wisdom?  The time you  have with your children passes so fast.  If you can help them realise that it’s not just getting ‘to’ college as the goal, but it is more about who they are and why it matters in the long term.  Your children really do want your support, so invest in them because they are our future. Come #ListenAndLearn #Podbean #PodcastInterview

 

Ep 22: No Strings Attached?: A conversation about ethical volunteering as a force for social good, and the sense of freedom that comes with doing something good for others.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-fd8ck-10e549e

In this episode, I talk with Kate Chandler @heritage_kate about something that we are both passionate about – #volunteering!  Kate is a heritage professional from the UK, living in Dublin. She has worked and volunteered for the National Trust and English Heritage, and has held roles in volunteer coordination and management.

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

@heritage_kate talks about her own experiences as a young girl, visiting historical places and being captivated by the stories she’d hear and the rich history surrounding these spaces that were so magical for her.  Kate has always had a passion for heritage conservation and volunteering was a wonderful opportunity for her to surround herself with historical spaces that she loved so much.

@heritage_kate credits her volunteer experiences during her school years for directing her higher education and career path working in the heritage sector.  Volunteering offered her the opportunity to try out different things to see where her interests might lie.  She was able to connect with place and space in such a deep and meaningful way that were so special and impactful for her freely, with no strings attached. 

@heritage_kate shares that she has learned important life-skills from her volunteer experiences, such as facing fears and how to talk and interact with other people, which was something that never came easy for her. She says that volunteering has impressed upon her that everyone is equally important and that volunteers are invaluable to organizations (something that can often be overlooked). Volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and experience.

@heritage_kate believes that volunteering is a force for social good by allowing people and communities to come in and to contribute to a shared purpose and goal with no strings attached.  There is a possibility for a kind of democracy about volunteering, but there isn’t always.  Volunteering has the power to really bring people together, particularly in local communities. When you choose to do something for somebody else – to work towards something outside of your ‘self’ – it can contribute to your own happiness.

We discuss, in depth, the concept of ethical volunteering and issues that many volunteer managers and organizations face. @heritage_kate feels that volunteers are integral to the heritage sector, but are often relied on too heavily.. She feels that there are two thorny areas in volunteering – privilege and vulnerability to exploitation. Kate recognizes her position of privilege in being able to pursue volunteering which has impacted how she looks at volunteer coordination and management. Volunteering is a luxury, as unpaid work, enjoyed by some, and voluntary work should never replace paid work.  

@heritage_kate call to action for anyone interested in volunteering?  Just go and talk to people in the place that you are interested in volunteering with.  Meet them and see where what you want out of volunteering might meet with what they are looking for and how you might meet in the middle.

@heritage_kate words of wisdom to listeners, especially those in a position of power and managing volunteers… make sure that you are reflecting on that and using your position of power to  improve the ethics of volunteering in your area. There is always room for reflection.  Everyone has different reasons for volunteering so make sure you’re checking in with them! Come #ListenAndLearn #Volunteering #Road2Volunesia.

Kate’s Resources and References:

Ten Percent Happier podcast by Dan Harris – the episode is 183 ‘Fighting Depression with Social Connection’ with Johann Hari. The study he refers to is ‘Culture Shapes Whether the Pursuit of Happiness Predicts Higher or Lower Well-Being’ by a team of social scientists led by Dr. Brett Q. Ford of Berkeley – the 2015 article of the study can be found here: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/features/xge-0000108.pdf
 
And the organisationmentioned is Fair Museum Jobs, who aim to “establish a better standard (“The Manifesto”) for museum job recruitment that is based on the principles of fairness, transparency, equity and inclusivity.” Their website is here https://fairmuseumjobs.org/ and they can be found on Twitter at @fair_jobs

 

Ep 21 Supporting Victims’ families of Road Traffic Collision: IRVA’s hope for a time when serious injury and death due to road traffic collisions are a thing of the past.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-z8e8s-10dc0ad

In this episode, I talk with Donna Price.  Donna, a mother of four children, founded the Irish Road Victims’ Association (IRVA) in 2012 following the sudden death of her 18 year old son Darren in a crash in March 2006.  Donna was frustrated and felt unsupported and alone while navigating the inquest into her son’s accident which took far too long, and left her family without answers, statute barred for civil action, and lacking closure. 

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

Donna felt that there was no support for her family during the six years that they waited for the Coroner’s inquest… six years!  She committed to making sure that families of road crash victims who find themselves in the same position as herself, would have a source of support, advocacy, and comfort, and that they never have to experience the pain and suffering her family experienced.  This is why awareness of IRVA is absolutely vital.

The Road Victims’ Association in addition to being a listening ear, and peer support, they provide (and cover the cost for) bereavement counseling.  They also provide free legal advice for families navigating the inquiry process and hold monthly support meetings on the first Wednesday of every month (currently online due to COVID).  Additionally, the IRVA comes together every year on the 3rd Sunday in November, with over 300 families, to mark the World Day of Remembrance for road collision victims.

Over 1.36 million people all over the world are killed in road traffic collisions and another 50 million are seriously injured and left with life altering injuries. While they are primarily a victim support organization, the IRVA advocates for change in legislation when needed. For example, after her son’s fatal crash, the lorry driver was not tested for drugs or alcohol, although her son was tested at autopsy and had zero alcohol or drugs in his system.  Donna, and other bereaved families, campaigned to make sure that legislation was changed to ensure that there was mandatory testing when there was a death or serious bodily injury following a road traffic collision.

IRVA also has international significance and impact in strengthening the voice of victims’ and their families on a global level, as an NGO through a wide-reaching network  of road victims’ association IRVP (International Road Victims’ Partnership).  Did you know that 154 people are killed every hour on the roads of the world – that’s 3,700 people every single day that we hear very little about. Why?  Because these are small, individual tragedies where families alone are left to pick up the pieces and deal with the horrific consequences in the aftermath. With this global network, wherever in the world the traffic collision takes place, this organization can get much needed information and support to victim’s families.

While it may seem that IRVA might have an adversarial relationship with law enforcement and governing bodies, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  They work closely with the authorities to make sure that the families of road crash victims are well supported and that they understand the role and process of investigations and inquiries. In fact, IRVA has worked hard to make sure that law enforcement authorities provide the families of road crash victims’ with contact information and literature connecting them to IRVA’s representatives and services.

IRVA relies on volunteers and many are people who have been personally impacted by loss from road crashes.  Volunteers help to raise much needed funds for the organization as well provide free legal advice and lobby the government for changes in laws and statutes. The organization has developed several guides that assist not only families, but also prepare NGOs around the world, in working with victims’ families and navigating the processes when tragedy occurs.

Donna encourages any person or family who has been affected by a serious road collision, no matter where in the world you are, to reach out to any one of the 150 organizations within the International Road Victims’ Partnership.  All services are provided free of charge. If you would like to support or help with IRVA or IRVP, please get in contact.  She says ‘all it takes is one’.  One person at a time can save lives and greatly reduce serious road collisions. Come #ListenAndLearn

 

Websites: IRVA      www.irva.ie

                  IRVP      www.irvp.org

 

Email:  IRVA      irva@eircom.net

                           donnapriceirva@gmail.com 

             IRVP     info@IRVP.org

                          donnapriceirvp@gmail.com

 

Helpline: IRVA & IRVP   00353 868634194

 

Twitter: IRVA.       @IRVAroadsafety

              IRVP.       @RoadVictimsNGO

 

Facebook: IRVA https://www.facebook.com/IrishRoadVictims/

                  IRVP https://www.facebook.com/RoadVictimsNGOs/

 

Ep 20: Living the Alumni Way, Everyday: The power and potential lifelong engagement with your alumni network can bring to your professional and personal life after graduation.

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2bw6p-10c5e5d

In this episode, I talk with Dr Maria Gallo about the role university alumni can play in enhancing formal and informal learning.  She has over 20 years’ experience in higher education leadership and advancement roles in Ireland and Canada. 

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

She has a brand new book entitled The Alumni Way: Building Lifelong Value from your University Investment that will be published on 30th September 2021. Dr Gallo is also the Founder of KITE – Keep in Touch Education, which is an alumni research services company that focuses on the transformative potential of alumni connection.

Maria starts the conversation off demystifying the concept of the ‘alumni grinch’ when we think that our alumni associations and organizations only want monetary contributions from us after graduation.  We evaluate our identity of ‘alumni-ness’, and the importance of shared connections and ties that makes networking through alumni relationships vital. Maria shares how giving back of yourself helps students to see a clearer vision of that relatable role-model in professional and business practice.

Maria talks about the impact that her own father’s experiences as a first generation university graduate had on her, and the positive influence that being an engaged alumni had on him personally and professionally, as an educator.  This fueled her passion for researching alumni lived experiences on all sides of the spectrum. She looked deeper into the policies and practices of alumni organizations to learn from the challenges that many face in maintaining successful and sustained engagement, and has developed best practices for implementing positive alumni relationships for universities worldwide.  

Maria has a new book coming out very soon that has been a long labour of love for her.  The book, The Alumni Way: Building Lifelong Value from your University Investment, which is incredibly warm and engaging.  She believes that the ‘way’ is this idea of a journey that we spend so much time and energy in education before we ever step foot onto a university campus. 

Her book reads like an intimate and passionate conversation between Maria, the author, and the reader, as a college graduate that begins to think ‘what now’?  This book is about helping others to discover the ‘alumni self’  and the four key traits of an informed and savvy alum, and working through the process of Reflection first, then Curiosity, Passion and Generosity before jumping in to give back and engage.  It’s a book that should be read by anyone who has graduated from college or university.

Maria talks about the impact that the ‘extraordinary ordinary’ alumni can have on student experiences in university.  Alumni associations need to reconsider who they highlight in their alumni connection newsletters and magazines because more graduates identify with the ‘extraordinary ordinary’ alumni stories than they do with reading about the CEOs, VIPs, and uber rich/successful alumni that are often interviewed and highlighted as people of note.  Every alumni has an interesting story and important contribution to university development and student learning experiences. 

Maria shares some great links and recommendations for inspiring your vision to get involved, connect or reconnect with your alma mater nationally or internationally.  Her parting words of wisdom for listeners?  ‘It isn’t just who you know… but who knows you!’ Develop your alumni relationships.  Get involved, stay engaged, and tap into the potential of your alumni network to achieve the life you want through those important connections.  It’s never too late. Come #ListenAndLearn

Link to purchase Maria Gallo’s book The Alumni Way: Building Lifelong Value from your University Investment  https://policy.bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/the-alumni-way 

Tedx link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppr6ptfM4_s

Website: https://www.keepintoucheducation.com

Engaging International Alumni as Strategic Partners (Rincon & Dobson 2021)

https://shop.nafsa.org/detail.aspx?id=1620

Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations that Expand Students. (Freeland Fisher, 2018) https://www.christenseninstitute.org/books/who-you-know/ 

Nexus: A network of Alumni Social Impact Networks http://www.inhiveglobal.org/nexus/

 

Ep 19 Where is the Heart of the Child?: Discovering the state of childhood through stories and narratives curated in the Childlike Journal

Image credit: https://www.projectboldlife.com

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-z8sfh-10bb656

In this episode, I am joined by Ciara O’Siorain to talk about the exploration of what it means to be ‘childlike’ through curated stories and narratives. Ciara is currently a Masters in Philosophy student in Trinity College Dublin studying Children’s Literature. She is also the executive editor of ‘Childlike’: A Journal of Childhood.

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

Ciara begins by explaining her passion for children’s literature and how certain childhoods are excluded, or made abnormal in literature texts.  She interrogates the more commonplace ideals of the ‘real child’ in literature and texts alongside the messier bits of childhood.

We talk about the horror lens through which children’s stories and folk tales are depicted and how children are exposed to negative tropes and stigmas such as trauma, mental illness, depression and schizophrenia, through these stories in some sort of effort to instill a sense of morality and good in children, rather than deal with the realities of life many children experience in a more positive and healthy way.  The ends of the text are often disconnected and rarely provide a positive outcome as to how to get out of these situations.

Ciara talks about what inspired her to start the Childlike journal.  She was very inspired by the theories that she was studying and the concept of what really is ‘childhood’?  She discusses the differences between the negative connotation of ‘childish’ and the positive and creative connotation of being ‘childlike’.  What do we think of children and the concepts of childhood? 

Ciara explains the themes for contributions to the journal through concepts that she is reading and questioning about childhood, herself.  She asks contributors to consider their relationships with childhood.  What do they hold dear and what do they hope will come from their submissions?  The themes center around relationships, normalities and abnormalities, and responses from open surveys and interviews that she conducts. She talks about her favorite survey responses and the deep questions that were generated from the conversation.  The short stories and reflections present very moving and intimate depictions of childhood and memories of childhood. 

Ciara believes that the way the writing moves the authors and the reader is the whole point.  Rather than reading something in static form, these stories could be anyone’s history, anyone’s story.  They are meant to provoke thought and relate to some element of the stories. She talks about her hope for the themes and the ‘state of childhood’ in the next issue, as well.

We discuss the call and process for those interested in contributing to the journal.  Whether it is art, poetry, short stories or any other medium, she wants to see it!  She is open to international perspectives, as well.  Ciara recommends some incredible books and childhood literature that anyone interested in children’s literature should check out. Cameron Garrett, Oliver Jeffers, Alison Bechtel, GD Baker, and several more.

Ciara’s words of wisdom?  When it comes to writing, if you’ve outgrown the pond (of experience and expertise) that you’ve been living in, and you find yourself in a bigger pond which is terrifying and scary… you’re there for a reason!  Growth is meant to be embraced. Come, listen and learn! 

You can reach Ciara O’Siorain or check out Childlike, the journal here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/childlikejournal

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/childlikejournal/

Email: childlikejournal@gmail.com

Childlike Issue 1: https://issuu.com/childlikejournal/docs/18_november_2020_

Childlike Issue 2: https://issuu.com/childlikejournal/docs/_childlike_issue_2_

From Imprisonment to Empowerment: How past trauma and a hunger for learning redefined one woman’s lived experience from victim to victor and empowered her to encourage voice for others.

news-michael-booth-600x400-1https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-gahmt-10a17c8

In this episode I am joined by Michaela Booth, a passionate researcher and advocate for equity and inclusion, social justice, and the synthesis of lived experiences of women in prison, power, and the use and mis-use of trauma narratives in the broader societal context.

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

Micheala talks openly about her trauma growing up with parents fully immersed in drug abuse, addiction, mental illness and the criminal system and her experiences in the education system as a young child living with trauma.  Michaela has been deeply impacted by discrimination and stigma.  She explains how labeling is really used to mock the bodies of what society deems as ‘bad people’.

Her first memory of an education provision that was failing in it’s duty to look after children, was during primary school when teachers would exclude Michaela and her sisters from afterschool activities that other children participated in as a form of punishment, specifically because her parents were addicts and chronically late to collect them.  They were made to sit in the corridor to wait for their parents while the other children were ushered into a hall to engage in arts and crafts and playtime.

Michaela and her sisters were often given detention for not getting their homework done, and embarrassed in front of others for not having the right uniform or for being hungry and asking for food.  Today, Michaela practices viewing this kind of behavior as a systemic issue rather than individual people who were less than what they should be during her time of need.

Michaela believes that her story in a broader social narrative, sheds light on the reality that many people who face social inequalities as a result of mental illness, drug misuse, and incarceration, have lived experiences that never really go away and the impact of social stigmas and its consequences are lifelong. Not just in the immediate, but for children and families who face trauma and trauma triggers on a daily basis, even if they are no longer directly in that trauma anymore. Michaela avoids using a narrative that places her in a victimhood identity.  She is the picture of positivity.

After being expelled permanently from post-primary school, having a baby at 17, and doing time in prison, Michaela was hungry for learning and was encouraged to apply for university.  She talks about an interaction with a university course coordinator that absolutely transformed her life and ideals for her future.  This woman’s enagement with Michaela, and her belief in Michaela’s potential was the first time anyone invested time in understanding who she was and how she hoped to use her past trauma for the greater good.  Michaela felt completely supported and valued for the first time in her life and to this day she shares a very special relationship and bond with the woman who believed her when no one else would.

Michaela talks about reintegration into society after a prison sentence and the stigma attached to that and all the barriers that are faced which starts you off on a track for failure rather than success.  How can this be integration? Many people can’t get past go.  We live in environments with systems and services that have failed us massively.

We talk about trauma being a ‘transferrable skill’ and whether traumatic experiences can be positively cultivated.  Michaela explains that one of her survival mechanisms has been to invest in the study and full understanding of systems and structures of oppression, trauma, social inequality and stigma, and the consequences of that oppression on groups of people. It is important to understand that these structures of oppression are not done by accident.  Through our conversation, it is very clear that Michaela embodies the ability to survive in any environment and to be successful at it.

We discuss Michaela’s research and the distinct lack of understanding by those in academia to the realities happening outside the proverbial institutional walls. She explains that academia perpetuates the invisibility of the oppressed and marginalised in society and rendering the participants voiceless in trauma research through overly strict, unreasonable ethics restrictions, and language that excluding people from participation.

It’s time to invest in people who have experienced trauma to tap into what their strengths and aspirations are as individuals with their own unique stories.  Michaela doesn’t want to be the voice for criminalised women, what she wants to do is work to put those mechanisms in systemically to draw out those voices.  She doesn’t want to be the ‘prisoner voice’ rather she wants to make the methods and models for hearing everybody’s voice.

Michaela’s words of wisdom?  We need to think differently about the quote ‘everything you do in the dark always come to light’.  It isn’t about something that you’ve done wrong, rather finding the light at the end of the trauma tunnel.  Don’t miss this conversation.  You will surely come away with a renewed sense of purpose, position, and passion for equity, inclusion, and transformative thinking. Come #ListenAndLearn

Michaela’s Blog:

https://michaelamovement.com/2021/04/10/the-shift-of-the-penal-gaze-from-sites-to-bodies/

Book recommendation:

The Body Keeps the Score – written by: Bessel A van der Kolk

Inclusion Matters: Inclusion is everybody’s business and we all have a role to play in ensuring inclusion for all members of society.

Image credit: Sheila Vick

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-p74i3-1096ced

In this episode, I talk with Dr Patricia McCarthy, a visiting research fellow from Trinity College Dublin and passionate advocate for disability and inclusion rights in education.

Click HERE for Accessible Transcript

Patricia shares her own experiences of being educated as a blind/physically impaired student from the 1970s and the barriers she overcame to achieve her PhD.  She talks about being perceived as an oddity of being doubly disabled and feeling less able than her peers because she couldn’t walk as well as them.  Patricia struggled with masking her disability through adulthood and reflecting on the stigma of the ‘white cane’ as if something was wrong with having a disability. It wasn’t until her experiences in higher education and the maturity that comes along with being an adult, that she realised the importance of disclosure.

Patricia is passionate about trying to improve awareness around the low incidence of people who are blind/vision impaired in education and specifically the very low percentage of those who go on to postgraduate study.  When there is significant amounts of reading that is required in higher level education, access to readable texts and resources, as well as support, is a major challenge and hindrance for many students.  She says that it is frustrating to be constantly on the backfoot waiting for someone to put resources and reading materials in a format that you can read, and students with disabilities are constantly trying to play catch up.

Patricia explains that often the voice of those with disabilities is often diminished by experts that are supporting them. Considerations and decisions for the students are often made very early on in their education and they have little support or voice in the decisions that are made for them.  The findings from her research centered around themes of identity, access and transition. The education system as it is now, isn’t always designed to include the disabled person and to engage them in a positive and authentic manner. It seems that blind and disabled students in higher education are more the exception rather than the rule.

Focus must always be on ability rather than focusing on disability. She says that there needs to be more awareness around how community, society and educators can support all students and not limit them during their formative years based on their disability.  Just because they have a disability, it is only part and parcel of who they are as a person and education should look at the individual and the whole person. Currently, the education system isn’t designed in a way to enable disabled people to engage meaningfully.

We won’t always get it right, but we are so much better for actively and authentically trying! Ensuring that everyone is included means thinking beyond only people with disabilities. We are all unique and have different needs for living and learning. We need to move from a position that a ‘someone’ is the designated person to look after the issues around inclusion or around disability, or whatever it might be and genuinely move to a position where actually inclusion is everybody’s business. It is a mindset shift that would move away from the dichotomy of ability and disability. Inclusion is never an end point, rather more like a wheel where people are getting on and off.

There is a deep appreciation for the person who authentically tries.  When you are genuinely aware and thinking about inclusion in everyday settings rather than just practicing it only in certain settings. We need to work within the diversity of our system and not exclude others.  In many ways it is an attitudinal shift, we all do things differently and learn differently regardless of disability or not.

We finish up the conversation with a discussion around Patricia’s guide dog, Gaston, and the twitter account she created using Gaston as the author to help create awareness about inclusion and disability issues in society and community.  It is a good way to educate people about the work of a guide dog, and certain aspects of what they do and some of the barriers that society places illegally on guide dogs due to ignorance of policies and legislation.

Patricia’s passion and enthusiasm for educating others on inclusion for everyone is certainly ignited through this conversation.  Come #ListenAndLearn

Twitter:

@mccartpm

@gaston_mccarthy

UDL Document resource:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340233497_

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