The most important thing to learn in life is...

Jan 31 / Isabel Dennis
I've always had a love/hate relationship with school. I love learning new things but hate being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it.

Interestingly enough, school has been the ONE constant in my life for over 30 years...go figure!

The last 12 years have found passionately looking for and experimenting with methods for teaching and learning that support the wholistic development of people in the Caribbean.

This journey led me to Nepal in October 2023, where I did a keynote speech at the International Democratic Education Conference. At the conference I was able to share what I've found to be the most important lesson for us all!

Certification matters

Have you ever met someone who had zero certifications but were still able to do high quality work?

Of you have! And you are not alone. I can easily call to mind five (5) people that have no certifications in a given field but can produce premium quality work.

We often call these people talented or gifted and think that they are the exception rather than the norm. But if you were to stop and think about how often this happens and how many people you know who fall into this category, I'm sure you'll see that it is closer to the norm than the exception. (I explain this in more detail here).

Basically, we have been taught that not all learning is equal and that some learning is more important than others. In this case, learning in a school for certification is more important than learning from experiences. And in some cases, like for brain surgery, I would agree, but I don't think it is necessary in all cases.

Additionally, we are taught that learning skills and information about the world is more important than learning about ourselves, which is one of the biggest lies I've uncovered so far, and the focus of my presentation.
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You matter

As a dark skinned woman living in the Caribbean who's been gifted with young genes, I've had to learn how to navigate agesim, sexism and racism at the same time. This particular mixture of "isms" sends the same message in three different ways.

Agesim says "children are to be seen and not heard".
Sexism says "women are to be seen and not heard".
Racism says "black people must know their place" (their place being quietly standing close to the door at the back of the room, line or bus).

In essence, society screams to me: "your voice, wants and needs do not matter!"

This message is by no means unique to me, as it is common across most combinations of "isms". But it is important to notice how this message of self denial, along with the other message of external knowledge being more important than knowledge of self, creates a dangerous mindset that blocks us from being fully human.

My keynote speech below raises important questions about the hierarchy of learning and the need to include the "self" when advocating for human rights. As too often we deny our humanity while fighting for the humanity of others, which is unsustainable.

Buy the pants

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And if you must know,
YES! I got it. See it here.

***Special Thanks to the Inclusion & Diversity Committee and their friends who supported my  attendance.***

If you'd like to support my work financially or otherwise, click here for some options.

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