This is no one-size-fits-all approach to education that provides a formula or a practical how-to guide. The truths found in this book are about applying research-based best practices to the processes that lie outside of academia. Readers will find themselves getting out their pens and highlighters to write in the margins and apply personal reflection to the teachings.
The three Is-intellect, insight, and intuition-are tools for educators to find personal growth and development inside the structure of the school system so that they can promote school-wide transformation. When educators stop fighting the system and instead look inward for the answers, they will begin to see the improved student achievement and involvement they crave.
Readers will walk away with:
- greater self-awareness that will improve the classroom and educational landscape around them,
- improved self-appreciation that will fuel empathy in the classroom and workplace,
- clarity about the origin and influence of their beliefs that will help them combat negative beliefs and take advantage of positive beliefs, and
- better decision-making skills developed through a contemplative approach.
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Read an Excerpt
What's Self-Love Got to Do with It?
"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we'll ever do." Brene Brown
"Training teachers to understand bias will not eliminate it, but it could create an institutional environment in which it is clear that understanding bias and its effects is critically important. The long-term return on investment is inestimable." Soraya Chemaly (2016)
So, what's self-love got to do with it?? Everything! We've learned that the 3 Eyes framework provides us with a depth of perception that allows us to see ourselves, our lives, and our students with more clarity.
As we'll now discuss in this chapter, coming to greater self-love and compassion is the root of both personal and school-wide transformation. To understand why we will take a 'quick look under the hood' to discuss the interplay between our conscious and subconscious minds and how they influence the way we experience the world around us. In this exploration, we will uncover one of two through lines for the book: learning how to identify and shift limiting thoughts and beliefs that do not align with our conscious desires. This is what is called doing the self-work.
Once we understand more about how our brains work, we will talk about the impact of implicit bias and the inequities of our current education system. In this discussion, we'll uncover the other through-line of the book: supporting educators to create more inclusive settings for students. This is one essential aspect of doing the school-work. Finally, we will introduce the Theory of Action for how the 3 Eyes work together to help us to make more empowered and aligned decisions, to promote improved experiences in our lives, and to create more supportive classrooms for our students. Hint: this is where self-love comes in, big time!
It's time to introduce our first symbol! This stick figure represents us, and they will pop up in every chapter moving forward.
The 3 Eyes: Intellect, Intuition, and Insight
We can define Intellect, Insight, and Intuition as follows:
Intellect: Logical thinking and reasoning, comprising those cognitive skills that allow us to compute in math, to analyze problems and to form language.
Insight: Deep understanding of a person or thing (Google, 2017).
Intuition: Knowing something based on instinct or feeling, rather than from conscious reasoning (Google, 2017).
Our intellect is what separates humans from other animals. Not only does it give us the ability to perform complex tasks, but also the self-awareness to observe our thoughts and actions. Intellect is a powerful tool that most of us use without much conscious intention — it is a reflexive practice as natural as breathing.
Through insight, we can understand the interplay of our conscious and subconscious minds and identify the beliefs and cultural norms that influence how we experience the world. Insight also provides us with the ability to learn from our past experiences and to see problems from different points of view. When we use insight, we are better able to make choices that are relevant, timely, and aligned with our current context.
Through intuition, we learn to listen to our inner voice, probing for the underlying thoughts and motivations that are guiding our actions. Accessing our intuition requires slowing down and connecting with our minds and bodies. Intuition is quiet and subtle. An excellent pathway to intuition is mindfulness (being aware of our thoughts and feelings in the present moment).
When we intentionally use our Intellect, Insight, and Intuition together, it is like putting on a pair of 3-Dimensional glasses. Just as 3-D glasses transform a flat, fuzzy image into one that jumps out at us from the page, by looking at our lives, experiences, and decisions through all three lenses, we gain a depth of meaning and level of clarity that we cannot achieve through using one lens alone. When we apply these lenses to our own lives, by doing self-work, we become more grounded, confident, and trusting. When we additionally apply these concepts to educational settings, by doing school-work, we are better positioned to create spaces where children and adults feel safe and seen, and where real educational transformation can take place.
A Quick Look Under the Hood
An essential part of knowing ourselves better is understanding the interplay between our conscious and subconscious minds and how they influence the way we respond to the world around us. Once armed with that knowledge, we can intentionally use the power of the 3 Eyes to bridge the gap between our conscious thoughts and our subconscious (automatic) responses. This journey of self-discovery requires that we learn a bit about how our brains develop and respond to stimuli. Let's do this!
We are of Two Minds
Understanding how our brains work, and specifically how they respond to our thoughts and emotions, are relatively new fields of scientific study. As such, the definitions for the terms below can vary between experts, and I expect will continue to be refined over time. For this book, we'll use the following meanings:
Mind: The way information that gets transmitted within our bodies, including our thoughts and sensory information (sights, smells, tastes, physical sensations, and sounds)
Conscious (mind): The representation of who we perceive ourselves to be (our hopes, dreams, and individuality); self-awareness (Lipton, 2014)
Subconscious (mind): The warehouse of information that holds our habits, controls our physical responses, and hard-wires learned responses to situations (Lipton, 2014)
Unconscious: The feelings, actions, and reactions that we exhibit, but that we are not always in control of or aware of (such as a kneejerk response)
Programs: The learned responses to our environment that reside in our subconscious minds and that drive our responses (both conscious and unconscious)
Just as there are several different ways to define these terms, there are several different ways to represent the conscious and subconscious minds. These include icebergs (the conscious mind being the part above the water and subconscious mind the part below) and bullseyes (the conscious mind being the center and the unconscious and subconscious minds being the outer rings).
Dr. Bruce Lipton is a world-renowned scientist who has been on the leading edge of understanding the power of beliefs and how the subconscious and conscious minds work together. Dr. Lipton uses the analogy of a computer to demonstrate the relationship between the two minds. He likens the subconscious mind to a computer's hard drive (ROM), and the conscious mind to the desktop (RAM) (2012). Like the hard drives on our computers, our subconscious minds hold an incredible amount of information, are always online and processing incoming data, and can perform tasks without our conscious awareness or instructions. For example, our subconscious minds keep us breathing and our hearts beating without explicit instructions. They also hold our memories and alert us to danger without prompting. The conscious mind, on the other hand, draws on information stored in the hard drive to make meaning, and contains various features with clear and defined functions, much like programs on a computer. For example, our conscious minds draw on stored memories to make meaning of strange sound or to make connections between two different concepts. We'll discuss the roles of both minds in more detail below.
I like this analogy because it provides a way to understand the discrete roles that each mind performs as well as the give and take of information between the two. We are going to use this analogy throughout the remainder of the book, and the notion of "programming" to refer to the way that our brains take in, store, and respond to information.
Just how powerful and influential are our subconscious minds? While the numbers vary, a general estimate is that they are more than a million times more powerful than our conscious minds. This means that our subconscious minds actively filter upwards of 40 million of bits of information per second as compared to the 40 bits per second that our conscious minds process. Lipton estimates that 95% of the time, our subconscious minds are the ones in control (Lipton, 2012). This is profound because while we identify with our conscious minds and see them as representing who we are, in actuality, our perceptions and responses are heavily influenced by subconscious programs that we may not even be aware of. Oh boy.
Note: If you'd like to know more about the inner workings of our computers and how information is processed in our bodies, check out the Brain Primer in the Appendix.
Big Idea #1:
We have both subconscious and conscious minds that work together to shape our experiences and sense of self. Most of the time, it is our subconscious minds that are in control, reacting to stimuli based on past programming.
Two Minds Really Are Better Than One
What are some of the functions of our computersand how do the two minds work together? Psychologist and Nobel Prize winner in Economic Science, Dr. Daniel Kahneman, explores the interplay between what I refer to as the subconscious and conscious minds in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow.
Kahneman (2011) asserts that throughout the day, our brains vacillate between two modes of thinking, which he dubs System 1 (our subconscious minds) and System 2 (our conscious minds). Table one compares the skills, qualities, and challenges of each System.
As shown in Table 1, our subconscious minds comprise our instincts (avoiding danger), learned responses to stimulus (perceiving hostility in a voice), and automatic tasks learned through repetition or repeated practice (driving a car on an empty road). Functions in our conscious minds require a level of will and intention and come into play when our subconscious programming alone will not do, such as focusing our attention in a crowded room, driving on a rainy day, or paying the bills.
One of the primary functions of our subconscious minds is to make associations between objects and experiences and to provide an instant response, all without involving our conscious attention. This means that every second, our subconscious minds sort through millions of bits of information, categorizing them into relatable chunks that connect to our prior knowledge. Based on that knowledge, our subconscious minds trigger an instantaneous response. When presented with something, our subconscious minds will make a series of associations simultaneously between that thing and other information it holds, centered on three general categories:
1. Cause and effect (virus — cold),
2. Things to their properties (lime — green)
3. Things to the categories to which they belong (pineapple — fruit) (2011, p 52)
Kahneman provides an example of the power of associated responses with the words banana and vomit. (I know this isn't a pleasant association, but it does make a point!) Without conscious thought, when encountered with that pair of words, we recall memories and experiences associated with each word that produces physiological and mental responses unconsciously — both to the words individually and in relationship to one another. As a result, our neutral or even positive response to bananas becomes influenced by our negative experience of vomit, producing a temporary aversion to bananas — all of which is happening at a speed not registered or controlled by our conscious minds (pg. 50).
Priming is another example of our associative response; when you become predisposed to something without the conscious decision to do so. Kahneman (2011) provides two examples of this phenomenon. First, he gives an example of word association. If we are asked to fill in the missing letter in the word: S O_P, and if we had just heard the word EAT recently, whether consciously or unconsciously, we would fill in U for SOUP. If we had heard WASH, we would fill in A for SOAP (pgs. 52-53). While we did not consciously register hearing EAT or WASH, our subconscious minds did, and then made the appropriate associations to fill in the missing letter.
In a second example, Kahneman cites a study from New York University. In this study, subjects were asked to form a sentence with the words: Florida, forgetful, bald, gray, and wrinkle. Not only did the subjects automatically associate the words with being old, but the pace of their walking immediately after completing the task was slower than those asked to form a sentence from words not associated with the elderly (2011, pgs. 52-53). Just thinking about the elderly produced an unconscious response in the subject's bodies that caused them to mirror the physical state of being older! We'll come back to priming later in the book as we can intentionally use it to rewire some of that subconscious programming we're walking around with.
Big Idea #2:
Our subconscious minds make associations and decisions based on our prior knowledge, often without our conscious awareness.
While the two minds have different roles, they form a powerful team. Lipton demonstrates this through a simple example:
"Operating together, the conscious mind can use its resources to focus on some specific point, such as the party you are going to on Friday night. Simultaneously, your subconscious mind can be safely pushing the lawnmower around and successfully not cutting off your foot or running over the cat — even though you are not consciously paying attention to mowing the lawn" (2008, p. 138).
This is multi-tasking at its best! While the conscious mind is considering what outfit you're going to wear to the party, the subconscious mind is monitoring the full scene — taking in sensory information to ensure that you do not run into any obstacles (your foot or the cat) and also performing the learned physical tasks involved with mowing the lawn.
The two minds also work together in learning complex behaviors that then become integrated into the subconscious mind, such as driving a car on an empty road. While initially learning to drive required our full attention, through repetition and practice, we eventually become able to perform the basic functions of driving without any conscious thought. Over time, we only need to apply additional focus while driving in more demanding conditions, such as in traffic or on a rainy day.
When our conscious and subconscious minds are not in agreement, however, we can experience both physical and emotional discomfort. This disconnect can occur because of the way that our brains develop. Throughout our childhood and adolescence, our subconscious minds begin storing tons of data to help us assimilate into our community. Through this development, our subconscious minds hardwire "programs" that inform the instantaneous and unconscious responses we have. Our conscious minds, on the other hand, primarily develop during later adolescence, and after many of our learned responses have already become encoded. This means that while it is natural for young adults to consciously choose values and peer groups that are different from their families, all of that original family programming is still there, operating at the subconscious level.
Have you ever caught yourself saying or doing something that one of your parents did, but that you swore you would never do as an adult? Yep, that's your subconscious programming saying hello! I remember the first time that happened to me. I was a young teacher, maybe 24 or so, and I was having my students help clean up the room at the end of the day. The room was a disaster; wads of paper, candy wrappers, and pencil shavings everywhere. I was frustrated that the room was so messy, and I was directing kids here and there, orchestrating the clean-up. Suddenly I looked down, and I saw myself: one hand on my hip, the other pointing out all the places where there was garbage on the floor. Me, bossy as ever, directing everyone where to go and complaining about how I had just cleaned the room in the morning and how could it get dirty so quickly? At that moment, I remember drawing a sharp intake of breath and realizing that I had become my mother! How many times had that same scene played out in my childhood, but with my mom doing the pointing and me running around my bedroom trying to keep pace with her direction? That was a humbling day. The vision of myself as the cool, hip, young teacher was instantly replaced by a dreaded side of my mother!(Continues…)
Excerpted from "An Educator's Guide to Using Your 3 Eyes"
Copyright © 2018 Megan R. Sweet, Ed.D..
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Let's Do This!, xv,
Goal for This Book, xxi,
What This Book is and What it Isn't, xxiii,
Organization of the Book, xxiv,
How to Use this Book, xxiv,
Part 1: What's Self-Love Got to Do with It?, 1,
Looking Forward, 1,
The 3 Eyes: Intellect, Intuition, and Insight, 2,
A Quick Look Under the Hood, 3,
Where the Rubber Meets the Road, 11,
This is What Self-Love Has to Do with It, 17,
Part 2: Intellect, 26,
Benefits of Using Intellect, 26,
Looking Back, 26,
Looking Forward, 27,
You've Gotta Have a Plan, Stan!, 28,
Put It Into Action, Jackson, 38,
Intellect: Friend and Foe, 58,
Part 3: Insight, 63,
Benefits of Using Insight, 63,
Looking Back, 64,
Looking Forward, 65,
Why Insight?, 66,
Another Peak Under the Hood, 66,
Why Does Understanding Beliefs Matter?, 80,
Applying Intention to our Insights, 84,
Discovering My Lenses, 102,
Part 4: Intuition, 107,
Benefits of Using Intuition, 107,
Looking Back, 108,
Looking Forward, 108,
Intuition, Really?, 109,
Just What Is Intuition?, 110,
Mindfulness Matters!, 115,
The Power of the 3 Eyes, 132,
And so the Warrior's Path Begins ..., 146,
Part 5: Putting It All Together, 151,
Looking Back, 151,
Looking Forward, 151,
Bring the Two Minds into Alignment, 152,
Cycle of Inquiry, 155,
A Few Final Thoughts, 166,
And the Path Continues ..., 168,
Definition of Terms, 174,
Brain Primer, 180,
Works Cited, 191,