Modes of Learning… Community, Reality, & Finding Creativity

Key features of Cross programs are emphases on problem-solving, communication, creativity, challenge, diversity of experience, collaboration, negotiation, and community approaches to discovery and accomplishment.

Cross Academy learning experiences are intended to be “peeks under the hood” and adventures in discovering “how things work.” People learn and make things in order to fulfil perceived needs. They learn and make things to provide the means of interaction with each other and with the environment that surrounds them. Arguably, every idea, every thing, exists to meet the needs of people.

People are social creatures. Ultimately, the things we use, make, do, and engage in become parts of our “reality” because there is social consensus that they are necessary, useful, and important; they become means of interaction that make our communities work. Community is therefore at the center of the human experience: communities live, believe, do, make, and act in ways that are accepted by a majority as necessary to the success and well-being of the community itself.

Why is this important? Well, simply put, everyone within a community is an integral part of the process of the negotiations that result in what the community perceives to be its reality. Of course, there are always fundamental rules involved that are, perhaps to a great extent, determined and defined by the physical environment. Those rules are the foundational sciences that communities create (discover?) that give definition to the spaces that surround them. Those “natural rules” are themselves essentially “stories that work.” They help communities create the means to survive within the physical spaces they occupy. Most importantly, those stories are created, shared, tested, agreed upon, and used by the individuals within communities. In this way, the ideas, needs, wants, and desires of each individual ultimately affects the reality within which the entire community rests.

Cross programs emphasize learning through doing. We want people to learn to appreciate the world around them by discovering how and why things work. However, from that understanding, we would like people to develop the awareness that they too can create, add to, and perhaps modify their own behaviors, those of their community, and, by extension, reality itself. Finding ways to improve reality, to whatever scope or degree, is, perhaps, fundamentally, where creativity lies.

As a result, Cross wants people to experience, do, explore, and discover as much as they possibly can. We want people to appreciate that a plane flies; and we want them to discover how that happens by understanding the principles that allow it to happen. We want people to understand how to interact with each other in positive and meaningful ways, and so we teach them to dance, to play soccer, to work together to build, launch, and enjoy the experiences that only rockets can provide. We want them to eat, but we want them to understand not only the importance of food, but also the processes involved in where that food comes from and how it comes from those places. We would like people to learn to communicate, to understand each other, to work together to accomplish goals that benefit themselves and everyone around them. We want people to appreciate their environments, and learn to improve their abilities to interact with themselves, within their communities, within the spaces they occupy together.

Cross Summer Academy

Cross Education has come to Japan to establish its fully cultural & communicative immersive international summer camp experience to Japanese and offshore students.

There are certain places in the world where international education community building has happened and flourished. We’ve seen so historically in the USA, Switzerland, Canada, the UK. We believe that Japan makes absolute sense for may reasons: one for its global economic reach and impact; two for its positioning in the East, from where global economic growth is now largely being driven; and three, from a country that provides the connectedness, the safety, the security, and the richness of life and experience that inspire learning in all ways. 

The directors have a long heritage in both Canada and Japan offering English-based experiential programs for international students. Through Cross Education, Japan, they proudly bring an exciting new brand of education to Japan to create a venue for people from all corners of the planet.

The Cross Summer Academy, coming next in the summer of 2019, is a multi-locational program based in the Tokyo and in the Kanto region. It brings a community of children and teenagers (from 5 to 18 years old) together from around the world, and from around Japan.

Together they engage in up to six weeks of challenge and discovery in the Cross Summer Academy:

Overall Theme:

  • Open Minds Change the World

Weekly Sub-themes:

  • Eco-Environmental Studies
  • Mechatronics & Technology Design,
  • Online Media & Design,
  • Photography, Videography, & Production
  • International Dynamics & Awareness
  • Remote, Virtual, & Real Flight

Program Contents & Features

(Applied weekly and thematically integrated into daily learning experiences.)

  • Technology: 3D, Mechatronics, Artificial Intelligence, Renewable Energy
  • Blockchain Innovation Theory and Application
  • Agriculture and Environmental Studies
  • Photography, Videography, and Digital Production
  • Aeronautics, Aviation, and Rocketry
  • Fine and Performing Arts
  • Sports and Athletics
  • Architecture and Design
  • Animation and Design
  • Outdoor Learning (Urban, Mountain, and Ocean)
  • Age Range: 5 to 18
  • Flexible & Variable Groups (same age, cross ages, by Academy “house”)
  • Full native English speaking environment and focus.
  • International Social and Cultural Awareness
  • Japanese Cultural and Language Studies
  • Integration and interaction between all ages.
  • Specialized focuses within age groups.
  • Collaborative Learning
  • Coaching, Mentoring, and Leadership Education
  • Weekly Social and Family Events that Include:
  • Performances, Parties, Presentations, and Park Barbecues

Cross Education Japan believes that children and young adults should participate together in a relationship that helps both learn. Older children help younger, and younger children are inspired to learn by the examples set by their older peers.

Equally so, Cross believes that in order to become inspired, at any age or level, inspirational figures and role models are essential. That’s why we tie professional in their fields into everything we do. Each theme and category of learning throughout the camp is tied to international professionals and organizations who are impacting the world with what they do.

We use the best examples and advice available in all of the learning opportunities we facilitate, from organizations and institutions such as Siemens, Platinum, Line, MIT, an more.

Cross Education Japan, and the Cross Summer Academy, provides educational opportunities, based in Japan, where ideas and people from around the world come together to benefit equally:

  • to inspire each other,
  • to learn from one another, and
  • to impact their lives each in ways that may later help each of them impact the world.

Check us out at www.cross.education and send us a note should you want more details: basecamp@cross.education.

All the best,

The Cross Team

The Mousetrap

Ok… here we are, 47 years ago, around the time this picture was taken. I believe that’s my brother. It’s raining. No matter.

We are standing in the doorway of a small toolshed behind a small, white, red-trimmed house built 47 years earlier by my grandfather.  This particular little workshop is situated about as far as you can possibly go from the town in which he was born. In this small and slightly ramshackle structure are the tools he uses and the spaces in which they all belong. They sit, stand, and hang, all at the ready for whatever necessity or whim might happen to capture his sense of responsibility, his attention, and, likely, often, just his imagination.

The walls are adorned with every kind of yard tool: rakes, hoes, shovels, spades, and others whose purposes are, in my six years of experience, mysteries. A rusty well-used scythe hangs there too. The concrete floor is stained with oil, and, likely, his blood and sweat. There sits the massive, round, pedal-driven grinding stone mounted in the ancient wooden contraption he’d built especially for it. Behind that is a work bench; attached to its edge is a heavy cast iron vise. I think it’s green. Behind the vise sit numerous old coffee cans filled with every kind of nut, bolt, nail, and screw you could possibly ever need in a lifetime. He’d indeed spent much of his life collecting them. He created this space as only a creator could.

I see this, this spot of time, vividly, even the smell: a musty combination of gasoline, oil, decomposing grass, metal, and wet wood. And here we are, one hand in my grandfather’s as he rummages around with his other to assemble those things we need to take care of a situation needing attention. Mice.

My grandfather emigrated from Italy in the early 1920s. I believe 1922? It was soon after the First World War had ended, and soon after he was released from an Austrian POW camp located not far from his home town, not far to the north of Venice. My grandfather was a conscripted soldier in the Italian Army. However, he apparently refused to accept the role of a soldier and would shoot into the air above the heads of his Austrian neighbors who had likewise been commissioned to shoot at him.

Since he was able, years later, to be here in this workshop with me, I like to think that those Austrians shared the same pacifist rebelliousness. I like to think that there, in the Alps, the Italian and Austrian conscripts shot over each other’s heads, more in favor of sparing the lives of neighbors than in doing what the common mousetrap mercilessly does to mice. He spent the remaining years of the war in a prison somewhere on the other side of the Italo-Austrian border, not so far from home.

After the war, and his release, and as soon as he could, he, his wife, and my young uncle (God bless them all), packed their bags, boarded a ship in Genoa, and left. Via Ellis Island, they journeyed to about as far away from all that nonsense as they could possibly get: the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada, at the edge of a small logging town in what was then one of the farthest reaches of the civilized world. Incidentally, the whole notion of “the civilized world” needs a little more consideration, but that’s for later.

So, here, in his workshop in 1971, my grandfather wants me to help him make a trap to catch the mice that are terrorizing his wife. And so we do. He quietly, but unforgettably, goes to work to transform an odd collection of items into a devise fashioned to capture the vermin responsible for the recent acts of terror. He builds a mousetrap, but one fashioned according to his principles and world view, and surely inspired by his life experiences, to spare their lives.

He was my teacher. I learned this from him. I have never made anything quite like that mousetrap in my own life since then. However, there is much that I have done that I would never have been able to accomplish, nor perhaps understand as well, had it not been for that one experience with him.

Fields of Sensibility

We live in fields of sensibility. 

We live in spaces that at every millisecond are defined in full by our sensitivity to external stimuli. Incidentally, at some point I would like to dig more deeply into the concept of “now.” That one will blow your socks off for sure! At least, it does mine.

Just to set the record straight, I’m not in fact too fond of yellow cars. I much prefer darker tones, blacks, blues. If I let myself succumb to my more radical side, I might go for a red Maserati GT Convertible, but that’s an entirely different conversation as well. Having said that, I, now, as result of all of this chatter, see yellow cars everywhere. It’s kind of irritating to be honest.

But that’s the nature of learning, and being taught…by a teacher, or a blue dragon fly. It is precisely those things, for better or for worse, that happen and exist in our fields of sensibility that, for whatever particular reasons, become part of the defining characteristics of the realities each of us inhabits. Those are the things that ultimately become part of those things we say we understand, recognize, know, and have learned.

One favor. Patience. This does segue into mousetraps and guillotines.

Teaching + Learning = Education. Yes. Even Now

There is always a teacher.

However, like yellow cars that, for me, never existed prior to me wanting one, we all share the same conception: a teacher is that person who stands in front of rows of desks staring back at us, talking way too much.

But, wait…

What we fail to remember is that we are surrounded by teachers, every moment of every day, in every place we might be. The teacher is the blue dragon fly that lands on the corner of your phone while you’re sitting on a lawn chair watching your dog wade happily in the ankle high pool you recently set up because of weather far too hot for most men, women, and dogs.

In fact, all of them are teachers: the phone, the lawn, the pool, the heat, the dog, and everything else that completes the moment. Whether we appreciate it or not, each one of those things is demonstrating to us something that was not entirely the same moments before, and guides us in directions that we would not have taken should we not have been there exactly at that moment…or perhaps better put, in that particular reality. And that reality itself we created from knowledge we gained from all of the teachers that preceded that moment: the sun beaming through windows, the algae that inspired a clean pool, fresh water, and an excited dog. Cause. Effect. Intertwined. All are teachers.

But wait!

By teacher we don’t mean all of that! We’re talking about that person who keeps talking at us about all sorts of stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with anything going on around us as we sit in rows of seats in front of him.

Aren’t we?

More on this to come, with a little discussion about mousetraps and guillotines.

Oume Nights!

Ron Carter and his Jazz Trio

Oume City is a community in the furthest western reach of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. It’s located west of Hachioji, and just to the north of Tokyo’s highest mountain (yes, this does exist) called Mount Takao. Hiking the 700 odd meters of this mountain is, incidentally, one of the the most recommended things to do should you decide to visit Tokyo. It’s also one of the possible adventures for the participants of Cross’ 2019 Summer Academy. The masses of people on any given holiday of the year clearly attest to this.

And so, tonight, in Oume, Movie Signboard City, a town decorated in western and Japanese retro motifs, and adorned with stylized oversized billboard posters of Hollywood classics like A Fist full of Dollars, Citizen Kane, and Gone With the Wind, and Japanese oldies like  丹下佐膳少年探偵団、and 悲しき口笛, Cross’ representative, Criss, was fortunate enough to attend a special event: a chill evening in an Oume lounge to watch Ron Carter and his Jazz Trio. This was clearly a very special event for this quiet, eclectic, and far flung corner of Tokyo; it was a very, very good night.

Ministers, Typhoons, and Meetings

Meeting the Former Minister

Before I go on more about yellow cars and all, I should bring you up to date on a few ongoings. This is a busy week of political events, weather events, and special events!

On Thursday, our Community Ninja and I went all the way to Nishidai Station in Itabashi-ku, a ward in the far north of Tokyo on the banks of the Arakawa River. There we attended a monthly gathering and meet-and-greet put on by Mr. Shimomura, former Minister of Education Culture, Sports, and Science and member of the Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Abe.

With the recent actions being taken by the country to loosen restrictions on foreign students and workers, Cross was well and encouragingly received. The event was well-attended, and I was struck by the demographic of the evening. If the crowd gathered suggested anything in particular, it was that politics in Japan is not yet a passion of the young nor the foreign-born.

It was a fun evening! Not only was I made to feel wet behind the ears, I was able to practice my feeble grasp of the language, exercise my familiarity with the formality and ceremony of Japanese business card exchange, and execute the awareness and responsibility necessary to ensure that all glasses within my reach were kept full.  Needless to say, the conversation got better and better!

By the end of the evening we’d met the better part of the Itabashi business crowd and the entire Shimomura family. Where this leads I’m not entirely sure. But, it can’t hurt to have friends in high places!

The Typhoon Going the Wrong Way

Friday evening, most Tokyoites, if they hadn’t heard already, learned that Typhoon Jongdari, or as the locals call it, Number Twelve, was on its way up from the Philippine Sea. Contrary to normal behavior, it was traveling on a north-westerly direction, scheduled first to roll over Tokyo before moving onto Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, and all points in between and beyond.

And so, everyone woke up Saturday morning to take care of their pre-Typhoon checklists. This typically means to cancel everything they’d normally do, and ensure that everything not attached to their homes is safely stored away, covered, or weighted down. And so I did just that…and then I decided to take a scooter ride to the home center nearby to make sure my dog’s rations were refilled before the tempest arrived. So off I went, in sandals, shorts, and t-shirt, when the first heavy squals hit. The guys at the gas station had a good laugh. I made it home soaked…better, drenched. Choco was happy.

Number Twelve is now on its was to Nagoya, and here I am in Sarutahiko Coffee in Sengawa, bringing you all up to date, and finalizing plans for Cross’ big day tomorrow.

Meet Cross at International House!

Tomorrow is the big day! We’re looking forward to meeting you all from 13:00 to 15:00. We hope you can make it by to say hi, have a coffee, and learn a little about all we have in store for you.

 

Conceptual Frameworks and Reality

More yellow cars than you can shake a stick at! Where’d they all come from!?

What!?

Well, just that. What it means is that we are what we see, believe, understand, recognize, and is relevant and important, and impactful, to our daily personal and professional lives.

In short… if we’re not interested in yellow cars, we simply don’t see them. Should we suddenly develop a insatiable desire to own one, then suddenly we see yellow cars everywhere, and we wonder where the heck they all came from so suddenly.

This happens to me a lot since I do tend to get absorbed by things that before meant nothing to me, and as a result simply did not exist in my own reality.

So what’s this all about?  Why is this important? What bearing at all does this have on Cross, Us, and the Great-Big-Wide-Open-World?

Well, give me a day or two and I will explain!

See you shortly.

Here’s a little bit to get the ball rolling…

Bucket List

What would I put in my bucket
That may not already be there
But things that I want to accomplish
In the great big wide world out there.
Oh to slide down the dunes of Sahara
And to swing from the vines of Belize
And to talk to a Mountain Gorilla
In Virunga amongst all of the trees.
And to see a wild dingo pursue
A wallaby and perhaps kangaroos
In the outback in the middle of Oz
Where stands the majestic Ayers Rock.
Then from there to Antarctic I’d go
To see penguins migrate in rows
Across icepacks and snowfields so vast
In temperatures in which we’d not last.
Then to Fiji I’d sail a small boat
That I’d build using balsa and rope
On the warm water shores of Peru
Just as Heyerdahl himself did before.
Then I’d sail as the Kon Tiki did
As those brave men once did when they lived
As they tried to prove to us all
That Fijians all came from Brazil.
And of course I would look for a place
That no one has yet left their trace
And from their I would look back at my life
And I’d smile without grudge or regret.

-Sixtrees (05012018)