The Dogma of Your Sport

As an educator, I’m always looking out to the future, thinking about what will be the world for my students as they emerge into adulthood. With that in mind, I am always foraging for ideas, not just in my field, but outside the domain of education. I feel strongly that if you want to have an insight in your field, it helps to look outside your field to gain important perspectives and concepts.

I heard a Jiu Jitsu World Champion, Josh Waitzkin, talk about how important it was for him to train with dirty players–competitors who intentionally and shamelessly break the rules of the sport in an effort to win, in order to mentally get over the expectations of how the game is supposed to be played–that perfect world in which everyone follows the rules and the game is clear cut and obvious.He stopped being offended by these dangerous and dishonorable moves and instead embraced it with curiosity and intrigue. It was because of this openness that he was able to rise to being the champion that he is because there was nothing that another player could do to him to throw him off. When he referred to these belief systems about playing the game as “the dogma” of his sport, it really resonated with me.  Truth is, we all have some dogma in our careers and relationships because we’ve calcified ideas about how things ought to be in an unrealistic neat and perfect world.

To be aware of a voice inside your head that says : “It doesn’t make any sense.”,  it’s always a sign of something really powerful…in saying that “it doesn’t make sense” this means that there are logical reasons why things ought to be a certain way. But the world always makes sense, but what doesn’t make sense is your model of your world...You have to revise your hypothesis. ….What would you need to see to change your view? This is the best question ever.

Adam Robinson, founder of the Princeton Review

I love this idea that was shared on the Tim Ferriss Show by Adam Robinson, which challenges us to look at our belief systems and question it at a deeper level–what opinions or perceptions do we hold that may need to be confronted and analyzed? We keep looking at external factors to change but the truth is that it is us who must change to fit the new circumstances. If we can endeavor to be malleable and plnobility.jpgiable, then we will have the resilience and endurance to go through life with more grace and avail ourselves to higher levels of success.

As I am always longing to be the best version of myself, I recently enrolled in an MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called the Innovator’s Mindset (#IMMOOC), based on the book of the same title by George Couros.  This course and book are geared toward educators, but I think it could be applied to a variety of skill sets, as he challenges his readers to “innovate inside the box”. So true–and it totally connects, at least in my mind, to this whole idea of shifting our definitions and developing new strategies to move us forward as educators- Challenge the Dogma of our Sport! We have to let go of our expectations and embrace the constraints in our schools so we can be pioneers and creators to produce our next generation of innovators and leaders.

So I keep wondering what “dogma” do I adhere to? What “doesn’t make sense” to me? Those questions linger in my mind and I will continue to contemplate and reflect upon for probably my whole life. When I reframe these beliefs into questions, it makes it easier for me to grapple with them. For example:


  • Does there need to be a power struggle between students and teachers, as we give students more agency in their learning?
  • How can we give students more autonomy and still maintain “control” in the classroom and cover the content?

What would I need to see/experience to change my view about control of the learning environment?


  • How can I love those people that justify their hatred and bigotry with their religion?
  • In what ways am I just like the people that I consider antagonists to my personal values?

What would I need to see/experience to change my view about our human potential to develop a more peaceful and accepting world?

Perhaps this post has also given you some pause and you also turn inward to think about what personal or professional beliefs you persist in that aren’t serving your higher purpose. Please comment below or connect with me @judyimamudeen to share how you might answer Adam’s question: What would you need to see to change your view?


Mindfulness: Week 1 of the Journey

I’m a bit MOOC fan. FREE EDUCATION!–are you kidding me?–I’m in!  So about a month ago I noticed the class offered by Monash University: MINDFULNESS FOR WELLBEING AND PEAK PERFORMANCE and it has finally started- Thankfully because the timing is perfect!

I’ve read books about meditation and watched video and movies on how mindfulness can reduce stress and reduce negative behavior. So I’m actually pretty surprised at how much I’m learning-not that I think I am an expert or anything-but I did think that I might get bored or uninterested early on with the “basics”.

So in Week 1, the instructors, Dr. Craig Hassad and Dr. Richard Chambers are giving an overview of what is Mindfulness. I think my greatest take away from the readings and video lectures is that multi-tasking is a myth. Doing multiple things at once does not make you more productive and in fact negatively impacts your memory and ability to complete task efficient and effectively. There is a blink in your attention in which your brain goes off line for a fraction of a second and you aren’t even aware of it. So you are actually “mindless” as you switch from one task or distraction to another, making completing tasks more stressful.

Research on the effects of mindfulness also indicate that people’s brains are actually impacted as their perspective changes, observing their thoughts as mental events rather than facts, and new areas are developed within the brain to help reduce stress and negative emotion.

I do have to say that just small changes such as turning off my notifications on my phone and laptop have made me feel more present and less stressed this week. I can really focus on a task that I am involved in. Also, it has helped me to remember that I can’t carry on a conversation or engage with people when I am on my devices or doing something else. I have been trying very hard to remain present and focus on people or completing the task at hand. I know this isn’t on the same level as a Buddhist monk, but I think if I keep making small steps towards my goal, I will eventually arrive at a place of greater consciousness and peace.