Circles of fear – a very personal story (Episode 6 (Summer 2010 – Summer 2014))

Episode 5

herbstAfter spending a very young summer (after all she is 4 years younger than me) with a lot of self-made music, little love adventures and a lot of relaxing in the Castle garden of Karlsruhe, my cooperative studies begin. I enjoy working and discovering the freedom I’ve got in my company. There is a monthly meeting which everybody can join and I am told that after every project presentation everybody can ask every question. So once attending to this meeting for the first time (after working a few days in this company), I ask 4 questions after 4 presentations (100% score, yay!) and get my first standing at the company. Some might be embarassed for the rest of their lifetime now but that’s not my way.

After Christmas, I change to my studying phase and work hard because I have a certain fear of not making it. I make it, even too good so that I decide to relax during the second year of studies. But one step after another…

Do you understand that I want to get back to this physical state? :)

Could I become a jacket model? 🙂

By the beginning of 2011, I have helped my girlfriend to become a lot better at school and lifted her up so that she does not hurt herself anymore or only at very rare occassions. I feel happy and we enjoy our time together travelling, making music and discovering/rediscovering the teenage way towards becoming an adult. It hits me like thunder once I learn that my girlfriend is suffering from some kind of bulimic anorexia. She has talked to my brother who decides that he can’t take the responsibility to keep that secret and talks to me. Three days later, she talks to me and tells me what happened to her.

Now I can handle it, another potential developing project, we can make it baby, here we go! I take her to a doctor, we talk to her mother, we try a lot of things and sometimes she feels better and sometimes she feels worse. Work is becoming a little less important even if I am struggling with the teams during my second year’s working phases. I guess I can thank to the music and my inner knowledge of my potential and unconscious feeling of my energy that I don’t start getting another psychic illness…

It’s by that time, in the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 that I begin to develop a little emotional distance from my girlfriend. I guess it’s a little self-protection wall against her sometimes very hard verbal aggressions. After all, she is sick and not herself or in control of herself all of the time anymore so I don’t blame her for that but take the necessary steps to protect myself. Though this beginning of losing my love for her, I still believe we can make it and move into a flat with her in autumn 2012. I accept a 90 minutes door-to-door one-way way to work everyday to be able to live with her despite the fact we work in different cities. In the beginning, it’s worth the pain. She gets a lot better once having left her parents (where she lacked the attention she needed or wanted to get). At least for sometime…

Through the green gate

Through the green gate

After about three months, I realize a change in her behaviour, now highly sensitive for this kind of behaviour. She is starting to overreact, to refuse being touched, to worry about eating, trying hard to destroy her life once again. I support her trying lots of things even though she has made my daily way-to-work-pain a ridiculous sacrifice by quitting her job and staying at home looking for another job closer to the city I work in. But my emotional self-protection wall begins to grow, I kind of put my heart into the freezer and we live together in the most independent way possible in a 3-room flat.

Ah yeah, I almost forgot, my final study year has already begun and I am working hard to prove my company I am the one to hire after my studies. I am writing a good project paper after a well-appreciated project in my company and discover my interest for education writing two research papers at the cooperative state university.
After some time of hard work and uncertainty, I finally get my working contract and can fully concentrate on writing a great bachelor thesis. Looking at my final grade, I haven’t done that bad…

2013-09-25 14.31.00In Autumn 2013, I leave for Kazan, Russia, to present a paper developed out of my research papers about education. I discover in this foreign country how easy communication with a girl can be even if you only share about 5 words in one language (she only speaks Russian and very very few words of english but luckily she is that smart she brings her tablet with google translator with her the second day). Nothing more happens but once back in Germany, I decide to accept my emotional wall and leave my girlfriend – may she do whatever she wants to her life as cruel as it may sound. I break up (I am so bad at it) and she falls in love again with another guy after a week or something.

I move to my parents’ again and enjoy life at Hotel Mummy again. Not for a long time, I lose my platin card guest status quite quickly and begin to mow the lane, clean the road and do some housework again quite soon. But I am not alone if I need someone to talk and I am independent enough in my room if I need some time for my own.
I begin working at the company where I studied after my longer holidays and enjoy it quite much. Towards christmas I am concentrating on a little love story with a chinese girl living in Cologne (in short it was like a rocket – took me almost to the stars in a sudden but somehow I dropped back to earth in a sudden like a waste part of a multistage rocket). This story already finishes shortly after the beginning of 2014 and I concentrate on work again.

2013-10-11 10.45.46I realize that now I am done, I’ve reached my last goals – getting my bachelor degree and getting hired. What am I supposed to do now? Should I keep working until my retirement? What do I do during my spare time? Why does work feel so bad and unfitting sometimes? Am I doing the right thing?

30 days of proacitivity diary - read me in the morning - tell me in the evening

30 days of proacitivity diary – read me in the morning – tell me in the evening

Let’s say I begin to think about my life again after three years filled with studies and girlfriend struggle. I discover the great book “The seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey and begin taking control of my life again. I do better at work, enjoy my life more and more and feel quite good. I am spending very great summer holidays, one week of hiking with my parents (Austria) and two weeks of language-learning/practising and partying/excessive dancing (Salamanca, Spain). I discover how much I like to get to know to new people once again and organise some parties and connect people to each other. Back in Germany, some may have a hard time getting used to my new self-confidence but yeah, we are working on that.

So lots of things are happening/I make lots of things happen and I want to leave you here for getting my shower to get ready for another exciting day.

Thanks for reading and feel free to ask for more detail whereever I have gone to fast.

Cheers,
Chris

Circles of fear – a very personal story (Episode 5 (Summer 2007-Summer 2010))

Episode 1

Episode 4

Sing the Blues

Sing the Blues (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

My singing teacher is the only person among my friends that is only surprised about my choice of leaving school for homeschool. He can even find some positive aspects of my choice. My (ex-)girlfriend and especially my mother (who is a German highschool teacher) are shocked. To convince my parents, I want to pay the homeschooling fee with the money I earn working at the Fraunhofer. I teach myself java programming there and work on a project to simulate security scenarios.

My parents accept my decision under the condition that I check it out for the free four weeks and then think about it again. My father gets ill with a psychosis a bit later and claims to be stronger than I am.  But he loses his “war of nerves” against my mind and leaves the battlefield to recover in a psychatric hospital.

Rock Band

Rock Band (Photo credit: spakulsk)

After this time of trouble, there is a kind of peaceful co-existence in the family, I have made peace with my mother and try to support her while my father is in the psychatric hospital. I find my first band projects and succeed to control and balance my energy flow and body ressources.

In sum, I feel a lot more grown-up and in good condition (body and mind). I hit the hard floor of reality when I get three out of fifteen points at the Maths pre-exam. I only can thank to my good French pre-exam achievements that I pass the pre-exam and am allowed to attend to the final exams for my diploma. I work very hard for the next two monts, I study old Maths exams, in sum about 120 hours of studying. I get twelve out of fifteen points in the final Maths exam which is helpful for my wish of studying Computer Science.

Before the final oral exams, I worry about Physics because I’ve never done my homework in a good quality. I take lessons at a nice and competent student and get twelve out of fifteen points in the final oral exam and a remark “Have you ever worked in a job related to Physics?” which I take as a compliment.

Mathematics homework

Mathematics homework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days later, I’m the proud owner of a German highschool diploma (Abitur) with a GPA of C+ (2,7). I feel well prepared for my studies to become a Computer Scientist. I have chosen to study and work fifty-fity for three years (cooperative study program at the DH, Karlsruhe) and found a very cool drugstore chain with a great working and employee philosophy for the working phases.

I find my love seaching for a musician by a girl who plays the guitar. We spend an exciting first year of our love, our music and my studies. My singing skills improve and I feel like getting more and more the best of myself feeling a harmony with my inner vibes. By recovering from my psychosis, I seem to have become a sort of an expert in the field of psychic illnesses and try to support my friends and their friends to find the reasons and solutions for their problems.

Episode 6

Now I have this blog and you can contact me in the comment section or just ask me for my email adress there and I will send you an email so that we can talk about everything you want to.

I wish you only the best, may peace surround you and happiness rule your mind.

Yours sincerely,

Chris

Ten Thoughts That Changed My Life

Howdy folks,

Mind creates life

Mind creates life (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

today I want to introduce to you ten thoughts that changed my life as you voted me to do so in the last customer service poll. I used the blockquote formatting to mark my thoughts, might see it as a citation of my mind.

(1) It’s a small world full of great opportunities and great people.

This thought came in my mind once again this morning when I asked a young man at the Karlsruhe Main Station for a pen to write the notes for this blog entry. We began to talk and realized that we are both studying at the Duale Hochschule at Karlsruhe, both studying Applied Computer Science. The only difference was that he started his studies in 2012 and I started in 2010, so he will hopefully enjoy the Software Engineering course I designed starting in October 2013 and I will have finished my studies and be employed by this time. Thank you very much for giving me a pen, Michael K!

(2) There are entity theorists and incremental theorists, also called fixed mind-set and growth mind-set people.

I believe that there are also inconsistent people. These people believe that they can improve in one area and keep at the same level for all their life in another area believing that they are not able to change this. I think that being an incremental theorist/growth mind-set people is essential for being able to head for meaningful activities. Which will make you happier, you know. I believe I can grow!

(3) If something is made for me, I will feel and find it someday.

Door light

Door light (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I think that there are always opportunities that show you that you should decide to go somewhere and that you can always decide to live against what you are meant to but will feel when you listen to the hints of life and do what you are meant to. I just start to feel the flow then. Why someday? Because the good things sometimes take longer. I am taking singing lessons for almost five years now but only within the last two months, my progress have begun to scratch the surface of audibility.

(4a) If I do not take the responsibility for my life, nobody else does.

Does that sound daunting? It’s a great opportunity as you will see in the next thought…

(4b) Only if I take the responsibility for my own life and my personal development, I can become the best version of myself.

And that is what I aim for as I am looking for making my life a meaningful activity.

(5) We live in a wonderful world. How can I help and what can I do to maintain and even improve this world?

What do you think? What do you do?

(6a) I have to feel my body but be present and focussed on the outside.

Singer.

Singer (That’s not me, will post about my band when we are ready :)). (Photo credit: flo and me)

This is very important to have the right source of energy (the body) and be able to use this energy letting it flow to a target outside. As a singer, groove and audience help me to do so.

(6b) In my mind I have to be precise but my body will only be able to translate this precise imagination if it is not cramped.

So I have to differ between precise thoughts I make in my mind and precise actions that result from the precise imagination in my mind (call it a template for action) and are improved by regular, mindful reproductions of the mind template (known as training).

(7) Freedom does not mean you do what you want to. Freedom means that you do what you want to as long as it does not limit the freedom of other people.

E.g. you could turn up your music as loud as you want to but as you would thereby limit your neighbour’s freedom to have a nap or simply relax, you should not do so. To say it with Eleanor Roosevelt‘s wise words: “With freedom comes responsibility.”

(8) There is bad work, good work, do your own thing and meaningful activities.

Social integration and meaning plus following personal aims leads to a meaningful activity

Social integration and meaning plus following personal aims leads to a meaningful activity

I already wrote about this one. If you did not follow one of the two meaningful activity links above, you can read about it here.

(9) There is the instruction paradigm and the learning paradigm.

Regretfully, you can not only find it in college but almost everywhere in life. I wrote about my thoughts on the great book of John Tagg here.

(10a) I do not need to rely on existing enterprises to satisfy my needs. I could start my own business.

social media

social media (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I often have ideas how to improve existing business models or how I imagine a great business/store of a certain kind. The last thing that came into my mind was my favorite future fashion store with no sale and no cloth hangers. As I am always looking for great opportunities and great people, I am sure that I will be able to realize the concepts one day.

(10b) We are all social beings.

So enjoy your friends, go for social interaction, use the amazing technical possibilities of our days. Join and communicate, meet people and make a difference, for you and for others. Remember, it’s a small world full of great opportunities and great people!

Goes without saying that I am looking forward to getting to know you and reading and answering your comments!

Failure and what I learned from failing – A course re-redesign

Howdy folks,

Today, I want to introduce myself as someone who tried educational gamification and failed. And as someone who read the amazing book “Learning Paradigm College” by John Tagg and was much influenced by Tagg’s thoughts. But let’s begin with the beginning…

English: University of Cooperative Education (...

Duale Hochschule Karlsruhe/University of Cooperative Education Karlsruhe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For my studies (Applied Computer Science), I wrote two 30 page papers (called “Studienarbeit”). Both are about redesigning the 1 year-long (2 semester) Software Engineering (SE) course in the Bachelor program for Applied Computer Science at the Duale Hochschule of Karlsruhe (DH).

The first one is about gamifying this SE course.

Most important ideas were:

  • Using a Map (see image below) where students could choose their way through the material (autonomy).
  • Providing students with a profile with a progress bar (feedback).
  • Giving Experience Points (XP) for completing tasks.
  • A Marketplace for creating and joining projects for the second semester.
Map providing students with autonomy to choose their way through the learning material

Map providing students with autonomy to choose their way through the learning material

Problems with this course design encountered in collected student feedback were:

  • Early release of the prototype had as a consequence that students were likely to find it buggy and feeling like guinea pigs (subjects of experiments).
  • The course design had too little focus on grades for a grade-centered environment like the DH.
  • Games seem to have a connotation as inefficient and not having the same value as work (sounding a bit like “Man, I’m serious and hard working, not just playing around!”).

So feeling quite frustrated, I said to myself “If you want hard work, you get hard work and if I only get you hard working by regular grading, let’s have a try!”.

This led to the second paper about implementing a Flipped Classroom for SE course:

Most important ideas were:

  • Diverse kind of tasks for students to avoid “reproduction-only” tests and increase learning efficiency (see image “student activity over lecture time (minutes)”).
Student activity over lecture time (minutes)

Student activity over lecture time (minutes)

  • Team work from the beginning to facilitate students keeping motivated and moving.
  • Regular grading and feedback for students on almost every task (see image “Possible points (sum) over lecture number”).

    Possible points (sum) over lecture number

    Possible points (sum) over lecture number

This design will be used in the next SE course starting in October 13. I’m already excited about how it will be perceived and rated by the students. I hope that the regular grading will avoid that students do not take the course serious just because it feels less like a lecture they are used to. After reading John Tagg’s amazing book, I thought that if we add enough feedback to every grade so that students can get better and better, it could heat up the learning environment a lot.

Do you have any ideas or comments to share on one of the papers? Or do you have any questions about one of the papers? Waiting for it in the comment section!

By the way, I wrote a shorter paper about the second paper and won a trip to Russia in September 2013 to participate in the IGIP conference. I’m looking forward to that adventure…

Have anyone ever been to Russia? Would be great if you shared your experiences with me!

I will write about the Russia trip and the conference and the Flipped Classroom for SE course after my conference participation. So if you already have questions concerning one of this three topics, let me know! Thanks in advance!