It will be an interesting day

Bird Droppings May 22, 2015
It will be an interesting day

I was up earlier than normal and went back to bed after sitting out for a few minutes around midnight or so. It was peaceful sitting in the coolness of an almost summer evening. I thought earlier we were going to have a storm. A cold front came through yesterday and temperatures were unseasonably cool but it felt good. To top that off a maybe a storm is sitting over South Georgia and generally we get backwash from spring storms. I am sitting here writing and listening to a CD by R. Carlos Nakai, Sundance Season. Nakai plays traditional Native American music on a cedar seven note flute and in this particular CD uses also an eagle bone whistle. Similar to the whistles used in Sundance ceremonies now for thousands of years.

It has been a few days since my last order of white sage and Dakota sage came in. I took a few moments last weekend to put in masons jars for storage. Sage has a peaceful aroma when burning and along with a bit of sweet grass a very relaxing aroma and attitude something about embers smoldering. Later today I am reworking my sweet grass patch to a sunnier spot.

“For some years now, students have not been getting to the root of the aim of Zen, instead taking the verbal teachings of Buddha’s and Zen masters to be the ultimate rule. That is like ignoring a hundred thousand pure clear oceans and only focusing attention on a single bubble.” Ying-an

As I watched a few embers slowly dissipate it made me think to this piece I read earlier today while I do some research for my long awaited dissertation. So often we miss the point caught up in a pure clear ocean when the bubble is what we really seek. I sprinkled the ashes on the ground and came in to write and think.

“Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.” George Herbert (1593-1632, British metaphysical poet

Over the past few days I have read many emails, blogs and thoughts about how life strengthens us through trial and tribulations. I remember an oak tree in Coatesville Pennsylvania growing up immediately outside my apartment bedroom window. Hurricane Hazel was devastating the area and a loud crack and several large branches broke off falling on the parking lot beside our apartment damaging some cars. Very easily the tree could have given up and come down in the storm but it stayed put losing only a branch or two. The flooding lasted for days as I recall but this was when I was four maybe 1953 or so. As I sit pondering a bubble the Zen master says far too often we do not take the time.

“Live as you will wish to have lived when you are dying.” Christian Furchtegott Gellert

A country song by about this subject went to number one and a subsequent little inspirational book was published that I found and have given away now quite a few copies. It is not about the destination it is the journey.

“It is not the greatness of a man’s means that makes him independent, so much as the smallness of his wants.” William Cobbett (1762-1835) British journalist and reformer

A few days ago in talking with my mother we talked about how my father before he passed away had no wants at all. He had done everything he ever wanted and just was enjoying each minute of life be that an old Gunsmoke rerun on TV or a John Wayne movie. I was thinking about many of the ascetics over the years who give up everything simply to be. As I was thinking Henry David Thoreau came to mind wandering about as a learner so he could teach. So many teachers forget we are always learning and need to be in order to be an effective teacher. Sometimes it may be giving up something to gain more.

“If you desire many things, many things will seem few.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American scientist, publisher and diplomat

“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.” George Eliot

These are interesting thoughts, as I sit and ponder the morning and day ahead. So many things are happening in the world and so much happening each day we often miss a piece or two.

“The master goes about his business with perfect equanimity. He is happy when he sits, Happy when he talks and eats, happy asleep, happy coming and going. Because he knows his own nature, He does what he has to without feeling ruffled like ordinary people. Smooth and shining like the surface of a vast lake. His sorrows are at an end.” Ashtavakra Gita 18:59-60

I was talking with a young man I ran into at a convenience store. He is in his twenties now. I had him in class nearly ten years ago when he turned 16. He is working and doing alright according to him. When I had him in school he was on the verge of getting kicked out of school and then he withdrew and quit school. He went on and received his diploma in an alternative school format but he did finish. He could never be successful in a big group or class. Always his attention would drift and trouble would ensue. Back in the day he was a little spud but he had grown a few inches since I last saw him and put on a few pounds of muscle. What struck me in our conversation was his work. He was working in construction building foundations. This is a kid I would have bet would have been in jail within a year or two and he may have been but now he was building foundations for people’s homes. As I sit and think this for sure is a paradox maybe. I wish him well. As I close so much to be thinking about in the world but as always please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Why should I do more?

Bird Droppings May 21, 2015
Why should I do more?

“Choices are sacred to life’s journey. They lie along the path that all of us must follow for ourselves. An important Cherokee lesson is that if you involve yourself in any decision, you also experience the consequences of that decision.” Dr. J.T. Garrett, Meditations with the Cherokee

It has been quite a while since I was able to walk out first thing in the morning and experience the newness of the day and not be in a rush to get to school. Granted being not in the structured routine of school I tend to get lazy from not having to get up. I decided this summer to get up early and continue my ritual starting with my cup of green tea and write and read. It has been a very strange spring in Georgia with rain predicted one week and then heat and dry ahead for some time. Afternoons we have a chance of scattered thunder showers and yard work gets curtailed while plants and grass dry a bit. Over the weekend and several times in previous weeks I had to stop till rain drops subsided enough that I would not get soaked coming from my car. It has been nearly nine summers since I submitted a reflection of sorts for my graduate work based on viewing history in more than one color, more than one culture or societal norm. Rereading that reflection led me to a powerful thought.

“Do more than belong; participate. Do more than care; help. Do more than believe; practice. Do more than be fair; be kind. Do more than forgive; forget. Do more than dream; work.” William Arthur Ward

As I sit here this early morning responding to emails from previous days I am slowly catching up. It is through our actions we are perceived. It was many nights back even several years ago at a basketball game several fans were asked nicely to leave by administration and eventually sheriffs intervened in the altercation. You could be upset with a situation but when you vocalize using words that in reality do not really make sense, as so often swearing does not (sit and write literal meanings to most swearing) and add hand gestures and increase volume, you are being perceived as out of control. When asked nicely to cease such distracting behavior and you continue that too adds to the perception of perhaps out of control. In speaking to a sheriff in a derogatory manner, again fuels the flames of perception, being a person who has ceased to utilize their own self-control and the result, being asked quite nicely to not be in the gym in public view might seem a bit understated.

It could be behavior modification time and coincidentally having a background in BM, that’s behavior modification by the way. Although today we use less harsh terms, Functional Behavior Analysis and Task Analyzes. BM is what it is about and there are times now with two little ones in the house I see some behavior that BM could mean more along the lines of potty training. Back to my story for example, the first offense at a basketball game and there after you can come but must wear a dog training collar to reenter gym. In the control booth sits your modifier, preferably a spouse or child who probably will enjoy this, holding the button. If you get out of control they get to press the button sending a mild shock to your neck. However if you continue they also have on the side of the control box the increase switch, raising the voltage. I think there are some spouses that may automatically go to max even for first jolt.

There is a chance of course that the child or spouse in the control booth has read Skinner’s books and articles and knows intermittent variable reinforcement works great too and shocks just to let their collared friend know who holds the button, and that might become the norm. Sporting events would never be the same. In the stands half the people sitting and twitching from shocks and the other half is sitting quietly smiling pressing the buttons. Kids could play their games and cheerleaders could cheer and what a wonderful time would be had by all. However had everyone read the first line of the first quote today none of this would be necessary.

“When you see a new trail, or footprint you do not know, follow it to the point of knowing” Uncheedah, grandfather of Ohiyesa, Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman

Is that something we now teach? In teaching biology I use a lesson and style of teaching that I had used myself in a graduate school class demonstration on existential teaching methods. I let the students find the answers and act only as a facilitator. In one plastic container is a tiger salamander (Elmo) and in the other a leopard gecko (Emily) one is an amphibian and the other a reptile. The lesson is based on taxonomy and differentiating between amphibians and reptiles. Having done this numerous times in summer school in Biology and in my own classes during the school year those that work through the lesson will remember which is which far better than having read a book or heard in a lecture, they literally followed the trail. How often do we take away curiosity and how often do we brush the trail clean of tracks?

“The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind is curiosity.” Edmund Burke

“It is a shameful thing to be weary of inquiry when what we search for is excellent.” Marcus T. Cicero

Far too often we do not have time for children’s questions; we do not want to follow a new trail as Uncheedah speaks of. We only want the status quo the peace and solitude of that lesson plan laid out months in advance and carefully formulated to cover each of the required curriculum needs of the subject in a given time span. Let us get from point A to point B and not venture off the track ever again.

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.” Samuel Johnson

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” Eleanor Roosevelt

So often I talk with students who are not curious. They seldom ask why and only accept what is taught to them and many do not even do that and simply shrug their shoulders and state they don’t care. So many people in our world today simply follow and media and the corporate advertising feed on this. When I read a statement from a person who says this is what I believe and you cannot change that about any subject matter or idea I sort of wonder.

We should be teaching children to challenge, to question, never just accepting an answer. My middle son had the highest regard for a teacher and on an occasion pointed out an error on a discussion transparency dealing with a specific type of animal. He pointed out that what was on the slide was in error and backed it up with the very biology book they were using, as well as other sources. A year later in he was in another Advanced Placement Biology class, and the same slide, same response. He again pointed out the error and the teacher was still teaching exactly the same, still in error and had never changed that slide. By chance three years later, speaking to a class, that slide again appeared, this time his respect for that teacher was gone, while a good teacher, a poor learner. It was difficult for a “teacher” to except a “students” understanding of a topic albeit that students brother had raised and bred that specific animal at home for many years so it was not simply a student spouting off, there was experiential contextual knowledge involved.

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Carl Edward Sagan

“Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you: you must acquire it.” Sadie Black

We got into a discussion of sorts yesterday about doing school work. So often teachers assign a certain number of problems in math regardless of whether the students know how to do that skill or not, homework for example, do these twenty problems. If the skill is known, why do the assignment, if not known, doing problems you do not know how to do, doesn’t help. This is not to pick on math teachers but so often this happens and students begin to look down on busy work. If that assignment had meaning, perhaps more care and effort would ensue. It is no wonder so many students soon learn who is doing homework and copy that person’s work simply to get credit for homework.

“I think knowing what you cannot do is more important than knowing what you can.” Lucille Ball

“It is not good to know more unless we do more with what we already know.” R. K. Bergethon

When you can apply a piece of knowledge it lasts far more than when it is simply an idea, a passing, thought something to forget. In some subjects it is difficult to make ideas applicable, at least this is what some teachers think and students soon grow weary and curiosity is gone. Several times I have mentioned a friend who in teaching history would occasionally dress as a knight or king and or a lowly goat herder to make a point drawing the class into the lesson.

“The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.” Confucius
“I would have the studies elective. Scholarship is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure interest in knowledge. The wise instructor accomplishes this by opening to his pupils precisely the attractions the study has for himself. The marking is a system for schools, not for the college; for boys, not for men; and it is an ungracious work to put on a professor.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

To instill curiosity a teacher must also be curious; a teacher must also be a learner. Recently I read several articles about schools where students and teachers make choices and decisions on the operation of the school, a truly democratic school. The Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts is an example as I mentioned recently. Many years ago Socrates would simply ask a question and students would have to find the answers, not be told the answers and Socrates would assist through more questions. He must have upset his school board since he was required to drink poison.

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain’t so.” Mark Twain

This is a good place to wind down today. I am sitting here, thinking, pondering and wondering about where the day may go and what will be said and who will listen. I find solace in that thought. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks for all namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Can we be about healing?

Bird Droppings May 20, 2015
Can we be about healing?

“People cannot know how sacred power, or medicine truly works, bit almost every Native American knows something of its ways. Often seen as a mysterious force that is fluid, transmissible and important malleable, sacred power can be manipulated by those who possess it – either for good or for worse” Larry Zimmerman, The Sacred Wisdom or the American Indians

It is so easy to get up knowing my children and grandchildren are safe and walk out into a morning unafraid, I have never been in the situation my parents were faced with my two younger brothers and me. Shortly after I was born they were unsure as young parents of the medical issues and why their new born was having seizures. I out grew that and moved on to polio at about three and a few small minor other health issues in my childhood. My youngest brother also started with seizures and almost immediately the intensity increased and I think back to how my parents must have felt at that time. My middles brother contracted a bone infection and was on antibiotics and bed rest for weeks.

Watching my own children grow up with so few problems has been easy. A good friend has two small children one diagnosed with diabetes the other with health issues of another sort. A few years past on a Monday a dear friend went in for brain surgery, not something that you volunteer to do, she knew that she may not walk away from it. But in this situation options were minimal, an aneurism on the main artery in her brain could rupture at any time and she would be gone. She had her surgery and survived and is doing fine. We have daily medical miracles unthought-of even when I was a child.

There was calm this morning as I went outside with our dog before even heading upstairs to get on my wife’s computer I was lazy and left mine at school. It was an uneasy calm, as if a storm is coming or maybe just a weather change, yet so peaceful and still. I was absorbed in the quiet, and the stillness, perhaps the storm will come we can always use more rain (sarcasm there after two inches in the past few days). But perhaps the calm will stay and continue. I have a spot in the yard actually I call it my medicine circle where I often go to sit and to listen. As I sat birds were chattering about me and I was looking for answers and to what today would be for me. Sometimes I wander in thinking to defining infinite and nothing. Two simple words yet so much of philosophy and life revolve around attempts at defining those two words. Religions are based on and built on finding answers to the infinite and or understanding what is nothing.

Last evening I walked to my car to get my phone that I had left on the charger. At this time in the evening with little traffic in our neighborhood my front porch is a quiet resting spot as well. I sat down in the rocker and was listening. A buzzing or more humming sound caught my attention and I was face to face with a hummingbird. We stared at each other for some time till the tiny bird flew off into the expanse of pines alongside the road. Had I been a few minutes later or sooner I would have missed the hummingbird.

“Creative breakthroughs and prophetic knowing will become ordinary. Empathy and compassion will flower as a result of our deeper connection with one another. The awareness of immortality takes the pressure off living and dying. This will not happen automatically, however. We have to do our share and set our biases and prejudices aside. These are urgent matters.” Dr. Larry Dossey, Healing Words

It has been quite a few years since I read Dr. Larry Dossey’s first book. I coming from a seminarian background, my library is filled with books on prayer and the healing power of prayer. Every day in the local paper articles and advertising for various churches allude to the power of prayer. There have been times in my own life when prayer was a significant issue. I recall my father telling the story of my brother lying in a bed at The Philadelphia Children’s hospital this was in the mid 1960’s and the head doctor Dr. C. Everett Koop (The former U.S. Surgeon General circa 1981-1989) offering a prayer over John. I recall a comment my father said years ago that Dr. Koop offered in all of his years in medicine and dealing with terminally ill children had he ever met anyone who refused prayer. Dr. Larry Dossey in his work however is looking at prayer as a thought of healing intentions. Dossey even removes religious connotation from prayer as he looks at the power of prayer, in a California study where a group focused on the individuals in a critical care heart unit and healing occurred.

“This is actually been tested in certain studies, and has achieved positive results. For example, at the University of California San Francisco Medical School, they actually tested healing intentions, which were initiated at a great distance by several individuals, for people with advanced AIDS. This was a double blind study. The people who received the healing intentions statistically did much better than people who did not. So this is not just fantasy. This is a valid phenomenon, which has been tested.” Dr. Larry Dossey

I am rambling a bit, a dear friend emailed back a few months several incidents of healing and intuition recently, while she was a pastor in Delaware. A good friend would end his emails to me sending energy south. For a number of years now I have ended Bird Droppings with a simple line, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart, each day. A very simple statement, as I sit and think imagine if we each would do this daily how profound an impact would that make on the world.

“We are made of prayers. With prayer we listen to what is important inside of us and all around us.” Navajo healer

“We are not alone. The spirits of those gone before guide our steps, our traditions, our beliefs. We are not alone. The care of those around us leads us to healing and wholeness and comfort. We are not alone.” Mohawk/Onondaga healer

“All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth.” Chief Seattle

A good friend from the mountains of North Georgia introduced herself to me slightly over a year ago as a healer and soothsayer. I sat not too many hours ago again with her talking about medicinal plants and other healing topics. I was talking how as I learned more about certain plants I seemed drawn to specific ones. Her response and she has been healing and working with folks for nearly fifty years was they will let you know when they (the plants) are needed. So I close today someone needs a soothing tea I have included a recipe and taking a spare book and a plant to a friend tomorrow. If we focus on those in harm’s way if we try and alleviate suffering and harm being done to others within our own realm of being, that will spread that will encompass soon all of mankind and the world will be touched. Today make it a point to keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and a special thought for a little girl in North Georgia and a local woman in Athens who just came out of surgery and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

A soothing tea:
From Listening with your heart by Dr. Wayne Peate M.D. An Iroquois healer as well as a medical doctor
8 fresh peppermint leaves
4 fresh strawberry leaves
2 cups of water
Crush leaves, place in a tea pot. Add boiling water and cover for ten minutes. Strain and serve. I am making some right now although my strawberry leaves are minimal I did have a lot of peppermint.

PS: This is a wonderful tea I use it at home when strawberry and peppermint plants are about.

Is curriculum sacred?

Bird Droppings May 19, 2015
Is curriculum sacred?

My wife and I are talking about taking a couple of day’s hiatus to explore the North Georgia Mountains with no schedule and little baggage. We will throw a few t-shirts and shorts in a bag and take off. We actually have more computers and camera gear than clothes when we go. Thinking back to our last crazy trip our last journey included a nursery or two, some tourist traps a museum and always some good food. As I sit here thinking so often even a miniscule idea will trigger with me a significant memory.

We have a standing joke at our house about the rabbits that live around our yard. My wife continually mentions the book, Watership Downs, when addressing the bold creatures. A few days ago I was heading to the front door when a young rabbit was standing at the door. The rabbit had no sales flyers or sample case so I am sure it was not a traveling sales bunny. But as I pondered and I did get photos of our door tapping rabbit I thought back to one of my earlier undergraduate experiences. I had a professor in 1969 at Eastern College in St. David’s Pennsylvania, Dr. Tony Campolo; he was and still is a professor of sociology. He has made more of an impact on me in the years since I sat in his class and it was not because he was not a great professor for he was but it has been in reading and pondering his books since.

“While the would be spiritual oracles fail to understand about our ‘advanced’ capitalist social system is that the means have been devised to make spiritual realities somewhat unreal to us. More accurately, ways have been found in our consumer-oriented society to reduce spiritual hungers to emotions that can be gratified by purchasing the things being sold to us through the mass media.” Dr. Tony Campolo

It is not just church related spiritual realities Dr. Campolo is talking about here. It is the just of who we are that inner being getting to know where we are in the world and why. Dr. Campolo was a theologian first and often would use Greek as he taught periodically to make a point.

“Koinonia, (fellowship) supposedly can be generated simply by drinking the right beer” Dr. Tony Campolo

As I have been reading in some curriculum texts it is an interdisciplinary event as well as it is an all-encompassing lived in totality undertaking? Curriculum is not just the linear understanding of a school room and class XYZ. Seeing curriculum as the tracks that my life’s train is riding on is perhaps a metaphorical stretch at best yet in the true sense of understanding it is so.

“It is through a concern with problems as they are relating to mankind at large that it may be possible to create the type of understanding that will enable man to use with wisdom those tools which have made this century the most promising and the most perilous he has ever known.” Elliot Eisner

For many years I have embraced within myself a different sort of understanding of the world. In Native American culture all is sacred, every leave, twig, rock, animal and human being.

“It was a quote from Krishnamurti that said – he was talking about education being the understanding of the self, and he said, ‘For it is each of us the whole of existence is gathered.’” K. Kesson

For me spiritual is simply walking out the door to a brilliant sunrise or full moon as it inspires and fulfills that within me. I see curriculum in a similar manner one of sacredness of spiritual and fulfillment more so than a curriculum map on a wall next to the essential question of the day. As I read curriculum theorists it is this group who are bringing back the sacredness of learning of understanding and perhaps returning a culture lost in the midst of being found.

“The Community of truth, the grace of things, the transcendent subject, the “secret” that “sits in the middle and knows” – these images emerge, for me, from my experience of reality as sacred and of the sacred as real. Others may arrive at similar understandings from different starting points. But I believe that knowing, teaching, and learning are grounded in sacred soil and that renewing my vocation as a teacher requires cultivating a sense of the sacred.” “I think the problem we are up against is that we are crippled in this modernist culture in speaking about this dimension, and the people that have experienced it throughout history – the mystics, the sages – it seems to me they do come back and report it as a deeply meaningful and moral realm.” Ron Miller

I was first introduced to Black Elk by a Creek friend whose grandfather was a holy man as well. He said I should read the book and get a feeling for what spirituality is about. Interesting as I read I also found this is what learning is about.

“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves” Black Elk

This is the outlook of Black Elk, Oglala Sioux holy man in his discussions and narrative of his visions as a child and as elder in the tribe with John Neihardt in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. This view Native Americans have of life we civilized folk have a difficult time with. Black Elk perceived that there was an all-encompassing view of all that is. In my naive beginning study of curriculum theory I see aspects of this philosophy in curriculum theory and my analogy of a track a circular journey in life of education and learning.

“One of the paradoxes of our times is that in an age pervaded by the clash of conflicting ideologies so little effort is spent in enabling students to critically examine their values and beliefs.” Elliot Eisner

We tend to lose individualism in trying to accomplish everything and to standardize and sanitize and provide “curriculum” to our schools. I became a big fan of Elliot Eisner studying at Georgia Southern University so borrowing from Eisner again.

“As David Hume suggested, one cannot logically proceed from a description of what is to a conception of what ought to be.” “If the concept of mankind were used as an organizing element in the curriculum, certain differences in school programs might emerge.” Elliot Eisner

Curriculum is a living thing ongoing and pervasive. It is not a limiting plan of strategies as so many teachers presume. I think I have been pondering to long today and who knows maybe there are answers after all please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

What is normal and can we define it quantitatively or qualitatively?

Bird Droppings May 18, 2015
What is normal and can we define it quantitatively or qualitatively?

“Normality in fact has nothing to do with statistics. It refers to a norm, a model of perfection, an example to be followed. It indicates what we should be. Normality is therefore something to strive for, something at which to aim, it is not what most people do. It is what they would do if they lived up to their human potential.” “Normality, defined in relation to a norm, is a model in terms of which we try to shape our characters and our behavior. And this involves living up to our human potential.” Hasan Le Gai Eaton; in a broadcast by the BBC 1989, ‘Living By The Book’

My readings and wanderings over the years of graduate school led me to thinking about qualitative or quantitative research and various components of those topics. It also got me thinking back several years to when I was testing a young man and used a well normed and perhaps one of the best according to most psychological testers and school systems of indicators of emotional and behavior disorders. The test has several components to be used in evaluating a student; one aspect is teacher opinions, another the student’s own self-views, and also parental opinions. A combination of these often differing perceptions gives an over view of the student. This young man I was testing had scored himself totally normal within all test guidelines and parameters.

As I looked at the three or four teacher checklists and answer sheets a different person was being seen. In his classes this student had A’s and B’s and seldom if ever did he do anything that was considered wrong. Occasionally this student would jump up and act bizarre and then sit quietly and do his work. Other than that everything was in order and perfect, he never yelled out or called people names. He did not interact in the hallways and or cause trouble ever, not one discipline referral. He was a prefect student by most teachers’ opinions his own and even his grandparents.

When called on he would not answer except in a whisper or he would bring the correct answer to you and point to it on his paper. He would never look you in the eye. He never used hand gestures while talking often fidgeting with a pencil or some other object in the room as he paced occasionally. He never talked to other students and when he did it was in a monotone a nearly flat pitched voice with little emotion. It was seldom that he would smile. When he would laugh or attempt to make a joke it was neither understood by others or no one even heard or perceived humor in his words.

I wondered as I sat with this young man so enclosed and encased in himself and so very intelligent. He would go through school never looking at anyone, always alone even eating lunch alone. However because we placed our standards on more than not interfering, not misbehaving and getting good grades this young man slipped through the cracks emotionally. With additional testing he was found to have Asperger’s syndrome a pervasive developmental disorder or by some standards and definitions a nonverbal learning disability.

So I ask what is normal. For so many teachers normal is fitting into the plan that they developed for their class, the guidelines of the school and classroom. Deviating from that is not normal. It was several months back I heard an administrator for the first time advocate for a kid, in quite some time. This was a student who has so much against him; he is living within a virtual prison of disabilities, Tourette’s syndrome, bi-polar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and numerous other diagnoses’. In a heartbeat he can get in trouble and he did again on that day. An observant administrator noticed things out of the norm, his clothes hadn’t been changed, as he was being told his mother would be called he jokingly said you won’t get her, and then said under his breath she was in surgery.

I thought back further to a student many years ago and saw similarities as my memories flooded back. We so often limit our perception to the moment. Were his misbehaviors at that moment because of his disability, were they symptomatic of the fact his mother was in the hospital in critical condition and in surgery, or were his misbehaviors simple our inability to look beyond the class disruption and our own lack of awareness of what is normal, often being our own limitations on normal.

The quote I used today in its entirety is an article on seeking perfection given that we will never reach it. It is written about Islam and perfection being Muhammad. In all societies and cultures and religions we seem as humans to establish a model of what we consider to be normal, and or perfection, and then we strive for it. We also seem to build in stop gaps for our own inadequacies but tend to forget others. In another article this morning I read adultery is normal if we consider the trends and numbers, yet most people would still say it is wrong. I wonder as I sit today how many times each of us has declared someone abnormal because they did not meet our standards.

Coming back to my graduate classes and the concept of Mind Sets, far too often we are in a fixed mindset and do not have the provisions for or ability to bend or flex when needed. Often I joke about the day a space ship lands and a super intelligent being with nine legs and twenty toes on each of its feet steps out and declares humankind abnormal, what then? Perhaps we can norm a new test. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Do we learn from a ripple or a wave?

Bird droppings May 17, 2015
Do we learn from a ripple or a wave?

Today I will be digging and planting, transplanting and repotting various flowers and herbs in our yard and also weeding eating the jungle now that we have had so much rain just about every day up till this past week and storms headed in. I have several plants in dire need of planting and one poor lemon verbena that had been hiding for about a month still in a seedling pot and now about twenty four inches tall and that poor plant will be happy to be in some real dirt. I got thinking back, my cousins had a memorial service for my aunt and uncle seven years ago and we all celebrated their lives. Both had passed away within a short period of time. I have been thinking since early morning when I started the day after an message from a former student thinking about this idea. Do we learn more from a ripple or a wave?

“Make ripples more than waves” Bob Algonzzine, Little book of Wisdom

This thought is number 298 out of 365 thoughts in his book. It isn’t necessarily in in any special order it just happens to be that number. As I saw this comment as to a teacher in class I recalled a legend from local Native Americans about throwing a stone into a pond or lake and watching the ripples dissipate against the edges of the pond. Technically as I looked up definitions ripples and waves are the very similar and even some said the same just in different velocities or size. But as I think this morning a ripple doesn’t have the force of a wave, sort of in education the difference between telling versus asking for something to be done. You are trying to accomplish the same event or solicit the same behavior but one has a lot more force behind it.

“It is nobler to convert souls, than to conquer kingdoms.” Louis Debonnaire

“People have a peculiar pleasure in making converts that is, in causing others to enjoy what they enjoy, thus finding their own likeness represented and reflected back to them.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

So often the teacher is the expert and it is my way period, saying such things as you will learn this now or else sort of thing. Waves have a tendency to do damage more so then sink in as they hit. Ripples are absorbed at the shore line as I thought deeper on this knowledge is no different. Is what is taught to be simply for Friday’s test or is it to be a life lesson?

“That, which proves too much, proves nothing!” Proverb

“You must make the product interesting not just make the ad different. And that’s what too many of the copywriters in America today don’t yet understand.” Rooser Reeves

I often wonder however when it is a ripple and when a wave. A new idea could knock some students over and yet be just what another student needs to keep momentum up. By coincidence my middle son found out about three years ago he and his wife were going to be having a baby girl and I recalled how he would come home from Georgia Tech to relax, the atmosphere at TECH is very stressful I should have told him back then being a daddy is no different. A regiment of study, video games, study, read, video games and very little humanity time at Tech. Now he has a beautiful little bundle that is smiling one minute and the next needs a diaper changed. On the other side my nephew would come home from another college to study because all time in his dorm was humanity time and no one was concentrating. As I think back it was funny they would spend their weekend’s home playing video games together before heading back to their schools.

As I sit here midst my debris a thought, that incessant barrage of ripples one after another nothing over whelming as it sinks in and it is absorbed. I often use and have cards sitting around my room at school with FIDO printed on them and on the back the acronym, Frequency, Intensity, Duration and Over Again. This is the FIDO principle and my “good friend” B.F. Skinner’s philosophy and eventually it will sink in.

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” Liane Cardes

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Stephen R. Covey

Covey’s idea is true however ripples or waves hitting on concrete is far more different than if it were hitting on a sponge. The big question is then how do we develop sponges as to learning and concrete as to character.

“The cynic says, ‘One man can’t do anything.’ I say, ‘Only one man can do anything.’” John W. Gardner

“Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make very small use of their possible consciousness and of their soul’s resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger.” William James

How often do we see people like this so restricted in movement and in thinking only a finger can be moved. Each day during school hours I can look down the hallway and see teachers who respond this way. As I have written the past several years I used the term boxed in, they are in their little box sealed up and new ideas concepts cannot get in. Occasionally they peek out but usually only to see if the wrapping is intact. Most of the time this type of teacher teaches with waves throwing one after another at students. BOOM, you got it or you don’t and I am out of here back to my box.

“I have always had the feeling I could do anything and my dad told me I could. I was in college before I found out he might be wrong.” Anne Richards
Recently I was discussing what makes a teacher. Part of my rationale is you cannot truly tell someone how to teach. In schools of Education they try and so forth in math science etc. I have found creativity and imagination get so often stifled as in Anne Richards quote by experts. We want to make sponges not concrete.

“We are hoarding potentials so great that they are just about unimaginable.” Jack Schwartz

“You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.” Brian Tracy

“Make ripples not waves” I was just thinking about days gone by and making waves in a pool using a kick board you push against the water and shove in a direction and make a wave. It takes one good hard push and you have a wave. A ripple is more of dropping a stone and from the epicenter of where the stone hits ripples play out one after another till they hit the shore. Perhaps the identical force is involved in terms of physics but in the ripple effect many hundreds of ripples play against the edge or the student and with the wave it is a onetime deal. So we are faced with a wave versus a series of ripples.

As I sit back pondering which would I rather teach and which would I rather have to be a student within? An interesting scenario in that thought as my mind wanders about today one in which ripples created a new country over two hundred years ago. I wonder how many teachers teach and think in terms of being a student listening to their lesson. As I look at News this morning it seems we are still at war in many places and some countries are trying to aggravate further with rhetoric and missiles. So for another day and sadly one that is special to us here in the US our friends and family members continue to be at risk and many are in harm’s way. So please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Finding our reflection on a pond or window

Bird Droppings May 15, 2015
Finding our reflection on a pond or window

I boxed up a couple of boxes of “junk” from my class room the other day. Each piece at one time or another had been a teachable moment. Each was an item and or items for that had been collected and or given to me from my father and mother’s house. My mother had been getting my father’s things sorted and it must be genetic, the pack rat syndrome he had boxes and cases and trays of stuff. Some is just extra electric tape for that emergency or millions of spare batteries, but in among all of the stuff are cool things like a wooden water buffalo painted gold, used in a Sunday school lesson so many years ago. It was nearly eleven years ago I was moving into a smaller room from a huge room I had on another hall. My room at school becomes my sanctuary and many other folks along the way as well. My room with soft flute music playing and an eclectic assortment or student and my own art work on the walls is small yet cozy. Still I have the running water from the aquarium to add some calming to the hectic.

I thought back to that day nearly fifteen years ago and my own reflection. What a way to start the day, it is amazing how much stuff accumulates over a year even within a semester. This morning as I write I have several projects on hand that I am working on for school and graduate school. One I have been working on for several years and some construction got in my way. I have been logging and photographing all the trees on campus for a power point presentation for biology teachers and anyone interested. Actually let kids do most of that one over the years. As I find things in my room it is amazing the bits and pieces of history while only I have been here only for a few years and how much has changed.

I found a photo of a student who was in my class and has been out of school for nearly twelve years, it was funny as I set the picture down sort of a “posed thinker picture” yet this young man has probably been in more trouble than the sum total of the rest of my students. On a brighter note he also is the only student so far to voluntarily read Dylan Thomas and started a Brian Weiss book, that one he did not finish but got half way. Currently he is doing repair work and racing motorcycles in Texas. I find it interesting how life responds.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Interesting as I look for quotes as I think of this young man, I am drawn to several thinkers who are in direct contrast to this young man’s life style. Numerous times his trouble with the law was racial, he usually the instigator. As I reflect in all of it was a losing of hope, that there was no more reason to exist, life was too hard. Life had dealt too hard a blow to him perhaps although many times he would swing back.

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As I got to know this young man other aspects of reality came into being he would tell his friends, “do not trust me” and yet when I did a trust quiz he was always the most trusted.

“There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Robert F. Kennedy

Perhaps as I knew this young man I could see things that never were and would over look at times the things that were. I knew why he did much of what he did. Most people knew why, but never took time to go beyond that and simply would write him off.

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else.” Mahatma Gandhi

As I think about this young man it was his actions and lifestyle that drew attention always what he did never what he could do. I sat in a class yesterday on qualitative research and this young man again came up in my thoughts. If I simply looked at numbers he has the still school record for suspension days and just about any discipline record you could imagine. Greatest number of fights started and finished not necessarily being a positive thought.

“Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected” Mahatma Gandhi

Where can we and or where do we find truth. Thinking and pondering deeper should not that first grade teacher except responsibility for truth or should they simply teach the curriculum or maybe in second, third, or fourth grades truth could be included as an elective. Maybe administration or with in the schools somewhere or it could be in Family and Children Services a spate extra credit course in truth. As I thought going through files and such as I am cleaning up for this coming school year it became apparent as I was asked who another picture was of, and I could not remember the name. I remember taking the picture but I could not remember the name of the person only a few weeks ago. Then I realized why? So often our focus is simply getting done, be it the job, the day, or the week, we so often do not focus on the person at hand. Sadly soon enough because we do not try focusing not only does a person slip through the cracks but slips through reality.

“All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly…. We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way; the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.” Eagle Chief, (Letakos-Lesa), Pawnee

However as we walk one foot before the other we do and can choose at times which pathway of the two to follow, some of the choice may be environmental, family, friends, and all around you but in the end a choice is made. Within that choice is where the distinguishing occurs where truth and love are determined and found. Tomorrow another day and soon a holiday and holiday weekend starts and today as I stopped to get gas a fellow I did not know was talking with the young man who handles the morning shift at the convenience store where I buy gas, This young man was wanting to get into law enforcement. The fellow talking to him was talking about Blackwater, the military subcontractor, and how much they paid. He told this young man you can make one hundred and twenty five thousand guarding and twenty five thousand more if you are willing to kill people. It may be a long time till I can cease ending my droppings with this phrase, please keep all in harm’s way in your hearts and on your minds and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird