All is connected and intertwined

Bird Droppings October 25, 2016
All is connected and intertwined


As I thought about the Sydney J. Harris passage below and walked out to a quiet spot where I meditate something hit me. As I faced east towards the rising sun the gossamer threads of life interconnected with everything. They were iridescent and softly moving with the wind. Occasionally one thread would disconnect and float effortlessly upwards sparkling and dancing as it went ever so slow. Each twig, each plant and leave seemed to be connected. Each rock and branch a tiny thread weaving through the entire visage before me.
Most people would read this and scoff yet in the early morning as the sun rises and begins to move across the skies spiders have been at work all night moving between plants and rocks trees and leaves leaving threads of silk. If you were standing in the midst of them they would be invisible yet with the sun behind sparkling in the light a beautiful scene. Occasionally one thread disconnects and floats off sparkling along the way. As I sat pondering as to an old man sitting looking towards the east in the early morning many years ago and coming in to tell his grandchildren as I started the passage. On the back of my t-shirt it reads all things are connected and rightly so by a thin gossamer strand of silk.


“Our task is to make our children into disciples of the good life, by our own actions       toward them and toward other people. This is the only effective discipline in the             long run. But it is more arduous, and takes longer, than simply “laying down the law.” Before a child (or a nation) can accept the law, it has to learn why the law has             been created for its own welfare.” Sydney J. Harris


Today I am faced with dealing with how to accomplish all that needs to be finished by Friday of this coming week. Tests on Thursday, and or projects due, progress reports due today and I have several students who have continually found their way into trouble that need to be dealt with. Often in special education we use the term manifestation, is it a manifestation of their disability or are they choosing to do whatever it is they are doing that got them in trouble.


“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle


            “Self-command is the main discipline.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


Many years ago I spent six months involved in counseling on a psychiatric unit in a state mental facility. There was never a question about why something happened being that they were considered combative psychotic adolescents which was the term used to describe the unit. When someone got upset it was solitary confinement and rather large doses of drugs and a few strait jackets were employed. Little was occurring to change the behavior and or rationalize those behaviors and or find why that behavior even occurred simply deal with the moment.


“Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more.” Harold Schoenberg” Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” John Trapp


Often as I find a quote the person behind those words has more to offer as if the situation with Schoenberg who is a scholar of music. He is also a very prolific writer about great musicians and their music. John Trapp was a bible scholar with several biblical commentaries to his credit both men were writers who themselves were very self-disciplined.


“THE STUDY OF WORDS is useless unless it leads to the study of the ideas that the        words stand for. When I am concerned about the proper use of words it is not            because of snobbism or superiority, but because their improper use leads to poor ways of thinking. Take the word ‘discipline’ that we hear so much about nowadays   in connection with the rearing of children. If know something about word   derivations, you know that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same Latin root       discipulus, which means ‘to learn, to follow.’” Sydney J. Harris, Strictly speaking


Sitting here looking up references and quotes related to discipline and ending up with the example, to learn and to follow this is semantics as we go. In order to operate a public school we have to have standards to operate by so we have rules. Looking at this from a behaviorist standpoint it is easy to say ABC, Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. First you have an antecedent that stimulus is what causes the behavior. Then you have the behavior which is the event or action that we see, feel or hear about. Finally we have consequence which can be what we do in response or what the students or person issuing the behavior receives for eliciting that behavior.


“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world,    where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation     between people as they pass each other in this flood?” Leonard Cohen


            “Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.” George W. Crane

            “To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what        they say.” Rene Descartes


It is always about what we do. Over the past few days I have with several teachers and friends been discussing perception that is how we see events and happenings. One of the categories in writing a behavioral plan for a student is planned ignoring that is often simply tuning out a behavior. Often with no stimulus to keep it going a behavior will disappear. So often it is getting attention that is the desired consequence.


“People don’t change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so.”      Fran Tarkenton


            “Physics does not change the nature of the world it studies, and no science of    behavior can change the essential nature of man, even though both sciences yield       technologies with a vast power to manipulate the subject matters.” B. F. Skinner


These lines from a football hall of fame quarterback and the father of behaviorism are intriguing as these two men from distinctly different arenas yet have come to very similar conclusions in their thoughts. Tarkenton has built an internationally known management consulting firm based on his thought. It has to make a difference to the person for them to change. Skinner sees we can manipulate the subject matters we as we can offer alternative consequences to hopefully change the behaviors to ones we can accept. A Sydney J. Harris line caught my attention this morning as I started on discipline as I prepare for several IEP’s later this week some related to behavior.


“…by our own actions toward them and toward other people.” Sydney J. Harris


So often it is not the consequences that deter or change a behavior but our actions towards the person and those around them. It is the example we set and not what we say that matters. Please today as we venture out keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.
For all my relations

Wa de (Skee)


I am searching for answers in reflection and thought

Bird Droppings October 21, 2016
I am searching for answers in reflection and thought


Yesterday I was wished a happy birthday by a friend on Facebook and it got me thinking a week ahead that soon I would be another year older. Yesterday was not my birthday and it is coming up far too soon. As I look forward to being another year older and with that many more moments for reflection and thoughts the past week especially being out of school for fall break. On many other years around this time I would go to the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds in Macon Georgia and climb to the top of the great temple mound. There is something about standing facing to each direction on such a sacred site. For the last ten thousand years this spot has been sacred and a special place to Native Americans of many tribes.
It has been almost a week since I sat in my class room at school doing some paper work and I was thinking about a mason jar of good Georgia sweet tea (granted it would be unsweet now) from Momma Jean at H&H over on Cherry Street in Macon. I downed some water and tea and a couple of Tylenol for this bug I have been fighting for a week now. It has been an interesting week with our grandkids visiting last weekend. We decorated pumpkins and painted and colored and read Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carl a million times. We are getting into genetics in biology which is always fun. My oldest is coming by today to discuss ball python genetics.


Always I have conversations with different people, people I never met before. A lady at the mounds at the cash register as I bought a book and T-shirt and I started talking about the CCC and job corps of FDR. Her brother had worked for CCC back in the 1930’s or so working for the archeological digging at the mounds. While I was there an obnoxious man started arguing carbon dating with her and complaining how the labels should say theorized instead of actual dates on artifacts. Every day at the corner store someone new and interesting.
I went out much earlier today than I have all week catching the sunrise maybe I was thinking it was daylight savings time last night. But we still have a week or so. A few sprigs of sweet grass and a sage leave or two help bolster the senses as the smoke rises and wanders across the darkness. Watching a bit of smoke curl up in the morning is an interesting sight. It was cool but not cold as I walked out into the backyard. The grass was damp from a morning light frost.  My cricket chorus while subdued in the chill was doing their best maybe two or three were chirping still perhaps up against the house.
As I went through the day today it is always a good feeling to receive birthday wishes from friends and family even though a week or two early. I was thinking earlier this morning about what direction to go but there were so many thoughts circulating in my head, I was thinking about numerous points of impact in sixty six years plus of life. I thought back to one I ponder on quite a bit, especially as recently I found on Facebook someone from the same small town in Pennsylvania that I lived in. The one point that continues to pop up is poking a fellow in the butt with a pencil in East Fallowfeild Elementary school in first grade. While not an inspiring event it has stuck with me for some reason from fifty eight years ago, might be getting hit in the head by my teacher after the fact that reminds me.
On a more dark note I remember being carried through the polio wards in West Chester Hospital when I was three years old or so and seeing kids one day and they are were gone the next. I recall meeting a little autistic boy Artie Cohen in 1970 or so his photo still hangs in my current classroom. I have so many very fond memories of “The JUNGLE”, a small patch of sassafras, honeysuckle and sumac that a few of us literally lived in for so many years. There are many good friends from my graduating class in high school who I still communicate with daily if not weekly. I recall having homemade root beer at a good friend’s house on Caln Meeting house road so many years ago.
It was over thirty years ago I met my wife to be and all of those thoughts and memories of the births of my three kids are with me always. There are so many moments special to me going through my head. I recall very easily my first day back teaching on September 11, 2001. I have so many folks I have met along the way in teaching and grad school and each a memory worth saving. As I think I have found out how critical it is to reflect and ponder and really seeing as I get older how important this is to the journey we embark on in life.


“Before undertaking a project, ponder what will be gained, lost and ultimately achieved. There is nothing too difficult for a man who, before he acts, deliberates    with chosen friends and reflects privately.” Tirukkural 47: 461-462


This particular thought was written nearly 2000 years ago by a master weaver, a member of the lowest caste in Hindu culture and life. Pondering is an old art I found out. Many of you who have taken courses at Piedmont College and or read John Dewey’s work understand the concept of reflection and how it is engrained in further thinking.


“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. Self-conceit          often regards it as a sign of weakness to admit that a belief to which we have once             committed ourselves is wrong. We get so identified with an idea that it is literally a   “pet” notion and we rise to its defense and stop our eyes and ears to anything         different.” John Dewey


As I read these two views to start today having read Dewey numerous times he too advocates reflection for teachers and students. As I read his view here is one of frustration in dealing with mankind, for far too often it is too difficult for men to climb out of that rut and to even consider true reflection.


“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to            elevate             his life by conscious endeavor.” Henry David Thoreau


The poet’s, commonly, is not the logger’s path, but a woodman’s … there are spirits     … to whom no simplicity is barren. There are not only stately pines, but fragile          flowers, like the orchids, commonly described as too delicate for cultivation, which             derive their nutriment from the crudest mass of peat. These remind us, that, not      only for strength, but for beauty, the poet must, from time to time, travel the logger’s         path and the Indian trail, to drink at some new and more bracing fountain of the Muses, far in the recesses of the wilderness.” Henry David Thoreau, The Maine   Woods


It has been a few mornings although today as I took out our westie it was a star filled sky and I was remembering back when very close friend Dr. Harold Sweetman, was showing me Cassiopeia for the first time as a high school student in Boy Scouts. It was over my head this morning as I headed out. It is difficult for me to not ponder and reflect on what life presents to me each day. For me each morning as I write it is a clearing, a meditation of sorts, it is reading, finding pieces to my own puzzle to share and meditate upon with others as I can. It is looking at that rut we travel or seeking anew along the Indian trail of Thoreau.


“The devotion of democracy to education is a familiar fact. The superficial         explanation is that a government resting upon popular suffrage cannot be successful           unless those who elect and who obey their governors are educated. Since a democratic society repudiates the principle of external authority, it must find a        substitute in voluntary disposition and interest; these can be created only by             education.” John Dewey


Knowing and understanding are keys to democracy and to life and moving beyond the rut, looking for the loggers trail or for the pathway of the Indian requires learning and knowledge and that is education.


“I believe that the individual who is to be educated is a social individual and that           society is an organic union of individuals.” “I believe that much of present education fails because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of    community life. It conceives the school as a place where certain information is to be given, where certain lessons are to be learned, or where certain habits are to be        formed. The value of these is conceived as lying largely in the remote future; the           child must do these things for the sake of something else he is to do; they are mere             preparation. As a result they do not become a part of the life experience of the child         and so are not truly educative.” John Dewey


I was wondering about the direction of the flow of my thoughts as I read, and pondered I find Thoreau similar to John Dewey both wanting experience to be more than simply taking up time. They both want it to be meaningful learning and for it to move each of us a step ahead. Dewey wants education to be about now as well as providing tools for later. He offers that it should be meaningful, that it has to affect life immediately and currently as well in the future. This is what Thoreau was all about as well. Thoreau quit teaching to become a learner as the story goes and in doing so became a better teacher. The reflections of the master weaver help many to ponder even today and show that rather than simply doing something we need to see the now and then of an effort.
Dewey argued that far too often we in society today only look at the then. Thoreau offered the now and Dewey argued against simply educating for later that there has to be an impact now as well to be meaning and long lasting. Learning has to become part of the life experience of the child.


“It was a pleasure and a privilege to walk with him. He knew the country like a fox       or a bird, and passed through it as freely by paths of his own. He knew every track in       the snow or on the ground, and what creature had taken this path before him. His   interest in the flower or the bird lay very deep in his mind, was connected with          Nature, — and the meaning of Nature was never attempted to be defined by him. … His power of observation seemed to indicate additional senses. He saw as with a             microscope, heard as with ear-trumpet, and his memory was a photographic    register of all he saw and heard. And yet none knew better than he that it is not the        fact that imports, but the impression or effect of the fact on your mind. Every fact lay         in glory in his mind, a type of the order and beauty of the whole. His poetry might be         good or bad; he no doubt wanted a lyric facility and technical skill, but he had the           source of poetry in his spiritual perception.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, a eulogy for       Henry David Thoreau


I am sorry I am wandering today but I can do whatever I want maybe it is because I am getting old, between the simple thoughts of HDT and the planned thinking of Dewey. I want you to ponder yourself as the day goes on and the week ahead begins. Where in among the shade of the tress do you see your thoughts going? Is it following the path of the logger or the Indian or is it seeing life as a rut in your journey or is it as a trail blazer seeing for the first time the trail and leaving a path for the next person to see as new. I have for so long been writing that life is about the journey we take. I always seem to find my way to this simple quote.


“And how high can you fly with broken wings? Life’s a journey not a destination and    I just can’t tell just what tomorrow brings. You have to learn to crawl before you   learn to walk.” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith


For many years I have been using a line from this song by Aerosmith, taken from the context of the song. “Life is a journey not a destination”, and I think back to when I first saw it posted on my computer after spending the night at The Athens Regional Hospital in Athens Georgia, holding the hand of a sixteen year old young man who had been hit by a semi after doing a u turn on a back road. My oldest son and his band played Aerosmith tunes quite a bit. But this was a line from a song that in and of itself was significant. It was for him and for me at that moment very significant and life altering for me.
It evolved for me as I saw how my own life was a journey. As I looked at each aspect of my own life and see each is crucial to the next. In days prior I had been reading numerous books on the purpose in life or finding Meaning in life trying to find a focus for myself. I was floundering in business and trying to get a foothold back on the day I first saw this quote, a yellow post it note on a computer after sitting with a dying teenager. A life changing or life refocusing moment it would seem. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought how profound for my son barely older than the young man who was killed to have found this concept and I had been searching for nearly fifty years and still had not seen.

My own life started to focus and clear and ideas thoughts seemed to flow and make sense. Earlier today I was answering an email from someone I have never met. I was talking with several people yesterday about how we can in today’s electronic age communicate with so many people all in a touch of a computer keyboard. Often with photos and such attached, multimedia is an understatement. Actually we addressed this in graduate school over the past few conversations. But the message is still clear. It is about the journey.
A key element to me is the example we set, the picture we paint for others to see that has significance and meaning as we go through the day. What would a child learn from a teacher who yells at an extremely high decibel other than to cover their ears? What does a child learn from a parent who abuses them other than abuse? What does a friend learn from a friend when they betray them other than distrust? Within the fragility of our experiences we need examples of direction of positive journeying. Each day I wonder why kids come by my room just to smile and say hi. At other times it is to ask for a word or two of advice. Life is about the journey, may we all be cleaning the pathway rather than dropping boulders for others to trip on. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and you know each new day is another step along the way. May peace be with you and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


How do we find democracy?

Bird Droppings October 20, 2016
How do we find democracy?


Yesterday I was still recovering from a slight change in medication for my blood pressure. Wednesday I went home from school and dozed off for three hours afterwards. Today we are rushing around with our heads cut off driving to get caught up from a day of testing. I walked out earlier and still no frost on the windshield of the car although temperature hovered around fifty degrees. A sunrise made its way through the overcast and a new day is dawning. For a split second this morning our dog did not want to venture outside. As I turned back inside only to find as I stepped why my dog did not need to go out, a wonderful surprise I was standing in. My dog is still alive though I did threaten his life in various in under my breath incantations. Funny how dog senses things maybe he felt rain was coming and he quickly retreated to the kitchen and then went and laid down on my wife’s chair sort of smiling at me. What you going to do now?
As I do so often each morning as I am looking in one place find another direction another thought. I have several of Dr. James Sutton’s books. Dr. Sutton’s lectures around the country on Conduct disorders and Oppositional Deviant Disorder, an interesting combination and as a teacher I see them all the time. Parents see some and in the work place many corporate issues and political issues stem from childhood issues such as these. I was looking through Dr. Sutton’s book,  101 ways to make your class room special and found a website of Dr. Marvin Marshall Promoting Responsibility and learning, Dr. Marshall has developed a Hierarchy of Social Development. We need to send this to Washington as a reminder.


“A is for anarchy, B is for bullying, bossing around, C is for cooperation, conformity and            D is for democracy – Level A is never acceptable, Level B is someone who needs to be                 bossed, level C is external and D is Internal” Dr. Marvin Marshall


One of the difficulties is many teachers and or leaders are they want their group to be a Level B or Level C because they want the authority and in doing so limit that groups ability for input. Many teachers strive only for conformity and trying to go beyond that level is then difficult and or nearly impossible for the people under that type personality.


“At Level C, a person is not acting from an entirely genuine desire to be kind or              respectful, tolerant, etc. Rather, at Level C, a person acts due to the presence or       influence of someone else. Although this level is certainly acceptable (and even many   adults never move past it in their own development), it is important for young people to               understand that this is not the highest level of personal or social development.” Dr.                 Marvin                 Marshall


I think we all can relate to this level of socialization. I use a story from psychology where in an experiment a group of monkeys is trained to refrain from going after some bananas. It takes only a short time to have group influence on new members to the group. In the monkey story this is the level the monkeys operated on where the influences of others is the driving force and the limiting force. So often in society we place level C at the top and never mention anything better or higher.

“…it is important for young people to understand that this is not the highest level of    personal or social development.” Dr. Marvin Marshall


By not telling and not disclosing an alternative allows for certain types of leaders and teachers to perpetuate their ideas and survive. Watching national politics unfold often the rules are made and remade to keep this type of system going even at a federal government level. When a malfunction occurs we quickly change the rule and always external reasons are the driving force.


“At Level D, a person is kind, (or tolerant, respectful, diligent, etc.), because he/she is motivated INTERNALLY. A person operating at this highest level of development acts      kindly (tolerantly, respectfully, with diligence, etc.), WHETHER OR NOT someone is               watching or supervising. At Level D, there is no desire to impress, be rewarded, or even be noticed. When operating at this very high level, a person acts in a kind, tolerant,                 respectful or diligent way without any EXTERNAL incentive to do so.” Dr. Marvin         Marshall


I am sitting here sadly most people simply say no way it is not possible. It is way too mushy or no one acts that way. Yet educational leaders keep throwing it out. John Dewey in the early 1900’s proposed democracy in the class room. Back even further Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively on the issue enough that we remade the nickel for him of course on the other side is a buffalo which is a herding animal. Maybe that was the true hero of the coin and going back further to ancient Greeks democracy is a powerful word and tool when wielded. From Dr. Marshall a key thought for educators.


                “When operating at this very high level, a person acts in a kind, tolerant, respectful or                diligent way without any EXTERNAL incentive to do so.” Dr. Marvin Marshall


“We escape from a discipline driven environment to a self-motivating and stimulating               structure. ….a person of the highest character is motivated INTERNALLY to do the right                thing simply because it is the right thing to do.” Dr. Marvin Marshall


                “Although Level C operation leads to decent relationships with others, a decision to    operate more consistently at Level D naturally leads to EXCELLENT relationships and,          additionally, a strong sense of self-esteem. By focusing on the benefits of operating at Level            D (the great feelings of inner satisfaction that come from knowing that you are an authentic and genuinely motivated individual), I have found that young people become                inwardly motivated to WANT to reach for this highest level of personal development more      and more often.” Dr. Marvin Marshall


I have observed many times young teachers and industry leaders come in and feel they can build a level D in their class room and in their job. In a manner of weeks usually within six months they are steadfastly operating at level C. I mentioned fear over the years as a possible cause but it may be deeper than that. It is easier to function at a level C and easier to walk away and go home each night. The parameters are more clearly defined and established I was drawing an illustration from sheep production. I can build an electric fence that will confine my sheep. If I build it right and it will be a deterrent to predators as well so movement in and out will curtail. However what if and this is a big if I develop, train, raise, and or educate self-motivating sheep. Each morning they vote on which pasture to graze and when to return to the barn and on how long to stay out and other sheep issues. We become a level D sheep flock and no sheep dog is needed and many issues involving new sheep training can be done on a basic discussion level, bahhhh! One of the reasons level D is so hard to attain and even consider is so many leaders in the world look at people as sheep and will say they cannot do this so instead the following exist.


“Cooperates – Does what is expected – Exhibits self-discipline, kindness, responsibility,             reliance, etc.–when someone else is present to provide the motivation” Dr. Marvin          Marshall


Good little children all in a row all are coloring with a red crayon just as I ask. It takes a renegade or an instigator to mix up desks and to offer other colors. But with a little thinking and a little confidence in the resources of mankind it is possible and students employees can achieve.


“Develop self-discipline – Show kindness to others – Develop self-reliance –     Demonstrate                 responsibility – Do good because it is the right thing to do.” Dr. Marvin Marshall


Attaining a democracy is truly not all that hard it takes a bit more humility and a bit more concern for your people or students, “because it is the right thing to do.” Today is a new day a wonderful day I went out earlier and it was still cool this morning although so I did not sit on my porch and listened to the morning crickets as most were quiet and few were out. Today I had to only imagine and sat down to write 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)


Thinking ahead

Bird Droppings October 19, 2016
Thinking ahead


Occasionally I will have a crazy thought although my students will say occasionally I have a normal thought and that would be more like it. They are insinuating most of my thoughts are crazy. My youngest son just had his anniversary this past week and so many memories. I recall the ceremony was held under an ancient live oak tree in Panama City named the Sentry Tree for standing watch over the bay during the Civil War. The great tree is several hundred years old and is covered with Spanish moss as are many of the oaks along the coast in Florida. Ferns and other plants grew along the tops of the branches almost a separate ecosystem.  I spent several hours each day we were down in Florida sitting listening to the sounds under that great oak tree. I walked out to the bay and looked and listened to what nature had to show me. Numerous birds and flowers all special to Florida greeted me as I pondered so many things. Some good memories as I thought back.
However I got to thinking as I was driving home yesterday from a late night of teaching college. I had been off due to a medical procedure two days ago and had a lot of time yesterday to think and read. But I sat down in my chair and thought, what if when we were born the hospital tattooed on your left foot made in whatever country and a hospital code for example and then underneath that an expiration date. You would know the exact moment, hour, day and year you will die. I started thinking at what point I would change how I lived. My students were arguing with me about living it up since my birthday is coming up and I will be sixty four. Their philosophy was you only live once go party live it up. So I was wondering knowing exactly how many days you have to do whatever it is you will do would you change anything knowing the exact moment of your demise.


“There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The        life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the           former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on        by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to            trace.   Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth     evil,      both equally unexpected.” Joseph Addison


It has been some time since I first used the concept of a puzzle to explain how our life progresses each of the pieces falling into place, each interconnected to the next. As I speak with people I use this comparison, often showing how each aspect of our lives ties to the next and how consequence comes from even the smallest of things. Knowing we had a limited amount of time to finish our puzzle would we do anything different? I think it is amazing as I think of what if we still had no directions and were floundering in trying to get things done I wonder when panic would set in.


“There are no rewards or punishments — only consequences.” Dean William R. Inge


            “Whatever our creed, we feel that no good deed can by any possibility go            unrewarded, no evil deed unpunished.” Orison Swett Marden

We have to take each piece as it comes and try and build from there. Each element leads to the next, a building block of sorts, as we travel through life, a deed leads to a consequence and then to another and another, each beyond the next.


            “Men must try and try again. They must suffer the consequences of their own mistakes           and learn by their own failures and their own successes.” Lawson Purdy


            “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of          dodging our responsibilities.” Sir Joseph Stamp


As I wonder about my words and events that yet will play out today, I daily use the term ABC, Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. In life, everything we do involves these three elements. Each aspect of our existence is preceded by an event, a happening that causes the behavior, no matter how subtle that event is. The behavior in turn leads to a consequence it is so simple, so clean it’s actually pretty cool. We respond and soon cover up, ABC. What if we could analyze all events so simply and plan our day. I do this, then that, this, then that all day long. However, conversely we tend to do this with students as well, if we see an event about to happen we can change the antecedent and alter behavior and of course the consequence. Managers in business do this as well as retailers are doing it as we sit and read, altering our buying for this holiday season through various sales specials etc. In reality through consequence the world is controlled so how do we keep our heads up and still be unique, and independent.


            “Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every     virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to        live on a barren heath.” Mary Wollstonecraft


It was a many months back I was introduced to Mary Wollstonecraft a person who was ahead of her time, the ultimate feminist. She was writing about issues under her name and pen names, often a man’s name to get her point out. Her fire and zeal were passed on to her daughter Mary Shelly who penned the novel Frankenstein and was married to another great writer and poet Percy Shelly. How do we maintain within the struggle, to be who we are?


            “I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really        good at heart.” Anne Frank


            “Ideals are like the stars: we never reach them, but like the mariners of the sea, we      chart our course by them.” Carl Schurz


How do we? I was thinking yesterday about my own direction in life one day going here and there and a slight bump and left turn and heading elsewhere. Do we have focal points to guide us, stars as Schurz states? Can we find our way home when we get lost in life? I wonder at times even as pieces of the great puzzle fall into place. Maybe the pieces are wrong, maybe this is not where I am to be but as events slow down and the fog clears we can see even the most confusing of life’s events seems to work out. I was reading yesterday a new book, Spirits of The Earth by Bobby Lake Thom. He starts the book with a prayer that I would like to end with today.


“I ask that you bless our elders and children, families and friends, and the brothers       and sisters that are in prison. I pray for the ones sick on drugs and alcohol, and for             those who are homeless and forlorn. I pray for peace among the four races of        mankind. May there be good healing for this earth. May there be beauty above me.          May there be beauty below me. May there be beauty in me. May there be beauty all         around me. I ask that our world be filled with peace, love and beauty.” Medicine         Grizzly Bear, 1990


So easy to sit and write, yet around us, so much going on would we change anything if we knew our expiration date I wonder. 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)





PS: I had started writing when some discussion last and through the week sort of took over and I scribbled my crazy thoughts down.


Doc Bird’s Morning Dropping or rant:

I was teaching a college class back a few nights on US History and the various issues in a progression to the Civil War. One of the many was the situation in Texas during 1830’s. Mexico won independence and freed slaves. Texas was a part of Mexico and Americans had been moving in and wanted slaves following a series of weak attempts at Mexico controlling the vastness of Texas. There were more Americans than Mexicans in Texas and as General Santa Anna came to power he saw a need to squash the Americans and make Texas a serious part of Mexico. Five thousand Mexican soldiers surrounded San Antonio and an old mission post The Alamo. I asked my class anyone ever heard of The Alamo. (It was in the readings as well.) No one knew about The Alamo. I threw out Fess Parker, Davy Crockett, Colonel Travis, Sam Houston and several more. Nope no one knew about The Alamo. Somewhere Michael Jordan came up the Kobe and LeBron. Bill Gates was mentioned and Steve Jobs and an idea struck me. Who are the heroes of today? I  thought back to my childhood and my heroes, my dad, Robin Hood, Davy Crockett, Geronimo, Cochise, Sitting Bull, Gandhi, and I am sure several more. Some are somewhat fictional others pieces of history and mythology. As I raised questions last night all were multimillionaires and that was a number one criterion, money. What’s in it for me? I heard that several times this week. My thoughts to another hero of mine and on a personal note having been a victim of polio myself in 1950’s Jonas Salk. He was a famous doctor and researcher who solved and found a vaccine for polio. When all was said and done he received not a dime for his efforts he donated it to mankind. I started to think why have we become so greedy, needy and blind to others?  A few minutes back I wrote on a good friends post something to the effect, so many profess to this nation being a Christian nation and yet we never seem to attempt to actually even try and be that. Gandhi once said “I Like your Christ it is Christians I do not like.” I find the word in scriptures Koinonia from the Greek is used quite often. New testament scripture was written in Greek along the line and not English till late 1500’s early 1600’s and yes King James was 1613 but taken from Latin and Greek translations. “Koinonia is an Anglicized form of the Greek word, κοινωνία, which means communion, joint participation; the share which one has in anything, participation, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, etc. It identifies the idealized state of fellowship and unity that should exist within the Christian church, the Body of Christ.”

Having heart and kissing frogs

Bird Droppings October 18, 2016
Having heart and kissing frogs


It is chilly out in northeast Georgia with nighttime temperatures still hanging in the high forties or low fifties but rumor of a near frost hanging out there. Many of us gardeners are bringing plants in. We have still a couple more weeks till we are off from school again for Thanksgiving and a fall break. I was watching TV last night and an historical show of sorts a movie about the Pilgrims coming over to the New World is coming back on soon. I find it funny how after that first Thanksgiving relationships between the native Indians and Pilgrims went downhill fast and it was not long till red skinned natives were the spawn of Satan and were to be eliminated by whatever means feasible. Pilgrims were not much different than today’s politicians when land was involved. I found it interesting how things changed so fast. Why is it we only have heart occasionally and some people never do? Maybe Thanksgiving is to remind us about heart?


“There are four bases of sympathy: charity, kind speech, doing a good turn, and treating all alike.” Buddha, Sayings of the Buddha


It has been several months since I was working with students expressing a news article in visual form. Over the past few years as I interact with people and seeing how much of an impact that learning styles play on the actual learning of students it amazes me that such a simple thing gets overlooked so often. How we learn has been an issue I have looked at very seriously. Humans tend to learn basically in one of three ways visually, auditorally, and kinesthetically, in other words we see, hear or touch. I offer the idea of perception as well and how we hear see and touch along with how we interpret is a factor. The assignment entailed using one PowerPoint slide to explain one of the main news articles out currently. The sample I used was based on The Red Lake Shootings from 2006. In a few moments about 45 seconds images and a few words flashed over the screen and my interpretation of the news flashed before us.
Students then chose stories and interpreted visually what they saw and felt. Ideas varied and stories varied significantly. One went in a direction of an issue close to home teen suicide and several reiterated the Red Lake Shootings. One however focused only on himself. His visual experience while interesting was a whirl of his own image. For several months going on two years I have known this student and his focus so often is self-motivated as so many of us are. He derives his day from seeking attention to and through himself be it passing gas and letting everyone in the class room know or speaking out loud to draw attention from a teacher. The idea of disrespect is an understatement but it all is self-focused so to say here I am.


“A relationship or an affinity between people or things in which whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other.”


For quickness I used and there is defined the word sympathy as an interaction between two people or things affecting both. As I thought back to my self-centered fellow I wondered as he focused all day on himself does he have sympathy? In the defining quote from Buddha sympathy is established as four aspects those being charity, kind speech, doing a good turn and treating all alike.


“The force of truth that a statement imparts, then, its prominence among the hordes of recorded observations that I may optionally apply to my own life, depends, in addition to the sense that it is argumentatively defensible, on the sense that someone like me, and someone I like, whose voice is audible and who is at least notionally in the same room with me, does or can possibly hold it to be compellingly true.” Nicholson Baker


There are many issues at hand that warrant attention and sympathy today locally and worldwide is needed often.


“All sympathy not consistent with acknowledged virtue is but disguised selfishness.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge


“Sympathetic people often don’t communicate well; they back reflected images which hide their own depths.” George Eliot


As I searched this morning deeper I found often we tend to view sympathy with caution perhaps this person is being sympathetic for a reason. Perhaps it is for gain thinking back to the Pilgrims. Is it human nature to be so wary so distrustful of others.


“Is there anything more dangerous than sympathetic understanding?” Pablo Picasso


“The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have this capacity do not possess it. Warmth of heart, impulsiveness, pity is not enough.” Simone Weil


Several semesters back I sent off a paper dealing with kissing frogs. It was a reflection on teaching in a way but really it was a reflection on life. My premise being we should all be frog kissers. Teachers and so often parents are to be the Frog Kissers: Many times I have used the inference to the fairy tales of child hood of kissing a frog. We are always trying to find that enchanted princess or prince hidden beneath the guise of a frog; one kiss and the prince or princess will appear. Being an avid herpetologist along with my son, kissing frogs can be a risky business. Many species secret toxins some so lethal they can kill a man with barely a touch let alone a passionate kiss. There are some that can induce psychosis and hallucinations when ingested. All these efforts by the amphibians are purely defense mechanisms evolved over millions of years to avoid turning into a human being perhaps.
But the symbolism of the fairy tale and teachers/parents is what struck me. Teaching is about kissing frogs. We as teachers need to be taking those risks trying to find the hidden princes and princesses among our students. In reality we are going beyond simply taking roll and letting that child slip through the cracks. We need to be risk takers we need to set the example for the students that we will make an effort to be there and give each child ample time and place. As I pondered it was obvious as to where and why teachers quit. I see John Dewey’s ideas and the example of Dewey in the classroom through The Foxfire Approach to Teaching and all these great idealistic thoughts and then they seem to disappear into educational lala land.
What were to be great teachers seem to be eventually lost midst the flow and ebb of educational bureaucracy and never get a chance to be who they are. For many years I have wondered are today’s students and teacher automations doing as all those others have done before. Turn to page 138 children and read, now answer the questions at the back of the chapter. Raise your hand when you wish to speak and do not get out of line. I recall a Harry Chapin song I use often about a little boy who comes in his first day and colors flowers in a rainbow of hues, until his teacher corrects him and flowers are red green leaves are green, soon the creative spark is gone and another student became a frog. Fortunately in the song a risk taking teacher saves the day and kisses the frog and the rainbow is back. We need to work towards being that which we should be teachers, not simply information stuffers. As a parent and teacher a hard row to follow.


“There are four bases of sympathy: charity, kind speech, doing a good turn, and treating all alike.” Buddha


I keep thinking back to this idea of sympathy it is an active process not simply a feeling. I used loosely the illustration of kissing frogs but each aspect described by Buddha is an action. Charity is an activity although borrowing from a 17th century translation the Greek word agape is translated as charity. In Greek three words translate for love; Eros, Philos and Agape. Agape often is also translated as a supreme unlimited love or God’s love. In the Biblical translations of 1600 the Greek agape would translate to charity, an active love an ongoing love. Kind speech is an action and is a physical response. Doing a good turn not just charity but physically doing something and perhaps the most difficult treating all alike again actively involved.
When I started this morning sympathy was more an emotion. Having a heart as I thought was just a sentence structure used to elicit sympathy and or other emotions. But sympathy is an active word it is beyond and there for having a heart perhaps too is active engaging. For nearly thirteen years now I have ended each Bird Dropping with keep all in harm’s way in your heart and on your mind, originally I started with the attack September 11th and then war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it has grown in form keeping in your heart is an action it involves doing not simply mouthing words. I recall nearly eight years ago in the state of Vermont which still operates on a town meeting basis and several towns were voting to not send anymore national guards units from Vermont to the Middle East. Vermont had lost more soldiers per capita than any other state. That is action others are sending cards reminders of home, for some it may be just a thank you as GI’s return. It is about active involvement, kissing frogs, having a heart, it is about voting and sympathy is action not just thinking about it. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks.



My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


Taking small steps

Bird Droppings October 17, 2016
Taking small steps


“Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


How many times are we told “take your time”? So often in life we are anxious to get the job finished or to get to the top today. We often forget there are many steps along the way; many puzzle pieces needing to be placed in order to see the whole picture. For many months a student I used to work with had issues with sleeping in class and at one point was suspended for three days. I have tried to get his family to get him to the doctor due to large doses of medication and combination of meds he is on. His sleeping is not typical teenager tiredness.
Walking through the meat section of Kroger I ran into his mother and his doctor had called back with blood work his level of one medication was three times what it should have been and the doctor was amazed he could even walk. One thing that so often happens in life is we want everything to be what we want now, placing a random puzzle piece on a table does not represent where or how the puzzle will turn out. It takes numerous more pieces till we see a bit and we assume to know the whole far too many times.


“It is very strange that the years teach us patience – that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.” Elizabeth Taylor, A Wreath of Roses


A good friend asked me the other day about a job opening at another school. It happened to be in EBD, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. He asked what or could he succeed and what was key to my success. Unfortunately he asked as one of my students was for first time this year making a scene. I emailed back that evening the following. If you can trust the un-trustable and be patient with those who would drive you crazy, EBD is no big deal, they soon will do what you ask. Force them and you are in a fighting situation and ISS and OSS are not meaningful consequences. Building to intrinsic consequences is far more powerful, taking a kid off the computer and or me just being mad at some of kids bothers them more than ISS or OSS. Sometimes little pieces work better than big ones. Solving small issues will eventually accomplish big goals if there is plenty of time.


“A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.” Dutch Proverb


“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you, so in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.” Leonardo da Vinci


“There will be a time when loud-mouthed, incompetent people seem to be getting the best of you. When that happens, you only have to be patient and wait for them to self- destruct. It never fails.” Richard Rybolt

A simple word is patience. Often I wonder what might be one of my major attributes and in one word I would say patience. Yesterday a student was asking what would it take to get me mad, calling me names etc. I said it takes a good bit to get me mad and name calling wouldn’t do it. He proceeded to try and after a few choice words actually he wasn’t upset just wanting to prove me wrong. I said first I know the statement to be false and secondly I know the person saying this to be ignorant and or stupid for saying such things. He sat back and said, well I would be mad if somebody said that to me, and I told him that is your choice. Puzzle pieces forever falling in place is my motto. Patience has kept that kid in school versus an alternative setting and is taking a piece one at a time rather than trying to solve a puzzle in one fell swoop.


“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” Saint Augustine


“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering you own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them every day begins the task anew.” Saint Francis de Sales


A monk can address patience but they have to it’s their job. But monks too are alive and human and the frailties we face they too face or have faced. Breaking a task into manageable pieces often aids in completing the task.


“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” Victor Hugo


“How poor are they who have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees.” William Shakespeare


Looking back on my own life it has been one of pieces falling in place slowly. One portion of my journey was twenty three years in the making. I left the teaching field directly for twenty three years all of that time in graphic arts and publishing for the training industry still indirectly in education. Coincidently during that time having delivered training manuals to most of the buildings at Georgia Tech which is where my son is now graduated from what a small world. It has been so long in coming and even now I know this is only a portion of the puzzle, more is yet to come. In life I have found you savor each moment each second enjoy the cool breeze if only for a moment. Pull off the road if you need to view a rainbow or sunset and truly bask in the magnificence but that is another day. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.


My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)


An eclectic morning

Bird Droppings October 14, 2016
An eclectic morning


I was talking with the cashier at a convenience store this morning. We began discussing, The Davinci Code and other philosophical diversions and fearing death as a basis for religion came up.


“Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.” Mahatma Gandhi


It has been a few years since I watched an episode of Star Trek actually it may have been one of the movies. Spock has interfered with Star Fleets objectives in relationship to a small group of colonists on an obscure planet. It seems they live forever or at least aging is so minute that life times are measured in tens of thousands of years. What was interesting is that they by choice became nearly primitive living off the land and pursuing wisdom, reading, writing, all forms of art work. Life became a process of always improving since time was not a factor.  As I read this quote from Gandhi earlier, this movie popped in my mind.


“The world is apprehended by way of the mind, the world is acted upon by way of the mind and all good things and bad exist in the world by way of the mind.” Samyutta Nikaya


As I thought further about Star Trek and this group of people living on a planet where radiation from their sun seemed to be the key to longevity I was reflecting back on several incidents at school almost two years ago. My assistant Principal came in with thirty minutes left on the day before a holiday to do an observation or so she said sticking her head in the door. On top of the timing I had two extra students who had been placed with me since they are not functioning in regular classes. They were in a sort of holding pattern for a day or two. I was in the middle of trying to alleviate a year book emergency rewiring a CD burner and trying to print out a picture for a teacher who wanted her daughter’s angel scene from a Christmas play I just took for drama dept. and several extra students were assisting in helping down load hard drives from refurbished computers. So all in all, ten things were happening in last thirty minutes of last day before the holiday not counting an observation.
I never mind observations and probably have had more in four years than most have in a life time or was my AP was getting back at me for several previous practical jokes. But we think what we portray in our minds within seconds I was shifted from disaster to plotting a new reprisal. Actually got quite a good report for diversity and individualizing the learning situations.


“Honesty can be cultivated by transforming your inner language. For example, you might think: “I am no good” or “They are not good.” Is this true? For some strange reason, people want to wallow in the idea of being either the best or the worst. What is true in this moment? How close can we get to the reality of our experiences?” Martine Batchelor, “Meditation for Life

Thinking back to the movie Spock was trying to save the Utopian society of a small group of people as he turned against Star Fleet in the movie. The reason that Star Fleet wanted this planet was literally to sell and package longevity. They were willing to destroy a people for profit. Human nature many would say. I observed those two extra students I had on that observation day. One of them I have for a period every day the other I did not know. As I thought to why both ended with me it was because of inappropriate behavior in class. Such terms as acting out and attention seeking were used. I used to be a big fan of “Law and Order” a popular TV show. Last night a young boy who had been abused was talking with the prosecutor and recalled a particular day in his life. The very man who had abused him for four years was the hero by chance. He was concerned he was “sick” because the greatest day of his life was also with the person who destroyed his life. Shortly after on the show this young man tried to kill himself.


“Real love is not based on attachment, but on altruism. In this case, your compassion will remain as a humane response to suffering as long as beings continue to suffer.” the Dalai Lama


Perhaps I am trying to cram too many thoughts into one sitting. It was a busy day today and yesterday and will be tomorrow preparing for the up coming holiday and end of course tests. We all need to be looking at our lives are we trying to over simplify? Are we being honest with our selves? Do we use the word love as merely an attachment? Can we be more than we are in our given time? Many issues as we head into the holiday season I just need to take my wife’s car to the service station and here in the Atlanta area soon we will be deluged with all the folks heading south. It seems all major interstates seem to converge here and for a late Thursday just a reminder from Will Rodgers.


“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.” Will Rogers


So as I am thinking further.


“The appreciation of the profundity and subtlety of his thought comes only after serious study, and only a few of the most committed students are willing to expend the necessary effort. Many, upon first reading him, will conclude: that he was a churlish, negative, antisocial malcontent; or that he advocated that all of us should reject society and go live in the woods; or that each person has complete license to do as he/she pleases, without consideration for the rights of others; or that he is unconscionably doctrinaire. His difficult, allusive prose, moreover, requires too much effort. All such judgments are at best simplistic and at worst, wrong.” Wendell P. Glick


Interesting I was thinking Glick was referring to me in this passage but alas it is Henry David Thoreau.  In a lesson plan on how to teach Thoreau Glick points out the difficulties even today though Henry David Thoreau is recognized as a great writer it was his idiosyncrasies that kept him from public acknowledgement in his time.

“He had in a short life exhausted the capabilities of this world; wherever there is knowledge, wherever there is virtue, wherever there is beauty, he will find a home.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, In his eulogy for Thoreau


Early today I was answering an email about how I had gone into teaching. A friend from high school never imagined me teaching. I found that interesting because since I was twelve I have been teaching be it swimming lessons, boy scouts etc. As a parent we are always teaching. I started with Henry David Thoreau in that he was a teacher but he walked away from teaching to be a better teacher. Thoreau left to become a learner. He sought knowledge; he craved new ideas and thoughts. Everything about him was a classroom.


“Yet, hermit and stoic as he was, he was really fond of sympathy, and threw himself heartily and childlike into the company of young people whom he loved, and whom he delighted to entertain, as he only could, with the varied and endless anecdotes of his experiences by field and river: and he was always ready to lead a huckleberry-party or a search for chestnuts or grapes. Talking, one day, of a public discourse, Henry remarked that whatever succeeded with the audience was bad.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


In my email this morning my friend wrote about teaching should be fun and how for many years her fellow teachers thought her methods were different. Often I have other teachers wonder at what I do with students and how and why. But they learn and they ask questions. I was looking back earlier to why I chose teaching. Initially it was because of a Biology teacher I had in tenth grade. I wandered away from direct teaching into publishing of training materials for twenty three years and came back. Often I find myself using the statement I am where I need to be at this moment. My pathway has led me to this spot. Soon we will have a day of thanksgiving of holiday family and friends. So often within the constraints of life we find times of sorrow. Please be aware that around you and near by someone may be suffering as we celebrate offer a hand, a shoulder a thought and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts and to borrow from a veteran and friend from an email many months back and with veterans day a few days away and still very applicable today.


“Please remember the sons and daughters in faraway lands, for once we were them” Reah Wallace, retired Navy


My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)