Bird Droppings October 21, 2009
Thorns really only hurt by surprise
It has been an interesting week as we prepare for Homecoming Friday night. Each day the teachers and students can dress up according to various themes, 1980’s work out day sort of threw me until someone said Flashdance, the movie. Needless to say there were many shredded sweat shirts and leggings. Hero day found me wearing my Steve Irwin shirt since he is a real hero of mine. Today is college colors day so I am divided which of seven or eight do I choose from and it seems Mercer won out. I also had an episode of interest as I left a question session on benefits yesterday. Another teacher was complaining of increasing health insurance costs as he left the meeting and I made a comment borrowed from a recent article of a health insurance executive who took home almost one hundred and fifty million dollars last year. I said where is the line of greed versus profit, and was told well you are a socialist and I am a capitalist I do not see anything wrong with that. Well why complain about health costs and rising insurance prices if it is ok to make an exorbitant profit off of them.
“Love is a rose but you better not pick it. Only grows when it’s on the vine Handful a thorns and you know you’ve missed it. Lose your love when you say the word mine” Neil Young
I first heard this song many years ago, Linda Ronstadt was singing it. It was years later that I learned it was written by Neil Young. Coincidently I have been a Neil Young fan since 1968, the Woodstock era. He is an interesting character, Neil Young that is. But the words in his lyrics are always powerful. I used my exercise from several semesters back when I gave out an assignment to find a song and print out lyrics. Several students printed out favorite songs that were a bit difficult to translate into anything, huh, huh, huh, yeah, yeah, yeah, huh, huh. That was a line actually ten lines of a fifteen line song lyric of a top ten song recently, entitled perception.
“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it ‘creative observation’.” From Creative viewing, by William S. Burroughs
What was Neil Young trying to say when he wrote that line so many years ago? It is not all as it seems. Burroughs looks at an artist creating and others will manifest that creation through perceiving that creation.
“The seeing of objects involves many sources of information beyond those meeting the eye when we look at an object. It generally involves knowledge of the object derived from previous experience, and this experience is not limited to vision but may include the other senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and perhaps also temperature or pain.” R. L. Gregory
We so often grasp at that first image, or first impression. “Love is a rose” to borrow from Neil Young, but the hidden aspects the thorns we don’t see till we try and pick it and a “handful of thorns and you know you missed it.” Trying to teach students to go beyond that first impression, use their prior knowledge and other senses can be difficult.
“Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed. Their highest merit is suggestiveness.” Nathaniel Hawthorne
Suggestiveness as Hawthorne states, perhaps teachers too are “suggestors”, first giving alternative other views in a world where so often views are limited. I think back to my first thought of health insurance. I suggested a line may have been crossed where someone was taking advantage of a situation to reap a profit. It has been a number of years since I first read Maslow’s works. One line stands above the rest. Do I look at the world and every problem as simply a nail and all I have is a hammer or was it the other way around yesterday discussing health car and insurance.
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham H. Maslow
This is a key point, in life so often people are limited by what they know or do not know. I put this quote up on a bulletin board in my hall at the high school. So often I see kids who only have a hammer, as a teacher it is important and actually a highly guarded secret which is knowing where the other tools are kept and that there are other tools.
Parents and teachers spend too much time teaching how to nail only and not enough showing the tool box. What if I carefully pruned that rose with clippers and gloves and grafted to a new bush. We then have a different outlook and a different view. What if instead of a hammer a wrench is needed or needle nose pliers. Suggest rather than tell, as a teacher or parent and always offer alternatives instead of solutions. Provide insight instead of tunnel vision. We all have room to grow and to see anew. “Love is a rose” and thorns or no thorns I will still pick it. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.