All in words we use

Bird Droppings January 29, 2010
All in words we find

“The farmer channels water to his land. The fletcher whittles his arrows. And the carpenter turns his wood. So the wise direct their mind.” Dhammapada

Many years ago there was a folk song entitled, If I were a carpenter, as I read this passage this morning from a Hindu text that song popped in my mind. Many folk artists have covered the song. The song was written by folk singer Tim Hardin. It was a hit in 1966 recorded by Bobby Darrin who after letting two other songs slip by that became number one hits for The Lovin Spoonful grabbed onto this one. A few years later the song was covered by legendary artist Johnny Cash and again a hit. As I think back there was a similar passage that I used many years ago from another great thinker of our time.

If I were a carpenter
and you were a lady,
Would you marry me anyway?
Would you have my baby?

If a tinker were my trade
would you still find me,
carrin’ the pots I made,
followin’ behind me.

Save my love through loneliness,
Save my love for sorrow,
I’m given you my onliness,
Come give your tomorrow.

If I worked my hands in wood,
Would you still love me?
Answer me babe, “Yes I would,
I’ll put you above me.”

If I were a miller
at a mill wheel grinding,
would you miss your color box,
and your soft shoe shining?
Tim Hardin

I have read these words and listened to many singers sing them. Some will say it is just a song of a blue collar worker a common man who is in love with an upper class woman. Will he still love her even though he is merely a carpenter? Some argue it is about Jesus Christ who as stories go was a carpenter in love with a lady. But as I read and reread the words this morning so many more thoughts and understandings. I recall a passage from a speech given by the great civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

During the folk song era of the 1960’s although sitting here pondering it probably in some circles still exists, especially around my house anyhow many songs were written to add credence to various social efforts of the time. Pete Seeger would sing songs borrowed from Woody Guthrie’s hobo and dust bowl travels, the songs of the depression. As he traveled the country he sang at union, environmental, and civil rights meetings, including for Dr. King He would borrow from many and various other sources for his songs.
One song was made famous outside of folk song circles by a group “the Byrd’s” was “Turn, turn, turn” a song that received its words from a book in the Old Testament Ecclesiastes to be exact. “To ever thing there is a season, ……a time to be born a time to die” As I sit here writing this morning flags are still flying from telephone poles, draped over tables, still a few emblazoned on T-shirts and paper cups celebrating our nation. Just a few days ago our president gave the State of the Union Address and I am reminded of what and who we are as Americans. It is not our differences but our similarities that make us who we are. It is our desire and passion for freedom.
By the constitution of the United States all people are equal and all are entitled to certain liberties and the pursuit of happiness be they carpenters, millers, tinkers, lawyers or folk singers. As we go about today remembering and watching the few remnants of our real heritage we need to also think of in being free and being able to speak, and worship freely we should not impose our own ideals and beliefs on others. That is so easy to say but I was reminded of a moment so many years ago of the innocence of youth, as I sat at lunch with my youngest son at a Chinese Buffet in Loganville Georgia. The owner I have known for many years and she had her three boys there with her, it was late afternoon we had been working at the High School working in my room. Her boys were sitting playing at the next booth, some was in English some in Chinese as they chattered back and forth and giggled playing games as small children do, the boys were between 3 and 5 years old. One of the boys using his fingers to pull his eyes slanted said I am a Chinese boy now. As I sat and thought so many possible meanings to that, I know his family, mother and father both are from mainland China and very active in cultural awareness programs in schools and the community. Was this an example of an innocent child’s color blindness or was it a slight to his heritage imposed by others?
“There is a time to ever season” we can not choose the road of our genetics but we can choose the directions and pathways we take with it. We can choose the words and actions. In a cultural awareness class a few years back as I wrote the word black, indicating race I was reminded that it is correct to say Afro American. I wondered at the response, yet I am still called a white person not a Welsh, English, German, Irish, Native American, Hebrew, Scottish, Amish, person. Although WEGINAHSA would work now that I think of it. I wonder if I called someone a Weginahsa, would they be upset or if I could get that listed as an ethnic group. I could list it under other, I am a Weginahsa pronounced, Wee – jean – A – house – a. I am no longer just white I am a proud weginahsa, if I can spell it correctly and pronounce it the same twice in a row.
We choose the roads and pathways we choose the words and implications of those words and the attitude that formulates them. MLK as he made the comment about a street sweeper it is our choice as to how great or how little we are and it is our choice whether we truly are free or not. Today is the time and the season for us to be whom we are Americans and we are able to think act and be free keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.
namaste
bird

A Circle

Bird Droppings January 27, 2010
A circle

I missed the last rerun of a favorite miniseries “Into the west” and one of these days will find the DVD set. The movie started and ended with a circle of stones with a line going east to west and one going north to south through the circle. In the back area of our yard we have been building a memory garden. It is basically a rock garden with numerous succulents and sedums planted among the rocks that are special to us. The garden when finished will be a circle. Each quadrant has a space which eventually will be filled with young trees. A cedar was given to us when my wife’s father passed away by my friends at the high school. Another will eventually honor my father at the opposite side as we finish our project hopefully this summer.

“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 Ogallala Sioux Holy Man

It has been nearly forty years since I wrote a short poem of shorts. At that time a self description, “One little circle – alone – unopened”, fbird, 1970. It has been nearly six years since I headed towards Piedmont college my last time as a student and I thought is the circle alone, unopened. I had grown very close to the people in my cohort. As I attended graduate school at Piedmont I found I became a much better teacher as I became a better student. Henry David Thoreau was a teacher till he realized he must be a learner first, a student and in doing so he became a better teacher.
As I look at the circle I have completed in my own education it is only the beginning not the ending and the circle of friends and fellow learners in my cohort at Piedmont and now as I further my education at Georgia Southern and the teachers at my own school all touch unto that circle and in effect keep it spinning and evolving. Black Elk an Ogallala Sioux holy man using nature to define this circle nearly a hundred years ago and Follow the Buffalo, holy man of the movie series “Into the West”, who was sitting in the sacred circle in the North Dakota hills through out the movie addressed the white man with various other characters. My son once told me of a circle’s definition in geometric terms borrowing from Wikipedia.

“In Euclidean geometry, a circle is the set of all points in a plane at a fixed distance, called the radius, from a fixed point, called the centre.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As I sit here thinking pondering my circle has grown now in another cohort and furthering my education. My circle includes all I have met, emailed, talked with in grocery stores, schools, colleges and numerous other places around the world. The circle continues and grows with each step, each word, each sensation and each breath I take while I am privileged to live. Please as you think about your own circle keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

go up another rung

Bird Droppings January 26, 2010
Go up another rung!

I walked outside just a few minutes ago into a chilly breeze. The sky was clear and the only sound is the flapping of the neighborhood flag against the flag pole. I looked around as my dog did whatever dogs to when they go out and listened carefully trying to hear some signs of spring on the way but sadly only the clicking and flapping of the flag. We are into a new week and the mountain is nearly climbed as we approach the midpoint of a six week grading cycle. I am even with my aversion to shopping looking forward to the weekend and possibly going shopping with my wife and will even brave the masses of the mall although I have an ulterior motive I have run out of my favorite loose tea and the shop is by chance at the mall. Perhaps that is why I am even considering going to the mall although I do enjoy observing and trying to figure out people. So as I sit finishing up here my meditation and writing this morning pondering a weekend jaunt maybe it is time to go up another rung in life.

“One only gets to the top rung of the ladder by steadily climbing up one at a time, and suddenly all sorts of powers, all sorts of abilities which you thought never belonged to you–suddenly become within your own possibility and you think, ‘Well, I’ll have a go, too.’” Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher was the first woman Prime Minister of Great Britain and was in her time the most powerful woman in the world. This is her philosophy of success that she discusses here in her quote and it is simple, a one step, one rung at a time to the top. So many folks want to jump from the ground to the top and forget there is so much in between.

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it’s the same problem you had last year.” John Foster Dulles

One of the major ways that we as humans learn is through trial and error. However true success is not repeating the error again and again and that is when we are succeeding. With students it often takes multiple tries but it is up to the teacher to assure that the rungs can be accomplished with the right effort and not to deliberately create such difficulty that a student flounders and as some do eventually quits. Teachers measure the rungs on the ladder not too easy but attainable.

“What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.” Benjamin F. Fairless

As I read this note and the four simple rules or ingredients to success I was amazed at the simplicity. First love what you do, and then give it your best, thirdly seize opportunities, and finally teamwork and success can be yours. As I walk through the doors of our school and look at teachers so often you can tell good teachers by who is smiling a sure sign that they want to be there. For these teachers it is not just a job and they love what they do and do give the job their best. In no other field have I ever seen people seize opportunity such as in teaching. When paper is allocated or budget cuts restrict supplies you learn quickly to be resourceful and work with others it is so much easier to accomplish as a team then working independently.

“Success is that old A B C; ability, breaks, and courage.” Charles Luckman

We acquire ability through learning and effort and it is learning when to take advantage of breaks that come along, always keeping your eyes open and always being ready. Courage is that character aspect of us that is that inner drive that can lead a person upward.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.” Colin Powell

As he lead US forces back a few years and now then as the retired Secretary of State Colin Powell has simply put it all in order as far as life goes, in order to find success you must prepare do your homework. Then you do the work and get it done and finally learn from your errors, from your mistakes and use them to succeed. As I read this morning between walking dogs and writing I found a thought I would like to end with.

“It is more important to be of service than successful.” Robert Kennedy Jr.

For many people success is a selfish thing, but finding true success is when what you do is affecting others positively. Today in this with so many opportunities to be of service to others try and be of service and always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.
namaste
bird

Reconciliation of Trust

Bird Droppings January 25, 2010
Reconciliation of trust

“It’s the examination of conscience. Unless you examine your conscience, you don’t know what you have to be sorry for and what to confess” Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D., Ten Tips for Better Confessions, The Gift of Reconciliation

Sort of difficult starting the week with a vocabulary word and one we seldom actually use. I do think we perform the process but some how never understand what it is we are doing when we do. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary has for its definition of the word reconciliations the following:

“The state of being reconciled which is based on reconcile or to restore to friendship or harmony” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

It has been a long time since I was called up to the principal’s office for supposedly writing a note for a student to go home, something I would not do and did not do. This student was someone I had trusted and now had seriously betrayed that trust. The following day I asked my own students to write about what would they do if someone betrayed their trust, not referring to the incident that had occurred? Many of my students often feel betrayed as a part of their own disability. They have a difficult time dealing with trusting anyone and betraying that bit of trust that they may have is so hard to even accept that it hits them very hard.
Some of the examples are; “I would never speak to them again”, “I would consider them no longer existing”, one student went so far as “I would kill them”. I was hoping that was a figurative term only. When I look back a few lines to Webster’s thought reconcile is a “restoring of harmony”. Not being able to trust, affects my own existence in how I perceived each person that I now came into contact with. Often being on guard, wary, not a sensation that I liked or even the effort of being cautious.

“Trust is a firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. It is a reliance on something in the future; hope. The condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed in one: One in which confidence is placed.” Dictionary.com

Trust is a simple word as I looked for definitions and a bit more understanding can be had in words such as reliance, confidence, hope, integrity, and character. These are all words used in defining trust. By going a bit deeper, trust is synonymous with belief and with the word faith. When we trust someone we have faith in them, belief in them. To tear this down is a serious issue and difficult to repair. This is perhaps why my students had such a difficult time with pondering what you do when someone betrays your trust. It was from that point I wondered if we can reconcile.
Within most of the worlds religions forgiveness is paramount to any attempt at moving forward. It is about being able to forgive and to reconcile. Within some religions as in my first quote that is based on reconciliation. Within the Catholic Church where reconciliation is a sacrament there is a restoration on the most part for many people. In religion that restoration is often with God or the church, but deeper when that reconciliation is between two people there is a “restoration to friendship and to harmony” as Webster’s so eloquently states.

“The man who trusts men will make fewer mistakes that he who distrusts them” Conte di Cavour, Camillo Benso

That state of distrust is uncomfortable for me. When I trust in life it flows and moves so easily from point A to B. In a state of distrust and looking back over my shoulder continually not only does my neck get tired but my soul as well? Perhaps this is why I find working with students who do not trust so easy. Many teachers prior to my room do not trust and I do till proven wrong.

“All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud, you have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is so much easier to function in life in a state of trust than in distrust, perhaps this is why reconciliation is such a powerful tool bringing back that harmony that smoothness in life, restoring faith in others in yourself. I came to school after that incident in a state of distrust and as the day went on really not sure which direction to go. Walking to my room the student who betrayed my trust came up to me and asked if we could talk, after school I said. There was desperation in the voice a need for reconciliation a need to restore harmony and friendship. School went by and the day ended, I was literally oblivious to my conversation earlier of talking after school. This student comes in and tries to explain, tears so close to welling up, “I am sorry”.
It is amazing how several days of pondering what to do is melted away so easily with three words. The days of should I do this or that or should I do that are wiped clean, reconciled and harmony is restored. My good friend Emerson compares to a bud. Nearly eight years ago I found a pin, one of those simple metal stick pins with a slogan on it. It was given to me on my twenty third birthday by a dear friend in a youth group I worked with, a 1970’s pin as it goes, “Bloom where you are planted” with a flower or two around it. I affixed it to my ID badge lanyard. What a simple message, from days gone by, that still carries impetuous. It is still so true and still for me is what teaching is about. It is helping students bloom where ever it is that they are and more so about life in general. We all should be trying to bloom where we are planted. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Looking within to who we really are

Bird Droppings October 24, 2008
Looking within to who we really are

Where do I start several key elements of my day yesterday brought about thinking and pondering that lead me to now? Several students and former students and I have been talking about James Kavanaugh, author, poet, thinker and theologian. As I left school yesterday I stopped by the Early Childhood Education room to pick up an application for my nephew. I ended up in a discussion on one of my favorite topics learning and from there Piedmont College. So here I am this morning sitting writing about two topics that sort of crept up on me. I was reintroduced to James Kavanaugh in a roundabout way. I recall in the 1970’s having read some of his poetry as he was popular for several reasons in the hippie culture of that period. A renegade priest he wrote out against the church and was rather quickly no longer a priest in the Catholic Church. His conferences, seminars and books were a cult favorite in the time.

“Dr. James Kavanaugh was a man unlike any other. He could be a bit stubborn, always stood up for the underdog, and was forever ready to speak his mind. Jim enjoyed a variety of music including Latin hymns and Georgian chants, Irish songs, and both jazz and classical music as well. Some will remember Jim for his love of nature or his weakness for cookies, but all will remember him for his generosity with both his time and his heart, and the inspiration he shared with all those near him. He will be dearly missed. Dr. James Kavanaugh died on December 29, 2009 in Kalamazoo.” http://www.jkavanaugh.com/index.html
I started my Masters Degree at Piedmont College in the spring of 2002 side tracking some of the basic entry requirements with a very high Millers Analogy Test score. As I progressed it seems I needed to be interviewed for acceptance into the Education Department which was odd since I was nearing the end of course work for my Masters. I set an appointment and went to my interview. In the line were about twenty people who were all there for that initial interview. Here I was already completed and doing an initial interview sort of the cart before the horse perhaps. I went in and was asked several questions relating to the Mission Statement of the Piedmont College Department of Education.

“The School of Education’s mission is focused on mastering the Art of Teaching: Preparing Proactive Educators to Improve the Lives of All Children. Supporting this mission, we strive to prepare reflective, scholarly, proactive educators. These practitioners effectively educate their students to become knowledgeable, inquisitive, and collaborative learners in diverse, democratic learning communities.” Piedmont College Education Department

As I thought about my questions and answered and proceeded to head home I felt good and was ready to finish my Masters Degree program. A few days later I received a letter stating I had failed my interview. I called my advisor who called the Dean and set up another interview with the Dean of the Education Department. So here I am failing my initial interview and I can rub some people the wrong way relatively quickly but I had felt good about my interview back a few weeks and was confused. As I went into the Dean’s office the Assistant Dean was present also. My first question was from the Dean, How do I get on the Bird Droppings email list? I liked this conversation already and proceeded to pass my interview.
I continued from my Masters at Piedmont directly into the Specialist Program and met with the Director of that program to set up my plans for a course of study. It was interesting as the professor who failed me in my interview was by chance one of the professors in the cohort recommended to me by the Director of the program and I was sweating bullets heading into class with him. A few months later we met and have now long since been good friends it seems that one interview day was a bad one for him, a wrecked car on the way among other things. As my Specialist classes unfolded this professor would start and or finish each session with James Kavanaugh as inspiration or as I look back maybe a starting point for the thoughts to come. Within a few weeks I was acquiring copies of Kavanaugh’s work. Again I had become a fan. I wanted to share this piece today from his book, Quiet Water, published in 1991.

In the Center of Your Soul
By James Kavanaugh

There is quiet water
In the center of your soul,
Where a son or daughter
Can be taught what no man knows.

There’s a fragrant garden
In the center of your soul,
Where the weak can harden
And a narrow mind can grow.

There’s a rolling river
In the center of your soul,
An eternal giver
With a rich and endless flow….

There’s a land of muses
In the center of your soul,
Where the rich are losers
And the poor are free to go.

So remain with me then,
To pursue another goal
And to find your freedom
In the center of your soul.

I read through this poem now twenty times this morning each time getting a bit more and each time literally another tear. These are very powerful words for today. I do believe in this day and time we all need to have some inspiration and additional meaning to our lives. We could ask, what is the soul, and go off on numerous tangents and wanderings but for today have the soul be that piece within that is who you are. The soul is your essence borrowing from James Hillman and Karl Jung. So many days ago I started asking as I write to please keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts and today is no different with headlines blaring of so many in pain and suffering through the world. A quick reminder as I finish search your soul and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.
namaste
bird

Life

Bird Droppings January 21, 2010
LIFE

Morning is a special time a beginning. Several aspects make it special first one of taking the dogs out and talking with them as they sniff and do their thing in the yard. Then I go to my writing and reading which has become my meditation for the day and has become in many ways a significant part of each of my days. I walked out this morning and felt the chill but the over cast and air is so humid made it seem colder. I miss today seeing far off across the field the big dipper rising above the trees and stars crystal clear in the morning darkness through the pines and oaks.

“Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.” Cathy Better

It has been sometime since as I left my room after classes and go through the guidance office saying hello to several people, checking up on files and paperwork that I saw a person was missing I noticed and never questioned as the day went on. I sensed an absence yet still had not questioned. As the day ended I heard from over the announcements one of the staff had suffered a heart attack during a stress test and was having surgery.

“It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.” Evangeline Cory Booth

“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality–not as we expect it to be but as it is–is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.” Frederick Buechner

Last night I sat down thinking and trying to put down words and pictures that may have significance to a project I am working on for my research. It was hard getting to work after eating dinner and lounging for a few minutes. I emailed several people last night just touching base although my blackberry has changed my checking of emails.

“If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.” Albert Camus

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle

As I moved through that day a few weeks back sensing something was amiss and even after knowing it is difficult to offer from a distance any sort of comfort. Most people as the day finished never missed a stride there were a few tears from friends and those that knew but all in all the day went on as normal. It seems we all are creatures of habit and our routines kick in and sort of lead us through the day.

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot

I have used this quote so many times and each time it seems appropriate. I remember as a child chasing fireflies across a meadow gathering those life forces in a mason jar to light my room and then releasing into the night watching them float away in the darkness. That time seem an eternity ago on a hill in Pennsylvania.

“It’s not how long life is but the quality of our life that is important.” Roger Dawson

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” Charles Dickens

So often as my week progresses and days roll by I wander back thinking of reasons why and always end up thinking of my younger brother. In 1996 my brother passed away and my family was faced with a new beginning. We all had literally built our lives around my little brother. He was severely disabled and our being in Georgia was directly related to him. As we celebrated his life reviewing the intricate webs that were laid each moment and people touched and lives affected what seemingly had been was now an enormous out pouring of life.

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outer results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sitting here among my books and artifacts I know we each approach the morning in a different way. I embrace the day and begin with my writing seeing each moment then unfold. Since 1996 I have taken many different roads and journeys and as I look back each has had meaning and direction and led me to the moment of now.

“Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler

It has been several years since I received an urgent call from my nephew. We had gone to an away football game up in North Georgia and actually were out of cellular range for some time. The cal was about a friend that had been in a car accident and as that day unfolded I spent the night in the Athens Hospital holding a young mans hand as monitors beeped and droned and he lay unmoving. I sat watching banks of meters, gauges and dials. I was hoping that the numbers on the dials would change. Throughout the night nothing indicated brain wave activity and by morning our dear friend was pronounced dead. When I arrived home on my computer was this quote from an Aerosmith song. Seems I come back to that note ever so often in my writings.
In 1968 as I left for Texas for college I received a book from my parents that I still have on my shelf, it was a Bible and on page 596 a verse that has stuck with me.

“To everything there is season, and a time, To every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Many years ago Pete Seeger a folk singer and environmentalist wrote music for the words and a song was born “Turn Turn Turn”. To every season turn, turn, turn there is a reason turn, turn, turn and a time for every purpose under heaven. The song became a hit, and was sung by a group called the Byrd’s coincidently.

“Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” Robert Frost

So often poet’s words offer comfort or give direction back to the journey set off course in but one moment time. There is no filling of a void. Yet when looking at life and all that has been and when looking at the journey to now there truly was never a void. There is a turn in the road, a new direction, all that has lead to this point has not changed and it is there behind us, lifting us, guiding us, and strengthening us as we continue. I remember back to a photo of my son crossing a stream in north Georgia all ready sopping wet from falling in but still intent on making it across stone by stone, crossing the stream on the rocks as he jumped.
We all can cross in our time and there times when a hand is welcome. Years ago I set up a website for a youth group and today I will close with the starting line from that website “Friends are never alone”. Keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts and today and keep those friends who may need extra support close at hand.
namaste
bird

It would be great if we could script great teachers

Bird Droppings January 20, 2010
It be great if we could script great teachers

As I watched the several various movies about teachers recently it hit me, wouldn’t it be great if we could somehow provide a package for great teaching. If someone could write that perfect script that anyone could follow and allow anyone to be a great teacher. Then it hit me hard, indirectly that’s what curriculum in theory is for and various educational packages that publishing companies stake their names on. But as I sit back thinking why does it not work?
I was inputting my last bit of data for a research project and was finding and gleaning pieces of my various students’ puzzles as I went. Most of my students that I have served in the last seven years have improved grade wise when they were in my classes and or I was case manager for them. Granted I do not teach like most teachers. I rely heavily on empathy and innovative creative ideas to stimulate and make the time they have in my class a learning experience as well as fun. I thought back to the teacher movies, it is so hard to imagine Morgan Freeman not being a great teacher. But I know he studied his character Joe Clark thoroughly as good actors do and his interpretation was from what I have read an accurate one.
In each individual there is a personality that you can not package and bottle. The greatest possible program in the hands of a sorry teacher will not change the fact they are a sorry teacher. So far to my knowledge we do not do personality transplants. In “The School of Rock” while Mr. S was for a moment content to idle away and collect his substitute paycheck a note of music hit literally. He found a mutually exciting interest, to the students and himself. This is something many teachers do not look into, are we as teachers enjoying what we do?
Bit by bit as I watched Julie Roberts character, have to reexamine where, what and why and then get hit with traditions and the boxes of societal demands. I know this happens everyday. I have talked with my professors many times about one of my concerns, how so many teachers go to a graduate school program and do not make meaningful use after they leave. I am very concerned! I have watched numerous graduates collect their additional money and not once utilize what they have learned, researched, read about and even seen in practice.
How do we bottle and or script a great teacher? I wish I could come up with a solution and a simple method. It is about the person inside. It is about empathy. It is about experiences and utilizing those pieces. There is an old adage that many teachers are simply folks who can do nothing else. The drab boring monotone teacher, even knowing all the content in the world will teach few. It is about entertainment. Maybe scripts have been written but then the audience changes and what do you do? We live in a society of change of flux of disequilibrium. It is about balance but keeping enough of a leaning over to keep growing. It is perhaps about the pathway.

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” Elwyn Brooks White

Often I reflect on the journey of life. The many directions I myself have traveled. I have always been a passionate observer watching others step by step along the way. I listen as some stumbled and are lifted up when pebbles and or boulders are in the way. There are choices at times which pathway to take as a fork approaches and we have to choose.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“Life is a foreign language: all men mispronounce it.” Christopher Morley, Thunder on the Left

“Life is a cement trampoline.” Howard Nordberg

I am wondering why so many of us each day think, perhaps too much, obsessing over reasons and rationale, and tripping over our own inadequacies and imperfections. Are we truly desperate or is this a façade to cover up are lack of enthusiasm and desire I wonder when I see a young person acting as a mime standing still facing an empty wall and unable to move forward or back simply immobile dressed in funeral attire waiting for an end. What has slowed their journey to this point what is it they have missed along their own pathway as we cross.

“He who has a why to live, can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.” Erich Fromm

“To live remains an art which everyone must learn, and which no one can teach.” Havelock Ellis

There really is no road map and no specific travel itinerary as we journey along each day; it is unique for me as it is for others. Nietzsche offers a why as a reason to live, Fromm simplifies further only a happy moment or a bright morning is all that is needed and Ellis states an art form, life is an art form perhaps it is the wielding of the brushes and what colors we wield as we paint.

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

“Following straight lines shortens distances, and also life.” Antonio Porchia, Voices, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

We set the boulders in our own pathway; we throw out the pebbles that force us to stumble. We end up creating the forks in the road that force us to choose I would not have it any other way as I step along the path. However, we need to be aware than we must also clear the pathway. We also must make the choices as to which road to follow. I see my life’s map as a series of zigs and zags, an easy journey constantly side tracked. It may have been once a straight line between A and B now the page is covered in this way or that in back tracking and circumventing in over stepping and under stepping. In my own climbing of boulders and in pushing some out of the way I have come a long way.
I have used in my daily teacher journal, Bird Droppings a saying by a Native American Orator from back in the day many times.

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

For many this may not mean anything. It has been years now since I could hear a buffalo snort and walk across the pasture and see the buffalo’s warm breath blown in the cool of winter. It has been years since I have seen fireflies dance across my front field now covered in houses and roads. But I still see the little shadow as the sun sets and I still hear the breeze in the morning, tree frogs calling, and the red tailed hawks for ever crossing my pathway. Our scenery changes but life goes on. I watched the news last night and all the carnage of an earthquake so as I have for nearly ten years end my daily meanderings with please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird