Bird Droppings March 7, 2010
Sometimes others see us
Earlier in the day I was communicating with some friends in New York and the idea of example being the best teacher came up. So often the opposite can be said and example also can be the anti-teacher and children learn what perhaps they should not be doing. I was in Borders just a few hours ago and looking at books as I do so often. Many times just sitting and reading a few paragraphs or pages while I sit. Back on the education shelf a favorite The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer.
“Teaching, like any truly human activity, emerges from one’s inwardness, for better or worse. As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together. The entanglements I experience in the classroom are often no more or less than the convolutions of my inner life. Viewed from this angle, teaching holds a mirror to the soul. If I am willing to look in that mirror, and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge – and you knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject.” Parker Palmer
It is a crystal clear and cool evening in Georgia with stars more than I can count sparkling over head today. Rumor has it could be another rainy night in Georgia coming up in the next few days although it will be warmer finally however seems I heard that somewhere on the news.
“If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” Catherine Aird
I was thinking as I was trying to figure out why a photo would not stay in place in my email for today I will try and stick it at the end of this note or better yet maybe I will just describe it. Some people joke about my title for this email listing but another bird dropping is the feathers left by the way side by various birds that also share this world. For some just a feather left by a balding bird. However others will pick it the feather and save it as I recall the movie Forest Gump starting and stopping with a feather floating about. Pondering a bit it is just a little feather nothing special but as I use as the example the feather I found as I walked out of the Education building at Piedmont College nearly six years ago and happened to photograph it. It is actually from a Canadian goose that comes up from the lake onto the Piedmont College to feed on new grass back when there was a lke.
Back to my main thought many the time, I have mentioned example as how so often children learn, such activities even as walking and talking are learned by example. Learning starts as simple as watching and listening to parents and brothers and sisters and as children move to school peers and teachers. Many years ago a movie with Jodie Foster starring in it, “Nell” was the story of a young woman who was found in the woods and whose speech was babbling and confusing. The psychologists knew she was communicating and it took many hours to realize she learned to speak from her grand mother who had a stroke and had difficulty speaking. When her grandmother passed away in the movie, Nell had buried her and went on with her life till she was discovered. Sadly bad habits too are seen and observed and mimicked.
“There is no teaching to compare with example.” Robert Baden Powell
“Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and approximate to the characters we most admire.” John Christian Bovee
Children see us and then strive to emulate that behavior be it right or wrong. With situations over the past years like the shootings at Red Lake and Columbine and violent games, TV, movies and media coverage it is easy to see how some view these as threats to children and as catalysts for easily swayed mentalities
“A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words.” Phillips Brooks
It is so difficult in its simplicity and so easy to blame a TV show or video game while pointing a finger holding a drink and cigarette and cussing after taking your medication for stress and to aid in sleeping.
“What you want others to do to you do not do to others.” Confucius
“The world is upheld by the veracity of good men: they make the earth wholesome. They who lived with them found life glad and nutritious. Life is sweet and tolerable only in our belief in such society.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is about example and those of us running around as teachers need to be all the more wary be that which our students see and then do. It may sound silly and it does seem we set the stage day in and day out for countless people to view and try and be like us. Somewhere, someone wants to be like you might be a good line in teacher training to tack on a T-Short or poster.
“Well done is better than well said” Benjamin Franklin
“You have to set the tone and the pace, defines objectives and strategies, and demonstrate through personal example what you expect from others.” Stanley C. Gault
Human culture is a perpetuation of simply watching each other run around it is that simply. I wonder could we so easily change humankind just by setting good examples. I watch Congress and the Senate and ethics committees changing rules so this person or that person won’t get in trouble that is a really good example. And well since no one really caught him doing that it is ok and or just because the constitution says so lets do it this way now because I think it s right today. Or on a higher level issue a signing statement as our last president did more than any president in history. Interesting how we get to where we are. Leadership should be setting the pace not be the ones you do not want to follow.
“This, then, is the test we must set for ourselves; not to march alone but to march in such a way that others will wish to join us.” Hubert H. Humphrey
It has been many years since Hubert Humphrey was vice president and senator for such a long and successful career. It has been many years since a truly great leader has been president. Someone who was not questioned and did not have secrets and who lived under shadows of this or who did set an example. Often I wonder if politics changes men and women. It has been some time since Jimmy Carter was president. He did not succeed as president and history will have many reasons, a common one was who he surrounded himself with, “they were not politically savvy enough” but as a man few provide the example that he does. As a man perhaps he has done more than any president in fifty years to better society and the world most of it after he was president.
“You can do what you want to do; sometimes you can do it even better than you thought you could.” Jimmy Carter
I have listened over the years to Jimmy Carter and he has lived as he believes he should there are no phony views for the cameras. People who have known him will say this is who he really is. Perhaps he comes across to some as a country farmer which by chance he is a peanut farmer from Georgia. When he nails a nail in a house for habitat for humanity it is not simply for publicity he is working up a sweat for the next nail. That is an example we should emulate. Today as you drive nails in life, are you showing off or just working up a sweat and ever nail every day is because you believe in what you do and who you are. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.