You can wait a moment

Bird Droppings March 3, 2010
You can wait a moment

“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance?” Franklin P. Jones

I have yet to understand impatience. I experienced a situation yesterday with a teacher that made little sense. I understood what was going on yet within that moment also saw why so many students get frustrated with education. A teacher gave a zero for a paper being after the bell by five minutes, a major paper. The student was ready to quit, the students grade dropped from a 98 to a 44 in one swoop. This was teaching a lesson in responsibility I was told. As I sat back and tried to grasp the significance of this moment I understood why we have so many issues in education.

“Genius is nothing but a great aptitude for patience.” George-Louis de Buffon

I have watched this same student deal with inept teachers in many classes, and patience ruled. Yet what signal are we sending when a student is so destroyed. When you get in the work and then things have to be on exactly on time or else. As I thought in the work place presses and equipment will go down and such as well and maybe in this situation there was a viable reason for being five minutes late. In our school many students have Microsoft Works at home and I will end up translating to Word for them although we do have a several computers in the library with added program to convert and change over.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I thought and pondered this morning it hit me why we have so much stress in students they learn it from teachers. I recall many years ago in fourth grade, I was sitting looking at my test paper and at the students next to me, I had two wrong and a C and my neighbor had three wrong and an A. I asked what was going on and was told I could do better. My mother questioned the teacher and found I was being graded harder. I was supposed to be smarter. Guess what it back fired my grades in school never recovered from that simple instant of a teacher’s perception. I have used that story many times over and now as a teacher find it so hard to watch teachers impose their perception over a student’s.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

How do we learn patience and learn to wait? Should we even try and see as another person does and understand what is being said or done by that person.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” St. Augustine

So often references to patience are references to monastic orders and famous monks sitting in silence for many hours or in the case of a holy man from India 27 years, he held his hand aloft without moving in honor of Vishnu. For 27 years he stayed still until a bird nested in his hand and he felt he had reached Nirvana. However his arm was atrophied and useless except for a bird to nest in but he was happy. I actually do not see many students holding their hands aloft for twenty seven years however.

“How poor are they that have not patience!” “What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” William Shakespeare, Othello, 1604

Patience maybe is over used within our society. A few days as I was doing bus duty, a parent came up the side of the buses and wanted to turn between moving buses to get their child to school. I do believe several state and federal laws were in jeopardy such as passing unloading school busses and dodging between and honking at a teacher who is in place instead of a traffic officer the person in charge. Patience is a powerful word and a powerful teaching tool if only we could bottle it and market it.

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” Chinese Proverb

Why can’t we wait at times when appropriate? There are times when immediacy is needed, but each moment is different and each child is different. How we deal with and handle each is different. This is where patience becomes so critical in each individual moment. Recently I became angered at a student who in frustration tore up their paper and began to swear in anger. However the difference in this students actions and another student doing the same thing was in several years of experience of observing students with behavior issues and on this occasion it was not patience that had waned but a student searching for a way out of school and border line getting physical about it. Patience also entails experience and understanding to know when to listen and when to act. A student who hands a paper in five minutes late and is given a zero and then chooses to write no more and may have been another Hemmingway is slightly different than one who in the next instant may tale a swing at a teacher or another student. As I ponder this student how once received a zero was further encouraged to write and recently won a county wide writing contest and is now on their way to a regional win.

“Experience has taught me this, that we undo ourselves by impatience. Misfortunes have their life and their limits, their sickness and their health.” Michel de Montaigne

Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Compassion and passion are spelled similar

Bird Droppings March 2, 2010
Compassion and passion are spelled similar

When does the FIDO principle not seem appropriate? The concept of the FIDO principle implies Frequency, Intensity, Duration and Over Again which is the basis for how to teach a topic in some management courses. Perhaps in a debate when asked a question and you answer with the same politic rhetoric that has been hashed out over and over memorizing is not a good thing yet it has its place when applied properly.

“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” Henri Frederic Amiel

I do not think you can script passion. This may be why often in politics a man who is passionate about what he believes and thinks can over come odds.

“What is passion? It is surely the becoming of a person. Are we not, for most of our lives, marking time? Most of our being is at rest, unlived. In passion, the body and the spirit seek expression outside of self. Passion is all that is other from self. Life is only interesting when it releases passion. The more extreme and the more expressed that passion is the more unbearable doe’s life seems without it. It reminds us that if passion dies or is denied, we are partly dead and that soon, come what may, we will be wholly so.” John Boorman

“Passion doesn’t look beyond the moment of its existence.” Christian Nevell Bevee

An interesting concept is passion, a fleeting yet engrained entity within the core of our being. Passion is momentary yet universal. Is passion the essence of life or the focal point of life and perhaps for different people it can be either.

“I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.” George Burns

Hard to imagine a diminutive cigar smoking 90 plus year old man as passionate, but George Burns was till he took his last breath. To all about him he added life, exuberance, and light. If you could bottle the essence of George Burns what a world we would have. But within his passion was another word, compassion. While he lived in humor and jest it was never at the expense of another, he always lifted up rather than tear down.

“If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.” Joseph Campbell

“In the human heart new passions are forever being born; the overthrow of one almost always means the rise of another.” Francois De La Rochefouauld

“Live with passion!” Anthony Robbins

Sitting here thinking this morning after weeks and weeks filled with political gesturing and posturing I wonder if in life we could be passionate and compassionate. What a combination, throwing all in to caring about others with little disregard for self, not too many of those sort around now a days, especially not in politics be it in our state capital or in Washington. The words get used but the actions dictate other wise. In one story a local state legislator recently was hired in sales and marketing for a nonprofit company. This nonprofit company has sales in excess of one hundred and sixty million dollars a year. Conveniently this same legislator is bringing a bill to the state vote that will increase sales for his company tremendously and claims it is not a conflict of interest.

“To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you’re overdoing it.” Josh Jenkins

As I was thinking earlier this morning wondering, and watching the spinners of politics take on the various aspects of our nation. Several TV stations that from where I was sitting were over whelming one sided seem to find the minutest problems. One man is confident and one unsure of himself fidgeting wrinkling his brow and his notes as he speaks. In a psychological war there was only one victor yet in the war of passion only one man comes across. But do we need a passionate president? Do we need a compassionate president? As I have listened one man has said he is compassionate but in life saying, believing, and doing are not only definitively different words but semantically rhetorically and in simple language if you can not show it, it ain’t so.

“Compassion has no place in the natural order of the world which operates on the basis of necessity. Compassion opposes this order and is therefore best thought of as being in some way supernatural.” John Berger

“I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” Pablo Casals

Can compassion be found behind a $120.00 tie and $1500.00 suit? Can compassion, true compassion be found stepping from a chauffer driven limo and from speech writer’s thoughts.

“The mind is no match with the heart in persuasion; constitutionality is no match with compassion.” Everett Dirkson

“Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.” Eric Hoffer

Recently I watched students looking up funny t-shirts one was about paving whales, an anti environmental sort of thing and I mentioned that that was abhorrent to me and I was reminded it was only meant to be funny. But it is within our humor reality has its basis sadly.

“Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.” Albert Schweitzer

“The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater; burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.” Arthur H. Stainback

I am staying up many nights watching news waiting to see passion and compassion from the elected officials in local and national politics. I have heard political jargon, but between the lines deep empathy as well as regular people address their own situations. Yesterday a letter was emailed to all teachers in our high school a forewarning of budget cuts to come. Teachers tend to be the front line in compassion for many children and yet those of us who are passionate about what we do continue to be asked to do more. I spent much of the previous weekend trying to contact a family about an annual IEP meeting for their child. Last night I received a text from one of the parent’s accidently texting me a note meant for the other parent and found why so often I use the term in harms way. Harm is an interesting word. In harms way and being placed in harms way was bantered about numerous times as politicians do and today I will use it again. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in our hearts.

Do we teach or are we taught?

Bird Droppings March 1, 2010
Do we teach or are we taught

It was an interesting weekend and seldom do I miss writing for two days straight. I often will skip a Saturday here and there but my school email was on the fritz and up through late last night I was not communicating very well with the outside world. As a weekend goes it was good though as our girl’s basketball won there first leg of the state tournament at the buzzer in a real nail biter Saturday night. Sunday was a day to relax and get my bearings. In my drives about it seems as if I were followed by several red tailed hawks. Three times my path was crossed by a great hawk. As I stood gazing at the full moon glowing orange as it rose this evening from the east I was in silence and at ease with myself.
As I slowly get myself on track writing my dissertation I keep coming back to an interesting fact. I find as a teacher I am learning as much or more than my students so many times. I wonder do we teach or are we being taught. Over the weekend I had contact with several former students and friends I had not communicated with in some time. This morning braving the cold I walked out forgetting my moccasins and my toes are frostbitten, when is spring coming, when will I learn to when I see below freezing on the weather note to listen? I do think as we grow older and wiser sometimes we to become stubborn often more so than our students in class and children.

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” Albert Einstein

So many times when discussing students who are having a difficult time and it is that individual teacher’s perspective often that is all that matters. Recently I was about to thump another teacher in the head listening to comments about how if that student had a better work ethic they would do better. I have heard work ethic a lot lately these students need a better work ethic. But what if you really do not like that teacher and or subject and better yet what if you have a disability that inhibits you in many ways from enjoying or even appreciating the subject. Every day I see square pegs hammered into round holes. It is the way our education system works at least this is what is said on most days.
I am always amused that Mr. Einstein was one who did not have a great work ethic in school. As a matter of fact he failed math a time or two. Years later he rewrote the books.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

We rely so much on prepackaged, prewritten, preformed, precooked, pretested, pre-read, and pre-understood in education for everything that creativity, imagination and uniqueness get left on the shelf. We are giving make up Georgia High School Graduation tests currently and soon the real thing again. In theory these are tests of content with a smattering of cognitive questions thrown in. However several questions while multiply choice could be answered in numerous ways.
In some instances there are high school students trying to analysis and answer questions for example that science teachers question the validity of. What if you miss one of those questions and get a 499 and 500 is passing. A good friend who graduated eight years ago had taken the science test four times and failed by a total of ten points total and has never graduated. What if each time this person answered that one question the same way, a question that is either incorrect or not answerable and has actually been removed from the test. This particular person was an A and B student and after four tries is far to frustrated to try again.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

How, why and what should be taught are always at the crux of curriculum and instructional administrators challenges. But one of the most difficult aspects of education is instilling a desire to learn. It is that wanting to seek the mysterious to borrow from Einstein. Far too few students truly want to learn most just want to pass and get on. In nearly ten years one of my greatest moments was being asked who wrote the poem when I read Dylan Thomas. I was asked by a kid who most thought could not read and he read the entire book that weekend. Even though severely dyslexic between turning the book upside down and his mother reading aloud he made it through it. The mysterious is a mysterious thing I have found. So for another day and week my dear friends please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.