Bird Droppings April 29, 2010
Are you a Weginahsa?
It is just barely four o’clock in the morning and my westie needed to take a run outside to do her morning thing. Lately she has slept most of the night but today after I had finished off my bagel and cream cheese she started barking and I went down stairs to take her out. A near full moon was beaming down and several whippoorwills were calling through the pines and a crazy mockingbird has been up literally round the clock lately calling away. It is unusual to hear a bird calling at this hour. But the sky was clear and stars and moon made for a wonderful morning awakening.
“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done …. Men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.” Jean Piaget
I have always been a fan of the great developmentalists and the process of each piece leading to the next and so forth. Piaget while well respected in educational fields did his research on his own children. I still find that a bit weird. However his ideas seem to be sound in many aspects even though his demographics are a bit shallow.
“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.” Anatole France
In our age of standardized testing and how much we can force feed into our students so they can pass a test I had to think twice as I read France’s quote. We constantly test for content daily in our school systems and wonder why we still lag behind. “Education Weekly featured an article on science programs in other modern nations and how they were so far ahead of ours. Every program featured context over content. John Dewey one hundred years ago preached context.
“Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” William Yeats
Every day I drink a liter bottle of water after my energy drink. I have got to have my morning five hour energy shot first. I never started drinking coffee and Starbucks is the wrong direction in the morning for Chai Tea. Although I do brew my own now at school which is nice but it takes a few moments to heat up. For several years the liter bottle has reminded me of how we teach. For so many teachers it is simply trying to fill a liter bottle period. I visited a museum in the mountains of North Georgia and was looking at an old moonshine still when it hit me. We need to teach kids to distill information. Concentrate on the important and the pieces that can lead to other pieces. Stop trying to cram it all in to a confined space.
“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. I used a similar passage many months ago from another great thinker, of our time.
“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 which probably in some circles including my own, still exists, Pete Seeger was very famous. He would sing songs borrowed from Woody Guthrie’s hobo and dust bowl days, songs of the depression. He would borrow from various other current and past sources for his songs. He wrote music for and developed one song that was made famous outside folk circles by a group called “the Byrd’s”, entitled “Turn, turn, turn”. This song was based on words from a book in the Old testament Ecclesiastes to be exact, “To everything there is a season, a time to be born a time to die”.
As I sit here writing this morning I got thinking about Spike my bearded dragon, a resident of my class room who had spit out a grape yesterday. He must not like seeds in his grapes. I was thinking back to Independence Day and flags flying from telephone poles, draped over tables, emblazoned on T-shirts and paper cups celebrating our independence. I am reminded of what and who we are as Americans. By the constitution of the United States all people are equal all are entitled to certain liberties and the pursuit of happiness.
As we go about today remembering we need to also think of in being free and being able to speak, and worship freely we should not impose our ideals and beliefs on others. That is so easy to say but I was reminded many months back of the innocence of youth as I sat at lunch with my youngest son at a Chinese Buffet in Loganville. 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 moving back into my room from having new carpet put in.
The restaurant owner’s sons were sitting playing at the next booth. As they talked, some was in English some in Chinese as the 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 about how there were so many possible meanings to that. I know his family, both his mother and father are from mainland China and very active in cultural awareness programs in schools and the community. So was this an example of an innocent child’s color blindness or was it a slight to his heritage. I would like to think innocence.
“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 we exhibit. Recently as I wrote the word black indicating race I was reminded that it is politically correct to say Afro-American. I was intrigued, I am still called a white person not a Welsh, English, German, Irish, Native American, Hebrew, Scottish, Amish person. After a moment or two I came up with WEGINAHSA that would work. I wonder if I called someone a Weginahsa if they would 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 attitudes that formulates them. I was thinking back to Piaget and theories of development of children and at what age do we see color? At what age do we begin to find differences in humans? Pondering and looking again at Dr. Martin Luther King’s words, 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. That is not in the devlopmentalist guide book that is ours to decide. Today is the time and the season for us to be who we are and that we are able to think act and be free, please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.