Sharpen the machete or bring a shovel


Bird Droppings June 16, 2010
Sharpen the machete or bring a shovel

“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

Always in movies with a jungle setting the leader has a machete and hacks away at the undergrowth making the way clear for the group following. D’Angelo is an author of sorts, an author who as a senior at West Chester State University in Pennsylvania wrote a paper “Wellness Works”, which would became the basis for his ideas. While writing primarily about college life he was also offering bits and pieces of wit to help folks make it through the day. He is Author of The College Blue Book and the inspirational series; We are creating a new kind of “school” for a new kind of world.

“After all, the world as we know it is less then 15 years old. In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and in 1995 the World Wide Web went up. It is a completely new world for us all. With this new world, come new challenges. With these new challenges, come new ways of educating people for the future and it is our every intention to be at the fore front of this educational revolution. The 20th Century was about Content, but the 21st Century is about Context.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

As I read through the website dealing with empowerment many interesting ideas and thoughts.

“Most College Students Get a Degree, But Not an Education.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

The basis and rationale of his thoughts centered on the fact nearly one third of college students drop out. His writings and training (coaching) are meant to change that. Nearly 100 years ago another educational revolutionary had similar thoughts. John Dewey offered a very similar constraint to content versus context with his take on constructivism.

“Learners who can adapt quickly by learning in a complex world are more likely to adapt to changing conditions and survive as an individual.” Martin Dougiamas, A journey into Constructivism

I walked last evening to show some friends from the South Georgia coast the back herb garden. I was pulling a few leaves here and there comparing different types of thyme and mints but all the same it was a matter of trying to dodge raindrops and our dog running between my legs trying to get back in the house. My friends had gone to the amusement park all day and were worn out but hamburgers and hotdogs off the bird grill and a few minutes catching up and we were into old stories and some how reptiles seems my oldest and my good friend who had come by are both amateur herpetologists and snake talk can go on for hours. As I stood thinking juts before going to bed last night it was so quiet other than the dripping of the rain on the house and from trees and shrubs. It was an ethereal undertaking walking out in the rain of evening.

“Learning is a search for meaning. Therefore, learning must start with the issues around which students are actively trying to construct meaning.” On Purpose Associates

Looking at the surroundings earlier today as I Walked through the house checking to see if the dog needed to go out for her morning constitutional I saw the light or I should say my senses saw light. I can accept that or pursue why and how perhaps the batteries are new. Last year I started a daily log on each of my students writing down as events transpired within my class room, while focusing on education I would also jot down any events or happening with that student that may be important. As I thought daily life is little different as I read D’Angelo’s thoughts while focused on college students the application to a lesser degree very easily could be my own students who are at high risk for graduation from high school. By pushing that envelope further we have people who are at risk with life itself.

“The purpose of learning is for an individual to construct his or her own meaning, not just memorize the “right” answers and regurgitate someone else’s meaning. Since education is inherently interdisciplinary, the only valuable way to measure learning is to make the assessment part of the learning process, ensuring it provides students with information on the quality of their learning.” On Purpose Associates

As a teacher so often I find myself saying this is my class room and you will do as I say. I even have gone so far as to declare back in the day when I had a trailer, my room as an independent kingdom and issued money, Mr. Bird bucks. I still have the crown although it currently resides on a rather large stuffed antelope head (an eland) on my classroom wall. While I said my class room in effect the room has become the student’s class room.

“I believe that all education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race. This process begins unconsciously almost at birth, and is continually shaping the individual’s powers, saturating his consciousness, forming his habits, training his ideas, and arousing his feelings and emotions. Through this unconscious education the individual gradually comes to share in the intellectual and moral resources which humanity has succeeded in getting together. He becomes an inheritor of the funded capital of civilization. The most formal and technical education in the world cannot safely depart from this general process. It can only organize it or differentiate it in some particular direction.” John Dewey

Do I simply want to except the light from the night or pursue finding out more. I recall just before school was out that I spent the better part of my planning period on the phone with a parent. This particular student has been a problem for all of his teachers, numerous physiological reasons can quickly be brought to our attention and various assundery medications have been prescribed. In high school with four different teachers and different outlooks of perception we have a student being daily assessed by four people and four world views. On a particular bad day I jotted down behaviors that were issues. At some point his medications came into the discussion and the student made a comment how he felt that was the issue not his behavior. You might say, “The medicine made him do it”. He so often finds excuses for his behavior as we all do.

“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

Upon referring to the handy PDR eight of behavior issues were side effects of his particular medications and all of the medications were recommended for adults. Indicated in bold lettering were warnings this medication may cause drowsiness and to not operate equipment while taking this medication. We gave this student ISS for sleeping and for making comments about how he can’t think straight. All day long we hack at leaves, I tell friends in the north about kudzu. It is so hard to describe a plant that hacking at the leaves only infuriates it, it seems to grow faster. Add to it four hurricanes worth of water dumped on it helps as well. But whether it be education or family we need to look beyond traditional means. It is about content versus context borrowing from D’Angelo and of course John Dewey.
I was speaking with my son many months ago about teenager issues as we rode home from a band practice. It is so easy to say one thing, hack off leaves and never really get to the roots. He asked me why our county has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates. So we walk out today looking for how come it is so bright outside even in the rain we also need to look at context. We also need to review why we keep sharpening the machete and not look for a shovel and as I finish today harm is an elusive word. A child raised in an environment where tomorrow is questionable is that harm. Students who say whatever and quit school is that harm. Young men and women fighting in various wars around the world is that harm. Refugees in Sudan tying shelter together with sticks thread and leaves is that harm. So today please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

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