It takes more than one strand to make a rope

Bird Droppings October 31, 2010
It takes more than one strand to make a rope

“You cannot contribute anything to the ideal condition of mind and heart known as Brotherhood, however much you preach, posture, or agree, unless you live it.” Faith Baldwin

Each day as I talk to my students I try and set an example and not every day am I successful. But as I think this beautiful fall morning trying to decide if I should work in the yard or be lazy I thought I would take a few moments to write. Many of the children I talk to everyday stand alone, often due to their own choosing.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” John Donne –

It has been several years since I did an experiment with a group of young people using sewing thread. I had a thread for each person and then I asked each of them to break the thread which of course was simple and easily done.

“The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” James Baldwin –

After breaking the threads I gave each of them another piece of thread and one by one we joined the threads together. In the end we had a thirty strand piece of string/rope and we twisted it slightly to keep threads together.

“In union there is strength.” Aesop

“Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.” Alexander the Great

Amazingly enough no one could break the new combined rope even when several folks pulled on each end it would not break.

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” Bahá’u’lláh

I still carry that piece of string/rope in my wallet. It surely does make a great example when talking to students.

“I look to a time when brotherhood needs no publicity; to a time when a brotherhood award would be as ridiculous as an award for getting up each morning.” Daniel D. Michiel

It has been a few years back that I attended a demonstration up in Mountain City Georgia. The lecturer at the Foxfire Museum was using a couple of folks in the group and had them twisting and turning six strands of twine into a rope.

“Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” Mahatma Gandhi

Real unity, that is the question, and in today’s politically charged atmosphere unity is no where to be found. I showed my students so many years ago that even though having multiply strands of thread all together in a bundle was significantly stronger each time you cut a piece it weakened exponantionally.

“In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” Booker T. Washington

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

Each day as I sit outside my door at school I witness differences in attitude and differences in brotherhood. Many are similar and in a high school that old cliché of school spirit is generally a good indicator of a semblance of brotherhood, a joining force in a body of humanity. But still there are strands of thread dangling outside weakening the whole.

“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” Virginia Burden, The Process of Intuition

I will never say everyone has to be identical. I like Booker T. Washington’s statement of each of being a finger yet still being able to be a hand. I use to think it was cool when I would see a six fingered person and in my old stomping grounds of Lancaster and Chester counties often you would see an Amish fellow with an extra finger. There was a recent ad where everyone was upset with Joe who had extra fingers because he could type so much more and do so much more, the ad showed him typing away and multi tasking with his extra fingers. But the ad was also about change and new equipment equalized the office space. So often we can not accept the differences.

“I have often noticed that when chickens quit quarreling over their food they often find that there is enough for all of them. I wonder if it might not be the same with the human race.” Don Marquis

In life far too often we spend our time fretting over differences and not looking for similarities. How can we work as a group a team? Watching college football Saturday for a few minutes along with The Rally to stop the insanity, teamwork makes all the difference in a win or loss. The winner is not always the better team. Always better teamwork will win and it can be only a minute difference, a single strand could change a game and or a life.

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” Kenyan Proverb

Interesting while writing about unity and still believing in individuality it is a difficult task. I come back to Booker T. Washington’s quote; I can be a thumb and still work as a hand when needed. It is in believing and in trusting we gain that unity and that brotherhood. Watching the rally yesterday one thing kept coming up why all the negative why not work together the problems are here and solutions can be had if there were teamwork. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Having a heart

Bird Droppings October 29, 2010
Having a heart

It is chilly out in the middle of Georgia temperatures near almost to freezing but not quite, high forties but one of coldest days so far this fall. We have still a week or two till we are off from school Thanksgiving and a fall break. I was watching TV last night and an old history sort of movie about the Pilgrims coming over to the New World is coming up soon. I find it funny how after that first Thanksgiving relationships between the native Indians and Pilgrims went down hill and it was not long till red skinned natives were the spawn of Satan and were to be eliminated by whatever means feasible. Pilgrims were not much different than today’s politicians as it was land was involved. I found it interesting how things changed so fast. Why is it we only have heart occasionally and some people never do?

“There are four bases of sympathy: charity, kind speech, doing a good turn, and treating all alike.” Buddha, Sayings of the Buddha

It has been several days since I was working with students expressing a news article in visual form. Over the past few years as I interact with people and seeing how much of an impact learning styles actually make on students it amazes me that such a simple thing is not seen previously. How we learn has been an issue I have looked at very seriously. Humans tend to learn basically in one of three ways visually, auditorially, and kinesthetically, in other words we see, hear or touch. Yesterday I through in the idea of perception as well and how we hear see and touch along with how we interpret is a factor. The assignment entailed using one PowerPoint slide to explain one of the main news articles out currently. The sample I used was based on The Red Lake Shootings – In a few moments about 45 seconds images and a few words flashed over the screen and my interpretation of the news flashed before us.
Students then chose stories and interpreted visually what they saw and felt. Ideas varied and stories varied significantly. One went in a direction of an issue close to home teen suicide and several reiterated the Red Lake Shootings. One how ever focused only on himself. His visual experience while interesting was a whirl of his own image. For several months going on two years I have known this student and his focus so often is self motivated as so many of us our. He derives his day from seeking attention to and through himself be it passing gas and letting everyone in the class room know or speaking out loud to draw attention from a teacher. The idea of disrespect is an understatement but it all is self focused so to say here I am.

“A relationship or an affinity between people or things in which whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other.” Dictionary.com –

For quickness I use dictionary.com and there is defined the word sympathy as an interaction between two people or things affecting both. As I thought back to my self centered fellow I wondered as he focused all day on him self does he have sympathy. In the defining quote from Buddha sympathy is established as four aspects those being charity, kind speech, doing a good turn and treating all alike.

“The force of truth that a statement imparts, then, its prominence among the hordes of recorded observations that I may optionally apply to my own life, depends, in addition to the sense that it is argumentatively defensible, on the sense that someone like me, and someone I like, whose voice is audible and who is at least notionally in the same room with me, does or can possibly hold it to be compellingly true.” Nicholson Baker

There are many issues at hand that warrant attention and sympathy today locally and world wide.

“All sympathy not consistent with acknowledged virtue is but disguised selfishness.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“Sympathetic people often don’t communicate well; they back reflected images which hide their own depths.” George Eliot

As I searched this morning deeper I found often we tend to view sympathy with caution perhaps this person is being sympathetic for a reason. Perhaps it is for gain thinking back to the Pilgrims. Is it human nature to be so wary so distrustful of others.

“Is there anything more dangerous than sympathetic understanding?” Pablo Picasso

“The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have this capacity do not possess it. Warmth of heart, impulsiveness, pity is not enough.” Simone Weil

Several semesters back I sent off a paper dealing with kissing frogs. It was a reflection on teaching in a way but really it was a reflection on life. My premise being we should all be frog kissers. Teachers and so often parents are to be the Frog Kissers: Many times I have used the inference to the fairy tales of child hood of kissing a frog. We are always trying to find that enchanted princess or prince hidden beneath the guise of a frog; one kiss and the prince or princess will appear. Being an avid herpetologist along with my son, kissing frogs can be a risky business. Many species secret toxins some so lethal they can kill a man with barely a touch let alone a passionate kiss. There are some that can induce psychosis and hallucinations when ingested. All these efforts by the amphibians are purely defense mechanisms evolved over millions of years.
But the symbolism of the fairy tale and teachers/parents is what struck me. Teaching is about kissing frogs. We as teachers need to be taking those risks trying to find the hidden princes and princesses among our students. In reality we are going beyond simply taking roll and letting that child slip through the cracks. We need to be risk takers we need to set the example for the students that we will make an effort to be there and give each child ample time and place. As I pondered it was obvious as to where and why teachers quit. I see John Dewey’s idea and the example of Dewey in the classroom through Foxfire and all these great idealistic thoughts and then they seem to disappear into educational lala land.
What were to be great teachers seem to be eventually lost midst the flow and ebb of educational bureaucracy and never get a chance to be who they are. For many years I have wondered are today’s students and teacher automations doing as all those others have done before. Turn to page 138 children and read, now answer the questions at the back of the chapter. Raise your hand when you wish to speak and do not get out of line. I recall a Harry Chapin song I use often about a little boy who comes in his first day and colors flowers in a rainbow of hues, until his teacher corrects him and flowers are red green leaves are green, soon the creative spark is gone and another student became a frog. Fortunately in the song a risk taking teacher saves the day and kisses the frog and the rainbow is back. We need to work towards being that which we should be teachers, not simply information stuffers. As a parent and teacher a hard row to follow.

“There are four bases of sympathy: charity, kind speech, doing a good turn, and treating all alike.” Buddha

I keep thinking back to this idea of sympathy it is an active process not simply a feeling. I used loosely the illustration of kissing frogs but each aspect described by Buddha is an action. Charity is an activity although borrowing from a 1600 translation the Greek word agape is translated as charity. In Greek three words translate for love; eros, philos and agape. Agape often is also translated as a supreme unlimited love or God’s love. In the Biblical translations of 1600 the Greek agape would translate to charity, an active love an ongoing love. Kind speech is an action and is a physical response. Doing a good turn not just charity but physically doing something and perhaps the most difficult treating all alike again actively involved.
When I started this morning sympathy was more an emotion. Having a heart as I thought was just a sentence structure used to elicit sympathy and or other emotions. But sympathy is an active word it is beyond and there for having a heart perhaps too is active engaging. For nearly six years now I have ended each Bird Dropping with keep all in harms way in your heart and on your mind, originally I started with the attack September 11th and then war in Afghanistan and Iraq. But it has grown in form keeping in your heart is an action it involves doing not simply mouthing words. I recall nearly three years ago in the state of Vermont which still operates on a town meeting basis and several towns were voting to not send anymore national guards units from Vermont to the Middle East. Vermont has lost more soldiers per capita than any other state. Action some are sending cards reminders of home. For some it may be just a thank you as GI’s return. It is about active involvement, kissing frogs, having a heart, it is about voting and sympathy is action not just thinking about it. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

An eclectic morning

Bird Droppings October 28, 2010
An eclectic morning

Over lunch a group of students and I began discussing, The Davinci Code and other philosophical diversions and fearing death as a basis for religion came up.

“Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.” Mahatma Gandhi

It has been a few years since I watched an episode of Star Trek actually it may have been one of the movies. Spock has interfered with Star Fleets objectives in relationship to a small group of colonists on an obscure planet. It seems they live forever or at least aging is so minute that life times are measured in tens of thousands of years. What was interesting is that they by choice became nearly primitive living off the land and pursuing wisdom, reading, writing, all forms of art work. Life became a process of always improving since time was not a factor. As I read this quote from Gandhi earlier that movie popped in my mind.

“The world is apprehended by way of the mind, the world is acted upon by way of the mind and all good things and bad exist in the world by way of the mind.” Samyutta Nikaya

As I thought further about Star Trek and this group of people living on a planet where radiation from their sun seemed to be the key to longevity I was reflecting back on several incidents at school almost two years ago. My assistant Principal came in with thirty minutes left on the day before a holiday to do an observation or so she said sticking her head in the door. On top of the timing I had two extra students who had been placed with me since they are not functioning in regular classes. They were in a sort of holding pattern for a day or two. I was in the middle of trying to alleviate a year book emergency rewiring a CD burner and trying to print out a picture for a teacher who wanted her daughter’s angel scene from a Christmas play I just took for drama dept. and several extra students were assisting in helping down load hard drives from refurbished computers. So all in all, ten things were happening in last thirty minutes of last day before the holiday not counting an observation.
I never mind observations and probably have had more in four years than most have in a life time or was my AP was getting back at me for several previous practical jokes. But we think what we portray in our minds within seconds I was shifted from disaster to plotting a new reprisal. Actually got quite a good report for diversity and individualizing the learning situations.

“Honesty can be cultivated by transforming your inner language. For example, you might think: “I am no good” or “They are not good.” Is this true? For some strange reason, people want to wallow in the idea of being either the best or the worst. What is true in this moment? How close can we get to the reality of our experiences?” Martine Batchelor, “Meditation for Life

Thinking back to the movie Spock was trying to save the Utopian society of a small group of people as he turned against Star Fleet in the movie. The reason that Star Fleet wanted this planet was literally to sell and package longevity. They were willing to destroy a people for profit. Human nature many would say. I observed those two extra students I had on that observation day. One of them I have for a period every day the other I did not know. As I thought to why both ended with me it was because of inappropriate behavior in class. Such terms as acting out and attention seeking were used. I used to be a big fan of “Law and Order” a popular TV show. Last night a young boy who had been abused was talking with the prosecutor and recalled a particular day in his life. The very man who had abused him for four years was the hero by chance. He was concerned he was “sick” because the greatest day of his life was also with the person who destroyed his life. Shortly after on the show this young man tried to kill himself.

“Real love is not based on attachment, but on altruism. In this case, your compassion will remain as a humane response to suffering as long as beings continue to suffer.” the Dalai Lama

Perhaps I am trying to cram too many thoughts into one sitting. It was a busy day today and yesterday and will be tomorrow preparing for the up coming holiday and end of course tests. We all need to be looking at our lives are we trying to over simplify? Are we being honest with our selves? Do we use the word love as merely an attachment? Can we be more than we are in our given time? Many issues as we head into the holiday season I just need to take my wife’s car to the service station and here in the Atlanta area soon we will be deluged with all the folks heading south. It seems all major interstates seem to converge here and for a late Thursday just a reminder from Will Rodgers.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.” Will Rogers

So as I am thinking further.

“The appreciation of the profundity and subtlety of his thought comes only after serious study, and only a few of the most committed students are willing to expend the necessary effort. Many, upon first reading him, will conclude: that he was a churlish, negative, antisocial malcontent; or that he advocated that all of us should reject society and go live in the woods; or that each person has complete license to do as he/she pleases, without consideration for the rights of others; or that he is unconscionably doctrinaire. His difficult, allusive prose, moreover, requires too much effort. All such judgments are at best simplistic and at worst, wrong.” Wendell P. Glick

Interesting I was thinking Glick was referring to me in this passage but alas it is Henry David Thoreau.

In a lesson plan on how to teach Thoreau Glick points out the difficulties even today though Henry David Thoreau is recognized as a great writer it was his idiosyncrasies that kept him from public acknowledgement in his time.

“He had in a short life exhausted the capabilities of this world; wherever there is knowledge, wherever there is virtue, wherever there is beauty, he will find a home.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, In his eulogy for Thoreau

Early today I was answering an email about how I had gone into teaching. A friend from high school never imagined me teaching. I found that interesting because since I was twelve I have been teaching be it swimming lessons, boy scouts etc. As a parent we are always teaching. I started with Henry David Thoreau in that he was a teacher but he walked away from teaching to be a better teacher. Thoreau left to become a learner. He sought knowledge; he craved new ideas and thoughts. Everything about him was a classroom.

“Yet, hermit and stoic as he was, he was really fond of sympathy, and threw himself heartily and childlike into the company of young people whom he loved, and whom he delighted to entertain, as he only could, with the varied and endless anecdotes of his experiences by field and river: and he was always ready to lead a huckleberry-party or a search for chestnuts or grapes. Talking, one day, of a public discourse, Henry remarked that whatever succeeded with the audience was bad.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my email this morning my friend wrote about teaching should be fun and how for many years her fellow teachers thought her methods were different. Often I have other teachers wonder at what I do with students and how and why. But they learn and they ask questions. I was looking back earlier to why I chose teaching. Initially it was because of a Biology teacher I had in tenth grade. I wandered away from direct teaching into publishing of training materials for twenty three years and came back. Often I find myself using the statement I am where I need to be at this moment. My pathway has led me to this spot. Soon we will have a day of thanksgiving of holiday family and friends. So often within the constraints of life we find times of sorrow. Please be aware that around you and near by someone may be suffering as we celebrate offer a hand, a shoulder a thought and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts and to borrow from a veteran and friend from an email many months back and with veterans day a few days away and still very applicable today.

“Please remember the sons and daughters in far away lands, for once we were them” Reah Wallace, retired Navy

A new dawn coming a new day and a new reality – who knows for sure – peace –
namaste
bird

Education often draws from the NOW

Bird Droppings October 27, 2010
Education often draws from NOW

Several days ago a teacher offered to me a book on curriculum or so she said “Dumbing down of America” by Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld. It has been a few months since I picked this book off the shelf while reading various books at Barnes and Noble as I do so often. This book literally is about the dumbing down of America, pointing out all the faults in the educational system and how we are in worse shape than 100 years ago. The book is advocating home schooling and alternatives to public education and a public school teacher offered this book to me which I find amazing. Maybe my general demeanor as sort of on the other end of the scale politically did not get through to well. However as I think back 100 years ago not all children were educated in public school.
Many kids were living at home or in rural situations where education was not even considered. Mandatory education was still being worked on as late as 1974. In 1972 in Macon Georgia as a part of the work I was doing involving disabled students we found 284 children who had never been in school in less than 60 days. All were disabled and were not required at that time to attend school and in reality most had no place they could go. Now all children are educated in the United States or have the right to free and public education.
As I researched today and found many articles opposing today’s educational systems all of which had a basis in religion and morality. Interestingly enough Outcome based education was condemned and accused of causing all the ills of mankind and John Dewey was the originator and cause of educational dysfunction. These educators against outcome based education were preaching content simply having the right answers. Sort of take a test and all is well and teachers nation wide are complaining about teaching to the test and not to what students need to get on in life or into college. Much of the thanks can go to according to many teachers the No Child Left Behind legislation which is our national educational program. Over two years ago I had written a Dropping and am borrowing a paragraph or two from that particular day.

“The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recently watched a young man struggle with an equation in his math class homework. He asked me for help and without asking exactly what he needed help with I answered X=3 and was told I was wrong even though the answer was right. How could I answer without solving the equation was his question? I wasn’t thinking about math at the time and since we were working on essays about “how teachers could teach better” and he alone in the class was finished, he was catching up on homework, which was math. I apologized for answering not realizing he needed a solution as well. It really wasn’t about the answer; it was how to get to the answer.

“I believe that the only true education comes through the stimulation of the child’s powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself.” John Dewey

As I was thinking further about this subject it dawned on me do I want children who know all the answers, the dates, formulas and such or do I want children who can find the answers. Somewhere in my wanderings today I found an excerpt from an 8th grade final test in Salinas Kansas. Interesting to try and see what you know. Happens to be from Dr. Blumenfeld’s book where he is showing how we are so far behind.

“Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 ft. long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu., deducting 1,050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6,720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $.20 per inch?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865?

Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u.’
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e.’ Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.” Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld, The Dumbing down of America

Interesting part for me was The language arts sections were the hardest. If you look at history and math other than experiential aspect of agriculture questions they are simple compared to today’s classes. I opened up a 1968 biology book from college and compared to a Biology book used in our high school. It is amazing how much different they are. Different is an understatement there are sections and subjects not even in my college book that are in the high school book. The new book had more in it and more difficult material and there were things not even discovered in 1967. So where does this take me, will I teach content or context? Will I teach about specifics or will I teach outcomes? I often use the example of a liter bottle, you can only put a liter in it and how we select and chose what goes in is the difficult part. Funny thing is compared to 1900 we have hundreds of times more information to learn and often with little context. Quantum Physics was not even around along with DNA and so many other aspects of science.
Countries have changed as have who and how events took place in history. So is it content or context? While great to know every date in US history I would rather know that the student can find the dates but can tie it all together and not simply give me facts. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Teachers are born not made.

Bird Droppings October 26, 2010
Teachers are born not made

I started this endeavor yesterday and got a bit side tracked and came back to it today. I walked out of the house and crickets were calling as loud as any day during the summer. It was warm and a front was moving through. The day was under way and it was great to be a teacher.
Over the years I have listened to great teachers in college, graduate school, in industry and in the pulpits of various churches. As I went through my teacher education I have been told that men should not teach elementary school, children should be seen and not heard and most of the traditional understandings of what makes a teacher. However within those few negative comments there were positive ideas as well. I heard Dr. Norman Vincent Peale many years ago talk about positive thinking. I heard Dr. Tony Campolo lecture in sociology and everyone left the class wanting to major in sociology. Dr. Glenn Doman in a small college in Texas lectured on human development in 1968 and it impacted me to a point that much of my reading and interest in human development for years to come centered on his ideas.

“….but say there was a student’s union. Might they ask that the dropout rate be lowered? Might they stay at the negotiating table until it was below 50%? We ought to ask kids whether they think the status quo is working.” Bill Gates

In 1972 or so I found a copy of Foxfire 2 at a bookstore and it fit right into the ideas I had about teaching. I was working with a group of Learning Disabled teenagers in Warner Robins Georgia and the hands on approach of Foxfire worked wonders. I asked students what they wanted to read and bought magazines rather than use elementary level books that were provided. Amazingly reading levels went up significantly. Sadly the principal attributed to her preferred reading curriculum and bought more of her elementary level books.

“From the beginning, learner choice, design, and revision infuses the work teachers and learners do together.” Foxfire Core Practice One
It is not nessasarily about technigue that I was intending to write but about that inborn flare for teaching an aspect that I see as an art form, you can compound that with the fact there is not a truly effective means to evaluate teachers. For example in our school a twenty minute observation one to three times a year along with a simple ten or so item check list is our system of evaluation. Time is a crucial factor with administration as to evaluate fifty to a hundred teachers time is paramount to completing an effective evaluation. Charlotte Danielson developed a very good program that has been incorporated in the ETS (Educational Testing Services) program of available tests and evaluation tools. However to be fair to a teacher it takes at least thirty six hours of observation to adequately evaluate with this tool. Most administrators are pushed for twenty minutes in today’s bare bones education budgets.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward
“Very little is invested in understanding great teaching. We’ve never had a meaningful evaluation system that identifies the demensions of great teachers so we can transfer the skills to others.” Bill Gates
If only we could find a way to effectively evaluate and understand what makes a great teacher. Why is it that kids know and respond accordingly?

The rest of the Foxfire Core Practices:
2. The work teachers and learners do together clearly manifests the attributes of the academic disciplines involved, so those attributes become habits of mind.
3. The work teachers and students do together enables learners to make connections between the classroom work, the surrounding communities, and the world beyond their communities.
4. The teacher serves as facilitator and collaborator.
5. Active learning characterizes classroom activities.
6. The learning process entails imagination and creativity.
7. Classroom work includes peer teaching, small group work, and teamwork.
8. The work of the classroom serves audiences beyond the teacher, thereby evoking the best efforts by the learners and providing feedback for improving subsequent performances.
9. The work teachers and learners do together includes rigorous, ongoing assessment and evaluation.
10. Reflection, an essential activity, takes place at key points throughout the work.

I have come back to these simple practices many times and each time it seems to me this is just good teaching. Working with the Foxfire Approach to teaching you find very quickly it does take a bit more work but results and the attitudes of kids make it worth the effort. Giving kids input to what it is they are learning adds significantly to retention and their own accountability. I have written about creativity being stripped away from schools in favor of teaching to the test. We seem to find the word accountability bounced around and use standardized tests to measure that accountability. A teacher is a great teacher if everyone passes the end of course test in their subject. Sounds perhaps like a good idea till you are the teacher with ten special needs students who also have to pass the test along with ten behavior problems who could care less whether they were in school or not. Now the great teacher is banging their head against the wall trying to survive and the students are literally working against them.
Essentially it comes to attitude as I started reading Dr. Donald Clifton’s book, How full is your bucket I found that the concept of a dipper and bucket is a good one. Over the weeks ahead as I finish the book I will be sure and use some quotes. In a nutshell we each have a bucket and dipper and either take out of or give to each other. The concept is if you are always giving you will never have an empty bucket. What if we could apply this simple concept in education? Looking at the idea of Foxfire and John Dewey’s democratic classroom and filling a bucket there are possibilities out there we could find a way to take the natural talents of a given teacher and assist them in bringing that out. If we could give students input and communicate and if we could get away from the methods and technique only approach to teaching we could maybe make a significant change in education. So here I am wondering why we do not much like arguing politics probably even the best solution will never see the light of day because of the powers that be. So as always please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Why do we consider thinking a bad word?

“Humans have the ability to shift perspective. We can experience the world through our senses. Or we can remove ourselves from our senses and experience the world even less directly. We can think about our life, rather than thinking in our life. We can think about what we think about our life, and we can think about what we think about that. We can shift perceptual positions many times over.” John J. Emerick

As a teacher do I build walls or doors?

Bird Droppings October 22, 2010
As a teacher do I build doors or walls?

I enjoy arriving at school while the stars are still shining over head I can remember when my youngest would ride to school with me; he is not quite as big a fan of that as I am. He misses that few extra moments of sleep each day. I was in Borders book store a few weeks ago and picked up a copy of James Bradley’s book Flags of our fathers. The opening quote is a very powerful, what if.

“Mothers should negotiate between nations. The mothers of fighting countries would agree: Stop this killing now. Stop it now.” Yoshikuni Taki

I have been in several meetings the past few weeks with teachers and parents. It has been a few days since my youngest son handed me a sheet of paper to sign up for a teacher parent conference in geometry. It appeared that he let a test or two slip by. Any student with a less than 75% grade is to have a conference, school rules. As I am thinking about comments from one of my meetings where a mother wanted the school to do what she was doing in keeping her children up with their work, because she was tired. Ideally it would be great each teacher spend time each day with each individual student. However if you do the calculations at one hundred and ten minutes or so per class and thirty plus students that is less than four minutes a piece if there is no start up or down time. Less than four minutes for each student.

“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein

This has been a favorite quote of mine for many years and hanging on the back of my classroom door where I can see it most of the day. As a parent and a teacher how do we make our parenting and or teaching so potent? How do we or should we provide a doorway or open the door for students and children?

“The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Could not this person be a parent, friend and or a teacher?

“John Dewey’s significance for informal educators lies in a number of areas. First, his belief that education must engage with and enlarge experience has continued to be a significant strand in informal education practice. Second and linked to this, Dewey’s exploration of thinking and reflection – and the associated role of educators – has continued to be an inspiration. We can see it at work, for example, in the models developed by writers such as David Boud and Donald Schön. Third, his concern with interaction and environments for learning provides a continuing framework for practice. Last, his passion for democracy, for educating so that all may share in a common life, provides a strong rationale for practice in the associational settings in which informal educators work.” Mark K. Smith 2001

So often as I sit and think about how do we work with kids and I recall ideas from John Dewey. This passage written by Mark Smith relates four thoughts from John Dewey’s philosophy engage and enlarge experience, Thinking and reflection, interactions and environments for learning, and democracy in the classroom.

Engage and enlarge experience: If we as teachers draw on what the child knows and has seen and touched and then build on that and develop so that we can move forward and or sideways or up and down.

“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” Aldus Huxley –

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced — even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it.” John Keats –

“Common experience is the gold reserve which confers an exchange value on the currency which words are; without this reserve of shared experiences, all our pronouncements are checks drawn on insufficient funds.” Rene Daume

Thinking and reflection: This is that aspect that Einstein refers to that has baffled the sages down through time – how to get students anyone to think and then as Dewey teaches reflect –

“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all.” Georges Bernanos –

“We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.” Buddha –

“Teachers and learners engage in conscious and thoughtful consideration of the work and the process. It is this reflective activity that evokes insight and gives rise to revisions and refinements.” The Foxfire Approach

Interaction and environments for learning: Providing an atmosphere that students want to be in is a key to success – Be it at home or at school if a child does not want to be there it is difficult to learn and to function –

“Course content is connected to the community in which the learners live. Learners’ work will “bring home” larger issues by identifying attitudes about and illustrations and implications of those issues in their home communities.” The Foxfire Approach –

“For industry to support education and training it must provide a relevant cost benefit to the employer. The content and design of the learning on offer must be capable of not only sustaining the candidate’s willingness and ability to learn but also respond to the ever changing environment within which industry operates.” Mike Goodwin, University of Wolver Hampton addressing the concept of negotiated work based learning

Having a context for learning by providing rationale and reason for what is being taught. Content is much easier to work with it is in the text book but providing context is where doors are created and opened.

Democracy in the class room:

“My own belief….is that a teacher’s stated views – and, more important, the visible actions which that teacher takes during a year in public school – are infinitely more relentless in their impact on the students than a wealth of books of any possible variety.” Jonathan Kozol, On Being a Teacher, p. 25

Students and children being actively involved in their class room changes often the direction and flow of learning.

“Students can be forced to sit through a class, but they cannot be forced to be interested in it, or to do well.” Alfie Kohn

“A visitor then to my democratic classroom in action would walk into a room in which students are working in groups or individually grappling with ideas that will later enrich the classroom. Deliberation and debate would be ongoing as students worked on issues and projects that mattered to them as both a class and as individuals. I as the teacher would not be the center point of the room but would instead be its facilitator and manager.” Ryan Niman

Parents, students, teachers and administrators each have involvement in a student’s learning. There is no specific script that is better than another. As I listened to a mother she wanted the school do take over all she did at home I wondered what are you going to do take a vacation. While she was tired and concerned those 16 hours away from school are as crucial as the eight or so that students spend in school. It is about getting sleep, proper nutrition, care and love which are all integral aspects of getting a child to learn and to have an appreciation for learning. Who opens the door and who creates the door sort of blend in and are not as important as that it is open and students and parents and teachers can each find their role and build. It is up to each of us to try and do just a little better each day in all that we do and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

How do we find democracy?

Bird Droppings October 20-21, 2010
How do we find democracy?

I often wonder why we have a dog last night was one of those as raced to get to the vet to pick our dog up after being boarded while we were in Florida. I some how hit every red light and every small batch of traffic as I tried to make it to the vet clinic before they closed. Today it actually was warmer than more recent nights and as I drove to school this morning the rain started. I do miss it when the sky is not crystal clear and Orion is covered in clouds. For a split second this morning our dog did not want to venture outside. As I turned back inside only to find as I stepped why my dog did not need to go out, a wonderful surprise I was standing in. My dog is still alive though I did threaten her life Funny how dog’s sense things maybe she felt the rain coming and she quickly retreated to the kitchen and then went and laid down on my wife’s chair sort of smiling at me. What you going to do now?
As I do so often each morning as I am looking in one place find another direction another thought. I have several of Dr. James Sutton’s books. Dr. Sutton’s lectures around the country on Conduct disorders and Oppositional Deviant Disorder, an interesting combination and as a teacher I see them all the time. Parents see some and in the work place many corporate issues and political issues stem from childhood issues such as these. I was looking through Dr. Sutton’s book 101 ways to make your class room special and found a website of Dr. Marvin Marshall Promoting Responsibility and learning, Dr. Marshall has developed a Hierarchy of Social Development. We need to send this to Washington as a reminder.

“A is for anarchy, B is for bullying, bossing around, C is for cooperation, conformity and D is for democracy – Level A is never acceptable, Level B is someone who needs to be bossed, level C is external and D is Internal” Dr. Marvin Marshall

One of the difficulties is many teachers and or leaders is they want their group to be a Level B or Level C because they want the authority and in doing so limit that group. Many teachers strive only for conformity and trying to go beyond that level is then difficult and or nearly impossible for the people under that type personality.

“At Level C, a person is not acting from an entirely genuine desire to be kind or respectful, tolerant, etc. Rather, at Level C, a person acts due to the presence or influence of someone else. Although this level is certainly acceptable (and even many adults never move past it in their own development), it is important for young people to understand that this is not the highest level of personal or social development.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

I think we all can relate to this level of socialization. I use a story from psychology where in an experiment a group of monkeys is trained to refrain from going after some bananas. It takes only a short time to have group influence on new members to the group. In the monkey story this is the level the monkeys operated on where the influences of others is the driving force and the limiting force. So often in society we place level C at the top and never mention anything better or higher.

“…it is important for young people to understand that this is not the highest level of personal or social development.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

By not telling and not disclosing an alternative allows for certain types of leaders and teachers to perpetuate their ideas and survive. Watching national politics unfold often the rules are made and remade to keep this type of system going even at a federal government level. When a malfunction occurs we quickly change the rule and always external reasons are the driving force.

“At Level D, a person is kind, (or tolerant, respectful, diligent, etc.), because he/she is motivated INTERNALLY. A person operating at this highest level of development acts kindly (tolerantly, respectfully, with diligence, etc.), WHETHER OR NOT someone is watching or supervising. At Level D, there is no desire to impress, be rewarded, or even be noticed. When operating at this very high level, a person acts in a kind, tolerant, respectful or diligent way without any EXTERNAL incentive to do so.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

I am sitting here sadly most people simply say no way it is not possible. It is way too mushy or no one acts that way. Yet educational leaders keep throwing it out. John Dewey in the early 1900’s proposed democracy in the class room. Back even further Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively on the issue enough that we remade the nickel for him of course on the other side is a buffalo which is a herding animal. Maybe that was the true hero of the coin and going back further to ancient Greeks democracy is a powerful word and tool when wielded. From Dr. Marshall a key thought for educators.

“When operating at this very high level, a person acts in a kind, tolerant, respectful or diligent way without any EXTERNAL incentive to do so.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

We escape from a discipline driven environment to a self motivating and stimulating structure.

“….a person of the highest character is motivated INTERNALLY to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

“Although Level C operation leads to decent relationships with others, a decision to operate more consistently at Level D naturally leads to EXCELLENT relationships and, additionally, a strong sense of self-esteem. By focusing on the benefits of operating at Level D (the great feelings of inner satisfaction that come from knowing that you are an authentic and genuinely motivated individual), I have found that young people become inwardly motivated to WANT to reach for this highest level of personal development more and more often.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

I have observed many times young teachers and industry leaders come in and feel they can build a level D in their class room and in their job. In a manner of weeks usually within six months they are steadfastly operating at level C. I mentioned fear over the years as a possible cause but it may be deeper that that. It is easier to function at a level C and easier to walk away and go home each night. The parameters are more clearly defined and established I was drawing an illustration from sheep raising. I can build an electric fence that will confine my sheep. If I build it right and it will be a deterrent to predators as well so movement in and out will curtail. However what if and this is a big if I develop, train, raise, and or educate self motivating sheep. Each morning they vote on which pasture to graze and when to return to the barn and on how long to stay out and other sheep issues. We become a level D sheep flock and no sheep dog is needed and many issues involving new sheep training can be done on a basic discussion level, bahhhh! One of the reasons level D is so hard to attain and even consider is so many leaders in the world look at people as sheep and will say they can not do this so instead the following exist.

“Cooperates – Does what is expected – Exhibits self-discipline, kindness, responsibility, reliance, etc.–when someone else is present to provide the motivation” Dr. Marvin Marshall

Good little children all in a row all are coloring with a red crayon just as I ask. It takes a renegade or an instigator to mix up desks and to offer other colors. But with a little thinking and a little confidence in the resources of mankind it is possible and students employees can achieve.

“Develop self-discipline – Show kindness to others – Develop self-reliance – Demonstrate responsibility – Do good because it is the right thing to do.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

Attaining a democracy is truly not all that hard it takes a bit more humility and a bit more concern for your people or students, “because it is the right thing to do.” Today is a new day a wonderful day I went out earlier and it was still cool this morning so I did not sit on my porch and listened to the morning crickets as most were quiet and few were out. Today I had to only imagine and sat down to write so please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Always looking for definitive meaning

Bird Droppings October 19, 2010
Always looking for definitive meaning

Today I walked out into the darkness and was hoping for some rain as the promised cold front collided with the warm front and rain was supposed to be falling. I may have been too foggy to realize till I was alone and did not have our dog with me for a walk. Our dog was still at the vet for boarding and shots from our trip to Florida. I recall being given an assignment nearly six years ago by a professor it was a special reading on a book that was published in the seventies by an educator considered very much the renegade. Ivan Illich published Deschooling Society in 1971. He was a scholar of theology, philosophy, history and psychology, and he was at one time a parish priest, philosopher, college professor and thinker and educator.

“…imagination is “schooled” to accept service in place of value. Medical treatment is mistaken for health care, social work for the improvement of community life, police protection for safety, military poise for national security, the rat race for productive work.” Ivan Illich

My initial reading offered a view of the early 1970’s philosophy of the premise that the establishment is wrong. Watching what changes and evolutionary trends in society have taken from the hippie days of the 70’s through the overly materialistic 80’s into an era of ambiguity in the 90’s to an era of show me results in the now 2000’s education has evolved. We speed through time and life watching from the windows of a tour bus. A few days ago I was talking with students and watching imagination slip by. I asked several students to design and come up with a super hero in a matter of moments one handed me a character with a comic strip and logo and complete package. I said you did not create this and he was convinced he had. He had found a website that literally lets you create from templates a super hero I tried to explain how taking a paper doll and changing outfits is not creating the doll. However in a world of results he came through with quite a package and in our societal view of things probably would have scored well on that task for some teachers.
One of my favorites is going on line and buying prewritten papers even original papers from high school through doctorate level papers written by ghost writers who even take credit cards as well.

“Imagination is the process by which we say that an image is presented to us” Aristotle

I thought back to my younger days when play time was a few sticks and a patch of scrub we called the jungle. Nowadays we could have laser guns and vests to record kills along with camouflage outfits and night vision rather than night eyes. A good question do you remember the term night eyes which is allowing your vision to adjust to the dark. I was going to the car yesterday morning and I habitual walk out in the dark I happened to go towards where our trash cans were located along side the house. My son waited till I came back into the light to head for the car which was interesting at the time. Being the observer that I tend to be, I asked why he waited.
Night eyes are that point where darkness is revealed and you can move and see to a degree in the dark. If you would shine a flash light in your eyes at night it ruins your night vision and your night eyes. Modern kids have halide flash lights with adjustable sealed beams and or fluorescent lights for maximum visibility. By far I am not against technology and advances but we have stripped away the imagination. There is a doctor show on that many folks watch, HOUSE. An interesting approach as each week Dr. House is faced with an incurable and untreatable illness. It is always totally baffling to his crew of trained residents. I recall many years ago a dear friend who was trained at Grady Hospital as a nurse back in the day. Emory University is a well known nursing program and medical school and they would send new doctors to Grady for residency. Often times this was their first experience in a real medical situation. Grady student nurses often would have to cover for Emory Doctors. They knew what they saw rather than knew what they had read.

“Imagination makes knowledge of the phenomenal world possible, by synthesizing the incoherent sensory manifold into representational images suitable to be brought under concepts.” Emmanuel Kant

I enjoy watching the scruffy doctor doodle on his white board eliminating possibilities while totally baffling his three assistants with questions trying to get them thinking using their imaginations.

“One day, a Rajah’s son asked, “Father, what is reality?” “An excellent question, my son. Come, everyone, we will go to the marketplace.” So the rajah and his son went outside and mounted their royal elephant. The rest of the entourage followed on foot. When they got to the marketplace, the rajah commanded, “Bring me 3 blind men.” When the blind men arrived, the rajah commanded, “Place one blind man at the elephant’s tusk, one at the elephant’s leg and one at the elephant’s tail.” When that was done, the rajah said, “Describe the elephant to me, blind men.” The man at the tusk said, “It’s like a spear.” The man at the leg said, “It’s like a tree.” The man at the tail said, “It’s like a rope.” As the men started to argue, the rajah said to his son, “Reality, my son, is the elephant. And we are all blind men.”” Ancient Hindu proverb

When we train our imagination to be limited, to be only that which we have been schooled in and trained in the limits are set and the parameters are laid and we are in a sense stifled in truly finding answers. Dr. House’s students are limited by the texts they studied from as our many students who have been trained schooled in most institutions today. We have been taught that this is the right direction even when many paths are there and you can only go this way. There is only one way. Just a few years back a school district in the Atlanta area added a label to their, (occasionally I actually use the other spelling of there, there’re are four, there, their, there’re and thur as in ova thur) textbooks a disclaimer on evolution.
I always wonder when I see a one way sign what if I go that way granted in down town traffic in Atlanta on a one way street you may end up smooshed. But what about when conditions allow wouldn’t it be great to see a street from a different view than normal. Would it not be nice to see the other side of buildings you do not normally get to see? Perhaps even to meet people you never saw because they were always walking the other direction. There are days when I stand in the middle of the hallways during rush time in school simply to get a different view a different perspective of life. I miss the jungle; my kids had paradise which was what they called a outcropping of stone with piles of rocks and pebbles. Many the time if we searched for the kids they would be sitting playing at paradise although many times with hot wheels and transformers but still imagination running wild.
I found out several years ago a child hood friend bought the jungle I emailed him last night what a small world we have sitting there thinking back to childhood which really does not seem all that far away. I often wondered if it was to save that memory he bought hat small patch of land. I would like to think so in today’s digital sanitized deodorized world. So today please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Thinking ahead

Bird Droppings October 18, 2010
Thinking ahead

Occasionally I will have a crazy thought although my students will say occasionally I have a normal thought and that would be more like it. They are insinuating most of my thoughts are crazy. My youngest son wed this past weekend and the ceremony was held under an ancient live oak tree named the Sentry Tree for standing watch over the bay during the Civil War. The great tree is several hundred years old and is covered with Spanish moss as are s many of the oaks along the coast in Florida. Ferns and other plants grew along the tops of the branches almost an ecosystem of its own. I spent several hours each day we were down in Florida sitting listening to the sounds under that great oak tree. I walked out to the bay and looked and listened to what nature had to show me. Numerous birds and flowers all special to Florida greeted me as I pondered so many tings this past weekend.
However I got to thinking as I was driving home yesterday and since I was being lazy today I did not get up till later and did not have to walk the dog so I missed seeing the stars and moon as it snuck behind the pines. But I sat down in my chair and thought, what if when we were born the hospital tattooed on your left foot made in what ever country and a hospital code for example and then underneath that an expiration date. You would know the exact moment, hour, day and year you will die. I started thinking at what point I would change how I lived. My students were arguing with me about living it up since my birthday is coming up and I will be sixty one. Their philosophy was you only live once go party live it up. So I was wondering knowing exactly how many days you have to do whatever it is you will do would you change anything knowing the exact moment of your demise.

“There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.” Joseph Addison

It has been some time since I first used the concept of a puzzle to explain how our life progresses each of the pieces falling into place, each interconnected to the next. As I speak with people I use this comparison, often showing how each aspect of our lives ties to the next and how consequence comes from even the smallest of things. Knowing we had a limited amount of time to finish our puzzle would we do anything different? I think it is amazing as I think of what if we still had no directions and were floundering in trying to get things done I wonder when panic would set in.

“There are no rewards or punishments — only consequences.” Dean William R. Inge

“Whatever our creed, we feel that no good deed can by any possibility go unrewarded, no evil deed unpunished.” Orison Swett Marden

We have to take each piece as it comes and try and build from there. Each element leads to the next, a building block of sorts, as we travel through life, a deed leads to a consequence and then to another and another, each beyond the next.

“Men must try and try again. They must suffer the consequences of their own mistakes and learn by their own failures and their own successes.” Lawson Purdy

“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” Sir Joseph Stamp

As I wonder about my words and events that yet will play out today, I daily use the term ABC, Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. In life, everything we do involves these three elements. Each aspect of our existence is preceded by an event, a happening that causes the behavior, no matter how subtle that event is. The behavior in turn leads to a consequence it is so simple, so clean it’s actually pretty cool. We respond and soon cover up, ABC. What if we could analyze all events so simply and plan our day. I do this, then that, this, then that all day long. However, conversely we tend to do this with students as well, if we see an event about to happen we can change the antecedent and alter behavior and of course the consequence. Managers in business do this as well as retailers are doing it as we sit and read, altering our buying for this holiday season through various sales specials etc. In reality through consequence the world is controlled so how do we keep our heads up and still be unique, and independent.

“Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.” Mary Wollstonecraft

It was a many months back I was introduced to Mary Wollstonecraft a person who was ahead of her time, the ultimate feminist. She was writing about issues under her name and pen names, often a man’s name to get her point out. Her fire and zeal were passed on to her daughter Mary Shelly who penned the novel Frankenstein and was married to another great writer and poet Percy Shelly. How do we maintain within the struggle, to be who we are?

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank

“Ideals are like the stars: we never reach them, but like the mariners of the sea, we chart our course by them.” Carl Schurz

How do we? I was thinking yesterday about my own direction in life one day going here and there and a slight bump and left turn and heading else where. Do we have focal points to guide us, stars as Schurz states? Can we find our way home when we get lost in life? I wonder at times even as pieces of the great puzzle fall into place. Maybe the pieces are wrong, maybe this is not where I am to be but as events slow down and the fog clears we can see even the most confusing of life’s events seems to work out. I was reading yesterday a new book, Spirits of The Earth by Bobby Lake Thom. He starts the book with a prayer that I would like to end with today.

“I ask that you bless our elders and children, families and friends, and the brothers and sisters that are in prison. I pray for the ones sick on drugs and alcohol, and for those who are homeless and forlorn. I pray for peace among the four races of mankind. May there be good healing for this earth. May there be beauty above me. May there be beauty below me. May there be beauty in me. May there be beauty all around me. I ask that our world be filled with peace, love and beauty.” Medicine Grizzly Bear, 1990

So easy to sit and write, yet around us, so much going on would we change anything if we knew our expiration date I wonder. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird