I have found over the years you can not fence a friend

Bird Droppings October 14, 2010
I have found over the years you can not fence a friend

I am sitting in my kitchen a bit later than normal since we are out of school today writing trying to get everything done before we leave for Florida and my youngest sons wedding Saturday. There are so many thoughts going through my head as I ponder getting old and hopefully a bit wiser as I go. It is times like this you remember friends and days gone by.

“ONE THING WE LEARN, or should learn, as we grow older is to keep our friendships in repair; otherwise they deteriorate with time and weather, just like a neglected fence.” Sydney J. Harris, Keeping Friendship in repair, Strictly Personal

It has been nearly eight years since a fellow teacher offered me an article to read by Sydney J. Harris. I was smitten by his words impressed might even be a better word and went a bit farther in my reading and researching and found a website that had his old columns attached. Each is filled with common sense and wisdom, Harris’s ideas and thoughts were read in over 200 newspapers around the country during his life time.
After reading Harris’s articles I began to look as well at columnists in my own papers each day, just to see what I was missing. So a word of advice, keep your eyes open, there may be right in front of you some very good reading. As I looked at this note from SJH it reminded me of my farm days not all that long ago. Back in the day we would be pulling wire, setting fence posts and building corner braces almost on a daily basis keeping three hundred plus momma sheep, fifty cows and assorted exotics penned up.
When you drive around our section of Georgia you can see many times where fence rows had been by trees growing in lines. Most often it will be cedar, wild cherry trees and wild plum trees, which will follow a fence line, and after many years of neglect all that is left are the trees. It has been quite a few years back I went by a local saw mill to get some green pine boards, fresh cut lumber to side a barn with. Lying on the ground was a large log, it happened to be a black walnut tree trunk easily 24 inches in diameter and twenty feet long. I was curious about it since most everything in the area was pine logs and boards. The sawmill operator told me he had found this tree during a cutting and it was one of the few he has ever found of that size without fence marks. In other words no wire had ever been attached and grown into the tree which leaves imperfections in the wood. As a result it was priceless and he was going to use it for his own house and sell the rest for veneer. Most city folk have never strung wire through trees. Trying to put posts in any sort of straight line can be rough, it is so much easier to tack wire to a tree.

“One of my biggest regrets is a friendship I failed to keep in repair, some years ago, for the usual insufficient reasons – lack of time, too many other concerns, travel, and family affairs. Then, when I finally got around to it, my friend had died while I was out of town and I learned about it only later. This was a bitter experience, because he needed old friends in his last, struggling year, and I was not there to give even moral support. This remains an indelibly black mark against my character.” Sydney J. Harris

As I ponder this comparison between fence and friendship I do see similarities but I see differences as well. I as thinking of fencing and friendship and how confining fencing could be and friendship is not or should not be yet that aspect of keeping in repair is so crucial and from a farming standpoint, I can see the comparison

“No one really understands friendship, any more than we understand a romantic affinity. It is more, and different, than a meeting of minds, a conjunction of interests, a similarity of backgrounds, though it may include all these things.” Sydney J. Harris

“One of my dearest friends disagreed with me about almost everything in the world – the only thing we agreed upon was that we liked, enjoyed, and trusted each other. If you have this, you don’t need anything else; and if you don’t, nothing else matters.” Sydney J. Harris

As I sit here thinking back to days gone by and a conversation I had yesterday with a friend from way gone by. All of my life I have had few friends and yet many. For some people have friends to confide in, talk with but for me it has always been different. As I look back on years gone by and relationships and fences there have been times when trying to build a friendship was like fence building, confining, restricting and then there have been times, it was more as Harris depicts, using a fence simply as an illustration of how friendship too can fall through disrepair, even death. Several weeks back I mentioned an illustration I was using in talking about feedback between teachers and students, it is also very applicable to friendship.
For many relationships, they are parasitic, each feeding off the other. Then we move to a symbiotic relationship where each is their own, yet they need each other and finally to an osmotic relationship where the fence is now semi permeable and ideas and thoughts pass freely back and forth. We still have confines, by definition of friendship, but within the walls there are no confines and this is a difficult task. It is one that takes effort and work and is harder to maintain than any farm fence, even when nailing to trees. Today check your fences, see if they need repairing and work on your friendships. Here in Georgia a warm fall afternoon cool and crisp. a day off from teaching with our fall intersession time to catch up on reading and writing and pondering and time to mend fences so to say please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart .

Is wisdom knowing the difference between success and failure

Bird Droppings October 13, 2010
Is wisdom, knowing the difference between success and failure?

“Wisdom is not taught. Systems are taught. Wisdom comes from experiencing life.” James Kavanaugh, Celebrate the Sun

A friend was writing about her success as a writer in her daily blog and most responded monetarily with the old adage that money is the definitive aspect of success. I added differently using several quotes and thoughts following.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out…” Robert Collier

How do we determine success and or failure for that matter? Technically within a given body of information we could establish that this or that is success and this or that is failure. Somewhere in a recent class, playing with a bell shaped curve and noting that fifty percent was average. I explained average as fifty percent are better and fifty percent are less than. In education, or I should say in many regards, we see the term below average that tends to be someone on the down side of the bell shaped curve. I was privileged to a conversation where we are going to raise the bar. It is interesting how bell shaped curves will not change fifty percent will be above and fifty percent will be below average. A student who was below average before raising the bar is still below average now. So what did raising the bar actually do?

“It’s simply a matter of doing what you do best and not worrying about what the other fellow is going to do.” John R. Amos

“You are wholly complete and your success in life will be in direct proportion to your ability to accept this truth about you.” Dr. Robert Anthony

“Success, or failure, very often arrives on wings that seem mysterious to us.” Dr. Marcus Bach

For many educators, success and failure is comparing their notes to the notes of experts and then back again and we need this here and there and that or here and there. In studies in upper New York City, children from Atlanta compare favorably and those from Southern Florida seem a bit different. Funny thing is I raised three boys, all intelligent and all different where do they lie on the bell shaped curve?

“Character is more important than intelligence for success.” Gilberte Beaux

“Ones best success comes after their greatest disappointments.” Henry Ward Beecher

I was thinking back to my own days in high school, I did not want to be in school, I really did not like high school. My grades put me about near the bottom of my graduating class. I was definitely on the bottom end of the bell shaped curve; I had my share of F’s and D’s. As I went on to college, thanks to significant SAT scores my education was really not moving well at all and my first experience as a freshman had my GPA at near record I am told, a lot less than a one on a four point scale. I was pushing the bell shaped curve to the max.

“The measure of a man’s success must be according to his ability. The advancement he makes from the station in which he was born gives the degree of his success.” Sir Walter Besant

“A young person, to achieve, must first get out of his mind any notion either of the ease or rapidity of success. Nothing ever just happens in this world.” Edward William Bok

As I sit here and review my own life had I been in today’s high school setting I would have been a statistic on the wrong end of the bell shaped curve. I have been through much in my life, each aspect built upon the past. I was at Quick Trip recently and several former students from eight years ago came up to me. Amazing it was about things we discussed in class. This was coming from students who quit school, and had been in jail numerous times. I wonder were they a success or failure. I watched the one fellow holding his baby son and he mentioned how much what we talked about meant to him. Maybe that failure was a success? How do we measure character?

“Behind every successful man there’s a lot of unsuccessful years.” Bob Brown

“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.” Pearl S. Buck

“The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.” Dale Carnegie

Yesterday I had a student come in with her paper on a disc granted she should have done the paper somewhere before the night it was due. I was able to salvage three of six pages. In saving her paper she had corrupted the disc and did not save to her hard drive so her groups work was lost and this was a large portion of her grade. Her teacher was very upset and she would get no credit even though I could show it was on the disc but irretrievable. Was this a success or failure? I find it interesting to say the least. What about the student who goes into an End of Course Test and Christmas trees because he knows he is failing and that grade will not change his final grade. He does affect the norm of the test which really is of no matter to him and his grade does affect the schools over all standing in a minute way but does that matter to him? So where did he fail in the taking of the test? His attitude about that class and or teacher or has he failed in that matter himself?

“To know a man, observe how he wins his object, rather than how he loses it; for when we fail, our pride supports; when we succeed; it betrays us.” Charles Caleb Colton

“To succeed means that you may have to step out of line and march to the sound of your own drummer.” Keith Degreen

As I wonder about such endeavors I think about myself have I been a success and is this where it really comes down to it. I look back at failures and defeats, be it within school or in life and business. Did those lead to another level, another direction, to where I am now? My own failures were a guide to where I am now. Is that where I will be ten years from now, a year from now? Perhaps not but at this point success is measured in the heart and soul; it is measured in character, in conviction and in whether or not to take another step.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can always fall back on Emerson. It is really is “to know life has breathed easier because you have lived”. I read that and recalled walking into the grocery store and a mother thanking me and yes, I have been successful. I started with a James Kavanaugh quote from on of his books and the following is from a website dedicated to James Kavanaugh.

“Being one of the “Searchers” of life does not mean we will have THE answer to life when we need it most. One of the common threads that run though all of the writings of Jim is that the answer comes from within and may reveal itself through the person sitting next to you on a bus or in the car next to you as you commute another day to that life sucking, dead end job from hell. We must always remember can change our world because”

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

Seeing our purpose in life

Bird Droppings October 12, 2010
Seeing our purpose in life

It has been over five years since I started writing this piece. I went out this morning with many questions on my mind. I Have a significant paper to write, a wedding coming up to officiate, a new grandbaby on the way, new and old students and how to deal with them when I get to school and pondering with each breath if I have chosen wisely. It was cool as I walked out and rearranged a few stones in the back yard. I walked to the corner where I could see a glimpse of the sunrise as it is too early maybe I could think about a sunrise was more like it. I was reading earlier a college student’s frustration in life and love on her xanga account and glanced over birthdays and postings in facebook.
As I am listening to teenagers at school so often we limit ourselves to what we know now. Obviously it is hard to assume we will know more lately, but children at some point lose that aspect. It may be at puberty where imagination and thinking of what could be and how dissipate. Maybe that is why middle school kids are so hard to deal with they are locked in the now more so than any other age losing the ability to see ahead and not knowing enough to ponder anything else. However often I wonder about my own purpose in life, why am I here?

“Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.” Richard Bach

Every once in a while I find a quote from Richard Bach that strikes me. I remember reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull in the early seventies and it made sense. I would wager today most high schoolers and even college students would have a difficult time or find it too childish. A good friend offered up a book by James Kavanaugh, known for his controversial 1967 bestseller, A Modern Priest Looks at His Outdated Church, calling for reform in the Catholic church, Celebrate the Sun, a sort of whimsical story about Harry Lagendorf Pelican. Each author took a whimsical look at the human condition and solutions in differing directions. Kavanaugh’s book is on my list for Christmas.
When I was very young I felt I had a mission in life some great event perhaps I was to accomplish. As I got older and perhaps wiser that event became my life’s puzzle slowly falling in place each aspect piece by piece.

“The need for self-actualization is the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. People who have everything can maximize their potential. They can seek knowledge, peace, esthetic experiences, self-fulfillment, and oneness with God, etc. It is usually middle-class to upper-class students who take up environmental causes, join the Peace Corps, go off to a monastery, etc.” © 1997, Robert Gwynne, based on Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of needs” –

“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission.” Mourning Dove, Salish

I have seen her name spelled several different ways Morning Dove and Mourning Dove; she was from the Salish tribe and a healer or a medicine woman. Maslow in his development of a hierarchy of needs has self actualization as the top of his needs pyramid. Such terms as self fulfillment, a self purpose and finding yourself have been tossed around as well. Native American thought has each aspect of our existence with purpose each as sacred and all are intertwined. I found myself explaining that to my son many days ago as we drove towards town. He had asked me, “What did you think of the pope”? An interesting question out of the blue, I used and borrowed from Mourning Dove all has purpose and all is sacred each unto their own. Is he a great man? Is he sacred? Is he to be revered? These are questions to answer from your heart and not for me to answer.

“Each of our acts makes a statement as to our purpose.” Leo Buscaglia

“The presence of a long-term, conscious goal has helped me maintain stability through the ubiquitous changes of over half a century.” Mary Craig

“Everything in the universe has a purpose. Indeed, the invisible intelligence that flows through everything in a purposeful fashion is also flowing through you.” Wayne Dyer

Perhaps we lose purpose in this disposable society. Many weeks back when I was privileged to participate in a session of training in Foxfire technique we toured the Foxfire museum a step back in Mountain life to an earlier day when each plant tree and leave had significance. The late Robert Murray was our tour guide and curator of the property and he would stop at a patch of weeds and pull a leave.

“plantago major – common plantain – white man’s foot print – Medicinally, plantain is astringent, demulcent, emollient, cooling, vulnerary, expectorant, antimicrobial, antiviral, antitoxin, and diuretic. It affects blood sugar, usually lowering it. It has been used to treat lung disorders and stomach problems. For these purposes, a tea is made from either the leaves or the whole plant and taken internally. This same tea may be used as a mouthwash to treat sores in the mouth and toothaches. It may also be used externally to treat sores, blisters, insect bites and stings, hemorrhoids, burns, rashes, and other skin irritations. Alternatively, a poultice of the leaves may be applied to the afflicted area. This is probably plantain’s most common use. For relief from a bee sting or insect bite, simply shred (or chew) a plantain leaf and hold it on the bite for a few minutes.” Robert at Foxfire and that was in about ten seconds

We would get a complete summary of the what was once a weed, just a plant and now was a pharmacy. I remember using the seed heads to shoot at each other as kids. As we walked each tree, Sweet Birch used as a tooth brush, plants such as mint and so forth all had significance. Many days ago I took a leave of white sage to school and let students smell and explained for Native Americans this was a scared plant used as incense and in teas to calm. You can use several leaves in boiling water and make a very relaxing tea. We have lost that closeness to nature that dependence on what is around us in our plastic world.

“What makes life dreary is the want of a motive.” George Eliot

“Men achieve certain greatness unawares, when working to another aim.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Needs are proponent”. A proponent need is one that has the greatest influence over our actions. Everyone has a proponent need, but that need will vary among individuals. A teenager may have a need to feel that he/she is accepted by a group. A heroin addict will need to satisfy his/her cravings for heroin to function normally in society, and will not worry about acceptance by other people.

“When the deficiency needs are met: At once other (and higher) needs emerge, and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still higher) needs emerge, and so on. As one desire is satisfied, another pops up to take its place.” Abraham Maslow

As our needs change in effect does our purpose. Emerson addresses we end up unaware as we journey often becoming greatly unaware of that as we gain it. Eliot speaks of motive a knowing of where we go or a direction. Dr. Maslow uses the concept of needs in a hierarchy of as we fulfill or satisfy one we reach a higher need. Looking back I find primitives seem to have a more complex view than we moderns and a more appreciative view of all around us.

“Be above it! Make the world serve your purpose, but do not serve it.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I think many take Goethe’s view and seek to make the world serve your purpose.

“Multitudes of people, drifting aimlessly to and fro without a set purpose, deny themselves such fulfillment of their capacities, and the satisfying happiness which attends it. They are not wicked, they are only shallow. They are not mean or vicious; they simply are empty — shake them and they would rattle like gourds. They lack range, depth, and conviction. Without purpose their lives ultimately wander into the morass of dissatisfaction. As we harness our abilities to a steady purpose and undertake the long pull toward its accomplishment, rich compensations reward us. A sense of purpose simplifies life and therefore concentrates our abilities; and concentration adds power.” Kenneth Hildebrand

Daily I see students like this floundering wandering aimlessly like empty hollow gourds to shake and rattle.

“The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” Ken Hudgins

We have lost appreciation for life in our disposable world we seem to forget that all about us was once alive. As we timber old growth forest and try and pretend we can grow it back in 500 years. As we strip the world of rain forest that has taken tens of thousands of years to develop. According to some it all is alive each rock, each plant, each aspect of our existence and we ourselves find no significance in it far too often.

“Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.” Richard Bach

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

A friend posted about a sunset in New York City as she came home from work and how that had become a significantly good part of her day seeing the sunrise and set. My days of wandering the pastures late at night walking up on our buffalo as… they slept are gone. I am now content to sit by the fire in our home and walk out into the back yard of our country home and listen to the morning. I still find purpose in each breath and in seeing each leave and twig as I walk about. I still look to see the red tailed hawk cross my path and wonder as my own puzzle pieces fall into place. Richard Bach has given us an ultimatum we can choose to use that and seek further or simply be as many do see this world as disposable and for them we are too. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart. namaste

Words can or are wisdom

Bird Droppings October 11, 2010
Words can be or are wisdom

I am sitting here at least thinking about writing papers for grad school and word’s is what is on my mind right now. I just commented on a facebook post about learning languages and how I know enough in several languages to survive and order chicken and rice. Within the past several weeks I have watched comments from politicians made and the rebutted by same person which I find most interesting. Native Americans lived this trend back in the day as treaties were made and broken all in a few years only to be well sorry we got the wording wrong or you misunderstood what we were saying. When we said we were going to kill off the buffalo here we meant all buffalo not just those slowing the train down.

“He believes profoundly in silence – the sign of a perfect equilibrium. Silence is the absolute poise or balance of body, mind, and spirit.” Ohiyesa, Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman, Santee Sioux

Trained as a physician Dr. Eastman was also a profound and eloquent speaker for the Sioux nation. So often when we speak it is only words spilling out of a bucket filled to over flowing with political correct jargon. A barrage of often meaningless dribble that just is there waiting to explode. Such plain and nice platitudes as hello how are you, how’s the family the job and numerous other familiar little blips we tend to throw at people we meet.

“Silence is the mother of truth, for the silent man was ever to be trusted, while the man ever ready with speech was never taken seriously.” Chief Luther Standing Bear, Teton Sioux

“In my opinion it was chiefly owing to their deep contemplation in their silent retreats in the days of youth that the old Indian orators acquired the habit of carefully arranging their thoughts.” Blackbird, Ottawa

So often in our haste we blurt out words that become meaningless simply because we feel we should be talking. As I look at the words of these great Native American orators often it was in their silence and reflection that wisdom shown through. Sadly we will never see the silence. There was not a hasty response that was spontaneous and not thought through each word was carefully chosen so as to impact and bring the point to the listener. For many words were sacred and a privilege to use and to speak. I was thinking wouldn’t that be great if every ADHD child thought before they spoke. We would not need medications, in school suspensions, and behavior modification anymore. There would be fewer bars of soap sold as parents would not have to wash any mouths out, thinking back to my wife’s favorite movie “the Christmas Story” as Ralphie gets his mouth washed out.

“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into out hearts” Cochise, Chiricahaua Apache

Known as a great warrior as well as spokesman for the Apache, Cochise was feared and revered by many. So often listening to the fabrications of teenagers as a teacher you do enjoy silence and or truth. So many times exaggerations flow like water each telling of a story embellishes on the next and so forth till some where perhaps reality really did occur.

“Good words do not last long unless they amount to something.” Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

Growing up I recall stories of Chief Joseph and how his people avoided the army and won numerous skirmishes in there attempted flight to freedom in Canada. After being rejected by the Canadian Government they had no alternative but to surrender and Joseph’s speech has been quoted by many ever since.

“I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk.” Chief Joseph

I watch our politicians talk out one side of the mouth and down the other it is like going to a used car lot and watching used car sales folks at work. What do you believe? Watching news today is not really watching news it is ok what do I believe and what is fantasy. Papers on the rack at grocery stores alter photos so we see what the story implies. Investigators are trying to blame someone with the misinformation on Iraq that lead to the war. We now know most of what we were told were lies yet we are told the people lying were only misinformed. It becomes confusing as I am sure years ago when soldiers would explain peace treaties with numerous lines of fine print. One famous line read, “As long as the buffalo roam” to a plains tribe who lived off the vast herds of migratory buffalo numbering over fifty million on one count that would be was forever. However a new Sharps rifle accurate to over a thousand yards and a healthy trade in buffalo hides quickly reduced the herds to a handful and we said as long as the buffalo roam and they are gone. We do this today in politics, in schools and in life getting commitment based on something we already know.

“I would have been better pleased if you had never made promises, than that you should have made them and not performed them.” Shinguaconse

We so often tell little stories to a point it becomes habit and soon we are caught up in our stories with no return.

“Always tell the truth – it’s the easiest to remember.” David Mamet

Thinking as I go about that simple statement by Mamet, if we only took our own advice and just tell the truth and you do not need to have anything to remember. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Whay are we missing Creativity

Bird Droppings October 10, 2010
Why are we missing Creativity?

This was another quiet morning as I wandered out a bit too chilly for crickets and frogs although later in the day several tree frogs visited around the house. The air was still not a breeze as I sat in my old wicker rocking chair on the front porch. I was listening to the stillness and quiet something about the lack of hum of air conditioners just before we all turn on our heating systems. I enjoy my morning chorus yet today perhaps with numerous ideas running through my head quiet was good for a change. I was thinking about students and how to deal with issues confronting several. I was thinking of my own children growing up a wedding next weekend for my youngest son and all that encompasses. I was thinking selfishly about directions for life and future, so many thoughts and so little time.
I have always been amazed at creativity and often the lack there of in some students maybe we strip it away in favor of repetition and memorizing of bits and pieces and then say someone is so creative for repeating exactly what was plugged in during class.

“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 considered the idea perpetuated by Piaget of stages of development in children as they learn as a basis for many aspects of human life and the development of creativity is a crucial one.

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” Edward De Bono

A number of years ago my youngest son was recommended for the gifted program in his elementary school. The various testing consisted of achieving beyond a certain point in three out of four areas and one was creativity. After he was tested, the person testing commented he went off the charts in creativity. It is so easy to stifle creativity throughout our lives we are trained to conform often in ways we never really understand.

“The creative person wants to be a know -it -all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth -century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. It is because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen.” Carl Ally

Years ago I would read encyclopedias cover to cover and always I wondered why. Why things were as they were and so much more. As I look at my thinking on Piaget, often time’s children are held back in thinking by a parent or teacher and miss a stage, so to say, in their development. It could be it intellectually, spiritually or even physically and often not intentionally.

“First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” Robert Cecil Day-Lewis

“Creativity is essentially a lonely art. An even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing. To others a curse. It is in reality the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea.” Lou Dorfman

I see every day students that have been limited in their ability to achieve. A teacher here did not look beyond a failing grade, due to a reading issue, and labeled that student. A parent perhaps, never home never provided emotional guidance to their child. A pastor’s words perhaps, far too critical pushed a child away from faith. It may have happened in stages, or steps in development process and so pushed away or torn away in some cases, leaving blanks, hollows, difficult to fill.

“The legs are the wheels of creativity.” Albert Einstein

“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” Anna Freud

I agree to a point with Ms. Freud eventually a creative mind will push through but when we so diligently hold them back irreparable damage can occur. I watched a young man working on a project in my class room he had been labeled by many as incorrigible and a slow learner. He was working in a project that required much hands on creativity no other student measured pieces quite to the extent he has on this project. As he was setting up templates and measuring guides as he worked and he was several days behind others not because he is slow but in deliberation and perfection.

“Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.” Erich Fromm

“Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they (creative people) are willing to make silly mistakes. The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless. The creative person is flexible — he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.” Frank Goble

Maybe that is the difference and that might be flexibility, a creative person is flexible.

“The desire to create continually is vulgar and betrays jealousy, envy, ambition. If one is something one really does not need to make anything –and one nonetheless does very much. There exists above the “productive” man a yet higher species.” Fredrick Nietzsche

“The person who can combine frames of reference and draw connections between ostensibly unrelated points of view is likely to be the one who makes the creative breakthrough.” Denise Sherarjian

Many days ago as I was reading Yahoo news a story came across and as in Yahoo news was only there a brief second or two and a new story more important came over the internet. The movie Rain Man is based on this man from Utah, a magna savant, which is a person whose memory and intelligence is increasing as he grows older. NASA is studying his development. He has read 9000 books and can pull from them any passage instantly and precisely. He is fluent in and on a genius level in 15 subjects yet can not dress himself or find his way home. For this person memory is all and yet there is little or no potential for creativity quite a paradox.

“Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” Robert Wieder

If only we could always encourage creativity. If we only we were not afraid so many times of creative people. If only we would lift up ideas and thoughts and try not to stifle new thinking. I wonder would we progress as humans perhaps but it sure would be interesting trying. As I think back in history so often those in power have stifled creativity wanting to keep to the status quo. It has been a number of years since I received an invitation to a solo art show unfortunately in New York City from a friend. Creativity has kept her soul growing and expanding some will love her style and art and others will walk away. I was thinking back to impressionists who many distained in their life times and now bring literally hundreds of millions for paintings. Another friend writes and her writing has changed as she is changing. She went into teaching and this opened windows for her ideas and flow of thoughts. Working with children tends to make us creative just to keep up. A new week and new season upon us as the cool weather brings color to the trees and stillness to the mornings. I wonder what this world would be like if we taught creativity in all grades. What if we looked for rainbows rather than simply black and white? What if we tried in see in a kaleidoscopic view rather than in a microscopic? I wonder but for now please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

It is all connected and intertwined

Bird Droppings October 9, 2010
It is all connected and intertwined

As I thought about the Sydney J. Harris passage below and walked out to a quiet spot where I meditate something hit me. As I faced east towards the rising sun the gossamer threads of life interconnected with everything. They were iridescent and softly moving with the wind. Occasionally one thread would disconnect and float effortlessly upwards sparkling and dancing as it went ever so slow. Each twig, each plant and leave seemed to be connected. Each rock and branch a tiny thread weaving through the entire visage before me.
Most people would read this and scoff yet in the early morning as the sun rises and begins to move across the skies spiders have been at work all night moving between plants and rocks trees and leaves leaving threads of silk. If you were standing in the midst of them they would be invisible yet with the sun behind sparkling in the light a beautiful scene. Occasionally one thread disconnects and floats off sparkling along the way. As I sat pondering as to an old man sitting looking towards the east in the early morning many years ago and coming in to tell his grand children as I started the passage. On the back of my t-shirt it reads all things are connected and rightly so by a thin gossamer strand of silk.

“Our task is to make our children into disciples of the good life, by our own actions toward them and toward other people. This is the only effective discipline in the long run. But it is more arduous, and takes longer, than simply “laying down the law.” Before a child (or a nation) can accept the law, it has to learn why the law has been created for its own welfare.” Sydney J. Harris

Today I am faced with dealing with how to accomplish all that needs to be finished by Thursday of this coming week. Midterms on Wednesday and or projects due and I have several students who have continually found their way into trouble that need to be dealt with. Often in special education we use the term manifestation, is it a manifestation of their disability or are they choosing to do whatever it is they are doing that got them in trouble.

“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle

“Self-command is the main discipline.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many years ago I spent six months involved in counseling on a psychiatric unit in a state mental facility. There was never a question about why something happened being that they were considered combative psychotic adolescents which was the term used to describe the unit. When someone got upset it was solitary confinement and rather large doses of drugs and a few straight jackets were employed. Little was occurring to change the behavior and or rationalize those behaviors and or find why that behavior even occurred simply deal with the moment.

“Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more.” Harold Schoenberg

“Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” John Trapp

Often as I find a quote the person behind those words has more to offer as id the situation with Schoenberg who is a scholar of music. He is also a very prolific writer about great musicians and their music. John Trapp was a bible scholar with several biblical commentaries to his credit both men were writers who themselves were very self disciplined.

“THE STUDY OF WORDS is useless unless it leads to the study of the ideas that the words stand for. When I am concerned about the proper use of words it is not because of snobbism or superiority, but because their improper use leads to poor ways of thinking. Take the word ‘discipline’ that we hear so much about nowadays in connection with the rearing of children. If know something about word derivations, you know that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same Latin root discipulus, which means ‘to learn, to follow.’” Sydney J. Harris, Strictly speaking

Sitting here looking up references and quotes related to discipline and ending up with the example, to learn and to follow this is semantics as we go. In order to operate a public school we have to have standards to operate by so we have rules. Looking at this from a behaviorist standpoint it is easy to say ABC, Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. First you have an antecedent that stimulus is what causes the behavior. Then you have the behavior which is the event or action that we see, feel or hear about. Finally we have consequence which can be what we do in response or what the students or person issuing the behavior receives for eliciting that behavior.

“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?” Leonard Cohen

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.” George W. Crane

“To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.” Rene Descartes

It is always about what we do. Over the past few days I have with several teachers and friends been discussing perception that is how we see events and happenings. One of the categories in writing a behavioral plan for a student is planned ignoring that is often simply tuning out a behavior. Often with no stimulus to keep it going a behavior will disappear. So often it is getting attention that is the desired consequence.

“People don’t change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so.” Fran Tarkenton

“Physics does not change the nature of the world it studies, and no science of behavior can change the essential nature of man, even though both sciences yield technologies with a vast power to manipulate the subject matters.” B. F. Skinner

These lines from a football hall of fame quarterback and the father of behaviorism are intriguing as these two men from distinctly different arenas yet have come to very similar conclusions in their thoughts. Tarkenton has built an internationally known management consulting firm based on his thought. It has to make a difference to the person for them to change. Skinner sees we can manipulate the subject matters we as we can offer alternative consequences to hopefully change the behaviors to ones we can accept. A Sydney J. Harris line caught my attention this morning as I started on discipline as I prepare for several IEP’s later this week some related to behavior.

“…by our own actions toward them and toward other people.” Sydney J. Harris

So often it is not the consequences that deter or change a behavior but our actions towards the person and those around them. It is the example we set and not what we say that matters. Please today as we venture out keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.

Its about random acts of kindness

Bird Droppings October 8, 2010
It is about random acts of kindness

I was a bit under the weather when I got up this morning and my faithful dog decided I did not need sleep as well although she was quick and wanted right back in the house. It was close enough to three o’clock that I went ahead and got up did a bit of reading and thinking and headed to school. Friday has become the skittles challenge day and I will do up a rubric or word search cross word puzzle something with vocabulary or material we have been going over. When I got back to my base school I did a Secretariat skittle quiz. I am a big fan of the great chestnut horse two time horse of the year and with the movie opening today felt it would be appropriate. It was 1948 when Citation won the previous Triple Crown and with his win at Belmont in a track record that still stands Secretariat made his way into history. After a great first block at the high school I help out with and some pretty good ideas from the class I headed back to my own school for the remainder of the day. Yesterday I had a student get upset and that was continuing today. One thing that has amazed me in our hectic world is how many people forget there are others around.

“When you carry out acts of kindness you get a wonderful feeling inside. It is as though something inside your body responds and says, yes, this is how I ought to feel.” Rabbi Harold Kushner

When I first read this earlier I passed over it and read some from the Dalai Lama and a bit from Emerson. It has been some time since our high school class website had started into the political realm, arguing and presenting issues and rationales for various and sundry campaigns and politicians. Looking back on former presidential candidates as I scanned through Yahoo news both sides hammered on the same nail in different directions perhaps. It was Maslow that said, “If all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.” I am amazed at how much material our politicians provide for late night comedy. They are literally providing material for Saturday night live and other satirists. The mayor of Dearborn Michigan emailed Senate candidate Sharon Angle about her remarks that Muslims had taken over Dearborn and put under Shari Law.

“It is my belief that whereas the twentieth century has been a century of war and untold suffering, the twenty-first century should be one of peace and dialogue. As the continued advances in information technology make our world a truly global village, I believe there will come a time when war and armed conflict will be considered an outdated and obsolete method of settling differences among nations and communities.” the Dalai Lama

As I sit this evening aside from numerous articles in the National Geographic magazine, about Africa, has had little news coverage. Many years ago I was a youth leader in Macon Georgia and one of the youth, a red haired young lady, gave me a Bible for my twenty third birthday gift. I still have that book and the hand made felt cover is tattered and worn. I thought a few years back of calling the number one day in the back of that Bible and getting her mother. After a few minutes, nearly an hour of conversation, I found out my former student was living in Africa, her adopted home working in the mission field not converting heathens but providing care. We so often pass over the good deeds for the more news worthy stories of war and violence. Millions have died in civil war and famine in Africa funny we do not hear about it maybe there is not enough of what we want there.

“The United States is not a nation to which peace is a necessity.” Grover Cleveland

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” Moshe Dayan

These two quotes present a contrast of sorts with a United States former president and an Israeli hero of war and also of peace.

“Think not forever of yourselves, O Chiefs, nor of your own generation. Think of continuing generations of our families, think of our grandchildren and of those yet unborn, whose faces are coming from beneath the ground.” T. S. Eliot

So often we tend to be caught up in the now and forget one day all we do will be reflected in the faces and lives of our grand children. Perhaps as I get closer to having my first grandchild it is hitting more close to home. We get too immersed in today in selfish pursuits of wealth and power, wiping out an entire species, for profit, is fine. It is about destroying wilderness, to make a quick buck; it is fine leveling a country for fun and money

“Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police.” Albert Einstein

“When you’re finally up on the moon, looking back at the earth, all these differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this is really one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people?” Frank Borman

It has been many years since I was privileged to visit a high school 45 miles from here we always have preconceptions about what the children will be like, teachers and such as I talked to the journalism class, one of the girls made a statement that stuck with me, “What did you think we would be like”. A loaded question I really had not said a word and already being put in a corner, had someone already poisoned me to who they were or weren’t. I had been to the same school a few days earlier for a band competition and was impressed. So I was very positive walking through the front door the band program had been very successful so maybe I was biased positively although from the tone of the girl’s voice, I think she was expecting a negative response. Now I had heard horror stories about this school. Interesting fact was, I know several administrators there and all I have heard was where they were going, not about where they had been. There were no previous administrators dragged through the mud, no excuses just here is where we will be. Positive goals and building up rather than tearing down. There was a lot of taking down walls and removing barriers between students and teachers, administration and teachers, and parents and the school. There is little difference in making peace in a high school and in the world the playing field is different but directions are similar.

“There never was a good war or a bad peace.” Benjamin Franklin

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” Martin Luther King Jr.

I am sitting here thinking this morning after watching a beautiful sunset yesterday and wondering where tomorrow will lead and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Looking at why we are not succeeding

Bird Droppings October 7, 2010
Looking at why we are not succeeding

Very early this morning I walked out into the chill although not quite as cold as yesterday a few crickets and tree frogs greeted me as I took our dog for her morning reverie. The sky was clear as a bell stars blazing away over my head. Orion was the major force as I peered skyward. Never have quite figured out how someone came up with each of the constellations although perception perhaps is a key. My wife reminded me it was my middle son’s birthday even though my outlook account has it on the fourth. A simple error I need to fix since you get what you put in.
It has been over a year since I went to a Georgia Tech football game and as I often do I took a camera. I adjusted the settings for the light. I set the film speed. I actually used film and not a digital camera so I had to be sure everything was set since I could not see photos till they were processed. I took pictures actually many pictures as I so often do. Not to brag but they did turn out super one or two are floating around in Georgia Tech websites. My experience in using this camera and lens paid off. I knew what settings and what exposures would give me the best pictures and my reflecting begins.
In graduate school we discussed the history of education and how history is so often has been tainted or subjected to the views of the historian and or politics of the time of that event and then the perspective of the historian, a double whammy. I began pushing this idea further and to how and what we learn. So often it is what we are told to learn not what we want to learn and or need to learn. It is but various pieces of reality in a perception of that we are told to learn and I wonder for whose gain.

“Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know — and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know — even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction — than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.” Isaac Asimov

Neil Young blaring away on my stereo it is early and being alone at school has its advantages I can crank up my tunes. “Old man take a look at your life I am a lot like you are”, lyrics from Neil Young circa 1971 when he bought a ranch and an elderly foremen came with it. On another thought it amazes me to listen to students say I am passing I have a seventy percent and that’s good enough. I sometimes wonder if students really learn anything from day one till day seven hundred or eight hundred or do they simply regurgitate data and information to pass tests. It has been a few years since my son commenting as he took the SAT’s several times the more he was in math classes the better his scores and conversely one semester he did not have an advanced or AP English he dropped a few points on language section. So even for a good student is school simply a memorizing forum.

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” Basho –

“True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day as it goes by.” E. S. Bouton

I found when I began looking for answers that learning became easier. When answers were being given to me in a mandatory sort of way in the process of going to school I learned less. Even in college for many years learning was considered mandatory. I have observed many students and what they learn. If they want to learn a topic they read about it, they look up information about it, and there is a desire to learn more about that topic.

“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

For many years previously I have tacked this quote on the end of my morning Droppings. I continue to ponder how can we make our teaching so potent? How do we get the information we teach to be what students want to learn?

“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of face within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity” Calvin Coolidge

“Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have not always been an Emerson fan sadly I wish I had begun reading his words sooner or I should say paying attention to the fact I was reading his words. In high school I do not recall even considering reading Emerson and know I did sort of see the page and it went by and I read Emerson. Now in my infinite wisdom do I see the folly of my high school days? Hindsight is only good if you build from it however. As we look back it is so easy to say I wasted time or I should have done this or that. Start today and take advantage of the daylight pack as much in as you can for tomorrow there will be just as much if not more coming your way in the next.
As I think back a few days to the concept of a democratic school where students pick and choose topics for discussion and learning each week. It would be difficult to plan for a standardized test, especially thinking did we cover that for example (in Georgia we had QCC’s (Quality Core Curriculum) and now we have advanced a bit with GPS (Georgia Performance Standards) which cover all curriculum that is to be taught. Being so we might have that section II item number 123a is the classification of segmented worms which is to be covered. Somewhere someone determined in Biology that that item was crucial. It may be a history item about the urban myth of were George Washington’s false teeth made from wood, hippo ivory and or ceramics.

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” St. Francis of Assisi

“Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.” Sophocles

How would we know what it is we need to know and how would teachers know what it is we need to know in order to teach us? That is a significant question. Using standardized tests provides the vehicle to measure, but then do we teach to that particular test or do we not teach to it and is that measure truly of what a child knows? If most teachers know what students need to know to take a particular test before I start the class then I will gear the class to that understanding before the test. So in effect we teach to the test. We teach what some one somewhere has deemed necessary for a student in that grade and time and that may or may not be what that teacher or student wants to learn. This brings me back to students tend to learn best when it is something that they want to know and realistically teachers teach far more better something they want to teach. It would be a sad world if parents were told they had to teach their kids so and so today and tomorrow it would be this and that. Now that I think about it maybe that is not so bad in some cases. Except that then someone somewhere will be saying this is what children will be taught and when it will be taught. That system just closed down in Russia a few years back. So if our goal is to train socially acceptable consumers and workers to fill the factories as Karl Marx once indicated the goal of education was we will have accomplished that. Somehow we need to bring back creativity and critical thinking.

“If you wish to know the road up the mountain, ask the man who goes back and forth on it.” Zenrim

I can set my lenses and camera on manual adjustment and or on program mode. I could fine tune and make adjustments and or set on program mode and allow the camera’s computer to do adjusting for me. I started to think about the P words, program, perception and politics although maybe there is a connection as I think a bit more. So often in life politics determines how we perceive by providing the program setting and far too many people choose to use that since it is easier and simpler. It requires little effort and you always get the same results no matter who uses it. Could it be that in learning the same material the results on a test is the same no matter who takes it. They all conveniently know just the right stuff and just the right answers and just who to vote for and to keep in power. So on a day when war and conflict are part of our vernacular and those in power struggle to keep their seats please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.

What if truth prevailed?

Bird Droppings October 6, 2010
What if Truth prevailed

I started my morning as I do so many mornings walking out into the stillness of the hour but today with a chill in the air all was silent. Air conditioners busy through one of the hottest summers I have lived in Georgia now nearly forty years were totally silent. Crickets and tree frogs rely on ambient temperature and it was a bit too chilly for them. So I was standing and listening to truth spill from the darkness I Have found nature does not lie. Perhaps this is why in Native American culture nature was revered as it was and is. Silence has a peace about until a horned owl called and then another answered a good ways off. As I pulled out today blocked in I pulled across the grass on my super secret escape route. As I turned my headlights to the back of the house several deer were picking through the persimmons and passion flower fruit.
Truth was a significant factor in the lives of aboriginal peoples throughout the world and perhaps why they have been so vulnerable to deceit. Survival depended on truth on came and it was not until the lies of modern man crept in that corruption and deceit became words of warning. As I sit thinking in my class room at the high school here in the dark of morning I wonder was it the intrusion of the Europeans that brought distrust to this new land. Watching politicians debate and argue points it is very easy to say yes. We proceeded back in the day writing laws to hold dear those truths we had to create stripping away the reality that was there. The truths that had governed a land for thousands of years and maintained equilibrium were no longer needed since exceptions had to be made.
That all was sacred soon became only a history lesson and each rock, tree, person and each breath of air we breathed that had been sacred somewhere in translation and understanding we lost that. We seemed to in our hurried efforts to want more land, gold, things and more of everything to have lost the truth. I wonder as I sit and think could we ever again attain that place where all is sacred?
I spent much of the morning yesterday listening to a student lie and wondering why the lies were being told even offering that I knew the stories were not true and still they continued. I knew they were lies. I wonder how we as a society became this way reading today’s headlines of a Congressmen who leaves office because of corruption and then runs for Governor of Georgia. Others knew and were quiet as long as he resigned his congressional seat.
We so often get caught up in our own insecurities and own lies. A good friend and professor recently used an illustration of how often someone will spout their goodness and yet be not be really who they say they are. Daily this has happened with politicians and other authority figures we seem to have no truth left in us. I recommended a book to a friend about Chief Joseph, it happened to be one of Kent Nerburn’s books an author I admire and enjoy reading. It is a history so to say of the Nez Perce and Chief Joseph and is rather intriguing.

“I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more. I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things. The white man has more words to tell you how they look to him, but it does not require many words to speak the truth.” Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, 1877

Considered one of the great leaders of the 1800’s Chief Joseph’s surrender speech has been quoted by many. But I sit here thinking over a hundred years ago this great man had insight into something that each of us are born with and then bastardize that concept of truth. We bend shape mold our reality to what suits us. I was talking with a student yesterday about reality. Question one what is reality? Is it like the old adage of from high school physics? Is there sound if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it? My student asked what about sound you here that aren’t vibrations ringing in the ears and voices and such. Coming from someone who listens to crickets all day long this was a deep discussion. Immediately most respond well they are not real.
Perception becomes an issue and can we truly define what reality is and what is not sort of a vote and democracy in an ongoing sort of way. One of my favorite scenes from the movie, A brilliant mind, is where Dr. James Nash asks a student if the bearer of the news of his Nobel Prize can be seen by her. When she says yes he extends his hand. Reality is a fragile thing and yet our reality is shaped daily by misleading and misinformation provided to confound and bewilder. The media and advertising constantly barrage us with what they want us to see and hear. Inflated gas prices and inflated profits for oil companies never seem to be in the same paragraph. Rising medical costs and greatly increased profits not for doctors but for medical insurance companies never seem to be mentioned at the same time.
Recently an article showed insurance company CEO’s compensations literally nothing to do with health care yet significantly increasing the cost of health insurance. There are billions of dollars in compensation to CEO’s not to sick babies or the elderly. But we need to reduce Medicaid and Medicare payments never CEO’s compensation or oil companies profits, truth is an elusive beast.

“But it does not require many words to speak the truth.” Chief Joseph

We elect politicians based on words however what if we voted really on deeds and performance? What if we stopped electing front men for big business and elected truthful people? There would be far fewer words and who knows maybe even peace. So for today please keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts.

Searching deep within ourselves

Bird Droppings October 5, 2010
Searching deep within ourselves

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” Mary Engelbreit

I am very much a creature of routine of habit and when my daily path is altered I have occasion to be amiss. My day was started early as always but I had to run my gas payment over to a neighboring town so I left a bit earlier than normal. It was an uneventful drive other than the several pairs of eyes gazing at me as I pulled into a stop sign. Six deer were standing just inside the tree line waiting to jump in front of cars as they tend to do. As I pulled into the parking lot at school a sliver of moon was smiling over my head. Something about the moon is mystical and has inspired peoples fro many eons. I am always drawn to watching the moon in the wee hours of the morning.

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” W. Edwards Deming

Blunt and to the point W. Edwards Deming revolutionized industrial thinking and began the quality movement and in almost single handedly assisted in rebuilding Japanese industry as well as increasing production in the United States after World War II.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Victor Frankl

It is the job of philosophers and thinkers to keep us on our toes about the human condition. But in coming back to change we may not be able to change the conditions but we can change ourselves as Frankl states. Perhaps a better word is adapting to the conditions and modifies how we interpret and or perceive things.

“The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.” Henry Miller

Observing and participating in the educational system I see this attitude daily with teachers who have done this particular way for tens of thousands of years and will keep doing that way for ten thousand more. Functioning and attitudes are very much in line with Millers man who would literally cut off his own limbs for artificial ones to avoid pain and additional work.

“There is a certain relief in change, even though it is from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.” Washington Irving

Rather than take another form of transportation and or for other reasons time, comfort, or speed we as humans seem to put up with simply being bruised on the other cheek, I like that analogy.

“When you are through changing, you are through.” Bruce Barton

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” John Kenneth Galbrait

I am as guilty as any one on this point yet often I can proof my point, often more so I am the one initiating the change or creating the dissidence that pushes for altering how we do something.

“The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” Ellen Glasgow

I have worked with two instructors in a course now several times each time it is new alive, viable and different. I can see the wrapping is the same the name but it changes with each the group. Each time pieces will be exactly like the last yet subtly different. I have found no two groups in teaching are the same so how can we teach the same material the same way every time. Yet this is what text book makers, politicians, school systems, school boards and parents seem to want.

“Life is its own journey, presupposes its own change and movement, and one tries to arrest them at one’s eternal peril.” Laurens van der Post

Laurens Van der Post writes about the last Bushmen painter in his notes. He remembers the day that the last painter died during his childhood. There was a series of caves and rocks on the edge of the Kalahari that each time he visited during his childhood new paintings of animals, birds and of nature would be appearing on the rock face. It was also during this time the South African Government much like our own had chosen the path of genocide for a people, that being the Bushmen. Van der post writes about hearing as a child the gun shots and upon a visit to the rocks and caves seeing the paintings that were now a series of red slashes and warriors dying and then no more paintings. The last painter had recorded the beginning of the end and there was not another to take his place.

“Growth is the only evidence of life.” John Henry Newman

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” William Blake

As I look at the statements perhaps growth would have been looking at the Bushmen and seeing their views rather than destroying them. So many pathways in history have been of destruction rather than change rather than seeing a different view.

“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.” Marcel Proust

“We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.” Lynn Hall

I seriously wondered as I read and thought about this quote. Maybe we do not change but come to grips with and except who we are about rather than trying to be the image of what we think others want us to be.

“What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.” Mignon McLaughlin

As I sit and ponder how true this each event in is our life has led us here to this moment and place.

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” Ellen Glasgow

“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Woodrow Wilson

I have a dear friend who constantly reminds me of this all movement is not forward and to that effect once made an open ended rubric. Literally no parameters in any direction more of a shading as one event evolved into the next.

“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” Pauline R. Kezer

I really do like this illustration we find our grounding and our roots in the continuity of life but it is that new look, that change that grows us and lifts us up.

“If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.” Saint Augustine

A profound statement from St. Augustine and not to belittle who and what you are but to always be trying to be more than that is what we should be doing. Far too many people are content and stagnate repeating William Blake’s quote.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” Author Unknown

I generally like to attribute to someone but this wording caught my attention a spin on Rhinehold Niebuhr’s words.

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Things do not change; we change.” Henry David Thoreau

A general and a philosopher offer similar ideas it is up to us

“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.” Francis Bacon

It is inevitable that change will occur be it evolution, migration, alteration, dissemination, ramification, ossification, delineation, degradation and even in our own country segregation change is evident always and certain. How we adapt and survive this is the crucial point.

“Every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour.” Arthur Schopenhauer

Describing Schopenhauer many writers see his works as unlike many of his time easier to read and making sense. One of the first European philosophers to look at and utilize eastern thought he wrote often about the differences and likenesses of philosophies. As I read this line life is much like a loan shark we borrow pieces only to have to eventually pay back with interest often at a high rate. Sitting here this morning I wonder when our interest will be due for our current situations. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.