Reading a friends book for the tenth time

Bird Droppings June 17, 2011
Reading a friend’s book for the tenth time

Dr. James Sutton sent me a copy of his new book “What parents need to know about ODD”, nearly five years ago and I have been through it numerous times. Dr. Sutton is one of the leading writers and authorities on Oppositional Defiant Disorder in the country. One of these days when “Bird Droppings a teacher’s journal” comes out the forward is by Dr. James Sutton. I have been reading academic books lately big words, long words, and almost nonsensical words such as post-structuralism, phenomenology, semiotics and hermeneutics are a couple of good ones just to mention a couple or two. It seems many academics want to use words and pages to bolster their endeavors and then question why common folk don’t understand.
I responded to Dr. Sutton with the following sentence or two. My first experience with Dr. James Sutton was going to a conference in 2003 in Macon Ga. and listening to his ideas on working with some of the hardest kids to deal with in education. His ideas hit the nail on the head and this latest book “What Parents need to Know About ODD” is an easy to read, easy to understand and to use as a tool for parents and teachers who daily have to deal with the trials and tribulations of kids who are ODD. I recommend to my parents and associates Dr. Suttons books and ideas almost daily. This is not a sales pitch but when combined with another issue that we teachers have been saddled with for almost seven years now, NCLB, the federal law which requires teachers to use evidence based practice, EBP’s. This becomes a problem in special education because there is not that much to work with and as I thought today a good teacher with a good idea could be hindered by a packaged program that is an EBP and not as effective and there have been many cases where teachers have been criticized for not using the recommended program.
Every year we lose good teachers who are hindered by administration and packaged programs many researched by the company publishing the program. I had a situation actually myself a few years ago and was told this program was what I was to teach to a specific group of teenagers and it was research based. I called the publisher to verify the research and found that it was never done with a population anywhere near what it was being recommended for and the one study that was done was with kids ten years younger and 20 IQ points higher but it did work with them. A Harvard study posted June 14, 2006 states.

“…the policy has had no significant impact on improving reading and math achievement since it was introduced in 2001, contradicting White House claims and potentially adding to concerns over academic competitiveness.” The New York Times

Funny how we keep trying to make schools better or I should say politicians keep trying, I wonder when teachers will be asked?

“I will stake my reputation and over thirty years of experience on this: Real change occurs when relationships improve.” Dr. James Sutton, What Parents need to know about ODD
I have watched wheels spun testing kids at the end of semesters and courses and at the end of high school and all because laws say to that were established by politicians. Yet all you are truly testing is what someone knows at that moment and not what they learned in any given time frame or how well a teacher taught. This is common sense not any scientific based doctrine but logical teacher learned information. My son who is biology major could take an end of course biology test without the course and pass does that measure how much he learned or simply what he knows at that point. Yet teachers and administrators are losing jobs and schools are being threatened by these tests. Recently in a discussion in an online class I raised a question about NCLB and how kids were being left behind and a teacher an advanced degree teacher offered “well some children want to be left behind”.

“The power paradox is a simple concept. It suggests that the more force we put into controlling an ODD child, the less effective those efforts become. Golf pros will tell you that, when you try to muscle that ball down the fairway, looking for distance alone, there’s no telling where it’s going to go. When you focus on form rather than force, however, the distance takes care of itself. It’s much the same idea in managing an ODD child.” Dr. James Sutton, What Parents need to know about ODD

So often when I read Dr. Sutton’s ideas and they apply elsewhere in life than just working with an individual child. The power paradox is in education all the time it is in relationships between people, in government and even within families. Far too often we go for power not form. I recall many years ago the TV show Kung Fu and the late David Carridine was portraying a Sau-lin priest who had escaped to America for killing someone in self defense with his martial arts. It was not about power but form the swan or deer almost ballet movements yet lethal as well. So easy to get caught up in words as I read numerous writers words each day in blogs, books and articles and a thought I have been having keeps coming up, the reader has to be able to understand the writer. The experiences and perceptions have to be there so what is written is understood by the reader? One excellent writer I read daily uses riddles and word puzzles that play on words and many readers have not a clue what is being said and or why. That is part of her mystic and then all of a sudden it hits you.

“Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual. We must construct that people-centered society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.” Nelson Mandela, speech at the opening of the South

It has been nearly twenty years since South Africa truly became democratic. I wonder how long it will be till we here in the United States can say democracy is back and it is not the rule of the dollar and lobbyist. Much of what I have been reading lately addresses the issue of education and how it is to make good consumers. All our efforts at teaching are being subverted into generating customers as discussed by many authors. The fat we are calling college students customers which is the term used on many campuses is sad and that is the word used by administrations in a corporate world. Historians have said over and over wars are always fought for money. As I look back and in going back looking at any war in history money was a key factor. I questioned Viet Nam and sure enough Johnson wanted the war effort to continue as industry was getting a shot in the arm and the economy was being turned around. The power paradox in Iraq an interesting thought have we ever focused on the form and that of the individual in Iraq. Maybe we need to ask for Nelson Mandela’s help in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya among the many. But as has become habit please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.

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