Bird Droppings October 20, 2011
Why do we consider thinking a bad word?
“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” Henry David Thoreau
Just the other day I went out to my herb garden to take a self portrait and two butterflies joined me in the shoot. So while grandbaby sitting I am sitting here wondering on a chilly day I have found over the years moods of students often reflect the weather and changes in temperature air pressure. We started the day yesterday with a major front moving through and tornado watches through the state. So on a holiday from school we are having rain and cold. Some kids are better not knowing what the weather will be. Studies have shown many neurological issues are affected by air pressure and as I go further is thinking or cognition altered when a gloomy day hits. Should we call off school for cloudy weather after today I seriously wonder is creativity affected or imagination altered?
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allan
So often I see folks limited by their imagination each of us is blessed with a thinking process hidden in there is creativity. Years ago I remember my youngest son being tested for creativity during s series of tests for a gifted class. I was told he was off the charts for his age. Now today I have been watching high school students struggle with ideas and with thought processes that are second nature to me. I really wonder do we provide the time to think and to imagine or to be creative or simply want tape recordings played back of what was taught.
“If everybody thought before they spoke, the silence would be deafening.” George Barzan
“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
As I watch and see how others teach in the quiet solitude of stillness I wonder is thinking occurring. There are many teachers who consider it is learning when all is quiet and when hands are folded and faces are facing front and feet are on the floor and books are open and pencils in hand writing incessantly.
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.” Buddha
“Thought is the parent of the deed.” Thomas Carlyle
How do we start the process of thinking in a world where thinking is a forgotten art form? Myself I read giving myself a basis for thought yet so many folks today choose not to read. Many are content to simply listen and feedback information in a replay sort of way. I was thinking of a cheer used in our school “I say red you say white” which ends being a sort of planned when you hear the bell say the answer.
“It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work.” Thomas A. Edison
“Each thought is a nail that is driven in structures that cannot decay; and the mansion at last will be given to us as we build it each day.” George Elliot
Thinking can start slowly and build with each new thought adding to the construct. Several years ago my son was involved in the Governor’s Honors Program along with several of his friends. This was six weeks of very intensive learning with other students all equal to or beyond where he was thinking at the time. He was immersed in thought processes and ideas. Coming back to the real world was hard for him. His senior year in high school was boring after that experience of challenging daily his intellect. One thought that came up continually was how many students in high school simply do not care to even think just doing what is needed to get by and never seeking to go beyond where they are. Here was a teenager bothered by this concept of seeing intelligent people sit waiting for answers.
“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
“A man’s what he thinks about all day long” Ralph Waldo Emerson
What if we do not think all day and sit and vegetate are we nothing? Watching high school students do this day in and day out some day’s I think we could say we have a garden versus a school.
“Thought makes everything fit for use.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Either you think — or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reading Fitzgerald’s comment made me think that so many people want others to think for them as I watch the debates and politics swirling about. A comment is made very clearly even defined and then is twisted and altered and even though the exact words are in front of you it appears wrong. People will listen to what someone else tells them even if those words are totally against what they believe rather than to think on their own. Sadly and amazingly it works and politicians use it daily people do not want to think.
“Thinking in words slows you down and actually decreases comprehension in much the same way as walking a tightrope too slowly makes one lose one’s balance.” Lenore Fleischer
I read this and thought of Dr. Temple Grantin, a professor and researcher in animal science and an advocate for people who are autistic. Dr. Grantin is autistic herself. A book that she wrote describes her thought processes as thinking in pictures. Yesterday I was working with a student who by chance needed a place to take a test I had several students out and have plenty of room so she came in my room to finish her test. I could not help but notice she was reading words aloud. I asked why and she informed me she has a difficult time reading silently. She has ADHD and will fixate on a sentence when reading silently and has learned to read aloud to herself and then she can move through sentences. Different processes in thinking and learning that so often get left by the way side as we try and mass produce students.
“How you look at a situation is very important, for how you think about a problem may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. When you get discouraged or depressed, try changing your attitude from negative to positive and see how life can change for you. Remember, your attitude toward a situation can help you to change it — you create the very atmosphere for defeat or victory.” Franco Harris
Franco Harris ran for over 1,000 yards in a season 8 times; rushed for 12,120 yards in 13 years; and led the Pittsburgh to four Super Bowl titles. Many folks may not remember this great running back from the seventies but his name is still in the record books. He was known for making yards when they were needed and when the situation required.
“You create the very atmosphere for defeat or victory and we oh so often let ourselves lose. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” Martin Luther King Jr.
It is that thinking that can change whether you win or lose, succeed or fail. Today I will be checking grades on students I am always amazed at how many do not know what their grade is. A simple process ask the teacher and students choose not to even simpler get the password and check your own.
“If one wants to abide in the thought-free state, a struggle is inevitable. One must fight one’s way through before regaining one’s original primal state. If one succeeds in the fight and reaches the goal, the enemy, namely the thoughts, will all subside in the Self and disappear entirely.” Ramana Maharshi
“When thoughts arise, then do all things arise? When thoughts vanish, then do all things vanish?” Huang Po
How do we encourage thought processes not only with children but with adults as well? So much of our world is geared toward stifling thought be it advertising or politics even TV and video games. As I sit here thinking we need to encourage students and teachers both, to think, to read, and to open up their minds to a world around them and not just stagnate and vegetate over what they have. So today keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.