Bird Droppings January 26, 2012
Taking and making the most of each moment
Waking up to my dog barking because she needs to run outside for a second is not the best way to wake up, although a beautiful sky greeted me. I received a call midday yesterday that my mother had to be hospitalized and my wife was heading over to meet ambulance at the hospital. One of the Assistant Principals had come to my room to tell me to call my wife since my cell phone does not pick up in much of our building. Since only one or two at the most can be in the emergency room area with the patient I felt it a better use of my time to finish my classes and then head over. I drove by my house on the way to the hospital and as I opened my car door a hawk was calling at first I had not paid attention but then I looked and again he called several times and flew immediately over my head to a pine not too far from the house. I knew all was well.
Today it is a beautiful sky clear and cloud free and not too cold tree frogs serenaded me as I came home last night. After such a long dry spell here in the south last summer any rain is appreciated but I would like a freeze so we can kill off some fire ants since fire ants do not like cold.
“Mountains cannot be surmounted except by winding paths.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
But as I sit thinking hopefully winter is coming to an end and school and classes soon will be a part of our daily routine again in many of our lives in this second semester. Our teachers are walking the hallways faced with the challenges of state and federal mandates in test scores going to training and meetings to better teach the submit test material to children. Soon we will be facing that challenge as spring comes round and annual test cycle begins anew. As I think back to days of hiking on theAppalachian Trailand all the switch backs how we approach testing and teaching to tests is much like that mountain climb.
Many times you can see the trail above your head and going straight up rather than following the trail and it may seem easier but carrying a fifty pound back and walking the switch backs for an extra seventy five feet and not struggling to hang on sometimes is wiser. For those uneducated and mountain illiterate among you, a switch back is a more gradual ascent usually taking a bit longer sort of a handicapped ramp but in reality safer than scaling a cliff. I see a similarity in how we teach today teaching massive amounts of content to score well on tests and little context to have that material stay with the student.
“It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” Robert W. Service
Walking for hours with a grain of sand digging into your foot can be painful and from firsthand experience taking your shoe off to try and complete the journey sometimes is even harder. Far too often in education we simply have taken off the shoe. Carefully address the grain of sand when you notice it rather than waiting until it is way too late.
“You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.” Jimmy Carter
I walked many miles barefoot years ago because I would not take care of a sore foot when hiking, and finally I succumbed to the experience of those around me and learned the value of moleskin. I was five miles from a road and a fifty pound pack and I was in charge of a group of kids the choices do change occasionally. I had blisters on blisters and infected from not taking care of a small spot on my foot when it first had occurred a few days earlier. I was saved by a thirteen year old boy scout, (and me a former Eagle Scout and scout leader) when he handed me a piece of what looked like soft thick cloth, moleskin. The good Doctor to the rescue so high on a mountain inNorth Carolinaand me who knew all about hiking, I learned a simple lesson from a much younger teacher than myself.
“Few people have any next; they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I never again went hiking without moleskin and shared moleskin numerous times thereafter and needless to say I never again had a foot problem hiking. As I look back over my thoughts today all can be applied to education and life in general mountains can be issues we face daily family problems, friends, and work. They are but winding trails and there can be solutions. Sometimes we think far too simple than an all-out confrontation a grain of sand. It could be a rumor that starts so small and grows and festers and soon is great.
Jimmy Carter to the rescue with his thought: “You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.”
Many times I have surprised myself and achieved far more than I ever intended to in many aspects of life. I am sitting here procrastinating getting serious about getting back into my research and sorting out files and looking over records and all the fun stuff of teaching. In a few weeks it will be back to writing for graduate school and my dissertation and more reading and writing and learning. I enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship of education perhaps more than the education and often in that friendship you learn as well. I was reminded of my ending each day in an email from a dear friend in Texas and he offered a thought from his weekly comments on his website nearly five years ago. Dr. James Sutton is a clinical psychologist and lectures around the country on Oppositional Deviance Disorder and Conduct Disorders.
Dr. Sutton had been in a meeting and was thinking about his son in law inAfghanistanand how his daughter had recently sent photos of their baby by fax. There had been a bomb inKabulduring the time his son was there which elicited these thoughts.
From Dr. James Sutton’s website – http://itsaboutthem.wordpress.com/
1. We might think otherwise most of our lives, but none of us are ever completely exempt from what happens in this world. Tragedy is not reserved for others only; even the innocent suffer sometimes. That’s just the way it is, and we are not going to change it. If we fail to understand this, our recovery from deep pain and loss can be seriously affected.
2. We need not be selfish in our empathy. Just because my son-in-law was spared shouldn’t detract from the fact that others were not. An expression of caring and empathy, even toward folks we don’t know, is a good thing.
3. We should all make it a point to never have any unfinished business with our loved ones. (I think I was alright on this one.) Life is a precious and fragile thing. Opportunities to reconcile, embrace and reaffirm might be more limited than we think.
It is difficult to follow such choice words and as I responded to Dr. Sutton we as humans have to try and do no harm to others. That should be our sole purpose in existence. Unfortunately too many are not adhering to or even considering and again I will say please today keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and may peace be with you all and above all please always give thanks.