What is it we see looking into a child’s eyes?

Bird Droppings August 31, 2012

What is it we see looking into a child’s eyes?

 

I woke up at my normal time from a dream almost thinking I was back fifteen or so years getting up and getting the kids all sent off to school and it was pretty quiet around the house. After walking to the kitchen it hit me it was now. I talked to only my oldest son yesterday at the house since I forgot my cellphone. Usually I will talk to all my sons at least a couple times a week on their cell-phones and it seems they always check in even while away on business or at school. Again I got thinking back many years ago to another morning much like many others that have passed by. I was sitting and thinking about what is wandering by as I write, people, places, and things. It was on that morning a friend’s daughter passed away after a battle with cancer. I had read various emails and such about where to send flowers and notes. I had been going all day from 3:00 AM till nearly 10:00 that night and really was exhausted. I lay down and was nearly asleep when my wife called upstairs and said my youngest son wanted to talk to me. I fell asleep. Sitting here this morning in the quiet and dark of early day I am sorry I didn’t take that moment to listen to my son, it may have been important, it was a homework assignment he needed help with but could have been a more serious issue in his life. Our moments with our children and grandchildren are far too few and much too precious to waste, to let pass by or slip away.

 

“The joys of parents are secret, and so are their grieves and fears.” Frances Bacon

 

“Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened being? Whence, then, this worship of the past?” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Perhaps it is only a passing thought yet it is as heavy as I am thinking of where, when and why each event has transpired in our lives and with our children. Is it dropping off at school for that first day in kindergarten or graduating from high school and dropping off at college the first day as a dear friend recently went through? It could be receiving an email from college that they are bored and an attachment of a Georgia Tech mascot drawn in Power Point.  

 

“How many hopes and fears, how many ardent wishes and anxious apprehensions are twisted together in the threads that connect the parent with the child!” Samuel G. Goodrich

 

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” C. Everett Koop

 

In 1984 or so I was at the Georgia State Lamb show and taking photos of children showing their lambs. An angry mother stopped me as I about to take a picture of a little tiny girl showing a lamb nearly twice her size. I did eventually get the picture and several months later gave a copy to the mother, we have been good friends ever since and that picture is still hanging in her office. That tiny little girl is now teaching in South Georgia.

 

“Parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of the trees is lost when raking leaves.” Marcelene Cox

 

“Don’t throw away your friendship with your teenager over behavior that has no great moral significance. There will be plenty of real issues that require you to stand like a rock. Save your big guns for those crucial confrontations.” Dr. James C. Dobson

 

I can remember my wife and I sitting by the phone waiting to hear a word from our youngest son away at college for a whole two days. More than likely we would end up calling him and checking in. Keeping touch knowing their children are safe this is what parents are for.

 

“Your children will see what you’re all about by what you live rather than what you say.” Wayne Dyer

 

“We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open.” Harry Edwards

 

When I walk into class each day I think about the moments I get to spend with this group of kids and try not to waste it. I try to open eyes and hearts to what is around them and to each other. Some days are great and eyes open and surprise me and others it is like hitting your head against a brick wall.

 

“Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” Black Elk

 

“Each child is an adventure into a better life –an opportunity to change the old pattern and make it new.” Hubert H. Humphrey

 

“The more people have studied different methods of bringing up children the more they have come to the conclusion that what good mother and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is the best after all.” Dr. Benjamin Spock

 

We need to take that moment and sit and listen it will never come again in exactly the same way with the same feeling and events to drive it. Not too long ago I was asked why you are taking so many pictures. I responded if I didn’t take that particular picture I wonder who would and that moment, a special moment would be lost. My dear friends keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and all who have suffered loss may they be filled and always give thanks namaste.

Wa de (Skee)

bird

 

Do we fail ourselves?

Bird Droppings August 30, 2012

Do we fail ourselves?

 

Many the times I have wondered why people stop learning. I see it in high school students, college and in graduate students. Almost as if a switch is thrown and poof no more learning I have reached my limit. Yesterday in a co-teaching class where the teacher has been out on leave and the substitute teacher was out sick so we had a sub for a sub learning sort of bottomed out.

 

“One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” John W. Gardner

 

I began the morning looking through several articles written by William Edelen, a former pastor and fighter pilot, as well as several by Arthur Schopenhauer, an 19th century philosopher, and a few old notes on Joseph Campbell, a leading writer on mythology. Somehow in my reading earlier I ended up back on an article by John Gardner.  I have been struggling with the idea of why students quit learning. On a recent excursion to Wal-Mart I ran into several former students who had all quit school. One of the former students shook my hand and said he was working on his GED and working hard. The other student said he was working hard doing foundations for houses and raising his new baby. Still another was arguing with her boyfriend across the aisles at Wal-Mart. I thought back in each of their lives. All failed in part or all of graduation tests in high school, one of the students had failed one a portion three times by a total of eight points as a result she did not graduate and she opted to get a GED. She was tired of failing or risking failing again.

 

I have always felt that although someone may defeat me, and I strike out in a ball game, the pitcher on the particular day was the best player. But I know when I see him again; I’m going to be ready for his curve ball. Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.” Hank Aaron

 

For so many of us we take defeat failure in stride and move on, but for some students failure is a daily event and eventually they succumb and lose whatever desire to succeed they may have had.

 

“You win only if you aren’t afraid to lose.” Rocky Aoki

 

“No one ever won a chess game by betting on each move. Sometimes you have to move backward to get a step forward.” Amar Gopal Bose

 

I find it amazing how similar to an experience in my own life as I think back to my own fourth grade educational failure. I had a teacher who was grading me harder than those around me. I think she thought I wouldn’t notice. My friend next to me had two wrong and an A. I had two wrong and a C. My mother asked and the teacher stated I wasn’t working up to my ability so she was grading harder than the other students. I quit trying in school for some time, until about two or three years into college.

 

“Failure does not count. If you accept this, you’ll be successful. What causes most people to fail is that after one failure, they’ll stop trying.” Frank Burford

 

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” George Washington Carver

 

We set in motion at young ages the ability to succeed and or the ability to make excuses. Watching kids grow up and looking at where they learn always example is the best teacher and they watch their parents then teachers. If we make excuses and choose to not succeed what are the odds our children will succeed?

 

“A man’s life is interesting primarily when he has failed — I well know. For it’s a sign that he tried to surpass himself.” Georges Clemenceau

 

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” Edwin Louis Cole

 

I think back to walking through the Edison museum in Fort Myers Florida and one exhibit is a barrel of light bulbs all failures and the plague reads it took over 10,00 failures to succeed but it did work. As I went further and read Coles thought about drowning and was applying it to students I have seen many that have given up because the school and society has given up on them. As soon as you take statistics in college you gather data and sort and develop graphs and charts about who will succeed and who will fail and soon students know your thoughts and soon students live up to their graphs and charts and your expectations.

 

“Making students accountable for test scores works well on a bumper sticker and it allows many politicians to look good by saying that they will not tolerate failure. But it represents a hollow promise. Far from improving education, high- stakes testing marks a major retreat from fairness, from accuracy, from quality, and from equity.” Sen. Paul Wellstone (1944-2002)

 

Alfie Kohn’s starts his website with:

 

“Rescuing our schools from tougher standards”. The statement of  “Learning by doing”, which is a common shorthand for the idea that active participation helps students to understand ideas or acquire skills, is an established principle of progressive education. Much less attention, however, has been paid to the complementary possibility that teachers are most effective when they show rather than just tell. In fact, this idea doesn’t even seem to have a name so let’s call it “teaching by doing” (TBD).”

 

“We need to learn from— and, fittingly, to challenge — one another’s ideas. But most important is a basic commitment to make sure that our students — future teachers, parents, and citizens — are able and willing to take a stand.” Alfie Kohn, Challenging Students . . . And How to Have More of Them

 

Alfie Kohn has been writing about issues in public school for the past few years. He is a proponent of public schools. It is how we teach he is trying to address, and instilling a desire to learn rather than taking away that is his desire. It is about promoting success rather than failure that we need to strive for in our endeavors as teachers and parents. Hopefully one day when I go to Wal-Mart the students approaching me will be all talking of success and their futures. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

 

Why do we wish, wonder and hope?

Bird Droppings August 29, 2012

Why do we wish, wonder and wait?

 

 “Calamity is the perfect glass wherein we truly see and know ourselves.” William Davenant

 

It has been nearly six years since we moved last and found ourselves in this house.  

I wasn’t sure from where to start several ideas have been running through my thinking the past few hours. It has been almost six years since I read and heard the news on Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s death. As I do my best pondering when alone I went outside thinking and wondering about the shortness of life. I looked about my back yard that I know so well in the dark spending more time here in the early hours than during day light it seems at times. We do become attached to routines and people and things and being in a new room has taken a few days to adjust granted I actually do like it and am enjoying co-teaching with the teachers I am with funny thing was I fought the idea of co-teaching for several years and in my first ten years never co-taught a class.

On another topic grandbabies, my wife and I have been discussing ideas of where and when we can get started on our official grandbaby’s room. Our sons all are in college and or in careers and both our mothers are still with us so it is interesting to be thinking of going to Toys R Us again and colors to paint our guest bedroom.  I have never planned an endeavor previously in detail and actually thought out why and how but in this additional grandbaby event a big change for us we find new sustenance. I know as the days and hours get closer my sons will all chip in and we will make new accommodations for another grand baby to be. My wife and I will sort through the preponderance of materials we have collected over the years, memories from raising three sons. I am a pack rat no doubt about it, but I am sure among the boxes there will be items that we might can use. Many times it is hard looking back at those pieces of our lives together good, bad, calamity, tragedy; up lifting experiences somehow it seems there has always been a light.  

Nearly eight years ago I recall my first email of the day was from a dear friend, Dr. James Sutton who wrote a beautiful forward for my first book of Bird Droppings, A teacher’s journey if and when I finish it. I was opening emails not too long ago and another note from Dr. Sutton.

 

It’s great to be affirmed. A chuckle: I mentioned in a training session one time that we need to always be aware that the boy in our class who can’t keep his hands to himself may well hold a scalpel some day and save our life. One lady in the audience gasped: ‘Oh my God! I just pictured Johnny with a KNIFE!’” Dr. James Sutton

 

In a Saturday BD a few weeks back I was talking about being reaffirmed as a teacher from a previous students comment. But for Today I go back to words from two songs that have been running through my head for some time now. Both are older songs but to me significant. Country Stars Big and Rich claim to fame is the song; Save a horse ride a Cowboy, not one of my favorites though it helped promote them to national fame. It is another song on that same album which to me is a far more powerful message entitled, Holy water. I heard this song a nearly eight years ago and was impressed with the harmonies and words. But as songs go I heard them wrong as we so often do.

 

Holy Water

By Big and Rich

Somewhere there’s a stolen halo
I use to watch her wear it well
Everything would shine wherever she would go
But looking at her now you’d never tell

Someone ran away with her innocence
A memory she can’t get out of her head
I can only imagine what she’s feeling
When she’s praying
Kneeling at the edge of her bed

And she says take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

She wants someone to call her angel
Someone to put the light back in her eyes
She’s looking through the faces
The unfamiliar places
She needs someone to hear her when she cries

And she says take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

She just needs a little help
To wash away the pain she’s felt
She wants to feel the healing hands
Of someone who understands

And she says take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me
And she says take me away
And take me farther
Surround me now
And hold, hold, hold me like holy water
Holy water

 

The first time I heard this song tears welled up I was listening to the words of holy water as if the woman in the song was being washed or cleansed by holy water. I used the words in class many months ago. I took the CD in to sort of a listen and translate for students and asked what is this song about and one of my red necked skate boarders piped up and set me straight.   “Mr. Bird she wants to be held like holy water – special sacred.” The old saying could not be truer, from the mouths of babes. How many of us want to be held at some point in our lives like Holy Water. I thought back to a quote from Parker Palmer from I used yesterday.

 

“Sacred means, quite simply, worthy of respect.” Parker Palmer

 

Months back for lunch my oldest son and I were eating at a barbeque place and on the TV a Martina McBride music video was showing entitled, God’s Will. It hit me again this time I was in tears and a powerful image as I thought back to what took me into teaching of exceptional children so many years ago.

 

God’s Will

By Martina McBride

I met God’s Will on a Halloween night
He was dressed as a bag of leaves
It hid the braces on his legs at first

His smile was as bright as the August sun
When he looked at me
As he struggled down the driveway, it almost
Made me hurt

Will don’t walk too good
Will don’t talk too good
He won’t do the things that the other kids do,
In our neighborhood

[Chorus:]
I’ve been searchin’, wonderin’, thinkin’
Lost and lookin’ all my life
I’ve been wounded, jaded, loved and hated
I’ve wrestled wrong and right
He was a boy without a father
And his mother’s miracle
I’ve been readin’, writin’, prayin’, fightin’
I guess I would be still
Yeah, that was until
I knew God’s Will

Will’s mom had to work two jobs
We’d watch him when she had to work late
And we’d all laugh like I hadn’t laughed
Since I don’t know when

Hey Jude was his favorite song
At dinner he’d ask to pray
And then he’d pray for everybody in the world but him

[Chorus]

Before they moved to California
His mother said, they didn’t think he’d live
And she said each day that I have him, well it’s just
another gift
And I never got to tell her, that the boy
Showed me the truth
In crayon red, on notebook paper, he’d written
Me and God love you

I’ve been searchin’, prayin’, wounded, jaded
I guess I would be still
Yeah that was until…
I met God’s Will on a Halloween night
He was dressed as a bag of leaves

 

My son asked, “Dad are you crying again” as I watched a powerful music video and song for some of us who are where we are to be. Over forty years ago my brother John was born. My mother was in labor nearly two days and John was born with cerebral palsy, severe brain damage. When he was two while in Florida he contracted encephalitis and suffered more brain injury. John lived till a few years ago with his family sharing in all gatherings all the time he never spoke a word. He was never toilet trained yet he left his mark. So much of the past two days got me thinking back in time.

The impact my brother John had spanned several states as his influence spread. In 1971 or so the city of Macon was segregated in its education of exceptional children till John came along. Many the teachers of exceptional children who after babysitting or being around John chose this field to teach in this field including myself and sister. My own family ended in Georgia because of John. He is buried on a hill out by my mother’s house in Walton County and not a day goes by that I do not look back and wonder what if this had not happened to our family.

My mother has answered in a series of poems and thoughts she has put together over the years. Each of my brothers and sisters has responded in their own fashion and me I respond in Bird Droppings. Sitting here thinking of the passing of a good soul in Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and my brother John and thinking of  these two songs maybe we can begin to set aside differences and challenges and calamities and start seeking out each other. Peace my dear friends and thank you all for the support and emails over the years please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

Is there a spiritual side to teaching?

Bird Droppings August 28, 2012

Is there a spiritual side to teaching?

 

“Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it’s never living apart from one’s self. Not about absence of other people – it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others.” Parker Palmer

 

            Only two nights ago I was discussing with my oldest son who is working on a Master’s degree in education a chapter from Palmers book. Dr. Parker Palmer is an innovator, speaker, retreat leader, author, and traveling teacher. He is a senior associate of the American Association for Higher Education and senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute. Parker Palmer received his Ph.D. from the University of California. I was first introduced to his writing in 2001 by a friend who happened to be my principal at the time. He recommended one of his books, The courage to Teach. Since that first reading not only I have read and reread his book but I have given away numerous copies now over the years.

 

“Teachers choose their vocation for reasons of the heart, because they care deeply about their students and their subject. But the demands of teaching cause too many educators to lose heart. Is it possible to take heart in teaching once more so that we can continue to do what teachers always do – give heart to our students.” Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach

 

            In reality I have never left teaching although for over twenty years I was in the background developing materials and publishing training manuals for industry. I missed the classroom and now have been back in teaching twelve years and even in that short period of my life have watched teachers burn out and fizzle out. There is a slight bit of difference between burn and fizzle. Someone who burns out is putting there all into what they do and someone who fizzles out is taking up space and probably should not have been there to begin with. I have watched creative teachers starting out like gang busters succumb to teaching blues and boredom. They come in full of zeal and within a semester are borrowing premade transparencies from their next door neighbor because they do not have the time anymore to create new ones.

 

“Bad teachers distance themselves from the subject they are teaching – and in the process, from their students. Good teachers join self and subject and students in the fabric of life.” Parker Palmer

 

            I have for many years considered teaching an art form and literally am writing my dissertation on that subject. I do think it is a place where a person’s soul is bared for better or worse as you teach whatever subject you happened to be teaching. If you truly want to connect with your students you open your heart as Palmer indicates and this is difficult for many to do. I honestly think it takes a special person to be a good and effective teacher.  Parker Palmer discusses how teaching is a community effort. My thoughts reflect back to John Dewey and his revelations of education as a social event and necessity.

 

“As I make the case that good teaching is always and essentially communal, I am not abandoning my claim that teaching cannot be reduced to technique. Community, or connectedness, is the principle behind good teaching, but different teachers with different gifts create community in surprisingly diverse ways, using widely divergent methods.” Parker Palmer

 

            In my own journeys in life I use a word whose connotation is plural discussing my journeys in life since I have been in several directions prior to where I am now. I have found that it is in happiness and solace we find peace with ourselves. The quote I started with today reflects on solitude which for me is a few moments each day in a spot I have selected away from the house with a view across a large pasture. I can sit and reflect on my day or my day ahead and I ponder sitting listening to the sounds about me. I claim this spot to which for me is sacred and some will scuff how you can say that it does not have a church or any religious affiliation. I titled my writing today as a spiritual side to teaching and these two words for me intertwine as I look at them and ponder further.

 

“Sacred means, quite simply, worthy of respect.” Parker Palmer

 

            For several years as I have come back to teaching it has been about respect and trust. It is about building a relationship with students as a critical aspect of the teaching process. It is not simply a curriculum and a book or several books. I see what I do each day as a spiritual endeavor bringing new ideas to students who may not have had the chance previously to understand. It was nearly twelve years since I wrote a trust scale for a human development course I was taking. It follows along a similar concept I had read about in Dr. James Fowlers book The Development of Faith. We start out as totally trusting and soon learn not to trust and eventually return to a total trust. It takes good and great teachers to help along the way. Thinking about the remaining week ahead and the positive and negative that will come my way I tend to choose to embrace the positive and not spend as much time considering the negative. I do hope each of you can take a moment to reflect and so please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

How do you spell Essential Bird Pedagogy?

 

 

Bird Droppings August 27, 2012

How do you spell Essential Bird Pedagogy?

 

“If a university can’t have two out of five of their student-athletes graduate, I don’t know why they’re rewarded with post-season play” Arne Duncan

 

            Over the past few years I have been looking at how I see teaching and instruction and I have wandered about a bit in my efforts. My own style is somewhat radical to say the least. However in twelve years my craziness has worked with kids who are not supposed to graduate or succeed according to most.  I happen to see this line from Arne Duncan our current National Secretary of Education and it is amazing how we provide a sense of falsehood through athletics. I am not saying all athletes are poor students by any means. I know many who are honor graduates and scholars in their own right. The greed and competition however at a college level becomes significant. A local college at home games can bring millions to the economy. Many staunch fans never went to college anywhere yet have season tickets and trucks colored in that schools colors and even have the same animal as a pet as the local mascot. A good college football or basketball program is a business not a learning program. 

 

“I think we are lying to children and families when we tell children that they are meeting standards and, in fact, they are woefully unprepared to be successful in high school and have almost no chance of going to a good university and being successful.’ Arne Duncan

 

            We constantly hear on the news how we are behind in education other international programs and countries. Let me start with one of the measures which is the PISA, The Program for International Student Assessment. In 2006 we the USA were ranked fifteenth. I have never heard of or seen this test administered in Georgia. It is a two hour test, multiple choice and essay. It is given every three years to rank countries internationally.  Australia is ranked fourth. There are differences between us and them and significant differences. It was 1992 till Australia started inclusion into public schools for disabled students versus 1974 in the US. However there is still a distinct difference between US and literally most of the world in terms of education. Our test scores for example as per NCLB include Students With Disabilities SWD as a subgroup and they are included in final tally of population. A 2% allowance is made for Mentally Impaired students in the total population. Australia in scoring on High School tests etc. does not include SWD in totals as European and Asian Schools do not include either. Most international school systems have in pace a mandatory age cut off 15-17 depending on the territory for example in in Australia. At that point choices are made and or mandated as to higher education technical and or college and or go to work. Throughout Asia this is common practice as it is in many European educational systems. So in reality when saying we are fifteenth we are actually number one comparing all kids in school.

 

“If you have great assessments and real-time data for teachers and parents that say these are [the student’s] strengths and weaknesses, that’s a real healthy thing,” Arne Duncan

 

“The work teachers and learners do together include rigorous, ongoing assessment and evaluation.” Foxfire Core Practice Nine

 

 

“We would do away with examinations. They measure the inconsequential type of learning. We would do away with grades and credits for the same reason. We would do away with degrees as a measure of competence partly for the same reason. Another reason is that a degree marks the end or a conclusion of something, and the learner is only interested in continuing the process of learning.” Carl Rogers

 

I am using several quotes from Carl Rodgers educational thinker of the mid twenieth century. I agree with several of my friends that on some concepts Carl Rogers can be a bit off the deep end to a degree. But on this aspect I agree with him that competition as far as learning goes be that grades, test scores, can be inconsequential as to the learning occurring. This would lead to another line from David Purpel yesterday that truly hit me hard.

 

“Schools have been captured by the concept of accountability, which has been transformed from a notion that schools need to be responsive and responsible to community concerns to one in which numbers are used to demonstrate that schools have met their minimal requirement.” David Purpel, 1989, Department of Curriculum and Educational Foundations, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

 

We have stripped away that aspect of community from schools in order to have a clear cut and definite number to score and equate whatever it is we are wanting to measure in theory. One of the first things I learned in statistics is that they are at the mercy of the statistician. We can make numbers do whatever we want. Politicians like numbers and test scores and simply things so they can make policy and award lobbyists with nice contracts. Interesting how most educational research that is cited by the National Clearing house for research based materials is primarily 100% publishing and testing company’s research. Much of this is very limited demographically and in a true research situation would not be valid. Significant dollars are involved however but that might be for another discussion, which sort of ties in with my idea of, is there ethical capitalism? Sadly industrial mentalities and capitalism drive education in US. Mass production testing and text book companies rule along with various support industries.

 

“I know there are schools that are beating the odds where students are getting better every year, and they are labeled failures, and that can be discouraging and demoralizing,” Arne Duncan

 

As for US schools being behind are they really? All US schools in all states are mandated through NCLB to have an exit exam that is within certain parameters for graduation and if not passed student does not receive a high school degree. This consists of Writing, Math, Social Studies, and Science portions in the state of Georgia. Many subjects have End of Course Tests again here in Georgia. Even with this series of tests at our high school we have managed to raise graduation rate at our school from 71% to 92% over a five year period. Sadly this comes at the expense of real learning and the idea of teaching to the test is more than a catch word. Teacher’s jobs administrator’s jobs are tied to test scores and funding and state and federal intervention as well. I am not happy with the USA educational system as I am a supporter of students and learning which are totally being left behind in this numerical accountability competitive system.

 

“We are proceeding on with the intent of the Landmark – Leave No Child Behind Reform Act without political persuasion. The focus is effective delivery of services in education by review, restructure, implementation for maximum student learning.” Arne Duncan

 

I have taught in different parts of Georgia and in Pennslyvania briefly and while many will say education is not as difficult as in previous generations all I can say is pull a high school or college biology book off the shelf dust it off and compare to a biology book today. The cellular material is years beyond my freshmen college and even zoology and botany books of 1968 and 1969. Not just the research gains but vocabulary and demands of material are voluminous compared to what we had in high school. I do agree that our system has some flaws and it will take radical thinking I tend to believe more toward the style of the Foxfire core practices, John Dewey’s ideas and Carl Rogers and some of his thoughts are good.

 

“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets — neither Freud nor research –neither the revelations of God nor man — can take precedence over my own direct experience. My experience is not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction.” Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person, 1961

 

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Carl Rogers

 

            As I close looking back on where and when and how I am still my self-searching for what is my own pedagogy. It is a continual fluid moving process as I teach and learn each day. I can say I am inclined to think this way but only till a better way comes along. With a morning nearing end and new week ahead please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

Where can I find the ends of the bell shaped curve?

Bird Droppings August 26, 2012

Where can I find the ends of a bell shaped curve?

 

I have had several statistics and testing courses during my undergraduate and graduate school experiences and I recall about on page 3 or so “the bell shaped curve” was mentioned. I always find it amazing how in education we use a bell shaped curve for so much. We often set up curriculum based on stats. One of the key elements of the first chapter of my old Statistics book was relating to how statistics can be used wrongly as well as for the better. All in interpretation and how data is recorded.

 

“Tell me what gives a man or woman their greatest pleasure and I’ll tell you their philosophy of life.”  Dale Carnegie

 

In the aftermath of the Republican convention a few years back I realized how much I do not like politics. When you look at the political promises they are literally by definition lies staged in their finer. Sadly they are words spoken to get elected and as I look at the words of Carnegie maybe we should find a simpler way to decide on a candidate. Starting one day this week pending the convention is not blown away by Hurricane Isaac another political platform will be displayed and proposed.  

 

“The courage of the truth is the first condition of philosophic study.” George Hegel

 

“All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions: 1. What can I know? 2. What ought I to do? 3. What may I hope?” Immanuel Kant

 

Perhaps we should make a philosopher president. As I venture forth this evening taking a break from playing with my granddaughter trying to not reiterate the multitude of media that has deluged us recently with political dribble as we approach an election cycle. In reviewing files on students and even employees in the past I have found the person who is writing the reference very definitely allows their perception to drive the effort. One of the leading evaluative tools for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders suggests uses three of four different views so you can triangulate rather than be limited to one teacher’s perspective.

 

“Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” Hans Margolius

 

As I read earlier this morning thinking of various reports about a student I had recently evaluated. Often I will wait to review records forming my own opinion before digging into the files, trying not to be prejudiced by others thoughts.

 

“The heart has eyes which the brain knows nothing of.” Charles H. Perkhurst

 

“Simple people… are very quick to see the live facts which are going on about them.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

I am amazed often at how our system works. We design everything in generalities that are driven by what will work most of the time. In doing so there is truth in the bell shaped curve. But it is those fringes of humanity at either end of the curve that minute quantity that end up in judgment and in reality forced to survive by same general guidelines as the majority who sit in the normal range.

 

 “To do exactly as your neighbors do is the only sensible rule.” Emily Post

 

“The idea that men are created free and equal is both true and misleading: men are created different; they lose their social freedom and their individual autonomy in seeking to become like each other.” David Riesman

 

I was chatting with a fellow teacher about kindergarten classes. It is interesting how we take the little children and makes them conform to totally unnatural standards for four and five year olds. They need to be quiet, stand in line, color in lines, do this, do that and then for twelve years continue adding to the guidelines. By high school they have an agenda unfortunately it is not their own.  

 

“Agenda – 1: a list or outline of things to be considered or done, 2: an underlying often ideological plan or program” Webster’s Dictionary

 

It bothers me that we eliminate individuality from children. What bothers me most is that we strip away the aspects that make them who they are and put in its place who we want them to be. In today’s day and age that seems to be good consumers.  

 

“We are citizens of an age, as well as of a State; and if it is held to be unseemly, or even inadmissible, for a man to cut himself off from the customs and manners of the circle in which he lives, why should it be less of a duty, in the choice of his activity, to submit his decision to the needs and the taste of his century?” Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

 

“We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove.” Mark Twain

 

Sort of sad to be compared to sheep but after watching the politics of the past few weeks it is so easy to see. Years ago herders would have a “Judas goat” to lead the lambs to slaughter; the flock simply followed never questioning just following along. Many years ago Disney Studios had a film on border collies. Basically they of course saved the day but one particular scene was of the flock pushing and following and a number ended up in a stream. A quick note on border collies always have very short names, Dot, Jim, Bo always generally one syllable. It is easier to say quickly when working sheep. Anyhow the two dogs risk their lives to save the drowning sheep and the rest of the flock and get them safely home.

Earlier when I started I did not realize the direction I was heading in my daily wanderings and I am sitting here now thinking of teachers as border collies. We tend to be steering and guiding the flock. Occasionally we get a Judas goat as a teacher but hopefully they get weeded out along the way.

 

“It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.” Albert Einstein

 

A bit of grounding and as I think of the bell shaped curve and sheep and how we in education strive to have standardized everything to make it easier to work with the masses. I also see Einstein that great thinker point out that even in our world of majority rules the individual can still be found and still be “warmly acclaimed”. Sadly I start another week with please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

 

 

 

Are not compassion and passion spelled similar?

Bird Droppings August 24, 2012

Are not compassion and passion spelled similar?

When does the FIDO principle not seem appropriate? Frequency, Intensity, Duration and Over Again is the basis for how to teach a topic in many management courses. Perhaps in a debate when asked a question and you answer with the same politic rhetoric that has been hashed out over and over memorizing is not a good thing yet it has its place when applied properly.

“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.”  Henri Frederic Amiel

I do not think you can script passion. This may be why often in politics a man who is passionate about what he believes and thinks can overcome odds.

“What is passion? It is surely the becoming of a person. Are we not, for most of our lives, marking time? Most of our being is at rest, unlived. In passion, the body and the spirit seek expression outside of self. Passion is all that is other from self. Life is only interesting when it releases passion. The more extreme and the more expressed that passion is the more unbearable doe’s life seems without it. It reminds us that if passion dies or is denied, we are partly dead and that soon, come what may, we will be wholly so.” John Boorman

 

“Passion doesn’t look beyond the moment of its existence.” Christian Nevell Bevee

It is an interesting concept passion a fleeting yet engrained entity within the core of our being. Passion is momentary yet universal.

“I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.” George Burns

It is so hard to imagine a diminutive cigar smoking 90 plus year old man as passionate, but George Burns was. To all about him he added life, exuberance, and light. If you could bottle the essence of George Burns what a world we would have. But within his passion was another word, compassion. While he lived in humor and jest it was never at the expense of another, he always lifted up rather than tear down.

“If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.” Joseph Campbell

 

“In the human heart new passions are forever being born; the overthrow of one almost always means the rise of another.” Francois De La Rochefouauld

 

“Live with passion!” Anthony Robbins

Sitting here thinking this morning after another news filled evening overloaded with political gesturing and posturing I wonder if in life we could be passionate and compassionate. What a combination, throwing all in to caring about others with little disregard for self, not too many of those sort around now a days, especially not in politics. The words get used but the actions dictate otherwise.

“To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you’re overdoing it.” Josh Jenkins

 

As I was thinking earlier this morning wondering, and watching the spinners of politics take on the various aspects of our nation. Several TV stations that from where I sat were over whelming one sided seem to find the most minute problems. One man is confident and one unsure of himself fidgeting wrinkling his brow and his notes as he speaks. In a psychological war there was only one victor yet in the war of passion only one man comes across. But do we need a passionate president? Do we need a compassionate president? As I have listened one man has said he is compassionate but in life saying, believing, and doing are not only definitively different words but semantically rhetorically and in simple language if you cannot show it, it ain’t so.

“Compassion has no place in the natural order of the world which operates on the basis of necessity. Compassion opposes this order and is therefore best thought of as being in some way supernatural.” John Berger

 

“I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” Pablo Casals

Can compassion be found behind a $120.00 tie and $1500.00 suit? Can compassion, true compassion be found stepping from a chauffer driven limo and from speech writer’s thoughts.

“The mind is no match with the heart in persuasion; constitutionality is no match with compassion.” Everett Dirkson

 

“Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.” Eric Hoffer

Recently I watched students looking up funny t-shirts one was about paving whales, an anti-environmental sort of thing and I mentioned that that was abhorrent to me and I was reminded it was only meant to be funny.

“Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.” Albert Schweitzer

 

“The value of compassion cannot be over-emphasized. Anyone can criticize. It takes a true believer to be compassionate. No greater; burden can be borne by an individual than to know no one cares or understands.” Arthur H. Stainback

I was staying up last night waiting to see passion and compassion from the featured candidates some of whom were to be on talk shows. I have heard political jargon, but between the lines deep empathy as well as regular people address own situations. Harm is an interesting word. In harm’s way and being placed in harm’s way was bantered about numerous times as politicians do and today I will use it again. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in our hearts and always give thanks namsate.

Wa de (Skee)

bird

Can we teach an unteachable child?

Bird Droppings August 23, 2012

Can we teach an unteachable child?

 

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” John F. Kennedy

 

I was working with some young people yesterday when one who continually has been a problem for various teachers was acting out. It was easy, far too easy to see the behaviors he was demonstrating than to look past to any possible ability at the time. As I pondered with him during class as to what to do it kept coming back to find the positive aspects of this young man rather than the very obvious negative, reinforce the positive.

 

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Aristotle

 

“Education in our times must try to find whatever there is in students that might yearn for completion, and to reconstruct the learning that would enable them autonomously to seek that completion.” Allan Bloom

 

We met for a faculty meeting a few weeks back and one of the topics was the Governors Honors program which is six weeks during the summer for top students. My son was privileged to go eight years ago. When he came back he had a great difficulty dealing with students who did not want to learn. After spending a summer with peers who literally learned on their own and sought additional learning to come back to school where many students simply ride the waves and basically are just there, even in honors classes was hard.

 

“Getting things done is not always what is most important. There is value in allowing others to learn, even if the task is not accomplished as quickly, efficiently or effectively.” R. D. Clyde

 

“Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” Edward Everett

 

It is difficult to try and inspire those who prefer ignorance to education those people who are content in life being unaware. It is so easy to look about today and see this in our world of politics. I often joke that you could go all day in a high school with seven or eight words. If you actually listen many teenagers can communicate with a few statements and words and literally you could walk through any high school in America and use those few phrases and words and communicate all day long. Unfortunately most perpetuate ambiguousness, my favorite is whatever, used perhaps more in a day than any other word in the English language at least in high school.

 

“Nine tenths of education is encouragement.” Anatole France

 

“What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities.” R. Buckmaster Fuller

 

So often we discourage rather than encourage often due to behavior as I think back to my incident yesterday and a student who was acting out. My first reaction was to get rid of him, get him out of the class and I am the behavior teacher. I would march him down to the administrator and be done with it. The student did not want to learn and did not want to be in school. His attitude was “I am only here for insurance of I am not in school I do not get covered”. It is an interesting enough thought process to understand the reality of the world. So this student is in effect stuck somewhere where he doesn’t want to be yet currently not willing to learn.

 

“We learn simply by the exposure of living. Much that passes for education is not education at all but ritual. The fact is that we are being educated when we know it least.” David P. Garner

 

“I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive.” John W. Gardner

 

“If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.” John W. Gardner

 

One of the great thinkers and reformers of education and society of the last one hundred years John Garner saw aspiration in students and in society.

 

“Josh Billings said, ‘It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient one, too.’ Human beings have always employed an enormous variety of clever devices for running away from themselves, and the modern world is particularly rich in such stratagems.” John W. Gardner

 

As I think back to my problem student, was his behavior an act of escaping from who he is and from where he is or was in life?

 

“Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” John W. Gardner

 

I got into a discussion after our faculty meeting with another teacher are we truly educating students, are we preparing them for what they may encounter in the real world. We bantered ideas back and forth and constructivism kept popping up in my mind.

 

“Constructivism is a philosophy of learning founded on the premise that, by reflecting on our experiences, we construct our own understanding of the world we live in. Each of us generates our own “rules” and “mental models,” which we use to make sense of our experiences. Learning, therefore, is simply the process of adjusting our mental models to accommodate new experiences.” Engaging Kids, Funderstanding http://www.funderstanding.com/constructivism.cfm

 

Recalling John Dewey’s lab school and the idea you cannot learn about something truly learn without doing it as Dewey would say. In discussing with this teacher we drew a similar conclusion it takes hands on for students to learn beyond simply pouring facts into the mold. Going back to my problem student of yesterday perhaps looking at where was he coming from and where did he want to go and why and accentuating those issues would provide a pathway for him. Each day is a new day and each thought adds to the thought pool and process, it is about lifting up rather than tearing down. Today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

I wonder what is really my favorite store?

Bird Droppings August 22, 2012

I wonder what is really my favorite store?

 

Interesting two thoughts while similar struck me this morning as I started the day out.  One I heard on the radio going to get gas for my wife the other morning from a radio announcer recalling an old Bush quote, and the other thought is from Harry Potter. All of this and a trip to one of my favorite store our super Kroger. Quick Trip is still my favorite since they are open twenty four hours a day however and our Kroger went to a shortened day closing around 1:00 AM through 6:00 AM. You just never know when you might need something. It had been rather hectic all weekend between mowing, trimming shrubs, reading, doing laundry and making the rounds being back in school was almost relaxing. What a glorious week still ahead?

 

“It is not about the goods we accumulate but about the good we do” George W. Bush

 

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” Professor Dumbledore to Harry in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” by J.K. Rowling

 

 I wish it would be possible to believe the first, but with trying to drill for oil in wilderness Alaska, off shore in Florida and other parts of the country and friends in high places reaping huge profits and a war costing trillions of dollars that was bogus from many people’s standpoints while he was in office sort of makes it hard. Although perhaps as some people indicated in writing and articles he was simply a puppet of others. Still at the time war efforts and accumulation seemed more important than doing any sort of good. Of course the philosophy of the ends justifies the means could possibly be applied.

That was sort of the approach when the last passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati zoo and some people had the attitude well it’s only a pigeon. Sadly once there were billions flying over the forests of the east coast, and yes it is only a pigeon except we can never at this time replicate that one, it is gone. The Alaska wilderness when it is gone is gone can never be replicated as well but if the end justifies it many people see no problem. However as I sat this morning, perhaps a better brighter thought from J.K. Rowling thorough the character of Dumbledore “it is our choices that show who we really our”. I wonder how soon Harry Potter books will be classics and teachers will be analyzing the plots and developing theories as to why Rowling characterized Harry as a boy or teenager and why an owl as his companion versus a weasel.

I recall eleventh or twelfth grade English and my teacher Ms. Stern and the Melville novel classic, Moby Dick. According to her lessons and teachings the ship represented the world and Ishmael well he got stuck on that ship. What was Melville really telling us besides a great story and history of New England’s whaling industry? I really enjoyed the story but not the analysis and when I wrote my opinion, it was wrong according to Ms. Stern. Many years ago choices we make not our abilities was the credo. I do think however had I been in a different teacher’s class my idea of a historical novel on the short lived whaling industry would have been applauded.

 

”Ability is of little account without opportunity.” Napoleon Bonaparte

 

“The first requisite for success is the ability to apply your physical and mental energies to one problem incessantly without growing weary.” Thomas A. Edison

 

 It is about being at the right place at the right time or is it the choice we make. It is also about applying and choosing when opportunity provides a window and then plot thickens. In some of my more recent readings several differing views and yet again somewhat in a line of thought that is parallel the following quote.

 

“All things are made of energy. Thoughts and feelings, for example, are nothing more than energy. Through the choices we make, our thoughts and feelings, and even our actions, take on a distinctive nature according to the direction in which they are moved.” Dr. Michael Garrett, Walking on the wind

 

“It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.” Elbert Hubbard

 

Ability is an added aspect of today’s search and seeing in others that ability almost is an intuitive aspect of humanity.

 

“The world cares very little about what a man or woman knows; it is what a man or woman is able to do that counts.” Booker T. Washington

 

This morning as I was being lazy actually I left my computer at school yesterday. I did however go out and sit thinking on my back porch for nearly an hour. I was listening intently to nature and even sort of intermingled man’s interactions with an occasional car or truck sound in the distance. However in getting started later than normal and then procrastinating even further talking with another teacher as I went to my classroom only to find my siren Lester had come out of his tank. Most people see the nearly three foot critter and think an eel but he or she is a Greater Siren and an aquatic amphibian never leaving the larval stage.

I enjoy my weekends where I can read and answer emails and work on my photography often downloading a gazillion photos to Facebook and working in my gardens. One of my emails recently was about realizing school was nearing the end and graduation was only a few months ahead and now they would have to make a way in life. In that same email concern for a friend stationed in the Middle East was almost heart rending. Watching the news doesn’t give justice to friends and families with loved ones overseas in harm’s way, as I think, choices we make.  Yesterday as I went home our town had a memorial to a recent fallen local fellow who was killed in a suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan. In other emails with a suggestion of a book to read and out of 70 or so yesterday and this morning maybe those three really truly caught my attention.

I started with a Bush quote and maybe that applies to a job search as well. So many of the following what we do with our lives is our choice how the world will see that choice is dependent upon the direction and choices we make. It is not the ability that you will be known for or how great an actor or musician or football player but what you do with your talent is what is seen. Aspects of family are so crucial and friends equally as well and always seek to learn to know more reading, writing, thinking and reflecting.

 

“If there were no writers there will be no readers” unknown source

 

“Choose wisely”, it has been said and in the end some do and some will not. So today take stock of where you are and look at the road ahead and pick that path way that will direct you where you need to be.

 

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

 

In today’s hectic world we all look for quick solutions, five minute abs, six minutes to wisdom, and a one minute egg. Wisdom is not on the stock exchange, it is not a brokered commodity. It is there, and it is a journey. The journey is not an easy one and to be involved in finding wisdom only those who actually travel that road will truly become wise.

 

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

 

Several nights ago I was bored no American Idol, new NCIS, House is gone and I put on a video of Star Trek of all things, “Star Trek Insurrection”. The plot revolves around a planet where all is at peace. The few residents, all 600 have forsaken technology for art, or literature, for the aesthetics in life and for all that they can make of themselves. Interestingly a weaver studies 40 years to become an apprentice and apprentice another 40 to become a master weaver of rugs and tapestries. These people live on a planet whose innate radiation prolongs life and rejuvenates them cellular so they have time to accomplish what it is inside them. It sounds so easy when the time allows it.

Daniel Day Lewis, actor went and became a cobbler. He took a five year hiatus from movies to study cobbling, (shoe making) in Europe from the masters. As the Star Trek movie progressed a comment was made about a perfect moment, a special moment that stands out above all else. Captain Pickard mentioned seeing earth from space for the first time, many astronauts recall that moment. For me it was a sunrise over the Atlantic one morning on CumberlandIsland with the waves splashing about and the most brilliant reds and oranges I have ever seen. A shrimp boat slowly moved through this picture yet in its awesomeness the boat was insignificant.

As Pickard spoke with this woman on this planet of a perfect moment she then offered now to learn to make every moment prefect and the movie continued and soon he was seeing a hummingbird flit to a flower or pollen blown from a flower.

 

“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 am intrigued as I read various thoughts on wisdom and for some reason I am always drawn to Emerson. He was always controversial yet perhaps one of the greatest thinkers as well as poet of his time. He was alluding to wisdom as a temporary entity in his statement. The next quote is an interesting statement from a President oft misunderstood

 

“Wisdom oft times consists of knowing what to do next.” Herbert Clark Hoover

 

“Wisdom begins at the end.” Daniel Webster

 

So often we spend time simply doing, not seeking, we spend time worrying about which path to travel or preparing our needs for the journey and worrying about the destination. We forget to go and there we are no better and no worse, only we are where we were to start still. Somewhere in among all things is the destination but the destination is not necessarily the end but a point B of a line AB and still out there is C and D and E and much more. My procrastinating journey of my doctorate, wandering taking pictures which lead me flower to a flower and occasionally to one I have never seen and actually a few years ago I photographed a butterfly pea, Clitoria marina. It was growing along a dirt road near an old homestead sadly now in some construction it is gone and I have found nowhere else in area. But as the sun is near rising time draws near today for the first bell please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your thoughts and always give thanks namaste.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird

Can we make a beginning from an end?

Bird Droppings August 21, 2012

Can we make a beginning from an end?

 

“It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.” Albert Einstein

 

A little over five years ago for two days a dear friend visited with us here in Between Georgia. This was the first time he had been back in this area for nearly three years. In our course of topics as we talked late into the evening on those two nights was the idea of teaching as an art form. We talked about views on life and how so often I have on occasions seen things others have not. During our breakfast one day we talked about intuition and empathy crucial aspects of a good teacher.

Another topic was how so often in life we tend to view daily happenings as mundane and yet in that moment of the mundane miracles are happening. In our backyard we have since we have moved here put in numerous flower beds and in one bed we have several ferns along with trumpet plants and several other flowering shrubs. However one bed is special nearly every flower attracts hummingbirds. Coincidentally we planted petunias around the edge and I was pulling dead flowers off when I heard a loud humming buzzing sound. My wife had me place a hummingbird feeder in the tree which centers the bed. The hummingbird food was constantly disappearing and I had just refilled it, one of my jobs here at the Bird Nest. As I looked up hearing the buzzing two hummingbirds evidently they had been feeding directly beside me and took off into a nearby tree. I called my wife to let her know her flower bed was successful.

When I sit each morning and write about fireflies dancing across the edge of my world in my back yard or whippoorwills echoing through the dawn and dusk it is recognizing what for many is the mundane in life. Should I not be hearing they will still be calling and should I not be watching the fireflies will still light the night? My own view limited by darkness and my own vision and my own perception.

For someone a thousand miles away it is only words that I write yet I see it and experience it and yet for someone here nearby unless they are willing to rise at 4:00 AM they too will not see or hear what I see and hear.  So in effect a writer offers glimpses of another experience or another world to those willing to read. I offered as my friend and I talked it is about renewing our perception sharpening our senses to see and hear and feel more than we do today.  

 

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”  Albert Einstein

 

Many considered Einstein to be an atheist for his very often blunt statements about religion, yet if you read any of his nonscientific statements there is a spiritual aspect to them. He was an artist and a philosopher as well. Today is a day unlike most other days I have experienced with my friend talking many old thoughts and memories that we discussed years ago? Sitting and reminiscing about his days in seminary and choosing to go back to teaching and how that impacted his life. There is an end and a beginning of every journey and at one point I even asked him if he was in the right place now. Without blinking an eye he responded he was never happier and knew this was where he was meant to be now in his life journey.

 

“We do not chart and measure the vast field of nature or express her wonders in the terms of science; on the contrary, we see miracles on every hand – the miracle of life in seed and egg, the miracle of death in a lightening flash and the swelling deep.” Ohiyesa, Dr. Charles Eastman, Santee Sioux

 

Perhaps one day I can sit idle as I started thinking a few moments ago and rock on my front porch, but not today. For now I crave that thought process and questioning and curiosity of learning and teaching. Whenever I drive through Kentucky I cannot help but think of Daniel Boone finding his way in which for him at that time was a wilderness and yet for Native Americans of that place it was home not a wilderness. Even in that day trails and pathways were worn from the passage of moccasin feet.

 

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” Albert Einstein

 

In a paper for graduate school a year or so ago I referenced my recent experience, as somewhat of a clearing of a haze from things I had forgotten. It was as if things were clarifying from many years ago. Often what is learned is not just from books but from experiencing, living, seeing and believing. Each day I travel a road many others have journeyed on and many others have succeeded in going beyond that road. Yet it is new to me each day for I choose to see more than the day before. For me it is wilderness opening new trails not yet civilization. For me it is fresh and vibrant even though many see mundane and stale.

It might be in the flight and blinking of a firefly or the snort of breath as our buffalo crossed the pasture years ago, or the call of a whippoorwill off in the trees. It may be in the feather left for me as a hawk soared through the sky. I recall a movie where the start and end was nothing more than a piece of fluff blowing about until it gained import with the main character as Forest Gump placed that small piece of fluff in a special place. We do not know from moment to moment how someone will react to anything we do or say or write. I spoke with my friend about interconnections and how this is the art of our existence. It is in the perception the seeing, feeling and hearing of our own heartbeat.

I ran into a former student yesterday. She had moved and happened by chance to be in our town as I was my favorite store, Quick Trip. Seems she now lives in another county and will not be attending our school this year. She just wanted to say hi and in the conversation asked what do you teach everyone wants to know, it seems I have many students who just come by my room and officially are not in my classes. I told her on my door it states; Period One – The philosophy of learning about how and why we learn what we do, Period two – the same, Period three planning, and Period four again the same. She said that sounded interesting.

For nearly three years she wondered what I taught and wanted to be in my class. I would always respond you haven’t been in enough trouble yet. As she left after I explained Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, she said even though she wasn’t in my regular classes except for Biology in summer school she had learned a lot. How is that for an ego boost?

By chance I was reading as I do yesterday thinking back to my conversation with my friend and having shown him several websites and books. Two passages caught my attention that I had shown him and tagged as I end my writings today. Last night I had been helping my wife with several reflections for her nursing program and one of her authors has a very narrow view of the world. His outlook is the only true and real way and these two passages came back to mind.

 

“On the basis of the belief that all human beings share the same divine nature, we have a very strong ground, a very powerful reason, to believe that it is possible for each of us to develop a genuine sense of equanimity toward all beings.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “The Good Heart

 

“Strength based in force is a strength people fear. Strength based in love is a strength people crave. It is as true today as it was then and as true for nations as it is for individuals. Unfortunately, too few of each are listening.” Kent Nerburn

 

Kent Nerburn was addressing a friend’s comment about Viet Nam and those of us old enough to have been drafted and or serve in that time of war can easily relate. As I am looking at the news and comments from politicians the past few days this passage from the Dalai Lama struck a chord with me. One of the things my friend and I did while he was hear was to talk with and see each of my sons since my friend had been involved with them in youth work and music. Of course that included riding down to Georgia Tech and going for a campus tour in the Tech mascot, the Ramblin Wreck. Recalling I was thinking back to my friend’s visit and us watching old videos and spending quite a few hours with my sons and my friend catching up and it reminded me how significant today can be. Now I can end for this day and another week is near end as well so please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks.

 

Wa de (Skee)

bird