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