Sometimes small is many times BIG?

Bird Droppings May 22, 2013
Sometimes small is many times BIG?

I am sitting in the quiet of the high school pondering, thinking, reflecting and writing while listening to the Traveling Wilibury’s Volume one. Yesterday I spent some time as I do every day with my granddaughter. I find it amazing how a conversation with a two year old can be so enlightening. Her eyes sort of watched as I spoke about the various sounds we heard as we walked around the yard. A morning dove was cooing and I called back. A mockingbird called in one of its many voices. A woodpecker hammered away in our old black walnut tree and I pointed out the holes almost out of view. We sat down at my special place in the back of the yard where I sit and meditate and often early in the day the spider webs were glistening in the rising sun. I explained how the threads of life are woven through all things. After our walk we went in and had dinner and read, The grumpy caterpillar by Children’s book artist and author Eric Carl and watched Octobots and Henry Hugglemonster. My granddaughter is barely an arm full and yet the wisdom of youth shows in her eyes.

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder

Last week a student asked about a plaque hanging on my wall. It is rather simple one, just a slip of wrinkled paper with the word pass written on it. Why do you have a piece of paper hanging up, I was asked. It got me thinking about a day many years back when I was finishing my Master’s degree. I was looking at some power point slides as we waited between committee meetings at Piedmont College. This process was the culmination of two years of work and studies and at Piedmont College and entitled the capstone. As I think back and relate to what a capstone is within an arch it is that which hold all together. Our project was a summary of all we learned in two years. I am a proud father as my son is completing his this summer.
As I thought back nearly nine years now, one set of slides was of my son’s old ten gallon aquarium, a Nano reef or mini reef for those less verbally aware. The object is you can have a beautiful salt water aquarium in a small space with very small creatures. The up keep is actually significantly more than a larger tank because there is no margin of error in a small tank, but when you start looking at these tiny almost insignificant creatures they become breathtaking. In the space of ten milk cartons an entire world exists. A two and a half inch pistol shrimp lives in a burrow with a three inch blenny a small fish. The blenny is very wary and the shrimp is blind when trouble seems to be coming the blenny pulls the shrimp back in the hole. When a tasty morsel is coming the fish encourages the powerful shrimp to grab it. In that small space two tiny creatures working together in a symbiotic relationship.
A few days ago one of the teachers brought in a tiny green tree frog they had caught we arranged a little cage for observation. Over the years I have found the world close up can be more fascinating than great big world we live in. There are pieces revealed that may otherwise going unseen and life takes on a different aspect. Often I enjoy my macro lenses more than the telephoto. Seeing up close often reveals bits and pieces we might never see otherwise.

“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it “creative observation.” Creative viewing.” William S. Burroughs

So often we miss the small pieces always intent on the big and little bits of life will pass us by. As we used to watch my sons Nano reef explode when he dropped in a feeding solution of microscopic particles of plankton, algae and such. I do not even see what the tiny corals anemones and polyps can sense in the water, closed animals open into beautiful living things seeking their prey. Soon after glimpsing the power points I was handed a small piece of paper with my name on it written in blue ink and the word in capital letters PASS on it as well. That was the closure to two years of study and a door to another journey. I took my note and placed in a frame on my wall at school a reminder of how so often small things can be so important. Amazing how a small piece of white copy paper can be so significant. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

Wa de (Skee)
bird

Can we imagine?

Bird Droppings May 21, 2013
Can we imagine?

Some days I wonder if adults I know have ever imagined even considered imagination. For example have you ever lain on your back watching clouds trying to determine if this one is a dragon or a whale? I was driving home from Georgia Tech with my son and his roommate several years ago. They were planning on going to the premiere of the new Star Wars movie. As we drove my son mentioned an article he read about video games and creativity. It was probably the exact opposite of what many of us would say, evidently this particular report indicated video games and their realism and such increase brain capacity for imagination. I won’t vouch for that one however. But I do know I do not see the creativity and imagination perhaps as much as I would like.
So many adults have chosen a rigid world of exactness and parameters tight little boxes of comfort and calmness. They are often limiting themselves only to a few inches of space in this vast universe, stodgily staying within the lines and forcing others to do so as well. By dictionary terms creativity is “the ability to create”, that is a simple version of a complex idea.

“The creative process is the emergence in action of a novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of his life on the other.” Carl Rogers

A synthesis of things people have and hold on one hand and what the available materials might be on the other.

“One sees from this that genius: 1) is a talent to produce that to which no specific rules can be applied, not that to which learned and practiced skills can be applied; therefore, that originality is its primary characteristic. 2) Since there can also be original non-sense, its products are at the same time examples, i.e., that they must be exemplary; in fact, though themselves not products of imitation, they must serve as such for other products, that is, as measures or rules of judgment. 3) It cannot describe or scientifically establish how it brings its product about; rather, as an expression of nature simply provides the measure. Therefore, the creator of such a product does not know himself how the ideas come about, and does not have the ability to come up with these ideas at will or according to a plan, and cannot communicate a set of rules by which one could bring about similar products. (Presumably for this reason one uses the word “genius,” which also means a spirit who accompanies a human at birth, protects and guides him.) 4) Nature prescribes to art rather than science through genius; and this only insofar as art desires to be an art form.” W. Miller, Duke University

A long winded definition that actually raises more questions than it defines. Creativity is a most difficult word to clearly define. Years ago my youngest son was being tested for “the gifted class”; his second grade teacher saw glimpses of something a bit more than average children his age. His IQ test bolstered her thoughts and his achievement tests were ok nothing that would knock you down and his grades well in some areas one hundred percent plus in some areas and in others that he was not interested in well he was passing. However in Georgia at that time gifted labeling required a battery of tests and three out of four tests the child should exceed in to be considered gifted. This little kid had two out of four and indicator of grades was a loss so he had to ace creativity test. So on the given day the school psychologist took him aside and tested. The test was given and scored and given again several more times since the first one was obviously flawed and finally by the third time and similar results she decided it was a real score. It seems he was off the charts in creativity and the tester had never scored a second grade student so high.
I immediately pointed to genetics as a factor standing tall and puffing my chest out a bit. It was with that he ended up in gifted class. Since that time I have been impressed with teachers and parents who encourage their children to imagine, to ponder and think beyond the required tasks assigned. After the testing the teacher who tested my son asked if we did anything out of the ordinary. His spontaneous answers were what floored her in testing. Since he was four or so every day as I drove him to school we would make up stories taking turns adding to the plot or even to what we were making up a story about. My father’s grandpa Niper (my great grandfather) stories were embellished and expanded often for days.
Some days the stories would be of imaginary creatures and often it was a contest to stump me with a creature I could not make up a story about and only once was I stumped. I do not recall the request and or what monster he had come up. But my son initiated the process and would offer twists and turns as we built the story. My kids grew up in the middle of 183 acres of farm land and they would often find their way to Paradise a pile of rocks and stones sitting on a slab of granite in amongst several trees. They would build tiny villages and forts with pebbles and small stones and take match box cars along to add to their game. Even today the word Paradise conjures up vivid memories for my kids and imagination and every once in a while I will get asked to retell a grandpa Niper story especially now that grandbabies are getting to storytelling age. We need to encourage each other teachers and parents not to hinder imagination. We need to stop infringing our limitations and our boxes and parameters on children’s minds and souls. We need to imagine as well and live each moment. So on my official first day of summer break I am sitting at school writing pondering and as always please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and be sure to give thanks always Namaste.

Wa de (Skee)
bird

Would it not be a great addition to reality TV, The next great teacher?

Bird Droppings May 20, 2013
Would it not be a great addition to reality TV, The next great teacher?

I was sitting mesmerized by the night sounds when the kitchen door opened and my son poked his head out wondering what I was doing. I was not in the mood for TV and the sounds of darkness seem to calm me for sleep. Off in the distance a whippoorwill was calling to one near the house and crickets tree frogs and an occasional owl chimed in. It was an exceptionally human intrusion on a quiet night since few human influenced noises were present. I found myself thinking to the idea of; I wonder if this is what it sounded like hundreds of years ago just the various birds, crickets, frogs and owls. A heavy dew and rainwater were dripping from pine needles nearby adding to the ambiance.

“The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our federal education program No Child Left behind is about lifting standards higher to make the United States number one in education. In the news literally daily the idea of raising the bar in our educational process was suggested again. We need more students to succeed so we will raise the standards and graduation rates. So to say raise the bar educationally. The theory is that more students will succeed with higher standards for teachers and students. However changing of teaching methods, changing delivery, and even changing standards does not raise the ability or desire of a given student.
I can’t help but think of high jumping when the idea of raising the bar came up. Let us use as acceptable a height of currently thirty six inches and tomorrow we will raise the bar to sixty inches and you will succeed because we have a new way of telling you how to jump. We will use a megaphone now and just as you jump we will yell “NOW JUMP”. As silly as this sounds this little exercise which is akin to many educational programs is more how not to succeed than before. Before raising the standard did we look at why the students could not clear thirty six inches. Was it the teaching method, or the physical ability of the student, was it the shoes they are wearing, perhaps the surface of the run way to the jump pit is too soft or slippery, is there a wind that knocks the bar off as they approach. In education time after time the mention of zip codes and test scores comes up and in today’s jargon that’s why we need these charter schools run by businesses who know what to do. So in my naiveté I wonder how does a real estate mogul or software genius know how to teach or seemingly increase knowledge over say a teacher. Even more interesting is many of so called experts have not succeeded in school and or did not go through college. But they know what it takes to help poor kids or failing kids how to raise the bar.
Basically in any type of medium if a person cannot jump thirty six inches moving to sixty inches will only assure failure. However with practice and time sixty inches is possible but several factors have to be in place and a key one is the desire and attitude of the person doing the jumping. The coach can be the greatest in the world but if the student is content on failure they will fail. A few years back I watched the induction of John Madden into the NFL hall of fame. Madden has been one of my favorite commentators and coaches of all time.

“Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear.” John Madden

“A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.” Ara Parasheghan

Coaching and teaching the terms are often synonymous in many ways. It was a number of years ago I raised and showed horses. I had a very good Appaloosa gelding we affectionately called “Spot” and with me riding Spot would be third or fourth but always place. Funny thing was with my trainer on board Spot would win. I once asked about this phenomenon and was told the following.

“You put a ten horse, and by ten I mean on a scale from 1-10 out with a 1 rider again on a scale of 1-10 and you have a 5 ride, however you put a 10 horse and 10 rider out and what are your odds” Earl Burchett, trainer and judge of Appaloosa and Quarter horses

As I thought of my horse days quote, teaching and coaching are similar. A good teacher can get more out of a poor functioning group of students and a poor teacher will get something out of great students. For thirty five years I have asked how do we distinguish that good teachers and or coaches are from a mediocre ones.

“Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal.” Don Shula

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” Vince Lombardi

Commitment is a key word in selecting a great teacher and or coach and the ability of instilling that commitment in their students and players. Over the years few coaches have been compared to the great Vince Lombardi who is perhaps the greatest of all coaches.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” Vince Lombardi

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.” Vince Lombardi

The ability to succeed is based on hard work desire and determination these are skills that great teachers and great coaches can instill in students and players.

“The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else” John Madden

Far too often we only see the champion and how many folks can remember who finished second or third in the national championship game. This may be a fault in our society that we settle for only the greatest only the best. We live on a bell shape curve and only a few will ever be the best but it is in the trying and it is motivating students into trying that as a teacher is to excel. It is so easy to succumb to the down side of that curve. Fifty percent will not succeed and that mentality is often so powerful that so why should I try harder.

“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.” Knute Rockne

A slight paraphrase of this great quote from the great Notre Dame Coach, “One teacher teaching is better than fifty saying they do”. This is what it is about; it is about truly teaching, motivating, instilling determination, and desire. It is about coaching and succeeding rather than failure. I hear every day, but I have a seventy percent I am passing that really makes me upset that a child concedes to a seventy percent. Who gave out seventy percent passes but we do it all the time. Can a thirty six inch jumper clear sixty inches? Many years ago a so-so high jumper changed his form. He was also a student of physics and as such and he noticed jumpers were leading with their foot and the body following. He changed his form and lead with his head and torso and high jumping changed forever. Shortly thereafter a world record and Olympic gold went to Dick Fossberry and the Fossberry flop as it was called is now the jumping style of all record holding high jumpers. Funny thing is, today all high jumpers lead with their head a matter of physics getting the heaviest part over first and those muscles pushing it over last which takes less effort and the world record keeps going up. It is about ideas, determination and commitment and any goal can be accomplished.
Can this apply to teaching and learning? Most assuredly we can, but we have to make an effort and we have to look for the means of accomplishing our goal. Federal standards called for research based programs in educational settings yet there are only a few the field is narrow and the difficultly is doing new research which requires guinea pigs and too many teachers and programs do not want to fail. Teacher’s jobs are at stake as well as administrators and so we in trying to improve may actually have boxed ourselves in by limiting improvement to a narrow window of research proven programs, which in reality may or may not work. Are they researched n the same demographics as the students you teach or will be teaching is always a question? Has this program truly been tested on a large enough group? Is there room for improvement and progress within the program?
From personal experience I have watched administrators then limit programs due to their own limitations in imagination and creativity. One of my favorites is the notorious word wall. A teacher must have six inch letters of vocabulary words on the wall and that is it. So an electronic version that is available at home anywhere on computer is not a word wall or a well-designed graphic as a lead in for a students working notebook in class is not a word wall, a set of personal flash cards is not a word wall, t-shirts with vocabulary, sky writing vocabulary words these are not word walls it has to be six inch red letters not yellow or blue. Teaching gets defeated by limits, impositions and parameters imposed by lesser imaginative administrators and legislators.

“The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The hard part is finding those few real educators so today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

Wa de (Skee)
bird

Life is about practice

Bird Droppings May 19, 2013
Life is about practice

On a wet cloudy and stormy Sunday morning in Georgia with a high school graduation only a few hours previous I am thinking ahead. I often wonder at how to tell graduating seniors to ponder and think about the future. How do you build upon what you have and go further? It seems to always come down to practice get better at what you do. Is it studying or reading work at it does it as the NIKE ads spell out so clearly. I am a poor one to speak sitting on my dissertation now for several summers procrastinating writing yet writing daily in volumes. Sometimes we need to be specific and get to the dirty parts of work and life and move on.

“There may be more to learn from climbing the same mountain a hundred times than by climbing a hundred different mountains.” Dr. Richard Nelson

I went out several days ago to get photos of football practice at our school. We have a scrimmage game with our offense and defense playing each other. This has been a tradition for a few years now. Watching the coaches and players interact and drill the same play again and again it dawned on me maybe enough times and you will get it right. But then as I thought not really if you practice a play a thousand times perfectly and know each step engrained in your mind and body you can now focus on what may change as you actually run that play. Your thoughts will not be occupied with the play but with succeeding with the play.
As I read Dr. Nelson’s thought earlier I wondered and then it hit me so many times I will in my daily routine go through the same motions same processes and yet each time something new will hit me. On my way to school a new house or tree I never saw. It might be a hawk I missed or the angle of the sun as it filters through the trees. It is those minute details that add so much more to life. Several years ago I found a quote from an athlete who is listed in the ESPN list of top twenty five records that will never be broken. He has been called the great one and in his day and even today there is no other greater ice hockey player.
Wayne Gretzky held or still holds every scoring record in professional ice hockey but his combined points will more than likely never be equaled. ESPN has Gretzky’s all-time scoring record as the number two record in the top twenty five least likely to be broken. Why was he great? He will say practice and from the time he was a small child and just learning to skate he made shots on goal. It amounted to thousands upon thousands of shots even tens of thousands of shots till his playing was near automatic.

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.” Wayne Gretzky

Gretzky had an uncanny ability to know anticipate where the play was going from practicing not only shooting the puck but watching and understanding people. There is another aspect to his great ability as a player reflected in his next statement

“You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

Procrastination was not in Wayne Gretzky’s vocabulary. Gretzky’s believe in practice and perseverance which also happens to be two keys to success in life and in school. On the job and at home practice and perseverance can significantly make a difference. We all cannot be as successful as Wayne Gretzky perhaps not at Ice Hockey but at being a teacher, a parent, and a friend and for me I would be rather remembered as the dad whose record of being a great father will go down in the record books. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

Wa de (Skee)
bird

It seems to be a new morning?

Bird Droppings May 17, 2013
It seems to be a new morning?

Last night I had my son drive up to the corner store to get a few things. When he I had been waiting outside and the sounds of the evening were stilled from the chill all the humming, whistling, chirping and barking that should have been going on was still. Living in the country we are used to quiet but this was still other than a slight breeze which occasionally would rustled the pine needles. I seriously miss the cicadas, tree frogs, crickets and every other creatures that normally would be out and still going strong this morning but forty eight degrees on a May morning silences all. Through the silence this morning a lone owl hooted two or three times and then it too was quiet.
Today we are doing a few make up tests for End of Course Test and doing our last day of finals. I wonder often about the usefulness of such endeavors are we truly assessing students or simply going through hoops. Sadly it is a state and federal requirement. I have a little book that I found at Barnes and Nobles, “Teachers Little book of Wisdom”. I found it on one of excursions into the vastness of our local Barnes and Noble bookstore. Seldom do I come out without reading material or at least an idea. Bob Alogozzine is the author/editor of this little tome. Bob is someone who ended up in teaching sort of by accident and fell in love with his job. With an economics degree and few jobs in his field, there was a need for Special Education teachers so he ended up by chance teaching. This little book is 365 statements about teaching.

“Teach them the difference between things that need doing better than they have been done before, things that just need doing, and things that don’t need to be done at all.” Bob Alogozzine

It is not just about math or science there is an aspect of life in each day we walk into a room or see another person. Teaching is not simply a job done by a teacher it is a piece of everyone’s existence. Parents teach from day one. Friends teach or they are truly not friends and some of us who choose to be in a class room teach. As I read this little thought I realize how wonderful of an idea it truly is. It is not about learning calculus for the big test but about doing better than has been done before. If each of us could look at life that way and do today just a bit better than any other day before I wonder what kind of world we could make.
I was looking at my blue berries yesterday and they are not quite ready but it reminded me of several years back picking blueberries at a friend’s house. It was hot out we nearly stopped several times but we kept on and you know when I finish writing today I will throw some big blueberries on my cereal and milk from the freezer. Blueberries really freeze great. Life is moving in so many directions as I read the news today and maybe one day soon I can stop ending my emails with this. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

Wa de (Skee)
bird

Reading a friend’s book a fifth time

Bird Droppings May 16, 2013
Reading a friend’s book a fifth time

I was so tired when I laid down last night after driving around doing errands, working in the yard, working in my gardens, and attempting to get into my reading and writing. My youngest son is waiting to hear on a nursing program internship with Piedmont College and he and his wife and our grandbaby live with us so my granddaughter keeps us hopping. My oldest and I have been working on some outdoor ponds summer homes for several turtles and various water plants. Physical labor and getting to bed late I did not think I would be awake this early this morning. My dog did not wake me up a few times to the whippoorwills which were nice even though I was so tired. I have my last paper work session of the year a summary of performance for a senior today and that got me thinking about Dr. Sutton’s book today.
Dr. James Sutton sent me a copy of one of his books nearly eight years ago, What parents need to know about ODD. Dr. Sutton is one of the leading writers and authorities on Oppositional Defiant Disorder in the country. One of these days when, Bird Droppings a teacher journal, comes out the forward is by Dr. James Sutton. I have been reading academic books lately with numerous big words, long words, often times useless in the normal setting of education, words like post-structuralism, phenomenology; semiotics and hermeneutics are a few good ones. It seems many academics want to use words and pages to bolster their endeavors and then question why common folk don’t understand.
I responded to Dr. Sutton with the following sentence or two in response to his book. My first experience with Dr. James Sutton was going to a conference in 2003 in Macon Ga. and listening to his ideas on working with some of the hardest kids to deal with in education in Emotional Behavior Disorders. His ideas hit the nail on the head and this latest book, What Parents need to Know About ODD, is an easy to read, understand and to use tool for parents and teachers who daily have to deal with the trials and tribulations of kids who are ODD. I recommend this book to my student’s parents and educational associates almost daily. This was not a sales pitch but when combined with another issue our federally mandated NCLB, the law requires teachers to use evidence based practice, EBP when dealing with exceptional children. This becomes a problem in special education because there is not that much to work with and as I thought today a good teacher with a good idea could be hindered by a packaged program that is an EBP and not as effective and there have been many cases where teachers have been criticized for not using a recommended program.
Every year we lose good teachers who are hindered by administration and packaged programs of which many were researched by the company publishing the program. I had a situation myself a few years back and was told this program was what I was to teach to a specific group of teenagers and it was research based. I called the publisher to verify what research was done. It was never done with a population anywhere near what it was being recommended for and the one study that was done was with kids ten years younger and 20 IQ points higher but it did work with them.
A Harvard study posted June 14, 2006 states “…the policy has had no significant impact on improving reading and math achievement since it was introduced in 2001, contradicting White House claims and potentially adding to concerns over academic competitiveness.” from the The New York Times referring to NCLB. Funny how we keep trying to make schools better or I should say politicians keep trying. I often wonder when teachers will be asked.

“I will stake my reputation and over thirty years of experience on this: Real change occurs when relationships improve.” Dr. James Sutton, What Parents need to know about ODD

I have watched wheels spun testing kids at the end of semesters and courses and at the end of high school and all because laws say we have to that are established by politicians. Yet all you are truly testing is what someone knows at that moment and not what they learned in any given time frame or how well a teacher taught. My son who recently graduated as biology major could have taken the end of course biology test without the course and pass it does that measure how much he learned or simply what he knows. Sadly teachers and administrators are losing jobs and schools are being threatened by these tests.
Recently in a discussion in an online class I raised a question about NCLB and how kids were being left behind and a teacher an advanced degree teacher offered “well some children want to be left behind”

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

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

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

It has been nearly twenty years since South Africa truly became democratic and how long will it be till we here in the United States can say democracy is back and not rule of the dollar and lobbyist.
Much of what I have been reading lately addresses the issue of education and how it is that today’s education is to make good consumers. Customer’s, one author calls college students and on many campuses that is the word used by the administration very much a corporate world. Historians have said over and over wars are always fought for money and if we look back at any war in history always money was a key factor. I questioned Viet Nam and Johnson wanted the war effort to continue as industry was getting a shot in the arm and the economy turned around. The power paradox in Iraq and most of the Middle East is a very interesting thought. I wonder have we ever focused on the form, for example the individual in Iraq. Maybe we need to ask for Nelson Mandela’s help in Iraq and elsewhere. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

Wa de (Skee)
bird

Can we seek balance while walking on a see saw?

Bird Droppings May 15, 2013
Can we seek balance while walking on a see saw?

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau

I walked in my room at school yesterday and missed my stuffed eland on the wall; the largest African antelope was removed when I moved to a smaller room however I am having second thoughts. (Clarification I do not hunt and actually raised this huge animal for nearly eight years. One winter he got sick and would not let us near him when he died a friend said to get him mounted. I did and for many years this huge eland sat in my garage. When I started back teaching he has become quite a conversation piece.) One day I was trying to balance the eland that got me thinking how life is a balancing act much like walking on a see saw.

“There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.” Henry David Thoreau

I generally start my morning pondering with a walk outside often in the dark listening thinking and wondering about all that is around us. Today was no exception listening to whippoorwills and owls and an occasional coyote howl. To start today an exercise of sorts first find the image of a see saw, I remember back in my earlier days on our playground at Caln Elementary School in Thorndale Pennsylvania, heavy wooden boards attached to sturdy pipe frames, a simple machine, a balance beam of sorts ponder that idea. As long as both sides were of equal weight you could push off and go up and down giggle a bit and go all through recess. Now put a larger weight on one side and let that one push off and the smaller person sooner or later may land on the moon. We go from see saw and balance to catapult and imbalance.

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” Helen Keller

We tend to seek balance in our lives. Many biology books will state the natural order of nature is homeostasis, a balance. In nature we have food chains and various balancing factors such as larger eat smaller and plants are eaten by animals and a constant balancing effect. A more modern thought is the Chaos theory which throws a monkey wrench into the whole nice natural thing. Homeostasis is where nature strives for but it always is just a little further down the road, volcanoes occur, earthquakes, El Niño’s and yet on a larger scale universally are we still not reaching for homeostasis. A balancing of internal pressures and external pressures, even when an asteroid hits from deep in space still in some larger scheme balance is being achieved.

“Happiness and suffering are dependent upon your mind, upon your interpretation. They do not come from outside, from others. All of your happiness and all of your suffering are created by you, by your own mind.“ Lama Zopa Rinpoche

There is a word used in educational settings disequilibrium, out of balance and it is true on a small scale we do this constantly. It is this imbalance that provides us with potential for growth. It is that imbalance that gives us direction and goals to attain. A few minutes ago I was thinking of many of my friends looking for retirement and settling down reaching homeostasis. What do we do when we attain that state?

“Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.” Erich Fromm

It could be that is why we have rocking chairs to aid balancing and that comforting state. Maybe that’s why we put in ramps as we get older to reduce the challenge. Maybe that is why we tend to have diseases that try and throw us off balance and slow us down. Maybe it is because we have been brought up wanting to get to homeostasis or I should say that this is the ideal state.

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Utopia is where you can worry no more sit quietly and vegetate. Time for an energy drink and someone to jump on the other end of your see saw is my theory. We need the imbalance to provide fodder for seeking the balance.

“Hearing is one of the body’s five senses. But listening is an art.” Frank Tyger

The trick is always to keep pushing that goal a bit further on a bit more a bit deeper. It is in the seeking of homeostasis that we grow we learn we become more than who we are. Yes we all do age but it is never closing the lid to the box. It is never having a box to begin with. Living is about the trials and tribulations it is about the disequilibrium and imbalance and yet to it is also about hope and seeking homeostasis. My dear friends let us all please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

Wa de (Skee)
bird