What is normal can we define it quantitatively or qualitatively?

Bird Droppings July 5, 2013
What is normal can we define it quantitatively or qualitatively?

“Normality in fact has nothing to do with statistics. It refers to a norm, a model of perfection, an example to be followed. It indicates what we should be. Normality is therefore something to strive for, something at which to aim, it is not what most people do. It is what they would do if they lived up to their human potential.” “Normality, defined in relation to a norm, is a model in terms of which we try to shape our characters and our behavior. And this involves living up to our human potential.” Hasan Le Gai Eaton; in a broadcast by the BBC 1989, ‘Living By The Book’

My readings for graduate school led me thinking about qualitative or quantitative research and various components of those topics. It also got me thinking back several years to when I was testing a young man and used a well normed and perhaps one of the best according to most psychological testers and school systems of indicators of emotional and behavior disorders. The test has several components to be used in evaluating a student; one aspect is teacher opinions, another the student’s own self-views, and also parental opinions. A combination of these often differing perceptions gives an over view of the student. This young man I was testing had scored himself totally normal within all test guidelines and parameters.
As I looked at the three or four teacher checklists and answer sheets a different person was being seen. In his classes this student had A’s and B’s and seldom if ever did he do anything that was considered wrong. Occasionally this student would jump up and act bizarre and then sit quietly and do his work. Other than that everything was in order and perfect, he never yelled out or called people names. He did not interact in the hallways and or cause trouble ever, not one discipline referral. He was a prefect student by most teachers’ opinions his own and even his grandparents.
When called on he would not answer except in a whisper or he would bring the correct answer to you and point to it on his paper. He would never look you in the eye. He never used hand gestures while talking often fidgeting with a pencil or some other object in the room as he paced occasionally. He never talked to other students and when he did it was in a monotone a nearly flat pitched voice with little emotion. It was seldom that he would smile. When he would laugh or attempt to make a joke it was neither understood by others or no one even heard or perceived humor in his words.
I wondered as I sat with this young man so enclosed and encased in himself and so very intelligent. He would go through school never looking at anyone, always alone even eating lunch alone. However because we placed our standards on more than not interfering, not misbehaving and getting good grades this young man slipped through the cracks emotionally. With additional testing he was found to have Asperger’s syndrome a pervasive developmental disorder or by some standards and definitions a nonverbal learning disability.
So I ask what is normal. For so many teachers normal is fitting into the plan that they developed for their class, the guidelines of the school and classroom. Deviating from that is not normal. It was several months back I heard an administrator for the first time advocate for a kid, in quite some time. This was a student who has so much against him; he is living within a virtual prison of disabilities, Tourette’s syndrome, bi-polar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and numerous other diagnoses’. In a heartbeat he can get in trouble and he did again on that day. An observant administrator noticed things out of the norm, his clothes hadn’t been changed, as he was being told his mother would be called he jokingly said you won’t get her, and then said under his breath she was in surgery.
I thought back further to a student many years ago and saw similarities as my memories flooded back. We so often limit our perception to the moment. Were his misbehaviors at that moment because of his disability, were they symptomatic of the fact his mother was in the hospital in critical condition and in surgery, or were his misbehaviors simple our inability to look beyond the class disruption and our own lack of awareness of what is normal, often being our own limitations on normal.
The quote I used today in its entirety is an article on seeking perfection given that we will never reach it. It is written about Islam and perfection being Muhammad. In all societies and cultures and religions we seem as humans to establish a model of what we consider to be normal, and or perfection, and then we strive for it. We also seem to build in stop gaps for our own inadequacies but tend to forget others. In another article this morning I read adultery is normal if we consider the trends and numbers, yet most people would still say it is wrong. I wonder as I sit today how many times each of us has declared someone abnormal because they did not meet our standards. Coming back to my graduate classes and the concept of Mind Sets, far too often we are in a fixed mindset and do not have the provisions for or ability to bend or flex when needed. Often I joke about the day a space ship lands and a super intelligent being with nine legs and twenty toes on each of its feet steps out and declares humankind abnormal, what then? Perhaps we can norm a new test. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Do we learn from a ripple or a wave?

Bird droppings July 3, 2013
Do we learn from a ripple or a wave?

I will spend most of the morning in class discussing differentiation, mindsets and class dynamics today. The books so far are right up my alley. I would like to be digging and planting, transplanting and repotting various flowers and herbs in our yard and also cutting grass now that we have had some rain. I have several plants in dire need of planting and one poor lemon verbena that had been hiding for about a month still in a seedling pot and now about twenty four inches tall and that poor plant will be happy to be in some real dirt. I got thinking back, my cousins had a memorial service for my aunt and uncle four years ago this afternoon and we all celebrated their lives. Both had passed away within a short period of time. I have been thinking since early morning when I started heading up to Demorest Georgia for class thinking about this idea. Do we learn more from a ripple or a wave?

“Make ripples more than waves” Bob Algonzzine, Little book of Wisdom

This thought is number 298 out of 365 thoughts in his book. It isn’t necessarily in in any special order it just happens to be that number. As I saw this comment as to a teacher in class I recalled a legend from local Native Americans about throwing a stone into a pond or lake and watching the ripples dissipate against the edges of the pond. Technically as I looked up definitions ripples and waves are the very similar and even some said the same just in different velocities or size. But as I think this morning a ripple doesn’t have the force of a wave, sort of in education the difference between telling versus asking for something to be done. You are trying to accomplish the same event or solicit the same behavior but one has a lot more force behind it.

“It is nobler to convert souls, than to conquer kingdoms.” Louis Debonnaire

“People have a peculiar pleasure in making converts that is, in causing others to enjoy what they enjoy, thus finding their own likeness represented and reflected back to them.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

So often the teacher is the expert and it is my way period, saying such things as you will learn this now or else sort of thing. Waves have a tendency to do damage more so then sink in as they hit. Ripples are absorbed at the shore line as I thought deeper on this knowledge is no different. Is what is taught to be simply for Friday’s test or is it to be a life lesson?

“That, which proves too much, proves nothing!” Proverb

“You must make the product interesting not just make the ad different. And that’s what too many of the copywriters in America today don’t yet understand.” Rooser Reeves

I often wonder however when it is a ripple and when a wave. A new idea could knock some students over and yet be just what another student needs to keep momentum up. By coincidence my middle son found out about a year ago last night he and his wife were going to be having a baby girl and I recalled how he would come home from Georgia Tech to relax, the atmosphere at TECH is very stressful I should have told him back then being a daddy is no different. A regiment of study, video games, study, read, video games and very little humanity time at Tech. Now he has a beautiful little bundle that smiling one minute and the next needs a diaper changed. On the other side my nephew would come home from another college to study because all time in his dorm was humanity time and no one was concentrating. As I think back it was funny they would spend their weekend’s home playing video games together before heading back to their schools.
As I sit here midst my debris a thought, that incessant barrage of ripples one after another nothing over whelming as it sinks in and it is absorbed. I often use and have cards sitting around my room at school with FIDO printed on them and on the back the acronym, Frequency, Intensity, Duration and Over Again. This is the FIDO principle and my “good friend” B.F. Skinner’s philosophy and eventually it will sink in.

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” Liane Cardes

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Stephen R. Covey

Covey’s idea is true however ripples or waves hitting on concrete is far more different than if it were hitting on a sponge. The big question is then how do we develop sponges as to learning and concrete as to character.

“The cynic says, ‘One man can’t do anything.’ I say, ‘Only one man can do anything.’” John W. Gardner

“Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make very small use of their possible consciousness and of their soul’s resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger.” William James

How often do we see people like this so restricted in movement and in thinking only a finger can be moved. Each day during school hours I can look down the hallway and see teachers who respond this way. As I have written the past several years I used the term boxed in, they are in their little box sealed up and new ideas concepts cannot get in. Occasionally they peek out but usually only to see if the wrapping is intact. Most of the time this type of teacher teaches with waves throwing one after another at students. BOOM, you got it or you don’t and I am out of here back to my box.

“I have always had the feeling I could do anything and my dad told me I could. I was in college before I found out he might be wrong.” Anne Richards

Recently I was discussing what makes a teacher. Part of my rationale is you cannot truly tell someone how to teach. In schools of Education they try and so forth in math science etc. I have found creativity and imagination get so often stifled as in Anne Richards quote by experts. We want to make sponges not concrete.

“We are hoarding potentials so great that they are just about unimaginable.” Jack Schwartz

“You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.” Brian Tracy

“Make ripples not waves” I was just thinking about days gone by and making waves in a pool using a kick board you push against the water and shove in a direction and make a wave. It takes one good hard push and you have a wave. A ripple is more of dropping a stone and from the epicenter of where the stone hits ripples play out one after another till they hit the shore. Perhaps the identical force is involved in terms of physics but in the ripple effect many hundreds of ripples play against the edge or the student and with the wave it is a onetime deal. So we are faced with a wave versus a series of ripples.
As I sit back pondering which would I rather teach and which would I rather have to be a student within? An interesting scenario in that thought as my mind wanders about today one in which ripples created a new country over two hundred years ago. I wonder how many teachers teach and think in terms of being a student listening to their lesson. As I look at News this morning it seems we are still at war in many places and some countries are trying to aggravate further with rhetoric and missiles. So for another day and sadly one that is special to us here in the US our friends and family members continue to be at risk and many are in harm’s way. So please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

A reflection on a pond or window of two

Bird Droppings July 2, 2013
A reflection on a pond or window of two

I boxed up a couple of boxes of “junk” from my class room the other day. Each piece at one time or another had been a teachable moment. Each was an item and or items for that had been collected and or given to me from my father and mother’s house. My mother had been getting my father’s things sorted and it must be genetic, the pack rat syndrome he had boxes and cases and trays of stuff. Some is just extra electric tape for that emergency or millions of spare batteries, but in among all of the stuff are cool things like a wooden water buffalo painted gold, used in a Sunday school lesson so many years ago. It was nearly ten years ago I was moving into a smaller room from a huge room I had on another hall. Now last year I moved again to a smaller yet room and a lot went into storage. Amazing as I change rooms they each have become my sanctuary and many other folks along the way as well. This room now is small yet cozy. Still I have the running water from the aquarium to add some calming to the hectic and my of course soft music.
I thought back to that day nearly thirteen years ago and my own reflection. What a way to start the day, it is amazing how much stuff accumulates over a year even within a semester. This morning as I write I have several projects on hand that I am working on for school and graduate school. One I have been working on for several years and some construction got in my way. I have been logging and photographing all the trees on campus for a power point presentation for biology teachers and anyone interested. Actually let kids do most of that one over the years. As I find things in my room it is amazing the bits and pieces of history while only I have been here only for a few years and how much has changed.
I found a photo of a student who was in my class and has been out of school for nearly eleven years, it was funny as I set the picture down sort of a “posed thinker picture” yet this young man has probably been in more trouble than the sum total of the rest of my students. On a brighter note he also is the only student so far to voluntarily read Dylan Thomas and started a Brian Weiss book, that one he did not finish but got half way. Currently he is doing repair work and racing motorcycles in Texas. I find it interesting how life responds.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Interesting as I look for quotes as I think of this young man, I am drawn to several thinkers who are in direct contrast to this young man’s life style. Numerous times his trouble with the law was racial, he usually the instigator. As I reflect in all of it was a losing of hope, that there was no more reason to exist, life was too hard. Life had dealt too hard a blow to him perhaps although many times he would swing back.

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As I got to know this young man other aspects of reality came into being he would tell his friends, “do not trust me” and yet when I did a trust quiz he was always the most trusted.

“There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Robert F. Kennedy

Perhaps as I knew this young man I could see things that never were and would over look at times the things that were. I knew why he did much of what he did. Most people knew why, but never took time to go beyond that and simply would write him off.

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else.” Mahatma Gandhi

As I think about this young man it was his actions and lifestyle that drew attention always what he did never what he could do. I sat in a class yesterday on qualitative research and this young man again came up in my thoughts. If I simply looked at numbers he has the still school record for suspension days and just about any discipline record you could imagine. Greatest number of fights started and finished not necessarily being a positive thought.

“Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected” Mahatma Gandhi

Where can we and or where do we find truth. Thinking and pondering deeper should not that first grade teacher except responsibility for truth or should they simply teach the curriculum or maybe in second, third, or fourth grades truth could be included as an elective. Maybe administration or with in the schools somewhere or it could be in Family and Children Services a spate extra credit course in truth. As I thought going through files and such as I am cleaning up for this coming school year it became apparent as I was asked who another picture was of, and I could not remember the name. I remember taking the picture but I could not remember the name of the person only a few weeks ago. Then I realized why? So often our focus is simply getting done, be it the job, the day, or the week, we so often do not focus on the person at hand. Sadly soon enough because we do not try focusing not only does a person slip through the cracks but slips through reality.

“All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly…. We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way; the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.” Eagle Chief, (Letakos-Lesa), Pawnee

However as we walk one foot before the other we do and can choose at times which pathway of the two to follow, some of the choice may be environmental, family, friends, and all around you but in the end a choice is made. Within that choice is where the distinguishing occurs where truth and love are determined and found. Tomorrow another day and soon a holiday and holiday weekend starts and today as I stopped to get gas a fellow I did not know was talking with the young man who handles the morning shift at the convenience store where I buy gas, This young man was wanting to get into law enforcement. The fellow talking to him was talking about Blackwater, the military subcontractor, and how much they paid. He told this young man you can make one hundred and twenty five thousand guarding and twenty five thousand more if you are willing to kill people. It may be a long time till I can cease ending my droppings with this phrase, please keep all in harm’s way in your hearts and on your minds and to always give thanks namaste.

For my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird