Thinking about where I am going

Bird Droppings August 18, 2013
Thinking about where I am going

“Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path… this is what I must do; this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am. It’s important to ask yourself, how am I useful to others? What do people want from me? That may very well reveal what you are here for. “James Hillman

One piece of my day is that I am always wondering, am I where I am to be at this particular moment. Each day’s various coincidences lead me to say yes on an ongoing basis. In a casual conversation I found out one of my students in my new adventure in co-teaching I knew from ten years ago. Having been back in teaching now for thirteen years I can honestly say I am where I need to be right now. Saturday late morning I was dropping off my car for some servicing and by chance a restaurant was within a few steps so I walked over to get some fried cheesecake. Out of the door comes a former high school student yelling Mr. Bird. As it turns out we talked about education for nearly an hour as it was slow at the restaurant. Was it meant to be or simply by chance I was late getting to the service station or that this student had chosen to work an early shift which she normally doesn’t do.

“Just stop for a minute and you’ll realize you’re happy just being. I think it’s the pursuit that screws up happiness. If we drop the pursuit, it’s right here.” James Hillman

I remember not that many years back when I closed a business, one I had been in for twenty three years and never thought I would be doing anything else. My business failed and I had no other choice but to close. Thinking back I recall trying to find similar work in the publishing trade and being turned down and or not able to get in due to being overly qualified and or too old. At one point I actually went to work for eight dollars an hour at a large copy shop as a customer service representative.

“I don’t think anything changes until ideas change. The usual American viewpoint is to believe that something is wrong with the person.” James Hillman

“As Plotinus tells us, we elected the body, the parents, the place, and the circumstances that suited the soul and that, as the myth says, belongs to its necessity.” James Hillman

James Hillman has come up in my readings over the years. I was reading, Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore nearly twelve years ago and he referenced quite a bit of Hillman and it turns out that Moore studied under Hillman and of course Carl Jung is referenced by both Moore and Hillman who studied under Jung and actually was in charge of the Jungian Institute for a period of time. Author James Redfield references all three in his writings as he developed the Celestine Prophecies. The overriding question is, do we have purpose and I have found we ponder this question over and over. For many years I have searched in my thinking, research and reading that there is some grand plan and then I find it could be just that smile in the morning when the students first walk and it brightens their day.
I spent yesterday and some of today when not playing with my granddaughter pondering and thinking about school. There was an email from a friend who is teaching in Korea, another from a parent of an autistic child and my purpose in life. Each moment all through the day yesterday and today each aspect of my weekend seemed directed. Be it thinking about since it is raining mowing grass, playing Lego with my granddaughter, trimming the bushes, getting ready to watch Tech football in a few weeks or reading for grad school and in all I pondered purpose. In the coming weeks ahead I have so many anniversaries of many things for me including coming back to teaching. It is easy to remember the bad things this date brings forth but a true memorial is looking at the positive. As I am listening to various news stories and interviews while the destruction of the Twin Towers was a horrible event and one I wish had never happened it has created and evolved all of us into who we are now. Twelve years ago I started teaching again after a twenty three year layoff.

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Charles A. Beard

I do recall that first day of class years ago as much of it spent in lock down and most of us were confused as to what was really going on. It was many days later I really thought about what day I had come back to teaching. Charles Beard was a historian and often a controversial one at that. Commenting that Roosevelt brought the US into World War II for economic recovery was a pretty strong statement in its time. Interesting historically that has been the case several times over. When I first looked at his quote I was thinking about little children being afraid of the dark and night time and several times when out with youth and trying to ease fears of darkness I would use stars as a focal point and it does have to be dark to see the stars. But in life so often we lose sight of the stars until trials and tribulations show in contrast and we again can view our own stars. Folks they are there today with all going on it is often hard to see the shining stars but rest assured they are there and they will be shining when we need to see them.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Sometimes it does take shifting gears, so often I watch parents and teachers simply approach an issue just as it occurred sort of like fighting fire with fire and generally the flames just get bigger. Technology is a great tool and many teachers are still fighting to avoid or to prolong their lack of certification in technology.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

As I talk with teachers it is not so much the task of manipulating a digital camera or power point but the imagination that is required to put it into action. How can I use this in class? Is the most asked question. I ask how can you not which should be the real question?

“Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.” George Orwell

“Science and technology multiply around us. To an increasing extent they dictate the languages in which we speak and think. Either we use those languages, or we remain mute.” J. G. Ballard

It was not that many years ago some teachers argued against white boards versus black boards and for a long time chalk dust ruled. We have access to tools for education that can enhance and multiply learning often they are simple tools. Here at LHS it is now iPads that are the norm.
I had a student who is functionally illiterate yet could in a few moments generate powerful PowerPoint presentations on most any subject pulling from his own stash of photos and knowing where to go to find more. I have had several teachers argue is he really learning? I recall many years ago I had an essay as an assignment 250 words he stopped at 181 and asked if that would do. When I first met him years ago when I first asked for an essay his two lines of type were a different language. He could read it back to me which was strange in and of its self and for a while I found I could decipher his words but we worked on it. He found to get to point B on a computer you had to be able to read this essay of 181 words I read and anyone could have read and I still have it filed away to remind me that maybe I am in the right place. I credit his reading teacher as well who had been working with him but now reading has context for him.

“However far modern science and techniques have fallen short of their inherent possibilities, they have taught mankind at least one lesson: Nothing is impossible.” Lewis Mumford

Years ago I recall my father telling me if we could think of it, it was possible. We need to embrace that notion in education and in learning because it is true. Limitations often our simply those placed on a child by a teacher somewhere along the way. They can’t do it is a challenge or should be to prove that person wrong.

“To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle.” Confucius

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

We tend to allow others to provide our own interpretation of the world albeit teachers in a class room. Teachers need to be the most imaginative and open people alive. I enjoy this quote of still waters reflecting. Often I refer to setting the example, students can become a mirror image of what they see and hear and can limit their own intake of reality on what they have been shown and seen.

“The way we imagine ourselves to appear to another person is an essential element in our conception of ourselves. In other words, I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.” Robert Bierstedt

I hear fifty times a day; I am stupid in classrooms and or in the hallways. Even in the lunch room occasionally you will hear that statement. Many times students feel that from teachers. My immediate response is generally since when or as compared to whom. Then I get serious and ask why they think that. Several years ago during a summer school session one student caught my attention. For several sessions and during regular school classes I had emphasized vocabulary in the science classes I taught. The goal of “the not yet” program was to get 60-69 percent grade students passing in two weeks of intense classes. They had one class mine and only could get to a 70 percent on their transcript in this program. But they would get credit and not have to retake the entire course. All students took a pre-test and post-test which was each of the various departments’ final exams. In three years everyone passed who my attended classes most with very good grades and we concentrated on vocabulary. Every day I would do a pre-test of that days words and every afternoon a post-test.
In four years never a student who did not improve till this one he would get a 20 in the morning and a 21 in the afternoon everyone else would average about 80. I tried talking and he had a very low self-esteem about school. I tried different approaches and one day technology using a LCD projector and a power point of our vocabulary words. That day he looked at power point several times when he had a chance and his afternoon quiz was a one hundred percent. Each day there out as I used power point as a tool for him all other grades went up as well is that a simple solution, but perhaps in how he sees or perceives that bigger version made a more of an impression.

“Pictures help you to form the mental mold…” Robert Collier

Each person is unique in how they perceive and see the world

“I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream. I can remember this very clearly.” Dr. Temple Grandin

Dr. Grandin is considered to be one of the leading authorities on animal handling in the world. She has designed and engineered 75% of the commercial livestock handling facilities for commercial packers in the United States. She has been recognized by animal rights groups for her ethical treatment in design and development and has written college texts on animal science. She also is considered a world leader in autism as Dr. Grandin is autistic herself.

“People are always looking for the single magic bullet that will totally change everything. There is no single magic bullet. I was very lucky to receive very good early intervention with very good teachers, starting at age 2 1/2 years. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher. A good teacher is worth his or her weight in gold. Some teachers just have a knack for working with autistic children. Other teachers do not have it. If you find a good teacher, hang on to him or her tight.” Dr. Temple Grandin

Going back to my student who through Power Point learned vocabulary, it is using ideas and imagination in dealing with students. It is about opening doors finding that one thing that works in that one instance and looking for other solutions as well constantly. “There is no single magic bullet” as Dr. Grandin states. But if we keep our eyes and ears open we can find another and another and all children can have the opportunity to succeed. So as I search for my own purpose in life and we remember all those who lost their lives this day I ask as always to please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

For my realtions
Wa de (Skee)

Sometimes I wonder what is on my mind

Bird Droppings August 16, 2013
Sometimes I wonder what is on my mind

Where do I start twenty five years ago well almost my wife and I were at the hospital wondering if she was in labor. The doctor finally said she probably will go home but go check her in just to be safe. I went down stairs and was signing her in and got called to the delivery area. Twenty nine minutes later my youngest son was born. Things happened so fast I was only in scrub pants no shirt and barefooted. Now that little tiny well little may be an understatement is a strapping six plus and nursing student at Piedmont College in Demorest married and a father. Last night my granddaughter and I went on an adventure photographing a high school volleyball game. Charlie was ready she could yell “Go Red Devils” with the best of them. Although while we were at school she had more fun in the hallways running on our shiny floors and playing in my room than in the loud gym watching volleyball.
I recall back again several years near our house perhaps two hundred yards across the street in front of us is a building was going up. Out in the countryside of Walton County where once moon shining was the leading revenue generator is a Hindu Temple going up. After the major structure was completed the congregation did all the work. Each day dozens of men and women were tediously building their place of worship. Interestingly enough this group is a group that migrated from India with the British took over many years ago and moved to Jamaica. In my time I have seen many buildings of worship go up some gaudy and ostentatious others simple wooden frame one room buildings with enough space for only a handful of worshippers. In my readings I found this quote that has stuck with me for some time.

“The purpose of all the major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.” The Dalai Lama, “The Good Heart”

More often than not the temple or church within a community historically was a focal point; it was the largest structure and always the most prominent. Grand cathedrals were built during the dark ages. Huge temples were built in Asia and in the mid-east where numerous cultures had areas of worship that were considered wonders of the world. In the new world mound builders built elaborate mounds in the shape of snakes and birds in South Georgia. The Ocmulgee mounds rise above all around and you can see throughout central Georgia. In South America great stone temples and structures were built to honor gods and goddesses. Seemingly each to outdo the others even not knowing they existed.
As I read this quote from The Dalai Lama religion was not what I was really thinking of. I was thinking of how a few years back I helped our high school band working a concession window at what some consider a great place of worship at the University of Georgia Sanford Stadium. Before the Georgia football game the high school students are warned about drunks and obnoxious fans. I was thinking about the few granted only a few who came to the concession windows and would swear and argue about pricing that we as band volunteers had nothing to do with and all through the stadium the pricing is the same.
I was thinking about the vast quantities of trash left in the stadium and around the campus, that only moments before was pristine as we arrived. It was trashed when we left. Many of these fans will be sitting in big churches on another day in their Sunday best. We can rationalize that fans will be fans and they were letting off steam. I was thinking about the example set for a group of teenagers of what being an adult is all about. Is it about getting drunk, driving a big motor home and tail gating and trying to hand beers to kids on buses as they drive by? Is it about pulling up shirts and baring breasts and perhaps not even remembering you did that the next day. Is it about going to a really big church on your day of worship?
I wonder as I sit here this morning if anyone ever read this quote before or ever even tried to listen to it. As I look back through history to the guys who started most of the major religions their philosophies are similar to what the Dalai Lama states. Something in human nature about impressing others, the biggest car, the biggest truck if you live in the south, the biggest diamond for woman so you can impress everyone on the outside. Maybe it is so you don’t have to impress anyone with your inside. I listened to some of the political jargon and rhetoric from the previous week. It’s ok to flaunt your wealth and it’s ok to be wealthy and rich. It’s ok that we have poor people. Its ok somewhere loses its reality as I have been on back streets in Macon Georgia in the United States of America dropping off special needs kids in homes of one room where three families live. That’s not ok I am sorry.
Many of the folks left that football game with it is always like that. But it was my first in many years and my first helping with concessions. I remember many years ago when I was coaching 10-12 year old basketball in Macon Georgia for the recreation department. I had a group of nine kids, and their favorite gym to play in was one where the parents had to look through the windows and couldn’t detract the kids from the game. The kids could enjoy themselves while they played. Recently I watched a video and I shared words from the song “If no one believed in you” interesting concept yet as we go through life I see more and more of this.
We need to seriously do some introspection and look at who we are. Are we building great temples of stone or building them in our hearts. Do we need to be setting the example for children not tearing down that image they have. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)

I wonder what my favorite store is; Then again is it even important?

Bird Droppings August 15, 2013
I wonder what my favorite store is;
Then again is it even important?

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

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

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

I wish it would be possible to believe the first, but with trying to drill for oil in wilderness Alaska, off shore in Florida and other parts of the country and friends in high places reaping huge profits and a war costing trillions of dollars that was bogus from many people’s standpoints while he was in office sort of makes it hard to grasp philosophically. Although perhaps as some people indicated in writing and articles he was simply a puppet of others. Still at the time war efforts and accumulation seemed more important than doing any sort of good. Of course the philosophy of the ends justifies the means could possibly be applied.
That was sort of the approach when the last passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati zoo and some people had the attitude well it’s only a pigeon. Sadly once there were billions flying over the forests of the east coast, and yes it is only a pigeon except we can never at this time replicate that one, it is gone. The Alaska wilderness even though a great expanse when it is gone it is gone and can never be replicated. But if the end justifies it many people see no problem. However as I sat this morning, perhaps a better brighter thought from J.K. Rowling thorough the character of Dumbledore “it is our choices that show who we really our”. I wonder how soon Harry Potter books will be classics and teachers will be analyzing the plots and developing theories as to why Rowling characterized Harry as a boy or teenager and why an owl as his companion versus a weasel.
I recall eleventh or twelfth grade English and my teacher Ms. Stern and the Melville novel classic, Moby Dick. According to her lessons and teachings the ship represented the world and Ishmael the wanderer got stuck on that ship. What was Melville really telling us besides a great story and history of New England’s whaling industry? I really enjoyed the story but not the analysis and when I wrote my opinion based on my own love of history, it was wrong according to Ms. Stern. Many years ago the choices we make not our abilities was the credo. I do think however had I been in a different teacher’s class my idea of a historical novel on the short lived whaling industry would have been applauded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning as I was being lazy actually I left my computer at school yesterday. I did however go out and sit thinking on my back porch for nearly an hour. I was listening intently to nature and even sort of intermingled man’s interactions with an occasional car or truck sound in the distance. However in getting started later than normal and then procrastinating even further talking with another teacher as I went to my classroom only to find my siren Lester has started going into a fake log I placed in his tank. Most people see the nearly three foot critter and think it is an eel but he or she is a Greater Siren and an aquatic amphibian never leaving the larval stage. I would also add more than likely the slimiest creature out of water known to man.
I enjoy my weekends where I can read and answer emails and work on my photography often downloading a gazillion photos to Facebook and working in my gardens. One of my emails from a now senior in high school recently was about realizing school was nearing the end and graduation was only a few months ahead. They would have to make a way in life. In that same email concern for a friend stationed in the Middle East was almost heart rending. Watching the news doesn’t give justice to friends and families with loved ones overseas still in harm’s way, as I think, choices we make. Yesterday as I went home I recalled seeing a flag our town had a memorial to a recent fallen local fellow who was killed in a suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan. In other emails with a suggestion of a book to read and out of 70 or so yesterday and this morning maybe those three really truly caught my attention.
I started with a Bush quote and maybe that applies to a job search so many of my teachers friends are involved in as well. So many of the following what we do with our lives is our choice how the world will see that choice is dependent upon the direction and choices we make. It is not the ability that you will be known for or how great an actor or musician or football player but what you do with your talent is what is seen. Aspects of family are so crucial and friends equally as well and always seek to learn to know more reading, writing, thinking and reflecting.

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

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

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

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

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

Several nights ago I was bored no American Idol, new NCIS, House is gone and I put on a video of Star Trek of all things, “Star Trek Insurrection”. The plot revolves around a planet where all is at peace. The few residents, all 600 have forsaken technology for art, or literature, for the aesthetics in life and for all that they can make of themselves. Interestingly a weaver studies 40 years to become an apprentice and apprentice another 40 to become a master weaver of rugs and tapestries. These people live on a planet whose innate radiation prolongs life and rejuvenates them cellular so they have time to accomplish what it is inside them. It sounds so easy when the time allows it.
Daniel Day Lewis, actor went and became a cobbler. He took a five year hiatus from movies to study cobbling, (shoe making) in Europe from the masters. As the Star Trek movie progressed a comment was made about a perfect moment, a special moment that stands out above all else. Captain Pickard mentioned seeing earth from space for the first time, many astronauts recall that moment. For me it was a sunrise over the Atlantic one morning on Cumberland Island with the waves splashing about and the most brilliant reds and oranges I have ever seen. A shrimp boat slowly moved through this picture yet in its awesomeness the boat was insignificant.
As Pickard spoke with this woman on this planet of a perfect moment she then offered now to learn to make every moment prefect and the movie continued and soon he was seeing a hummingbird flit to a flower or pollen blown from a flower.

“Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

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

“Wisdom begins at the end.” Daniel Webster

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

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)

Why does it take courage to teach?

Bird Droppings August 14, 2013
Why does it take courage to teach?

It has been several years’ back a tradition was started in my home town of Coatesville Pennsylvania. I recall an email about the event. One of the members of our high school graduating class lost his daughter to cancer a few years back and in memory the following has happened. Perhaps it is with our own loss at our high school of a dear friend last year and a staff member who just recently flew to California to be with her daughter diagnosed with cancer and seven months pregnant that brought this to mind a bit early. So I am starting day one not with roses but Dunkin Donuts for my advisement with the admonition to spread the joy and thought today the first day of school. My good friend Greg DePedro owns Coatesville Flower as did his father. My father for our entire stay in Coatesville twenty plus years bought his flowers for staff at his office and my mother there.

“August 22 is here and just a reminder that you can participate and honor Lisa DePedro’s memory and “Do Something Nice for Someone Today”. Pick up a dozen roses (they’re free) at Coatesville Flower Shop on Saturday. Keep one for yourself and give the other 11 to people who need something nice done for them. Each rose takes with it Lisa’s legacy, her love of life. If you can’t share this day with Greg and Dorrie in person, please remember them in your prayers as well as all parents who have had to bury their children. Bring your smiles and hugs and help carry them through the day.” Suzanne Kish Cook, Scottclass67

I am ahead of the game this year. In the past I would be looking for food for thought and find that note from many years back and write the morning of so today I am giving advanced warning. We start a new week and school year today and August twenty second is next Thursday. What if we all take that day to honor someone in our lives? It could be flowers granted it is a long drive to Coatesville but wildflowers work just as good. What about simply a smile or kind word. If we all could do this next week and the next day and the next would be brighter days for many people as each will receive a blessing. This morning as I picked up a few things and went to Dunkin Donuts I knew there was a reason. I will pick up some roses at Kroger next Thursday in honor of Lisa I will do my share come next week and maybe even start early today why wait.
Over the years I have found authors from numerous sources professors, friends and family. This was one shared with me by a professor at Piedmont College nearly eleven years ago. Earlier today I shared with a colleague as we messaged on Facebook about this author.

“As good teachers weave the fabric that joins them with students and subjects, the heart is the loom on which the threads are tied, the tension is held, the shuttle flies, and the fabric is stretched tight. Small wonder, then that teaching tugs at the heart, opens the heart, even breaks the heart–and the more one loves teaching, the more heartbreaking it can be. The courage to teach is the courage to keep one’s heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community that learning and living, require.” Parker Palmer

Often as I read I will be struck by words of an author that hit home, Parker Palmer has done that with this passage. In his book “The Courage to teach” I find so many instances and ideas that hit home. I had an instant this past week that stretched the fabric of my own teaching and each day as I read responses from other teachers, students and friends to Bird Droppings. But fortunately there is also resilience in the fabric and even when stretched to its limits the fibers are always able to reconnect and remake anew.
Somewhere in my closet or cedar chest is a pair of jeans from the old days, back in the day as my youngest son says. My tattered thread bare hippie bell bottom jeans from wearing nearly daily, this is before the day of having numerous pairs of jeans from designers and such that are distressed. I had two pair one on me and one waiting to be washed. My old jeans are patched embroidered and barely still jeans. Nowadays kids buy them already done and pre-worn for hundreds of dollars. My jeans earned every split and tear and every patch that covers a hole from experience.
Teaching is very much like my old jeans. You can attend a wonderful college and be taught by the greatest group of professors among the entire human race which is sort of like buying the jeans with holes in already. Of course when someone asks where did that hole come from or this one and the response is I bought them that way and usually the conversation ends. But when you say, well that hole, and go into a story about when I was hiking in North Carolina and one of my students chose to go down a wrong path and as I pulled them to safety I got hung on a green briar. Conversations start, ideas start, and life moves forward. I still cherish each piece of wisdom and knowledge learned in college but the real education begins when we share and experience life.
In so many aspects of life it is on the shop floor where you learn, it is in the doing. The most beautiful Navaho blanket is only a wall hanging till it keeps someone warm at night, and then it is a blanket. Hand out a few flowers or smiles or kind words this week and next week and think of the loved ones you are missing or apart from and brighten someone else’s day and 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)

Can we find gratitude in our daily walk?

Bird Droppings August 13, 2013
Can we find gratitude in our daily walk?

By chance yesterday afternoon I went by my favorite bookstore. As I do so often searching the book shelves at Barnes and Nobles I found a few books over the past few trips; two books are by J. T. And William Garrett and focus on Cherokee medicine and spirituality and the other is a book I have found most interesting and will be borrowing from in the classroom and in my writing over the next days. That book is, Activating the Desire to learn by Bob Sutto who uses Dr. William Glasser’s Choice Theory, to open up students to learning. Choice Theory is a totally different approach in our world of antecedent, behavior and consequence as depicted in behaviorist understanding. Perhaps a good lead in to my thinking on this book and idea is one of saying thank you or borrowing from the Cherokee Wa de (Skee).

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart

It was only a few days back that as I was waking up considerably later, still while most folks were still asleep, and I was thinking about gratitude. So often we are not thankful for all that befalls us. When I saw Eckhart’s quote about a month ago my first thought was to use it on Thanksgiving Day. But I really think it goes beyond a single day of giving thanks. This is a thought as in native philosophy should permeate our being and be an essential part of our day, giving thanks.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

“Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.” Northrup Christine

Being grateful opens doors and lets people in. We live in such a protectionist society and reality. We are always trying to protect our own area of influence, material items and self. Many times this could be why we humans in our nature have preponderance to greed coming into effect. However gratefulness can lift you up and take you beyond where you are now to another level. In a recent reading and article about Oprah Winfried the question was raised was it racism when a retail person refused to show her a thirty eight thousand dollar purse in an exclusive Switzerland shop. My first thought was who needs a purse of that cost. My wife came to Oprah’s vindication she can afford it not that she needs its but because she can. Not much different than when I buy certain milk over the house brand that is two dollars a gallon cheaper.

“Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” French Proverb

“It is another’s fault if he is ungrateful, but it is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man, I will oblige a great many that are not so.” Seneca

Gratitude requires giving and in giving we are also offering of ourselves as well as building up within ourselves.

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” Ethel Percy Andrus

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” Richard Braustein

Life is about giving, sometimes what you offer to others is simply, the how, and why and where you are placed in life and many times that provides the vehicle for your journey through life and direction or a map for others.

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” Flora Edwards

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran

So often we think of giving as money or food, but in reality giving of yourself is the hardest and the still the most rewarding. Caring about people and sharing is much harder than simply providing a dollar or a can, the gratitude comes back within and through our hearts.

“He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.” Lao Tzu

“A handful of pine-seed will cover mountains with the green majesty of forests. I too will set my face to the wind and throw my handful of seed on high.” Fiona Macleod

When forester’s timbers a given area, often they will leave several healthy older trees to seed the remaining land. I have been in areas where clear cutting save for a few tree, has occurred and several years later a new forest has begun. But it is so important to plant seeds and to scatter them as to be a friend and to let friendships grow.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

“The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.” Brian Tracy

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton

I remember a candlelight service so many years ago, one person carefully started with a lit candle and handed their light to another’s candle and each in turn went through the room lighting another’s and soon the room was filled with light. We are much like a candle light service if we share our light and love, and pass it on to the person next to you. It is to say thank you when you receive from another and offer always to another. So often life hands us unexpected surprises, gratitude extends and magnifies those times. Please as we get into this coming week ahead keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)

2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu

Bird Droppings August 12, 2013
2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu

I began the day thinking back to a song one of my students chose to write about several years ago, Live like you were dying by Tim McGraw. I have been sorting through books and files and found a small inspirational book based on the song. I had given a writing assignment to pick a favorite song and find the lyrics then explain the song. There is something about country music and lyrics and emotions that hit you. As various music genre came forth that one song stood out among all the rest that day. Here we can argue genres and such although I did use Beyoncé and Bob Dylan in a sarcastic graphic mainly pointed at our system of measuring schools. Bob Dylan if anyone is not aware has been chosen as the greatest song writer of all time. Some can argue and I got into this the other day with a fellow teacher and friend as I was picking on his heavy metal blaring after hours. I used the rock and roll hall of fame as an example and Dylan has songs covered by the greats, Knockin on Heaven’s door, All along the watchtower to name a few.

“You have to do what you love to do, not get stuck in that comfort zone of a regular job. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.” Lucinda Basset

“Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.” Cathy Better

Searching for words midst a deluge of thought I got caught up in Tim McGraw’s words from that assignment so many years back.

“I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dying. Like tomorrow was a gift and you got eternity to think about” Tim McGraw

We take life so often for granted, wasting precious moments, missing bits and pieces as we go hurriedly to the next event of the day.

“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.” Josh Billings

“It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.” Evangeline Cory Booth

“I went Rocky Mountain climbing I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu and then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter and I watched an eagle as it was flying and he said someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.” Tim McGraw

Yesterday morning I walked out as I do so many mornings early in the day, to my right clearing the pines a great smile of a moon almost half a full moon but still a smile. The stars added to the effect and surrounding me that great chorus of crickets and tree frogs, it was literally over whelming. I have yet to figure how crickets in our neighborhood can harmonize.

“The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, and passion.” Nadia Boulanger

“On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him.” Buddha

We each search and try to find the pathway that is best for us as we journey through life. How and why we go the direction we do is our choice and the attitude that we have again is our choice. As I am reading again the words from Tom McGraw’s song and listening to teenagers respond is interesting, living each day to the fullest is not just about riding a bull named Fu Manchu for 2.7 seconds or mountain climbing in the Rockies. It is more about loving deeper and speaking sweeter, it is the moments not the events, it is extracting as much as possible and giving as much as possible in each second of each day.

“I was finally the husband that most the time I wasn’t and I became a friend a friend would like to have” Tim McGraw

Again a flash back, to a phone call several years ago. It was again a few years back another incident struck me, my middle son called from college and sounded upset there was an un-easiness in his voice. A female student had killed herself in the dorm; several of his friends were peer leaders on that hall. In another situation I was informed two students I have been talking with for three years were both pregnant distant events each encompassing in its own, a life ended and lives starting. One of the girls came by to tell me personally after I had heard rumors.

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot

It has been many years since I would walk out into the pastures at night and hear the snorting of our buffalo. It is so hard to explain seeing a bull buffalo’s breath blowing across the grass in the wee hours of the morning on a cool day, or watching fireflies skirt the kudzu and sumac of our back yard. A young lady takes her life, she had a plan with a stopping point I wonder if she lived as if she were dying or was she dying so she could live? What a paradox we set in motion as we journey each day.

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outer results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

“I asked him when it sank in that this might really be the real end how’s it hit you when you get that kinda news man what’d you do…….live like you were dying. Like tomorrow was a gift and you got eternity to think about what’d you do with it what did you do with it” Tim McGraw

I won’t be riding bulls or skydiving but I will be smiling and I will love and I will be living each moment that I have got. So my dear friends take a moment and truly think about it, live your moments to the fullest and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and please be sure to give thanks for the moments namaste.

For my relations
Wa de (Skee)

Reflecting for class and thinking of others

Bird Droppings August 11, 2013
Reflecting for class and thinking of others

“I think that empathy is important not only as a means of enhancing compassion, but I think that generally speaking when dealing with others on any level, if you are having difficulties, it’s extremely helpful to be able and try and put yourself in the other persons place and see how they would react to the situation.” The Dalai Lama

Sitting here in my class room officially back in school on a Sunday morning although no students for another few days I was thinking about how do some teachers succeed where others have difficulty. I actually got into a discussion with a graduate school professor yesterday about this. I have for some time used the idea that teachers more than knowing and understanding content must have empathy. As I read this passage from The Art of Happiness by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama with Howard C. Culter M.D. the idea of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes hit me hard. That is a premise essentially for starting a school year or teaching a class for that matter. John Dewey refers to starting with the students past experiences and building from there. How many times do we as human beings simply assume we know all and our experiences and everyone else’s is the same?

“What is important is that we have a superior way of life. We Indians will show this country how to act human. Someday this country will revise its constitution, its laws, in terms of human beings, instead of property. If Red Power is to be a power in this country it is ideological….. What is the ultimate value of a man’s life? That is the question.” Vine Deloria, Jr. 1971

We did in class yesterday address the idea of the Constitution was written by predominately white wealthy property owners. However plasticity in the wording allows for change and interpretation albeit equal rights etc. I liked Deloria’s idea of acting human as if most of the time we do not act human. Going back to The Dalai Lama and looking at the concept of happiness a comment is made about happiness is having all of those things you want. Conversely that approach to happiness never is fulfilled since when you acquire what you want you want more. Watching the mega yacht and mega lifestyle reality shows sometimes makes me wonder how you can really be happy when all you strive for is material. It is looking within that real happiness can be found.

“The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization. And when native man left off this form of development, his humanization was retarded in growth.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

I am sitting in my class room listening to the running water of various tanks and aquariums working on putting up some new photos on my wall and trying to get some cleaning done. The building is quiet save for the running water and hum of my computer. The air conditioning has been cut back and sweat is rolling off my brow. I just finished a conversation with a friend about this last quote. Sometimes we forget that all about us interconnects and we are simple a piece in the puzzle. We like to believe we are more than the sum of the whole rather than an integral piece. I still have a good bit of paperwork I need to address and sort through this evening so maybe for this dropping I will leave with this. I end each of my wandering in the same way and have now for nearly eleven years. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)

It is so much more than just wanting to

Bird Droppings August 9, 2013
It is so much more than just wanting to

“I want to say one other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion, “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.” The world must hear this. I pray to God that America will hear this before it is too late, because today we’re fighting a war.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When I saw this quote earlier today it reminded me that wanting to in any endeavor is a powerful force. Yesterday a friend asked about the idea of wanting to teach and maybe I should write about that. As I am working on a paper while not on that subject it is about how we take away from kids that drive or that wanting to. Having taught in public school going on thirteen years now and as a parent being involved for nearly thirty years or more in public schools I have seen many teachers who did not want to be teaching. For whatever reason they are there and how they impact kids is directly related to their lack of motivation for being a teacher far too many times.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

A time back I was subbing during my planning period and ran into a paradox. On the wall a sign stating you earn respect and yet the teacher I was subbing for demanded respect from students. Several students had mentioned to me that fact about this teacher. Granted it was a third party conversation, and especially from students who do not like a teacher is not always the best source. However I know many teachers who walk in a room and demand respect they think that in being a teacher students should bow down and worship the ground they stand on. Granted in some cultures teachers are revered. However a teacher in that particular culture also has a different view of their teaching. When respect is demanded many students take offense and immediately back away. Some students as in the situation with one of my students become antagonistic and fighting back and arguing against demand. So how do we then inspire daily and weekly and monthly and for a lifetime as Ward states.

“Teacher’s Prayer: I want to teach my students how to live this life on Earth, to face its struggles and its strife and to improve their worth. Not just the lesson in a book or how the rivers flow, but how to choose the proper path wherever they may go. To understand eternal truth and know the right from wrong, and gather all the beauty of a flower and a song. For if I help the world to grow in wisdom and in grace, and then I shall feel that I have won and I have filled my place. . That I may do my part. For character and confidence and happiness of heart.” James J. Metcalf

I want to teach, a simple statement but a basis for all that then transpires in a classroom. Over the years I have read many books on education and on teaching. One that has always been a good read and reread is The Passionate Teacher by Robert Fried. There is a need for passion in teaching. This book should be a required reading for all teachers to be and at least for all education graduate students.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Carl Jung

“Compassionate teachers fill a void left by working parents who aren’t able to devote enough attention to their children. Teachers don’t just teach; they can be vital personalities who help young people to mature, to understand the world and to understand themselves. A good education consists of much more than useful facts and marketable skills.” Charles Platt

Many disagree with my philosophy of teaching and walk by on the other side of the hallway so as to not be infected. I recall many years ago one teacher who would go an extra hall over to avoid coming by my room. Granted there were snakes and spiders and loud kids, maybe they were afraid of snakes. I often wonder why some people become teachers. Obviously it is a paying job, with relatively good benefits. Some teachers will say they were called it is almost a sacred mission for them. But those few who simple could not find anything else or thought they wanted to teach maybe should wander away to another field. I know of several teachers simply waiting to retire and collect their teacher retirement. I wonder is it a sacred mission?

“The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad… Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves and murderers of the future. Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day, lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow.” Ivan Welton Fitzwater

“There’s no word in the language I revere more than ‘teacher.’ My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher, and it always has. I’ve honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming a teacher.” Pat Conroy, Prince of Tides

“If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for ten years, plant a tree. If for a hundred years, teach the people. When you sow a seed once, you will reap a single harvest. When you teach the people, you will reap a hundred harvests.” Kuan Chung

Such a powerful tool is teaching for the betterment and or the fall of mankind. As I look at how we decide who teaches and who does not, and how we train teachers I wonder. Are we training for a hundred years or next year? Looking at government’s involvement it is short term. I find it interesting how in eastern thought so often it is beyond the now. Nearby in a community is the Church of the Now. We focus so much on short term goals and efforts. Reach this score now and or suffer the consequences. When independent data is finally compiled I think we will find NCLB, No Child Left Behind has left significant numbers behind. A great teacher here and there might change some of this. Maybe we need to change legislation, our views about education, and our views about learning.

“There is an old saying that the course of civilization is a race between catastrophe and education. In a democracy such as ours, we must make sure that education wins the race.” John F. Kennedy

Right now education is falling behind as we spend billions fighting wars and more millions wasting time in needless legislation and efforts to repeal legislation. I often find it interesting that John Kennedy wanted to pull out of Viet Nam, and Lyndon Johnson wanted to stay and continue. After Kennedy’s assassination Johnson did continue the war for a number of years and many deaths of Americans. Several of whom would have made great teachers I knew them personally. Interesting side note Lyndon Johnson was on the board of Halliburton who benefitted by continuation of the Viet Nam war and is the same company involved in giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and in developing and inventing fracking.
In wanting to be a teacher, wanting to end a war, wanting to be a good parent, or wanting to be a friend, each requires of us to put in an effort. It takes an effort to be a great teacher, to end a war, to be a good parent, and to be a good friend. It is how much beyond is where the wanting to, fits in. You will know when you get there. It is a new day and and the beginning to a wonderful week ahead, I have many more pages to write and several new classes of students ahead. I hope each of you as you prepare for the week coming has a joyous and glorious day. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)

Searching for the ends of a bell shaped curve

Bird Droppings August 8, 2013
Searching for the ends of a bell shaped curve

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

In the days leading up to the last Democratic and Republican conventions I realize how much I really do not like politics. Political promises the flip flopping that each candidate says the others do, falls right into the idea that literally by definition politics are lies. Simply 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. Look to where the largest donors are and what dollar amount is provided and that is where hat politician’s philosophy is.

“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 sit back and touch base with several of the greats. In education maybe philosophy needs to have more input. As I venture forth this morning trying to not reiterate the multitude of media that has deluged us all week with political dribble in regards to education and reform I wonder. As the new school year begins for many teachers, the focus on getting ready for our students takes the edge off all of the politics of recent weeks and days and various testing issues that are impeding and surrounding us throughout the country. Sadly many of us see it that way it is in another state and who cares, long as the impact is not in our schools.
In reviewing information on students, employees and even politicians in the past I have found the person who is writing the reference very definitely allows their perception to drive the effort.

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

As I read this morning thinking of various reports about a student I had recently reviewed. Often I will wait to review records forming my own opinion before digging into files, trying not to be prejudiced by others thoughts. I wish we all could do this with politicians perhaps the truth would come out instead of the corporate jargon and media advertising.

“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 might work most of the time. Which leads me to there is some truth in the bell shaped curve. But those fringes of humanity at either end of the curve that minute quantity end up in judgment and in reality are forced to survive by same general guidelines as the majority and or if in power force their guidelines on the majority.

“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, interesting how we take the little children and make them conform to totally unnatural standards for four and five year olds, be quiet, stand in line, color in lines, do this, do that and then for twelve years continue adding to the guidelines. No wonder that by high school they have an agenda to guide their day.

“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; we strip away the aspects that make them who they are.

“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 years in education 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 they just followed 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 the stream. A quick note about border collies they always have very short names, Dot, Jim, Bo generally one syllable, 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 and I am sitting here now thinking of teachers as border collies, steering guiding the herd, occasionally we get a Judas goat as a teacher but hopefully they get weeded out quickly. Occasionally we get a Judas goat in administration and they end up in power and soon are dictating national policy sadly.

“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. 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”. Teacher friends the battle is far from over we need to pick up the battle flag and push forward this battle is about our children’s future, Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)

Teachers need to try and care

Bird Droppings August 6, 2013
Teachers need to try and care

With school starting back again it is like remembering years past the past few weeks as numerous former students have called, emailed, come by and visit my room or messaged me on Facebook. Some are former students and non-students who would spend time in my class room over the years holding Stevie the wonder snake or asking questions about various animals in my room, stop by to check on favorite animals or ask me to take pictures of their weddings. Two days ago a little girl now a mom and future pre-med student came by. I recall a many days back a former model in New York City now winner of Next Greatest Baker came by and as I sit and think how powerful are we as teachers. Whether a student accepts what we say or not we are a direct influence on students.
Do we impact them positively or negatively is the big question I ask daily as I carry on and get students to think and ponder. I wonder do they learn or simply take up space.

“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein

I have used this quote in several presentations in graduate school and recently a similar line was used by a presenter to the teaching staff of the county. We do have a very powerful impact on children and many teachers do not realize past the moment of their teaching of that wonderful lesson. I often refer to my own children and impact teachers have made on them as I talk with kids. One teacher in particular, who is a good friend, had all three of my sons and each would say she is one of best teachers they have had and one of the hardest. It could be because thinking was required and thinking was needed often not requested just implied and you would do it because of the teacher and the teacher’s example and attitude.
But this teacher also knows that tomorrow this student will be in another classroom and with another teacher and maybe will be a father or mother and teaching their own children. Our jobs do not end with the bells as so many teachers think.

“Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” Mother Teresa

It is difficult for me to even imagine the ability to do what Mother Teresa did day after day. She would walk the streets of India dealing with poverty and human suffering. We of our comfortable world can barely imagine. She asks to light a light in the hearts of people and I try and compare and feel like a match struck barely casting a spark.

“No matter what age you are, or what your circumstances might be, you are special, and you still have something unique to offer. Your life, because of who you are, has meaning.” Barbara De Angelis

“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.” Ethel Percy Andrus

As I look at my day and my effort to try and emulate some of humanities great givers. I realize I am here now in this moment and that other person was there at that moment. For now even if only a spark, a minimum of light, it is still some light and it is shining. What I can do now within the context of where I am is what is so important. My morning is spent before class in the hall literally talking to students often students who are walking down the hall just simply being there. I interject questions, how you and such are are and often more times than not make some smart remark, I wonder if they are still grouchy today. Yesterday my friend who wasn’t speaking to me, I followed down the hall directly behind her with comments like some people just are annoying they stop talking to other people for no apparent reason anyhow after about fifteen feet of annoying remarks she turned around cracking up and said ok I will talk to you. Later in the day I a well of holding back spilled out.
Have you ever tried to listen to a kid with ADHD try and explain why they were mad at you and all that has happened in a week in fifteen seconds or less, hypersonic listening is required.

“It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose that it is they themselves and what they identify with themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be.” James Baldwin

“It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.” Richard Braunstein

Always as I read Mother Teresa’s comments the “L” word comes up time and time again, love. In teaching so often it is difficult to use that word, even parents find it hard to tell their children. I have heard many times the line “My children know I love them even if I do not tell them”.

“The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of one to others.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” Flora Edwards

It amazes me how people do not see how love and giving are really selfish. When you love and when you give it is nearly always returned and the circle is complete. I know this is an understatement and love and giving are not selfish by any means but it is so true that this circular motion occurs; it may be simply the feeling of doing well. It has been a few months since I did a poster for school about the relief fund one of the classes had started. There was a feeling of good will, of love. While these kids will never witness any effect as to what they do here in our town collecting money for a relief fund, there is satisfaction and pride in the effort.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran

“He who obtains has little. He who scatters has much.” Lao-Tzu

I have been a visitor in schools where teachers wall themselves up in their rooms opening the door for class and lectures then close the door, open the door, and maintain this assembly line routine throughout the day. They never once have true contact with a student. They take roll and call names. I did that the other day started calling names and said we have been required to call roll and students must raise your hand and say present. After about two or three students actually did it one pipes up, “Mr. Bird but you know we are here” and therein lies the difference. Some teachers are so engrossed in not knowing their students they never know they are there. Many choose not to give for a fear of caring.
I called a home many months ago and spoke to a dad if I can call him that. He was pleasant and polite. I asked about his daughter who is a ninth grader. According to him she was with friends for the weekend and he had told her she was responsible for her ride to and from a town about thirty miles distant. In an average car at say 20 miles per gallon that is about four or five gallons maybe six gallons of gas and if careful we can get gas for $3.55 so it is then maybe $20.00 in gas. It seems she could not get a ride back and he told her he could not afford to come get her. Perhaps my comprehension was a bit off as I spoke with him. If one of my children went out of town for the weekend and was unable to get home, I would have found twenty dollars in gas or found a way to get them home. My reason for calling was due to her attendance. A few weeks later that student quit on her sixteenth birthday and left home.

“A handful of pine-seed will cover mountains with the green majesty of forests. I too will set my face to the wind and throw my handful of seed on high.” Fiona Macleod

“We must give more in order to get more; it is the generous giving of ourselves that produce the generous harvest.” Orison Swett Marden

“In Giving, a man receives more than he gives; and the more is in proportion to the worth of the thing given.” George McDonald

I was looking through old photos from back in the day and found several of some friends from Auburn Alabama. These photos go back nearly twenty five years. The young man in the photos used to work for me when he was in college. I jokingly recalled as I talked to his wife after I spontaneously called after looking at the pictures meeting his wife’s father, seems my friend was hiding in our stock trailer at a livestock show. Her daddy did not want her seeing him and he was looking for the young fellow. A small side note, they lost a baby several years ago and they had two healthy boys and a daughter. No cause could be found in the autopsy of their first child and as I talked with my friends wife she offered that in her heart it was meant to be there was a reason and she may never know.
I end with remembering those in harm’s way. In harm’s way is a big term. Several years back I spent some time walking through a NICU unit at a hospital. Those little babies were all so tiny after seeing my granddaughter healthy and almost ten pounds. I have great respect for NICU nurses and doctors and keep them in my daily thoughts these are special folks.

“If we want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” Mother Teresa

“I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?” Mother Teresa

“It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.” Mother Teresa

Today make an effort to know your students, your children, your friends, your family and those you meet. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and always give thanks Namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)

PS: A reminder “The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein