Trying to find where community exists

Bird Droppings November 17, 2013
Trying to find where community exists

For the second time as I get near the end of my doctorial course work I am involved in a class on educational communities which featured all total in the two courses fifteen texts. All of the texts have an under lying theme of caring and relationships as a key to education or I should say successful teaching. One of the books from a Georgia Southern course is entitled Dreamkeepers by Gloria Ladson-Billings, focuses on the notion of that a teacher should be giving back to the community. Over the past few years I have heard numerous teachers discuss not wanting to be seen by students outside of school and literally not being a part of the school community. Last week we got into a debate of sorts at school on this concept. Can a teacher be a successful teacher and not be a part of the school community?
On my last trip to Barnes and Noble bookstore a few weeks back I was looking for a book by J. Garrison, Dewey and Eros: Wisdom and desire in the art of teaching. This book focuses on ideas from John Dewey, considered to be by many one of the great minds in educational philosophy. As I went to the bookstore I ran into a student from my high school that had transferred to Georgia Southern University. It seems that where ever I go there are students, former students or parents of students showing up.

“In every integral experience there is form because there is dynamic organization. I call the organization dynamic ….. Because it has growth….William James aptly compared the course of a conscious experience to the alternate flights and perching of a bird…. Each resting place in experience is an undergoing in which it is absorbed and taken home the consequences of prior doing… If we move to rapidly, we get away from the base of supplies – of accrued meanings – the experience is flustered, thin and confused. If we dawdle too long after having extracted a net value, experience perishes of inanition.” John Dewey, Art as Experience, 1934

I thought back a few years and many conversations on synchronicity and a trip home from a class actually after a midterm in Advanced Behavioral Techniques; I was hungry since I had not really stopped since early in the morning. I knew one of my former swimmers from the high school team worked at Taco Bell and sure enough she was working and I said hi, coincidently the same student who I ran into at the bookstore this past weekend. As I pulled out of Taco Bell my sweet tooth struck and I ended up at Brewster’s, as close to homemade ice cream as you can get at fast food, sounded good and there were two of my former advisee’s also getting ice cream. We talked for a while about uptight teachers and who was not, an interesting subject. Why do teachers get so uptight or anybody for that matter?
As I talked several more students and former students pulled in I met girlfriends and boyfriends of each and such, coincidence perhaps but an average day for me it seems. So often I mention the word coincidence and try to explain it. Recently in a letter to a friend I used the term of we are where we need to be right now at this moment and when we realize that all of a sudden so much more becomes clear. James Redfield an author refers to coincidence frequently and the idea that when you begin noticing coincidence it happens more often as you become attuned to it. Essentially as you become aware of your place in the puzzle the pieces all seem to fit better and more clearly.

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Carl Gustav Jung

Carl Jung was of the nature there was purpose in all that happened and he and his former partner Sigmund Freud disagreed to an extent on the whys of this. Jung coined a word synchronicity to explain his thoughts in the early 1900’s. Events and things happening at a specific time, specific people seemingly appear by chance but obviously not.
“His (Jung) notion of synchronicity is that there is a causal principle that links events having a similar meaning by their coincidence in time rather than sequentially. He claimed that there is a synchrony between the mind and the phenomenal world of perception.” http:// skepdic.com/jung.html

“Some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry, and chaos theory. They are finding that the isolation and separation of objects from each other is more apparent than real; at deeper levels, everything — atoms, cells, molecules, plants, animals, people — participates in a sensitive, flowing web of information. Physicists have shown, for example, that if two photons are separated, no matter by how far, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other. “A Wink from the Cosmos, by Meg Lundstrom (Intuition Magazine, May 1996)

How does synchronicity tie into community? Somewhere in and among ideas and thoughts are answers. Some people seek answers through religion some seek answers through pure science others assume there are no answers and sit on a rock. Going back to my first thought I see teaching as a community and that in that community we are integral pieces and do interconnect many times and as for me today and yesterday in many differing places. I find throwing myself into that community as significant as walking into my class room on a school day. Each time I bump into a student it adds to their appreciation of my time and effort and gives me a piece of their puzzle too help deal with any issues that may come up when I have them in class. Just in a staff meeting yesterday we discussed connections.
Each of us can choose our direction and flow as humans, as friends, and as teachers if that is our chosen lot in life. The actual point I was making was when we are aware of our interactions with others that each moment we spend with a person affects not only that person but the next person they see or talk too as we too are affected. It is in this way community is built. I came away that night and yesterday, happy having talked with some folks that I had not seen in several weeks even several years and hopefully they too went away a bit happier. This is how life works and if we are aware of this imagine the effect and impact. If I know I will be affecting people beyond my contact with someone I will be more aware of how I affect them and so forth. I recall many years ago from I believe Dr. Glenn Doman, the old credence of leaving the person you are talking with smiling will affect ten others is true. If you involve the idea of coincidence, fact or fancy who knows but it sure happens a lot. So as I wander today through differing ideas please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Can we listen through our heart?

Bird Droppings November 15, 2013
Can we listen through our heart?

It has been several years since found on my many excursions to Barnes and Nobles a small book that I would like to share some passages from. I found many of the thoughts and passages to be of significance and for me sharing words of wisdom with others is part of who I am. I have several students in advisement who are interested in going into nursing and many thoughts in this little book relate to health and spiritual care as being one and the same. The little book, Listening with Your Heart, is written by Dr. Wayne Peale MD, a medical doctor and an Iroquois on his mother’s side.

“As a medical student I was being trained to hear hearts with my stethoscope, but found I was missing a great deal by not listening with my heart” Dr. Wayne Peale

I was proctoring an End of Course Test last semester during the fourth block of the day. One of the questions was from a poem or passage about a colt that was not winter-broke. I liked that term winter-broke. For those of us in the south perhaps it has little meaning and perhaps a culturally difficult passage. The term winter-broke is about being use to the winter, snowflakes, cold, steam from your breath and other idiosyncrasies of the cold. Today in Georgia many of those shy of snow in our area are visible. A baby horse new to the world would be spooked with a new snow fall. Maybe chasing snowflakes or running from them as in the case of the story.
However as the question was answered for one of the answers was the author empathetic to the plight of the colt. Other answers used words such as was the colt afraid and words similar. One of my students asked me quietly what is empathetic. Being a language arts test and such I could not impart or tell the definition of an answer. I saw my little book on the table when I returned to my room and pondered as to why it was so hard not to say the answer because I too lived by empathy.

“The white man talks about the mind and body and spirit as if they are separate. For us they are one. Our whole life is spiritual, from the time we get up until we go to bed.” Yakima healer

For several weeks I have been dealing with a situation and a student who is on the verge of being expelled and much if it from my own fault. The student is refusing to do a required program. In refusing to do the assignment he is getting irate and argumentative often to a point of school disruption. When you carefully look at the student’s disability each aspect of it is in responses that are given, lack of control, obsessive behavior, emotional issues, anger management issues and authority issues. A slight change and the problem could be solved. Why not do the same work in a different manner? Of course it is not in the confines of “program” which would upset administration. Should empathy for the student stand up to, trying to stay in the box? As Dr. Peale learned and points out sometimes you need to teach from the heart as well.
One day perhaps I will study linguistics and language. As I looked through Dr. Peale’s book a Navajo word caught my attention.

“Hozho (HO-zo) – A complex Navajo philosophical, religious, and aesthetic concept roughly translated as “beauty”. Hozho also means seeking and incorporating aesthetic qualities into life, it means inner peace and harmony, and making the most of all that surrounds us. It refers to a positive beautiful, harmonious, happy environment that must be constantly created by thought and deed. Hozho encourages us to go in beauty and to enjoy the gifts of life and nature and health.” Listening with your heart

In a recent writing seminar the lead teacher offered that reading a passage can aid in eliciting descriptive phrases and sentences, and to encourage students to illiterate and expound on ideas more so. Here is a word that has so many meanings. A simple word is hozho, yet so much meaning. I end each of my daily writings with a Hindustani word and have several times offered the translation when people ask. Within its own language there are different meanings for different people. For some it is a salutation a simple hello or goodbye. If you go a bit further south in India you would only use namaste with reverence and literally bow your head pressing your hands together honoring the person you are speaking with, with your simple salutation.
It has been a few months since I wrote about making a rope strand by strand. A dear friend from up north wrote back thanking me and later in the day responded with this note.

“Thank you for sharing them with me. I sent this one on to my husband, my sister and sister-in-law and my best friend. Thru this most difficult year losing my beloved son, they have been constants in my life united we stand thru this valley of darkness. Without their love and support, my grief would be unbearable. Peace my friend.”

Empathy is assisted healing from the heart.

“…healing is a partnership with others – family members, community. A Native American healer once paraphrased Abraham Lincoln to me: ‘you can heal some things all of the time,’ the healer said, ‘and you can heal all things some of the time, but you can’t heal everything all the time alone.’ Everyone needs a coach, a family a community.” Dr. Wayne Peale MD

Sometimes when I receive a note from the heart it is difficult to answer immediately. I have to sit sometimes even sleep on it. My dear friend lost a son. Many the times since hearing of her plight I have wondered what would it be like to lose a son, a daughter or anyone close to me. Empathy is a difficult word at times like these. It is a much bigger word than most would imagine.
Our house is such that our two of our bedrooms rooms are up stairs and two are down stairs they literally go from one end of the house to the other. Being that my writing and reading time do not always correspond with normal sleep patterns the family when home will be asleep when I am about to write or read. Hearing the sounds of my family asleep often is a peaceful and wonderful feeling. Knowing they are safe and here at home. Then the so many what ifs have crossed my mind as I walk through the house early in the morning thinking about what if the rooms were empty.
Lost in a moment of melancholy I come back to teaching in my thinking. Teaching is about healing, it is about community, and it is about family and most of all it is about empathy. It is about seeking and engaging constants in our lives so we can move forward and or change directions if need be. Teaching is always about learning. Sometimes as I came to realize yesterday and have so many times before our nice boxes we are supposed to teach from are not always the right ones. Sadly far too many teachers do not use heart as a teaching tool. Far too many parents do not or cannot use heart as a parenting tool. As I look at the title of Dr. Peale’s book, listening with your heart, what a powerful message.
I am doing an exercise using a black and white picture of a bridge most will simply see a picture, while others have created fantasy worlds of trolls and fairies. Some simply explain their perception and how we each are different in what we see and hear. Often I will play the devil’s advocate and argue both sides. It is just a bridge to elicit responses or what if it was a work of art created by an immigrant iron worker as a tribute to his or her new freedom. Thinking back to, Hozho, my new word I should take pause.

“Every action should be taken with thoughts of its effects on children seven generations from now.” Cherokee saying

If only we would deal with kids with life that way. What if people in general looked at life that way? Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. It is about being in your heart. It is about speaking from your heart. But most of all it is listening with your heart and always giving thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Perhaps I had a vision walking in moonlight

Bird Droppings November 14, 2013
Perhaps I had a vision walking in moonlight

As I walked out in the morning, the two thirds full moon’s glow lit the area. While only just a small part of the moon it was still a beautiful picture presented. There was a sense of light about as I stood looking around, thinking as I do every morning. I will ponder my day and the week ahead even though I had cars to gas up and a run to Wal-Mart for odds and ends. I was reading very early this morning on one of my friend’s pages and a comment was made about me being a searcher. I have often felt that way as I wander through life. What was said about to me once many years ago from of all places, a psychic I had the chance of running into as I do find myself in those sort of places at times. She said I had been a searcher for a long time and perhaps still was. I am sort of a Daniel Boone of continually learning, searching, and pondering.

“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach; we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forest and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know-unless it is to share our laughter. We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we want to love and be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or to compete for love.” James Kavanaugh

As I read this passage I thought of people who draw my attention and I theirs. My room was filled before class started today with ten or fifteen teenagers drawn here perhaps for donuts but I quickly hid them. It seems I Lost a bet in fourth block and it was for donuts. I wonder why many times kids come to talk and interact. Often I am too much for some and they tend to back away. For others they get drawn in to hear of what it is I am ranting about or listen to a story or read a thought. Often it is kindred spirits looking for and searching as Kavanaugh so eloquently writes about in this passage. Perhaps we are searchers looking for answers in the flow and ebb of life’s forces.
Walking in the moon light today was for me an awakening an energizing of sorts. As I watched wisps of smoke rise and circle about as I blew on embers of sweet grass and sage.
“…each of us must follow his own path… Wherever we are, whoever we are, there is always quite water in the center of your soul.” James Kavanaugh
No two journeys are the same and no two people see and hear the world about them in a manner that is can be construed as similar, while somehow we seem to exist together. I read a friend’s concerns about the world and the potential for peace. While he is so adamantly viewing all that is in one direction I may in my naiveté look another and following a path I believe will lead to that where I feel I need to go. It was in 1961 or so President Eisenhower warned against the coming Industrial Capitalistic Corporate powers and their efforts to take control. Many thinkers, philosophers believe that this is what has happened in our own country.

“The least of learning is done in the classrooms.” Thomas Merton, US religious author, clergyman, & Trappist monk (1915 – 1968)

I use Thomas Merton often in my writing the spiritual mysticism has always caught my attention. Thomas Merton was an avid and practicing pacifist and antiwar leader. Merton was found dead in his room in 1968 in Bangkok, while on a spiritual and peace activist journey against the wars in Southeast Asia. I was looking at these words and began to realize in my own life it has been the pondering and searching that has led to learning. The pieces of what I experience in the classroom then bolstered by reflection and wonder build into learning as if the classroom were only a sampling of what is to be learned.
It is an appetizer of sorts.
I was involved in a group meeting for my doctorate several weekends past and many times the idea of becoming an avid learner a seeker of learning was mentioned. I recall a recent paper where as I wrote and researched and read others ideas my own grew significantly. As I think of current methodologies in schooling of the cramming of ideas into vacant space or so many teachers think. What if we borrow from a Sydney J. Harris concept and implant the grain of learning and nurture it as a pearl diver nurtures the oysters, and eventually that grain of sand will be a pearl. Often bigger and brighter than any the originator could have conceived of.

“The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, ‘I was wrong.’” Sydney J. Harris

I am sitting and listening this morning to R. Carlos Nakai’s Sundance Season, a series of pieces that are directly tied to a sacred ceremony of his ancestry within the Ute tribe, the Sundance Ceremony. I recall a poster print of a Native American chief in my father’s room on the man’s chest a series of scars. These are from the Sundance Ceremony. Nakai’s music on this series of songs is based on and derived from the ceremony, one of pain, of courage, and ultimately of vision. As I look this morning we continually in our modern endeavors avoid such undertakings.
I was thinking of students who are content with the seventy grades and the “I am passing” or that famous modern quote of “whatever”. I can envision Daniel Boone as he traced through the mountains of Kentucky and North Carolina climbing along a ridge and saying “whatever” and heading home to the fireplace. There is an eerie piece on this CD that is playing it is played on a whistle made from the ulna bone of a golden eagle. Most people play one note on an eagle bone whistle, Nakai plays five and the haunting melody encompasses you.

“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.” Thomas Merton

When I read this it had so many implications in learning and teaching in life in general and in our world view. I will strive for peace in my endeavors and thoughts each day. I will strive to promote learning in my students and a love of learning. There is a point when a student switches the switch and learning becomes second nature. It is finding that switch that is the difficult aspect of teaching. I watched the Ron Clark story a few nights back night and it was finding that switch that made the difference and the fact he never stopped looking when he could have walked away.

“The least of learning is done in the classrooms.” Thomas Merton

I am sitting, thinking and wondering about each day, the week ahead and holiday seasons ahead and so many people who are in need of our thoughts, prayers and understanding. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and to always give thanks.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Looking at a cloud

Bird Droppings November 13, 2013
Looking at a cloud

I am still warming my hands as this was the coldest morning of the fall to date. I went out to start my wife’s car and off in the pines a great horned owl called. I stood listening for several minutes focusing on the sound and wondering how many others heard this call. I read an email from a friend rather a post to class reunion web page last night. It was a sincere heart felt recollection of one friend for another. The series of notes were related to Veterans Day and were remembering our class mates who had fallen in battle, a wonderful tribute to our warriors.
What could I offer that had not been said. The call of an owl and passing of a cloud were only symbols and meaningful to me. I too thought back and it has been some time since I lay on a blanket at the Valley Forge National Park in Pennsylvania watching clouds float by overhead. Earlier as I walked outside the clouds were moving by in the darkness which always is inspiring to me seeing the lace of clouds with the half of a moon behind. Why Valley Forge popped in my mind I am not sure it has been some time since I was there. Last night I saw the first shooting star in many months as I was driving home from teaching a college class. It has been some time since we would lay out in the bed of a truck or sitting in chairs waiting on falling stars. Back in the day as my youngest son would say it was easy to drive out into a pasture away from house lights and see the true sky at night.
I spent a good bit of the day yesterday thinking about my grandchildren, getting ready for lasts night class, and reading. Reading for me provides an escape. Many the times, when visiting my in-laws in Warner Robins, I would take along a new book and go to where my father in-law had set up a chair outside in his back yard under an ancient cherry tree. It just so happened to be a perfect foot rest on a picnic table and just the right back angle to read. With the sun at a good angle it is a perfect spot and when the breeze is just so and not enough to turn a page but enough to be peaceful well a nap often will entail.
Occasionally I would take a digital picture of something that caught my eye as I read a piece of bark or knot in the tree trunk of that old cherry tree. Once while I read several small colorful spiders dropped by and ran across my book enjoying the warmth of the sun as much as I was. Always high overhead squirrels are busy with running along the power lines back and forth to a pecan tree stocking up on nuts for the coming winter.

“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.” Henry David Thoreau

It has been a few years back one spring a red tailed hawk came to my yard to die. Why it chose my small piece of earth I will never know. I carefully buried it near some flowers in one of our flower beds.

“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, Blackfoot warrior and orator
So many years ago as I would walk across the pastures in the wee hours of the morning and listen for the buffalo waking up snorting and shaking off the dew from the night. Now I listen to tree frogs and crickets when the temperature allows a very occasional car will break the mood but early in the morning most normal people are still asleep and I do have a semblance of solitude. Perhaps I am simply pondering too hard today thinking back to bits and pieces of my own life when I was learning about all around me.
I still recall the day I learned what name was given to the constellation making a W across the night sky. A good friend had learned from his father and shared Cassiopeia with me. Today I share bits and pieces with my sons and it will not be too long till I share with my grandchildren. Last night as I spoke with my son he and his wife were out shopping for decorations for my granddaughters upcoming birthday party a tear or two crossed my eye. I can recall as we drove home so many times from my wife’s parent’s home watching my father in law and mother in law standing waving as we drove away. They would wave till we were out of sight and I would wonder what it was like and now I know. Of course in our car the main excitement all the way home was over a bag full of grandma’s rice crispy treats. But then occasionally something would catch an eye and coincidence would kick in and we would seriously talk about the event, a crimson sky or hawk gliding to roost for the night, doves along a wire or a deer jumping back into the forest. I gave thanks this morning for the cold. I gave thanks for a clear head and all that would transpire in the day ahead. I gave thanks for my friend’s tribute to a fallen warrior. I look forward to a beautiful day and always give thanks for my family and friends. 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)
bird

Today is day one or so I am told

Bird Droppings November 12, 2013
Today is day one or so I am told

I remember nearly seven years ago as we got closer to the last day in our old house it was actually appropriately to be the last day of the month. Sitting here in my class room thinking back early in the morning it is a new day a glorious day and who knows what this day holds. I wonder each day as I start who I will meet, talk with and what new ideas may come around. Being accustom to early rising I am sitting here at my computer typing away getting lesson plans or at least some semblance of a day ready for my students as it is also the last few days before a week long Thanksgiving holiday. It is a good day a chance of snow and or a chance of sun. I like the weather reports on the news they are always so vague and always covering every angle neither cloud nor sun for sure but possibility of either. I found this thought today as I sit and ponder.

“Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.” Matthew Flickstein, Journey To The Center

When I saw this I thought of a dear friend who passed away what seems decades ago today and was only a few years. A teenager who I would have never suspected had a feeling for Robert Frost. So for those of you who knew him, a special word for Travis, a special someone who could light up a room and generally get someone mad at the same time.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

When I went to the funeral of Travis and heard this poem read. This was his favorite poem. I had to think, I had to ponder and for myself I could not have remembered that verse though I am sure I read it somewhere in my wanderings. Travis was not a scholar and I do not mean that in a bad way he was quite the opposite so to say. Yet this verse was of significance to him, he carried it with him on a piece of paper in his wallet. Earlier today I wrote, responding to an email, about doing right and or doing good.

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa

A friend from Ohio sent me this quote and paraphrased if you are an atheist cover your ears, well actually your eyes unless someone is reading this to you. An atheist friend responded with. “All atheists have to do is substitute another word (like ‘conscience’) or thought for ‘God’ in the final sentence, and it works just as well. Or better, eliminate the final sentence, and it works even better, since the reader must come up with his own justification for doing the right thing.” As I think back to Travis, I honestly do not think he intentionally did wrong ever. Everything he did do, while annoying at times, loud at times, was joyful. It was often funny as I sit here, that was the word that popped in my mind, joyful.
I agree with that great philosopher and guru of gurus dear friend from the Philadelphia area Dlog Nala, that leaving out the last sentence changes the passage a bit. So often in life we need excuses to do something even though it is right, what is in it for me that extrinsic motivation that drives mankind. Even in this analogy of doing for God there is a reason for doing good rather than simply because it is right. While I am reminiscing going back many years to an argument in seminary. I was always intrigued how the mafia Godfather, on his death bed would have last rites and absolution even though he had murdered many people and pillaged the city through crime. I listened to many messages of salvation from sin.
I had a professor and an entire discussion group tell me how upset they were over the fact that this group of people we had just worked with, were going to hell because they could not accept their way of believing. The particular unit was a severe and profoundly disabled unit at Central state hospital back in the days of institutions, a large complex of buildings and humanity in Central Georgia in the early 1970’s. Many of the patients in this unit were bedridden and connected to feeding tubes, literally comatose. They were turned every hour or so to prevent bed sores. I always thought it was interesting that these folks in that unit were lost and the mafia godfather was not. The science of theology has a way of doing that.
It has been a number of years since another friend and I walked five miles every day discussing life and theology. He has finished seminary and gone back to teaching music along the coast of Georgia. Many the talks as we walked, of where and when and how and many of Travis and his impact on our own lives. I am amazed at how a sixteen year old could affect so many people.

“Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.” Matthew Flickstein, Journey To The Center

We tend to get greedy when we have a good thing and never want to let go of it. I have been writing each morning for nearly fourteen years and on that morning, after holding Travis’s hand for most of the night a story I have told so many times. I had been watching monitors go the direction I was hoping they would not. The doctor said it was up to the family they would harvest organs when given permission. Travis was an organ donor, it was his wish and he even talked about it often. I went to my own home, after we had taken all the high school friends of Travis back after a night in the hospital. I sat down at my computer and I have related this so many times previously. There affixed to the monitor a yellow post-it note from my son.

“Dad” it was addressed to me. “Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

It was funny how it took my teenage, at that time, son to give me perspective. I learned more in that moment than I had in many years of discussion and classes. We all are on a journey each of us wandering often far from the path. My son now a teacher of science and I really do not think he knows how much he taught his old man in one line. Some of us never step out of the way from their travels. For many people it is always a straight and narrow pathway. However some of us choose to go down this side road and up that path. It is the journey we are on that is so important and it is on that journey we need to borrow from Mother Theresa and do what is right, do it anyway. Sitting here my computer alarm went off time to get busy. As I was reading the news on Yahoo a few minutes back, maybe a change in how we view our world situation is in the horizon coming up. I would hope so; life is so precious it is not a commodity like so much of our economy. We are not human capital as so many politicians and even educators would like to think. So as always for today 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)
bird

Gratitude is action as well as words

Bird Droppings November 11, 2011
Gratitude is action as well as words

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.

Chief Seattle, 1854

Most mornings I am driving to school about five thirty or so in the morning but today with Veterans Day as a holiday I got to relax. So it is four in the morning and I am sitting writing. Today my wife and son get to go to work and I get to watch the sun come up and give thanks in solitude. I by chance got a photo of a brilliant red maple tree shining in the rising sun a few days ago. I have been lucky now for nearly a week since daylight savings time started to walk outside at school and enjoy the sunrises. It is a powerful time of day as the sunrise appears it is though you can watch and listen to the awakening of everything. While at school when I am standing facing east to take in the full effect of the sunrise cars and business sounds humming and popping around me can distract. So for today to be able to enjoy and listen to the world awake will be nice.
Yesterday I was photographing and literally drove nearly sixty miles around the area looking for images of the sun coming up at one point a lone bird started chirping and soon another and within minutes I was visually and auditorally committed to a new day. On this day of thanks to our veterans I am not only thankful but offer it is with sincere gratitude that I sit here writing today. To friends, family and those I do know who have served our country thank you from my heart.

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

It is only a few weeks ahead that as I will be waking up the morning after, while most folks will be still asleep, it seems that turkey has that effect on people here around the holidays. With the Thanksgiving holiday near I was thinking about gratitude. 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.

“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 allows people in. We live in such a protectionist society and reality. We are always trying to protect our own area of influence and self. However gratefulness can lift you up and take you beyond where you are now to another level.

“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 and 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 how and where you are placed in life and many times that provides the vehicle for your journey deeper and through life and offers direction 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 oneself that is the hardest and the most rewarding. I recall listening to war stories my father would tell. These would be heart wrenching stories of World War II and his own journey in life. I have read many books and heard others tell of their service and time serving our country. It is in caring about people and sharing through offering of one’s life that 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

As I am pondering the words from The Art of War, written thousands of years ago and from another more recent Scottish author and writer William Sharp who wrote for a number of years as Fiona McCleod I am think of so many friends who in serving died. As I think of the warriors who have given their all at times in controversy and often only because they believed they were doing what is right. It is the memories and pain we carry that gives us hope. When forester’s timber areas, 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. When I can I do tell the stories told by my father and I do recall and tell of my friends exploits. I tell stories of warriors of old who fought and die for what they believed fighting for families and country. I give thanks each day as I walk and greet the sun.

“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. I will end with a simple thought and prayer for a day of honoring all warriors past, present and future.

When you were born, you cried
And the world rejoiced.
Live your life
So that when you die,
The world cries and you rejoice.

White Elk

So often life hands us unexpected surprises, gratitude extends and magnifies those times. Please as we get into this coming holiday season keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks.

For all my relations
Wa de (skee)
bird

It is not hard being color blind in a world that only sees black and white

Bird Droppings November 10, 2013
It is not hard being color blind
in a world that only sees black and white

It has been nearly forty five years, actually more since I found out I was color blind. I had been in college at West Chester State College for my freshmen year back in 1967. I found that driving to the New Jersey beaches and missing school was much more entertaining than sitting in a class room listening to a chemistry professor we could not understand go through his roll of transparency film like it was on fire. However on the downside my grades did indicate my absence as I received my letter not permitting me to return to school. Only a day or two passed and a draft notice was in the mail since my student’s deferment was now voided. A new system of draft selection was under way using a lottery. I was in the first round of lottery numbers pulled. All Saints day, my birthday was selected as the number three draft. Additional dates were selected through one hundred and fifty three adding more soldiers to be drafted.
I was at the time playing ice hockey for West Chester State and somehow my grades and letter do not come back to school never made it to the Hockey team and I was still playing. I had severely injured my right shoulder early in the year and had been in the hospital for surgery just before my draft physical. I still had stitches in my shoulder as I went to be examined. I could not raise my right arm and as I made my way through the lines I kept being redirected to repeat the color blind test. The Ishihara Color Blind Tests are a series of round almost camouflage looking patterns with numbers placed within the patterns. I could only read one or two of the numbers. By the end of the four or five hours I had several check marks on my physical against me. I found no epileptics were allowed, no color blind soldiers were wanted and no one who could not raise their right hand to salute was even considered. The sergeant came to me and said son you failed and I smiled and he then yelled at me, “Why are you smiling boy”.
So here I was color blind and never knew it and what trade do I go into after a few years of teaching in the early seventies but graphic arts. Every day I made choices and decisions on color and numerous designs that involved color. For some reason being color blind never seemed to bother me as I went through life. However as I matured and continued in my journey I began to see how limited I was and how so many people were in how they looked at life. Writing on this cold November morning I found several song writer’s words had significance. These lines hit me as I cannot see some hues and tints of color but always seem to make what I choose be just what is needed.

“Life is like a box of crayons. Most people are the 8-color boxes, but what you’re really looking for are the 64-color boxes with the sharpeners on the back. I fancy myself to be a 64-color box, though I’ve got a few missing. It’s ok though, because I’ve got some more vibrant colors like periwinkle at my disposal. I have a bit of a problem though in that I can only meet the 8-color boxes. Does anyone else have that problem? I mean there are so many different colors of life, of feeling, of articulation.. so when I meet someone who’s an 8-color type.. I’m like, hey girl, magenta! and she’s like, oh, you mean purple! and she goes off on her purple thing, and I’m like, no – I want magenta!” John Mayer

I found this quote on a face-book page and really liked it. Few people outside graphic arts and the art world know what color magenta is but magenta is one of the four colors along with yellow, cyan, and black that make up the colors used in printing of four color process and color copying.
We live in a world of eight color crayon boxes where most people only see what they want to see and only in a few shades and on the most part in black and white. As a teacher I have found there are more than sixty four colors and many more shades in between if we look and listen and me color blind I may not see many of them. It has been many years since I first heard Harry Chapin in the Fox Theatre on Peachtree Street. A song that has stuck with me is one about a little boy who sees the world as a rainbow of color. I have included all the words to this very poignant song and if you ever get a chance find a tape or CD and listen to the Great Harry Chapin singing the tune. When I first came home with some magic finger paint for my grandchildren the very first picture we painted was a rainbow. Red, yellow, green and blue shining yellow purple too.

Flowers are Red
by Harry Chapin

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man
I’m paintin’ flowers he said
She said… It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one
And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen
But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one
Well the teacher said.. You’re sassy
There’s ways that things should be
And you’ll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me…..
And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen
But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one
The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It’s for your own good..
And you won’t come out ’til you get it right
And are responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said
Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen
Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin’
She said…Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let’s use every one
But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said
Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

It has been a few years back when a group of four year olds from our ECE program came into my old room to see the snakes and lizards and other creatures that lived there. As little children do they asked question after question until one little boy blurts out where do snakes go to the bathroom and one of the high school students who was working with the little ones says that’s a stupid question don’t ask that. I immediately started first of all it is a great question and we went on to discuss where snakes go to the bathroom. After the group left I talked to the high school student and explained never stop the questioning this is why when kids today get to high school they have been taught not to think or question coming up through the grades. It is through questions we learn.

“A camera is not a creative thing. Cameras themselves don’t produce works of art any more than a paintbrush produces a work of art. They have to be in the hands of people who know what they’re doing with them. Therefore all the tools that are available are wonderful, but you still need to have the confidence to use them and to know how to use them, what the processes are that are involved. That’s where I think there is often a crisis. There are too few opportunities I believe now for people to develop the necessary skills to make these tools really helpful and useful. There are plenty of ways of using them which are more or less trivial, which pass the time and it would have passed anyway.” Sir Kenneth Robinson

I shared with a great photographer friend is who constantly asked about her top of the line cameras that is your secret, the camera isn’t it? I was introduced to Sir Kenneth Robinson by a good friend. He is known word wide for his work on creativity and imagination in education. As I have been researching for my dissertation I have read and found Elliot Eisner as well who is known for his work on the aesthetic applications within education and others all who see our educational system stripping away imagination and critical thinking for common core goals such as standardized test scores. Robinson uses the illustration of the rise in testing and ADHD diagnosis in the US. An interesting thought as I go deeper into my own research.
I went out last night just before dark. The sky was finishing a gorgeous sunset and all about me as I sat in my quiet spot listening to the sounds of crickets and tree frogs trying to get a few chords in before the chill sets in again. I went with my son to see a movie and was listening to old Bob Dylan songs and thinking about the John Mayer quote. It is not just about artists it is about people and how they see and hear the world about them. I worry as I watch politicians say one thing then do another and tomorrow do something different all in their own interest. So many politicians as I discussed with another teacher the other day are acting being who they need to be to get what they want. A sad world as we rip the soul from children telling them to not ask questions and limiting what they can see and or hear. So for another day please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and please always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Spirituality is it an uncertain certainty?

Bird Droppings November 8, 2013
Spirituality is it an uncertain certainty?

“When you examine the lives of the most influential people who have ever walked among us, you discover one thread that winds through them all. They have been aligned first with their spiritual nature and only then with their physical selves.” Albert Einstein

What has always intrigued me is Einstein is so often reputed to be an atheist. Yet within his writings the aspects of a spiritual nature are intertwined. Perhaps it is his Judaism and heritage that allowed some to criticize and chastise. Perhaps he would never clarify his stance other than his own heritage yet intermingled with his scientific ideas is a under lying awareness of a spiritual aspect to humanity which is not necessarily a religious aspect.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)

It has been a few days since I have thought about another author I enjoy William Edelen. It has been some time since I first read, Toward the Mystery. It was in around about way I found this book. The book was named as the book of the year for the United Methodist women groups and distributed at their national conference. Back in the day roughly mid 1990’s or so it was a very controversial book. Edelen refers to his own search and path to spirituality as a search for the mystery. The book is a series of essays by Edelen looking at religion and the founding fathers their aspects of faith and spiritual views. He emphasizes in his look at eastern thought and Native American thinking where his own direction has gone. In Indian thought is where Edelen borrowed the idea of Wakan-Tanka “the mystery”. Often in Native American ideology the mystery is all that is and within which we we fit.

“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.” Black Elk Oglala Sioux Holy Man, 1863-1950

In 1931 Black Elk revealed his vision from his childhood to author John G. Neihardt who recorded the words in the book, Black Elk Speaks. In Native American thought the circle was considered sacred and throughout literature and philosophy the circle continues.
For example you can see in curios and in eastern thought the black and white fish swimming in a bowl symbol of yin and yang, which make a circle. Many tribes considered their spiritual direction to be, Wakan-Tanka, or the Great Mystery. In movies and books Wakan-Tanka is used in reference to God when referring to Native Americans, yet the word is not even defined it is a mystery. In ancient Hebrew philosophy you could not say the name of God and even in biblical writing, “I am that I am” is God defining God to Moses. Perhaps it is in our own insecurities we need definitions and clearly defined parameters for spiritual matters.
We build monuments and write affirmations and liturgies to glorify and personify. Edelen uses the term anthropomorphize we want everything to be clear and to be like us. “Toward the mystery” “The great mystery” Daily I work with students who have are literally vacuums in terms of faith in anything which also translates to not trusting anything or anyone. Over the years I have found that faith and trust are synonymous and without one you do not have the other. While many will say they believe this or that and or deny just as easily it is the lacking the hole that offers the issue. For if you cannot trust dealing with each other let alone spiritual issues is difficult.
Earlier as I went outside for my morning meditation the trees were blowing rustling is a better word slightly that thankfully subsided a few minutes while I sat out or I would have frozen in the forty five degree chill. The quiet of the heavy air subduing humanities encroachment I was looking deeper today perhaps than normal searching myself for the mystery. So often I wonder why it is so many simply except and stagnant not allowing daily interactions to come onto play not allowing the pathway to fork off or change. But then again sometimes I ponder to much today let us all please keep all in harm’s way on our minds and in our hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Do we teach or are we taught

Bird Droppings November 7, 2013
Do we teach or are we taught

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” Albert Einstein

So many times when discussing students who are having difficult times an individual teacher’s perspective is all that matters. Recently I was about to thump another teacher in the head listening to comments about how if this student had a better work ethic. I have heard work ethic a lot lately. This or that student needs a better work ethic. But what if you really do not like that teacher and or subject and better yet what if you have a disability that inhibits you. Every day I see square pegs hammered into round holes. It is the way our education system works. I am always amused that Mr. Einstein was one who did not have a great work ethic in school. Matter of fact he failed math a time or two and then he rewrote the books.

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

We rely so much on prepackaged, prewritten, preformed, precooked, pretested, pre-read, and pre-understood everything that creativity, imagination and uniqueness get left on the shelf. We are giving make up Georgia High School Graduation tests and End of Course Tests over the next weeks in our school. In theory tests of content with a smattering of cognitive questions thrown in however several questions while multiply choice could be answered in numerous ways and here are high school students trying to analysis and answer questions for example science teacher’s question. What if you miss one of those questions and get a 499 and 500 is passing. A good friend who graduated nearly ten years ago had taken the science test four times and failed by a total of eight points and has not graduated. What if each time this person answered that one question the same way a question that is either incorrect or not answerable. This person was an A and B student and after four tries was too frustrated to try again.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

How and why and what should be taught are always at the crux of curriculum and instructional administrators challenges. But one of the most difficult aspects of education is instilling a desire to learn as Einstein states wanting to seek the mysterious. Too few are the students who truly want to learn most and not just simply pass and get on. In thirteen years one of my greatest moments was being asked who wrote the poem when I read Dylan Thomas. I was asked by a kid who most thought could not read and then he read the entire book that weekend. The mysterious is a mysterious thing. 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)
bird

So many thoughts for one day

Bird Droppings November 6, 2013
So many thoughts for one day

I believe I was prepared from childhood to discuss this topic. It has been many years since my first introduction to Native Americans. I was three or four years old when I first remember my father’s stories of Little Strong Arm and Black Eagle. The term Native American had not officially become politically correct and we were raised with American Indian stories. My father’s stories came from his background in the Boy Scouts of America; he had been an Eagle Scout, a scout leader and summer camp program director. Indian lore was a major portion of Boy Scouting in those days. From a favorite book on Indian Crafts my father told us of counting coup. W. Ben Hunt explained the word and meaning.

“It was considered a great honor to count coup” W. Ben Hunt

My father worked his summers during college in New Hampshire at Camp Waunakee using Indian Lore as a base for camp activities and he was chief of the campfire. During his military service, as a medic on a navy LSM in World War II, I learned he had spent many hours talking with Navaho code talkers as his Navy ship delivered them to islands in the South Pacific. Through all of those years he would say he was part Indian but it was not until he was in his seventies that his sister uncovered my great grandmother’s lineage, Leni Lenape, a clan of the Delaware tribes and actually confirmed it. To me as a child Indians were special, my father instilled this in us but there was always a spiritual aspect I could not explain. As I was reading for this morning a thought I pulled out of another old book from my childhood days by William Tompkins. My father would use this book to teach us rudimentary sign language in case we ever needed to converse with Indians.

“The originators of the Indian signs thought that thinking or understanding was done with the heart, and made the sign “drawn from the heart” Deaf mutes place extended fingers of the right hand against the forehead to give the same meaning” William Tompkins

As I read this line that thinking and understanding comes from the heart in so much of Indian philosophy perhaps this was what drew me to this group of people. I grew up with feathers, drums, rattles and other Native American paraphernalia always around the house. In my own experiences the spirituality and acceptance of all things as sacred in Native American culture intrigued me. As I started into a graduate school program on curriculum theory, it had never occurred to me, how education had been so misused and so often deliberately so in history. Those in power avoided teaching some things; I use the term the fine print, in relation to Native Americans.
The trust inherent in their culture and their understanding of life and nature was turned against them for profit and greed. Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman, a member of the Dakota tribe, a medical doctor and known in his tribe as Ohiyesa is quoted in Kent Nerburn’s, The Soul of an Indian as he addresses a major difference in white and Indian thought.
“Many of the white man ways are past our understanding …. They put a great store upon writing; there is always paper. The white people must think that paper has some mysterious power to help them in the world. The Indian needs no writings; words that are true sink deep into his heart, where they remain. He never forgets them. On the other hand if a white man loses his papers, he is helpless” Dr. Charles Eastman, Ohiyesa

In reading and discussing in grad school not much is different from the many innuendos in today’s education and curriculums of hidden agendas and political maneuvering. Looking back as I progressed in my own schooling I learned Columbus mistakenly called the indigenous people he encountered Indians thinking he had found a way to the Spice Islands of the West Indies. The name would stick until more recently as we became politically correct and use the term Native Americans. Columbus even wrote in his journal of presenting letters from the King and Queen to the Great Khan thinking he was in China or near according to noted historian Ronald Takaki.
As I became older and as I too sought out my own understanding of Native Americans and my readings went deeper. During my undergraduate years I spent a semester in Texas and experienced firsthand a powerful hatred even then in 1968 for Native Americans. My own journeys very much paralleled my spiritual and educational pathways as with each step my ties and understanding grew. I was looking for answers even back then.

“When you see a new trail, or footprint you do not know, follow it to a point of knowing (introduction).” Uncheedah, grandmother of Ohiyesa

I was searching for answers even in those days. As I finished up my undergraduate program at Mercer University I began to realize why Native Americans were never taught to read the fine print. In classes and from friends I received books and articles to read adding to my understanding. From one of our course texts, Author Joel Spring points out the concept of deculturalization.

“Deculturalization is one aspect of the strange mixture of democratic thought and intolerance that exists in some minds. The concept of deculuralization demonstrates how cultural prejudices and religious bigotry can be intertwined with democratic beliefs. It combines education for democracy and political equality with cultural genocide – the attempt to destroy cultures. Deculturalization is an educational process that aims to destroy a people’s culture and replace it with a new culture.” Joel Spring

From earlier on there was an effort to assimilate and dismantle the cultures of the Native peoples in America. In the early 1500’s Spanish colonists, were some of the first to deceive and destroy the native people? Several nights ago a recent History channel episode was based on Cortez and the conquering of the Aztecs. A statement was made by one of the historians on the show that in the course of less than two hundred years from that first encounter with Cortez, ninety percent of the indigenous people of the America’s were either killed or died from European based disease and a new world was enslaved by the Europeans.
So many times it was through deception. As the white man pushed into the new world treaties and agreements were signed often with little understanding on the part of the Native peoples. Land was not for sale yet the white man is offering us trinkets. How foolish is the white man? Vine Deloria Jr., states very clearly in his book Custer died for your sins:

“In the treaty of August 5, 1926, almost as if it were an afterthought, an article (III) stated: The Chippewa tribe grant to the government of the United States the right to search for, and carry away, any metals or minerals from any part of their country. But this grant is not to effect title of the land, or existing jurisdiction over it. The Chippewa’s, in the dark as to the importance of their mineral wealth, signed the treaty. This was the first clear-cut case of fraudulent dealings on the part of Congress. Close examination of subsequent Congressional dealings shows a record of continued fraud covered over by pious statements of concern for their words.” Vine Deloria Jr

I wonder if the Indian agents held their hand over portions of the treaty or wrote in such small lettering that most people could not read. It may have been perhaps using Old English lettering and only having taught in Times Roman fonts, which would bewilder most educated people even today. This concerted effort by those in control throughout American History was even condemned by the US government who were themselves, orchestrating much of it as shown by Joel Spring in his book.

“The US Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare issued in 1969 the report Indian Education: A National Tragedy-A national Challenge. The report opened with a statement condemning previous educational policies of the federal government: “A careful review of the historical literature reveals that the dominant policy of the federal Government toward the American Indian has been one of forced assimilation…. Because of a desire to divest the Indian of his land” Joel Spring

In many ways it was a naivety that undermined the Native Americans in their dealings with the Europeans and eventually US Government. But it was also an inherent trust that bound the various tribes and peoples together. There was no fine print to a Native American, his word was bond. It would be many years and near extinction till Native Americans realized the treachery. Kent Nerburn writes extensively about Native American Spirituality and offers;

“The rule of mutual legal compact, with its European roots, had no precedent among the individualistic native peoples of the continent. In addition, the idea of land as personnel property, a key principle on which the United States was basing its treaties was alien to the native people. How could one own the land?” Kent Nerburn

Our own current study of curriculum shows many over lapping and residual effects and it goes far beyond just Native Americans. Those in power write fine print for one reason so that is not read and in doing so essentially control the overall outcome and direction of whatever is in question. My position is we have been as a people continually dealt agreements, contracts riffed with fine print in regards to education and curriculum to a point it has become what we expect.
Even as a teacher our contracts contains numerous areas of extremely fine print. Daily we are being handed fine print in the news and through the medias about Iraq, politics, religion, and many too numerous to mention including our own president elect. Maybe one day we can truly have a democracy in our democratic nation funny thing is educator John Dewey said and felt the best way to assure a democracy was through a democratic class room. So as I set my thoughts to paper and close for this morning please help others read the fine print and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird