Is there topsoil left midst an erosion of soul?

Bird Droppings December 19, 2013
Is there topsoil left midst an erosion of soul?

“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” Simone Weil

“The need for roots,” I saw this idea earlier as I web surfed thinking and pondering this morning or perhaps as I was scrolling through thoughts I had saved over the years along with all of my young herb plants sitting beside me near the window and the concept caught me, to be rooted. Out in the garage I have root stock from several medicinal plants I ordered that I need to get into soil soon along with seeds. In a world where family ties are eroding away faster than we can reconnect we find our roots need topsoil.

“There is a longing among the young of my nation to secure for themselves and their people the skills that will provide them with a sense of purpose and worth. They will be our new warriors.” Chief Dan George

I have been intrigued with students recently have had little or no concept of much more than grandpa and grandma if that. The idea that their relatives came from elsewhere and were not American is difficult to grasp. I am doing a substantial amount of work with The Foxfire concept and so much of that in its origin is based on roots on history and family. After several years of looking I found a copy of the Red Lake Chronicles, a history of the Red Lake Ojibwa reservation, edited by Dr. Kent Nerburn an author I do enjoy reading and whose focus has been Native Indian Spirituality.

“We have to hate our immediate predecessors to get free of their authority.” D.H. Lawrence

I noticed this idea from Lawrence and as I was thinking maybe this was a clue to not wanting to remember your roots, your past or your history but traditionally in many poor areas it is those family ties that keep these people going. In a discussion with a young man recently talking about a brother in jail again and sister in trouble maybe separating from roots is necessary at times. Yet is there a tie between Weil and Lawrence while nearly polar opposites. I could generalize and say people who are lost have few roots or few ties to their heritage and to traditions; they are not grounded or anchored in any way. The reasons for this could be to escape, to wanting to be away from or distant from as Lawrence advocates.

“What a man sows, that shall he and his relations reap.” Clarissa Graves

“Nobody has ever before asked the nuclear family to live all by itself in a box the way we do. With no relatives, no support, we’ve put it in an impossible situation.” Margaret Mead, noted anthropologist

Margaret Mead may have hit the nail on the head perhaps we as a society have been stripped away by our constant boxing up and categorizing. Maybe we have delineated the need for roots and tried to unsuccessfully replace it with little or nothing but the good of society. If we go back to talking about society and people and using the analogy I have of plants most plants without roots are parasitic. As I look out at how we have set up our world is this not maybe a good comparison we have set up for parasitism among people.

“The government is becoming the family of last resort.” Jerry Brown

Many years ago in a tenth grade literature class that would be about 1965, we read at that time a very controversial book by George Orwell, “1984”. Contained within the book the total elimination of family and the government become your “Big Brother”. You were part of a whole and only an insignificant part at that. Various sociological and philosophical experiments have come and gone that have literally tried to destroy family and traditions and roots. They have been always stripping away the top soil, laying bare to the hardpan of a man’s soul. But within it all still with some people persistence, vigor, and desire was still there.

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” Confucius

This is not just a modern day issue, Confucius raised questions over two thousand years ago and used a simple word to explain, integrity. For Confucius it was the integrity of the home and perhaps this is the key to roots. Solid roots can be found in the integrity of a family and home. Is it possible to look at people and judge there character by their roots, by how they were raised, by their family, or by their genealogy much like reviewing the potential of a good horse or cow. Back in the day we used EPD’s to judge the quality or potential quality of a breeding animal. I used to know what that meant but specifically in cattle it is the performance data that has been gathered for generations many times and potential for that animal based on that gathered collected data to be a suitable parent given traits you are looking for.

“If Mr. Vincent Price were to be co-starred with Miss Bette Davis in a story by Mr. Edgar Allan Poe directed by Mr. Roger Corman, it could not fully express the pent-up violence and depravity of a single day in the life of the average family.” Quentin Crisp

As I look at ideas and concepts and even jokingly at EPD’s used with cattle I find there are answers. EPD’s work because someone cared enough to check to save the information and data. Interesting we care about our cattle and horses yet so often neglect our own kind. Daily I encounter families that put the fictional family depicted by Mr. Crisp to shame. Over the years situations that most authors have not conceived of on a daily basis I see in real life. I walked into a local convenience store and noticed a lady standing at the counter I had seen her at the high school arguing to a point of being removed from the school. She was giving the store attendant a hard time and I felt immediately she is not a happy camper. Most fiction has base in fact unfortunately I have found. So where do I go in this round about effort especially on as we head into so many various holidays for many.
We are faced daily trying to support people who are trying to grow and succeed with little grounding and often with little if any support. It may be a simple smile or handshake that keeps them going today maybe even a happy holiday greeting. It may be a hug or kind word or ear to listen. But take some time to share to care and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

What of life?

Bird Droppings December 18, 2013
What of life?

Morning is a special time a beginning of sorts for each day. For me several aspects of taking the dog out, sitting down, writing and reading have in many ways become a significant part of my day. I walked out this morning and felt the coldness of perhaps one of our coldest mornings this fall. As I looked out earlier standing on the concrete barefooted, far off across the trees the big dipper was just rising above the trees and the stars crystal clear in the morning darkness were breath taking. Now as I finish writing at school the day folds into the craziness of the last few days of a semester.

“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

I was thinking back a few years to when I left my class room second period I usually would go through the guidance office and say hello to several people, one was missing. I noticed and never questioned as the day drew on I sensed an absence yet still had not questioned. I grabbed another counselor for a meeting that I had later than morning still unaware of anything amiss. As the day ended I heard from a friend that those missing counselors her mother in law had passed away and she had been at a funeral. We so often take moment and time for granted.

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

“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality–not as we expect it to be but as it is–is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.” Frederick Buechner

Last night I sat down thinking and trying to put down words, so often anymore evenings are just a time to fall asleep. I was looking for pictures that may have significance as I pieced together my first book. I emailed several people last night just touching base and wishing happy holidays.

“If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.” Albert Camus

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

As I moved through that previous day sensing something was amiss and even after knowing it is difficult to offer from a distance any sort of comfort. Most people as that day finished never missed a stride they never knew anything was different. There were a few tears from her friends and those that knew of the situation.

“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

I have used this quote many times over the years and each time it seems appropriate. I remember as a child chasing fireflies across a meadow gathering those life forces in a jar to light my room and then releasing into the night watching them float away in the darkness after my curiosity was satisfied. I also remember a few years back watching our great American bison bull snort in the meadow and his breath floating across the pasture in the chilled air. As I left school yesterday a red tailed hawk swooped through the parking lot while I was emotionally upset the hawk eased the tension.

“It’s not how long life is but the quality of our life that is important.” Roger Dawson

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” Charles Dickens

In 1996 my little brother passed away and my family was faced with a new beginning. We all had literally built our lives around my brother. He was severely disabled and our being in Georgia was directly related to his schooling and my father’s company moving. As we celebrated his life reviewing the intricate webs that were laid each moment, the many people touched, and lives affected in what seemingly had been and was now an enormous out pouring of life.

“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

We each approach the morning in a different way. I embrace the day and begin with my writing and watching each moment unfold. Since 1996 I have taken many different roads and journeys and as I look back each has had meaning and direction and led me to here and now.

”Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler

I explained in detail how several years ago I received a call from my nephew that a friend had been in a car accident and as the day proceeded I spent the night in the Athens Hospital holding a young man’s hand as monitors beeped and droned and he lay unmoving, hoping that the numbers on the dials would change. When I arrived home on my computer was that quote from an old Aerosmith song. In 1968 as I left for Texas I received a book from my parents and on page 596 the following quote.

“To everything there is season, and a time, to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Many years ago Pete Seeger, a folk singer and environmentalist wrote music for these words and a song was born, “Turn Turn Turn”. “To every season turn turn turn there is a reason turn, turn, turn and a time for every purpose under heaven”, what powerful words and a few years after putting music to the words, the song became a hit sung by a group called the Byrd’s.

“Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” Robert Frost

So often a poets words offer comfort or give direction back to a journey when we are set off course, it may be in one moment or a lifetime. There is no filling of a void yet when looking at life and all that has been and will be. When we are looking at the journey to now there truly has been no void. There has been a turn in the road a new direction and all that has led to this point. Our journey in life has not really changed and it is there behind us lifting us guiding us strengthening us as we continue along the way.

I remember back to a photo of my son crossing a stream in north Georgia already sopping wet from falling in but still intent on making it across, stone by stone crossing the stream. We all can cross in our time and there are times when a hand is welcome to aid in the journey. Years ago I set up a website for a youth group and today I will close with the starting line from that website, “Friends are never alone”. Keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and today keep those friends who may need extra support close at hand and always give thanks namaste

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

What do we really know?

Bird Droppings December 17, 2013
What do we really know?

“Teachers are one of the most important resources a nation has for providing the skills, values and knowledge that prepare young people for productive citizenship – but more than this, to give sanctuary to their dreams and aspirations for a future of hope, dignity and justice. It is indeed ironic, in the unfolding nightmare in Newtown, that only in the midst of such a shocking tragedy are teachers celebrated in ways that justly acknowledge – albeit briefly and inadequately – the vital role they play every day in both protecting and educating our children.” Henry Giroux, The War against teachers as public intellectuals in dark times, 12-17-12, Truthout

Over the past year I have read so many articles and blogs glorifying concealed weapons and toting how a single armed teacher could have saved the day in Newton Ct. I find it so very interesting that the largest lobby for guns and gun ownership is silent and only yesterday offered they will sit down and help come up with a solution. I read an article or post where someone compared making a bomb at home, that was done on a huge scale with easily purchased fertilizer and diesel fuel not enough years ago in Oklahoma City or have we forgotten the children who died there. A concealed weapon would not have mattered in that situation. As a psychology back grounded person and having spent several years working with severely disturbed students in years gone by I continue to look towards more support to mental health where funding has been stripped to the bone and many situations are in private corporations that while taking care of their needs for those who need help they do very little actual caring for. So many issues and so many answers flying about

. “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

Yesterday I received an email containing a letter from a well-known professor of education at the University of Georgia. The letter was about the emphasis on testing “what we know”, and how this is not a reflection of education, simply teaching students to take a test or borrowing from Sydney J. Harris “stuffing sausages.” The issue then becomes how we measure what a person does learn. One of the best methods of measuring learning is a portfolio system. Most elected officials want data in terms of their stay in office not a portfolio twenty years in the making which makes this method a hard sell.

“I believe that much of present education fails because it neglects this fundamental principle of the school as a form of community life. It conceives the school as a place where certain information is to be given, where certain lessons are to be learned, or where certain habits are to be formed. The value of these is conceived as lying largely in the remote future; the child must do these things for the sake of something else he is to do; they are mere preparation. As a result they do not become a part of the life experience of the child and so are not truly educative.” John Dewey

I just went back and reread UGA professor Dr. Glickman’s letter and have formatted it and saved it on my computer. John Dewey knew cramming knowledge was not the answer. Modern educators argue as I mentioned several days ago we cannot simply fill a bottle with knowledge. In life not just in education we want to be able to determine our successes and failures. Over my years many of which have been in industry, indirectly in developing materials for training. Specifically in industry we developed and used a term, an acronym, ISMEC.

In industry there is a goal a rather simple one and that is profit. In order to increase profit you have to decrease losses. ISMEC was a tool to do this. There were underlying humanitarian issues in heavy industry, where loss also means loss of life as well. But loss time is amount of time without a loss and in some industries this is measured between deaths or injuries. For example in deep rock mining which is one of those industries where how many man hours between deaths is calculated. The equation becomes how many deaths per million man hours of work. ISMEC came to industry in the early 1960’s and revolutionized industry. A simple acronym, Identify, Set standards, Measure, Evaluate, Correct and or Commend.

In industry to find and identify you look at the maintenance department and find where issues are and build from there. In a community currently we use test scores what if we looked at the maintenance department, the jails, rehab facilities, counseling services, doctors and such to see where we needed support and modifications rather than standardized tests scores. It might cost too much or confidentiality could be an issue and we would have a difficult time accomplishing within elected officials time in office is a crucial one. What if we went a step closer to home and checked on in school and out of school suspensions and detentions as a marker for problems.

“Our students are tested to an extent that is unprecedented in American history and unparalleled anywhere in the world. Politicians and businesspeople, determined to get tough with students and teachers, have increased the pressure to raise standardized test scores. Unfortunately, the effort to do so typically comes at the expense of more meaningful forms of learning” Alfie Kohn

Today and the past few days we are involved in end of course tests in our high school. As I think about this four teachers had four distinctly differing percentages of pass rates. County, State, and Federal officials look at pass rates only. My first question is, are these classes the same in makeup? How many included special educations students since new state laws allow up to ten and more if approved. How many at risk students and remedial students that have not tested well in previous grades. After looking at specifics say in the biology test. The highest pass rate was in an advanced class of biology with a one hundred percent pass rate. As we went through the scoring the numbers of special education students and at risk increased to a teacher whose class had a seventy seven percent pass rate had sixty three percent either special ed and or at risk. What was also amazing was looking at top scores a higher percentage of non-special ed and non at risk students exceeded ninety percent than in advanced class.
So what do we do as parents, teachers, friends and families do? How do we change the directions and aspirations of those who set the precedent? We live in a democracy and we hold that power in voting. Many Presidents of our United States have argued the merits of removing or not removing various taxes, wars, health care reform, and our economy and yet I have heard little about education. I went into my room at school to write today thinking people are buying this dribble, yet whoever is elected seems to do whatever is needed to stay elected and not about what should or could truly turn our country and the world around. We have stabilized gas prices recently and panic from the general population is sedated versus running around just a few short months ago trying to save twenty cents a gallon at a cheaper store. We seem to forget that our children are the future and how they view the world will impact that future. How they understand their world will impact their future.

As I close this morning we gain knowledge and we learn and we try and through our voting during elections we can hopefully change society, borrowing from a recent election, yes we can. So many years ago a movie ended with an elderly man offering a bit of wisdom, “use it wisely” as the old knight in the Indiana Jones movie says. Today use it wisely and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Being patient

Bird Droppings December 16, 2013
Being patient

I find the end of a semester both exciting and sad at the same time. There are students who I will see every day coming by my room and others possibly never again as in a large high school it is easy to remain hidden away if you try. We are looking forward to family gatherings coming up next week. Now that we have three grandbabies Christmas is very special. We are not sure of who will be around for Christmas Eve so my wife suggested we get movies and do something fun. I was thinking about just being alone and reflecting which is hard to do with grandbabies in the house. Although I savor every minute they are there and that we interact. I am looking forward to taking pictures again as my time has been limited the past w=few months. I did manage to get out this morning and sit and think meditate a bit before everyone else was up and moving however. It has been a hectic few days and this week ahead as well for me finishing this semester.

Watching children this time of year and even adults allows you to see various degrees of patience running rampant and or in a total lacking thereof. A few days ago I was standing in line at a store where I knew the owner and she was helping a customer with a purchase without even thinking she asked me to help a customer, even though I was a customer as well. Trying to help a young man decide between a bearded dragon and a leopard gecko actually something I knew about as we have kept both species. Patience is a virtue many people say they lay claim too yet we seem in life to avoid it when at all possible. We gear our existence to being done now as soon as possible ASAP as we use in internet abbreviations.

So how do we learn to be patient? How do we learn to wait? How do we learn to know when is right and when it is time simply to listen or watch? Often I have a tendency when concerned with myself to want to get on with things yet in dealing with others I can often allow life to jell to come together as it is intended. Perhaps it is in my experiences with dealing with people throughout my life. Although my mother and father were patient people perhaps there is a genetic component to patience. That would definitely make a good topic for a Doctoral dissertation. But other times I see patience as an art form one that is perfected as we practice the art. I truly think it is one concept or behavior that is learned and literally acquired over time. I see a lack of patience as one of the causes of many of our societal ills.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I go out each morning and watch the moon change from full to a smile over the days and to see the stars and wonder at the millions of years of distance between us and billions of years to come to where we are patience is an aspect of nature. I have often used river pebbles in discussion with each pebble as it started as a chip of rock somehow ending in the stream, tumbled and turned until the edges are smoothed and rounded eventually finding its way to your hand. It took time, effort and much patience. On my shelf at school is a wooden bowl containing several pieces of rounded wood? In Africa and in other rain forest areas some of the trees wood is so dense it sinks in the water and chips of wood tumble much like river pebbles and eventually you will find river wood chips rounded and smooth almost polished much like river pebbles. They tend to be an interesting conversation piece and one that comes up daily as students find my bowl of round wood pebbles.

I mentioned a young man in my droppings a few years ago. I met him several years back. He is a high school student at a nearby school and is autistic. An aspect of autism often is the ability to obsess over an object or a task and he will sit and do puzzles for hours his mother said often through the night till the puzzle is completed. During his life he has never spoken as he communicates with an Etch a sketch and or hand signs. His mother speaks in code at times using certain words which have directions to them. Obsession however is not patience but almost on the opposite spectrum.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” St. Augustine

There is thought in patience while in obsessing literally no thought and yet how do we tell them apart?

“How can a society that exists on instant mashed potatoes, packaged cake mixes, frozen dinners, and instant cameras teach patience to its young?” Paul Sweeney

These are questions to answer to ponder this wonderful day as the rain ceases to fall for a few days in Georgia. How do we learn patience and how do we teach patience?

“Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.” Epictetus

I recall seeing a famous pear brandy with the pear in the bottle. You have to literally grow the fruit inside the bottle attaching to the flower as it grows and changes and the fruit itself grows in the bottle. Patience is a similar task starting as a bud and a flower and growing as we learn to accept more and understand more. There is a correlation to thinking and patience or wisdom as St. Augustine states and in that perhaps the difference between patience and obsession. A bright mark as the lead news headline states negotiations continue on the fiscal cliff perhaps there is some sort of common ground if we are patient. However for now on this holiday for so many people please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Reading your own view sometimes offers a clue

Bird Droppings December 15 2013
Reading your own view sometimes offers a clue

After thirty five years of marriage tomorrow it seems almost like day one. Every day and each day keeps getting better. Periodically over the past years I would receive at some odd hour of the night and or morning a paper to review for my youngest son and or a student from the high school or college I am teaching in. It is always with a very narrow window of time between when I see it and it is due. Recently one caught my attention as the individual that was being referenced was one I have read about and had some interest in as well. I will borrow a few bits and pieces from my son’s paper.

“There was a prominent study conducted by psychologist and educator Dr. Albert Bandera involving environment and personality. His goal was to see in what ways people come up with their impressions of other people…. The idea behind the experiment was to gauge the ability of people to judge someone’s personality based upon their environment…. I found reciprocal determinism to be quite interesting in how it added free will to the idea in contradiction to most previous behaviorist theories, where people are completely determined by their environment. What opened up this concept to me the office study because it explained the concept on how people affect their environment?” Matt Bird

“People not only gain understanding through reflection, they evaluate and alter their own thinking.” Dr. Albert Bandera

As I read my sons words and recalled many readings of Bandera I found myself intrigued reading my sons view of me and my room at the high school. As I read I realized how much I impacted my environment through my room and my interactions with people who come within it. On Friday after school I ran into a student who only a few years ago came to my room daily and was never one of my students. She manages a pizza franchise now and is doing very well. Today while grocery shopping I ran into a former secret senior again never had her as a student but she would come by my room nearly daily to talk or discuss ideas.

“I often in my life have seen offices and bedrooms that truly embody peoples’ personalities. For instance my Dad’s school room at my high school back home a person could easily determine that he has a high level of extraversion, you could grade his level of agreeableness, his conscientiousness, his high level of emotional stability, and his openness to experience. My father’s school room has walls covered in various pictures of current and past students, various exploits and accomplishments, and there are animals all throughout the room in various aquariums. Naturally students clamor to my father’s room and love to be around the man. Throughout my life I have not seen experience affect my dad’s personality but I have seen my father’s personality drastically take control over his environment and the situations he has been placed into.” Matt Bird

As I do every day I sit down and write thinking and reflecting as I go. As I read my sons words so many thoughts came to me. Former students and teachers I have met along the way. Photos on my wall go back thirteen years to when I started back to teaching and today it seems so long ago. Thoughts ranged to recent papers I am working on dealing with community and learning. Always I somehow end up thinking of Foxfire, John Dewey and experiential learning methods.

“In this world, in order to enable society to develop, all its members have to assume responsibilities and make their contribution. If we do not make collective contributions then there will be no development. The Dalai Lama, speaking to the Tibetan National Assembly in Dharamsala, May 1989

Each of us lives in a society, a community, and we all share in that aspect and as much as we choose so often to be individuals we are members of and interact within that group. It is the vitality of that group the development and growth that is so intertwined with contributions physically mentally and spiritually of the members. Society exists because of those interactions and relationships.

“Compare society to a boat. Her progress through the water will not depend upon the exertion of her crew, but upon the exertion devoted to propelling her. This will be lessened by any expenditure of force in fighting among themselves, or in pulling in different directions.” Henry George

We have to be working together to be moving forward and as humans do so often much time is wasted fighting and arguing among ourselves and the motion and or growth is limited.

“The greatest difficulty with the world is not its ability to produce, but the unwillingness to share.” Roy L. Smith

“Self-belief does not necessarily ensure success, but self-disbelief assuredly spawns failure.” Dr. Albert Bandera, From Self-efficacy: The exercise of control, 1997

Watching high school student’s form clicks and groups and while adults have clubs, and social groups we tend to be a somewhat selfish animal. We look so to ourselves and what benefits us limiting friends and such to a degree we box ourselves in. Sharing a simple task is so often a distant thought if even a thought. TV humor even plays on this subject several times as in the old Seinfeld and Will and Grace sitcoms where giving is a chore, a burden, and the characters are literally parasitically instead of symbiotic. As I was reading and looking for quotes and thoughts this one seemed to pop out at me.

“Societies that do not eat people are fascinated by those that do.” Ronald Wright

Wright was speaking literally, yet interestingly enough we of modern society while we do not literally eat people we still do psychologically destroy them. As I look at how we respond to others so often it is how we see ourselves indirectly. I find sarcasm is often a reflection of how we see ourselves.

“The most difficult thing is we do not deal in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.” Mark Twain

“We are more heavily invested in the theories of failure than we are in the theories of success.” Dr. Albert Bandera, from APA address, 1998

In a recent project assignment, several students simply “completed it” they did not finish the task but answered what they thought was the question because they just wanted done. Whether it was right or wrong good or bad was not the issue it was over with. I am sitting here now working on reviewing a similar situation with a one hundred question test that most of my students just want done and the grade is of no significance.

“Until you value yourself you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” M. Scott Peck

“By sticking it out through tough times, people emerge from adversity with a stronger sense of efficacy.” Dr. Albert Bandera

“We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards, gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists, or Phi Beta Kappa keys, in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else.” John Holt

I read these quotes and saw an answer if you truly do not appreciate your self your time has little if any value even when you are self-absorbed in using it frivolously you simply are taking up time not using it. Guessing at answers to a test to simply get done or rushing through just to be over still you wait just as the rest do so is there benefit. A favorite catch phrase of high school students is “I don’t care” should read “I really do not care about myself” if we look back at Bandera’s thoughts and others. As we enter a new week especially after the latest school shooting and the horror of a year ago it saddens me how our world is troubled and sore, so please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Finding the right spot for the puzzle pieces

Bird Droppings December 14, 2013
Finding the right spot for the puzzle pieces

“In order to learn the nature of the myriad things, you must know that although they may look round or square, the other features of oceans and mountains are infinite in variety; whole worlds are there. It is so not only around you, but also directly beneath your feet, or in a drop of water.” Genjo Koan

There are times when we in looking we miss what it is we are trying to find. Contained within a drop of water there is an entire universe. Sometimes we want to have things to be simply round or square and yet infinity abounds. Yesterday I was speaking with several teachers discussing why students acted as they did and behaved as they do. In a recent presentation on a chapter from a book on behavior management and treatments the last paragraph of the chapter summed up quite a bit and so often we look everywhere else and the answer is right beneath our feet.

“The absence of evidence to support medication as a viable alternative should lead future researchers and clinicians to further explore parenting strategies that facilitate the development of better sleep habits.” Alfie Kohn, Punished by Rewards

As we do so often we look for excuses we look for medical, physical, emotional reasons for sleep disorders in children. Yet with behaviors at school we blame class room activity, we blame teachers, planning, books, and or administration. What always amazes me is that the sixteen hour syndrome is never discussed; we never tend to see where the issue really lays, that of parenting strategies and all the overt issues that children contend with as they leave school. I often wonder why we cannot accept the blame as parents or why we want an excuse in any aspect of life.

“It’s frightening to think that you mark your children merely by being yourself. It seems unfair. You can’t assume the responsibility for everything you do –or don’t do.” Simone De Beauvoir, French Existentialist, Writer, and Social Essayist 1908-1986

I was ready to write down how the great Simone was a heroic figure in Bolivia, a crucial part of South American history and yet really this person was a philosopher from France and under study to Sartre.

“The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.” Frank A. Clark

“Parents are not quite interested in justice, they are interested in quiet.” Bill Cosby

It is so funny thing how in the United States we have most of the world’s ADHD children. It is a funny thing that as we became so mobile and our family structure somewhat altered that number increases as well. Another interesting point is that during the 1980-90’s ADHD increased so rapidly, almost in epidemic proportions, over nine hundred percent. It is so funny how we began seeing this issue when it got on our nerves as parents and or teachers and took up our time. As an old person I was thinking to my own history and where was ADHD when I was a child.

“The first half of our life is ruined by our parents and the second half by our children.” Clarence Darrow

We try and look at the whole and miss pieces or sometimes we look so intently at a piece we miss the whole. This is a paradox of sorts. I hate jig saw puzzles yet am fascinated by them and often I use the comparison to those same jig saw puzzles for life in general. Life is very much like a myriad puzzle, millions of intricate pieces all falling into place one at a time, each more intricate then the next. Sometimes we see a piece and for days focus on each minute detail, each little facet and each little color speck of white or red and the details over whelm us. We so easily lose sight of the whole picture the vast array of life in front of us forming over a minute tiny aspect.

“Is the parent better than the child into whom he has cast his ripened being? Whence then this worship of the past?” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Amazing as I pulled Emerson in amazing how a hundred years ago a poet has pieces for today. We as parents, and or teachers try so valiantly to cast our being into a child to see ourselves living again. Maybe that is why we focus on a piece for so long.

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” Dr. C. Everett Koop former Surgeon General of the United States Famous

As I think of Dr. Koop it is so much more so for the adding of the warning on cigarettes than his philosophy most people remember him. As I think I recall my dad’s story of how he also prayed by the bedside of my younger brother many years ago in Philadelphia Children’s Hospital where he was Chief Surgeon. He is an interesting man and great doctor.

“Having children makes one no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.” Dr. Michael Levine, professor of Genetics and Molecular Biology at The University of California

More so as I write today I find who these people are as I am looking at parenting as it is interesting as to what they say. Dr. Koop told my father as he sat with him one evening discussing my brother how parents of critically ill children were so different than so many others. They talked about how faith was so much an aspect of their lives and trust a critical piece of their puzzle as that dealt with their children’s issues.

“The word no carries a lot more meaning when spoken by a parent who also knows how to say yes.” Joyce Maynard

“Do not educate your children to be rich. Educate them to be happy. So when they grow up they know the value of things not the price. “ Santosh Kumar

On many mornings I am really not sure where I am going with a thought and I know I wander about here and there. I wonder as well what I am trying to say as I start and many times midway I still am wondering. Joyce Maynard’s statement may be where I was going in the last page or two looking and building to this. Whether a parent or teacher or friend this applies as I look back to my starting quote from nearly 1000 years ago written by Dogen, a Zen master and told to his student. Back in those days, a koan was a question put out to answer a puzzle piece in a person’s life. A Genjo Koan, is an essential question, a question that entails and involves life itself. Only a few moments ago a former student posted a status update with the line from Santosh Kumar. In trying to track down the unnamed quote I found Santosh Kumar. On Facebook a huge following for a young philosopher, and then I found the name is much like John Smith with thousands of internet hits. So perhaps this young fellow did not spout these words but they are good ones and worth repeating.

“When fish go through water, there is no end to the water no matter how far they go. When birds fly in the sky, there is no end to the sky no matter how far they fly. But neither fish nor birds have been separated from the water or sky – from the very beginning. It is only this: when a great need arises, a great use arises; when there is little need, there is little use. Therefore, they realize full function in each thing and free ability according to each place. “ Dogan, 1243

As I sat this morning, thinking and writing so many ideas flowed listening to teachers yesterday express concern and question hearing parents gathered round their SUV’s trying to solve world issues and who was wearing what and what was the latest gossip. It is so easy to be sarcastic. Children are our greatest future commodity we should not waste them. As Dogan said about fish when parenting there is no end as long as you are a parent when a teacher there is no end as you are teaching. When as I say you are placing pieces in the puzzle it is not a whole as you focus and look at a piece in your hand. We all have work to do as parents, teachers, friends, as a child, or student. In all of this please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Can you give it one more try?

Bird Droppings December 12, 2013
Can you give it one more try?

“You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out, but you gotta suit up for them all.” Satchel Paige often attributed to J. Askenberg

Sitting here this morning after walking the dog out into one of the coldest nights and mornings of this year and trying to warm my toes you would think I would learn to put shoes on before going out still thinking flip flops will warm any weather. My herb garden is nearly gone as all of the salvias took a beating yesterday with cold. My angel trumpet plants have finally gone by the wayside although after literally thousands of blooms they had a good run. I am ready for summer and officially it is not winter yet. As I thought sitting here I liked this quote to start my day today. Often when I stumble on a quote I try and find who this person is. J. Askenberg proved a bit difficult, I found this quote 160 times in sermons and lectures and various quote engines but not who this person was other than a writer. Then in my looking one more time I actually found this morning it was Satchel Paige who first said it and Askenberg is often attributed.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Calvin Coolidge

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas A. Edison

It has been some time since I had the chance to ride into Atlanta with my middle son; we were comparing football games from the previous weekend. Now he and several other Georgia Tech fans and graduates have a running blog site of course featuring Tech’s various athletic teams although he seldom in involved anymore. My son is a graduate and a very big Georgia Tech fan having been a past driver of the Ramblin Wreck of Georgia Tech and a former avid member of the Swarm, and Ramblin Wreck clubs. Many months ago we got talking about a young man who went to The University of Georgia from the Air Force Academy, I recall our conversation. This young man walked on in football and became the starting Fullback. This young man perseveres and many the stories at our high school. One my son brought up was how in Calculus it would take him 45 minutes to get problems others got in 10 minutes or less. The interesting thing was he was Salutatorian of his graduating class, he never quit.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliot

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” B. C. Forbes

“Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.” Herodotus

Each step we take in life can be difficult; each new pathway we face as we plod a long can have more bumps than the last. It is through effort we reach that place we are going. What if life were so simple and there were never difficulties? What if the road was straight and clear and only forward momentum was needed? I remember many road trips out west and roads that were perfectly smooth no pot holes and straight as an arrow for many miles, it was all I could do to stay awake. Life would be so boring without a bump or a curve in the road, or perhaps a fork to choose from as we go.

“We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.” Helen Keller

Most folks will not remember Helen Keller and may have seen the many different versions of “the Miracle Worker”. Annie Sylvan was a teacher who wouldn’t give up on her student Helen. Helen was blind and deaf and Annie found a spark and hope, and with Annie’s help Helen would go on to address leaders of the world in her public life.

“Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.” H. Ross Perot

“It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.” John Wooden

If you ask who was the greatest coach in college basketball of all time at my house John Wooden will be a unanimous pick. As I read this Woodenism, it is so true, so many students and teachers start out
(We are all related)
bird
but at the first difficulty quit. It could be a difficult student that does not conform to a set pattern and way of doing things or a new teacher who comes to a class of students who are all ready to quit. There are answers; there are solutions if we choose to look. Edison had a barrel of failed light bulbs as a reminder as he proceeded to find a workable light bulb. It is about not quitting, the answers are there when you give it one more try. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin