Bird Droppings July 18, 2014
Is it a paradox that sometimes small can be big?
July has been a slow month for sunrises with clouds and fog nearly every morning. Somehow between the clouds and even in the fog I have found images worthy of a photo. Finding the tiny pieces within our existence is a key to being a good teacher. Observing and seeing not just the big picture, but the intricate pieces to the puzzle of life that our students bring to us. We get measured by the completion of the puzzle but the students takeaway the pieces one at a time, and it is those pieces that our students remember and recall twenty years from now.
“Educators have to show in their behavior what it means to care. We do not merely tell them to care and give them texts to read on the subject, we demonstrate our caring in our relations with them” Nel Noddings
It has been many years ago that I first read any of Nel Noddings writings, and I have been a fan ever since. Her focus in her research and writing is on caring and as I am rambling this morning how powerful is that single component in the classroom? If a teacher cares about their students amazing things, happen. The tiny pieces to the puzzle are magnified and intensified and can become focal points for life.
“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
It seems just like yesterday that I was looking at some power point slides as we waited between committee meetings at Piedmont College. I was to present my Capstone presentation for my Master’s Degree which was the culmination of nearly two years of studies. As I looked at the slides one set of slides was of my son’s old ten-gallon aquarium, a nano reef, which is a mini reef ecosystem for those less verbally aware. The object is you can have a beautiful salt water aquarium in a small space with smaller creatures. The upkeep is significantly more than a larger tank because there is no margin of error in a small tank, but when you start looking at these tiny almost insignificant creatures they become breathtaking. In the space of ten milk cartons an entire world exists from two and a half inch pistol shrimp that lives in a burrow with a three inch blenny a small fish too numerous corals and anemones. Interesting the blenny is very wary, and the shrimp is blind, when trouble was coming the blenny pulls the shrimp back in the hole and when a tasty morsel is coming the fish encourages the powerful shrimp to grab it. Life in that tiny burrow is about two tiny creatures working together.
Last year a few days before school was out one of the teachers brought in a tiny green tree frog they had caught we arranged a little cage for observation. Over the years, I have found the world closeup can be more fascinating the great big world we live in. So often pieces are revealed that may otherwise go unseen, and life takes on a different aspect and perspective. Over the weekend in the mornings as I walked about the house the dew was so heavy from the humidity that all of the spider webs were very visible. I ended up taking photos of several with tiny dew drops hanging on each nearly invisible thread.
“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it creative observation or creative viewing.” William S. Burroughs
So often we miss the small pieces always intent on seeing the big and little bits of life will pass us by. I recall watching my son’s nano reef explode when he would drop in a feeding solution of microscopic particles of plankton and algae it was amazing. I do not even see what the tiny corals anemones and polyps can sense in the water. When they are closed up and appearing dead the animals open into beautiful living things seeking their prey when a food source is available. Nearly twelve years ago I was handed a small piece of paper with my name on it written in blue ink and the word in capital letters PASS, written on it as well. That tiny note was the closure to two years of study and a door to another journey as my graduate school continued to unfold. So amazing a small piece of white copy paper can be so significant, for twelve years now it has been in a frame in my classroom as a reminder. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and be sure to give thanks namaste always.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)