I am always searching for the ends of a bell-shaped curve


Bird Droppings August 8, 2013
I am always searching for the ends of a bell-shaped curve

I was reminded as former students came by last night at Open House of how we as teacher’s impact lives. Students are so much more than test scores and grades. So much more than content we teach. I was joking with a fellow teacher about watching my former students posts on Facebook and their first day of school with their kids. I wonder if any of my crazy stories are being told and retold. After getting home we had several storms and during the night my early morning companion of fifteen years passed away. I joke about how we still called her puppy.

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

In the days leading up to the last Democratic and Republican conventions, I realize how much I do not like politics. Political promises the flip-flopping that each candidate says the others do falls right into the idea that by definition politics are lies. Simply words were spoken to get elected, and as I look at the words of Carnegie maybe, we should find a simpler way to decide on a candidate. Look to where the largest donors are and what dollar amount is provided, and that is where that politician’s philosophy is.

“The courage of the truth is the first condition of philosophic study.” George Hegel

“All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions: 1. What can I know? 2. What ought I to do? 3. What may I hope?” Immanuel Kant

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

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

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

“The heart has eyes which the brain knows nothing of.” Charles H. Perkhurst

“Simple people… are very quick to see the live facts which are going on about them.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

I am often amazed at how our system works; we design everything in generalities that are driven by what might work most of the time. Which leads me to there is some truth in the bell-shaped curve. But those fringes of humanity at either end of the curve that minute quantity end up in judgment and in reality are forced to survive by same general guidelines as the majority and or if in power force their guidelines on the majority.

“To do exactly as your neighbors do is the only sensible rule.” Emily Post

“The idea that men are created free and equal is both true and misleading: men are created different; they lose their social freedom and their individual autonomy in seeking to become like each other.” David Riesman

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

“Agenda – 1: a list or outline of things to be considered or done, 2: an underlying often ideological plan or program” Webster’s Dictionary

It bothers me that we eliminate individuality from children; we strip away the aspects that make them who they are.

“We are citizens of an age, as well as of a State; and if it is held to be unseemly, or even inadmissible, for a man to cut himself off from the customs and manners of the circle in which he lives, why should it be less of a duty, in the choice of his activity, to submit his decision to the needs and the taste of his century?” Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

“We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove.” Mark Twain

Sort of sad to be compared to sheep but after watching the politics of the past few years in education it is so easy to see. Years ago herders would have a “Judas goat” to lead the lambs to slaughter, the flock simply never followed questioning they just followed along. Many years ago Disney Studios had a film on border collies. They, of course, saved the day but one particular scene was of the flock pushing and following, and a number ended up in the stream. A quick note about border collies they always have very short names, Dot, Jim, Bo generally one syllable, easier to say quickly when working sheep. Anyhow the two dogs risk their lives to save the drowning sheep and the rest of the flock and get them safely home. Earlier when I started I did not realize the direction, and I am sitting here now thinking of teachers as border collies, steering guiding the herd, occasionally we get a Judas goat as a teacher but hopefully they get weeded out quickly. Occasionally we get a Judas goat in administration and they end up in power and soon are dictating national policy sadly.

“It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed.” Albert Einstein

A bit of grounding and as I think of the bell-shaped curve and sheep and how we in education strive to have standardized everything. I also see Einstein that great thinker point out that even in our world of majority rules the individual can still be found and still be “warmly acclaimed.” Teacher friends the battle is far from over we need to pick up the battle flag and push forward this battle is about our children’s future, Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

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

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