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

Bird Droppings June 13, 2016
I wonder what my favorite store is;
Then again is it even important?

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

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

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

I wish it would be possible to believe the first, but with trying to drill for oil in wilderness Alaska, off shore in Florida and other parts of the country and friends in high places reaping huge profits and a war costing trillions of dollars that was bogus from many people’s standpoint while he was in office and it makes it hard to grasp philosophically. Although perhaps as some people indicated in writing and articles he was simply a puppet of others. Still at the time war efforts and accumulation seemed more important than doing any sort of good. Of course, the philosophy of the ends justifies the means could possibly be applied.
That was sort of the approach when the last passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati zoo and some people had the attitude well it’s only a pigeon. Sadly once there were billions flying over the forests of the east coast, and yes it is only a pigeon except we can never at this time replicate that one, it is gone. The Alaska wilderness even though a great expanse when it is gone it is gone and can never be replicated. But if the end justifies it many people see no problem. However as I sat this morning, perhaps a better brighter thought from J.K. Rowling thorough the character of Dumbledore “it is our choices that show who we really our”. I wonder how soon Harry Potter books will be classics and teachers will be analyzing the plots and developing theories as to why Rowling characterized Harry as a boy or teenager and why an owl as his companion versus a weasel.

I recall eleventh or twelfth grade English and my teacher Ms. Stern and the Melville novel classic, Moby Dick. According to her lessons and teachings, the ship represented the world and Ishmael the wanderer got stuck on that ship. What was Melville really telling us besides a great story and history of New England’s whaling industry? I really enjoyed the story but not the analysis, and when I wrote my opinion based on my own love of history, it was wrong according to Ms. Stern. Many years ago the choices we make not our abilities was the credo. I do think however had I been in a different teacher’s class my idea of a historical novel on the short lived whaling industry would have been applauded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning as I was being lazy its summer and been getting harder and harder to get up early. I did however go out and sit thinking on my back porch for nearly an hour. I was listening intently to nature and even sort of intermingled man’s interactions with an occasional car or truck sound in the distance. However in getting started later than normal and then procrastinating even further talking with my son as I went to get busy. I need to fit in time to stop by the school today and feed my siren, Lester. Most people see the nearly three foot critter and think it is an eel but he, or she is a Greater Siren and an aquatic amphibian never leaving the larval stage. I would also add more than likely the slimiest creature out of water known to man.

I enjoy my weekends where I can read and answer emails and work on my photography often downloading a gazillion photos to Facebook and working in my gardens. One of my emails from a now senior in high school recently was about realizing school was nearing the end and graduation was only a few months ahead. They would have to make a way in life. In that same email concern for a friend stationed in the Middle East was almost heart rending. Watching the news doesn’t give justice to friends and families with loved ones overseas still in harm’s way, as I think, choices we make. Yesterday as I went home I recalled seeing a flag our town had a memorial to a recent fallen local fellow who was killed in a suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan. In other emails with a suggestion of a book to read and out of 70 or so yesterday and this morning maybe those three really truly caught my attention.

I started with a Bush quote and maybe that applies to a job search, so many of my teacher’s friends are involved in as well. So many of the following what we do with our lives is our choice how the world will see that choice is dependent upon the direction and choices we make. It is not the ability that you will be known for or how great an actor or musician or football player but what you do with your talent is what is seen. Aspects of family are so crucial and friends equally as well and always seek to learn to know more reading, writing, thinking and reflecting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Pickard spoke with this woman on this planet of a perfect moment, she then offered now to learn to make every moment prefect, and the movie continued and soon he was seeing a hummingbird flit to a flower or pollen blown from a flower.
“Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

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

“Wisdom begins at the end.” Daniel Webster

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

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

Teaching and or 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu

Bird Droppings June 10, 2016
Teaching and or 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu

I will be having my sixteenth first day of school at this high school. I will just assume it will not be as tense and hectic as my first on September 11, 2001. I began the day thinking back to a song one of my students chose to write about several years ago, Live like you were dying by Tim McGraw. A dear friend passed away yesterday and it is difficult as I write today to not think about how many friends, do I want to see and talk to one more time. I have been sorting through books and files and found a small inspirational book based on the song. The song came up when I had given a writing assignment to pick a favorite song, find the lyrics then explain the song. There is something about country music and lyrics and emotions that hit you.

As various music genre came forth that one song stood out among all the rest that day. Here we can argue genres and such although I did use Beyoncé and Bob Dylan in a sarcastic graphic mainly pointed at our system of measuring schools. Bob Dylan if anyone is not aware has been chosen as the greatest song writer of all time. Some can argue and I got into this the other day with a fellow teacher and friend as I was picking on his heavy metal blaring after hours. I used the rock and roll hall of fame as an example and Dylan has songs covered by the greats, Knockin on Heaven’s door, All along the watchtower to name a few.

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

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

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

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

We take life so often for granted, wasting precious moments, missing bits and pieces as we go hurriedly to the next event of the day. My dear friend I had not seen since 1978 but we communicated regularly on Facebook. Sharing all of those years in photos and one line captions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I won’t be riding bulls or skydiving but I will be smiling and I will love and I will be living each moment that I have got and hopefully set an example for the students I teach. I may make a few more day trips this summer to spend precious moments with friends. So my dear friends take a moment and truly think about it, live your moments to the fullest and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and please be sure to give thanks for the moments namaste.

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

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

Bird Droppings June 8, 2016
I am always searching for the ends of a bell-shaped curve

I was reminded as a former student ran into me at Kroger last night 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 student’s 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

Wondering is a powerful tool

Bird Droppings June 7, 2016
Wondering is a powerful tool

Several years back during the school year we started sort of a school-wide vocabulary of the week I was reminded of this as I was looking through my various files for quotes and such. About three years ago as the day wound down an email came out from the head of the English Department featuring our vocabulary words of the week. The email was asking each teacher to feature and or have out a featured word. The word for the next week was to be diligent, which is an adjective and means to be showing care in doing one’s work. I had a photo I took the first day or so of school of one of the teachers across the hall from me talking with a student. I knew there was a use for that photo, and it became the background for the word of the week poster. Conveniently the teacher is an English teacher as well. Here I am sitting in the wee hours of the morning thinking back to my first word of the week poster in near darkness wondering about today and words of the week ahead.

“He who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder.” M. C. Escher

I first became aware of artist M.C. Escher in the early 1970’s. As a side note for those of you not familiar with Escher, he would use forms and geometric shapes to create his pictures. Many would be wood block prints that often took the form of a puzzle like maze. There is one I remember that is a series of lizard-like creatures that as they pass the midpoint of the picture begins to change into birds. He was a man who was in awe of awe.

“It is the unseen and the spiritual in people that determines the outward and the actual.” Thomas Carlyle

Perhaps as Carlyle points out it is that aspect of our nature we do not totally reveal that is more in control than what we think. Coming from a psychology background and over the years working in settings where these aspects are integral to what might transpire in a day I have come to find there is fragileness, gossamer, delicate layer that makes us tick and yet there within that fragility is our strength as well.

“To know what people think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.” Rene Descartes

I recall as we listen to our politicians who pass laws that they are immune to. So often for politicians the rhetoric that elects have little meaning once elected. I am always amazed at how we cut taxes and increase spending and wonder why you are in deep deficits and going deeper. However, in reality it seems that all people in general seem to be politicians as we go through life.

“People don’t change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so.” Fran Tarkenton

We all our in effect are selfish creatures and be that it may occasionally we try to alter that behavior and focus on others but deep down unless we find something in that effort we seem to turn back. I am being cynical this morning as I near the end of the week and did not start that way today. I was reading several pieces by Skinner this morning one of which has always bothered me even though we have ethics guidelines as teachers.

“Give me a child and I’ll shape him into anything.” B. F. Skinner

During the early 1970’s as I received my undergraduate degree in psychology Skinner was a mainstay of my thinking with behavior modification. I ran many rats through Skinner boxes. Press the lever and receive a food pellet. Skinner firmly believed all behavior can be controlled, manipulated and repackaged. I have learned much if only one thing over the years since. There is a bit more too it. If Skinner was right totally and in the wrong hands there would be little to be in awe of. There would be little wonderment left, but it is that aspect where behaviorism hits a wall. We can to point control and manipulate behaviors. We can change behaviors. We can alter, negate and extinguish behaviors. But somewhere deep within there is a spark as Carlyle says. There is that unseen part of us that is outside that reinforcement of desired behaviors.

“Just as a flower that seems beautiful and has color but no perfume, so are the fruitless words of a man who speaks them, but does them not.” John Dewey

“Don’t you believe that there is in man a deep so profound as to be hidden even to him in whom it is?” St. Augustine

As I read this morning and searched looking for answers yet to be known, I find we all are searching each in our way. We each are trying to find that elusive aspect that is unseen, that hidden portion as we journey and trod the pathways of life. There are answers and simply sharing answers would be in a way like cheating but by providing lesson guides to help others find answers that perhaps would be different. So with a day ahead a new journey to go. Take a step forward one before the other. As you walk look at what a person does more than what they say. I do believe that there is more to man than simply what is there and seek to find answers and keep all in harm’s way in your hearts and on your mind and always give thanks namaste.

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

Don’t cross word puzzles take some time?

Bird Droppings June 6, 2016
Don’t cross word puzzles take some time?

Towards the end of my last History class that I teach in college one of my students was working on a particular assignment and had to define bias. She was not sure which definition was correct and asked my opinion. I explained in history bias is that of the historian doing the writing. It is how they see the event and happenings that may have come from that event. A few days ago I threw out an author’s name I have learned much from and enjoyed, Ronald Takaki and his book, A Different Mirror.

“More than ever before, there is a growing realization that the established scholarship has tended to define America too narrowly. For example, in his prize-winning study, The Uprooted, Harvard historian Oscar Handlin presented — to use the book’s subtitle – ‘the Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People.” But Handlin’s “epic story” excluded the “uprooted” from Africa, Asia, and Latin America — the other “Great Migrations” that also helped to make “the American People.” Similarly, in The Age of Jackson, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., left out blacks and Indians. There is not even a mention of two marker events — the Nat Turner insurrection and Indian Removal, which Andrew Jackson himself would have been surprised to find omitted from a history of his era.” Dr. Ronald Takaki

Takaki offers that so often in history it is the winners that write the history and the politics of the time define said history. It was not that long ago Andrew Jackson forced the migration of Creeks and Cherokees from their homelands in the southern US to Oklahoma and the Indian Territory only to be taken again during the land rush. Andrew Jackson is a dirty word in Okmulgee Oklahoma.

“When a man begins to understand himself he begins to live. When he begins to live he begins to understand his fellow men.” Norvin Mcgranahan

Often I have a tendency to say something or write something that was intended to be one thing and it is understood to be something else. It might be translated from my meager use of language into a distortion of the direction it was intended.

“We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.” Adlai Stevenson

So many times our direction changes in midstream and we look hurriedly for a new rock to step too to keep from stumbling. Looking a step or two ahead can often prevent your falling into the water when crossing a stream.

“Where I am not understood, it shall be concluded that something very useful and profound is couched underneath.” Jonathan Swift

Sometimes it seems as clear to us as we write and discuss and yet to others a fog creates a distance or barrier to what it is we are trying to convey. Swift alludes to a vague understanding being hidden, you know something is there but cannot quite grasp it.
When many look at Einstein’s formulations in physics some see chicken scratching others see magic.

“Perhaps I am doomed to retrace my steps under the illusion that I am exploring, doomed to try and learn what I should simply recognize, learning a mere fraction of what I have forgotten.” Andre Breton

Returning to graduate school after nearly thirty years away has been many times simply remembering things I have put aside for a time and many times the frustration is seeing as you get older how much you have forgotten.

“No person was every rightly understood until they had been first regarded with a certain feeling, not of tolerance, but of sympathy.” Thomas Carlyle

“It has taken me all my life to understand it is not necessary to understand everything.” Rene Cody

As you grow older several things happen you can see deeper into occurrences because you have a broader base to draw from which makes it sometimes difficult to explain to some people and what appears as prophecy may simply be experience rearing up. I explain the idea of coincidence and Karl Jung’s synchronicity to teenagers and when doing this use a timeline of many years. Most teenagers do not have the timeline to see events pan out and to see that a happening now affects you twenty years from now. Today’s puzzle pieces work in junction with every piece before and every piece yet to fall in place.

“I started out with nothing. I still have most of it.” Micshael Davis

“If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.” Karl Jung

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” Karl Jung

In so many of Jung’s thoughts balancing, understanding and seeking to understand are so crucial as he looked at the dreams of his patients and as he tried to put pieces of their puzzles together. As I sit here writing and thinking, in sort of a symbolic way Freud worked with Lego blocks and Jung worked with blocks of Jell-O. For Jung there was barely form and often there was fluidity as pieces would meld into each other. Life is not quite the solid pieces of a Lego set and really isn’t perhaps as fluid as some thinkers would like to think but between the two maybe a plasma sort of effect for lack of terms maybe it is indescribable.

“Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations.” Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux, 1868-1937

“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

I have used this quote from Crowfoot recently possibly even several times. This statement from Crowfoot to me is very profound. Recently I asked the question can you define your God without scripture and without pronouns. As I look and see at Crowfoots statement of life there are so many mysteries. Another author I enjoy William Edelen author of “In search of the Mystery” offers that understanding is a key but seeing all that is presented and not simply individual pieces of life’s puzzle. It is not about looking at life through a toilet tissue tube as I say maybe too often keep use as an example. A wonderful day so far and so many ahead please keep all in harm’s way in our minds and hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

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

Why should we do more?

Bird Droppings June 3, 2016
Why should we do more?

“Choices are sacred to life’s journey. They lie along the path that all of us must follow for ourselves. An important Cherokee lesson is that if you involve yourself in any decision, you also experience the consequences of that decision.” Dr. J.T. Garrett, Meditations with the Cherokee

It has been quite a while since I was unable to walk out first thing in the morning and experience the newness of the day. Granted being not in the structured routine of school I tend to get lazy from not having to get up. For some reason, I am up earlier than normal today. But as we head towards getting back in full swing I may get back in a routine. It has been a very strange and very wet summer in Georgia with rain predicted every day ahead for some time. Afternoons we have a chance of scattered thundershowers and mowing or yard work gets curtailed while plants and grass dry a bit. Over the weekend and several times this week, I had to stop till rain drops subsided enough that I would not get soaked coming from my car. It has been nearly ten summers since I submitted a reflection of sorts for my doctorate work on a book based on viewing history in more than one color, more than one culture or societal norm. Rereading that reflection led me to a powerful thought.

“Do more than belong; participate. Do more than care; help. Do more than believe; practice. Do more than be fair; be kind. Do more than forgive; forget. Do more than dream; work.” William Arthur Ward

As I sit here this early morning responding to emails from previous days, I am slowly catching up. It is through our actions we are perceived. It was many nights back even several years ago at a basketball game several fans were asked nicely to leave by administration and eventually sheriffs intervened in the altercation. You could be upset with the situation but when you vocalize using words that in reality do not make sense, as so often swearing does not (sit and write literal meanings to most swearing) and add hand gestures and increase volume, you are being perceived as out of control. When asked nicely to cease such distracting behavior, and you continue that too adds to the perception of perhaps out of control. In speaking to a sheriff in a derogatory manner, again fuels the flames of perception, being a person who has ceased to utilize their self-control and the result, being asked quite nicely to not be in the gym in public view might seem a bit understated.

It could be behavior modification time and coincidentally having a background in BM that’s behavior modification by the way. Although today we use less harsh terms, Functional Behavior Analysis and Task Analyzes. BM is what it is about, and there are times now with two little ones in the house I see some behavior that BM could mean more along the lines of potty training. Back to my story for example, the first offense at a basketball game and thereafter you can come but must wear a dog training collar to reenter gym. In the control booth sits your modifier, preferably a spouse or child who probably will enjoy this, holding the button. If you get out of control, they get to press the button sending a mild shock to your neck. However, if you continue they also have on the side of the control box the increase switch, raising the voltage. I think there are some spouses that may automatically go to max even for first jolt.

There is a chance of course that the child or spouse in the control booth has read Skinner’s books and articles and knows intermittent, variable reinforcement works great too and shocks just to let their collared friend know who holds the button, and that might become the norm. Sporting events would never be the same. In the stands half, the people sitting and twitching from shocks and the other half is sitting quietly smiling pressing the buttons. Kids could play their games and cheerleaders could cheer and what all would have a wonderful time. However had everyone read the first line of the first quote today none of this would be necessary.

“When you see a new trail, or footprint you do not know, follow it to the point of knowing” Uncheedah, grandfather of Ohiyesa, Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman

Is that something we now teach? In teaching biology, I use the lesson and style of teaching that I had used myself in a previous graduate school class demonstration on existential teaching methods. I let the students find the answers and act only as a facilitator. In one plastic container is a tiger salamander (Elmo) and in the other a leopard gecko (Emily) one is an amphibian and the other a reptile. The lesson is based on taxonomy and differentiating between amphibians and reptiles. Having done this numerous times in summer school in Biology and in my classes during the school year those that work through the lesson will remember which is which far better than having read a book or heard in a lecture, they followed the trail. How often do we take away curiosity and how often do we brush the trail clean of tracks?

“The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind is curiosity.” Edmund Burke

“It is a shameful thing to be weary of inquiry when what we search for is excellent.” Marcus T. Cicero

Far too often we do not have time for children’s questions; we do not want to follow a new trail as Uncheedah speaks about. We only want the status quo the peace and solitude of that lesson plan laid out months in advance and carefully formulated to cover each of the required curriculum needs of the subject in a given time span. Let us get from point A to point B and not venture off the track ever again.

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.” Samuel Johnson

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift that gift would be curiosity.” Eleanor Roosevelt

So often I talk with students who are not curious. They seldom ask why and only accept what is taught to them, and many do not even do that and simply shrug their shoulders and state they don’t care. So many people in our world today simply follow and media and the corporate advertising feed on this. When I read a statement from a person who says this is what I believe, and you cannot change that about any subject matter or idea I sort of wonder.

We should be teaching children to challenge, to question, never just accepting an answer. My middle son had the highest regard for a teacher and on occasion pointed out an error on a discussion transparency dealing with a specific type of animal. He pointed out that what was on the slide was in error and backed it up with the very biology book they were using, as well as other sources. A year later in he was in another Advanced Placement Biology class, and the same slide, same response. He again pointed out the error, and the teacher was still teaching exactly the same, still in error and had never changed that slide. By chance three years later, speaking to a class, that slide again appeared, this time his respect for that teacher was gone, while a good teacher, she was a poor learner. It was difficult for “teacher” to except a “students” understanding of a topic albeit that students brother had raised and bred that specific animal at home for many years so it was not simply a student spouting off, there was experiential contextual knowledge involved.

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Carl Edward Sagan

“Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you: you must acquire it.” Sadie Black

We got into a discussion of sorts yesterday about doing school work. So often teachers assign a certain number of problems in math regardless of whether the students know how to do that skill or not, homework for example, do these twenty problems. If the skill is known, why do the assignment, if not known, doing problems you do not know how to do, doesn’t help. This is not to pick on math teachers but so often this happens and students begin to look down on busy work. If that assignment had meaning, perhaps more care and effort would ensue. It is no wonder, so many students soon learn who is doing homework and copy that person’s work simply to get credit for homework.

“I think knowing what you cannot do is more important than knowing what you can.” Lucille Ball

“It is not good to know more unless we do more with what we already know.” R. K. Bergethon

When you can apply a piece of knowledge it lasts far more than when it is simply an idea, a passing, thought something to forget. In some subjects, it is difficult to make ideas applicable, at least this is what some teachers think and students soon grow weary, and curiosity is gone. Several times I have mentioned a friend who in teaching history would occasionally dress as a knight or king and or a lowly goat herder to make a point drawing the class into the lesson.

“The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.” Confucius
“I would have the studies elective. Scholarship is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure interest in knowledge. The wise instructor accomplishes this by opening to his pupils precisely the attractions the study has for himself. The marking is a system for schools, not for the college; for boys, not for men; and it is an ungracious work to put on a professor.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

To instill curiosity a teacher must also be curious; a teacher must also be a learner. Recently I read several articles about schools where students and teachers make choices and decisions on the operation of the school, a truly democratic school. The Sudbury Valley School in Massachusetts is an example as I mentioned recently. Many years ago Socrates would simply ask a question and students would have to find the answers, not be told the answers and Socrates would assist through more questions. He must have upset his school board since he was required to drink poison.

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little but that they know so many things that ain’t so.” Mark Twain

This is a good place to wind down today. I am sitting here, thinking, pondering and wondering about where the day may go and what will be said and who will listen. I find solace in that thought. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and to always give thanks for all namaste.

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

Do we as teachers build doors or walls?

Bird Droppings June 2, 2016
Do we as teachers build doors or walls?

I enjoy arriving at school while the stars are still shining overhead something about the darkness is peaceful for me. I can remember when my youngest would ride to school with me; he is not quite as big a fan of mornings and pre-sunrise as I am. He misses that few extra moments of sleep each day. Last week while my granddaughter visited we started telling stories and she too got caught up and was adding to the story. I would start a story about who ever she wanted and we would make up things as we went. Grandmommie was first and Charlie wanted to go to Disney Store with Grandmommie so the story unfolded. I was in Barnes and Nobles book store a few weeks ago and picked up a copy of James Bradley’s book Flags of our fathers. The opening quote is a very powerful, what if.

“Mothers should negotiate between nations. The mothers of fighting countries would agree: Stop this killing now. Stop it now.” Yoshikuni Taki

I have been in several I should say many meetings the past few years with teachers and parents. It has been a few years since my youngest son handed me a sheet of paper to sign up for a teacher parent conference in geometry. It appeared that he let a test or two slip by. Any student with a less than 75% grade is to have a conference, school rules. Interesting is that so many students only want a seventy percent. As I am thinking about comments from one of my meetings where a mother wanted the school to do what she was doing in keeping her children up with their work, because she was tired. Ideally it would be great each teacher spend time each day with each individual student. However if you do the calculations at one hundred and ten minutes or so per class and thirty plus students that is less than four minutes apiece if there is no start up or down time. Less than four minutes for each student.

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

This has been a favorite quote of mine for many years and hanging on the back of my classroom door where I can see it most of the day. As a parent and a teacher how do we make our parenting and or teaching so potent? How do we or should we provide a doorway or open the door for students and children?

“The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Could not this person be a parent, friend and or a teacher?

“John Dewey’s significance for informal educators lies in a number of areas. First, his belief that education must engage with and enlarge experience has continued to be a significant strand in informal education practice. Second and linked to this, Dewey’s exploration of thinking and reflection – and the associated role of educators – has continued to be an inspiration. We can see it at work, for example, in the models developed by writers such as David Boud and Donald Schön. Third, his concern with interaction and environments for learning provides a continuing framework for practice. Last, his passion for democracy, for educating so that all may share in a common life, provides a strong rationale for practice in the associational settings in which informal educators work.” Mark K. Smith 2001

As I sit and think about how do we work with kids and I recall ideas from John Dewey. This passage written by Mark Smith relates four thoughts from John Dewey’s philosophy engage and enlarge experience, thinking and reflection, interactions and environments for learning, and democracy in the classroom. Engage and enlarge experience: If we as teachers draw on what the child knows and has seen and touched and then build on that and develop so that we can move forward and or sideways or up and down.

“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” Aldus Huxley –

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced — even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it.” John Keats –

“Common experience is the gold reserve which confers an exchange value on the currency which words are; without this reserve of shared experiences, all our pronouncements are checks drawn on insufficient funds.” Rene Daume

Thinking and reflection: This is that aspect that Einstein refers to that has baffled the sages down through time. How to get students anyone to think and then as Dewey teaches reflect?

“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all.” Georges Bernanos

“We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.” Buddha

“Teachers and learners engage in conscious and thoughtful consideration of the work and the process. It is this reflective activity that evokes insight and gives rise to revisions and refinements.” The Foxfire Approach

Interaction and environments for learning: Providing an atmosphere that students want to be in is a key to success. Be it at home or at school if a child does not want to be there it is difficult to learn and to function.

“Course content is connected to the community in which the learners live. Learners’ work will “bring home” larger issues by identifying attitudes about and illustrations and implications of those issues in their home communities.” The Foxfire Approach

“For industry to support education and training it must provide a relevant cost benefit to the employer. The content and design of the learning on offer must be capable of not only sustaining the candidate’s willingness and ability to learn but also respond to the ever changing environment within which industry operates.” Mike Goodwin, University of Wolver Hampton addressing the concept of negotiated work based learning

Having a context for learning by providing rationale and reason for what is being taught. Content is much easier to work with it is in the text book but providing context is where doors are created and opened.

Democracy in the class room: Students and children being actively involved in their class room changes often the direction and flow of learning.

“My own belief….is that a teacher’s stated views – and, more important, the visible actions which that teacher takes during a year in public school – are infinitely more relentless in their impact on the students than a wealth of books of any possible variety.” Jonathan Kozol, On Being a Teacher, p. 25

“Students can be forced to sit through a class, but they cannot be forced to be interested in it, or to do well.” Alfie Kohn

“A visitor then to mydemocratic classroom in action would walk into a room in which students are working in groups or individually grappling with ideas that will later enrich the classroom. Deliberation and debate would be ongoing as students worked on issues and projects that mattered to them as both a class and as individuals. I as the teacher would not be the center point of the room but would instead be its facilitator and manager.” Ryan Niman

Parents, students, teachers and administrators each have differing and often specific involvement in that student’s learning. There is no specific script that is better than another. As I listened to a mother she wanted the school do take over all she did at home I wondered, what are you going to do take a vacation? While she was tired and concerned those 16 hours away (sixteen hour syndrome and still no cure) from school are as crucial as the eight or so that students spend in school. It is about getting sleep, proper nutrition, care and love which are all integral aspects of getting a child to learn and to have an appreciation for learning. Who opens the door and who creates the door sort of blend in and are not as important as that it is open and students and parents and teachers can each find their role and build. It is up to each of us to try and do just a little better each day in all that we do and 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

Can we find learning on the banks of the Chattahoochee River?

Bird Droppings June 1, 2016
Can we find learning on the banks of the Chattahoochee River?

A year ago I was apprehensive as I got up on that Sunday morning taking much longer than normal to get my day started. A good friend had called me last week and said that he would be in Phoenix City Alabama for an Indian Arts program. I had not seen my friend in over twenty years. We shared many memories from the 1970’s in Macon Georgia working in the same places and along the way and sharing an old house for a time in Macon. However it is the stories told to me by my friend of his grandfather who was medicine man to the Creek nation and listening to his mother when she visited from Oklahoma that are my deepest memories.

Macon invited the Creek back in 1973 or so to help at the Indian Mounds and even offered scholarships to Mercer University. I met Bill and his brother Gerald who by chance were both artists working in different mediums. Gerald was a sculptor and painter Bill worked in more traditional arts focusing on feather work and bead work.

After I got motivated for the two and a half hour drive I headed out to see my friend. I had forgotten to take my medicine and returned to the house. As I drove back a red tailed hawk swooped alongside me for a hundred feet or so. I write often about synchronicity had I been a few minutes sooner or later no hawk. I did not follow my GPS and headed a slight different direction ultimately getting me to the right place. However I missed my exit and went an extra exit down and being on Eastern Time with a half hour till opening grabbed some lunch. The young lady who waited on me had some stars and a moon tattooed beside her eye. A 1970’s Cat Stevens song started running through my head and I paid my tab and got back a nickel. Granted a strange morning but I was handed a buffalo nickel for my change. I finally found the program along the river just below the falls. My friend and his friends from Oklahoma were set up at the spot just besides the falls. It was a quiet spot with plenty of shade. I noticed a sign one of those historical markers and read about the sacred spot here at the falls and the Tie snake a creature who would pull unwary people to their deaths in the river rapids.

Bill was making a necklace for a customer and I sat watching and taking a few pictures. As he worked we both asked questions back and forth. Eventually we discussed his grandfather and medicine. We talked about feathers and plants. Time was on a stand still as we caught up in minutes what had been years. I said my goodbyes and headed towards my car only to stop and talk again with some new friends from Florida who do demonstrations and educate groups on early native life. It was a good day and an integral part of my own journey.

This morning I was walking about the yard and along the side of our nearby dirt road taking pictures of wildflowers and grasshoppers among other things that I find as ponder. I spent several minutes trying to photograph a seed from a broom sage plant floating along in the early breeze. A bit of down just going where the breeze would take it. It is very hard to focus on a moving piece of down and as I pondered it is much like walking into a class room and trying to teach kids who really do not want to be there. Sadly their thoughts and ideas floating about wandering where ever the breeze of the day is blowing. I was listening as I drew near the back field and the sound of crickets and frogs was nearly deafening. An author I found in my later years Laurens Von der Post came to mind as I imagined the sounds and images before me. Most of Von der Post’s early learning years were spent on the edge of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa being raised by a Bushmen nanny.

“Not only the present but the future depends on a constant reinterpretation of history and a re-examination of the state and nature of human consciousness. Both these processes are profoundly and mysteriously interdependent and doomed to failure without a continuous search after self-knowledge, since we and our awareness are inevitably the main instruments of the interpretation.” Laurens Van der Post,

It was in the remembering of a very poignant childhood event Laurens Von der Post was witness to as he recalls in the last days of man, at least the Bushmen or Sans. It has been several months maybe even a year since I last picked up a Von der post book. Somehow in an email last evening I went looking for this author and prolific writer was he. As I researched last night and went to Amazon.com 61 pages of his books and variations and edited versions and translations are available. He died in 1996 at the age of 90 and, he had been everywhere and done everything. He was Prince William of Great Britain’s God father, the only non-royal ever to be so honored. He had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth many years ago. His writings while covering his adventures and travels worldwide, he is best known for his stories of the African bush. A Far Away Place was made into a family movie of children and their trek in the African wilds. But as I read permeating all his writing is a fascination and deep understanding of a nearly lost people, the African Bushman, or Sans as they call themselves.

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.” Laurens Von der Post

“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us–and those around us — more effectively. Look for the learning.” Eric Allemburgh

Yesterday I was thinking in several directions, on one hand I was discussing education in the US with several friends and pros and cons of public education somehow came into that discussion. I interjected a comment about indigenous peoples of South America and how Amazonian Native peoples will often want to experience civilization. I mentioned a unique program in Brazil as well, of protecting indigenous peoples from civilization where land is kept intact and rain forest left alone when a new tribe is found, literally keeping civilization out. Often armed guards patrol to prevent missionaries and civilizers from coming in contact with these primitive peoples. I started thinking in terms of learning environment and for the indigenous peoples of the jungle it is the jungle where the optimal learning environment is for them to survive. Far too often we interject our modern societal values and say they should learn this or that. This led me to a statement by John Holt from the other day and one that has been in my pondering now several days.

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” John Holt
In that course of thought I went the direction of the Bushman and Von der Post. Last night I stood in the dark a bit longer than I usually do even with graduate studies and writing as well as my own college and high school lessons to prepare for when I took the dog out. The sky was streaked with clouds and a smiling moon was trying to peek through. I was standing on the porch listening to the night, almost silent. I went back out another time a bit later into the morning and by now all the clouds were nearly gone and stars permeating the entire sky. My shoulder has been bothering me and I laid back down putting my writing off till a bit later in the day. So often in my days a student who has an issue or a friend or teacher will find a Bird Dropping and then a series of events, I often use the term coincidence and it will have been just what they needed that day. For whatever reason I am compelled to build on a thought passing by as I am thinking never quite sure why.

“When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” Mary Kay Ash

“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top.” Arnold Bennet

Several days ago I received an email from a person to be added to my morning meanderings. I added this person to my list and yesterday received another email here in my rushing to get a Bird Droppings out I had written exactly what this person needed. When talking with my son yesterday he mentioned his former boss admitted she never read my meanderings and one day she had been searching and by chance opened my daily thought and again it was what she needed. I am wandering a bit from my learning idea but it is the contextual framework that we seem to build that provides us with those learning activities and experiences.

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” Taylor Benson

“Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life’s relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes, which vanish with the warmth.” Soren Kierkegaard

As I sit thinking about the drawing together of thoughts the past few days and ideas I come back to my involvement in Foxfire teaching techniques which is the basis for my one day to be finished dissertation. As I thought while reading several passages this morning, in a Von der Post’s book, The Lost world of the Kalahari. There is a comment about witnessing the last of the Bushmen painters. It seems there was a point in time when the Bushmen stopped their primitive art which was painted on the rocks in caves of the Kalahari. The last painter had been killed in an attack literally of genocide and no one knew how to take over the art. Laurens Von der Post writes how he heard those gunshots as a child.

As I looked at students walking the halls at my school and the discussions we have had over the past months on the internet it really dawned on me I was where I was to be, and doing what I was to do, offering at least a little piece of more than what is normally available. That could be hope, or it could be wisdom, It could be that talking about a bushmen ostrich egg with red neck kids in Georgia and interestingly enough preserving pieces of old Georgia in essays and photos and PowerPoint projects as we go. Von der Post in his book went in search of the last of the Bushman and found himself.

“Coincidences have never been idle for me, instinctively, but as meaningful as I was to find they were to Jung. I have always had a hunch that they are a manifestation of a law of life of which we are inadequately aware and which in terms of our short life are unfortunately incapable of total definition, and yet however partial the meaning we can extract from them, we ignore it, I believe, at our peril. For as well as promoting some cosmic law, coincidences, I suspect, are some sort of indication to what extent the evolution of our lives is obedient or not obedient to the symmetry of the universe.” Laurens van der Post reflecting on Carl Jung’s work

For many years now I have read and pondered Jung’s words and ideas. Back fourteen or so years ago an author James Redfield, wrote about coincidence in a fictional story of a lost manuscript The Celestine Prophecy. Redfield was trying to explain what he saw happening in his own life. Carl Jung in the early 1900’s coined the word synchronicity. I simplify and say I am at the right place at the right moment. What is amazing is when you look at life that way and you begin to see events unfold before you rather than just seeing through hindsight. I was reading a friends note earlier about how ever thing happens for a reason. I responded jokingly that it only gains reason if we learn from it. As I sit hear pondering this morning it is in looking that we truly see and in listening that we truly hear.

“A continuous search after self-knowledge, since we and our awareness are inevitably the main instruments of the interpretation” Laurens Von der Post

I went in the internet, to borrow from the Foxfire website the following:

“In the Foxfire Approach, learning environments are characterized by student involvement and action, by thoughtful reflection and rigorous assessment, by imagination and problem solving, by applications beyond the classroom for what is learned, and by meaningful connections to the community. In these classrooms, students build the ability to work collaboratively and assume responsibility for their own learning processes.” Foxfire Fund

Where and how does the Kalahari Desert, Bushmen and a river have to do with learning and coincidence, they all tie in. An easy explanation can be seen borrowing from a core practice in the Foxfire teaching process

“Reflection is an essential activity that takes place at key points throughout the work. Teachers and learners engage in conscious and thoughtful consideration of the work and the process. It is this reflective activity that evokes insight and gives rise to revisions and refinements.” Foxfire

We build through reflection and we grow through reflection.

“Not only the present but the future depends on a constant reinterpretation of history and a re-examination of the state and nature of human consciousness.” Laurens Von der Post

I think reflection could be inserted just as easy into Von der Posts quote; we all need to take time to see where we are and then participate actively as we go in life. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind in 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