If only we can make a difference


Bird Droppings August 19, 2016
If only we can make a difference

 

I walked out last night to a partial moon it was exceptionally warm with the high humidity which has become the norm. However, between the clouds I did see a jet stream that was perfectly in line with what tiny faint hint I could see of the moon almost as if a line was drawn and the moon was moving along the line among the clouds. When I come out in the early morning hours and look East Orion sits just above the persimmon trees and today the moon was gone but clear as could be was the constellation Orion. I think Orion has been checking out the persimmons or since a hunter watching for the deer that come to feast on the ripe fruit falling to the ground.

 

“The purpose of Living Values: Educational Program is to provide guiding principles and tools for the development of the whole person, recognizing that the individual is comprised of physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions.” livingvalues.net

 

When I first read the lead line to this website it is too good to be true, someone after my own heart. As I thought it is not just about content but context as well although in public school spiritual has to be a carefully handled word. Yesterday as I do many days I borrowed from John Dewey’s pedagogy, and this is a similar line looking more at the whole person in talking with some teachers during professional planning.

 

“In confronting the many challenges that the future holds in store, humankind sees in education an indispensable asset in its attempt to attain the ideals of peace, freedom and social justice. The Commission does not see education as a miracle cure or a magic formula opening the door to a world in which all ideals will be attained, but as one of the principal means available to foster a deeper and more harmonious form of human development and thereby to reduce poverty, exclusion, ignorance, oppression and war.” Jacques Delors, Learning: The Treasure Within, UNESCO

 

ALIVE, The association for Living values Education International was founded by the United Nations a few years ago. As I read through the literature the concept of teaching values intrigued me. Is this maybe where we go wrong in public school focusing on the content within the curriculum covered on pages one through five hundred only? Maybe this is where students lose the desire to learn being force fed piles of facts or does it happen elsewhere.

 

“The traditions of our people are handed down from father to son. The Chief is considered to be the most learned, and the leader of the tribe. The Doctor, however, is thought to have more inspiration. He is supposed to be in communion with spirits… He cures the sick by the laying of hands and prayers and incantations and heavenly songs. He infuses new life into the patient, and performs most wonderful feats of skill in his practice…. He clothes himself in the skins of young innocent animals, such as the fawn, and decorated himself with the plumage of harmless birds, such as the dove and hummingbird …” Sarah Winnemucca, Paiute

 

Much of our culture, or who we are, is learned behavior from our community setting. We learn much of who we are good or bad at home. Several years ago I wrote a paper about “The Sixteen Hour Syndrome” that time kids are away from school. As a parent-teacher and now grandparent I see students leave school and go home where any semblance of value and order is disavowed. Students were unlearning  anything that had been taught. Teachers have eight hours of which transportation and breaks and lunch come out of so maybe six hours to try and instill values and information. Some could argue that should school be the place for values to be taught? It is a place, and teaching is occurring so do what you can.

 

“All sciences are now under the obligation to prepare the ground for the future task of the philosopher, which is to solve the problem of value, to determine the true hierarchy of values.” Fredrich Nietzsche

 

“You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.” Denis Waitley

 

Students theoretically should bring some tattering of values to school but going back to September 11, 2001 which coincidentally was my first day back to teaching after a twenty-three year break a student informed me he was the first in four generations not to run moonshine. Interestingly enough last night on the history channel a show memorialized moonshiners as an integral part of our history and that we had to have them in order for progression to occur. This was while the host sampled various brews from around the country. If you are raised that moonshining, racism, bigotry, anti-government and a good one today belittling women is appropriate. Now then imagine the impact of those eight hours in school with a female teacher who by chance works for the government and doesn’t drink. After battling with that type of student, teachers are weary, and they are not just in the south. So the issue becomes how do we as teachers even attempt to alter values.

 

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” Albert Einstein

 

“Although gold dust is precious, when it gets in your eyes it obstructs your vision.” Hsi-Tang

 

In many societies, the raising of the children is a community effort not just the biological parents. We all need to work together be it in parenting and teaching and in working towards a world we can eliminate the sixteen-hour syndrome, and children can learn to appreciate life and all that could be there for them.

 

“Minds are like parachutes – they only function when open.” Thomas Dewey

 

Perhaps that leads to this idea. The other aspect is that in order to open properly that parachute has to be packed correctly folded and arranged so it will open when the rip cord is pulled. Far too many children have not had their parachute folded properly before the jump and will crash and burn. As I look back over the past few weeks of school and writings teachers are expected to check the students parachutes and repack them daily. Teachers are often expected  times to even postpone the jumps till everyone is ready. But in life as in parachuting there comes a time when you have to learn to pack your  chute. When it doesn’t open, it is no one’s fault but your own.

 

“If a man who cannot count find a four-leaf clover is he entitled to happiness? You must first have a lot of patience to learn to have patience.” Stanislaw Jerszy Lec, Unkempt Thoughts, translated from the Polish by Jacek Galazka

 

As I read a few of Lec’s words, this morning many are dark foreboding telling of a time when death was near the doorstep in Poland during World War II. Executioners and death are a major topic looking through Unkempt Thoughts a rather large collection of anecdotes. But when I saw these particular two lines the first is so true of education we pass the child through knowing he cannot “count” are we truly happy when he finds a four leave clover and patience is learned but it does take patience to learn patience otherwise you would have run out of patience. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and please let’s make sure parachutes are packed right for that first jump 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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