Bird Droppings October 31, 2016
It takes more than one strand to make a rope

In light of today’s political climate working together may seem an impossibility. However if we do not make an effort to pull together we will unravel. There are times when some joke about drinking the Koolaid and yet bogus news stories proliferate the internet and the drooling minions grab at each savor tidbit. I honestly think we need more thought processes actively working. Cognition is on the ebb side of this reality.

“You cannot contribute anything to the ideal condition of mind and heart known as Brotherhood, however much you preach, posture, or agree, unless you live it.” Faith Baldwin

Each day as I talk to my students I try and set an example and not every day am I successful. But as I think this beautiful fall morning trying to decide if I should work in the yard or be lazy I thought I would take a few moments to write. Many of the children I talk to everyday stand alone, often due to their own choosing.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” John Donne –

It has been several years since I did an experiment with a group of young people using sewing thread. I had a thread for each person and then I asked each of them to break the thread which of course was simple and easily done.

“The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” James Baldwin –

After breaking the threads I gave each of them another piece of thread and one by one we joined the threads together. In the end we had a thirty strand piece of string/rope and we twisted it slightly to keep threads together.

“In union there is strength.” Aesop

“Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.” Alexander the Great

Amazingly enough no one could break the new combined rope even when several folks pulled on each end it would not break.

“So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” Bahá’u’lláh

I still carry that piece of string/rope in my wallet. It surely does make a great example when talking to students.

“I look to a time when brotherhood needs no publicity; to a time when a brotherhood award would be as ridiculous as an award for getting up each morning.” Daniel D. Michiel

It has been a few years back that I attended a demonstration up in Mountain City Georgia. The lecturer at the Foxfire Museum was using a couple of folks in the group and had them twisting and turning six strands of twine into a rope.

“Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” Mahatma Gandhi

Real unity, that is the question, and in today’s politically charged atmosphere unity is no where to be found. I showed my students so many years ago that even though having multiply strands of thread all together in a bundle was significantly stronger each time you cut a piece it weakened exponantionally.

“In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” Booker T. Washington

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

Each day as I sit outside my door at school I witness differences in attitude and differences in brotherhood. Many are similar and in a high school that old cliché of school spirit is generally a good indicator of a semblance of brotherhood, a joining force in a body of humanity. But still there are strands of thread dangling outside weakening the whole.

“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.” Virginia Burden, The Process of Intuition

I will never say everyone has to be identical. I like Booker T. Washington’s statement of each of being a finger yet still being able to be a hand. I use to think it was cool when I would see a six fingered person and in my old stomping grounds of Lancaster and Chester counties often you would see an Amish fellow with an extra finger. There was a recent ad where everyone was upset with Joe who had extra fingers because he could type so much more and do so much more, the ad showed him typing away and multi tasking with his extra fingers. But the ad was also about change and new equipment equalized the office space. So often we can not accept the differences.

“I have often noticed that when chickens quit quarreling over their food they often find that there is enough for all of them. I wonder if it might not be the same with the human race.” Don Marquis

In life far too often we spend our time fretting over differences and not looking for similarities. How can we work as a group a team? Watching college football Saturday for a few minutes along with The Rally to stop the insanity, teamwork makes all the difference in a win or loss. The winner is not always the better team. Always better teamwork will win and it can be only a minute difference, a single strand could change a game and or a life.

“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” Kenyan Proverb

Interesting while writing about unity and still believing in individuality it is a difficult task. I come back to Booker T. Washington’s quote; I can be a thumb and still work as a hand when needed. It is in believing and in trusting we gain that unity and that brotherhood. Watching the rally yesterday one thing kept coming up why all the negative why not work together the problems are here and solutions can be had if there were teamwork. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

“We recognize the spiritual in all creation and believe that we draw power from it.” Ohiyesa, Dakotah Sioux
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Words not spoken are some of the most profound wisdom

Bird Droppings October 28, 2016
Words not spoken are some of the most profound wisdom

 

I am sitting at least thinking about writing papers for grad school and words is what is on my mind right now. I just commented on a Facebook post about learning languages and how I know enough in several languages to survive and order chicken and rice. Within the past several weeks I have watched comments from politicians made and the rebutted by often the same person which I find most interesting. Native Americans survived this trend back in the day as treaties were made and broken all in a few years only to be told that sorry we got the wording wrong or you misunderstood what we were saying. When we said we were going to kill off the buffalo we meant all the buffalo not just those slowing the train down.

 

            “He believes profoundly in silence – the sign of a perfect equilibrium. Silence is the        absolute poise or balance of body, mind, and spirit.” Ohiyesa, Dr. Charles Alexander           Eastman, Santee Sioux

 

Trained as a physician Dr. Eastman was also a profound and eloquent speaker for the Sioux nation. So often when we speak it is words spilling out of a bucket filled to over flowing with politically correct jargon. A barrage of often meaningless dribble that just is there waiting to explode. Such plain and nice platitudes as hello how are you, how’s the family the job and numerous other familiar little blips we tend to throw at people we meet.

 

            “Silence is the mother of truth, for the silent man was ever to be trusted, while the man          ever ready with speech was never taken seriously.” Chief Luther Standing Bear, Teton          Sioux

 

“In my opinion it was chiefly owing to their deep contemplation in their silent   retreats in the days of youth that the old Indian orators acquired the habit of            carefully arranging their thoughts.” Blackbird, Ottawa

 

So often in our haste we blurt out words that become meaningless simply because we feel we should be talking. As I look at the words of these great Native American orators often it was in their silence and reflection that wisdom has shown through. Sadly we will never see the silence. There was not a hasty response that was spontaneous and not thought through each word was carefully chosen so as to impact and bring the point to the listener. For many words were sacred and a privilege to use and to speak. I was thinking wouldn’t that be great if every ADHD child thought before they spoke. We would not need medications, in school suspensions, and behavior modification anymore. There would be fewer bars of soap sold as parents would not have to wash any mouths out, thinking back to my wife’s favorite movie “the Christmas Story” as Ralphie gets his mouth washed out.

 

            “You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts”         Cochise, Chiricahaua Apache

 

Known as a great warrior as well as spokesman for the Apache, Cochise was feared and revered by many. So often listening to the fabrications of teenagers as a teacher you do enjoy silence and or truth. So many times exaggerations flow like water each telling of a story embellishes on the next and so forth till somewhere perhaps reality really did occur.

“Good words do not last long unless they amount to something.” Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

Growing up I recall stories of Chief Joseph and how his people avoided the army and won numerous skirmishes in there attempted flight to freedom in Canada. After being rejected by the Canadian Government they had no alternative but to surrender and Joseph’s speech has been quoted by many ever since.

 

“I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember      all the good words and all the broken promises. There has been too much talking by             men who had no right to talk.” Chief Joseph

 

In recent weeks I have watched our politicians talk out one side of the mouth and down the other. It is like going to a used car lot and watching used car sales folks at work. What do you believe? Watching news today is not really watching news it is ok what do I believe and what is fantasy. I find friends posting stories that have been shown to be false and literally lies numerous times over and still showing up as true. On many shelves popular newspapers on the racks at grocery stores, scandal sheets with altered photos grab the attention and we are lead to believe what the story supposedly implies. Investigators are trying to blame someone with the misinformation on Iraq that led to the war for example was a recent heading. We now know most of what we were told were lies yet we are told the people lying were only misinformed.

It becomes confusing as I am sure years ago when soldiers would explain peace treaties with numerous lines of fine print. One famous line read, “As long as the buffalo roam” to a plains tribe who lived off the vast herds of migratory buffalo numbering over fifty million on one count that would be was forever. However a new Sharps rifle accurate to over a thousand yards and a healthy trade in buffalo hides quickly reduced the herds to a handful and we said as long as the buffalo roam and they are gone. We do this today in politics, in schools and in life getting commitment based on something we already know.

 

            “I would have been better pleased if you had never made promises, than that you          should have made them and not performed them.” Shinguaconse

 

We so often tell little stories to a point it becomes habit and soon we are caught up in our stories with no return.

 

            “Always tell the truth – it’s the easiest to remember.” David Mamet

 

Thinking as I ponder this simple statement by Mamet if we only took our own advice and just tell the truth and there would be no need to have anything to remember. 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

 

 

Why are we missing Creativity?

Bird Droppings October 26, 2016
Why are we missing Creativity?

 

This was another quiet morning as I wandered out although a bit too chilly for crickets and frogs yesterday later in the day however several tree frogs visited around the house. The air was still, not a breeze as I sat in my old wicker sofa on the front porch. I was listening to the stillness and quiet something about the lack of hum of air conditioners just before we all turn on our heating systems. I enjoy my morning chorus yet today perhaps with numerous ideas running through my head quiet was good for a change. I was thinking about students and how to deal with issues that are confronting several. I was thinking of my own children growing up and a wedding anniversary and baby dedication in next weekend for my youngest son and all that encompasses. I was thinking selfishly about directions for life and future, so many thoughts and so little time.
I have always been amazed at creativity and often the lack thereof in some student’s maybe we strip it away in favor of repetition and memorizing of bits and pieces and then say someone is so creative for repeating exactly what was plugged in during class.

 

            “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things,            not simply of repeating what other generations have done — men who are creative,           inventive and discoverers.” Jean Piaget

 

I have always considered the idea perpetuated by Piaget of stages of development in children as they learn as a basis for many aspects of human life and the development of creativity is a crucial one.

 

            “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a             different way.” Edward De Bono

 

A number of years ago my youngest son was recommended for the gifted program in his elementary school. The various testing consisted of achieving beyond a certain point in three out of four areas and one was creativity. After he was tested, the person testing commented he went off the charts in creativity. It is so easy to stifle creativity throughout our lives we are trained to conform often in ways we never really understand.

 

            “The creative person wants to be a know -it -all. He wants to know about all kinds of   things: ancient history, nineteenth -century mathematics, current manufacturing        techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. It is because he never knows when these      ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six     months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen.” Carl Ally

 

Years ago I would read encyclopedias cover to cover and always I wondered why. Why things were as they were and so much more. As I look at my thinking on Piaget, often time’s children are held back in thinking by a parent or teacher and miss a stage, so to say, in their development. It could be it intellectually, spiritually or even physically and often not intentionally.

            “First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in             my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about      it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” Robert       Cecil Day-Lewis

 

            “Creativity is essentially a lonely art. An even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing. To   others a curse. It is in reality the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from       your very soul an idea.” Lou Dorfman

 

I see every day students that have been limited in their ability to achieve. A teacher here did not look beyond a failing grade, due to a reading issue, and labeled that student. A parent perhaps, never home never provided emotional guidance to their child. A pastor’s words perhaps, far too critical pushed a child away from faith. It may have happened in stages, or steps in development process and so pushed away or torn away in some cases, leaving blanks, hollows, difficult to fill.

 

            “The legs are the wheels of creativity.” Albert Einstein

 

            “Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” Anna     Freud

 

I agree to a point with Ms. Freud eventually a creative mind will push through but when we so diligently hold them back irreparable damage can occur. I watched a young man working on a project in my class room he had been labeled by many as incorrigible and a slow learner. He was working in a project that required much hands on creativity no other student measured pieces quite to the extent he has on this project. As he was setting up templates and measuring guides as he worked and he was several days behind others not because he is slow but in deliberation and perfection.

 

            “Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one   dies.” Erich Fromm

 

            “Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they (creative people) are willing to make            silly mistakes. The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person   knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless. The creative person is flexible — he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to          face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by          the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.” Frank Goble

 

Maybe that is the difference and that might be flexibility, a creative person is flexible.

 

“The desire to create continually is vulgar and betrays jealousy, envy, ambition. If          one is something one really does not need to make anything –and one nonetheless      does very much. There exists above the “productive” man a yet higher species.”    Fredrick Nietzsche

 

“The person who can combine frames of reference and draw connections between       ostensibly unrelated points of view is likely to be the one who makes the creative    breakthrough.” Denise Sherarjian

 

Many days ago as I was reading Yahoo news a story came across and as in Yahoo news was only there a brief second or two and a new story more important came over the internet. The movie Rain Man was based on this man from Utah, a magna savant, which is a person whose memory and intelligence is increasing as he grows older. NASA had been studying his development. He had read over 9000 books and could pull from them any passage instantly and precisely. He is fluent in and on a genius level in 15 subjects yet cannot dress himself or find his way home. For this person memory is all and yet there is little or no potential for creativity quite a paradox.

 

            “Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative           explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” Robert             Wieder

 

If only we could always encourage creativity. If we only we were not afraid so many times of creative people. If only we would lift up ideas and thoughts and try not to stifle new thinking. I wonder would we progress as humans perhaps but it sure would be interesting trying. As I think back in history so often those in power have stifled creativity wanting to keep to the status quo. It has been a number of years since I received an invitation to a solo art show unfortunately in New York City from a friend. Creativity has kept her soul growing and expanding some will love her style and art and others will walk away. I was thinking back to impressionists who many distained in their life times and now bring literally hundreds of millions for paintings. Another friend writes and her writing has changed as she is changing. She went into teaching and this opened windows for her ideas and flow of thoughts. Working with children tends to make us creative just to keep up. A new week and new season upon us as the cool weather brings color to the trees and stillness to the mornings. I wonder what this world would be like if we taught creativity in all grades. What if we looked for rainbows rather than simply black and white? What if we tried in see in a kaleidoscopic view rather than in a microscopic? I wonder but for now please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thank namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

All is connected and intertwined

Bird Droppings October 25, 2016
All is connected and intertwined

 

As I thought about the Sydney J. Harris passage below and walked out to a quiet spot where I meditate something hit me. As I faced east towards the rising sun the gossamer threads of life interconnected with everything. They were iridescent and softly moving with the wind. Occasionally one thread would disconnect and float effortlessly upwards sparkling and dancing as it went ever so slow. Each twig, each plant and leave seemed to be connected. Each rock and branch a tiny thread weaving through the entire visage before me.
Most people would read this and scoff yet in the early morning as the sun rises and begins to move across the skies spiders have been at work all night moving between plants and rocks trees and leaves leaving threads of silk. If you were standing in the midst of them they would be invisible yet with the sun behind sparkling in the light a beautiful scene. Occasionally one thread disconnects and floats off sparkling along the way. As I sat pondering as to an old man sitting looking towards the east in the early morning many years ago and coming in to tell his grandchildren as I started the passage. On the back of my t-shirt it reads all things are connected and rightly so by a thin gossamer strand of silk.

 

“Our task is to make our children into disciples of the good life, by our own actions       toward them and toward other people. This is the only effective discipline in the             long run. But it is more arduous, and takes longer, than simply “laying down the law.” Before a child (or a nation) can accept the law, it has to learn why the law has             been created for its own welfare.” Sydney J. Harris

 

Today I am faced with dealing with how to accomplish all that needs to be finished by Friday of this coming week. Tests on Thursday, and or projects due, progress reports due today and I have several students who have continually found their way into trouble that need to be dealt with. Often in special education we use the term manifestation, is it a manifestation of their disability or are they choosing to do whatever it is they are doing that got them in trouble.

 

“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle

 

            “Self-command is the main discipline.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Many years ago I spent six months involved in counseling on a psychiatric unit in a state mental facility. There was never a question about why something happened being that they were considered combative psychotic adolescents which was the term used to describe the unit. When someone got upset it was solitary confinement and rather large doses of drugs and a few strait jackets were employed. Little was occurring to change the behavior and or rationalize those behaviors and or find why that behavior even occurred simply deal with the moment.

 

“Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more.” Harold Schoenberg” Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” John Trapp

 

Often as I find a quote the person behind those words has more to offer as if the situation with Schoenberg who is a scholar of music. He is also a very prolific writer about great musicians and their music. John Trapp was a bible scholar with several biblical commentaries to his credit both men were writers who themselves were very self-disciplined.

 

“THE STUDY OF WORDS is useless unless it leads to the study of the ideas that the        words stand for. When I am concerned about the proper use of words it is not            because of snobbism or superiority, but because their improper use leads to poor ways of thinking. Take the word ‘discipline’ that we hear so much about nowadays   in connection with the rearing of children. If know something about word   derivations, you know that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same Latin root       discipulus, which means ‘to learn, to follow.’” Sydney J. Harris, Strictly speaking

 

Sitting here looking up references and quotes related to discipline and ending up with the example, to learn and to follow this is semantics as we go. In order to operate a public school we have to have standards to operate by so we have rules. Looking at this from a behaviorist standpoint it is easy to say ABC, Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. First you have an antecedent that stimulus is what causes the behavior. Then you have the behavior which is the event or action that we see, feel or hear about. Finally we have consequence which can be what we do in response or what the students or person issuing the behavior receives for eliciting that behavior.

 

“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world,    where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation     between people as they pass each other in this flood?” Leonard Cohen

 

            “Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.” George W. Crane

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

 

It is always about what we do. Over the past few days I have with several teachers and friends been discussing perception that is how we see events and happenings. One of the categories in writing a behavioral plan for a student is planned ignoring that is often simply tuning out a behavior. Often with no stimulus to keep it going a behavior will disappear. So often it is getting attention that is the desired consequence.

 

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

 

            “Physics does not change the nature of the world it studies, and no science of    behavior can change the essential nature of man, even though both sciences yield       technologies with a vast power to manipulate the subject matters.” B. F. Skinner

 

These lines from a football hall of fame quarterback and the father of behaviorism are intriguing as these two men from distinctly different arenas yet have come to very similar conclusions in their thoughts. Tarkenton has built an internationally known management consulting firm based on his thought. It has to make a difference to the person for them to change. Skinner sees we can manipulate the subject matters we as we can offer alternative consequences to hopefully change the behaviors to ones we can accept. A Sydney J. Harris line caught my attention this morning as I started on discipline as I prepare for several IEP’s later this week some related to behavior.

 

“…by our own actions toward them and toward other people.” Sydney J. Harris

 

So often it is not the consequences that deter or change a behavior but our actions towards the person and those around them. It is the example we set and not what we say that matters. Please today as we venture out keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.
For all my relations

Wa de (Skee)
bird

 

I am searching for answers in reflection and thought

Bird Droppings October 21, 2016
I am searching for answers in reflection and thought

 

Yesterday I was wished a happy birthday by a friend on Facebook and it got me thinking a week ahead that soon I would be another year older. Yesterday was not my birthday and it is coming up far too soon. As I look forward to being another year older and with that many more moments for reflection and thoughts the past week especially being out of school for fall break. On many other years around this time I would go to the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds in Macon Georgia and climb to the top of the great temple mound. There is something about standing facing to each direction on such a sacred site. For the last ten thousand years this spot has been sacred and a special place to Native Americans of many tribes.
It has been almost a week since I sat in my class room at school doing some paper work and I was thinking about a mason jar of good Georgia sweet tea (granted it would be unsweet now) from Momma Jean at H&H over on Cherry Street in Macon. I downed some water and tea and a couple of Tylenol for this bug I have been fighting for a week now. It has been an interesting week with our grandkids visiting last weekend. We decorated pumpkins and painted and colored and read Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carl a million times. We are getting into genetics in biology which is always fun. My oldest is coming by today to discuss ball python genetics.

 

Always I have conversations with different people, people I never met before. A lady at the mounds at the cash register as I bought a book and T-shirt and I started talking about the CCC and job corps of FDR. Her brother had worked for CCC back in the 1930’s or so working for the archeological digging at the mounds. While I was there an obnoxious man started arguing carbon dating with her and complaining how the labels should say theorized instead of actual dates on artifacts. Every day at the corner store someone new and interesting.
I went out much earlier today than I have all week catching the sunrise maybe I was thinking it was daylight savings time last night. But we still have a week or so. A few sprigs of sweet grass and a sage leave or two help bolster the senses as the smoke rises and wanders across the darkness. Watching a bit of smoke curl up in the morning is an interesting sight. It was cool but not cold as I walked out into the backyard. The grass was damp from a morning light frost.  My cricket chorus while subdued in the chill was doing their best maybe two or three were chirping still perhaps up against the house.
As I went through the day today it is always a good feeling to receive birthday wishes from friends and family even though a week or two early. I was thinking earlier this morning about what direction to go but there were so many thoughts circulating in my head, I was thinking about numerous points of impact in sixty six years plus of life. I thought back to one I ponder on quite a bit, especially as recently I found on Facebook someone from the same small town in Pennsylvania that I lived in. The one point that continues to pop up is poking a fellow in the butt with a pencil in East Fallowfeild Elementary school in first grade. While not an inspiring event it has stuck with me for some reason from fifty eight years ago, might be getting hit in the head by my teacher after the fact that reminds me.
On a more dark note I remember being carried through the polio wards in West Chester Hospital when I was three years old or so and seeing kids one day and they are were gone the next. I recall meeting a little autistic boy Artie Cohen in 1970 or so his photo still hangs in my current classroom. I have so many very fond memories of “The JUNGLE”, a small patch of sassafras, honeysuckle and sumac that a few of us literally lived in for so many years. There are many good friends from my graduating class in high school who I still communicate with daily if not weekly. I recall having homemade root beer at a good friend’s house on Caln Meeting house road so many years ago.
It was over thirty years ago I met my wife to be and all of those thoughts and memories of the births of my three kids are with me always. There are so many moments special to me going through my head. I recall very easily my first day back teaching on September 11, 2001. I have so many folks I have met along the way in teaching and grad school and each a memory worth saving. As I think I have found out how critical it is to reflect and ponder and really seeing as I get older how important this is to the journey we embark on in life.

 

“Before undertaking a project, ponder what will be gained, lost and ultimately achieved. There is nothing too difficult for a man who, before he acts, deliberates    with chosen friends and reflects privately.” Tirukkural 47: 461-462

 

This particular thought was written nearly 2000 years ago by a master weaver, a member of the lowest caste in Hindu culture and life. Pondering is an old art I found out. Many of you who have taken courses at Piedmont College and or read John Dewey’s work understand the concept of reflection and how it is engrained in further thinking.

 

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. Self-conceit          often regards it as a sign of weakness to admit that a belief to which we have once             committed ourselves is wrong. We get so identified with an idea that it is literally a   “pet” notion and we rise to its defense and stop our eyes and ears to anything         different.” John Dewey

 

As I read these two views to start today having read Dewey numerous times he too advocates reflection for teachers and students. As I read his view here is one of frustration in dealing with mankind, for far too often it is too difficult for men to climb out of that rut and to even consider true reflection.

 

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to            elevate             his life by conscious endeavor.” Henry David Thoreau

 

The poet’s, commonly, is not the logger’s path, but a woodman’s … there are spirits     … to whom no simplicity is barren. There are not only stately pines, but fragile          flowers, like the orchids, commonly described as too delicate for cultivation, which             derive their nutriment from the crudest mass of peat. These remind us, that, not      only for strength, but for beauty, the poet must, from time to time, travel the logger’s         path and the Indian trail, to drink at some new and more bracing fountain of the Muses, far in the recesses of the wilderness.” Henry David Thoreau, The Maine   Woods

 

It has been a few mornings although today as I took out our westie it was a star filled sky and I was remembering back when very close friend Dr. Harold Sweetman, was showing me Cassiopeia for the first time as a high school student in Boy Scouts. It was over my head this morning as I headed out. It is difficult for me to not ponder and reflect on what life presents to me each day. For me each morning as I write it is a clearing, a meditation of sorts, it is reading, finding pieces to my own puzzle to share and meditate upon with others as I can. It is looking at that rut we travel or seeking anew along the Indian trail of Thoreau.

 

“The devotion of democracy to education is a familiar fact. The superficial         explanation is that a government resting upon popular suffrage cannot be successful           unless those who elect and who obey their governors are educated. Since a democratic society repudiates the principle of external authority, it must find a        substitute in voluntary disposition and interest; these can be created only by             education.” John Dewey

 

Knowing and understanding are keys to democracy and to life and moving beyond the rut, looking for the loggers trail or for the pathway of the Indian requires learning and knowledge and that is education.

 

“I believe that the individual who is to be educated is a social individual and that           society is an organic union of individuals.” “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 was wondering about the direction of the flow of my thoughts as I read, and pondered I find Thoreau similar to John Dewey both wanting experience to be more than simply taking up time. They both want it to be meaningful learning and for it to move each of us a step ahead. Dewey wants education to be about now as well as providing tools for later. He offers that it should be meaningful, that it has to affect life immediately and currently as well in the future. This is what Thoreau was all about as well. Thoreau quit teaching to become a learner as the story goes and in doing so became a better teacher. The reflections of the master weaver help many to ponder even today and show that rather than simply doing something we need to see the now and then of an effort.
Dewey argued that far too often we in society today only look at the then. Thoreau offered the now and Dewey argued against simply educating for later that there has to be an impact now as well to be meaning and long lasting. Learning has to become part of the life experience of the child.

 

“It was a pleasure and a privilege to walk with him. He knew the country like a fox       or a bird, and passed through it as freely by paths of his own. He knew every track in       the snow or on the ground, and what creature had taken this path before him. His   interest in the flower or the bird lay very deep in his mind, was connected with          Nature, — and the meaning of Nature was never attempted to be defined by him. … His power of observation seemed to indicate additional senses. He saw as with a             microscope, heard as with ear-trumpet, and his memory was a photographic    register of all he saw and heard. And yet none knew better than he that it is not the        fact that imports, but the impression or effect of the fact on your mind. Every fact lay         in glory in his mind, a type of the order and beauty of the whole. His poetry might be         good or bad; he no doubt wanted a lyric facility and technical skill, but he had the           source of poetry in his spiritual perception.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, a eulogy for       Henry David Thoreau

 

I am sorry I am wandering today but I can do whatever I want maybe it is because I am getting old, between the simple thoughts of HDT and the planned thinking of Dewey. I want you to ponder yourself as the day goes on and the week ahead begins. Where in among the shade of the tress do you see your thoughts going? Is it following the path of the logger or the Indian or is it seeing life as a rut in your journey or is it as a trail blazer seeing for the first time the trail and leaving a path for the next person to see as new. I have for so long been writing that life is about the journey we take. I always seem to find my way to this simple quote.

 

“And how high can you fly with broken wings? Life’s a journey not a destination and    I just can’t tell just what tomorrow brings. You have to learn to crawl before you   learn to walk.” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

 

For many years I have been using a line from this song by Aerosmith, taken from the context of the song. “Life is a journey not a destination”, and I think back to when I first saw it posted on my computer after spending the night at The Athens Regional Hospital in Athens Georgia, holding the hand of a sixteen year old young man who had been hit by a semi after doing a u turn on a back road. My oldest son and his band played Aerosmith tunes quite a bit. But this was a line from a song that in and of itself was significant. It was for him and for me at that moment very significant and life altering for me.
It evolved for me as I saw how my own life was a journey. As I looked at each aspect of my own life and see each is crucial to the next. In days prior I had been reading numerous books on the purpose in life or finding Meaning in life trying to find a focus for myself. I was floundering in business and trying to get a foothold back on the day I first saw this quote, a yellow post it note on a computer after sitting with a dying teenager. A life changing or life refocusing moment it would seem. Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought how profound for my son barely older than the young man who was killed to have found this concept and I had been searching for nearly fifty years and still had not seen.

My own life started to focus and clear and ideas thoughts seemed to flow and make sense. Earlier today I was answering an email from someone I have never met. I was talking with several people yesterday about how we can in today’s electronic age communicate with so many people all in a touch of a computer keyboard. Often with photos and such attached, multimedia is an understatement. Actually we addressed this in graduate school over the past few conversations. But the message is still clear. It is about the journey.
A key element to me is the example we set, the picture we paint for others to see that has significance and meaning as we go through the day. What would a child learn from a teacher who yells at an extremely high decibel other than to cover their ears? What does a child learn from a parent who abuses them other than abuse? What does a friend learn from a friend when they betray them other than distrust? Within the fragility of our experiences we need examples of direction of positive journeying. Each day I wonder why kids come by my room just to smile and say hi. At other times it is to ask for a word or two of advice. Life is about the journey, may we all be cleaning the pathway rather than dropping boulders for others to trip on. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and you know each new day is another step along the way. May peace be with you and be sure to always give thanks namaste.
 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

How do we find democracy?

Bird Droppings October 20, 2016
How do we find democracy?

 

Yesterday I was still recovering from a slight change in medication for my blood pressure. Wednesday I went home from school and dozed off for three hours afterwards. Today we are rushing around with our heads cut off driving to get caught up from a day of testing. I walked out earlier and still no frost on the windshield of the car although temperature hovered around fifty degrees. A sunrise made its way through the overcast and a new day is dawning. For a split second this morning our dog did not want to venture outside. As I turned back inside only to find as I stepped why my dog did not need to go out, a wonderful surprise I was standing in. My dog is still alive though I did threaten his life in various in under my breath incantations. Funny how dog senses things maybe he felt rain was coming and he quickly retreated to the kitchen and then went and laid down on my wife’s chair sort of smiling at me. What you going to do now?
As I do so often each morning as I am looking in one place find another direction another thought. I have several of Dr. James Sutton’s books. Dr. Sutton’s lectures around the country on Conduct disorders and Oppositional Deviant Disorder, an interesting combination and as a teacher I see them all the time. Parents see some and in the work place many corporate issues and political issues stem from childhood issues such as these. I was looking through Dr. Sutton’s book,  101 ways to make your class room special and found a website of Dr. Marvin Marshall Promoting Responsibility and learning, Dr. Marshall has developed a Hierarchy of Social Development. We need to send this to Washington as a reminder.

 

“A is for anarchy, B is for bullying, bossing around, C is for cooperation, conformity and            D is for democracy – Level A is never acceptable, Level B is someone who needs to be                 bossed, level C is external and D is Internal” Dr. Marvin Marshall

 

One of the difficulties is many teachers and or leaders are they want their group to be a Level B or Level C because they want the authority and in doing so limit that groups ability for input. Many teachers strive only for conformity and trying to go beyond that level is then difficult and or nearly impossible for the people under that type personality.

 

“At Level C, a person is not acting from an entirely genuine desire to be kind or              respectful, tolerant, etc. Rather, at Level C, a person acts due to the presence or       influence of someone else. Although this level is certainly acceptable (and even many   adults never move past it in their own development), it is important for young people to               understand that this is not the highest level of personal or social development.” Dr.                 Marvin                 Marshall

 

I think we all can relate to this level of socialization. I use a story from psychology where in an experiment a group of monkeys is trained to refrain from going after some bananas. It takes only a short time to have group influence on new members to the group. In the monkey story this is the level the monkeys operated on where the influences of others is the driving force and the limiting force. So often in society we place level C at the top and never mention anything better or higher.

“…it is important for young people to understand that this is not the highest level of    personal or social development.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

 

By not telling and not disclosing an alternative allows for certain types of leaders and teachers to perpetuate their ideas and survive. Watching national politics unfold often the rules are made and remade to keep this type of system going even at a federal government level. When a malfunction occurs we quickly change the rule and always external reasons are the driving force.

 

“At Level D, a person is kind, (or tolerant, respectful, diligent, etc.), because he/she is motivated INTERNALLY. A person operating at this highest level of development acts      kindly (tolerantly, respectfully, with diligence, etc.), WHETHER OR NOT someone is               watching or supervising. At Level D, there is no desire to impress, be rewarded, or even be noticed. When operating at this very high level, a person acts in a kind, tolerant,                 respectful or diligent way without any EXTERNAL incentive to do so.” Dr. Marvin         Marshall

 

I am sitting here sadly most people simply say no way it is not possible. It is way too mushy or no one acts that way. Yet educational leaders keep throwing it out. John Dewey in the early 1900’s proposed democracy in the class room. Back even further Thomas Jefferson wrote extensively on the issue enough that we remade the nickel for him of course on the other side is a buffalo which is a herding animal. Maybe that was the true hero of the coin and going back further to ancient Greeks democracy is a powerful word and tool when wielded. From Dr. Marshall a key thought for educators.

 

                “When operating at this very high level, a person acts in a kind, tolerant, respectful or                diligent way without any EXTERNAL incentive to do so.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

               

“We escape from a discipline driven environment to a self-motivating and stimulating               structure. ….a person of the highest character is motivated INTERNALLY to do the right                thing simply because it is the right thing to do.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

 

                “Although Level C operation leads to decent relationships with others, a decision to    operate more consistently at Level D naturally leads to EXCELLENT relationships and,          additionally, a strong sense of self-esteem. By focusing on the benefits of operating at Level            D (the great feelings of inner satisfaction that come from knowing that you are an authentic and genuinely motivated individual), I have found that young people become                inwardly motivated to WANT to reach for this highest level of personal development more      and more often.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

 

I have observed many times young teachers and industry leaders come in and feel they can build a level D in their class room and in their job. In a manner of weeks usually within six months they are steadfastly operating at level C. I mentioned fear over the years as a possible cause but it may be deeper than that. It is easier to function at a level C and easier to walk away and go home each night. The parameters are more clearly defined and established I was drawing an illustration from sheep production. I can build an electric fence that will confine my sheep. If I build it right and it will be a deterrent to predators as well so movement in and out will curtail. However what if and this is a big if I develop, train, raise, and or educate self-motivating sheep. Each morning they vote on which pasture to graze and when to return to the barn and on how long to stay out and other sheep issues. We become a level D sheep flock and no sheep dog is needed and many issues involving new sheep training can be done on a basic discussion level, bahhhh! One of the reasons level D is so hard to attain and even consider is so many leaders in the world look at people as sheep and will say they cannot do this so instead the following exist.

 

“Cooperates – Does what is expected – Exhibits self-discipline, kindness, responsibility,             reliance, etc.–when someone else is present to provide the motivation” Dr. Marvin          Marshall

 

Good little children all in a row all are coloring with a red crayon just as I ask. It takes a renegade or an instigator to mix up desks and to offer other colors. But with a little thinking and a little confidence in the resources of mankind it is possible and students employees can achieve.

 

“Develop self-discipline – Show kindness to others – Develop self-reliance –     Demonstrate                 responsibility – Do good because it is the right thing to do.” Dr. Marvin Marshall

 

Attaining a democracy is truly not all that hard it takes a bit more humility and a bit more concern for your people or students, “because it is the right thing to do.” Today is a new day a wonderful day I went out earlier and it was still cool this morning although so I did not sit on my porch and listened to the morning crickets as most were quiet and few were out. Today I had to only imagine and sat down to write so 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

Thinking ahead

Bird Droppings October 19, 2016
Thinking ahead

 

Occasionally I will have a crazy thought although my students will say occasionally I have a normal thought and that would be more like it. They are insinuating most of my thoughts are crazy. My youngest son just had his anniversary this past week and so many memories. I recall the ceremony was held under an ancient live oak tree in Panama City named the Sentry Tree for standing watch over the bay during the Civil War. The great tree is several hundred years old and is covered with Spanish moss as are many of the oaks along the coast in Florida. Ferns and other plants grew along the tops of the branches almost a separate ecosystem.  I spent several hours each day we were down in Florida sitting listening to the sounds under that great oak tree. I walked out to the bay and looked and listened to what nature had to show me. Numerous birds and flowers all special to Florida greeted me as I pondered so many things. Some good memories as I thought back.
However I got to thinking as I was driving home yesterday from a late night of teaching college. I had been off due to a medical procedure two days ago and had a lot of time yesterday to think and read. But I sat down in my chair and thought, what if when we were born the hospital tattooed on your left foot made in whatever country and a hospital code for example and then underneath that an expiration date. You would know the exact moment, hour, day and year you will die. I started thinking at what point I would change how I lived. My students were arguing with me about living it up since my birthday is coming up and I will be sixty four. Their philosophy was you only live once go party live it up. So I was wondering knowing exactly how many days you have to do whatever it is you will do would you change anything knowing the exact moment of your demise.

 

“There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The        life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the           former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on        by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to            trace.   Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth     evil,      both equally unexpected.” Joseph Addison

 

It has been some time since I first used the concept of a puzzle to explain how our life progresses each of the pieces falling into place, each interconnected to the next. As I speak with people I use this comparison, often showing how each aspect of our lives ties to the next and how consequence comes from even the smallest of things. Knowing we had a limited amount of time to finish our puzzle would we do anything different? I think it is amazing as I think of what if we still had no directions and were floundering in trying to get things done I wonder when panic would set in.

 

“There are no rewards or punishments — only consequences.” Dean William R. Inge

 

            “Whatever our creed, we feel that no good deed can by any possibility go            unrewarded, no evil deed unpunished.” Orison Swett Marden

We have to take each piece as it comes and try and build from there. Each element leads to the next, a building block of sorts, as we travel through life, a deed leads to a consequence and then to another and another, each beyond the next.

 

            “Men must try and try again. They must suffer the consequences of their own mistakes           and learn by their own failures and their own successes.” Lawson Purdy

 

            “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of          dodging our responsibilities.” Sir Joseph Stamp

 

As I wonder about my words and events that yet will play out today, I daily use the term ABC, Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. In life, everything we do involves these three elements. Each aspect of our existence is preceded by an event, a happening that causes the behavior, no matter how subtle that event is. The behavior in turn leads to a consequence it is so simple, so clean it’s actually pretty cool. We respond and soon cover up, ABC. What if we could analyze all events so simply and plan our day. I do this, then that, this, then that all day long. However, conversely we tend to do this with students as well, if we see an event about to happen we can change the antecedent and alter behavior and of course the consequence. Managers in business do this as well as retailers are doing it as we sit and read, altering our buying for this holiday season through various sales specials etc. In reality through consequence the world is controlled so how do we keep our heads up and still be unique, and independent.

 

            “Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every     virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to        live on a barren heath.” Mary Wollstonecraft

 

It was a many months back I was introduced to Mary Wollstonecraft a person who was ahead of her time, the ultimate feminist. She was writing about issues under her name and pen names, often a man’s name to get her point out. Her fire and zeal were passed on to her daughter Mary Shelly who penned the novel Frankenstein and was married to another great writer and poet Percy Shelly. How do we maintain within the struggle, to be who we are?

 

            “I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really        good at heart.” Anne Frank

 

            “Ideals are like the stars: we never reach them, but like the mariners of the sea, we      chart our course by them.” Carl Schurz

 

How do we? I was thinking yesterday about my own direction in life one day going here and there and a slight bump and left turn and heading elsewhere. Do we have focal points to guide us, stars as Schurz states? Can we find our way home when we get lost in life? I wonder at times even as pieces of the great puzzle fall into place. Maybe the pieces are wrong, maybe this is not where I am to be but as events slow down and the fog clears we can see even the most confusing of life’s events seems to work out. I was reading yesterday a new book, Spirits of The Earth by Bobby Lake Thom. He starts the book with a prayer that I would like to end with today.

 

“I ask that you bless our elders and children, families and friends, and the brothers       and sisters that are in prison. I pray for the ones sick on drugs and alcohol, and for             those who are homeless and forlorn. I pray for peace among the four races of        mankind. May there be good healing for this earth. May there be beauty above me.          May there be beauty below me. May there be beauty in me. May there be beauty all         around me. I ask that our world be filled with peace, love and beauty.” Medicine         Grizzly Bear, 1990

 

So easy to sit and write, yet around us, so much going on would we change anything if we knew our expiration date I wonder. 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

 

 

 

PS: I had started writing when some discussion last and through the week sort of took over and I scribbled my crazy thoughts down.

 

Doc Bird’s Morning Dropping or rant:

I was teaching a college class back a few nights on US History and the various issues in a progression to the Civil War. One of the many was the situation in Texas during 1830’s. Mexico won independence and freed slaves. Texas was a part of Mexico and Americans had been moving in and wanted slaves following a series of weak attempts at Mexico controlling the vastness of Texas. There were more Americans than Mexicans in Texas and as General Santa Anna came to power he saw a need to squash the Americans and make Texas a serious part of Mexico. Five thousand Mexican soldiers surrounded San Antonio and an old mission post The Alamo. I asked my class anyone ever heard of The Alamo. (It was in the readings as well.) No one knew about The Alamo. I threw out Fess Parker, Davy Crockett, Colonel Travis, Sam Houston and several more. Nope no one knew about The Alamo. Somewhere Michael Jordan came up the Kobe and LeBron. Bill Gates was mentioned and Steve Jobs and an idea struck me. Who are the heroes of today? I  thought back to my childhood and my heroes, my dad, Robin Hood, Davy Crockett, Geronimo, Cochise, Sitting Bull, Gandhi, and I am sure several more. Some are somewhat fictional others pieces of history and mythology. As I raised questions last night all were multimillionaires and that was a number one criterion, money. What’s in it for me? I heard that several times this week. My thoughts to another hero of mine and on a personal note having been a victim of polio myself in 1950’s Jonas Salk. He was a famous doctor and researcher who solved and found a vaccine for polio. When all was said and done he received not a dime for his efforts he donated it to mankind. I started to think why have we become so greedy, needy and blind to others?  A few minutes back I wrote on a good friends post something to the effect, so many profess to this nation being a Christian nation and yet we never seem to attempt to actually even try and be that. Gandhi once said “I Like your Christ it is Christians I do not like.” I find the word in scriptures Koinonia from the Greek is used quite often. New testament scripture was written in Greek along the line and not English till late 1500’s early 1600’s and yes King James was 1613 but taken from Latin and Greek translations. “Koinonia is an Anglicized form of the Greek word, κοινωνία, which means communion, joint participation; the share which one has in anything, participation, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, etc. It identifies the idealized state of fellowship and unity that should exist within the Christian church, the Body of Christ.”