Bird Droppings February 3, 2017
The inter-connectivity of all that is; Is it a puzzle falling in place?
On Monday of this week my co-teaching partner shared a card with me from one of our students. At the beginning of the semester we hand out a card and the kids fill in information about themselves. This student’s card was detailed to say the least. Across the top several small figures representing issues the student has. She is almost blind in one eye from an injury in childhood. She has a brain tumor. My teacher friend and co-worker said but what is this? I knew immediately it was a puzzle piece and beside it was the word autistic. I was entranced and even more so with the number 139 circled in bold. A statement was next to it. “IQ is one point higher than Albert Einstien’s”.
I left my house early as I do on school days a few days back. I decided to grab a breakfast sandwich at Waffle House of all places. As I ordered a fellow next to me called my name and was a kid who worked for me thirty years ago. We sat and talked caught up in the brief moments of a morning stop. Later in the day I called my wife on my way to class to check in. She had been out of town to be with her mother for some minor surgery. We talked a few moments while I stood in the breezeway on my way to my next class. As I walked past the building edge and looked over the parking area, a large red tailed hawk swooped to a tree directly in front of me. We shared a few minutes before the bell and students moving sent him to relocate. A morning of coincidence perhaps but uplifting none the less.
“Every footstep is the journey. Every sight, every sound, every touch and taste and smell with which we are blessed is the journey. All of the colors before us are the journey, and we are the journey. May we always keep our feet on Mother Earth, our eyes and minds above the treetops, our spirit with the Greater Universal Spirit? And may we always walk the path of Good Medicine in harmony and balance, with a sense of humility, kindness, wonder, and respect for all living things as we follow the sacred trail of those who have come before us and those yet to come.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking with the Wind, 1998
It has been nearly thirteen years since I last heard Dr. James Sutton speak. When I drove to Macon Georgia to hear him that last time, as I always do I pick up on as many details as I can driving down the back roads that I travel. I never know what pieces may fall into place for me at a later date or as it might be happening right that moment. I was going to listen to Dr. James Sutton, a psychologist from Texas who lectures around the country on Conduct Disorders and Oppositional Defiant Disorder which is quite a mouth full. I had been to several previously of his seminars and always came away renewed. I was in need of a recharge and some energizing as I drove. Occasionally we all need a break from the mundane even though so often I find vast amounts of material in the simple ordinary things of life. As I filled in my evaluation form as I left back eight years ago the question stated; what did I gain from this course and I responded energy and revitalizing.
“A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I walked in the room Dr. Sutton who I met several times over the years previously in similar seminars and who has been on my Bird Droppings list since that time announced as I came in the room, “Let me introduce the premiere educational philosopher Frank Bird.” I think my hat size went up three notches. As we went into the day pieces fell in place with ideas and thoughts jotted down on bits of paper and class notes. Several illustrations used were referring to puzzle pieces which fit right into my thinking. I have had an affinity for the concept of life being a puzzle for some time and the comments lent well to that thinking. A friend from my school had attended the course with her husband and coincidentally another friend from many years ago was in attendance now a teacher in a nearby county. As I thought of why each person was there was it advertising sent out by the sponsoring group, for me it was an email from Dr. Sutton and then others through word of mouth.
“The journey is not ‘somewhere over there’ or ‘some other time.’ It is with us right here and right now. It is a part of us in everything that we do and everything that we are. What we perceive as our “pot of gold” may in fact be something very different when and if we find the end of the rainbow. What if the rainbow has no end? What if it is a circle that wraps itself gently around Earth in a continuous cycle of energy?” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking with the Wind, 1998
Over the years reading various books by Michael Garrett and his father J. T. Garrett the concept of interconnectivity, which is such a big word flows through their writing as it does in most Native American philosophy. As I went to lunch nearly six years ago we discussed children federal guidelines and spirituality. The discussion wandering about between parents seeking help and my own listening and observing it seemed I was gathering far more than I was sending out. I was given a slip of paper with a similar story to one I used recently about a family pet being put to sleep. Sitting back in the class listening to other teachers and their views gave me ideas on how to deal with and not deal with students I see each day. A little trick from that day that turns out to have a several thousand year old proverb attached to it, when trying to get a child who is defiant to do something offer options. You want three things done offer five. You only get three out five but you only wanted three. Offer ten and the child responds even better amazing thinking that they got one over they only answered three of ten. As I sat down this morning I found this thought.
“If one has to jump a stream and knows how wide it is, he will not jump. If he does not know how wide it is, he will jump, and six times out of ten he will make it.” Persian Proverb
So often in education especially in today’s test driven society students are failing because that score is out there. The teachers and students strive for that score. As I drove to Macon so many years ago I was thinking about all the, what ifs. What if we tested students coming into school and placed that number on the table as point A and then test at the end of ninth, tenth , eleventh and twelfth grades all points on the graph now we have a true picture of learning with this child not an arbitrary SCORE stuck out in no-where land. What if we evaluated the growth of information rather than what information is available at the end of the journey? I would really rather know what a student learned along the way than what they knew at the end. That would give me a far better idea of what was really learned but this is only me.
“Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith
I find it funny as I think back to the day I first saw this quote of all the interconnections, those pieces that seemingly are meaningless at one point in life find significance and meaning when all the pieces slowly fall into place. So often it is difficult to see what is forming in a jig saw puzzle when you only have the corner pieces or a few side pieces set in place. The true image does not come into view till more is in place. But each piece while on its own is really just a piece of a puzzle is needed to complete the whole.
“As we walk, all of our ancestors walk with us. As we dance, all of our ancestors dance the Sacred Dance. Each step that we place is an important one. All of our relatives are walking with us, speaking through us like the many colors of the rainbow. Listen and you will hear their steps, their voices, their colors. Listen, and you will hear your spirit calling upon all our relations, and you will feel their energy. Our spirit is an extension of them and they are an extension of us. Our spirit connects us with the memories of all that has gone before us, all that is, and all that will be. Our spirit connects us with all of our relations in the Circle of Life. Listen, and you will hear Water speaking, Wind dancing, Sun smiling, the heartbeat of Mother Earth pulsing beneath our feet.” Dr. Michael T. Garrett, Walking with the Wind, 1998
The interconnectivity of life as I was thinking back to that drive to Macon and a conference and to when I had been sitting at lunch discussing a trip to Stillwater Oklahoma which I would never have made had I not been in the sheep business. But the point I recall and borrow on is a side trip to Fort Sill and Geronimo’s grave site not the fact I was in Lawton Oklahoma looking for show lambs for 4H projects. It is the pieces of that journey that are significant not the destination. I am sure as I glean through my thoughts today and tomorrow other bits and pieces will come up. I walked out this morning and felt I needed to share that moment and typed a hasty status update in Facebook.
“I walked out into the chill of the morning. I was standing still and to the east a smiling moon and tree frogs chirping. To the south a coyote was calling. North of my quiet spot an owl seemed to be irritating a rooster to the west. It is a good day. Peace be with you all.” Frank Bird Ed.S. D.D.
So sitting in my classroom finalizing a few words for the morning there are pieces that I may not even be aware of as of yet some I simply need to recall and connect with others waiting to happen. In closing today as I have for over a decade now 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,
(We are all related)