Do we learn from a ripple or a wave?

Bird droppings May 5, 2017
Do we learn from a ripple or a wave?


Today I will be digging and planting, transplanting and repotting various flowers and herbs in our yard. I need to spend some time weeding eating the jungle now that we have from the rain and storms headed in. I have several plants in dire need of planting. One poor lemon verbena that had been hiding for about a month in a seedling pot and now about twenty four inches tall. That poor plant will be happy to be in some real dirt. I got thinking back, my cousins had a memorial service for my aunt and uncle nine years ago and we all celebrated their lives. Both had passed away within a short period of time. I have been thinking since early morning when I started the day after a message from a former student thinking about this idea. Do we learn more from a ripple or a wave?


“Make ripples more than waves” Bob Algonzzine, Little book of Wisdom


This thought is number 298 out of 365 thoughts in his book. It isn’t necessarily in in any special order it just happens to be that number. As I saw this comment as to a teacher in class I recalled a legend from local Native Americans about throwing a stone into a pond or lake and watching the ripples dissipate against the edges of the pond. Technically as I looked up definitions ripples and waves are the very similar and even some said the same just in different velocities or size. But as I think this morning a ripple doesn’t have the force of a wave, sort of in education the difference between telling versus asking for something to be done. You are trying to accomplish the same event or solicit the same behavior but one has a lot more force behind it.


“It is nobler to convert souls, than to conquer kingdoms.” Louis Debonnaire


“People have a peculiar pleasure in making converts that is, in causing others to enjoy what they enjoy, thus finding their own likeness represented and reflected back to them.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


So often the teacher is the expert and it is my way period, saying such things as you will learn this now or else sort of thing. Waves have a tendency to do damage more so then sink in as they hit. Ripples are absorbed at the shore line as I thought deeper on this knowledge is no different. Is what is taught to be simply for Friday’s test or is it to be a life lesson?


“That, which proves too much, proves nothing!” Proverb


“You must make the product interesting not just make the ad different. And that’s what too many of the copywriters in America today don’t yet understand.” Rooser Reeves


I often wonder however when it is a ripple and when a wave. A new idea could knock some students over and yet be just what another student needs to keep momentum up. By coincidence my middle son found out about four years ago he and his wife were going to be having a baby girl and I recalled how he would come home from Georgia Tech to relax, the atmosphere at TECH is very stressful I should have told him back then being a daddy is no different. A regiment of study, video games, study, read, video games and very little humanity time at Tech. Now he has a beautiful little bundle that is smiling one minute and the next needs a diaper changed. On the other side my nephew would come home from another college to study because all time in his dorm was humanity time and no one was concentrating. As I think back it was funny they would spend their weekend’s home playing video games together before heading back to their schools.
As I sit here midst my debris a thought, that incessant barrage of ripples one after another nothing over whelming as it sinks in and it is absorbed. I often use and have cards sitting around my room at school with FIDO printed on them and on the back the acronym, Frequency, Intensity, Duration and Over Again. This is the FIDO principle and my “good friend” B.F. Skinner’s philosophy and eventually it will sink in.


“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” Liane Cardes


“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Stephen R. Covey


Covey’s idea is true however ripples or waves hitting on concrete is far more different than if it were hitting on a sponge. The big question is then how do we develop sponges as to learning and concrete as to character.


“The cynic says, ‘One man can’t do anything.’ I say, ‘Only one man can do anything.’” John W. Gardner


“Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make very small use of their possible consciousness and of their soul’s resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger.” William James


How often do we see people like this so restricted in movement and in thinking only a finger can be moved. Each day during school hours I can look down the hallway and see teachers who respond this way. As I have written the past several years I used the term boxed in, they are in their little box sealed up and new ideas concepts cannot get in. Occasionally they peek out but usually only to see if the wrapping is intact. Most of the time this type of teacher teaches with waves throwing one after another at students. BOOM, you got it or you don’t and I am out of here back to my box.


“I have always had the feeling I could do anything and my dad told me I could. I was in college before I found out he might be wrong.” Anne Richards

Recently I was discussing what makes a teacher. Part of my rationale is you cannot truly tell someone how to teach. In schools of Education they try and so forth in math science etc. I have found creativity and imagination get so often stifled as in Anne Richards quote by experts. We want to make sponges not concrete.


“We are hoarding potentials so great that they are just about unimaginable.” Jack Schwartz


“You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.” Brian Tracy


“Make ripples not waves” I was just thinking about days gone by and making waves in a pool using a kick board you push against the water and shove in a direction and make a wave. It takes one good hard push and you have a wave. A ripple is more of dropping a stone and from the epicenter of where the stone hits ripples play out one after another till they hit the shore. Perhaps the identical force is involved in terms of physics but in the ripple effect many hundreds of ripples play against the edge or the student and with the wave it is a onetime deal. So we are faced with a wave versus a series of ripples.
As I sit back pondering which would I rather teach and which would I rather have to be a student within? An interesting scenario in that thought as my mind wanders about today one in which ripples created a new country over two hundred years ago. I wonder how many teachers teach and think in terms of being a student listening to their lesson. As I look at News this morning it seems we are still at war in many places and some countries are trying to aggravate further with rhetoric and missiles. So for another day and sadly one that is special to us here in the US our friends and family members continue to be at risk and many are in harm’s way. 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)



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