Green Bay Wisconsin is cold

Bird Droppings April 25, 2019
Green Bay Wisconsin is cold

 

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.” Vince Lombardi

 

It has been a few days since I used a Lombardi quote. Years back I can recall my father borrowing verbiage from the great coach of the Green bay Packers and Washington Red Skins. My father was a big fan of Lombardi back in the day. My father often used a line from his game talks or his rallying speeches to his teams. A Lombardi team never ever was out of the picture in a game even when losing badly. I remember hearing about his death in 1970 I was in school at the time at Eastern College in St. David’s Pa. and volunteering with a program teaching in Paoli Pa. with disabled children.

 

“Individual commitment to a group effort-that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi

 

“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” Vince Lombardi

 

In professional football Lombardi never had a losing season, he finished his career at 105-35-6. Often considered to be the greatest football coach of all time, Vince Lombardi had simple convictions and ideas about life and football. He believed in team effort. It was the team that won not an individual and not a coach. It was about the team, be it in school with teaching or on the playing field.

 

“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” Vince Lombardi

 

When new teachers arrive at our school I remind them get to know the janitors, lunch ladies, media center folks everyone because one day you will need them and that day you really do want them to be your friend. Teachers too often forget in their classrooms dealing with their children that they are not alone. Administrators are there to help, guidance counselors, and even at the “Board office”. You are not alone. In my current situation I feel bad as I do not know two thirds of the teachers. Our building is vast and I am very localized in one wing. Planning periods if and when there is one are to sit and calm down before heading back into the storm.  But I do miss knowing folks and being in the mix of things beyond a few class rooms. Living outside the community is another issue. A forty five minute drive makes beng involved after school harder.

 

“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing-the result.” Vince Lombardi

 

When I first went into teaching I felt there should be a way to measure the effectiveness of teachers. Today teachers are being measured and schools are being measured through standardized test scores of students. The testing methodology may not be perfect but it is ongoing. Teachers are being looked at for results with their students. Granted one could argue the actual validity of a standardize test scores after the fact as a measure of a teachers effectiveness but today in our world that is what is being used.

 

“Winning is not a sometime thing: it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” Vince Lombardi

 

“Winning isn’t everything–but wanting to win is.” Vince Lombardi

 

“It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one. What you’ve got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not yet a winner.”

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.” Vince Lombardi

 

As I am sitting here I wonder how many teachers go out each day planning on losing, planning on not succeeding with a student, not trying to do their best. It us not a once in a while effort, it is all the time. To borrow from author Robert Fried, it’s about passion. Vince Lombardi epitomized passion and he imbued it in others around him.

 

“There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything. I do, and I demand that my players do.” Vince Lombardi

 

As a parent, a teacher, or as a coach we have to give it our all every day every moment every second, if we do we can help but succeed. I remember an ad with a little girl saying “daddy look at me” over and over at different stages in her life till as a teenager she is using drugs and the idea is knowing where your kids are, paying attention to your kids. The other side of the ad is how often do we not pay attention when asked to, how often we turn away and miss a crucial moment, or a turning moment in a child’s life. I think to my own kids’ lives and often wonder was I there when I should have been.

 

“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.” Vince Lombardi

 

Sitting here in the dark on a Tuesday morning I thought when I copied and pasted, I made a mistake with this quote. I had to read this line more than once and it finally sunk in. A few years ago our school hired a new head football coach and he was enthusiastic as was our new cheerleader coach hired the same year. The difference is watching students get excited about their school at pep rallies and games. But in a class room if you are not excited about what you do, the kids sure won’t be either I can guarantee that, to borrow from the Cajun chef “I’ll guarantee”.

“Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.” Vince Lombardi

 

It is not a magic potion or rabbit out of a hat it is through sweat and blood that we succeed and it requires continued effort to maintain that level.

 

“Unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it-his mind, his body and his heart-what is life worth to him? If I were a salesman, I would make this commitment to my company, to the product and most of all, to myself.” Vince Lombardi

 

Imagine what the world would be like if every teacher and every parent took that advice, put it all into it action daily, imagine. Over and over again I see a lack of this in students and in teachers who day after day simply show up. Self-esteem is lacking and that spark of truly believing in yourself lacking in many people. If only we could vaccinate against this.

 

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Vince Lombardi

 

In life it is a lack of will that defeats us far more quickly than a lack of skill. Daily I hear I don’t care, students who quit before they open a book or even a door to a room. In another moment a student who seeks to know I was reading about Henry David Thoreau and his relationship to education. At one point he stopped teaching at one point in his life and decided it is not about teaching but about learning and decided that in order to truly teach we had to truly learn and he proceeded to become a learner living off the land.
How do we instill that desire to learn? The key to success in teaching is in Thoreau’s thoughts. Stop teaching and begin learning when we instill that desire to learn, there literally is no teaching, and all becomes learning. Learning becomes a constant interaction of ideas and thoughts. Only when “a lack of will” is the big difference does learning falter. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts, and thank you Vince, namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

 

Sometimes I feel like I am missing a day

Bird Droppings April 24, 2019
Sometimes I feel like I am missing a day

 

So often I speak of coincidences in life. A few evenings back while helping my wife with some graphics and issues in a class she was taking I was also thinking about a new Bird Droppings. Some ideas had hit me and I was putting to paper or hard drive so to say. When I got up the next day I was planning to finish and post it was not anywhere to be found. I was frustrated and bewildered I would have sworn I wrote a dropping a great one at that. So I started and entitled today as missing a day and was going to make excuses about my encroaching senility and old age memory losses and such, and poof the answer was in front on my nose. I did it again I had been writing and closed out from a page, I started getting ready to post with word closing instead of minimizing.

 

My dropping for today disappeared I had not saved it as of yet. I was discussing science and the measuring of data in various graduate school classes. Research can take various forms quantitative and qualitative being two of the most frequently used. Being of the nature that teaching is an art form and there are some rather difficult pieces of that aspect to measure. Areas such as intuition and coincidence it seems are difficult commodities to evaluate effectively. An effective teacher is an intuitive one and personally I think a good teacher is also surrounded with coincidence.
Carl Jung split with Freud over similar matters and coined the word synchronicity. Yesterday as I was talking seems I never stop talking and I was drawn to my front door of my room at school and as I stepped out a student passed by exactly as I stepped to the door. It was not their going by my door, me coming to the door but that this student had a problem. If I had been a few seconds later even a moment later and that student would have passed by. I was drawn to the door like a moth to a flame and was I meant to interfere, to get involved in a problem, or simply to offer advice or questions, coincidence, chance happening, or was it synchronicity perhaps.

 

“The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them, or a shirking of ethical responsibility, deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life.” Carl Jung

 

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” Eric Fromm

 

Which direction do we go as we try and unravel the human condition the frail substance about which we have evolved from. Can we separate out and categorize, analyze and catalog that which makes us human versus a pack animal. Studies of herding and swarming animals are being used to study human behavior and being used to modify and actually move people and materials around the world. Several large cargo companies use models developed on observations of ant colonies.

 

“Man may be defined as the animal that can say “I,” that can be aware of himself as a separate entity. “ Eric Fromm

“The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water. “ Sigmund Freud

 

“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

 

When beset with an issue or a problem we so often fall victim to the easiest route the way of “least resistance least trouble” as John Dewey would say. Years ago in a book on the topic of Loss Control management my father used an illustration of an ice berg; we only see one seventh of the problem as Freud points out with the mind. We as we journey through life are only visible in part only one seventh using the iceberg illustration. That means that sixth sevenths of our existence stays hidden away, secreted somewhere from view.

 

“Thus we see that the all important thing is not killing or giving life, drinking or not drinking, living in the town or the country, being unlucky or lucky, winning or losing. It is how we win, how we lose, how we live or die, finally, how we choose.” R. H. Blyth

 

It is how we choose that is important. Nearly every day for several years since I began this morning endeavor I have talked of the journey in life in one way or another to students, friends, and family and in my writing. I have used as a screen saver my son John’s image crossing a stream in north Georgia stepping stone by stone across a rippling rolling stream and it still is hanging on my wall. In the picture he is soaking wet and cold, he could have just as easily walked through the stream and avoid falling from the rocks. He was wet already but he choose to step on the slippery rocks. The challenge for him was doing it, making the journey not simply surviving or the destination of the other side.

 

“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.” Mourning Dove, Salish

 

This becomes the difficult task trying to explain how a problem has purpose, how a human issue has reason, in a world of measurement where not measuring is constant and so often the point. I can never find the distance between the stones of the stream as my son’s footsteps fall crossing rock by rock.

 

“You can never cross a stream the same way twice” Zen saying

 

“Traditional people of Indian nations have interpreted the two roads that face the light-skinned race as the road to technology and the road to spirituality. We feel that the road to technology…. has led modern society to a damaged and seared earth. Could it be that the road to technology represents a rush to destruction, and that the road to spirituality represents the slower path that the traditional native people have traveled and are now seeking again? The earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there.” William Commanda, Mamiwinini, Canada, 1991

 

Going from a single individual’s problem to that of the North Slope of Alaska may seem a stretch. In today’s world of greed and global warming and ocean access opening in the Arctic I wonder. As global warming occurs or if you so choose to think does not occur daily news of countries that surround and even are nowhere near the arctic being able to cross ice free waterways holds interest. Daily there are new explorations of countries into the Arctic, with submarines planting flags, oil drilling rigs operating after twenty five years of trying and many more. For the profiteers of the world and the greedy who subsist on immediate profits and filling coffers already over flowing, a world disappearing is no big issue as long as it happens in their lifetime and brings a profit.
But as we journey in life we essentially do not get to replay our hand once we lay the cards upon the table. Yesterday by chance somewhere before 5:00 AM I was reading National Geographic and how the oil fields are so enticing in the Wilds of Alaska. Greedy people see only jobs money and energy. I have spoken and written about this so many times and others see loss of habitat for wildlife and wilderness that can never be replaced.
Amazing another coincidence this morning I could not pull up literally what I thought I had written yesterday had disappeared and this morning it hit me as to what had happened. I tried to recall what I wrote yesterday and concluded it was not to be and for whatever reason synchronicity perhaps versus senility I like better. Now for this a good follow up peace my friends and have a good and wonderful day. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

 

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

 

Pondering ABABABABABAB

Bird Droppings April 23, 2019
Pondering ABABABABABAB

 

Last night I went back over some notes from one of my numerous posts in my various blog sites and graduate school comments. I had been reading from a paper on a program that was developed in the mid 1980’s in California. The program with one teacher in one school was so successful they as a school board decided to implement across the district. Some saw the AVID program like so many great efforts it became a packaged canned program for anyone to implement. As I read the article and thought in terms of my own long range plans. It sort of hit me.
I want to teach college and train teachers in my later years. One question that has perplexed me is how we teach a student in an education program to teach for example, maybe this AVID program. We can provide all the tools, forms, calculators, notebooks with cool logos, a special room, and anything else needed to implement the program. My question is will it work? As I read my own posts and many of the others I found myself commenting on a singular attribute. We can emulate the program and replicate a million copies of notes and details but we cannot emulate the passionate teacher who developed the program. How do we get new teachers to emulate the great ones and as well be creative and imaginative in their own right?
I thought back to an incident in 2003. I recall very clearly how my son just went to bed after working on his computer all night and was telling me to get more sleep as I was getting up, it was about 3:30 AM. The previous day as I gave out an assignment one of the aspects in the assignment was to ask five questions about the topic that was chosen and proceed to answer them. One particular student, who happened to drum in a band, thought he could choose something he “knew about” and be done. He of course chose drums, I should have known and the question was where did drums originate? His answer was so simple he thought, Africa.
I asked him a few questions to get him going, when, what country, how long ago, what were they made of and are you sure it was Africa?

 

I was being a bit mean as he had spent at least four minutes on his topic and questions. He proceeded to change his topic because drums were too hard. This was not a dumb kid by any stretch of the imagination but extremely lazy. Each time his one word answer would be met with additional questions as I explained you are answering a question but not really answering it. More often than not I explained when giving a simple quick answer it only gives a very limited piece of information. For example Africa is a huge country. I went a different direction for a few minutes with him. Where did the light bulb originate? I said answering the United States leaves so much out.

 

“The lazier a man is, the more he plans to do tomorrow.” Norwegian Proverb

 

As I thought about my student and readings and pondering I often wonder what makes us so lazy, myself included. Why do we have to have a quick solution or answer? Why can’t we look deeper anymore and it seems we live so superficially much like believing we can replicate a program by simply copying the notes. So much is missed by skimming along and only trying to finish or duplicate. For nearly twenty three years I worked in reproducing manuals for training programs, it is easy to produce a thousand manuals I used to be able to get a page count, binder size, number of tabs and if any four color was involved and how much and give a production time to the minute. But I also was on the development side as well and recall months of research and effort put in to provide the original manual.

 

“Man wants to live, but it is useless to hope that this desire will dictate all his actions.” Albert Camus

 

If we could channel energy used for selfish means and redirect perhaps changes could be served. Camus brings up one of the basic motivational premises of man’s survival. Many psychologists, authors and others have all started at this point. But what separates us from the lower primates? Watching high school students I wonder many times if survival is even a factor.

 

“Each today, well-lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look, therefore, to this one day, for it and it alone is life.” Sanskrit Poem

 

When we can finish a day and look back and say well done the feeling and attitude that prevail can lift us into another. I am working on an idea which works around a behavior premise of antecedent, behavior, and consequence or more simply ABC. In all that we do behaviorists see an antecedent which leads up to a behavior but the behavior is also predicated by what will be the consequence. I raised the question to a friend of what if we could have ABABABAB where the antecedent leads to behavior which leads to a higher function of another antecedent and so forth almost in a way what I was trying to get my drummer to do. Socrates did it well answering questions with questions.

 

“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” Lao-Tzu

 

“A bar of iron costs $5, made into horseshoes its worth is $12, made into needles its worth is $3500, made into balance springs for watches, it’s worth is $300, 000. Your own value is determined also by what you are able to make of yourself.” Source unknown

 

As I look back at the student seeking a one word answer for a lifelong question this quote came to mind. How often are we content to simply have the five dollars instead of a little work and the Three Hundred Thousand dollars? One aspect of learning and teaching is getting students to view effort as a positive thing not just work. Many teachers have not learned to recognize effort which often negates that attribute in some students.

 

“In this world, in order to enable society to develop, all its members have to assume responsibilities and make their contribution. If we do not make collective contributions then there will be no development.” The Dalai Lama, speaking to the Tibetan National Assembly in Dharamsala, May 1989

Each of us lives in a society, and or a community and as much as we choose so often to be individuals as well as we are members of and interact within that group. It is the vitality of that group the development and growth that is so intertwined with contributions physically, mentally, and spiritually of the members. Society exists because of these interactions which going back to the previously mentioned AVID program and or for example in my own experiences with the Foxfire program it is community that makes these programs succeed.

 

“Compare society to a boat. Her progress through the water will not depend upon the exertion of her crew, but upon the exertion devoted to propelling her. This will be lessened by any expenditure of force in fighting among themselves, or in pulling in different directions.” Henry George

 

We have to be working together moving in some direction and as humans do so often much time is wasted fighting, and arguing among ourselves and motion and growth is limited.

 

“The greatest difficulty with the world is not its ability to produce, but the unwillingness to share.” Roy L. Smith

 

Watching high school students form clicks or groups and adults forming clubs and social groups we tend to be a selfish animals. We look so to ourselves and what benefits us, limiting friends and such to a degree we box ourselves in. We may be sharing a simple task but so often it is really a distant one. TV humor even plays on this subject several times in old Seinfeld and Will and Grace Sitcoms, giving is a chore, a burden and the characters are literally parasitically instead of symbiotic. As I looked for quotes and thoughts this one in particular popped up and is appropriate.

 

“Societies that do not eat people are fascinated by those that do.” Ronald Wright

 

Wright was actually speaking literally, yet interestingly enough we of modern society while we do not literally eat people, we still psychologically, emotionally, financially or sociologically destroy them. As I look at how we respond to others so often it is how we see ourselves indirectly.

 

“The most difficult thing we do is to not deal in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.” Mark Twain

 

In a recent project assignment several students simply “completed it” they did not finish the task but answered what they thought was the question, they just wanted done. Whether it was right or wrong, good or bad was not the issue it was over with.

 

“Until you value yourself you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” M. Scott Peck

 

I read this quote and saw an answer if you truly do not appreciate yourself your time has little if any value even when you are self-absorbed in using it frivolously you simply are taking up time not using it. Guessing at answers to a test to simply get done or rushing through just to be over, still you wait just as the rest do so is there really any benefit, which always elicits my favorite catch phrase “I don’t care”. I think it should in bold letters read “ I really do not care about myself” As we enter the beginning of a new week our world is troubled and sore we are able if we try perhaps to make a difference even if in a small way. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind 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

Ethics and Politics

Bird Droppings April 22, 2019
Ethics and Politics

 

There are so many things happening in our world that are often at the whim of a politician who we voted for or against. The auto industry is being remade, wars are being fought, jobs are appearing and disappearing, and health care reform is possibly off and on the table. I find it is amusing that our elected officials have given themselves an unbelievable health care and retirement package along with other perks and yet only offer to restrict and or eliminate our own. Our officials have literally unlimited health care and a retirement package second to none for serving in the senate or congress and literally a decent retirement for life.
With jobs on the rise in some areas and in others in slow motion, maybe it is a good time to ponder about minimum wage and our officials who raise their own salary and perks just about every year. Amazing how politics works, working people and those trying to work and lift themselves up get nothing and Senators and Congressmen can vote a raise for themselves. In another session a few years back Democrats were at one time trying to tie minimum wage to their own salary raises. I definitely like that idea, however it dint fly. Sadly even with a minimum wage many workers are below the national poverty level. Many that are working and for whatever reason extremely limited or hindered in the types of jobs they can get.

 

Now in a world of budget cutting and austerity some politicians are even offering to reduce minimum wage and increase hours children can work almost as if we are taking steps backwards. Other legislation is calling for eliminating OSHA and EPA and yet deaths in industry under OSHA have significantly been reduced. Pollution across our nation has been reduced. It is about profitability of corporations that find many politicians offering plans to help industry improve profit. Dumping coal ash into rivers in coal regions as an example. Asbestos is coming back some are saying.

 

“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

Funny why should we worry about money and success, who needs it? I recall only a few years back when gas was nearly four dollars a gallon we all are looking for bargains and stretching each dollar. It is true many folks have not the need to keep up with the trends and are content with what they have. But it is how we tend to overlook selfishly those with less. The raise recently proposed for congressmen per year would be more than a fulltime minimum wage paycheck for a year for a family. It is sort of like saying I am more than your equal so I deserve this money actually a slap in the face to the working man or woman.

 

“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

At what point is a lot of money too much and what do you do with billions of dollars? I watch the president rant and rave and yet few are as selfish as is he in terms of his human dealings. I am not sure a speculator in land is a good choice for a president. It was not too long ago he was bankrupt. We idolize the rich and wealthy and as Steven Colbert pointed out in his humor last night we like rich people. Thinking back to a good friends comment about where sociopaths end up, many are politicians.

 

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, and he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau

 

We have to be able to dream and often that is stripped away with the attitudes and structures imposed by various sectors of society.

 

“What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates his fate.” Henry David Thoreau

 

Self-esteem, self-understanding or the knowing of thy self as the ancient Greek philosopher said so many years ago. We need to know who we are and why. I started arguing about the selfishness of so many people including our leaders in Washington who I am sure will justify their raises in some fashion and I am sure through lobbyists will justify not granting a raise to minimum wage. It is amazing what a few fast food lobbyists can do and business owners. Maybe that is how you justify a raise for yourself, be it through savings from not raising minimum wage. I am looking forward to a day of testing high school kids. I would much rather be writing and reading and taking a garden break. I forgot to visit the local nursery and garden shop this weekend. As you ponder your own place in this world please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

 

The great teachers of America: Where do they come from?

Bird Droppings April 21, 2019
The great teachers of America: Where do they come from?

 

I started back to grad school after my twelve year doctorate furlough. I am looking to teach several new college classes when I get back on track. For now I am finishing the year at Alcovy high school and getting ready for testing and doing lesson plans got me thinking. Last night when I got home from spending some time with my son I was sitting mesmerized by the night sounds when the kitchen door opened and our dog poked his head out I am sure he was wondering what I was doing. I was not in the mood for TV and the sounds of darkness seem to calm me after a seriously crazy week of after Spring Break and just prior to testing, fortunately this year not much involvement with the medical field.

 

Off in the distance a whippoorwill was calling to one near the house and an occasional owl chimed in. It was an exceptionally human free intrusion on a quiet night since few people influenced noises were present. I found myself thinking to the idea of; I wonder if this is what it sounded like hundreds of years ago just the various birds, crickets, frogs and owls. A heavy dew and rain were dripping from pine needles nearby adding to the ambiance. I gave thanks put up our dog and headed to bed.

 

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

 

Our former federal education program NCLB, No Child Left behind was about lifting standards higher to make the United States number one in education. In the news literally daily the idea of raising the bar in our educational process was suggested over and over again. We need more students to succeed so we will raise the standards and graduation rates. So to say raise the bar educationally. The theory is that more students will succeed with higher standards for teachers and students. However changing of teaching methods, changing delivery, and even changing standards does not raise the ability or desire of a given student.
I can’t help but think of high jumping when the idea of raising the bar came up. Let us use as acceptable a height of currently thirty six inches and tomorrow we will raise the bar to sixty inches and you will succeed because we have a new way of telling you how to jump. We will use a megaphone now, and just as you jump we will yell “NOW JUMP”. As silly as this sounds this little exercise which is akin to many educational programs is more how not to succeed than before. Before raising the standard did we look at why the students could not clear thirty six inches. Was it the teaching method, or the physical ability of the student, was it the shoes they are wearing, perhaps the surface of the run way to the jump pit is too soft or slippery, is there a wind that knocks the bar off as they approach.

 

I am very sarcastic in saying this, in education time after time the mention of zip codes and test scores comes up. In today’s jargon that’s why we need charter schools run by businesses who know what to do. So in my naiveté, I wonder how does a real estate mogul or software genius know how to teach or seemingly increase knowledge and cognition over say a teacher? Even more interesting is many of so called experts have not succeeded in school and or did not go through college. But they know what it takes to help poor kids or failing kids how to raise the bar.
Basically in any type of medium if a person cannot jump thirty six inches moving to sixty inches will only assure failure. However with practice and time sixty inches is possible but several factors have to be in place and a key one is the desire and attitude of the person doing the jumping. The coach can be the greatest in the world but if the student is content with failure, for whatever reason they will fail. A few years back I watched the induction of John Madden into the NFL hall of fame. Madden has been one of my favorite commentators and coaches of all time.

 

“Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear.” John Madden

 

“A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.” Ara Parasheghan

 

Coaching and teaching the terms are often synonymous in many ways. It was a number of years ago I raised and showed horses. I had a very good Appaloosa gelding we affectionately called “Spot” and with me riding Spot would be third or fourth but we would always place. Funny thing was with my trainer on board Spot would win. I once asked about this phenomenon and was told the following.

 

“You put a ten horse, and by ten I mean on a scale from 1-10 out with a 1 rider again on a scale of 1-10 and you have a 5 ride, however you put a 10 horse and 10 rider out and what are your odds” Earl Burchett, trainer and judge of Appaloosa and Quarter horses

 

As I thought of my horse days quote, teaching and coaching are similar. A good teacher can get more out of a poor functioning group of students and a poor teacher will get something out of great students. For forty five years I have asked how do we distinguish who are the good teachers and or coaches are from a mediocre ones.

 

“Success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal.” Don Shula

 

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” Vince Lombardi

 

Commitment is a key word in selecting a great teacher and or coach and the ability of instilling that commitment in their students and players. Over the years few coaches have been compared to the great Vince Lombardi who is perhaps the greatest of all coaches.

 

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” Vince Lombardi

 

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.” Vince Lombardi

 

The ability to succeed is based on hard work desire and determination these are skills that great teachers and great coaches can instill in students and players.

 

“The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else” John Madden

 

Far too often we only see the champion and how many folks can remember who finished second or third in the national championship game. This may be a fault in our society that we settle for only the greatest only the best. We live on a bell shape curve and only a few will ever be the best but it is in the trying and it is motivating students into trying that as a teacher is to excel. It is so easy to succumb to the down side of that curve. Fifty percent will not succeed and that mentality is often so powerful that so why should I try harder.

 

“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.” Knute Rockne

 

A slight paraphrase of this great quote from the great Notre Dame Coach, “One teacher teaching is better than fifty saying they do”. This is what it is about; it is about truly teaching, motivating, instilling determination, and desire. It is about coaching and succeeding rather than failure. I hear every day, but I have a seventy percent I am passing that really makes me upset that a child concedes to a seventy percent. Who gave out seventy percent passes but we do it all the time. Can a thirty six inch jumper clear sixty inches?

 

Many years ago a so-so high jumper changed his form. He was also a student of physics and as such and he noticed jumpers were leading with their foot and the body following. He changed his form and lead with his head and torso and high jumping changed forever. Shortly thereafter a world record and Olympic gold went to Dick Fossberry and the Fossberry flop, as it was called is now the jumping style of all record holding high jumpers. Funny thing is, today all high jumpers lead with their head a matter of physics getting the heaviest part over first and those muscles pushing it over last which takes less effort and the world record keeps going up. It is about ideas, determination and commitment and any goal can be accomplished.
Can this apply to teaching and learning? Most assuredly we can, but we have to make an effort and we have to look for the means of accomplishing our goal. Federal standards called for research based programs in educational settings yet there are only a few the field is narrow and the difficultly is doing new research which requires guinea pigs and too many teachers and programs do not want to fail. Teacher’s jobs are at stake as well as administrators and so we in trying to improve may actually have boxed ourselves in by limiting improvement to a narrow window of research proven programs, which in reality may or may not work. Are they researched n the same demographics as the students you teach or will be teaching is always a question? Has this program truly been tested on a large enough group? Is there room for improvement and progress within the program?
From personal experience I have watched administrators then limit programs due to their own limitations in imagination and creativity. One of my favorites is the notorious word wall. A teacher must have six inch letters of vocabulary words on the wall and that is it. So an electronic version that is available at home anywhere on computer is not a word wall or a well-designed graphic as a lead in for a students working notebook in class is not a word wall, a set of personal flash cards is not a word wall, t-shirts with vocabulary, sky writing vocabulary words these are not word walls it has to be six inch red letters not yellow or blue. Teaching gets defeated by limits, impositions and parameters imposed by lesser imaginative administrators and legislators.

 

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

 

I went out walking to my quiet spot before posting today sitting at home. I sat in my quiet spot giving thanks for all that has transpired in the past week for each element good and bad makes all involved a better person. I shared with a dear friend yesterday how each person we interact with gives us a piece of our life’s puzzle and shared my business card which is covered in puzzle pieces and they smiled and said it makes sense now. The pieces are all falling in place. So I end my writing for today and get back to the grind of educating the masses and getting phone calls made and computer forms filled in but still the hard part is keeping all in harm’s way on our minds and in our hearts and always giving thanks namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Looking for and clearing a pathway

Bird Droppings April 20, 2019
Looking for and clearing a pathway

 

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” Elwyn Brooks White

 

Often I reflect on the journey of life and the many directions I myself have traveled. I watch others as they step by step go along the way and I listen as some stumble and are lifted up when pebbles and or boulders are in the way. There are choices at times about which pathway to take as a fork approaches and we have to choose. Walking out this morning the smell of a third or fourth straight day of rain with moisture still in the air and whippoorwills calling surrounding me with a chorus that is hard to match I stood listening for what seemed hours before getting into my car to head to the school. I am at times overwhelmed with the idea of why we are so lost as to education and learning in today’s world.

 

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

“Life is a foreign language: all men mispronounce it.” Christopher Morley, Thunder on the Left

 

“Life is a cement trampoline.” Howard Nordberg

 

I was wondering why so many of us each day think perhaps too much obsessing over reasons and rationale eventually tripping over our own inadequacies and imperfections. I look far too deep too often beyond the politics of the educational process of which rampant is an understatement with headlines in local papers addressing issues with Charter schools and state education officials. Are we truly desperate or is this a façade to cover up are lack of enthusiasm and desire? I wonder when I see a young person acting as a mime standing still facing an empty wall and unable to move forward or back simply immobile dressed in funeral attire waiting for an end. What has slowed their journey to this point? What is it they have missed along their own pathway as we cross? I wonder why my enthusiasm for teaching dwindled has and my energy drink not recharged me today?

 

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Sadly we seem to not be able to find the whys and as a former colleague of mine and now a research associate in education in an early morning rant a year or so ago points out.

 

“If a child isn’t learning then we assume that more teaching is what he or she needs rather than a readjustment of pedagogy; we expect that there is something wrong with the child rather than the teacher (both must be considered, neither should be blamed without proper cause). If democracy isn’t working or there is a problem (voting fraud in FL, etc.) then we reconcile this with more democracy. We suffer a cascade of choice, what Renata Salecl calls a “tyranny of choices” that confuses us and distracts us from the real substance and problem at hand.” Dr. Antonio Garcia former teacher LHS

When I first read through Garcia’s note that morning almost six years ago rather early and ended up responding with almost gibberish but heart felt as I jotted it down. I was thinking to a famous quote by Karl Marx, “Religion is the opiate of the people”, and wrote perhaps education in its current process is the opiate muddling cognition into submission.

 

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.” Erich Fromm

 

“To live remains an art which everyone must learn, and which no one can teach.” Havelock Ellis

 

There really is no road map and no specific travel itinerary as we journey along with each day being unique for me and for you. Nietzsche offers a why as a reason to live and Fromm simplifies further only a happy moment or a bright morning is all that is needed. Ellis states that life is an art form. Life is an art form and perhaps it is the wielding of the brushes and what colors we use as wield we paint. I have started looking deeper into kids this semester as to why they do not perform academically. There is a formula somewhat of pieces that equate to educational success or educational opiated submission. I am getting to bleak and need to lighten up a bit. I downloaded a book that I have in hardcopy on my shelf and since I walk around with my iPad thought a good one to start my library along with several by John Dewey. J. T. Garret has a doctorate in educational psychology and has worked for the Health Dept. on reservations for many years. He also has studied the medicine ways of the elders of his tribe and knows and writes about Indian medicine.

 

“There is equality in all things. Everything has its own purpose, all things are equal. There is no such thing as dominance or control by any living thing over any other. There is basically only one relationship in the circle of life. We are humble and show humility to all things here on Mother Earth, even every rock and mineral.” J. T. Garrett Ed.D., Meditations with the Cherokee: Prayers, Songs, and Stories of Healing and Harmony, 2001

 

Several years ago a movie starring Robin Williams was out “What Dreams may come”. The author of the book researched extensively on the afterlife there are nearly six pages of references in the back of the book. But a scene that caught my attention was as Robin Williams realized that he was painting the world around him and that his attitudes and concerns altered the surrounding colors as they would change and the hues fluctuated as he walked about. When the character Robin Williams plays arrives in the afterlife portrayed in the movie there is an equality of all life it is integral to each aspect of the vision seen.

 

“You cannot discover the purpose of life by asking someone else – the only way you’ll ever get the right answer is by asking yourself.” Terri Guillemets
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

“Following straight lines shortens distances, and also life.” Antonio Porchia, Voices, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

 

As I look at my own drama that I write in my own life we set the boulders in our own pathway and we throw out the pebbles that force us to stumble. We end up creating the forks in the road that force us to choose. But I would not have it any other way as I step along the path. As well we need to be aware that we must make an effort to also clear the pathway. We also must make the choices as to which road to follow. I see my life’s map as a series of zigzags an easy journey constantly side tracked. Where once a straight line between A and B now the page is covered in this way or that in back tracking and circumventing in over stepping and under stepping and in climbing boulders and in pushing some out of the way. It has been a few months since I have used at the end of Bird Droppings a saying by a Native American Orator from back in the day.

 

“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

 

For many this may not mean anything. It has been years now since I could hear a buffalo snort and walk across the pasture and see the breath blown in the cool of winter. It has been years since I have seen fireflies dance across my front field now covered in houses and roads. But I still see the little shadow as the sun sets and I still hear the breeze in the morning. Our scenery changes but life does go on and 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

 

How deep is the soul?

Bird Droppings April 19, 2019
How deep is the soul?

 

I received an email from a dear friend many years back after writing about humor and it truly made me think. As I looked back on some older notes and thoughts last night and as I pondered I found the response I sent to her. It scares me how we can humorize our dark side often to a point of distain or callousness?

 

Dear Bird,
How about the humor of John Stewart and S. Colbert? Does anyone ever think that some incidents are too sensitive or horrendous to allow for satire or humor?
Frances

 

My response: I have an issue with humor that plays to our dark sides. Perhaps even primitive aspects of who we are. Movies like Jack Ass and the humor portrayed and Stewart and Colbert are mild compared to South Park, for example. Colbert is on a higher intellectual plane than South Park I think at times. But the audiences thrive on it sadly enough and I think it is this aspect of humanity that allows the atrocities of man to happen as well. I remember once in Sixth grade a girl in special education who lived in the worst part of the community not even public housing but simply shacks along the river outside town. The joke was calling people names derived from that community and or specific people that lived there.

 

I look back and I know I probably did this as well yet maybe it is my karma to be making up for my part. I still cringe when I hear the word retard even more so than the n-word. I am reading on Foucault currently and much of his base philosophy in this book is focused on mental institutions and “normal” versus “abnormal” and I wonder as I read and see watching several older American Idol shows and how the judges belittle people some who were special needs what a sad state our society is in.

 

“Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.” Aristotle

 

Often having been in teaching of special needs kids when with other teachers who have been in similar situations we will joke about events of the past not at a student’s expense as much as the moment and ourselves. Being bitten or changing a really nasty diaper which is often common place in some settings are good examples. One of my favorite over the years was an OCD student who once asked me 54 times if he could hold our class room pet, Stevie the wonder snake a ball python. I ignored him and was working at my computer this was before school and a general education student who did not have the capacity for patience and or ignoring that I do final blurted out to the young man “I love you” and tapped him on the shoulder. He took off to farthest corner in the room.

 

She then asked me did I not hear him and I said I use planned ignoring and really did not after three or four times. All it took was changing the subject to derail that OCD event and she had. I still have contact with this OCD student and he is in his twenties and never went back to school after that year. He was afraid of the new principal. When the new principal took over nine years ago he was so terrified from middle school of this man he couldn’t be in the same building so he still sits at home and watches TV. His disability keeps him from working.

 

“Humor is also a way of saying something serious.” T. S. Elliot

 

As I think and wonder maybe it is seeing the issues at hand and simply using as a medium for truth for opening eyes as I look at some of the dark humor of our time. But I do not see people viewing that way I see people watching a movie or show and laughing at often human frailty and those human aspects. Over the past years I have written several papers dealing with the search for the human soul. An aspect that Jung, Hillman, and Moore all psychologists and authors write extensively on.

 

“Education must ensure that not only the material but the inward life of the individual be developed. Education should address not the isolated intellect, as the advocates of standards suggest it ought, but the hopes and dreams of the self of which intellect – the complex reflective self – is merely a part.” Allan Block

 

We get so caught up in testing, pretesting, predictor testing and testing of testing we lose sight of who these children really are and could be. I have used the term funneling or forcing as much as possible into a bottle through a funnel till it will over flow. It is often these aspects of individuality and context for example that get left behind in the overflow.

 

“Piercing through the illusions of modern life is extremely difficult, given a culture where advertising and other media forms are organized so persistently to produce mass public deception” D. G. Smith

 

Smith continues to point to an ongoing issue we have in finding who we are and why. Perhaps this is how groups are so easily manipulated by the politics of today. The illusions according to Smith.

 

“Obliterate the lines between fact and fiction” D. G. Smith

 

We live in a society where deception is part of life. We listen to politicians tell us what we want to hear and or think we want to hear and we follow blindly. Why do we have to win a war “divisively”? Why do we even ….. ? I was very frustrated listening knowing how much was based on deception on lies and yet billed as we have to keep going whatever it takes. We are a world and society of immediacy. Sadly is also is as we slowly lose are humanity.

 

“Maybe this is the time to embark collectively on a new long journey inward, not for the purpose simply of celebrating our personal or collective subjectivities, but for the nobler one of laying down the outward things that enslaves us.” D. G. Smith

This inner look is mentioned often as psychologists and theologians struggle with the concept of who we are.
“We need to know more of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself” Carl G. Jung

 

Uncovering our past and memories is part of looking at who we are. The idea that soul or spirit is just confined to religion can be seen in the understanding of what constitutes that inner search. A word used often as a search word is faith and is explained in Dr. James Fowler’s book The Development of Faith published in 1981.

 

“Faith is not always religious in its content or context. To ask these questions of oneself does not necessarily mean to elicit answers about religious commitment or belief. Faith is a persons or groups way of moving into the force field of life.” Dr. James Fowler

 

The search and looking within trying to understand who we are trying to find soul is part of who we are. It is what makes us human and drives how we interact with the existing world and how we perceive that world.

 

“The subjective side of spirit is nature, matter and human life. But this subjective side that moves through us is unconscious” Dr. Marla Morris

 

Spirit is then who we are subjectively?

 

“Somewhere between reality and fantasy, between need and want, between the affect and the idea, and between dependency and autonomy, there can emerge the material from which the subject spins a life” Deborah Britzman

 

We end in metaphysical subjectivity as to what is this entity of spirit and or soul? Deciphering the concept of soul which too often is tied to a religious connotation is challenging. Thomas Moore, student of James Hillman, a former priest and now psychologist and counselor defines soul in his writings and lectures.

 

“Soul is not a thing, but a quality or dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with the depth value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance. I do not use the word here as an object of religious belief or something to do with immortality. When we say someone has soul we know what we mean.” Thomas Moore

 

“Renaissance philosophers often said that it is the soul that makes us human. We can turn around and note that is when we are most human we have the greatest access to soul” Thomas Moore

 

Mary Aswell Doll, professor of Literature at Savannah College of Arts and Sciences, in the introduction to her book, Like letters in running Water, includes her thoughts which deal with her interdisciplinary studies on religion and psychology that help probe the inner workings of soul. She mentions, “It is only through coming to terms with inner understanding that we can address outer concerns”. It takes inner looks to stir and fire up the imagination and to build and develop ideas and expand learning.
“To talk about the “soul”, we might as well say inner life of children. My latest book Education and the soul talks about Soul in a moral sense, which is really taken out of a religious sense” Jack Miller

 

It is that inner being of who are that is our soul. Is it soul that we are leaving behind in our effort to be the ultimate consumer and to produce children who can test and test well and take another test and do well or who will listen without questioning the deceit of politicians and advertising and buy products they do not need and support wars not needed and politicians who are not needed. Many thoughts to ponder on this Wednesday mid- week morning so please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts 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