A few words (81 quotes) from famous people on Education

Bird Droppings May 31, 2021

A few words (81 quotes) from famous people on Education


A number of years ago I went looking for quotes on education as I was writing one morning happened to be June 8, 2004. As I gathered these together, I thought to myself one day I will share these with others and so a few days after local High School graduations here they go. These are the quotes I found that morning for whatever reason. Some are significantly meaningful others are great and anything about education should at least be read.

“The principal 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

“A college education never hurt anybody who was willing to learn after he got it.” Author Unknown

“A human being is not attaining his full heights until he is educated.” Horace Mann

“A wise system of education will at last teach us how little man yet knows, how much he has still to learn.” John Lubbock

“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t.” Anatole France

“Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience, and has little to do with school or college.” Lillian Smith

“Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance.” Will Durant

“Education is a social process … Education is growth…. Education is, not a preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey

“Education is an admirable thing, but nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” Oscar Wilde

“Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.” William Yeats

“Education is not merely a means for earning a living or an instrument for the acquisition of wealth. It is an initiation into life of spirit, a training of the human soul in the pursuit of truth and the practice of virtue.” Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit

“Education is not received. It is achieved.” Author Unknown

“Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen their horizons, inflame their intellects, and teach them to think straight, if possible.” Robert M. Hutchins

“Education is that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” Ambrose Bierce

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” Robert Frost

“Education is the fire-proofer of emotions.” Frank Crane

“Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know.” Gilbert K. Chesterton

“Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the worlds work, and the power to appreciate life.” Brigham Young

“Education is too important to be left solely to the educators.” Francis Keppel

“Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.” Henry Peter Brougham

“Education would be so much more effective if its purpose were to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they don’t know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.” Sir William Haley

“Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, –the balance-wheel of the social machinery.” Horace Mann

“Education, we see, is not merely gaining knowledge or skills helpful toward productive work, though certainly that is a part of it. Rather it is replenishment and an expansion of the natural thirst of the mind and soul. Learning is a gradual process of growth, each step building upon the other. It is a process whereby the learner organizes and integrates not only facts but attitudes and values. The Lord has told us that we must open our minds and our hearts to learn. There is a Chinese proverb: Wisdom is as the moon rises, perceptible not in progress but in result. As our knowledge is converted to wisdom, the door to opportunity is unlocked.” Barbara W. Winder

“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” Thomas Jefferson

“Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” Ben Franklin

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese Proverb

“He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind he has descended into the secrets of all minds.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“He, who opens a school door, closes a prison.” Victor Hugo

“How can we hope to remain economically competitive in a world in which…90% of Dutch high-school students take advanced math courses and 100% of teachers in Germany have double majors, while the best we can say about our pocket of excellence is that 75% of [American] students have learned to critique tactfully?” Barbara J. Alexander

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” H. G. Wells

“I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive.” John W. Gardner

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Mark Twain

“I wonder whether if I had an education, I should have been more or less a fool that I am.” Alice James

“If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Benjamin Franklin

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Derek Bok

“Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence.” Albert Edward Wiggam

“It is among the commonplaces of education that we often first cut off the living root and then try to replace its natural functions by artificial means. Thus we suppress the child’s curiosity and then when he lacks a natural interest in learning he is offered special coaching for his scholastic coaching for his scholastic difficulties. Alice Duer Miller

“It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curious of inquiry. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. Albert Einstein

“It is our American habit if we find the foundations of our educational structure unsatisfactory to add another story or wing. We find it easier to add a new study or course or kind of school than to recognize existing conditions so as to meet the need.” John Dewey

“It is what we learn after we think we know it all, that counts.” Author Unknown

“Jails and prisons are the complement of schools; so many less as you have of the latter, so many more must you have of the former.” Horace Mann

“Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty & dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.” James Madison

“Learning is like rowing upstream. Advance or lose all.” Anonymous

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” John F. Kennedy

“Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandbox. These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Do not hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Do not take things that are not yours. Say you are sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap in the afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up, and nobody really knows why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup–they all die. So do we. And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: look. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The golden rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living. Think of what a better world it would be if we all had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations always to put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes. And it is still true; no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” Robert Fulghum, We Learned It All in Kindergarten

“My father must have had some elementary education for he could read and write and keep accounts inaccurately.” George Bernard Shaw

“No one wants a good education. Everyone wants a good degree.” Lee Rudolph

“No use to shout at them to pay attention. If the situations, the materials, the problems before the child do not interest him, his attention will slip off to what does interest him, and no amount of exhortation of threats will bring it back.” John Holt

“Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.” Henry Brooks Adams

“Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Only the educated are free.” Epictetus

“Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” John F. Kennedy

“Shortchange your education now and you may be short of change the rest of your life.” Author Unknown

“Television commercials are educational. They teach you how stupid advertisers think you are.” Author Unknown

“The benefits of education and of useful knowledge, generally diffused through a community, are essential to the preservation of a free government.” Sam Houston

“The best current evidence is that media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers groceries causes change in our nutrition.” Richard Clark

“The best education in the world is that got by struggling to get a living.” Wendell Phillips

“The chief reason for going to school is to get the impression fixed for life that there is a book side for everything.” Robert Frost

“The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead. Aristotle

“The highest result of education is tolerance.” Helen Keller

“The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.” John Lubbock

“The knowledge of truth, combined with the proper regard for it and its faithful observance, constitutes true education.” Joseph F. Smith

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” Mark Twain

“The principal 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

“The real object of education is to have a man in the condition of continually asking questions.” Bishop Creighton

“The truly educated man is that rare individual who can separate reality from illusion.” Author Unknown

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There is nothing so stupid as an educated man, if you get off the thing that he was educated in.” Will Rogers

“Tis education forms the common mind; just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.” Alexander Pope

“To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Universities should be safe havens where ruthless examination of realities will not be distorted by the aim to please or inhibited by the risk of displeasure.” Kingman Brewster President, Yale University

“Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in. That everyone may receive at least a moderate education appears to be an objective of vital importance. – Abraham Lincoln

“We are students of words; we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We do not learn by inference and deduction and the application of mathematics to philosophy, but by direct intercourse and sympathy.” Henry David Thoreau

“What we call education and culture is for the most part nothing but the substitution of reading for experience, of literature for life, of the obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real.” George Bernard Shaw

“You can lead a boy to college, but you cannot make him think.” Elbert Hubbard

After eighty-one quotes or so on education I will keep it simple. In the nearly twenty years I have taught in high schools here in Ga and have worked with many students of all levels and capabilities. I have watched thousands walk across the stage at graduation that many said would not. Several come to mind. I have built friendships that continue today and will continue for many years with students and faculty. Sadly, I can say in my twenty plus years I have ended my droppings the same going back to September 11, 2001 when I first came back to teaching, please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts, namaste.

 My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

The only truly effective discipline 

Bird Droppings May 30, 2021

The only truly effective discipline 

“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

Over the years I have been faced with dealing with students who have continually found their way into trouble. Often in education we use the term manifestation as in is it a manifestation of their disability or often times the question is are they choosing to do whatever it is they are doing. It has generally been a hit or misses in some cases. How do we know for sure with any kid was this a manifestation of a given disability or not. Recently in a neighboring county a teacher punished a child, a five year old child by hanging him on the board by his belt loops. I have worked with children for over fifty years. I have never physically hurt a child for any reason. I will admit I proposed sarcastically to the idea of selective euthanizing of eighth graders. I have worked with institutionalized combative psychotic adolescent females. That was interesting and never an issue. So how does a five year old little boy warrant being hung by his belt loops? There is no way to warrant this and losing your teaching certificate and or being fired seems a light sentence for said teachder.

“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

Back to my fun group many years ago I spent six months involved in pastoral counseling in a combative psychiatric unit in a state mental facility. There was never a question about why something happened since combative adolescents, was the term used to describe the unit. When someone got upset they simply went to solitary confinement and were administered large doses of drugs combined with numerous orderlies and even the great standby of strait jackets were often employed. Little was occurring to change the behavior and or rationalize those behaviors. All was simply putting a Band-Aid on 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. Schoenberg is a scholar of music, a prolific writer about great musicians and music. Trapp is a bible scholar with several biblical commentaries to his credit. These great writers who themselves were very self-disciplined. Harris a columnist for over three hundred newspapers writing about daily life though his essays on education and morality are what drew me to his words.

“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 example, to learn, and or to follow, just semantics as we go. In order to operate a public school we are supposed to have standards one popular term used is “givens” to operate by and in effect develop rules. Looking at this from a behaviorist standpoint it is easy to say ABC, Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. First you have an antecedent which is that stimulus that causes the behavior. You then have the behavior that which is the event or action that we see, feel or hear about. Following we have the consequence which can be what we do in response or what the student 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 talked with and emailed with several teachers and friends discussing many of these ideas. Far too often it comes back to perception. Perception being the how we see and understand events and happenings. One of the categories in writing a behavioral plan for a student is planned ignoring simply tuning out a behavior. Often with no stimulus to keep it going a behavior will disappear. Many times 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

How often do you find a football quarterback’s quote and one from the father of behaviorism all in the same paragraph? These two men from distinctly different arenas yet are so very obviously similar 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 can offer alternative consequences to hopefully change the behaviors we can except. A Harris line caught my attention this morning as I started on discipline as I thought back to preparing for two IEP’s all related to behavior, “by our own actions toward them and toward other people.” SJH. 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 as we venture out today keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Teaching can be successful.

Bird Droppings May 28, 2021

Teaching can be successful.

Later as I do on many mornings when I get the time I will walk out to a quiet corner of my back yard. Nestled in a patch of weeds and brush I laid claim to my quiet spot and look toward the east in the morning. It is still dark this morning as I sit and write in a bit, I will venture out to glimpse the sunrise and the threads of life as I call them glisten in the early morning light. These are strands of spider webbing that are still hanging connecting everything. The scientist part of me knows that they are simply webs from wandering spiders the previous night out hunting but the mystic in me sees the connections. I do see the interconnections, but many do not. I Spoke with all of my grandchildren by phone yesterday and perhaps I will make a practice of that.

As I see my grandchildren and interact, I become concerned deeply with their education. I am concerned about learning even more so than education. That is a strange statement to make coming from a teacher by trade. We have institutions established called schools where learning is to occur. Sadly, various interfering elements within state and federal polity contradict and totally destroy the ability to provide learning experiences for children. There are several editorial cartoons floating through the internet showing a group of students all connected with wires from their heads staring ahead and one trying to climb out a window to the outside and nature. The just of the image was education reform wants us all to be education zombies all learning the same thing at the same time. If we cannot reverse the decline in learning our children will be simply pawns of whoever is or whatever is in power at the time.

“The first object of any act of learning, over and beyond the pleasure it may give, is that it should serve us in the future. Learning should not only take us somewhere; it should allow us later to go furthermore easily.” Ted Sizer

I received an email yesterday or I should say a response to a Facebook post I shared from a friend. The video clip I shared many months back was directed at the Teach to the Test mentality that is sweeping education due to high stakes testing being mandated by states and federal law. A young man a recent college graduate stated he could not get a job because his method of teaching was more hands on than what administrators were looking for. I saw the frustration of my son who was trained to teach in experiential manner teaching for seven years in a school limited by what was on the curriculum map. Now in a new school where he can really blossom as a teacher, he is far happier. I have co-taught with a teacher in physics who likes to provide context to the learning. In order to study the concepts of velocity and acceleration we did a slip and slide lab to take data in order to calculate acceleration and velocity. It was interesting to see physics come alive for those kids and still comply with the curriculum requirements. If I were wagering, I would definitely say we did.

“A vision without a task is a dream – a task without a vision is drudgery- but a task with vision can change the world.” Black Elk

“Too much emphasis has been placed on reforming school from the outside through policies and mandates. Too little has been paid to how schools can be shaped from within.” Roland Barth

 Just a few days ago I addressed the fact we are educating more diversified students in the United States than anywhere in the world. I borrowed from Black Elk a Lakota Sioux Holy Man who passed away nearly sixty years ago. Black Elk believed in the power of visions. Roland Barth was a professor at Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. His book Improving Schools from Within, was a best seller in 1991. His latest book Learning by heart, addresses the need for school reform and changes and that they need to come from changing the culture of schools. As I read both pieces and thought a Sioux holy man talking about making a vision real and a renowned educator saying we need to look within in order to elicit change maybe we should be listening to them and not politicians.

“Rarely do outside of school remedies work their way into the fabric of the schools or into the teacher’s lives, and more rarely into the classrooms. Therefore, they only offer a modest hope of influencing the basic culture of the school.” Roland Barth

“Community building must become the heart of any school improvement effort.” Thomas Sergiovanni

“The best we educational planners can do is to create the conditions for teachers and students to flourish and get out of their way.” Theodore Sizer

As I ponder my various authors I am reviewing and borrowing from today Barth, Sergiovanni and Sizer in the quotes above I find continuity. These men are all innovators and have made significant and powerful suggestions about education across the nation. Many school systems use the concept of learning communities that Sergiovanni promotes in his writing. I know that Roland Barth’s ideas are taught and re-taught in graduate schools nationwide, and teachers seldom leave college without hearing the name of Ted Sizer. What concerns me is why is it with the potential to change education we seem to be in a rut and really going nowhere different. Why do we continue to know what to do to better educate kids and then do not do it? I wish an answer were simple to place in writing, but I see blame as being in the leadership of schools. I see blame in school boards and in state education boards and eventually at a federal level. As the ideology leaves the classroom it goes from being real and meaningful to being business and is it cost effective? Can we afford this? Should we spend dollars on this? Somewhere children get left out and learning gets sat by the roadside.

“To cope with a changing world, ant entity must develop the capacity of shifting and changing – of developing new skills and attitudes; in short, the capability of learning.” A. DeGues, The Living Company

“The challenge of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

“You cannot have a learning organization without a shared vision…A shared vision provides a compass to keep learning on course when stress develops. The gap between vision and current reality is also a source of energy. If there were no gap, there would be no need for any action to move towards the vision. We call this gap creative tension.” Peter Senge

Dr. Peter Senge is a professor at MIT and renowned scholar in the field of learning. His books and theories are used in management schools and education studies. The idea of a collaborative effort in learning falls back into many ideas that have been mentioned in previous droppings dealing with Foxfire and John Dewey and the democratic classroom. Students learn more when it is relevant to them and they have some buy in. Proust provides that we need a new perception to see rather than using the same old mythology to view education and learning. We have to develop new skills not just use what is available. Although John Dewey’s ideas are still considered progressive at over a hundred years old always strikes me as interesting.

“We learn best from our experience, but we never directly experience the consequences of many of our most important decisions. In the absence of a great dream pettiness prevails. Shred visions foster risk taking, courage and innovation. Keeping the end in mind creates the confidence to make decisions even in moments of crisis.” Peter Senge

“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from non-conformity, the ability to turn your back on old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesteryear for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We mist dare to invent the future.”  Thomas Sankara African leader

“Schools are among the very few institutions that have remained almost entirely unchanged for most of this century.” Judith Aitken

“No other organization institution faces challenges as radical as those that will transform the school.”  Peter Drucker

“Today’s Schools are not Tomorrows Schools. That’s a fundamental misconception.”

David Lange

Author, speakers, management consultants, professors, educational leaders, and each of them a great teacher in their own right have been outspoken for years about our schools and learning. Why do we let politicians decide what our students should be learning or how we should be evaluating these students? Why do we put arbitrary numbers on children with disabilities as to who can and who cannot exempt or not exempt state mandated tests? One IQ point separates two students one who because they cannot pass the High School graduation tests is and receives a special education certificate of attendance and is counted as a drop out because they did not graduate and the other by submitting a portfolio of what learning occurred in high school graduates with a legitimate high school diploma and is a graduate. One IQ point separates the two and how they are assessed.

“The overwhelming number of teachers …are unable to name or describe a theory of learning that underlies what they do.” Alfie Kohn

“It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather… I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or dehumanized.” Haim Ginott

“In teaching students to think the emphasis is not on how many answers they know. Rather, the focus is on how well they behave when they don’t know.” Art Costa

I recall reading Alfie Kohn for the first time in 2001 at the suggestion of my principal who had formed a book club. The title of the book is The Schools our Children Deserve. As I read through these authors and quotes last night as I researched for my morning wanderings, I wonder can we ever really change the industrial complex that drives education? Can we unseat lobbyists and politicians who seek profits at the cost of our children’s learning? I wonder as I finish up today if we can overcome.

“In the absence of a great dream pettiness prevails. Shared visions foster risk taking, courage and innovation. Keeping the end in mind creates the confidence to make decisions even in moments of crisis.” Peter Senge

I started and end with a vision. “A vision without a task is a dream – a task without a vision is drudgery- but a task with vision can change the world.” Black Elk The great spiritual leader Black Elk spoke of his visions and Peter Senge offers a shared vision. I was once told it took leaders who had vision to truly lead, and I wonder if we can find those people within education who care enough about children and about learning to pave the way to a new understanding and realization of our educational system. 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

Can we even compare ethics and politics?

Bird Droppings May 27, 2021
Can we even compare ethics and politics?

I picked up a copy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution about five years ago this morning. The front page had various articles, but one caught my attention. Having been a student in psychology at Mercer University in Macon and required to go on a field trip to Central State Hospital. Central State Hospital, at that time in 1973 was the largest residential mental facility in the nation. A few months later I was doing a six-month internship at the same facility. Today I have several direct links through patients now being served by Georgia Mental Health. As I read the paper the article hit me hard. It was focused on an appointment to the directorship of Georgia State Mental Health. The person appointed by our Governor was not a psychologist or mental health employee of any sort but the former calendar keeper of the previous governor. Another tie is that she is the girl friend to the current governor’s spokesperson. The new head of mental health even made twenty-five thousand more than previous director. Interesting too in that Georgia is under investigation by federal authorities for the state of its mental health. Is ethics even a consideration of politics? Needless to say she did not last long.

I recall a local newspaper ad a half-page ad stating one of politicians running for congress in the state election was removing his opponent’s signs and here is the video link. There is a video of campaign folks in of course t-shirts for their candidate removing the other man’s signs and replacing with theirs. All I could do was laugh since I would not if paid vote for either. It really made my day when a thought crossed my mind from a line a dear friend uses in his conferences. Years ago, I went to a training seminar in Macon Georgia on Conduct Disorders. Dr. James Sutton from Texas was leading the conference. He started asking who was from elementary schools, middles school and finally high schools. He apologized to the one or two high school teachers myself included in the crowd saying if kids have gotten to high school with conduct disorders and little has been done there is a ninety nine percent chance they will end up in jail, used car salesman, evangelists and or dead. I happened to being driving by a used car lot run by a former pastor when the thought hit me about the ad since one of the politicians is a pastor. I am not saying these particular politicians are sociopaths just a statement in a conference from fourteen years ago sort of hit me.

Today’s reality in Georgia our Congressmen can vote a raise. Democrats are trying to tie minimum wage to their own raises which is nice and many workers who are on minimum wage are below poverty level and often for whatever reason limited or hindered in the types of jobs they can get. Fast food is not only industry based on minimum wage. In a right to work state literally any business is a minimum wage business.

“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

I find it funny why should we worry about money and success who needs it when gas has gone up and 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 raises each year proposed for congressmen per year would be more than the fulltime minimum wage paycheck for a year of a lesser worker. That is sort of like saying I am more than your equal, so I deserve this money a slap in the face to so very many. Sadly, they have no one to answer to but themselves. On a recent graph of productivity and income, income has stagnated while productivity has increased significantly. When comparing cost of living again income has decreased in comparison. 

“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. I find it so hard to fathom what some people do with billions of dollars.

“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 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

The ideas of self-esteem, self-understanding and knowing thy self as the ancient Greek philosopher said so many years ago are crucial. 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 they will justify not granting a raise to minimum wage. It is amazing what a few fast food lobbyists can do along with other wealthy business owners. Maybe that is how you justify a raise for yourself with the savings from not raising minimum wage. A long day today discussing and reading 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

I am trying to regurgitate a previous day thought

Morning Bird Droppings May 26, 2021
I am trying to regurgitate a previous day thought

Seven years ago, my youngest son was in a level one trauma center and was to be moved to a rehab facility. Just sort of hit me with all the news how lucky we can be sometimes. After sitting down at my computer in a haphazard sort of way I want to get back to my writing in the mornings. I am beginning with a crazy sort of title but then again very specific perhaps. I walked out into a mild morning with a haze in the sky behind the pines, plenty of humidity and whippoorwills calling that almost surrounded me with calls. It has been several days since I have heard those calls was almost a dream like feeling.

As I stood listening for a few moments to the calls so soft yet sinking into my soul I began to ponder as I tend to do. Nearly every day I sit down and write and some days it makes it into my daily or almost daily ritual Bird Droppings and others well into my files for later use. It has been a few months back that I received an email from a friend, a fellow teacher who I have never met in real time. I met through the acquaintance of another friend who I have met and who referred me to this other friend. Now I know that is confusing but actually how it happened. Anyhow I received a great series of old farmer quotes in this email from North Georgia and this one in particular caught my attention.

“Words that soak into your ears are whispered…not yelled” An old farmer’s advice.

After sorting emails and getting serious about writing I started with wanting to continue my thought from a previous day. Truth is so often an elusive quarry and somewhere along the line talking with my wife we got into technology and a new topic sort of evolved, the spiritual loss within children as we inundate them with technology and literally occupy every moment with a gadget or thing. Paradoxically I was registering some software this morning and got to one screen where you check which of the following you or your family own. There were thirty objects listed ranging from Blackberries to cable TV. We had twenty six of thirty in our household. Had we not been so against Apple computers excluding iPads and iPhones we might have had all 30. Actually, I do like Apple we just do not have one currently and the more I use my iPad and iPhone the more I like Apple.

As I thought of how much we count on and “need” all of these things it hit me how we replace aspects of our humanity with the immediateness of technology. I see anger transmission as a good example. I was reading various blogs on Facebook this morning and saw several venting which on an educational blog yesterday had a middles school principal asking parents of middle school students to shut down their children’s social networking sites in a Midwestern state. Some of this was in light of cyber bullying and several suicides linked to online bullying. I am old and can recall back in the days waiting till you see someone to argue or yell but now instantaneously you blog, email, text message and or cell phone immediately your anger. That is significant change in how we react and deal with life. So often we miss the journey since the destination is immediate.

“Life is about the journey not the destination …. We don’t know what tomorrow brings” Steven Tyler, AEROSMITH

So many years ago, I first read this line and have told the story many times of finding a yellow sticky note (again technology with 3M post-it notes being old as well) on my computer. Every once in a while, I get amazed, and as I was driving from point A to point B on a recent day a song was playing in my son’s truck, he swapped with me, so he had a working AC. It happened to be the Aerosmith CD with this line in it. An old Aerosmith song entitled Amazing from the 1993 album Get a Grip that never went higher than number three on Billboards top ten, but it was good enough to have its own Wikipedia site. However, for me it is a very powerful couple of lines about life. Over the years I have paraphrased and altered a bit so here is the real line from Steven Tyler’s lyrics. Promoting Aerosmith with Steven Tyler on American Idol and touring this summer I have heard.

“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

I never realized Steven Tyler was a developmentalist, I always just considered him a rocker. There are steps in each of our lives as I grow older with technology and without, I learn each moment is special and unique and intertwined with so many others. I have learned to enjoy and view the journey. I have my technology, but I use it to work with me and enhance not to substitute for any piece or part of my existence.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating you.” George Bernard Shaw

We each get up in the morning and begin the day usually very similar to the day previous. I was thinking back nearly ten years ago and how my house was quiet, everyone was gone. My wife and middle son were at Georgia Tech for orientation my son started there now almost ten years ago. My youngest was at a music camp for the week, I actually did not know if they were ready for him or not, he took his tuba, but his passion has always been the blues harp (harmonica) and still is. He and his cousin went to camp to do some serious jamming his cousin bringing his national steel guitar and my son his harmonicas. My son is always trying to turn some folks on to some old Robert Johnson songs instead of the standard pop music so many teenagers listened to. My son today is in his last semester at Piedmont College in Demorest Georgia in nursing school up in the heart of some awesome bluegrass music we shall see what happens when bluegrass hits blues.

I used to drive by my mother’s house many afternoons after school often dropping off some digital photos for my mother’s hobby or taking dinner. She over the years created one of kind greeting cards from photos and artwork for her family members. She used the image on the front and then writes a unique phrase for that person to go inside. I recall driving around looking for a picture of a spider web for her and in the process took 60 or more other photos one I have used as a screen saver on my laptop for some time now.

My oldest son many years back started a ten-gallon mini reef tank that has been through ups and downs and at last time was a twenty-gallon tank but now sitting idle. However, in basic a mini reef is a saltwater aquarium that simulates a coral reef, in miniature. The denizens in his had been primarily colonial polyps and coral which from a few feet away look like lumps of rock in a very brightly lit tank, but up close and the rocks have quarter inch creatures with tentacles waving in the current and are very much alive. I have taken many pictures over the years and one is of a group of anemones that cluster together each only a quarter inch wide covering a piece of coral rock with what looks like hair till you look closely and it is tiny tentacles catching microscopic creatures in the water. Tiny mantis shrimp that have hatched in the tank would be swimming about each less than a sixteenth of an inch What is amazing is how much beauty is contained in a space thirty-six inches long and thirteen inches wide and a foot high. I often think of life this way we miss so much when we do not look closely.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

Dr. Albert Schweitzer for many today is an unknown having passed away nearly sixty years ago. He was a humble doctor in the jungles of Africa and very well known in his time for his musical talent as well as his medicine. It is difficult to even find his books in print today. Of course if you Google or do an internet search he will pop up and his exploits of saving lives will be found. So many people are not content and struggle looking for what may be right in front of them literally all the time. Having a good outlook and open-minded perception are crucial to truly seeing all around you. In today’s world so often, this is impeded with the lack of altering of the truth. I did get into yesterday’s topic a bit on that.

“How far is far, how high is high? We’ll never know until we try.” California special Olympics song

“Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” Walt Disney

How many years ago there was a man walking through orange groves and palmettos in central Florida with a dream that today is one of the most visited places in the world, Disney World. It is all in the journey, it is walking along seeing all there is to see not missing that minute detail or word and with conviction and achieving your goals. No one can see what you see or hear what you hear only a vague proximity and only you will know when your goal is met. In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary stepped to the top of the world on Mt. Everest twenty-nine thousand feet plus above sea level and no one else had ever done that. Now Nepal and Mt. Everest is a nearly tourist trap albeit a very expensive one but many have made the summit and many more have died trying as of a recent major event with as many as three hundred people waiting in line to summit.

“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things — to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.” Sir Edmund Hillary

We all can achieve, we all can do great things, we all can overcome obstacles, it is with confidence, constancy, courage, and curiosity as Disney said. I might add one thing it is to always be looking and observing it is about trying to understand the depth and passion of our existence. Keep all in harm’s way on your minds 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

Why not just imagine?

Bird Droppings May 24, 2021
Why not just imagine?

I shared a few words from a song yesterday as I thought about my father and father-in-law. The words were borrowed from the great songwriter, poet and singer Bob Dylan from a song that has been covered by so many great bands and singers. AS I listen to Knockin on Heaven’s doors whether it is by Guns and Roses, Roger McGuinn, Eric Clapton, and or many other great bands and singers I still remember my youngest son’s version from various talent shows and programs. He would do a Axl Rose Bob Dylan duet of sorts with harmonica. But that last time I heard hm sing the song has stuck with me the most. It was the night my father passed away. I was thinking my dad and Bob Dylan yesterday. Bob Dylan turned 80 and it’s been fourteen years since my father has passed on.

I am sitting here listening to Blood on the tracks by Dylan I consider one of his best albums perhaps because of memories associated with it. I first heard this album playing in a friend’s car and asked what it was I knew it was Dylan but had not heard the songs. This was in Macon Georgia in 1975 right after the Album was released. I bought the eight track, later the cassette, and even later the CD, and finally downloaded in my Apple music one of the first I downloaded. My title today is about imagination. So why even bring up Dylan. He is recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as the greatest songwriter of all time, he is in the rock and roll hall of fame, and many considered him the greatest poet of our time. So why consider Dylan and imagination? I was looking for lyrics and by chance found a copy of Dylan’s notebook for Blood on the Tracks. Pages of words scribbled and notated dated and crossed out words. Poetry and songwriting is a brilliant form of creativity. Painting with words, creating an image we each can see if we listen and reflect. So, imagination, why not just imagine?   

Some days I wonder if adults I know have ever imagined even considered imagination. For example, have you ever lain on your back watching clouds trying to determine if this one is a dragon or a whale? I was driving home from Georgia Tech with my son and his roommate many years ago. They were planning on going to the premiere of the new Star Wars movie. As we drove my son mentioned an article, he read about video games and creativity. It was probably the exact opposite of what many of us would say, evidently this particular report indicated video games and their realism and such increase brain capacity for imagination. I will not vouch for that one, however. But I do know I do not see creativity and imagination among youngsters perhaps as much as I would like too anymore.

So many adults have chosen a rigid world of exactness, self-centeredness, and parameters tight around themselves sort of little boxes of comfort and calmness. They are often limiting themselves only to a few inches of space in this vast universe, stodgily staying within the lines and forcing others to do so as well. By dictionary terms creativity is “the ability to create”, that is a simple version of a complex idea.

“Some people will only love you as long as you fit in their box. Don’t be afraid to disappoint them” Lecrae Moore

“The creative process is the emergence in action of a novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of his life on the other.” Carl Rogers

A synthesis of things people have and hold on to in one hand and what the available materials might be on the other.

“One sees from this that genius: 1) is a talent to produce that to which no specific rules can be applied, not that to which learned and practiced skills can be applied; therefore, that originality is its primary characteristic. 2) Since there can also be original non-sense, its products are at the same time examples, i.e., that they must be exemplary; in fact, though themselves not products of imitation, they must serve as such for other products, that is, as measures or rules of judgment. 3) It cannot describe or scientifically establish how it brings its product about; rather, as an expression of nature simply provides the measure. Therefore, the creator of such a product does not know himself how the ideas come about, and does not have the ability to come up with these ideas at will or according to a plan, and cannot communicate a set of rules by which one could bring about similar products. (Presumably for this reason one uses the word “genius,” which also means a spirit who accompanies a human at birth, protects and guides him.) 4) Nature prescribes to art rather than science through genius; and this only insofar as art desires to be an art form.” W. Miller, Duke University

A long-winded definition that actually raises more questions than it defines. Creativity is a most difficult word to clearly define. Years ago, back to my youngest son who was being tested for “the gifted class”; his second-grade teacher saw glimpses of something a bit more than average children his age. His IQ test bolstered her thoughts, and his achievement tests were ok nothing that would knock you down and his grades well in some areas one hundred percent plus in some areas and in others that he was not interested in well he was passing. However, in Georgia at that time gifted labeling required a battery of tests and three out of four tests the child should exceed in to be considered gifted. This little kid had two out of four and indicator of grades was a loss, so he had to ace creativity test. So, on the given day the school psychologist took him aside and tested. The test was given and scored and given again several more times since the first one was obviously flawed and finally by the third time and similar results, she decided it was a real score. It seems he was off the charts in creativity and the tester had never scored a second-grade student so high.

I immediately pointed to genetics as a factor standing tall and puffing my chest out a bit. It was with that he ended up in gifted class. Since that time, I have been impressed with teachers and parents who encourage their children to imagine, to ponder and think beyond the required tasks assigned. After the testing, the teacher who tested my son asked if we did anything out of the ordinary. His spontaneous answers were what floored her in testing. Since he was four or so every day as I drove him to school, we would make up stories taking turns adding to the plot or even to what we were making up a story about. My father’s grandpa Niper (my great grandfather) stories were embellished and expanded often for days.

Some days the stories would be of imaginary creatures and often it was a contest to stump me with a creature I could not make up a story about and only once was I stumped. I do not recall the request and or what monster he had come up. But my son initiated the process and would offer twists and turns as we built the story. My kids grew up in the middle of 183 acres of farmland and they would often find their way to Paradise a pile of rocks and stones sitting on a slab of granite in amongst several trees. They would build tiny villages and forts with pebbles and small stones and take match box cars along to add to their game. Even today the word Paradise conjures up vivid memories for my kids and imagination and every once in a while, I will get asked to retell a Grandpa Niper story especially now that grandbabies are getting to storytelling age. We need to encourage each other teachers and parents not to hinder imagination. We need to stop infringing our limitations and our boxes and parameters on children’s minds and souls. We need to imagine as well and live each moment. So, it will be summer break soon and I will more than likely be telling Grandpa Niper stories to my grandkids. I am sitting in my office at home upstairs writing pondering and as always please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and be sure to give thanks always namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Always on my mind and in my heart

Bird Droppings May 24, 2021
Always on my mind and in my heart

I am getting a jump on Memorial Day as I have been thinking about my two fathers. I avoided writing yesterday as so many memories and thoughts consumed me. Three of my grandchildren were visiting and we basically stayed in the pool all day. As I am sitting here pondering this morning, I have had many friends who died in Viet Nam and in the Middles East wars. Both my father and father-in-law fought in wars previously. I firmly do not believe in war, but I do honor those who have served. For me, my father and father-in-law came to mind as I set the other evening with my wife. We were standing outside on this moonlit night gazing at the stars and clouds sliding by quietly in the night. A chorus of tree frogs and crickets kept us company in the dark. It is coming on summer the ambient temperature is high enough for plenty of chirping. I recall one day my mother before she passed on mention seeing my late father, waking her up during the night. She asked me about my father does he come to you. I calmly said yes.

Thinking back, the summer of 2007 holds many moments of sadness and still flitting around in the sadness many moments of joy. It was in May I received a call to the schools front office and was told to call my wife, I knew immediately something was wrong as she never calls the school for me other than emergency. My father in law had drowned while fishing at his favorite lake in middle Georgia. In June one evening I was driving down to hear my son present his rendition of “Knocking on Heavens door” at a talent show after spending a few moments with my mother and father. Early the next morning my mother called to tell me my father had passed in the night. Both of these fathers were veterans. My wife’s father served in the Air Force for twenty-five years retired and went back into Civil Service working on his beloved C-130’s. It seems he was a surprisingly good mechanic on the workhorse of the military. My father left college to enlist and served during World War II in the South Pacific in the Navy on an LSM delivering Marines and equipment to beach fronts throughout the area. I wrote on both days a dropping of sorts and would like to share them again today as a early memorial to my two fathers.

May 3, 2007
I remember his hands

It has been nearly forty years since I first saw his hands. I recall the day as those ugly big hands reached for mine to shake my hand as his daughter introduced me to him. Those Big ugly hands were creviced and creased from nearly fifty years of working on C-130 airplanes. Nearly fifty years of work etched into those hands with the black of oil and grease clinging to his finger nails so hard to clean off after tearing down and over-hauling engines so pilots could fly safely. Big ugly hands that I remember so clearly became beautiful reaching to hold his first grand son nearly thirty eight years ago.

For nearly forty years I watched those hands fold in prayer at meals and in church services. I watched as he placed his big hand on his daughters shoulder as we were wed. I watched so many times as he would hold his big hands down for a grandchild to cling to steady them as they learned to walk. I remember his hands.

I remember hands that looked so clumsy from being so worn and frayed skillfully cut fine curves on jig saw as he made model cars and planes for his grandchildren. I remember wondering how could those big hands carve such a small propeller for such a tiny plane that would come to sit on my sons shelve now nearly thirty years. I would laugh as his hands cut out flowers and reindeers in mass for friends and family and as his big hands painted away in bright colors each one of those potential gifts. How I remember those hands.

I remember hands that could cook fish so good you had to eat a ton. I remember hands that could fix a car or repair a bike. I remember hands reaching for the food bowls at Thanksgiving dinner, filling his plate and then reaching for another roll. I remember those hands holding a bird house up as he nailed it to a post and filled his bird feeders in the back yard. I remember watching those big hands put another log on the fire and poke at the coals. I remember those hands.

I remember the day those hands last held a cigarette so many years ago. I remember those big hands putting up pictures of grandchildren in the living room. I remember those hands filling his thermos and getting an extra jacket to head for the races in Cordele Georgia and taking ear muffs for his grandson. I remember those hands holding an ear of corn as we listened to country music down at Mossy Creek so many times. I remember those hands.

I often joked of how funny it would seem as those big hands held such a small fishing pole and reel. I remember those hands and the passion for fishing and being on the lake. I remember my son catching his first fish and being hugged by those big hands. I remember those hands videotaping every single event in his grandkids lives. I remember watching as the boat was loaded and truck hooked up. I remember those hands.

As long as I have all of these memories he will be here or there and I can sit and tell my children about those big hands. I remember those hands. It is hard to ponder as I do that all I now have is those memories and will not see those big hands reaching, hugging, holding, fishing, praying and shaking my hand again. It was a long drive home as I thought about what to write and say as I remember this man. I do know I remember his hands. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.

June 28, 2007
A new journey

I had dropped off some medicine yesterday afternoon at my parent’s home and spoke with my mother for a few minutes. Two of my nieces were there with my dad standing by his bed as I went in. He lay still not moving my mother said he has been like this now for some time. It was hard leaving and going to my next stop of the day. A feeling of apprehension seemed to carry with me. But there were other stops other pieces to that day’s journey.

I drove down to Oxford Georgia last evening to watch the talent show of my youngest son’s choir camp. My wife was tired from a hard day at work and she had to make several calls and wanted to watch a show she had missed previously. I stopped and picked up a water bottle for the journey, I only drink Evian. Fortunately that is about my only idiosyncrasy.

As I headed from the county just before dusk a tall dead tree was standing to my left as I drove by. Stark and free from bark nearly white in the waning hour. Atop the tree in the highest possible point sat two red tailed hawks. Watching me as I drove by, I thought having my camera what a picture, this could be one for National Geographic. But as instantly as the image presented itself it was gone in the speed of the car driving along and time I had to reach my destination.

I arrived just before they started and have always enjoyed the Emory at Oxford campus of Emory University. The grounds date back to early 1800’s and exotic trees and shrubs abound. I listened to a talented group of young people my son included as he did his rendition of Axel Rose and Bob Dylan singing a duet on the famous tune “Knocking on Heavens Door”. The song stuck with me as I drove away after the program. Bob Dylan wrote the song many years ago featured in the movie Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett in 1973.

Mama take this badge from me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s getting dark too dark to see
Feels like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

Knock-knock-knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock-knock-knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock-knock-knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock-knock-knockin’ on heaven’s door

I came home and sat talking and watching TV with my oldest son. They tend to stay up longer than me most nights. I told him how his brother played his duet again. It is sort of hard to explain as he comes out as Axel Rose of Guns and Roses fame and Bob Dylan at the same time. But the words hung with me as I continued my journey in to night, falling asleep. Around two in the morning I had a one dog night and funny it was because he was hungry. There is nothing like a dog chewing dry dog food at two in the morning.

I got up with my wife fully intending to get started on graduate school work I needed to be working on and walked around turning out lights finding my chair in the dark I thought my oldest son has work this morning I will awake when he walks by. I had several vivid dreams over the next two hours waking up as my son came by. I emailed a friend that knew my sons and had been a member of the Choir Camp for many years till graduating from high school and heading to college. I for some reason went and picked up my phone all I heard was “he is gone”.

I thought I responded and talked a few minutes and called my oldest and wife to let them know my dad had passed away. I walked into my middle son’s room and told him. This was around eight o’clock. I walked out to my quiet spot among some young pecan trees and thought pondered for a few minutes. I enjoy the smell of sage and sweet grass as the wisps of smoke rise in a morning air. Life is a circle I thought looking at some stones I had previously placed on the ground.

I told my son I was heading to town to get mail and such and drove off. Around ten thirty my mother called and asked if I got the message she left. I said no I talked to you earlier you said dad had passed away. She informed me she did not talk to me. I told her I would be over shortly and was fine.

It is strange how we respond as we consider all events all happenings and see that truly life is a circle a simple circle. No beginning and no end as we journey. We get to participate along the way interconnect and meet people. We gain understanding and wisdom as we travel this circle and for some most I would say the transitional points are painful and yet for others wondrous moments and new journeys. My father had told me numerous times he had done what he needed to do here and was ready. He passed away in his sleep content that he had been a great father, grandfather and great grandfather. There are many who knew him over the years from Scouting, Church, Red Cross, Safety and Loss Control, and his dear friends. Each has stories to tell of pieces of my father’s puzzle.

“Knocking on heaven’s door” keeps coming back as I recall my sons singing last night and so many years ago as another son left me a note after sitting all night with a teenager who had been in a car wreck “Life is about the journey not the destination”, a line from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. I think to the past few weeks with my father in law passing and a student just last week and today my dad. I mentioned to my wife last evening that wisdom comes with experience and time. There is a new journey a new day I wish my father well on his journey. Peace my father and friend.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Is there a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Bird Droppings May 21, 2021

Is there a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln

Perhaps in the scheme of things there are people who are inherently grouchy and or by Lincoln’s view they simply want to be grouchy. Sitting here pondering this morning I can recall bumping into many people like this. They are inherently grouchy. I am sure on certain days my students would say that about me. Perhaps we should label these folks and simply walk away. As I look deeper into the simple words above, we all can be happier as I think about Lincoln’s thought it is just wanting to be that way.

“Whatever happiness is in the world has arisen from a wish for the welfare of others; whatever misery there is has arisen from indulging selfishness.” Buddhist Proverb

I had not thought of happiness previously as simply as this idea. Happiness is oriented around others and therefore unhappiness more self-oriented. Lately a series of commercials the focus of the ad is cows in various situations of being happy, as the ads portray; happy cows make California cheese or some such thing. One commercial is a cow as she escapes from Wisconsin and the other cows are watching and one asks the other how long she has been gone and it has been several days and the cow is only a few feet past the fence. Maybe happy cows can’t make limburger cheese?

“True happiness arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self, and in the next, from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.” Joseph Addison

“Happiness is some sort of action.” Aristotle

Happiness seems to be different for different people for some it is in doing for others, for others it is friendship. As I read this morning I agree with Aristotle it is a word of action.

“The really happy man never laughs — seldom — though he may smile. He does not need to laugh, for laughter, like weeping is a relief of mental tension — and the happy are not over strung.” Prof. F. A. P. Aveling

“Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.” Mildred Barthal

As I think of students and occasionally there are some who shift from happy to sad I try and make a point of asking them if everything is ok. I can think of one student I don’t even know her name who always looks unhappy, never a smile and often alone and perhaps it is in the aloneness is the unhappiness. When I am out in large shopping venues which I try and avoid, a mall or such many times I will simply observe people while my wife does whatever women do at malls. That really isn’t a sexist statement but I still am trying to figure out what malls are for other than observation projects for doctoral dissertations. I know there are various stores with goods and literally run the gambit of humankind, perhaps it is a social gathering place to meet other people.

“When one is happy there is no time to be fatigued; being happy engrosses the whole attention.” Edward Frederic Benson

“The world’s literature and folklore are full of stories that point out how futile it can be to seek happiness. Rather, happiness is a blessing that comes to you as you go along; a treasure that you incidentally find.” Louis Binstock

It is difficult to explain a way of seeking happiness. Perhaps we cannot truly seek happiness. I recall several months back even in today’s modern age a rainbow was blazing in the sky and people were parked as close to the end as possible looking for the end and who knows a pot of gold. Thinking about happiness I ponder what makes me happy. It could be as simple as laughing in the hallway with students, and fellow teachers. Back in the day my Para pro and I would stand at my door deliberately talking to students. Often students who are quiet and many times alone we would try and single out. One day we might ask if they were lost or looking for a room. We are not good ones for directions we have been known to give wrong directions around school, but we try and laugh with students. We would try and make passing by our door more than just like everyone else’s. We ask about their weekend or who won last night’s softball game or basketball game. We are actively involved and you know what unintentionally we come back in after the bell and we are happy usually laughing pretty good at least smiling ourselves. Sometimes I forget to be that special teacher and it takes reminding. Teachers can be sad at times too.

“It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.” Hugo Black

“The truth is that all of us attain the greatest success and happiness possible in this life whenever we use our native capacities to their greatest extent.” Smiley Blanton

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world. It is having; someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” Allan K. Chalmers

If only all were so simply and yet maybe life is this simply and as we move through what we do and what we hope for and just seem to grow proportionately. Our needs and wants tend to fluctuate around being wanted and our understanding of that. What would it take for me to be happy and content today may be different than forty years ago and forty years from now more different again if I am still around.

“Happiness comes more from loving than being loved; and often when our affection seems wounded it is only our vanity bleeding. To love, and to be hurt often, and to love again — this is the brave and happy life.” J. E. Buckrose

“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter.” Albert Camus


I remember years ago watching the infectious smiles and happiness in a small church in Macon Georgia, The Church of The exceptional. The church founded in 1971 the idea was a place where mentally and physically impaired children and adults could worship together. Many times parents would leave children home and or not go to church. I recall one fellow Mike Porch who would greet everyone as they came in the door. He had a smile ear to ear and would shake your hand like there was no tomorrow and welcome you to his church. Mike had never been to public school, he had Downs Syndrome which in 1971 meant you would never do well in school. Amazing how a change in the law provided education for all students only a few years later, 1974. He was at that time a student and employee of The Macon Association for Retarded Citizens workshop. Mike has passed away since that day, but that smile and joy were infectious and many the people were cheered up by Mike as he greeted people joining him for church services.


“Did you ever see an unhappy horse? Did you ever see bird that had the blues? One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is because they are not trying to impress other birds and horses.” Dale Carnegie

“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” Hugh Downs

I was thinking that I was a creature of routine, after a long weekend it is hard to get sorted out and back on track. Especially in our crazy testing mode we are in at school. I am still getting sorted out from a being retired and now back even though it has been several months. What is funny our dog is out of sync too. Saturday morning a shift n who took him out and a late morning Sunday and he is off a bot as to what he is supposed to do go out stay in. Mine however is not as much routine as I was missing contact with students and with people. Interacting is where ideas and thinking permeate. When someone thinks different pulling away is not the answer it is immersing in and offering the differences. Who knows what doors may open or windows close?

“There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means — either may do — the result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier.” Benjamin Franklin

As I close for the day leave it to Ben Franklin to have the solution but for today and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Innocence is more than a definition.

Bird Droppings May 20, 2021

Innocence is more than a definition.

“Look at children. Of course, they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” the Dalai Lama, “Imagine All the People”

It has been a quite a few nights since my wife and I had a chance to go out together. I was thinking back to one evening as we sat down at our booth at a country restaurant, an elderly couple (older than me) carefully made their way to the adjacent booth. Both the husband and wife helped each other moving ever so slowly. After his wife had seated herself the husband went and fixed a plate at the buffet for her. When he returned to the table my wife happened to glance over and the woman was smiling as her husband came back to their table. My wife said “she looked like a child”, the child in her was coming out as she smiled.

 Many years ago, for a class in graduate human development, I developed a chart on the development of faith and trust. I had been reading a book by Dr. James Fowler professor and Director of Emory Candler School of Theology’s Ethic Center on the development of faith. It was interesting as I read and saw correlations of various concepts to other educational devlopmentalists such as Piaget, Erickson and even Freud.

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” John Ruskin

 When I read the passage from the Dalai Lama I was reminded of a stage I wrote about in my subsequent paper after research and reading Fowler’s book, the idea of learned trust. Children when they are born inherently trust and, in my paper, this is what I called it, a Universal trust. A baby instinctively trusts as it survives by literally instinct and in effect a trusting behavior, sucking reflexes only require milk to satisfy. A bitter taste and the baby would soon withdraw. The baby would learn to not suck. A simple example that as the child grows becomes more complex. Each new facet of life requires new information and understanding and soon a child learns trust. We go from an instinctual universal trust to a learned trust.

“Who would not rather trust and be deceived?” Eliza Cook

 Quite a few Sunday night’s back, going on sixteen years now I delivered my youngest son to a local restaurant where the Early Learners were having their Christmas banquet. Our high school has a group of fifteen or so, four-year old’s, under the supervision of a lead teacher involved in teaching Early Childhood Education. Actually, this is a technical class in our school, an experimental school in some ways a teaching school for high school students. Many of the little learners are children of teachers within our high school.

“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.” Frank Crane

 It seems my son had been Santa Claus for two years for the little learners. Matt inherited my father’s Santa suit. Dad, for as long as I can remember, has been Santa for our family. I recall a night in Modena Pa., Santa came through the fire escape window when I was four years old. This image is still vivid in my mind and many things are not as I get older. I check my driver’s license for name and address periodically. For one reason or another Matt had to wait, which meant sitting in the waiting area of the restaurant. Little children came through, some would hide behind their parents, and others would go up and sit beside him and or ask him questions. Each child was unique.

“No, I don’t understand my husband’s theory of relativity, but I know my husband, and I know he can be trusted.” Elsa Einstein

“Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

When Matt finally went into the Christmas party each child came up to him and I would take a photo. There was no questioning of whom this was, it was Santa. After all of the little learners came up, the teenagers, high school girls came and sat in Matt’s lap. Now I know why Matt did this each year. But within the context of these moments, trust was adamant. Children have learned to believe in, or not, Santa Claus, that is not an instinctual event.

“Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love — and to put its trust in life.” Joseph Conrad

So often we take the innocence of children and convert it to the learned ways of adulthood, greed, envy and all the other influences of mankind are learned. But I have found in life’s journey that trust does begin to filter back as time and age goes on. Thinking back to dinner with my wife and how she noticed the elderly woman’s smile, sometimes is it the glint in an eye or a smile from an elderly person that shows the inner child is still there. Perhaps it is that untouched innocence and universal trust has returned, or maybe like me, you forget all else, that you have learned not to trust. 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

Is curriculum sacred?

Bird Droppings May 19, 2021
Is curriculum sacred?

My wife and I are talking about taking a few days hiatus to head to the South Carolina coast with no schedule and little baggage. Just a spur of the moment trip. Thinking back to our last crazy trip our last journey included a nursery or two, some tourist traps a museum and always some good food. As I sit here thinking so often even a miniscule idea will trigger with me a significant memory.

We have a standing joke at our house about the rabbits that live around our yard. My wife continually mentions the book, Watership Downs, when addressing the bold creatures. A few days ago, I was heading to the front door when a young rabbit was standing at the door. The rabbit had no sales flyers or sample case so I am sure it was not a traveling sales bunny. But as I pondered and I did get photos of our door tapping rabbit I thought back to one of my earlier undergraduate experiences. I had a professor in 1969 at Eastern College in St. David’s Pennsylvania, Dr. Tony Campolo; he was and last I checked still a professor of sociology. He has made more of an impact on me in the years since I sat in his class and it was not because he was not a great professor for he was but it has been in reading and pondering his books since.

“While the would-be spiritual oracles fail to understand about our ‘advanced’ capitalist social system is that the means have been devised to make spiritual realities somewhat unreal to us. More accurately, ways have been found in our consumer-oriented society to reduce spiritual hungers to emotions that can be gratified by purchasing the things being sold to us through the mass media.” Dr. Tony Campolo

It is not just church related spiritual realities Dr. Campolo is talking about here. It is the just of who we are that inner being getting to know where we are in the world and why. Dr. Campolo was a theologian first and often would use Greek as he taught periodically to make a point.

“Koinonia, (fellowship) supposedly can be generated simply by drinking the right beer” Dr. Tony Campolo

As I have been reading in some curriculum texts it is an interdisciplinary event as well as it is an all-encompassing lived in totality undertaking? Curriculum is not just the linear understanding of a school room and class XYZ. Seeing curriculum as the tracks that my life’s train is riding on is perhaps a metaphorical stretch at best yet in the true sense of understanding it is so.

“It is through a concern with problems as they are relating to mankind at large that it may be possible to create the type of understanding that will enable man to use with wisdom those tools which have made this century the most promising and the most perilous he has ever known.” Elliot Eisner

For many years I have embraced within myself a different sort of understanding of the world. In Native American culture all is sacred, every leave, twig, rock, animal and human being.

“It was a quote from Krishnamurti that said – he was talking about education being the understanding of the self, and he said, ‘For it is each of us the whole of existence is gathered.’” K. Kesson

For me spiritual is simply walking out the door to a brilliant sunrise or full moon as it inspires and fulfills that within me. I see curriculum in a similar manner one of sacredness of spiritual and fulfillment more so than a curriculum map on a wall next to the essential question of the day. As I read curriculum theorists it is this group who are bringing back the sacredness of learning of understanding and perhaps returning a culture lost in the midst of being found.

“The Community of truth, the grace of things, the transcendent subject, the “secret” that “sits in the middle and knows” – these images emerge, for me, from my experience of reality as sacred and of the sacred as real. Others may arrive at similar understandings from different starting points. But I believe that knowing, teaching, and learning are grounded in sacred soil and that renewing my vocation as a teacher requires cultivating a sense of the sacred.” “I think the problem we are up against is that we are crippled in this modernist culture in speaking about this dimension, and the people that have experienced it throughout history – the mystics, the sages – it seems to me they do come back and report it as a deeply meaningful and moral realm.” Ron Miller

I was first introduced to Black Elk by a Creek friend whose grandfather was a holy man as well. He said I should read the book and get a feeling for what spirituality is about. Interesting as I read I also found this is what learning is about.

“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves” Black Elk

This is the outlook of Black Elk, Oglala Sioux holy man in his discussions and narrative of his visions as a child and as elder in the tribe with John Neihardt in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. This view Native Americans have of life we civilized folk have a difficult time with. Black Elk perceived that there was an all-encompassing view of all that is. In my naive beginning study of curriculum theory, I see aspects of this philosophy in curriculum theory and my analogy of a track a circular journey in life of education and learning.

“One of the paradoxes of our times is that in an age pervaded by the clash of conflicting ideologies so little effort is spent in enabling students to critically examine their values and beliefs.” Elliot Eisner

We tend to lose individualism in trying to accomplish everything and to standardize and sanitize and provide “curriculum” to our schools. I became a big fan of Elliot Eisner studying at Georgia Southern University so borrowing from Eisner again.

“As David Hume suggested, one cannot logically proceed from a description of what is to a conception of what ought to be.” “If the concept of mankind were used as an organizing element in the curriculum, certain differences in school programs might emerge.” Elliot Eisner

Curriculum is a living thing ongoing and pervasive. It is not a limiting plan of strategies as so many teachers presume. I think I have been pondering to long today and who knows maybe there are answers after all 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