Bird Droppings November 7, 2021
Perhaps, within ourselves, is the change we need?
I have been away from my computer for a few minutes; hopefully, I will email my first chapter to my dissertation chair by Thursday. I have a feeling of accomplishment and ending my procrastination. I am not complaining, but I enjoy pondering and thinking, and writing about random educational, philosophical, spiritual, and other eclectic things in the morning. For me, specific writing topics can have a way of blurring the brain. So today, perhaps I am overthinking, making up for some lost time. I did write some comments for a friend’s teachers’ evaluation.
“If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” Mary Engelbreit
I am very much a creature of a routine of habit, and when my daily path is altered, I have occasion to be amiss. My days that go off in another direction or start late seem a bit out of kilter. Over the years, I heard my father speak numerous times in his lectures and training sessions of W. Edwards Deming, the man who changed Japan’s industry around after WWII. US industry knew of Deming but sort of turned a deaf ear. On the opposite end of the world, Japan embraced Deming’s ideas.
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” W. Edwards Deming
Blunt and to the point, Deming revolutionized industrial thinking and began the quality movement and rebuilding Japanese industry and increasing production in the United States during World War II. The significant altering of industry in Japan made the world pay heed to Deming and the quality movement.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Victor Frankl
Philosophers and thinkers keep coming back to we may not change the conditions, but we can change ourselves. Often the indigenous medicine person would wander off into the wilderness to find him or herself through a vision. They would often forgo food and water for a period of time, even submitting to a sweat lodge to bring about the vision. In today’s modern world, such primitive endeavors are not always considered acceptable, and we seek other ways of finding ourselves. Some search within learning and understanding, trying to delve deeper into the inner makings of humanity’s undertakings and rationalizing, intellectualizing, and forming theories and philosophical standards that stand the test of time.
“The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.” Henry Miller
In my observing and participating in the educational system, I see this attitude daily. Functioning and attitudes are very much in line with Miller’s man, who would cut off his limbs for artificial ones to avoid the pain.
“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.” Washington Irving
Coming back to my starting point of habit and routine, we would instead take another form of transportation and or for other reasons, perhaps time and speed we as humans seem to put up with being bruised on the other cheek, at least back in the day.
“When you are through changing, you are through.” Bruce Barton
“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” John Kenneth Galbraith
I am as guilty as anyone on this point, yet often I can prove my point. I am usually the one initiating the change or creating the dissidence that pushes for altering how a student does something. It is quite often a behavior deemed inappropriate for society and might be made acceptable to others through modification or change. Sometimes it is about conforming to what in a school setting falls into the rules and parameters that the majority allows for and desires. In some areas, I am not quite the advocate of change, and I try in general to keep any such endeavor limited to those that provide a means for a student to live within and get through graduation. I use my philosophy of doing no harm to others as a basis for behaviors that might need some tweaking and or changing
“The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” Ellen Glasgow
I have been a student and or teacher in ten colleges and universities and on numerous occasions. I have worked with a team of instructors and professors in many courses. I have found that each time it is new, alive and viable, and different. I can see the name and the course number are the same, but it changes with the group of students. Each course has pieces that will be exactly like the last, yet each to is subtly different. I have found no two groups in teaching are the same, so how can we teach the same material the same way every time. Sadly, textbook manufacturers want this; school systems, school boards, and parent groups push for continuity and or uniformity. In Georgia, we now have CCP’s Common Core Practices. Every little nuance is accounted for and of every moment a student is in the classroom.
“Life is its own journey, presupposes its own change and movement, and one tries to arrest them at one’s eternal peril.” Laurens Van der Post
I have over the years written about this several times. Van der Post writes about the last Bushmen painter, as he remembers the day that the last painter died. There was a series of caves and rocks on the edge of the Kalahari that each time he visited during his childhood, new paintings of animals, birds, and other aspects of nature would appear on the rock face. During this time, the South African Government, much like our own, had chosen the path of genocide for a people, the Bushmen. Van der post writes about hearing gunshots as a child and upon a visit to the rocks and caves on a latter-day seeing the paintings that were now a series of red slashes and warriors dying and then no more paintings. The last painter had recorded the beginning of the end, and there was not another to take his place.
“Growth is the only evidence of life.” John Henry Newman
“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.” William Blake
As I look at the statements, perhaps growth would have been looking at the Bushmen and seeing their views rather than destroying them. So many pathways in history have been of destruction rather than change, rather than seeing a different perspective.
“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.” Marcel Proust
“We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.” Lynn Hall
I seriously wondered as I read and thought about this quote. Watching students in high school, so many simply trying to be what others want them to be. Maybe we do not change but come to grips with and accept who we are rather than trying to be the image of what we think others want us to be.
“What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.” Mignon McLaughlin
As I sit and ponder how true this is, each event in our life has led us here to this moment and place.
“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” Ellen Glasgow
“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Woodrow Wilson
I have a dear friend who constantly reminds me that all movement is not forward, and I once made an open-ended rubric to that effect. There were no parameters in any direction, more shading as one event evolved into the next.
“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” Pauline R. Kezer
I do like this illustration we find our grounding, our roots in the continuity of life, but it is that new look that changes that grows us and lifts us.
“If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself, there you have remained. Keep adding, keep talking, and keep advancing.” Saint Augustine
This is a profound statement, not to belittle who and what you are but always to try to be more than the point at which you are. Far too many people are content and stagnate, repeating William Blake’s quote. “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.”
“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” Author Unknown
I generally like to attribute to someone a quote, but this wording caught my attention a spin on Rhinehold Niebuhr’s words on his famous Serenity Prayer.
“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Things do not change; we change.” Henry David Thoreau
A general and a philosopher offer similar ideas, but it is truly up to us to provide the catalyst and effort.
“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator.” Francis Bacon
Inevitable that change will occur through evolution, migration, alteration, dissemination, ramification, ossification, delineation, degradation, and even segregation in our own country. Change is always evident, and indeed, how we adapt and survive is the crucial point.
“Every possession and happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time and may therefore be demanded back the next hour.” Arthur Schopenhauer
Describing Schopenhauer, many writers see his works as, unlike many of his time, he is easier to read, often making sense on the first read. He was one of the first European philosophers to look at and utilize eastern thought. As I read this line, life is much like a loan shark. We borrow pieces only to have to eventually pay back with interest, often at a higher rate. Sitting here this morning, I wonder when our interest will be due for our current situations. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all related)