So close to finishing

Bird Droppings March 20, 2022
So close to finishing

So often, as I start my writings each morning, there has been an experience recently to build upon. It is utilizing these previous experiences that provide windows and doors into future experiences. I was driving through our town, and a shop I had seen numerous times caught my eye. It is a store that caters to cooks, selling fancy cheese, wines, and utensils. I stopped in, and I needed a good knife to cut and chop herbs as I cooked. A wonderful lady greeted me as I walked in, and we talked for nearly an hour about education and cooking. She was also a teacher of Emotional and Behavior Disorders before retirement. A small world, or is it synchronicity? I think I know what Dr. Carl G. Jung would say. My graduate school major is always confusing as most teacher graduate students go for that Leadership degree required for administrative positions, and mine was in Emotional Behavior Disorders.

It has been nearly fifteen years since I started my doctoral studies at Georgia Southern University, and I am nearly completed. Hopefully, I will have my final defense this spring. My major, for some, may be a bit obscure, being in curriculum theory with an emphasis on teaching and instruction; it is a relatively new endeavor entitled in the course catalog as Curriculum Studies. In his book What is Curriculum Theory, one of the first pieces that caught my attention in my early readings was “the autobiographical method of currere, a method focused on self-understanding” by William Pinar. As I discussed with this retired teacher and now shop owner and purveyor of fine cheese, wines, and meats, we talked of education, along with various cuts of meats and where my livestock background came out.

I have been listening as I read, write and study for many years now to R. Carlos Nakai, a Navaho-Ute from Arizona. Nakai is a classically trained coronet and trumpet player who took up the Native American seven-note flute thirty years ago. He carves his flutes from cedar, and his haunting melodies stir the soul and calm the wild beast. I play his music in my room at school. As I thought of Pinar’s thoughts on the autobiographical method, I recalled a note in one of Carlos Nakai’s CDs.

“A lot of what I’ve been taught culturally comes from an awareness of the environment. …How I feel is based on my impressions of being in certain spaces at certain times. Thinking back…on personal tribal stories and the history of my culture figures into how I organize my music.” R. Carlos Nakai

One of the founders of pragmatism in philosophy is John Dewey, who is well known for his contributions to education and progressivism. Many of his ideas are from the early 1900s, and Dewey based his thinking on our experience.

“Every experience lives on in further experiences. Hence the central problem of an education based on experience is to select the kind of present experiences that live fruitfully and create subsequent experiences.” John Dewey

Dewey is a challenging read, and since I was only looking for a quote, he is back on the shelf for now, but only a minute or two as I am using several Dewey books in papers I am currently working on. As I switched CDs to a Hawaiian-themed CD where Nakai and Keola Beamer, a Hawaiian slap guitar master combine for “Our Beloved Land,” another jacket note caught my eye.

“We were put on the earth to experience life in its totality. And if you’re not doing that, you’re essentially wasting your time.” R. Carlos Nakai

I thought of my professor in that first doctoral class as I read and a comment she made about how many of the courses are online and the evaluations that follow online of professors. She said she always gets better reviews with the online courses than in person. On one of the first days in class, she wore a black suit and starched white shirt long sleeves with dark shoes and argyle socks. She had one pirate-type earring in one ear. After removing her jacket and rolling up her sleeves, tattoos to her wrists covering her arms, it was interesting, especially to one such as I, who is constantly observing human nature. When she offered, she was in counseling and on meds for psychosis; things made better sense.

As I watched my class watch her as she came in being mostly relatively conservative southern teachers, the reactions were interesting. Still, as I thought to my professor’s comment about why she did not understand why she always gets better reviews online, I thought as I listened to her lecture being a recognized scholar in curriculum theory. Maybe the biases of the masses of people in the world are insignificant. You need to live life, and if you are not doing that, you are wasting time.

I got the impression within a few minutes; my professor was not wasting anyone’s time. She is who she is and is comfortable with that as maybe we all should try and be who knows what might happen with self-understanding and experiences. It comes down to all of the pieces of our life’s puzzle falling into place. As I close as always, please keep all who are in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts, and always give thanks.

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

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