Bird Droppings April 12, 2022
I am going to school another day.
So often as I start my writings each morning, there has been an experience recently to build upon. Utilizing these previous experiences provides windows and doors into future experiences borrowing from John Dewey. I was driving through our town months back, and a shop I had seen numerous times caught my eye. It is a store that caters specifically to chefs and those of us who like to cook, selling fancy spices, exotic cheese, wines, and utensils. I stopped in, and I needed a good knife to cut and chop herbs as I cook. A wonderful lady greeted me as I walked in, and we talked for nearly an hour about education and cooking.
As life would have it, she was also a teacher of Emotional and Behavior Disorders before retirement. That sounds familiar, a small world perhaps synchronicity at work again in my life. I think I know what Carl G. Jung would say. My master’s degree major in graduate school is always confusing. Most teacher graduate students go for that Leadership degree required for administrative positions or maybe an instructional degree, and I went for Emotional Behavior Disorders.
It has been nearly fifteen years since I started my doctoral studies at Georgia Southern University. My major, for some, may be a bit obscure, being in curriculum theory. At that time, it was a relatively new endeavor entitled in the course catalog Curriculum Studies. One of the first pieces that caught my attention was “the autobiographical method of currere; a method focused on self-understanding” by William Pinar in his book, What is Curriculum Theory. As I discussed with this retired teacher and now shop owner and purveyor of fine cheese, wines, and meats, we talked of education and even various cuts of meats since my livestock background came out.
I have been listening as I read, write, and studied for a number of 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 forty 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 on 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, 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 experiences.
“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. Another jacket note caught my eye as I switched CDs to a Hawaiian-themed CD where Nakai and Keola Beamer, a Hawaiian slap guitar master, combined for the “Our Beloved Land” 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 a comment she made about how many of the courses are online and the evaluations that follow online 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 with long sleeves, dark shoes, and argyle socks. She had one pirate-type earring in one ear, and after removing her jacket and rolling up her sleeves, tattoos on her wrists covered her arms.
As I watched the class watch her as she came in, mainly conservative southern teachers, the reactions were interesting. I thought about my professor’s comment about why she did not understand why she always gets better reviews online. I thought as I listened to 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. 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, please keep all who are in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)