Bird Droppings September 13, 2022
What about routines?
I was walking about Kroger today. It wasn’t that long ago I was using one of those electric carts to race around the store, especially when my left leg was bothering me. No sooner did I get started on one of my last scoots, and the cart ran out of power. Numerous folks asked to help, and I was soon in another cart. I still have days when putting too much weight on my left leg bothers me. Cart two lasted about fifty feet, and I was moving groceries again. Finally, on cart four, I made it to check out and outside to my car. So, as usual, I got to socialize and talk to folks in Kroger, but in the process, a call was granted from a weird number I do not usually answer. Political research polling. I noticed how the questions were leading. I questioned the data they were using and was redirected about ten times. They had an agenda and questions designed to be as they sought a specific goal, not accurate opinions. The poor girl was probably sorry she called my number.
We are all creatures of habit and routine. Quite a few years ago, my wife called me in the wee hours of the morning as I was starting to write; our youngest son was sick. A virus had struck hard, but he was definitely a sick fellow. I had written for about an hour and was near finished when she called. After running her to the clinic for medicines and such and the store for fluids, I went back to writing, and in between, I lost what I had written. However, all was not lost. I wasn’t pleased with losing what I had written; however, in researching, I found an interesting author Donald Schon.
“We must, in other words, become adept at learning. We must become able not only to transform our institutions, in response to changing situations and requirements; we must invent and develop institutions which are ‘learning systems, that is to say, systems capable of bringing about their own continuing transformation.” Donald Schon
It has been many years since my former high school, where I taught for nearly twenty years, was audited and reviewed by SAC, the state high school accreditation committee. As I look at schools, however, I do not see as much of a change agent as Schon would demand. Yet schools constantly will follow whims and fancies. It might be this reading program, that one, or a new math system or science curriculum, and many of us are tired of “new” math curriculum state-mandated. Interestingly enough, writers make large sums of money, as do consultants coming up with these school programs. But in schools, there is a comfort zone, and many teachers will fall into that habit and/or routine. It is not about a continuing transformation, as Schon outlines.
“A learning system… must be one in which dynamic conservatism operates at such a level and in such a way as to permit change of state without intolerable threat to the essential functions the system fulfills for the self. Our systems need to maintain their identity and their ability to support the self-identity of those who belong to them. Still, they must at the same time be capable of transforming themselves.” Donald Scion, 1973
How do we keep a self-identity and still be able to change? How do we make our routines work for us?
“The need for public learning carries with it the need for a second kind of learning. If government is to learn to solve new public problems, it must also learn to create the systems for doing so and discard the structure and mechanisms grown up around old problems.” Donald Schon
I was thinking as I was writing about a former student who had OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Every day it would be a challenge to deal with this fellow when he went on a roll in his OCD. One particular morning he started in with, can I hold Stevie? And usually, when not a serious matter, I would let him ask, and I answered, no, not just yet. For those who do not know Stevie, she was the wonder snake. I had Stevie at school for nearly fourteen years until my last room changed to a much smaller room. Stevie was a ball python about 52 inches long and over thirty years old when she passed. She had been at the school most of my years. Anyhow each time he would ask, I would answer. Finally, a student talking with me and not in my class says Mr. Bird, that was 50 times he has asked you. Another little girl tapped the young man on the shoulder and said, I loveeeeeeee you. It was as smoochy and little girlish as could be done. My little OCD fellow took off across the room.
In some instances, letting an OCD individual run their course is fine, and I am in a world of my own on planned ignoring, but most times with OCD, it simply takes a change of thought process, and OCD stops abruptly. As I was reading Schon, this popped into my mind. Sometimes it is the way the problem and/or habit or routine is done is the issue, and a new way is sometimes needed abruptly. Often as in this case, it happens suddenly, but we do have time often, and as I do every day, reflection can be a tool for change.
“In every case of reflective activity, a person finds himself confronted by a given, present situation from which he has arrived at, or conclude to, something which is not present. The process of arriving at an idea of what is absent on the basis of what is at hand is inference. What is present carries or bears the mind over to the idea and ultimately the acceptance of something else.” John Dewey
We can review and reflect on our days and use past and present knowledge to build our next day and ideas from that and we can also illicit change through careful and calculated reflection.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
Every once in a while, an Einstein quote sounds good or even great. He was an intelligent man, to say the least. Sometimes we need to change our direction and our point of view to move on. Some might view the young man asking 52 times as stubborn or myself for not stopping him and letting him go on. But I watch teachers and parents do this daily, and they are not being treated for OCD. They are just caught in a rut. They continue doing the same thing daily, knowing there are better ideas and directions. Please take a few moments and think. Are you locked in or if provided with information could you make a change? Most of all, 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,
(We are all related)