I am reading a friend’s book for the sixth time.

Bird Droppings February 12, 2023
I am reading a friend’s book for the sixth time.

My youngest son is now a travel nurse in ICU units in South Georgia. My niece is a pediatric nurse in Savannah, and my wife is a family nurse practitioner. There is a community among nurses. About eight years ago, five student nurses at Georgia Southern University were killed in a severe car accident on their way to a final clinical. This hit me yesterday, maybe a note I read or post on Facebook. As a graduate student from Georgia Southern, this event impacted me. One of the girls injured in the accident was a graduate of my former high school, and she is now a practicing nurse. We tend to get protective, and for some reason, I thought about that crazy few days eight years back.

My oldest and I have been working on outdoor ponds and summer homes for several turtles and water plants. The rain has put a damper on any outside work for some weeks; perhaps a few hours of sunshine will let us get some serious work done this weekend. Since my leg injury and getting old, physical labor seems incompatible. Last night you could hear the whippoorwills, which was nice even though I was tired. I thought about a good friend Dr. James Sutton and one of his books today.

Dr. James Sutton sent me a copy nearly nine years ago, What parents need to know about ODD. Dr. Sutton is one of the leading writers and authorities on Oppositional Defiant Disorder. One of these days when Bird Droppings, a teacher journal, comes out the forward is by Dr. James Sutton. I have included his words in my dissertation. Lately, I have been reading academic books with numerous big words and long words, often useless in everyday settings; post-structuralism, phenomenology, semiotics, and hermeneutics are a few good ones. Many academics want to use words and pages to bolster their endeavors and question why common folk don’t understand.

I responded to Dr. Sutton with the following sentence or two to his book. My first experience with Dr. James Sutton was attending a conference in 2003 in Macon, Ga., listening to his ideas on working with some of the most demanding kids in education in Emotional Behavior Disorders. His thoughts hit the nail on the head, and this latest book, What Parents need to Know About ODD, is easy to read and understand and a valuable tool for parents and teachers who daily have to deal with the trials and tribulations of ODD kids. I recommend this book to my student’s parents and educational associates daily. This was not a sales pitch, but when combined with another issue, our federally mandated NCLB, the law requires teachers to use evidence-based practice, EBP, when dealing with exceptional children. This becomes a problem in special education because there is not much to work with. As I thought today, a good teacher with a good idea could be hindered by a packaged program that is an EBP and not as effective, and there have been many cases where teachers have been criticized for not using a recommended program.

Every year we lose good teachers who are hindered by the administration and packaged programs, of which many were researched by the company publishing the program. A few years back, I had a situation myself and was told this program was what I was to teach to a specific group of teenagers, and it was research-based. I called the publisher to verify what research was done. It was never done with a population near what it was being recommended for, and the one study was done with kids ten years younger and 20 IQ points higher, but it did work with them.

A Harvard study posted on June 14, 2006, states, “…the policy has had no significant impact on improving reading and math achievement since it was introduced in 2001, contradicting White House claims and potentially adding to concerns over academic competitiveness.” from The New York Times referring to NCLB. It is funny how we keep trying to make schools better, or I should say politicians keep trying, and I often wonder when teachers will be asked.

“I will stake my reputation and over thirty years of experience on this: Real change occurs when relationships improve.” Dr. James Sutton, What Parents need to know about ODD

I have watched wheels spin testing kids at the end of semesters and courses and the end of high school because laws say we have to that are established by politicians. Yet all you are truly testing is what someone knows at that moment, not what they learned at any given time or how well a teacher taught. My son, who recently graduated as a biology major, could take an end-of-course biology test without the course and pass it. Does that measure how much he learned or simply what he knows? Sadly, teachers and administrators are losing jobs, and these tests are threatening schools.

Recently in a discussion in an online class, I raised a question about NCLB and how kids were being left behind, and a teacher, an advanced degree teacher, offered, “well, some children want to be left behind.”

“The power paradox is a simple concept. It suggests that the more force we put into controlling an ODD child, the less effective those efforts become. Golf pros will tell you that when you try to muscle that ball down the fairway, looking for distance alone, there’s no telling where it will go. When you focus on form rather than force, however, the distance takes care of itself. It’s much the same idea in managing an ODD child.” Dr. James Sutton, What Parents need to know about ODD

So often, when I read Dr. Sutton’s ideas, they apply elsewhere. The power paradox is always in education; it is in relationships between people, the government, and the working of a school. Far too often, we go for power, not form; as I recalled many years ago, the TV show Kung Fu in which David Carridine was a Shaolin priest who had escaped to America after killing someone in self-defense with his martial arts. It was not about power but form the swan or deer, almost ballet movements yet lethal. It is so easy to get caught up in just words. I read numerous writer’s comments daily in blogs, books, and articles, and I have been having keeps coming up that the reader must understand the writer for communication to occur.

The experiences and perceptions must be there so that what is written is understood. One excellent writer I read daily uses riddles and word puzzles and plays on words; many have no clue what is being said and why. That is part of her mysticism, and it suddenly hits you.

“Our single most important challenge is, therefore, to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual. We must construct that people-centered society of freedom to guarantee all our citizens’ political liberties and human rights.” Nelson Mandela’s speech at the opening of the South African Congress

It has been nearly thirty years since South Africa became democratic, and how long will it be till we here in the United States can say democracy is back and not the rule of the dollar and lobbyists? Much of what I have been reading lately address the education issue and how today’s education is to make good consumers. Customer, one author calls college students, and on many campuses, that is the word used by the administration very much a corporate world. Historians have said that wars are always fought for money, and if we look back at any war in history, money was always a key factor. I questioned Viet Nam, and Johnson wanted the war effort to continue as the industry was getting a shot in the arm and the economy turned around. The power paradox in Iraq and most of the Middle East is fascinating. Have we ever focused on the form, for example, the individual in Iraq? Maybe we need to ask for Nelson Mandela’s help in Iraq. 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)

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