Bird Droppings February 26, 2023
All of life is connected and intertwined.
I went out on my back porch for breakfast this morning, and I had gone out to get a few pictures of the sunrise but another morning of black and white sunrises in the cloud cover. I often turn my Merline Bird app on while outside as I miss many bird calls due to hearing loss, especially if I do not have my hearing aids. Today I picked up six birds I have not heard or seen this year, including the first pileated woodpecker in and around our house. As I listened and watched numerous birds come to my feeders, it made for a peaceful morning start to the day. I listened for over half an hour and then moved inside to my computer. It was time to get to writing. The idea and philosophy of all of life are connected and intertwined, which is central to my understanding of education and learning.
“In all likelihood, one is in the past while in the present. The present is then veiled; the past is manifest and apparent. However, so transparently present that is veiled., and one assumes oneself to be in the present when one is not. To ascertain where one is when one is, one must locate the past. Locating means identification means bracketing the past. Locating means looking at what is not ordinarily seen, at what is taken for granted, hence loosening oneself from it. As the past becomes, the present is revealed. So it is we aim at freedom from the past, freedom in the present. Such objections require entrance into the past as a first step.” William Pinar, Autobiography, Politics and Sexuality, 1992
As I sit here writing my dissertation on Curriculum Theory, it isn’t easy to escape the works of William Pinar. The past and present are intertwined and connected; we need to embrace our past but not let it overcome the present. As I thought about the Sydney J. Harris passage below, I recall a walk last Saturday morning to a quiet spot where I meditate. Something hit me as I faced east towards the rising sun, the gossamer threads of life interconnected with everything. They were iridescent and softly moving with the wind. Occasionally one thread would disconnect and float effortlessly upwards, sparkling and dancing as it went ever so slow. Each twig, plant, and branch seemed to be connected. A tiny thread was weaving through the entire visage before me, each rock and branch.
Most people would read this and scoff, yet in the early morning, as the sun rises and moves across the sky, spiders have been at work all night, weather permitting, moving between plants and rocks, trees and leaves, leaving silk threads. If you were standing in the midst of them, they would be invisible, yet with the sun behind sparkling in the light, a beautiful scene. Occasionally one thread disconnects and floats off, sparkling along the way as I sat pondering an old man sitting looking towards the east in the early morning many years ago and coming in to tell his grandchildren as I started the passage. On the back of my t-shirt, it reads all things are connected, and rightly so, by a thin gossamer strand of silk.
“Our task is to make our children into disciples of the good life by our own actions toward them and toward other people. This is the only effective discipline in the long run. But it is more arduous and takes longer than simply “laying down the law.” Before a child (or a nation) can accept the law, it has to learn why the law has been created for its own welfare.” Sydney J. Harris
Today I am faced with dealing with how to accomplish all that needs to be finished over the next few weeks. There is a house to clean, lesson plans, IEPs to write, goodwill run, groceries, papers to write, and more. Often in the teaching of special education, we use the term manifestation. Is it a manifestation of their disability, or are they choosing to do whatever got them in trouble? I find myself needing a manifestation. Am I lazy, or is my back keeping me from getting my yard work done?
“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle
“Self-command is the main discipline.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I spent six months involved in counseling on a psychiatric unit in a state mental facility many years ago. There was never a question about why something happened, being that they were considered combative psychotic adolescents, which was the term used to describe the unit. When someone got upset, solitary confinement, rather large doses of drugs, and a few strait jackets were employed. Little was occurring to change the behavior, rationalize those behaviors, and find why that behavior had occurred, simply dealing with the moment.
“Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more.” Harold Schoenberg
“Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” John Trapp
Often as I find a quote, the person behind those words has more to offer, as is the situation with Schoenberg, a music scholar. He is also a very prolific writer about great musicians and their music. John Trapp was a bible scholar with several biblical commentaries to his credit. Both men were writers who themselves were very self-disciplined.
“THE STUDY OF WORDS is useless unless it leads to the study of the ideas that the words stand for. When I am concerned about the proper use of words, it is not because of snobbism or superiority but because their improper use leads to poor ways of thinking. Take the word ‘discipline’ that we hear so much about nowadays in connection with the rearing of children. I know something about word derivations; you know that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same Latin root discipulus, which means ‘to learn, to follow.’” Sydney J. Harris, Strictly speaking
Sitting here looking up references and quotes related to discipline and ending up with the example, learning and following this is semantics as we go. To operate a public school, we have to have standards, so we have rules. From a behaviorist standpoint, it is easy to say ABC, Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. First, you have an antecedent that stimulus is what causes the behavior. Then you have the behavior, which is the event or action we see, feel, or hear about. Finally, we have consequences which can be what we do in response or what the students or person issuing the behavior receives for eliciting that behavior.
“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?” Leonard Cohen
“Act the way you’d like to be, and soon you’ll be the way you act.” George W. Crane
“To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.” Rene Descartes
It is always about what we do. Over the past few days, I have been discussing perception, which is how we see events and happenings with several teachers and friends. One of the categories in writing a behavioral plan for a student is planning to ignore, often simply tuning out a behavior. Often with no stimulus to keep it going, a behavior will disappear. So often, it is getting the attention that is the desired consequence.
“People don’t change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so.” Fran Tarkenton
“Physics does not change the nature of the world it studies, and no science of behavior can change the essential nature of man, even though both sciences yield technologies with a vast power to manipulate the subject matters.” B. F. Skinner
These lines from a football hall of fame quarterback and the father of behaviorism are intriguing. These two men are from distinctly different arenas yet have come to remarkably similar conclusions in their thoughts. Tarkenton has built an internationally known management consulting firm based on his thought. It has to make a difference to the person for them to change. Skinner sees we can manipulate the subject matter to offer alternative consequences to hopefully change the behaviors to ones we can accept. A Sydney J. Harris line caught my attention this morning as I started on discipline as I prepared for several IEPs later this week, some related to behavior.
“…by our own actions toward them and toward other people.” Sydney J. Harris
So often, it is not the consequences that deter or change a behavior but our actions toward the person and those around us. It is the example we set and not what we say that matters. Today, as we venture out, keep all in harm’s way on your mind and heart, and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)