About birddroppings

I am a College professor and Special Education high school teacher in Georgia. I have been teaching most recently for fifteen years. I have an extensive graphic arts background and industrial mangement training experience. My education includes undergraduate work in psychology, graduate degrees in behavior disorders, curriculum, education and theology.

Venting a bit on a Tuesday Morning

Bird Droppings November 21, 2017

Venting a bit on a Tuesday Morning

 

I was slack with my daily journaling over the past two weeks. I have written for two days straight this week. Yesterday and today but I read several alarming posts on friend’s pages on Facebook and on internet news sites. I followed links and they led to para military groups discussing declaring a civil war. Another link was an old one supposedly about President Obama declaring Marshall Law last December with no information just a title and graphic. This same link led to another about how the white race would be gone in twenty five years. I read all the comments about our former President being a communist and socialist and my response is neither socio-economic system is even closely being approached in this country.

We are in over drive capitalism here in the US, especially this time of year and with our current president elect. Greed rules above all else. We have highest stock market and biggest difference between wealthy and the rest of us ever in the history of our country.  Granted the great income difference is what Marx saw and wrote about as he pondered communism. However our government and that is both parties continues the process that maintains that elite few. Oil companies, defense contractors, pharmaceuticals, insurance and banking are booming in profits. That’s not communism and or socialism.

The recent election is a good example much of the budget suggested by the party that will be taking over impacts the very people who voted them in cutting social security, tax credits, child care deductions etc. are all in suggested budget of House leader Paul Ryan. Better yet privatize Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and let insurance companies run them. Kind of like health insurance where top five health insurance carriers CEO’s are all paid in excess of 20 million a year, none of which benefits my health care.

Taking away from any group of people is not socialism and or communism. I was told recently we are losing our freedoms and I asked which ones. Our freedom to not buy health insurance for an example was the reply. I offered than when you are sick cure yourself or pay your own bills. They asked you mean you would let me die and I said no you let yourself die. The worst post of the day was 79 million people voted and even with a boycott of black Friday last year 140 million went shopping that speaks to me more than then the idiotic posts and blogs about communism and socialism and civil war. As long as we get what we want we don’t care about anybody else. So I will borrow from scripture.

Matthew 19:16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” 19:17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” 19:18 “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19:19 honor your father and mother,’c and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 19:20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 19:22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” NIV

I am not one to use scripture often but so often those spouting all the innuendoes mentioned above are using scripture. We could debate what is meant by this passage since it is framed by an ancient Hebrew commonly used expression for something difficult a camel through the eye of a needle, but I look more at the excess in our world and specifically in our country. No one cares about the environment, starving children, or few other things other than making a buck. The XL pipeline Dakota pipeline are great examples. There are a huge group of Koch industries employees 35,000 promoting it through phone calls and conversation. Koch Industries owns 1.5 million acres of tar sands in Alberta. The pipeline is not carrying oil to benefit us here in US it is already in plans to go to Asia predominantly China. That has been in news off and on. Gas prices in US will not be impacted and why should they in a world of supply and demand price is based on who will pay the most we are bidding when we pay 2.00 a gallon with Chinese willing to pay more. The US is exporting more oil and refined oil products than any time in the history of our oil. The revolution that needs to occur is not one of military/militia/vigilante/gangs but one of people who care about others.

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” Mahatma Gandhi

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Trying to tie a knot with only one end

Bird Droppings November 20, 2017

Trying to tie a knot with only one end

 

It is a Monday morning and no one else moving around but me and I am about to go out and wander in the darkness for a bit. I have over the years enjoyed greeting the morning.  I have found my solace in the wee hours of the day being able to think more clearly uninfluenced by an encumbrances of the day. Over the years I have watched many sunrises and none have been equal to the last and no one had been more brilliant than the others each has been an uplifting moment for me. I try and share through images captured with my camera but truly do not do justice to the moment. I try and offer to those who comment try and take a look for yourself at the wonders of the morning and lately some of the images I have seen posted I am embarrassed to say are far more beautiful than any I have taken.

 

I went to my favorite spot to take photos of the sunrise and it was still relatively dark so I played with aperture settings and exposures and ended up with some interesting effects. I proceeded to the reservoir nearby and took a few more two ducks popped in but before I could get a shot flew off and in the dark I missed them. I returned to my spot again for a few more and a Great Horned Owl flew from the fence to a nearby tree. In front of me a few feet two deer walked across my path. So in my morning of meditation and sunrise pictures a good start to the day.

 

“Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” Charles Swindoll

 

It is the responses that the world sees this is how we are judged and how we are thought of. Each day I see hundreds of people coming through my room at the high school and their attitude about their life is perhaps the one thing that can make or break them in any given day. How we respond to what people see is what drives all things around us. If we bring an attitude for example a poor attitude to a given place and respond to seemingly inconsequential stimulus in an overt way because of that inherent bad attitude we will be perceived as being that which we possible really are not nor do we choose to be. Unfortunately our attitude at the moment drives the reality of others in their perceiving of us.

 

“The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him.” Arthur Schopenhauer

 

I think intelligence provides color and shades of gray to a black and white world. However it can be manipulated both positively and negatively. Look at a color blind test for example, a swirl of colors and yet some can see and others not. My students think I am joking when I say I cannot see numbers on color blind charts but can tell colors as well as any of them. Intelligence has nothing to do with it other than creating the test that is being seen. Conversely, perception, how we see that image is then how we interpret that image and or do not interpret it.

 

“Change is certain. Peace is followed by disturbances; departure of evil men by their return. Such recurrences should not constitute occasions for sadness but realities for awareness, so that one may be happy in the interim.” Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

Several issues at hand, first it is how we respond to a given event. Secondly how we perceive a given event and then determine that in fact that the event is happening. I have always enjoyed reading Shelly’s work and yet very seldom have I used a piece in my daily wanderings. Today was a day that had minor delays and changes in routine offering an imbalance to a morning. I am a creature of habit and change is difficult for me taking a week off from teaching due to a fall break last week and my mother being in the hospital alter the flow of the day. As we read Shelly’s line we know change is inevitable. If we plan and think and strategize change can be less significant and in effect can become more evolution than really a change. Is it a development of sorts, a gradually shifting from point A to point B and on to point C.

 

I was observing several students a few months back and change is what affects them more so than any other aspect of school. Offering choice can totally bewilder them. I have worked with several autistic teenagers and often choice is a difficult venue. Should I go to the rest room and or the bus since the bell rang. An either or situation and it is seemingly a difficult one for this one fellow as he stood in my door asking me what he should do. While afterwards it was humorous at the time it was a life altering event until he remembered he was on third load and had plenty of time. Still for each of us we live in a society of choice. Years ago I had a student who could not choose. He literally needed to be told what to wear by his mother and what to do during the day by his teachers. On his own he would always get into trouble by responding inappropriately to stimuli. Eventually he ended in jail serving three life sentences when all external restrictions were gone after his mother passed away.

 

I watch students who have similar tendencies and wonder what happens when we take away answering questions and offering help. What happens when a world designed by people who enjoy control and power chose to make you the scape goat. I once read a headline about enormous profits of oil companies and I look at price of gas. Any fool can see if you charge twice as much for an item profits will go up. Costs go up as fuel prices rise and I recall in a speech one of our previous national leaders stated it is ok for oil companies to reap record profits on high gas costs, because it is market driven. Interesting as I sit and think about those comments and whose side was he on. I now understand why we are having such difficult times with educational policies and other issues on a national level. If you can make a profit it is ok, it is market driven. Much of our educational policy is profit driven and market oriented in items like standardized tests and textbooks. Literally there are hundreds of billions of dollars in sales of educational materials.

 

Certain industries are at record levels while former main stays of our economy have been driven overseas. I seriously wonder how we did it, pushing jobs to China or where ever. I wonder, if I was an oilman or drug company president or oil construction company owner I think would be a happy camper right now. I got into a discussion with two former military now teachers earlier in the week. We were discussing World War II and current warfare. Literally thousands died in battles in World War II and today with our highly mechanized military handfuls die. But what was interesting was that in days gone by industry boomed during war time. We are in wars where for the first time during a major war we are hurting in jobs and in financial areas. We have no industry left it is all in other countries. We have to buy hardware and military equipment from heavy industries in other countries. Even in a one of last presidential campaign speech’s a politician bragged about saving billions on a fuel tanker airplane in a contract bid. The part left out was that instead of manufacturing in the US it would be built in France and 6000 jobs would be in another country. How much was that worth?

 

“All is focused on a bell shaped curve. Approximately twelve point five percent know something is fishy, twelve point five percent are being left behind and seventy five percent do not care because the response they see is feasible at the time and that is all that matters.” Former High School teacher, Frank Bird in regards to standardized testing

 

Looking back on the Iraq war sort of ok there are no weapons of mass destruction, but when we made the choice we were sure there were. It is ok to pay twice what we should for gas because others are and therefore it is market driven. What if we as consumers could determine the price of gas and profitability of those companies? What if medications were within reach of people instead of pricing to a point where lifesaving and threatening medications were unattainable for some? The new drug plans are so cumbersome most cannot use or holes in plans leave some stranded. What if we could have a utopia and everything was perfect and a bell shaped curve was now a flat line? Funny thing is you would be called a socialist. Most of the recent political jargon would say that is socialism. Ever wonder why when you are dead monitors show a flat line, it seems there are some who want people to flat line and eliminate the curve. Some who want to get everyone on the same wave length equal and no complaints at all?  In education it is a big one. It is the legislation of No Child Left Behind, NCLB, where all children are the same by law at least they will be in 2014. When I see that I nearly laugh having worked always in special education.

 

“If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.” Arthur Schopenhauer

 

As I sat and thought about all of this it is sort of like trying to tie a knot with only one end. Does it really do any good to have a knot if the other end is somewhere else? Well as I keep wondering I could use that knot in the end of a rope to knock some of the politicians in the head. It has been a chilly, windy, and supposedly snowy fall morning and I am still trying to gather up plants needing to come in for the warmth. It will be a good day and one filled with conversation and communication. I look forward to more. Please my dear friends keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Somewhere inside, perhaps within ourselves

Bird Droppings November 17, 2017
Somewhere inside, perhaps within ourselves

 

I have been away from my computer for nearly three days. Using my phone for emails and Facebook etc. I thought my outpatient surgery on Tuesday was a walk away situation but it became a little more involved. I basically got to sleep and lay around for the past couple of days. I am not complaining but I enjoy the morning pondering and thinking and of course writing. Pain medications have a way of blurring the brain. So today perhaps I am overthinking making up for some lost time.

 

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” Mary Engelbreit

 

I am very much a creature of routine of habit and when my daily path is altered I have occasion to be amiss. My days that go off in another direction or start late seem a bit out of kilter. Over the years I heard my father speak numerous times in his lectures and training sessions of W. Edwards Deming the man who changed Japan’s industry around. US industry knew of Deming but sort of turned a deaf ear. On the opposite end of the world Japan embraced Deming’s ideas.

 

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” W. Edwards Deming

 

Blunt and to the point Deming revolutionized industrial thinking and began the quality movement and in rebuilding Japanese industry as well as increasing production in the United States during World War II. It was the significant altering of industry in Japan that made the world pay heed to Deming and the quality movement.

 

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Victor Frankl

 

Philosophers and thinkers keep coming back to we may not be able to change the conditions but we can change ourselves. Often the indigenous medicine person would wander off into the wilderness to find him or herself through a vision. They would often forgo food and water for a period of time even submitting to a sweat lodge to assist in bringing about the vision. In today’s modern world such primitive endeavors are not always looked upon as acceptable and we seek other ways of finding one’s self. Some search within learning and understanding trying to delve deeper into the inner makings of mankind. Rationalizing, intellectualizing and forming theories and philosophical standards that stand the test of time.

 

“The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.” Henry Miller

 

In my observing and participating in the educational system I see this attitude daily. Functioning and attitudes are very much in line with Millers man who would literally cut off his own limbs for artificial ones to avoid the pain.

 

“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.” Washington Irving

 

Coming back to my starting point of habit and routine we would rather than take another form of transportation and or for other reasons perhaps time and speed we as humans seem to put up with simply being bruised on the other cheek at least back in the day.

 

“When you are through changing, you are through.” Bruce Barton

 

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.” John Kenneth Galbraith

 

I am as guilty as anyone on this point yet often I can prove my point. Many the times, I am often more so the one initiating the change or creating the dissidence that pushes for altering how a student does something. It is quite often a behavior that is deemed inappropriate for society and through modification or change might be made acceptable to others. Sometimes it is about conforming to what in a school setting falls into the rules and parameters that the majority aloe for and desire. In some areas I am not quite the advocate of change and I try in general to keep any such endeavor limited to those that provide a means for a student to live within and get through graduation. I use my own credo of doing no harm to others as a basis for behaviors that might need some tweaking and or changing

 

“The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” Ellen Glasgow

 

I have been a student and or teacher at eight possibly ten colleges and or universities and on several occasions I have worked with two professors in a course now several times. I have found that each time it is new alive and viable and different. I can see the wrapping is the same and the course number and name but it changes with the group of students. Each course has pieces that will be exactly like the last yet each too is subtly different. I have found no two groups in teaching are the same so how can we teach the same material the same way every time. Sadly this is what text book manufactures want and school systems and school boards and parent groups push for and get. In Georgia we now have CCP’s Common Core Practices getting under way. Every little nuance is accounted for and every moment a student is in the class room.

 

“Life is its own journey, presupposes its own change and movement, and one tries to arrest them at one’s eternal peril.” Laurens Van der Post

 

I have over the years written about this several times. Van der Post writes about the last Bushmen painter, as he remembers the day that the last painter died. There was a series of caves and rocks on the edge of the Kalahari that each time he visited during his childhood new paintings of animals, birds and other aspects of nature would be appearing on the rock face. It was also during this time the South African Government much like our own had chosen the path of genocide for a people, the Bushmen. Van der post writes about hearing as a child the gun shots and upon a visit to the rocks and caves on a later day seeing the paintings that were now a series of red slashes and warriors dying and then no more paintings. The last painter had recorded the beginning of the end and there was not another to take his place.

 

“Growth is the only evidence of life.” John Henry Newman

 

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” William Blake

 

As I look at the statements perhaps growth would have been looking at the Bushmen and seeing their views rather than destroying them. So many pathways in history have been of destruction rather than change, rather than seeing a different view.

 

“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.” Marcel Proust

 

“We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.” Lynn Hall

 

I seriously wondered as I read and thought about this quote. Maybe we do not change but come to grips with and accept who we are rather than trying to be the image of what we think others want us to be. Watching students in high school so many simply trying to be what others want them to be.

 

“What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.” Mignon McLaughlin

 

As I sit and ponder how true this is, each event in our life has led us here to this moment and place.

 

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” Ellen Glasgow

 

“If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Woodrow Wilson

 

I have a dear friend who constantly reminds me of this all movement is not forward and to that effect I once made an open ended rubric there were literally no parameters in any direction more of a shading as one event evolved into the next.

 

“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” Pauline R. Kezer

 

I really do like this illustration we find our grounding, our roots in the continuity of life but it is that new look that change that grows us and lifts us up.

 

“If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep       adding, keep talking, and keep advancing.” Saint Augustine

 

This is a profound statement and not to belittle who and what you are but to always be trying to be more than the point at which you are. Far too many people are content and stagnate repeating William Blake’s quote. “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.”

 

“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” Author Unknown

 

I generally like to attribute to someone a quote but this wording caught my attention a spin on Rhinehold Niebuhr’s words on his famous Serenity Prayer.

 

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

“Things do not change; we change.” Henry David Thoreau

 

A general and a philosopher offer similar ideas but it is truly up to us to provide the catalyst and effort.

 

“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.” Francis Bacon

 

Inevitable that change will occur through evolution, migration, alteration, dissemination, ramification, ossification, delineation, degradation and even in our own country segregation. Change is evident always and certain how we adapt and survive this is the crucial point.

 

“Every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour.” Arthur Schopenhauer

 

Describing Schopenhauer many writers see his works as unlike many of his time he is easier to read often making sense on the first read. He was one of the first European philosophers to look at and utilize eastern thought. As I read this line life is much like a loan shark we borrow pieces only to have to eventually pay back with interest often at a higher rate. Sitting here this morning I wonder when our interest will be due for our current situations. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasini (we are all related)

bird

Perhaps I had a vision walking in moonlight

Bird Droppings November 14, 2017
Perhaps I had a vision walking in moonlight

As I walked out in the morning, the smiling moon’s glow lit the area. While only just a small part of the moon it was still a beautiful picture presented. There was a sense of light about as I stood looking around, thinking as I do every morning. I will ponder my day and the week ahead even though I had cars to gas up and a run to Wal-Mart for odds and ends. I was reading very early this morning on one of my friend’s pages and a comment was made about me being a searcher. I have often felt that way as I wander through life. What was said about to me once many years ago from of all places, a psychic I had the chance of running into as I do find myself in those sort of places at times. She said I had been a searcher for a long time and perhaps still was. I am sort of a Daniel Boone of continually learning, searching, and pondering.

“I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach; we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forest and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know-unless it is to share our laughter. We searchers are ambitious only for life itself, for everything beautiful it can provide. Most of all we want to love and be loved. We want to live in a relationship that will not impede our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls; that will take us for what little we have to give. We do not want to prove ourselves to another or to compete for love.” James Kavanaugh

As I read this passage I thought of people who draw my attention and I theirs. My room was filled before class started today with ten or fifteen teenagers drawn here perhaps for donuts but I quickly hid them. It seems I Lost a bet in fourth block and it was for donuts. I wonder why many times kids come to talk and interact. Often I am too much for some and they tend to back away. For others they get drawn in to hear of what it is I am ranting about or listen to a story or read a thought. Often it is kindred spirits looking for and searching as Kavanaugh so eloquently writes about in this passage. Perhaps we are searchers looking for answers in the flow and ebb of life’s forces.
Walking in the moon light today was for me an awakening an energizing of sorts. As I watched wisps of smoke rise and circle about as I blew on embers of sweet grass and sage.
“…each of us must follow his own path… Wherever we are, whoever we are, there is always quite water in the center of your soul.” James Kavanaugh
No two journeys are the same and no two people see and hear the world about them in a manner that is can be construed as similar, while somehow we seem to exist together. I read a friend’s concerns about the world and the potential for peace. While he is so adamantly viewing all that is in one direction I may in my naiveté look another and following a path I believe will lead to that where I feel I need to go. It was in 1961 or so President Eisenhower warned against the coming Industrial Capitalistic Corporate powers and their efforts to take control. Many thinkers, philosophers believe that this is what has happened in our own country.

“The least of learning is done in the classrooms.” Thomas Merton, US religious author, clergyman, & Trappist monk (1915 – 1968)

I use Thomas Merton often in my writing the spiritual mysticism has always caught my attention. Thomas Merton was an avid and practicing pacifist and antiwar leader. Merton was found dead in his room in 1968 in Bangkok, while on a spiritual and peace activist journey against the wars in Southeast Asia. I was looking at these words and began to realize in my own life it has been the pondering and searching that has led to learning. The pieces of what I experience in the classroom then bolstered by reflection and wonder build into learning as if the classroom were only a sampling of what is to be learned.
It is an appetizer of sorts.
I was involved in a group meeting for my doctorate several weekends past and many times the idea of becoming an avid learner a seeker of learning was mentioned. I recall a recent paper where as I wrote and researched and read others ideas my own grew significantly. As I think of current methodologies in schooling of the cramming of ideas into vacant space or so many teachers think. What if we borrow from a Sydney J. Harris concept and implant the grain of learning and nurture it as a pearl diver nurtures the oysters, and eventually that grain of sand will be a pearl. Often bigger and brighter than any the originator could have conceived of.

“The three hardest tasks in the world are neither physical feats nor intellectual achievements, but moral acts: to return love for hate, to include the excluded, and to say, ‘I was wrong.’” Sydney J. Harris

I am sitting and listening this morning to R. Carlos Nakai’s Sundance Season, a series of pieces that are directly tied to a sacred ceremony of his ancestry within the Ute tribe, the Sundance Ceremony. I recall a poster print of a Native American chief in my father’s room on the man’s chest a series of scars. These are from the Sundance Ceremony. Nakai’s music on this series of songs is based on and derived from the ceremony, one of pain, of courage, and ultimately of vision. As I look this morning we continually in our modern endeavors avoid such undertakings.
I was thinking of students who are content with the seventy grades and the “I am passing” or that famous modern quote of “whatever”. I can envision Daniel Boone as he traced through the mountains of Kentucky and North Carolina climbing along a ridge and saying “whatever” and heading home to the fireplace. There is an eerie piece on this CD that is playing it is played on a whistle made from the ulna bone of a golden eagle. Most people play one note on an eagle bone whistle, Nakai plays five and the haunting melody encompasses you.

“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.” Thomas Merton

When I read this it had so many implications in learning and teaching in life in general and in our world view. I will strive for peace in my endeavors and thoughts each day. I will strive to promote learning in my students and a love of learning. There is a point when a student switches the switch and learning becomes second nature. It is finding that switch that is the difficult aspect of teaching. I watched the Ron Clark story a few nights back night and it was finding that switch that made the difference and the fact he never stopped looking when he could have walked away.

“The least of learning is done in the classrooms.” Thomas Merton

I am sitting, thinking and wondering about each day, the week ahead and holiday seasons ahead and so many people who are in need of our thoughts, prayers and understanding. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and to always give thanks.

My friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Should children be left behind?

Bird Droppings November 13, 2017

Should children be left behind?

 

“I believe that our own experience instructs us that the secret of education lies in respecting the pupil. It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret. By your tampering and thwarting and too much governing he may be hindered from his end and kept out of his own. Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude. But I hear the outcry which replies to this     suggestion: – Would you verily throw up the reins of public and private discipline; would you leave the young child to the mad career of his own passions and whimsies, and call this anarchy a respect for the child’s nature? I answer, – Respect the child, and respect him to the end, but also respect yourself. Be the companion of his thought, the friend of his friendship, the lover of his virtue, – but no kinsman of his sin. Let him find         you so true to yourself that you are the irreconcilable hater of his vice and the    imperturbable slighter of his trifling.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Nearly a hundred and fifty years ago my hero Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke about his idea of education and fortunately for me he wrote it down. Over the last fifteen years I have been directly involved in an educational program, Foxfire, which is based around John Dewey’s ideas on education. I was talking last Friday over lunch with a teacher and a local representative from PAGE, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, about education of all things. We discussed the idea of teaching top down as we in Georgia are being directed to do with new national common core standards. Here is where we are going and now how do we get there? That is more of real questions than why did you not get where you are supposed to be? Interestingly enough this first statement is what Emerson and Dewey were talking about. As we talked I mentioned Foxfire and how it was in effect how good teachers teach without even knowing anything about the concept. Really it is not something new and outlandish it is just putting a name on good teaching habits and providing a loose frame work of ten core practices to work with.

 

Coincidently my friend who was involved in the discussion had retrieved from the discard book cart some old Foxfire books. Periodically our media center discards old and or tattered books for teachers to get first crack at before throwing out. It seems that I have built a library on discarded books. My friend had salvaged four old Foxfire books from the cart earlier in the day.

 

“I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living. I believe that the school must represent present life-life as real and vital   to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the playground. I believe that education which does not occur through forms of life, or that are worth living for their own sake, is always a poor substitute for the genuine reality and tends to cramp and to deaden. I believe that the school, as an institution, should simplify existing social life; should reduce it, as it were, to an embryonic form. Existing life is so complex that the child cannot be brought into contact with it without either confusion or distraction; he is either overwhelmed by the multiplicity of activities which are going on, so that he loses his own power of orderly reaction, or he is so stimulated by these various activities that his powers are prematurely called into play and he becomes either unduly specialized or else disintegrated.” John Dewey

 

Learning is not a time limited, space limited, and or school building limited activity as many teachers think. It is not tied to a specific curriculum and text. Real learning is alive, ongoing, continuous, actively participatory and an integral part of societal involvement. As I looked at the Foxfire core practices it becomes apparent these are good teacher practices, these are good life practices, and this is where learning can truly occur.

 

1 • From the beginning, learner choice, design, and revision infuses the work teachers and learners do together.

2 • The work teachers and learners do together clearly manifests the attributes of the academic disciplines involved, so those attributes become habits of mind.

3 • The work teachers and students do together enables learners to make connections between the classroom work, the surrounding communities, and the world beyond their communities.

4 • The teacher serves as facilitator and collaborator.

5 • Active learning characterizes classroom activities.

6 • The learning process entails imagination and creativity.

7 • Classroom work includes peer teaching, small group work, and teamwork.

8 • The work of the classroom serves audiences beyond the teacher, thereby evoking the best efforts by the learners and providing feedback for improving subsequent performances.

9 • The work teachers and learners do together includes rigorous, ongoing assessment and evaluation.

10 • Reflection, an essential activity, takes place at key points throughout the work.

Foxfire fund Inc.

 

 

What intrigued me from my first involvement with Foxfire was how even the approach to learning our school system is using which is called Learning Focused Schools is within these eleven principles. This past summer in my research I found most good and great educational ideas actually incorporate or parallel these simple practices. Literally hundreds of good teachers in actual practice helped develop this concept over a long period of time. Emerson and Dewey were thinking along the same lines long before most of us were born. This is not a new fad it is simply good teaching. It is interesting, I recall long before I read Dewey or Emerson and or anything about Foxfire which was little more than a mountain word for a glowing fungus on a hillside. I have been in graduate education classes learning from teachers who taught in this manner, and have watched students learning as they were involved in this approach to education. So why is it so hard to get across to teachers of today? Could it be because it takes more work from the teachers to implement? You will see the word rigorous in Foxfire quite a bit and it is. But good teaching is rigorous. It is dynamic not static.

 

As I am working on my dissertation and researching about The Foxfire Approach to teaching I find teachers telling me they prefer to teach in this manner but often are criticized by peers and administration for not following curriculum maps and guides. An article in NEA’s weekly newsletter pointed to how so many new teachers are coming into the ranks with little or no true training in education and often a point and click mentality is all they have. They are bodies filling a space and pushing kids through. I have met several great teachers who have come through alternative approaches to teacher training, myself sort of although I did have a minor and major in education along the way I just never student taught. I switched my major to psychology along the way at the last minute to avoid taking a foreign language which was required for education majors at Mercer University in 1974.

 

I would suggest we need to instead of more new curriculums instill more adrenaline in teachers. Perhaps we could install a super energy drink machine outside of each teacher’s classroom and just prior to starting class require every teacher to get a caffeine jolt. Energy can be a very powerful thing in so many ways especially when it involves the passion for teaching. I have wandered and pondered enough for one day and will get off of my soap box for today but please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Today is day one or so I am told

Bird Droppings November 12, 2017
Today is day one or so I am told

 

Feeling old today now that I working on my sixty eighth year and a cold front coming in, my bones are aching. I remember nearly eleven years ago as we got closer to the last day in our old house it was actually appropriately to be the last day of the month. Sitting here in my writing nook thinking back too early in the morning it is a new day a glorious day and who knows what this day holds. I wonder each day as I start who I will meet, talk with and what new ideas may come around. Being accustom to early rising I am sitting here at my computer typing away getting thoughts down, organizing notes and a semblance of preparing for an interview Monday. It is a good day a chance of rain and or a chance of sun. I like the weather reports on the news they are always so vague and always covering every angle neither cloud nor sun for sure but possibility of either. I found this thought today as I sit and ponder.

 

“Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.” Matthew Flickstein, Journey To The Center

 

When I saw this I thought of a dear friend who passed away what seems decades ago today and was only a few years. A teenager who I would have never suspected had a feeling for Robert Frost. So for those of you who knew him, a special word for Travis, a special someone who could light up a room and generally get someone mad at the same time.

 

Nothing Gold Can Stay
By Robert Frost
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

 

When I went to the funeral of Travis and heard this poem read. This was his favorite poem. I had to think, I had to ponder and for myself I could not have remembered that verse though I am sure I read it somewhere in my wanderings. Travis was not a scholar and I do not mean that in a bad way he was quite the opposite so to say. Yet this verse was of significance to him, he carried it with him on a piece of paper in his wallet. Earlier today I wrote, responding to an email, about doing right and or doing good.

 

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.” Mother Teresa

 

A friend from Ohio sent me this quote and paraphrased if you are an atheist cover your ears, well actually your eyes unless someone is reading this to you. An atheist friend responded with. “All atheists have to do is substitute another word (like ‘conscience’) or thought for ‘God’ in the final sentence, and it works just as well. Or better, eliminate the final sentence, and it works even better, since the reader must come up with his own justification for doing the right thing.” As I think back to Travis, I honestly do not think he intentionally did wrong ever. Everything he did do, while annoying at times, loud at times, was joyful. It was often funny as I sit here, that was the word that popped in my mind, joyful.
I agree with that great philosopher and guru of gurus a dear friend from the Philadelphia area Dlog Nala, that leaving out the last sentence changes the passage a bit. So often in life we need excuses to do something even though it is right, what is in it for me that extrinsic motivation that drives mankind. Even in this analogy of doing for God there is a reason for doing good, rather than simply because it is right. While I am reminiscing going back many years to an argument in seminary. I was always intrigued how the mafia Godfather, on his death bed would have last rites and absolution even though he had murdered many people and pillaged the city through crime. I listened to many messages of salvation from sin.
I had a professor and an entire discussion group tell me how upset they were over the fact that this group of people we had just worked with, were going to hell because they could not accept their way of believing. The particular unit was a severe and profoundly disabled unit at Central state hospital back in the days of institutions, a large complex of buildings and humanity in Central Georgia in the early 1970’s. Many of the patients in this unit were bedridden and connected to feeding tubes, literally comatose. They were turned every hour or so to prevent bed sores. I always thought it was interesting that these folks in that unit were lost and the mafia godfather was not. The science of theology has a way of doing that.
It has been a number of years since another friend and I walked five miles every day discussing life and theology. Many the talks as we walked, of where and when and how and many of Travis and his impact on our own lives. I am amazed at how a sixteen year old could affect so many people.

 

“Everything comes to pass, nothing comes to stay.” Matthew Flickstein, Journey To The Center

 

We tend to get greedy when we have a good thing and never want to let go of it. I have been writing each morning for nearly fourteen years and on that morning, after holding Travis’s hand for most of the night a story I have told so many times. I had been watching monitors go the direction I was hoping they would not. The doctor said it was up to the family they would harvest organs when given permission. Travis was an organ donor, it was his wish and he even talked about it often. I went to my own home, after we had taken all the high school friends of Travis back after a night in the hospital. I sat down at my computer and I have related this so many times previously. There affixed to the monitor a yellow post-it note from my son.

 

“Dad” it was addressed to me. “Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

 

It was funny how it took my teenager, at that time, son to give me perspective. I learned more in that moment than I had in many years of discussion and classes. We all are on a journey each of us wandering often far from the path. My son now a teacher of science and I really do not think he knows how much he taught his old man in one line. Some of us never step out of the way from their travels. For many people it is always a straight and narrow pathway. However some of us choose to go down this side road and up that path. It is the journey we are on that is so important and it is on that journey we need to borrow from Mother Theresa and do what is right, do it anyway. Sitting here my computer alarm went off time to get busy. As I was reading the news on Yahoo a few minutes back, maybe a change in how we view our world situation is in the horizon coming up. I would hope so; life is so precious it is not a commodity like so much of our economy. We are not human capital as so many politicians and even educators would like to think. So as always for today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

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

 

 

I am always finding where community exists

Bird Droppings November 11, 2017

I am always finding where community exists

 

I am sitting listening to Allman Brother’s Fillmore East CD on a Saturday morning, a smiling moon sort of peaked out earlier this morning outside. As I drove to the corner store today I had several thoughts streaming through my head. How do two people see the same thing or read the same thing and still walk away with totally differing views? I was in an IEP yesterday and each person viewed differing pieces of the seven year old little girl’s life. I was saved in my thoughts by a friend at the counter, good morning Doctor. I overheard a comment made about humor and clowns and “IT” hit me. I can use the idea of a clown and half the room will think Steven King, the other half Ringling Brothers Circus. Another thought, Wounded Knee is considered in most history books the last great battle of the Plains. In Indian history it is considered one of the great massacres.

 

As I got near the end of my doctorial course work back in the day before I restarted I was involved in a class on educational ethics which featured nine texts all of which have an under lying current of caring and relationships as keys to education or I should say successful teaching. One of the books entitled Dreamkeepers, by Gloria Ladson-Billings, focuses on the notion of that a teacher is giving back to the community. Over the past few years I have heard numerous teachers discuss not wanting to be seen by students outside of school and literally not being a part of the school community. More than once I got into a debate of sorts while at school on this concept. Is it possible for a teacher to be a successful teacher and not be a part of the school community?

 

On my last trip to Barnes and Noble bookstore, I was looking for a book by J. Garrison, Dewey and Eros: Wisdom and desire in the art of teaching, which focuses on some philosophical ideas from John Dewey, considered by many one of the great minds in educational thought. As I went to the bookstore I ran into a student from my high school that had transferred to Georgia Southern University.

 

“In every integral experience there is form because there is dynamic organization. I call the organization dynamic ….. Because it has growth….William James aptly compared the course of a conscious experience to the alternate flights and perchings of a bird…. Each resting place in experience is an undergoing in which is absorbed and taken home the consequences of prior doing… If we move to rapidly, we get away from the base of supplies – of accrued meanings – the experience is flustered, thin and confused. If we dawdle too long after having extracted a net value, experience perishes of inanition.” John Dewey, Art as Experience, 1934

 

I thought back a few years and many conversations on synchronicity and a trip home from a class actually after a midterm in Advanced Behavioral Techniques; I was hungry since I had not really stopped since early in the morning. I knew one of my former swimmers from the high school team worked at Taco Bell and sure enough she was working and I said hi, coincidently the same student who I ran into at the bookstore this past weekend. As I pulled out of Taco Bell my sweet tooth struck and I ended up at Brewster’s, as close to homemade ice cream as you can get at fast food, sounded good and there two of my former advisees were also getting ice cream. We talked for a while about uptight teachers and who was not, an interesting subject. Why do teachers get so uptight or anybody for that matter? Brings to mind an interesting thought why so many teachers are on psych drugs for varying conditions?

 

As I talked several more students and former students pulled in I met girlfriends and boyfriends of each and such, coincidence perhaps but an average day for me it seems.  So often I mention the word coincidence and try to explain it. Recently in a letter to a friend I used the term of we are where we need to be right now at this moment and when we realize that all of a sudden so much more becomes clear. James Redfield an author refers to coincidence frequently and the idea that when you begin noticing coincidence it happens more often as you become attuned to it. Essentially as you become aware of your place in the puzzle the pieces all seem to fit better and more clearly.

 

“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” Carl Gustav Jung

 

Carl Jung was of the nature there was purpose in all that happened and he and his former partner Sigmund Freud disagreed to an extent on the whys of this. Jung coined a word synchronicity to explain his thoughts in the early 1900’s. Events and things happening at a specific time, specific people seemingly appear by chance but obviously not.

 

“His (Jung) notion of synchronicity is that there is a causal principle that links events having a similar meaning by their coincidence in time rather than sequentially. He claimed that there is a synchrony between the mind and the phenomenal world of perception.” Skeptic.com

 

“Some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry, and chaos theory. They are finding that the isolation and separation of objects from each other is more apparent than real; at deeper levels, everything — atoms, cells, molecules, plants, animals, people — participates in a sensitive, flowing web of information. Physicists have shown, for example, that if two photons are separated, no matter by how far, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other. “A Wink from the Cosmos, by Meg Lundstrom (Intuition Magazine, May 1996)

 

How does synchronicity tie into community? Somewhere in and among ideas and thoughts are answers. Some people seek answers through religion some seek answers through pure science others assume there are no answers and sit on a rock. Going back to my first thought I see teaching as a community and that in that community we are integral pieces and do interconnect many times and as for me today and yesterday in many differing places. I find throwing myself into that community as significant as walking into my class room on a school day. Each time I bump into a student it adds to their appreciation of my time and effort and gives me a piece of their puzzle too help deal with any issues that may come up when I have them in class.

 

Each of us can choose our direction and flow as humans, as friends, and as teachers if that is our chosen lot in life. The actual point I was making was when we are aware of our interactions with others that each moment we spend with a person affects not only that person but the next person they see or talk too as we too are affected. It is in this way community is built. I came away that night and yesterday, happy having talked with some folks that I had not seen in several weeks even several years and hopefully they too went away a bit happier. This is how life works and if we are aware of this imagine the effect and impact. If I know I will be affecting people beyond my contact with someone I will be more aware of how I affect them and so forth. I recall many years ago from I believe Dr. Glenn Doman, the old credence of leaving the person you are talking with smiling will affect ten others is true. If you involve the idea of coincidence, fact or fancy who knows but it sure happens a lot. So as I wander today through differing ideas please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

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