About birddroppings

I am a College instructor part time, formerly retired Special Education high school teacher in Georgia now back in class room. I have been teaching most recently for twenty years. I have an extensive graphic arts background and industrial management training experience. My education includes undergraduate work in psychology, graduate degrees in behavior disorders, curriculum, education and theology.

A wind in the trees

Bird Droppings April 7, 2020
A wind in the trees

 

Over the past weeks, we have had several storms come through the area. Just before I went to bed last night according to the weather we were to get another today, although the forecast is now for tomorrow. Several times during the night I awakened and no storm was blowing and our dog finally slept through the night. Of course, no one else ever hears him but me and I get up and let him run about checking out the back yard running whichever way he feels like going. When it is just wind he will search diligently when storms come through he just keeps me awake all night barking and going out to bark at the storm. Two nights back was one of those nights I was seriously thinking about duct tape to silence the dog and finally no storm just a steady wind blowing through the trees several times I went out and listened. While a bit chilly still an eerie sound is the wind in the tops of the pine trees.

 

In the old days, I would walk outside at school during the day and watch clouds pass by, lately, the sky has been clear and blue and huge white clouds pass by in a never-ending procession. The pines just past our house often are moving with a steady wind and almost hypnotic in their movement. I was looking over reports I have to do for our year-end over the next few weeks and found a bookmark on my desk my wife gave me several years ago. Several quotes from Chief Joseph and an artist rendition of the great Nez Perce leader on the bookmark.

 

“I am tired of talk that comes to nothing it makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and broken promises. There has been too much talking by men who had no right to talk.” Chief Joseph

 

I thought about our current leaders and past leaders who these words were addressing. Yesterday a Senator accused several major companies of making over a hundred billion in excess profit off of the American public over the past few years that is over a hundred dollars per person per year. Of course, company’s attitude has been well they are willing to pay why not a profit for our stock holders. Their other point has been that several of these major companies paid little or no taxes. It seems the double talk is about to end at least hopefully. I got gas for my wife’s car this morning visiting my second favorite store Quick Trip. The price of gas is nearly the lowest it has been. There are no lines, screaming and hollering but the CEO of Exxon is smiling as plans to pump money into the oil industry are being planned. We have become used to low priced gas. We have become used to the fact it is low because of a price war between countries. We are producing more gas and oil than ever before in this country and still it is a shell game on the American people by big business and our government. Capitalism rocks if you are a multi billionaire oil gas baron.

 

For many years not only, the Native Americans as I look back at Chief Josephs words, but we average Americans from Europe, Africa and Asia as well have been duped by our leaders and by businesses because we have been willing to settle for what is offered. I watch in education as federal laws designed supposedly to improve education are in effect stifling education but profiting corporations. A small example is in Georgia a new math curriculum that latest about three years and caused some major hassles in schools and with students. Book companies reaped a small fortune however. Georgia is still struggling with math and amazingly enough instead of remediating math they make math curriculum harder. The logic befuddles me. If we know our children are having a difficult tie with math why make it harder. If I were in industry and had a problem I search for the cause and use risk management. Simply put treat, tolerate, transfer, or terminate the problem. In education we have a simpler solution we simply compound the problem.

 

“If you tie a horse to a stake do you expect him to grow fat…?” Chief Joseph

 

As federal and states mandate on schools that are failing to meet standards are imposed for various reasons. Some states are suing in federal court the law this aw or that law have been doing a paradoxical sort of thing actually leaving children behind, and have been making demands on schools without the resources to back up the programs and laws. We have issues with how children are being taught yet evaluate not actually what they have learned but what they know at the point they take a test. Sadly the scores being used are not a valid indicator of learning.

 

As Chief Joseph surrendered to a superior force outnumbered and outmanned he made his mark on history through his words.

 

“It is cold, and we have no blankets; the little children are starving to death. My people some of them have run away to the hills and have no blankets no food No one where they are perhaps freezing to death I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find some of them among the dead. Hear me oh chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more.” Chief Joseph

 

After his pleas for asylum in Canada went unattended he stopped fleeing the approaching army and the Nez – Perce had been defeated, they had out maneuvered and out run a superior force for months but their supplies were low, morale was low and winter was coming. A proud man laid down his rifle. I wonder as I think back and even look at today how we deal with people so seldom can we accept anyone as equal. So seldom can we try and live in peace without making demands. Why is it that those in power have to flex muscle and have what is not theirs to have. So often we interfere in other countries. We interfere in our own citizen’s rights and privacy. Power is such an addictive thing. Power a simple word and a simple thought I wonder why we so often abuse it. Please keep all in harm’s way in your hearts and on your minds and to always give thanks namaste.

 

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

 

Sometimes I feel like I am missing a day

Bird Droppings April 6, 2020
Sometimes I feel like I am missing a day

 

So often I speak of coincidences in life. A few evenings back while helping my wife with some graphics and issues in a class she was teaching I was also thinking about a new Bird Droppings. Some ideas had hit me and I was putting to paper or hard drive so to say. When I got up the next day I was planning to finish and post it was not anywhere to be found. I was frustrated and bewildered I would have sworn I wrote a dropping a great one at that. So, I started and entitled today as missing a day and was going to make excuses about my encroaching senility and old age memory losses and such, and poof the answer was in front on my nose. I did it again I had been writing and closed out from a page, I started getting ready to post with word closing instead of minimizing.

 

My dropping for today disappeared I had not saved it as of yet. I was discussing science and the measuring of data in various graduate school classes. Research can take various forms of quantitative and qualitative being two of the most frequently used. Being of the nature that teaching is an art form and there are some rather difficult pieces of that aspect to measure. Areas such as intuition and coincidence it seems are difficult commodities to evaluate effectively. An effective teacher is an intuitive one and personally, I think a good teacher is also surrounded by coincidence.
Carl Jung split with Freud over similar matters and coined the word synchronicity. Back a few weeks, as I was talking, it seems I never stop talking and I was drawn to the front door of my room at school and as I stepped out a student passed by exactly as I stepped to the door. It was not they are going by my door, me coming to the door but that this student had a problem. If I had been a few seconds later even a moment later and that student would have passed by. I was drawn to the door like a moth to a flame and was I meant to interfere, to get involved in a problem, or simply to offer advice or questions, coincidence, a chance happening, or was it synchronicity perhaps.

 

“The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them, or a shirking of ethical responsibility, deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life.” Carl Jung

 

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” Eric Fromm

 

Which direction do we go as we try and unravel the human condition the frail substance about which we have evolved? Can we separate out and categorize, analyze and catalog that which makes us human versus a pack animal. Studies of herding and swarming animals are being used to study human behavior and is used to modify and actually move people and materials around the world. Several large cargo companies use models developed on observations of ant colonies.

 

“Man may be defined as the animal that can say “I,” that can be aware of himself as a separate entity. “ Eric Fromm

 

“The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.“ Sigmund Freud

 

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. Self-conceit often regards it as a sign of weakness to admit that a belief to which we have once committed ourselves is wrong. We get so identified with an idea that it is literally a “pet” notion and we rise to its defense and stop our eyes and ears to anything different.” John Dewey

 

When beset with an issue or a problem we so often fall victim to the easiest route the way of “least resistance least trouble” as John Dewey would say. Years ago in a book on the topic of Loss Control management my father used an illustration of an iceberg; we only see one-seventh of the problem as Freud points out with the mind. We as we journey through life are only visible in part only one-seventh using the iceberg illustration. That means that sixth sevenths of our existence stay hidden away, secreted somewhere from view.

 

“Thus we see that the all-important thing is not killing or giving life, drinking or not drinking, living in the town or the country, being unlucky or lucky, winning or losing. It is how we win, how we lose, how we live or die, finally, how we choose.” R. H. Blyth

 

It is how we choose that is important. Nearly every day for several years since I began this morning endeavor I have talked of the journey in life in one way or another to students, friends, and family and in my writing. I have used as a screen saver my son John’s image crossing a stream in north Georgia stepping stone by stone across a rippling rolling stream and it still is hanging on my wall. In the picture he is soaking wet and cold, he could have just as easily walked through the stream and avoid falling from the rocks. He was wet already but he chooses to step on the slippery rocks. The challenge for him was doing it, making the journey not simply surviving or the destination of the other side.

 

“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.” Mourning Dove, Salish

 

This becomes the difficult task trying to explain how a problem has a purpose, how a human issue has a reason, in a world of measurement were not measuring is constant and so often the point. I can never find the distance between the stones of the stream as my son’s footsteps fall crossing rock by rock.

 

“You can never cross a stream the same way twice” Zen saying

 

“Traditional people of Indian nations have interpreted the two roads that face the light-skinned race as the road to technology and the road to spirituality. We feel that the road to technology…. has led modern society to damage and seared earth. Could it be that the road to technology represents a rush to destruction and that the road to spirituality represents the slower path that the traditional native people have traveled and are now seeking again? The earth is not scorched on this trail. The grass is still growing there.” William Commanda, Mamiwinini, Canada, 1991

 

Going from a single individual’s problem to that of the North Slope of Alaska may seem a stretch. In today’s world of greed and global warming and ocean access opening in the Arctic, I wonder. As global warming occurs or if you so choose to think does not occur daily news of countries that surround and even are nowhere near the arctic being able to cross ice-free waterways holds interest. Daily there are new explorations of countries into the Arctic, with submarines planting flags, oil drilling rigs operating after twenty-five years of trying and many more. For the profiteers of the world and the greedy who subsist on immediate profits and filling coffers already overflowing, a world disappearing is no big issue as long as it happens in their lifetime and brings a profit.
But as we journey in life we essentially do not get to replay our hand once we lay the cards upon the table. Yesterday by chance somewhere before 5:00 AM I was reading National Geographic and how the oil fields are so enticing in the Wilds of Alaska. Greedy people see only jobs money and energy. I have spoken and written about this so many times and others see the loss of habitat for wildlife and wilderness that can never be replaced.
Amazing another coincidence this morning I could not pull up literally what I thought I had written yesterday had disappeared and this morning it hit me as to what had happened. I tried to recall what I wrote yesterday and concluded it was not to be and for whatever reason synchronicity perhaps versus senility I like better. Now for this, a good follow up peace my friends and have a good and wonderful day. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart’s namaste.

 

 

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Green Bay Wisconsin is cold. Did Lombardi ever wear gloves?

Bird Droppings April 5, 2020
Green Bay Wisconsin is cold. Did Lombardi ever wear gloves?

 

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.” Vince Lombardi

 

It has been a few days since I used a Lombardi quote. Years back I can recall my father borrowing verbiage from the great coach of the Green bay Packers and Washington Red Skins. My father was a big fan of Lombardi back in the day. My father often used a line or two as he lectured from Lombardi’s game talks or his rallying speeches to his teams. A Lombardi team never ever was out of the picture in a game even when losing badly. I remember hearing about his death in 1970 I was in school at the time at Eastern College in St. David’s Pa. and volunteering with a program teaching in Paoli Pa. with disabled children, which became my first official teaching position.

 

“Individual commitment to a group effort-that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi

 

“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” Vince Lombardi

 

In professional football Lombardi never had a losing season, he finished his career at 105-35-6. Often considered to be the greatest football coach of all time, Vince Lombardi had simple convictions and ideas about life and football. He believed in team effort. It was the team that won not an individual and not a coach. For us as teachers it should be about the team, teacher and students working together.

 

“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” Vince Lombardi

 

When new teachers arrive at we should remind them get to know the janitors, lunch ladies, media center folks everyone because one day you will need them and that day you really do want them to be your friend. Teachers too often forget in their classrooms dealing with their children that they are not alone. Administrators are there to help, guidance counselors, and even at the “Board office”. You are not alone. In my current situation I feel bad as I do not know two thirds of the teachers. Our building is vast and I am very localized in one wing. Planning periods if and when there is one are to sit and calm down before heading back into the storm.  But I do miss knowing folks and being in the mix of things beyond a few class rooms. Living outside the community is another issue. A forty-five-minute drive makes being involved after school harder.

 

“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing-the result.” Vince Lombardi

 

When I first went into teaching I felt there should be a way to measure the effectiveness of teachers. Today teachers are being measured and schools are being measured through standardized test scores of students. For the first time since I have been back to teaching 2001, test scores won’t matter. Teachers are being looked at for results with their students. Granted one could argue the actual validity of a standardize test scores after the fact as a measure of a teacher’s effectiveness but today in our world that is what is being used.

 

“Winning is not a sometime thing: it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” Vince Lombardi

 

“Winning isn’t everything–but wanting to win is.” Vince Lombardi

 

“It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when your number one. What you’ve got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not yet a winner.” Vince Lombardi

 

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle-victorious.” Vince Lombardi

 

As I am sitting here I wonder how many teachers go out each day planning on losing, planning on not succeeding with a student, not trying to do their best. It us not a once in a while effort, it is all the time. To borrow from author Robert Fried, it’s about passion. Vince Lombardi epitomized passion and he imbued it in others around him.

 

“There’s only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything. I do, and I demand that my players do.” Vince Lombardi

 

As a parent, a teacher, or as a coach we have to give it our all every day every moment every second, if we do we can help but succeed. I remember an ad with a little girl saying “daddy look at me” over and over at different stages in her life till as a teenager she is using drugs and the idea is knowing where your kids are, paying attention to your kids. The other side of the ad is how often do we not pay attention when asked to, how often we turn away and miss a crucial moment, or a turning moment in a child’s life. I think to my own kids’ lives and often wonder was I there when I should have been.

 

“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.” Vince Lombardi

 

Sitting here on a bright Sunday morning I thought when I copied and pasted, I made a mistake with this quote. I had to read this line more than once and it finally sunk in. A few years ago, our school hired a new head football coach and he was enthusiastic as was our new cheerleader coach hired the same year. The difference is watching students get excited about their school at pep rallies and games. But in a class room if you are not excited about what you do, the kids sure won’t be either I can guarantee that, to borrow from the Cajun chef “I’ll guarantee”. So funny the Cajun Chef popped up on a friends Instagram post this morning.

 

“Success is like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to pay the price to win and you have to pay the price to get to the point where success is possible. Most important, you must pay the price to stay there.” Vince Lombardi

 

It is not a magic potion or rabbit out of a hat it is through sweat and blood that we succeed and it requires continued effort to maintain that level.

 

“Unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it-his mind, his body and his heart-what is life worth to him? If I were a salesman, I would make this commitment to my company, to the product and most of all, to myself.” Vince Lombardi

 

Imagine what the world would be like if every teacher and every parent took that advice, put it all into it action daily, imagine. Over and over again I see a lack of this in students and in teachers who day after day simply show up. Self-esteem is lacking and that spark of truly believing in yourself lacking in many people. If only we could vaccinate against this.

 

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Vince Lombardi

 

In life it is a lack of will that defeats us far more quickly than a lack of skill. Daily I hear I don’t care, students who quit before they open a book or even a door to a room. In another moment a student who seeks to know I was reading about Henry David Thoreau and his relationship to education. At one point he stopped teaching at one point in his life and decided it is not about teaching but about learning and decided that in order to truly teach we had to truly learn and he proceeded to become a learner living off the land.


How do we instill that desire to learn? The key to success in teaching is in Thoreau’s thoughts. Stop teaching and begin learning when we instill that desire to learn, there literally is no teaching, and all becomes learning. Learning becomes a constant interaction of ideas and thoughts. Only when “a lack of will” is the big difference does learning falter. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts, and thank you Vince, namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

POTENTIAL

Bird Droppings April 4, 2020
POTENTIAL

 

“Love is a complex experience which seems to follow no rules but its own. Romantic love can have the power of a hurricane or the tenderness of a soft wet wind. I have known, too, a chance introduction which instantly and magically merged into a lifelong friendship. And I’ve known love that refused to blossom over decades despite close, frequent contact. Then suddenly, this same person I had not considered significant became a treasured friend.” James Kavanaugh, A Lifetime Isn’t Long Enough To Love you

 

It was nearly eighteen years ago I went for an interview to be accepted into the Master’s Degree program at Piedmont College. I failed my interview. I had already been in school for over a year and somehow forgot the interview process. When my advisor found out I failed the interview, I was extremely fortunate to sit in with the Dean of the Education department and gain acceptance to the program officially. It was nearly a year later I faced that professor in class who failed me in the interview. Much like Kavanaugh’s thought, we become good friends and in effect, he reintroduced me to a long-forgotten, on my part poet, James Kavanaugh. I have now many of his books in my library and this particular one caught my attention. The above is the first paragraph of the introduction. The failure of the interview is another story.


As I was thinking of potential it is so much on how we perceive and see the world and those around us. It is the acceptance and caring we share and that we allow others to participate in. Potential a simple word yet so often robbed from students from friends as we impose our own priorities and limitations on relationships on communication and on life itself.

 

“There comes that mysterious meeting in life when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential.” Rusty Berkus

 

As parents, teachers, and friends we need to be igniters for others and when needed be a self-igniter for us. Each day I watch teachers and other students limit the potential of others. Often indirectly and without thought, we do this.

 

“Rough diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles.” Sir Thomas Browne

 

A number of years ago in 1905, unearthed in South Africa a baseball-size rock was pulled from the ground covered in mud. It may have been discarded but when an observant miner carefully washed and cleaned the stone it turned out to be the largest diamond ever found. The Cullian Diamond weighed in at over 3000 carats. When cut the diamond was made into several now-famous cut stones most of which reside in the crown jewels of Great Britain including the golf ball size stone in the scepter of the Queen.

 

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” Liane Cardes

 

“The treacherous, unexplored areas of the world are not in continents or the seas; they are in the hearts and minds of men.” Allen E. Claxton

 

So often it is within us that we become limited. We ourselves become the stumbling blocks for our own potential. It takes perseverance and effort to many times overcome our own fears and inadequacies. Often children are put down and carry that into later events and undertakings, a sense of inadequacy and potential is squashed.

 

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Steven R. Covey

 

A virtual business empire has been built by Covey helping and inspiring people to become aware of their own potential, unlocking what they held inside. Great coaches in sports and life through the understanding of people achieve success with teams that may not have the greatest athletes but have a concerted effort for achieving their potential. In a recent college football game, a seemingly invincible team was upset by a smaller college. It was that team’s effort to reach their true potential and another team thinking less of them because of who they thought they were.

 

“A pint can’t hold a quart — if it holds a pint it is doing all that can be expected of it.” Margaret Deland

 

“It’s the moment you think you can’t that you realize you can.” Celine Dion

 

“What you can become you are already.” Hebbel Friedrich

 

There are really no secrets to unlocking our own potential, it is there waiting. So many years ago I remember my father saying never to say “I can’t”, “you can achieve anything you set your mind too”. .

 

“The cynic says, ‘One man can’t do anything.’ I say, ‘Only one man can do anything.’” John W. Garner

 

Author of numerous books on Leadership and motivation Garner states it is there inside us “Only one man can do anything”.

 

“The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we could become.” Ben Herbster

 

“Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make very small use of their possible consciousness and of their soul’s resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger.” William James

 

We so get into the habit of accepting limitations, of listening to those around us who keep us back. We should instead seek people and friends who uplift and raise the standards for us and those around us. Try and look for people who also want to reach their potential.

 

“It’s not what you’ve got; it’s what you use that makes a difference.” Zig Ziglar

 

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve obviously never been in bed with a mosquito.” Michelle Walker

 

We each can make a difference within ourselves and with others by not holding friends, family and or students back. Instead by helping them to reach their potential, by not having expectations that limit growth and achievement. We can accomplish anything by reaching for the sky. Today is the near the end of the week let us all be more aware of those around us

 

“Normal day let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.” Mary Jean Iron

 

Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart’s namaste.

 

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Hunting for the right words

Bird Droppings April 3, 2020
Hunting for the right words

 

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands.” Robert M. Pirsig, American author

 

Whether it is trying to offer a few words of condolence to friends whose loved one has passed away or trying to sort out the disaster somewhere in the world and today here near home in Georgia, we all need to look within first. When I read this line from Pirisig author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, earlier this morning I immediately thought to my 4H days and the pledge of 4H and the 4H clover.

 

“The 4-H Clover symbolizes four actions which 4-H members try to accomplish. The four H s’ stand for Head, Hands, Heart, Health, as it is in the pledge. I Pledge My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to lager service and My Health to better living for my Club my Community my Country and my World” Taos County 4H site

 

I wish we could get each citizen of our country truly engaged in that pledge whether it is as a 4H member or just because it is a good practice. Imagine what would happen, disasters would be resolved and often averted, we would each be better as citizens, and friends all over a simple admonition. As I look clearer thinking, greater loyalty, larger service and better living these are all very powerful as well as interesting thoughts. There are days when I wish more kids were able to be exposed to 4H.


Sitting here having read the news earlier it is disheartening to try and determine what course of action each of us can take to help if we can at all. Over the announcements at the high school that last Friday afternoon I listened to what various groups and clubs are doing at our school and canceling events. The kids in our high school had raised several thousand dollars through various activities much of that in bits and pieces of lunch money dropped in buckets and or fund raisers such as washing cars I recall dunking a coach or in one of the efforts we had a tug of war. I wish we could do more but each effort each dime or nickel is a little more. I wish we could all summon the courage to do more. I watched Garth Brooks and Tricia Yearwood this morning a recording of a live request show they did to raise funds for health care workers in this rough time. I started watching while my wife a nurse practioner was getting ready to go to work.

 

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmon

 

I thought I would end with this line, courage is a word used often with little thought. I really understand the tying of the word to fear that is an interesting definition. Stating that courage is simply realizing there are more important things in life than being afraid or cautious is a powerful thought. I recall a trip to South Carolina visit our middle son and his fiancée. It was our first chance to see the church where they are getting married and her horses at their family farm out in the South Carolina countryside. We spent Saturday evening at a wedding shower and Sunday visiting all over the beautiful South Carolina farm country discussing horses, plants, always Georgia Tech, experiences and who knows what else. How much do we learn about a person in a few moments depends on the ability of each person to be honest and trusting?

 

It was a great afternoon joking and laughing and picking on each other. As always, we called when we got home telling everyone we were safely home in Georgia and my granddaughter was mad at me when we got home even the John Deere T-shirt and soft plush puppy did not make a dent. Although after her grandma held her for a minute she decided she wasn’t mad anymore and gave me a great big good night hug. For today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.


My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

A spiritual side to teaching

Bird Droppings April 2, 2020
A spiritual side to teaching

 

“Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it’s never living apart from one’s self. Not about the absence of other people – it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others.” Parker Palmer

 

Dr. Parker Palmer is an innovator, speaker, retreat leader, author, and traveling teacher. He is a senior associate of the American Association for Higher Education and senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute. Parker Palmer received his Ph.D. from the University of California. I was first introduced to his writing in 2001 by a friend who happened to be my principal at the time. He recommended his book, The courage to Teach, and I have given away several copies now over the years.

 

“Teachers choose their vocation for reasons of the heart because they care deeply about their students and their subject. But the demands of teaching cause too many educators to lose heart. Is it possible to take heart in teaching once more so that we can continue to do what teachers always do – give heart to our students.” Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach

 

I have been teaching in public schools twenty years, twenty years working n training in industry, seven years of teaching before IDEA set in about fifty years now in teaching and training. I have watched teachers burn out and some more of a fizzle out. There is a slight bit of difference between burn and fizzle. Someone who burns out is putting there all into what they do and someone who fizzles out is taking up space and probably should not have been there to begin with. I have watched creative teachers starting out like gangbusters succumb to teaching blues and boredom. They come in full of zeal and within a semester are borrowing premade transparencies from their next-door neighbor because they do not have the time anymore to create new ones.

 

“Bad teachers distance themselves from the subject they are teaching – and in the process, from their students. Good teachers join self and subject and students in the fabric of life.” Parker Palmer

 

I have for many years considered teaching an art form. I do think it is a place where a person’s soul is laid open for better or worse as you teach whatever subject you happened to be teaching. If you truly want to connect with your students you open your heart as Palmer indicates and this is difficult for many to do. I honestly think it takes a special person to be a good and effective teacher. Parker Palmer in his writing discusses how teaching is a community effort. My thoughts reflect back to John Dewey and his revelations of education as a social event and more critically a necessity.

 

“As I make the case that good teaching is always and essentially communal, I am not abandoning my claim that teaching cannot be reduced to technique. Community, or connectedness, is the principle behind good teaching, but different teachers with different gifts create a community in surprisingly diverse ways, using widely divergent methods.” Parker Palmer

 

In my own journeys in life and I use a word whose connotation is plural discussing my journeys in life since I have been in several directions prior to where I am now. I have found that it is in happiness and solace we find peace with ourselves. The quote I started with today reflects on solitude which for me is a few moments each day in a spot I have selected away from the house with a view across a large pasture. I can sit and reflect on my day or my day ahead and I ponder sitting listening to the sounds about me. I claim this spot as sacred and some will scuff how you can say that it does not have a church or any religious affiliation. I titled my writing today as a spiritual side to teaching and these two words for me intertwine as I look at them and ponder further.

 

“Sacred means, quite simply, worthy of respect.” Parker Palmer

 

In the years since I have come back to teaching it has been about respect and trust. I have gone about this through building relationships with students. In my own opinion that is one of the most critical aspects of the teaching process. It is not simply a curriculum and a book or several books, it is relationships. I see what I do each day as a spiritual endeavor bringing new ideas to students who may not have had the chance previously to understand or even experience in any way this knowledge. It has been nearly twenty years since I wrote a trust scale for a human development course I was taking. It follows along with a similar concept that I had read about in Dr. James Fowler’s book, The Development of Faith. We start out as totally trusting and soon learn not to trust and eventually return to total trust. It takes good and great teachers to help along the way. Thinking about a new week ahead and few days left in this week the positive and negative that will come my way. I tend to choose to embrace the positive and not spend as much time considering the negative. I do hope each of you can take a moment to reflect and to please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

 

My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Getting ready

Bird Droppings April 1, 2020
Getting ready

 

“In the government schools, which are referred to as public schools, Indian policy has been instituted there, and it’s a policy where they do not encourage, in fact, discourage, critical thinking and the creation of ideas and public education.” Russell Means

 

I walked early this morning before the sunrise taking out the trash and waking about letting our dog run in the back yard. The sliver of a moon was gone behind a cloud for now as I walked down our walk, streaks of color were forming intermixed with the clouds overhead in all directions. Georgia has been very wet and now temperatures are heading higher, although today there is a chill. We have had rain almost every day or two for several weeks with more coming. A spot here and there, a raindrop here and there I swear some days it seems it rains on the front yard and not the back. Generally, it is quick storms and pouring rain sporadically around it might be in town and drive a half mile and nothing, sort of a typical Georgia spring. We have been lucky we have had the rain at our house and in the surrounding area easily judged by kudzu growth which is just getting started and wisteria that has already bloomed.


As a teacher there is anticipation especially in this online experience that is new to many. Some states have already announced no more in class school this year. So far our system is still pointed toward end of April as are many systems. As the last official day of school draws near one way or another I am sitting here wondering what to teach or say as we get into this limbo between no longer teaching to end of course tests and teaching something of substance. Almost like starting a new year do we have the books and paper, pencils and pens, markers and poster board and all of the materials and such we need to go forth and spread the required knowledge?

 

In a world of rapid access and instant everything can we even compete with all that is there as a humble teacher. I started with Russell Means who has been a key figure in Indian Activism for nearly forty-five years. Means is an actor having portrayed Chingackook in Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis.

 

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. “ Kent Nerburn

 

“Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow is wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.” Inuit proverb

 

I read this and wondered, perhaps an ancient version of the Aerosmith quote I use so often “Life is about the journey not the destination.“ In the world of the Inuit the moment is of utmost necessity as life literally hangs in a balance constantly. There is a line of forward looking knowing we need wood to keep the fire going, food to sustain living and yet the moment is so crucial. Last night I had a dream of teaching. Odd a teacher would dream of teaching but it had significance to me as it was about teaching swimming. I started teaching swimming lessons when I was twelve or so. In teaching swimming, you have to learn to swim by swimming you cannot learn by reading a book. I find it amazing how we have taken that simple concept of having context to the lesson and forgotten it. John Dewey would be rolling in his grave if he could see how much s\we have bastardized learning.

 

“Predicting the future is easy. It’s trying to figure out what’s going on now that’s hard.” Fritz R. S. Dressler

 

“Create your future from your future not your past.” Werner Erhard

 

Recently I helped a friend write and design a brochure for a program they were doing the front cover had a picture of a foundation and was worded something to the effect of building a strong foundation. For many people life is trying to focus on the future and they literally try and build a foundation based on a goal far off. Often, they lose sight of what is here now and immediate. The Inuit knew tomorrow they would need wood for the fire and it would be found but the heat is here now while it burns. So often we need that goal set off in the distance but we need to live now to reach it.

 

“There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.” Johann Sebastian Bach

 

Now right this moment is when you proceed to build toward your goal. Bach could not create his masterpieces without time spent hitting the right keys practicing perfecting the music that would become timeless.

 

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” Yogi Berra

 

Many years ago, newspapers would make jokes of the yogism’s and pick on the great catcher for the New York Yankees and when he became a Major League Manager they still made fun of his comments. However, looking at this quote, there is little difference when speaking about a fire and wood but when you need the fire there sure is borrowing from the Inuit statement I started with.

 

“Don’t do anything in practice that you wouldn’t do in the game.” George Halas

 

The great NFL coach was accurate as to life as well if you practice it in your life you will end up actually doing it. I write often about example and trying to set an example. It is in what we live that others see and understand us. I was walking in and noticed posters on a coach’s wall alluding to this concept. Actually, several of the following were on his wall.

 

“If I don’t practice the way I should, then I won’t play the way that I know I can.” Ivan Lendl

 

“We all knew there was just one way to improve our odds for survival: train, train, train. Sometimes, if your training is properly intense it will kill you. More often — much, much more often — it will save your life.” Richard Marcinko

 

Richard Marchinko was a former US Navy SEAL team commander and founder of the notorious SEAL team Six which is the group that took out Osama Bin Laden. He was an antiterrorist before it was being supported with federal tax dollars. Marcinko now is a security advisor and author writing about his exploits during Viet Nam and after during the tenuous period as terrorism shifted as a means to accomplish a group ends, his concept of practice and training kept both himself and his men alive.

 

“If I miss one day of practice, I notice it. If I miss two days, the critics notice it. If I miss three days, the audience notices it.” Ignacy Paderewski

 

“An hour of practice is worth five hours of foot-dragging.” Pancho Segura

 

I received an email months ago and a good friend was going to be singing in a concert and in her email she spoke of the joy and fulfillment of singing and performing and perfecting the music. She was excited in her description of the event yet to take place and the thrill of performing. But is it the hours of dedication the audience sees and the emotions poured in over the hours of learning the music that is heard and not simply the one hour recital at 7:00 Saturday night. Life is about practicing and working at knowing the wood will be there to keep the fire going. I will end today my meanderings with a quote from a great football player in his time perhaps the greatest running back ever in High School and he was from a small town in Georgia, went to The University of Georgia, and then to fame in the USFL. He was actually who the USFL built the league around.

 

“If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” Herschel Walker

 

Herschel is now several years retired from football and many years from High School where he still is a legend in football here in Georgia and of how he trained as a child pulling tractor tires around the yard and doing thousands upon thousands of sit ups and pushups. It is interesting how so many know what he did yet do not emulate the feat. They know what got him to his greatness yet and they want to be there but avoid the work. Sadly LIFE too is similar. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird