Pondering and thinking wiping away a tear or two

Bird Droppings July 9, 2021

Pondering and thinking wiping away a tear or two

I was up incredibly early today wishing I could have been finished my laps in the pool having to get out due to thunder and lightning. A great horned owl was calling in the woods as I stood there. It seems it was more than one as around me several were calling back and forth in an eerie chorus. The hooting perhaps it was just the echoing of the owls through the trees which altered direction and location and crickets and tree frogs added in made quite a combination. I often joke about my monastic ways. It seems I am alone more than in a group and enjoy that. Perhaps trying to mingle is not in my nature yet I do enjoy joking around and even at times trying to be the focus or center of attention. Perhaps we all do seek attention each in our own way. A few days back I had a call from an old high school buddy that I co-taught with for six years. What started to be a couple minutes on the phone ended up over an hour.

“Time is a jet plane; it moves too fast. Oh, but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last.  I can change, I swear, oh, oh, see what you can do.  I can make it through, you can make it too.” Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks

Every day that goes by the including Saturdays and many Sundays I religiously check my emails and as I sat down today reading emails a note I had received in Xanga (is that even a word anymore) a good while back came to mind. My son had posted a note in which he related that he read the lyrics to a song by Joni Mitchell. Many youngsters will not even know the name Joni Mitchell, one of the great folk singers of the antiwar movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s back in my day, the Viet Nam era. Literally daily I receive emails from friends or readers of my blog and I am end up getting to the word synchronicity and how words may be for this person or that and they may be just what was needed for this person now. It has been a few days since I wrote about morality and an email came back about a ninth-grade class where the discussion went into the morality of gene therapy and the students were unsure of the concept of morality. They had to discuss morality first.

I am sitting in Georgia writing to over 3500 friends around the country and a few overseas thinking about all that happened yesterday pondering on what will happen today and thinking about why my son was drawn to this song so many years ago. I use words from songs quite often in correspondence and in counseling and working with teenagers. Words can be so powerful and so moving and conversely words can destroy and conquer. I share these words today a simple plea from a folk singer with a quiet powerful voice, Joni Mitchell.  

The fiddle and the Drum

By Joni Mitchell

And so once again

My dear Johnny my dear friend

And so once again you are fightin’ us all

And when I ask you why

You raise your sticks and cry, and I fall

Oh, my friend

How did you come?

To trade the fiddle for the drum

You say I have turned

Like the enemies you’ve earned

But I can remember

All the good things you are

And so I ask you please

Can I help you find the peace and the star?

Oh, my friend

What time is this?

To trade the handshake for the fist

And so once again

Oh, America my friend

And so once again

You are fighting us all

And when we ask you why

You raise your sticks and cry and we fall

Oh, my friend

How did you come?

To trade the fiddle for the drum

You say we have turned

Like the enemies you’ve earned

But we can remember

All the good things you are

And so we ask you please

Can we help you find the peace and the star?

Oh my friend

We have all come

To fear the beating of your drum

© 1969 Siquomb Publishing Corp. (BMI)

As I listened to the words, I was reminded of a dear friend in Pennsylvania that I have known for many years and with whom I correspond regularly through email, the words reminded of his writings.  He had been researching a drummer boy from West Chester Pa.  He was the youngest person killed in the Union forces during the Civil War. My friend in his own way was obsessed with the story and actually is writing a book about his findings. After many years of searching, he found the grave of the drummer boy. He had been to that spot numerous times as the drummer boy’s parents were buried there. A poplar tree marked the grave between the parents. A tree planted as a living memorial to their son who died in war.

I thought back to a day one of my students came by upset her brother had just joined the Marines. She comes from an extended family eleven kids in several marriages and stepdads and moms. It is great at Christmas time and bad at times like this. How do you explain to a teenager war? The little drummer boy in Pa. was twelve when he died in battle. Years back I ran into a former teacher who had joined the National Guard he was rejected after going through training and suffering a stress fracture. When it came up he had been treated for depression he was upset he could not go and fight. Sadly, this story went on and ended harshly several years later. He was arrested for his sexual contact with some of his students.

I recall a good friend in high school we would play ice hockey at GO Carlson’s Pond in the winter pick-up games and he and I would talk often as we waited for others to show up. He did not even live in our neighborhood but would come to play. He played the bassoon in the High School band and was on the soccer team. He and I both flunked out of the same college our freshmen and were drafted within days of each other. I am epileptic and though I have not had a seizure since childhood I received a 4Y permanent deferment. He went to Viet Nam. Many years later thinking I would see him at a reunion as I drove to my tenth reunion, and I found out he had been killed in Viet Nam.

It took several moments to sink in and immediately I thought this was not possible and I sat back and wondered while more names were read. Each moment as I sat another name was mentioned another life had passed away in a war soon to be not a war soon to be merely history. Only a few years ago I went with my son to Washington DC riding the bus along the way we are told how to find names of relatives and friends in the index books located at the ends of the Viet Nam memorial. I walked down the walkway reluctantly at best to find a name then two and three and four and I can no longer look up names as I write where on the wall they are located on my hand in black ink. A recent email from a friend who lost her husband he had come back from Viet Nam and so many thoughts. I walked down the line found the spot and the name emotions tears welled up I walked hurriedly away as far as I could get and sat on a bench looking down across the wall. A squirrel wandered through my field of vision. It was an hour or so and my son found me “dad the bus is leaving we need to go”. I do not remember thinking just staring at that wall and that squirrel that wandered back and forth interrupting my thoughts.  There have been few moments in my life where I have been unable to control my emotions and sitting here thinking back tears wander across my cheek again perhaps for another reason time will tell.

So many thoughts as I think back as we continue to fight another war and another war I in all the talk of freedom and patriotism and macho soldier talk I still have a difficult time with the concept of war. Joni Mitchell states so eloquently, “But we can remember all the good things you are and so we ask you please can we help you find the peace and the star oh my friend we have all come to fear the beating of your drum.”  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

How do we know we are grown up?

Bird Droppings July 8, 2021
How do we know we are grown up?

“The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them; he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself; he becomes wise.” Alden Nowlan

Earlier this week a former student posted on my Facebook wall a simple line, “If you haven’t grown up by fifty you don’t have to.” As I read this quote from Nowlan and thinking in terms of wisdom not being confined to the age but to affect or to understand of oneself I do after spending several days with my grandchildren and family I think we cycle wisdom. I do believe children are born wise and become through societal pressures unwise.

Looking back at the quote I started with these are amazing words as I only recently became aware of this writer, poet, and essayist from Canada. I wish I had written or said these words. Over the years, I have noticed that students walking about high school for the first few days and being at that adolescent age they begin to see the flaws and imperfection, but their perception is to enhance their world and creates ripples. They see the flaws and are upset and react  in a negative fashion. Adults then reciprocate with reactions and behaviors elicit consequences.

For some of that point of forgiveness comes soon and for others may take many years after leaving home, and college and marriage and their own children till forgiveness hits and adulthood true adulthood is realized. In some cases, but for that rare few, wisdom can come earlier, and they truly are wise from an early age. I find trust too follows a similar road as we move through life, we realize that we cannot trust everyone, we tend forgive and forget and then we realize we should trust everyone.

My dear friends as we embark on a new journey every day try and trust and forgive two good vocabulary words for the day and seek peace and balance in your life. As I do every day, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Should we consider ignorance a part of the journey?

Bird Droppings July 7, 2021

Should we consider ignorance a part of the journey?

“If I want to justify my existence and continue to be obsessed with the notion that I’ve got to do something for humanity — well, teaching ought to quell that obsession — and if I can ever get around to an intelligent view of matters, intelligent criticism of contemporary values ought to be useful to the world. This gets back again to ……The best way to help mankind is through the perfection of yourself.” Joseph Campbell

It has been so many years ago, at first, I thought my goal in life was to do something for mankind as in some great event or task. As I sit and wonder this morning, I find in Campbell’s thought so often it is searching for and bettering ourselves that we truly help mankind. Earlier I wrote today to a friend about trying to understand and reduce ignorance. I seriously think it is funny how during political campaigns ignorance seems to be rampant.

“Unintelligent people always look for a scapegoat.” Ernest Bevin

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Derek Bok

Working with children it becomes interesting as each day you see bits and pieces of ignorance fall away only to be there again in the morning as parents and all those outside of schoolwork on rebuilding during the night.  

“Ignorance is never out of style. It was in fashion yesterday; it is the rage today and it will set the pace tomorrow.” Frank Dane

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

I live in a place which borders constantly on ignorance and wants so terribly to cross over to the side of wisdom. It seems those in power always want to keep those ignorant folks in the dark hence for example the Dark Ages back in the day. During that period most could not even read or write and those that could were in power.

Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” Benjamin Franklin

“Naiveté in grownups is often charming; but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity.” Eric Hoffer

Looking at politics Hoffer may be very right. It does seem that in every election we watch politicians play with words against rhetoric that sounds good to that group that is being addressed. I recall when the legislation to prevent the sale of assault weapons was up for renewal and how ironic that in the midst of antiterrorism it would fall by the wayside.

“The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is ignorance.” Brian Hwang

“When I was fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have him around. When I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Mark Twain

In a search for knowledge and for understanding so many roads can be walked. We can search in books, in schools, in our families, and in life in general, but it must entail a search. For to assume you are there is to cease the journey and to cease is to assume you have reached the destination. We are born with a starting point, point A and when we die we have reached point B it is that which connects A and B that is crucial.

“Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

Funny thing a year ago I was sitting at the dining room table since stairs are a bit rough to climb in a cast. Funny how an injury impacts you even a year off. I was talking with my son recently and Aerosmith’s greatest hits was playing in the background, coincidence maybe who knows but the journey continues.

“Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation…” Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces

I listen to the words and read the gibberish of the politicians and wonder if a hundred years ago or so these same men and women would be pushing for an Indian Territory and reservations. Today instead it is illegal immigration and Gay marriage that strike nerves in so many people. I was reading a National Geographic account of the salvaging of a slave ship. In 1698 humans were bought and sold for trinkets. Eleven thirteen-inch bars of iron would buy a black man and forty pounds of glass beads a black woman. On this particular ship the historians believe they were from the Ibo tribe in Western Africa. These people believed no one was greater than any other. It was their life philosophy that made them susceptible to being taken as slaves. This tribe was a peaceful people they were human beings bought and sold as things. Not until a war was fought were black men legally human beings in the United States and it was not until the trial twenty years later of Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe that Indians received the legal term of human being. This was not all that long ago.

“Only to the white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame, Earth was bountiful, and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.” Luther Standing Bear

I have become spoiled sleeping late and forgetting to see the sunrise. This morning I went out and sat for thirty minutes in the stillness of morning. Mourning doves were cooing around me and various other birds just waking up. A woodpecker started on the old black walnut trunk nearby our house, and I felt at ease. So many thoughts passed through my mind sitting listening in the barely lit morning. Soon I will be back in my normal rising early and writing reading getting back into the groove so to say. So it is evening now and I must end my day may peace be with you all my friends and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.  

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

I am sharing some good words from a friends Facebook page as I read how true this simple thought is. 

Elder’s Meditation of the Day from July 24, 2017 “Life is like a path…and we all have to walk the path… As we walk…we’ll find experiences like little scraps of paper in front of us along the way. We must pick up those pieces of scrap paper and put them in our pocket… Then, one day, we will have enough scraps of papers to put together and see what they say… Read the information and take it to heart.” Uncle Frank Davis (quoting his mother), PAWNEE

How capable do we need to be? Inspired by a student.

Bird Droppings July 6, 2021

How capable do we need to be? Inspired by a student.

What a contrast to only a few days ago listening to the Atlantic Ocean, the moon is coming back smiling at me as I went out in the wee hours with a crystal-clear sky. There was a gentle wind blowing, wind chimes ringing peacefully and a beautiful smiling moon gazing at me between the pines and oak trees. I had to stand in the early morning chill and just look at the stars and moon and listen to our chimes from the back yard for a moment as I got up this morning. Life is a wonderful thing and what we make of it is literally up to us. I do not think I will be getting sunrise photos hopefully the next few mornings possible storms around. It is still a few weeks till day light savings kicks in.

I stopped at my favorite spot for getting sunrise photos this morning and it was gorgeous considering clouds I was a bit too early, so I headed back to the house to take care of a few errands. As I was looking out of my rear-view mirror the sunrise was exploding across the sky. I did a quick U-turn heading to my spot a gray sky again as clouds moved in. So, I began to think and ponder from my wonderful start to that day. As I thought back to another day and missing a sunrise or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time had I not been in such a hurry I would have caught another beautiful sunrise. I addressed moments yesterday and here I am not listening to my own words as usual. I chose to go for the bigger picture and ignore the moment too many times.

As always random ideas get me pondering. I was inspired by a former student who had a situation occur with a close friend. Her friend was refused service due to a Hispanic ID from Costa Rico. She posted on Facebook “what do I do?” My first response was, go vote, then I went to Gandhi’s thoughts and the quote following.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

So, when applying for a job, that could be any job, when does capability come into play? When discussing this I am assuming that capability is the ability to do that particular job. Several events have taken place over the past few days and one from several months back. It has been some time since I received a sheet of paper with six questions, a voluntary questionnaire on diversification. I answered honestly and do feel diversification does not get the best person for the job. Are we effectively teaching about cultures when we mandate diversification?

It is interesting in that my own lineage of Pennsylvania Dutch and Welsh miner’s diversity has never come up. Nor has it with my paternal great, great grandmothers’ tribe the Leni Lenape, part of the Delaware Nation. Perhaps they are not significant enough although a very unique culture though they may be. So, I am with mixed emotions on one hand listening to a student teacher who feels social studies is the place to combat racism in high school and then my own conviction that I still consider rednecks an ethnic group provides for great discussion. How do we challenge racism? My wife came home and said she had a patient who said she would only go to American, (meaning white) doctors. So, this morning sitting thinking about school coming up I sat on my porch the breeze was cool blowing through the trees, I thought wondering what is it that drives us. I read a Facebook blog recently indicating racism is genetic. I would argue that point strongly, it is learned, period.

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” Franklin Thomas

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I answered my questionnaire and even wrote on the back until we begin hiring the best person, go to the best health care provider, and stop thinking, as this statement so clearly states stop looking, at the amount of melanin in our skin or not. Are we not all homo sapiens? We are not different species.  

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it.” Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

“To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.” William Faulkner, Essays, Speeches and Public Letters

Over the years I have read numerous books and articles on Native American culture and one in particular has hit deep, the book Neither wolf nor dog, by Kent Nerburn. Nerburn’s story is one of the words of an old Lakota Sioux who feels compelled to express the differences between the Native Americans and whites, hence the title neither wolf nor dog.

“Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.” Author Unknown

“Racial superiority is a mere pigment of the imagination.” Author Unknown

How do we entangled out realities to a point where we become so embroiled in differences and how is it, we forget to treat each man as a brother? Where do we get this hatred? Many consider racism a learned behavior and to date I have not read anything in research that ascribe racism to a genetic code and or DNA. Therefore, it is learned and if so can be unlearned and modified.

“I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government.” Cissy Farenthold

“Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.”  Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Tutu met with the Dalai Lama several years ago and that is something I really would have enjoyed to hear and see. These two great human beings at one place and one time speaking and discussing. I missed an opportunity to hear Desmond Tutu when he was in Atlanta as a quest lecturer at Emory University several years back. Having had ties business wise to South Africa for nearly forty years we often had inside information on the happenings there. I recall my father coming home and relating happenings at a check point between Zimbabwe and South Africa and how he was coached as to what to say when rebels stuck automatic weapons in the car windows. I recall reading an article recently about the rise of aids in South Africa and a comment my brother made after a recent trip. He said he was told that left as it currently is the aids epidemic will wipe out blacks in South Africa in ten years. Sort of makes you wonder about conspiracy theories however in the days since foundations from around the world have turned the tide on Aids and while still a serious threat slowly getting some control.  

“Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.” Abraham Joshua Heschel

In 1968 I was in Texas going to college and at that time in that place racial hatred was not against blacks but Native Americans. I saw it rampant as comments were made and people responded. It was a carryover from the old west and the Indian wars. Even as recently as 1992 when traveling in Oklahoma I witnessed firsthand the racism against those who were here first.  

“Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.”  Merry Browne – “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.  The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”  Ralph W. Sockman

Listening to comments from a student teacher recently about how we need to do this and that and show this and that and then thinking to my reading of this questionnaire on diversity. You learn racism if that is a given then you also learn tolerance. You also learn to accept others; I recall from years gone by a story of a man injured on his journey.

“A certain man went down from Lawrenceville to Atlanta, and fell among car jackers, which stripped him of his clothes, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain preacher that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise, a Lawyer, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain man of another color, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on peroxide and gave him some drink, and set him in his own car, and brought him to an emergency room, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two hundred dollars, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said the teacher unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” Borrowing from my seminary days a slight paraphrase, Frank Bird III Ed.S. D.D.

 A bit of paraphrase a bit of whimsy but not really how many times have headlines shown people standing by as someone is mugged or even murdered. We are all neighbors, we are all brothers, we are all equal in this life and as the sign as you leave the Ocmulgee National Park in Macon Georgia states that, “we are all connected”. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Are we missing Creativity?

Bird Droppings July 5, 2021
Are we missing Creativity?

This was another quiet morning as I wandered out and about already birds hiding from view are calling. As for the crickets and frogs as always a beautiful chorus for the morning awakening. Yesterday later in the day several tree frogs visited our back porch hiding under pots and a baseball cap. The air was still, not a breeze as I sat in my old wicker sofa on the front porch. I was listening to the stillness and quiet something about the lack of hum of air conditioners perhaps the ambient temperature dropped enough to warrant quiet.  

I enjoy my morning chorus yet today perhaps with numerous ideas running through my head quiet was good for a change. I was thinking about students and how to deal with issues that are confronting them. I was thinking of my own children growing up and my grandkids. I was thinking selfishly about directions for life and future, so many thoughts and so little time.

I have always been amazed at creativity and often the lack thereof in some student’s maybe we strip it away in favor of repetition and memorizing of bits and pieces and then say someone is so creative for repeating exactly what was plugged in during class.

“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done — men who are creative, inventive and discoverers.” Jean Piaget

I have always considered the idea perpetuated by Piaget of stages of development in children as they learn as a basis for many aspects of human life and the development of creativity is a crucial one.

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” Edward De Bono

A number of years ago my youngest son was recommended for the gifted program in his elementary school. The various testing consisted of achieving beyond a certain point in three out of four areas and one was creativity. After he was tested, the person testing commented he went off the charts in creativity. It is so easy to stifle creativity throughout our lives we are trained to conform often in ways we never really understand.

“The creative person wants to be a know -it -all. He wants to know about all kinds of things: ancient history, nineteenth -century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, flower arranging, and hog futures. It is because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later or six months, or six years down the road. But he has faith that it will happen.” Carl Ally

Years ago I would read encyclopedias cover to cover and always I wondered why. Why things were as they were and so much more. As I look at my thinking on Piaget, often time’s children are held back in thinking by a parent or teacher and miss a stage, so to say, in their development. It could be it intellectually, spiritually or even physically and often not intentionally.

“First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” Robert Cecil Day-Lewis

“Creativity is essentially a lonely art. An even lonelier struggle. To some a blessing. To others a curse. It is in reality the ability to reach inside yourself and drag forth from your very soul an idea.” Lou Dorfman

I see every day students that have been limited in their ability to achieve. A teacher here did not look beyond a failing grade, due to a reading issue, and labeled that student. A parent perhaps, never home never provided emotional guidance to their child. A pastor’s words perhaps, far too critical pushed a child away from faith. It may have happened in stages, or steps in development process and so pushed away or torn away in some cases, leaving blanks, hollows, difficult to fill.

“The legs are the wheels of creativity.” Albert Einstein

“Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” Anna Freud

I agree to a point with Ms. Freud eventually a creative mind will push through but when we so diligently hold them back irreparable damage can occur. I watched a young man working on a project in my class room he had been labeled by many as incorrigible and a slow learner. He was working in a project that required much hands on creativity no other student measured pieces quite to the extent he has on this project. As he was setting up templates and measuring guides as he worked and he was several days behind others not because he is slow but in deliberation and perfection.

“Most people die before they are fully born. Creativeness means to be born before one dies.” Erich Fromm

“Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they (creative people) are willing to make silly mistakes. The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless. The creative person is flexible — he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.” Frank Goble

Maybe that is the difference and that might be flexibility, a creative person is flexible.

“The desire to create continually is vulgar and betrays jealousy, envy, ambition. If one is something one really does not need to make anything –and one nonetheless does very much. There exists above the “productive” man a yet higher species.” Fredrick Nietzsche

“The person who can combine frames of reference and draw connections between ostensibly unrelated points of view is likely to be the one who makes the creative breakthrough.” Denise Sherarjian

Many days ago as I was reading Yahoo news a story came across and as in Yahoo news was only there a brief second or two and a new story more important came over the internet. The movie Rain Man was based on this man from Utah, a magna savant, which is a person whose memory and intelligence is increasing as he grows older. NASA had been studying his development. He had read over 9000 books and could pull from them any passage instantly and precisely. He is fluent in and on a genius level in 15 subjects yet cannot dress himself or find his way home. For this person memory is all and yet there is little or no potential for creativity quite a paradox.

“Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport.” Robert Wieder

If only we could always encourage creativity. If we only we were not afraid so many times of creative people. If only we would lift up ideas and thoughts and try not to stifle new thinking. I wonder would we progress as humans perhaps but it sure would be interesting trying. As I think back in history so often those in power have stifled creativity wanting to keep to the status quo. It has been a number of years since I received an invitation to a solo art show unfortunately in New York City from a friend. Creativity has kept her soul growing and expanding some will love her style and art and others will walk away. I was thinking back to impressionists who many distained in their life times and now bring literally hundreds of millions for paintings. Another friend writes and her writing has changed as she is changing. She went into teaching and this opened windows for her ideas and flow of thoughts. Working with children tends to make us creative just to keep up. A new week and new season upon us as the cool weather brings color to the trees and stillness to the mornings. I wonder what this world would be like if we taught creativity in all grades. What if we looked for rainbows rather than simply black and white? What if we tried in see in a kaleidoscopic view rather than in a microscopic? I wonder but for now please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thank namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Just a morning observation

Bird Droppings July 4, 2021
Just a morning observation

“I do not write from mythology when I reflect upon Native American spirituality in this book. In my own opinion, mythology leads to superstition; and superstition has proved fatally destruction to many millions down through time. It is ironic, then that Dominant Society accuses Native practices of being based on myth.” Ed McGaa, Eagle Man

My wanderings are the expanse of several days of traveling and thinking and observing mankind. Just a few nights ago my son and I walked out to a choir of coyotes just a few yards away deep in the pines. It was literally an opera of coyotes howls and yells. While only a few minutes the sounds were an eerie reminder that even in a civilized world nature was only a few feet away in its wildest. I was thinking this morning about my quiet spot near my home in Between Georgia where for nearly fifteen years I would sit and ponder until a developer put houses up and it is not quite the same. A trampoline sits on a spot I considered sacred.

A few years back in a small town in the north east quadrant of Georgia sitting on a porch of an old mill house the quiet was over powering along with the gentle breeze and sunshine. Around me birds would occasionally fly into and out of the trees but most of the time without a sound. I was essentially alone sitting listening while everyone else was inside. Only a few hours earlier I had a wonderful experience watching by my own house as the sun came up and starting this particular book Nature’s Way.


Ed McGaa is a Lakota Sioux and an attorney by education. He chooses his words wisely and does not simple offer a book to fill a spot on a shelf. He points to observations as a basis for our spiritual views rather than heresy or simply taking the word of another. This past week or so as we drove home from a quick trip to see my son and his wife and our grandbabies, we noticed nearly fifty red tailed hawks sitting on the wires watching as we drove by. If you have ever seen a hawk hunting observation is a key. Every detail is seen as they look for a food item crawling or scurrying along the ground.

Clearly, we are meant to think, analyze, and deliberate. And yet humans seem to have some sort of fear (or is it plain ignorance?) of exercising the simple freedom to think. Why are we so prone to let others do our thinking for us – to lead astray and control us?” Ed McGaa, Eagle Man

We are going through one of the most biased and perhaps most sheep lead to slaughter presidential period I have ever experienced in my life. The negative ads and rhetoric are the vast majority and from either side. Issues were simply something that would be dealt with another time then that was questionable. Here in Atlanta several of the mega churches are going through serious upheavals with pastors who after years of preaching and blasting various human characteristics and or issues are coming out themselves and in turn being who they preached against for twenty years and built empires against. In New York City a billionaire has been arrested for charges he thought he could escape through political connections. One of the themes I have seen in politics and religion so blatant in the past year is the “letting of others do our thinking for us”.

I received a copy of a book in the mail from a friend in New York several years back after he was published. I had known the title for months prior but seeing it and beginning my initial reading the title hit me. “Hustlers and the idiot swarm”, how appropriate is that to our society today.
Opening up Reverend Manny’s book and turning to the very first page there is a quote and thought that permeates our society if even unknowingly.

“For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all experts liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, Ch. X

It was within a day or two of first setting foot in Washington that a newly elected Congressman who ran on a ticket of repealing the legislated Health Care bill was upset that his government health care insurance did not start immediately and he had to wait twenty eight days and made a scene in his first official meeting. During the course of the past year lies about the health care bill made headlines more so than points that were significantly important to many families. I grew up in a family with a severely disabled brother who would never have been insurable under most standard insurance due to preexisting conditions. Even more significant for me was my son while in nursing school, who was over twenty-five was covered under the health care law. If not for that not sure where we would be after his accident in May of 2014 with over three hundred fifty thousand in medical bills that were covered.

I really did not want to get into the idea of politics since reality is not an issue there sadly. I started my thoughts the past few days thinking about how we find our own center and understanding of the world around us.

“The Sioux believe that lies, deceit, greed, and harm to innocent others will never be erased, and neither will good deeds of generosity and caring. Dominant society on the other hand, leans towards “forgiveness” theory which claims that bad deeds can be purged.” Ed McGaa, Eagle Man, Nature’s Way

As I started getting into this idea of each of us formulating and ratifying our own understandings of all that is about us it became clear this will be more than a quick note. I walked out of the house earlier and had on R. Carlos Nakai on my ear phones and rather loud. The CD is one of Nakai who is a seven-note cedar flute master playing with a symphony his various melodies and it was almost haunting as the visage of a clear sky and quiet surrounding the trees. I had to stop listen to the music and see this quiet still image before me. The two interplayed as I got ready to leave the house.


To close this quick dropping and getting on with the day I remind everyone to please keep all in harm’s way on their minds and in their hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Foxfire is a name for a fungus glowing in the dark, until you wander up Black Rock Mountain

Bird Droppings July 2, 2021
Foxfire is a name for a fungus glowing in the dark, until you wander up Black Rock Mountain

A few weeks back I was involved in another synchronous adventure, as I am literally daily. I have been thinking about it ever since. I have been a fan of Carl Jung and the idea of synchronicity for many years and often write about it. I was out and about and by chance had not made breakfast being still out f sync from vacation. I stopped at a local Bojangles to get a chicken biscuit. As I am standing waiting a boisterous voice bellows out Mr. Bird. Standing next to me waiting on his breakfast is a student from 2001 and my first day back to teaching. Oh, the stories I could tell I mentioned to his son about ten years old standing next to him. I started back to teaching after a twenty plus year period away from the class room on September 11, 2001. This fellow walks into the room, a tiny room currently occupied by six girls and myself and loudly proclaims in his booming ninth grade voice “I hate girls.” As the story progresses we became friends and still remain in contact through social media. I had not talked with him in person in at least ten years. All is well with him and his family.

“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” Aldus Huxley

In 1965 I was introduced to this author in a tenth grade English Class. The book we were reading was Brave New World, written in 1932. You would think that a book thirty years old at that time would not have been that controversial. However, for our class and the reading list we had an English teacher was let go. What amuses me is how these books we read did impart more than simply the words contained between the covers; it was a catalyst for thinking that was developed.


Today in 2020 with a new school year about to start English teachers use the books my tenth-grade teacher was fired for as part of their reading list, as do many high schools across the country. These were 1984, Anthem, and Brave New World which were so controversial in their time more than fifty years ago. Still today these same words can inspire students and adults to think and ponder. I fear the undercurrent in politics in some areas of the country towards education may again squelch such reading.

 “To write is to make oneself the echo of what cannot cease speaking — and since it cannot, in order to become its echo, I have, in a way, to silence it. I bring to this incessant speech the decisiveness, the authority of my own silence.” Maurice Blanchot

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” Sir Winston Churchill

Each day as I sit down and wonder about the direction that the ideas may or may not flow I try and find a spark a starting point for the day. It is sort of my kick-start to the day to revitalize my own cerebral cortex. I was thinking of experience as a start earlier but within the semantics of the word so many limits to the concept of experience. I was seeing a teacher and most as I read were seeing experience as a limit. In previous weeks I journeyed up the mountains of North Georgia yesterday to visit the Foxfire property. I had the privilege to speak with a foxfire fellowship student up on the Foxfire Museum property. Foxfire has transitioned to a new idea of summer fellowship student’s developing and writing stories, over a class at the high school. Initially as a student of the Foxfire approach I was concerned. Then my thoughts shifted and even this morning a new epiphany. As I thought the idea of a container as a student. Then I reread this line from Huxley. It is what we do with it. Students were turned loose to learn in 1965 and the culmination is this property and museum of Appalachian culture on the side of a mountain. Now others can relive and see the history of the Rabun county area not simple learn about it in a book.


Over the past few days numerous emails from former classmates in high school perhaps prompted by nostalgia and finding a few in Facebook, remembering fondly a nearly forgotten class of tenth grade yet one that truly started a process of thinking that has continued for me nearly sixty years later. But the direction changes as I look, it is through writers and writing that we convey so much.

“To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author.” Charles Caleb Colton

“I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.” William Faulkner

Each day I walk outside and look at the sky on clear mornings today vacationing a slight mist and cloud cover greeted me. For some the stars and constellations provide direction and as the seasons pass the constellations change which denotes time of day and position in the sky and often as I go out I am greeted by a new or slightly different sky appearing before my front door. If by chance I am writing at home and not on vacation I can go out into the back yard surrounded by pine, pecan, black walnut, persimmon and oak trees depending on where I stand much will be obscured and I see only a shrouded sky laced with the branches.
As I read Faulkner’s note so often this is true, we do not think about something till we read what we have written. Many the times I will return to a piece, weeks and months later and find a new meaning or understanding of what I was thinking at the time. I wrote a philosophy of teaching paper and until it was returned with comments I wasn’t sure what my philosophy was. A journey that began in reading, then in experience and moves through writing for it does take written word to read.

“You must often make erasures if you mean to write what is worthy of being read a second time; and don’t labor for the admiration of the crowd, but be content with a few choice readers.” Horace

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” Samuel Johnson

It is as true as I write each morning glancing through previous writings and reviewing articles and emails and any books handy at that moment looking for and pondering where and how I will direct my thoughts. Often my morning consists more of reading than actually writing words to paper or computer screen. It is so many times a search for an idea a thought that has eluded me.

“If written directions alone would suffice, libraries wouldn’t need to have the rest of the universities attached.” Judith Martin

“Although most of us know Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Paul Gauguin in Tahiti as if they were neighbors — somewhat disreputable but endlessly fascinating — none of us can name two French generals or department store owners of that period. I take enormous pride in considering myself an artist, one of the necessaries.” James A. Michener

What comes so easy for some it has been said may not be for others. I sit each morning writing two or three pages reading numerous articles and emails and then go onto class and ask students to write 500 words about what they learned this year in school. Most will say nothing, since that makes it so much easier to write. As I think as to where that student is coming from, maybe they never read Brave New World. It could be because somewhere, somehow, and or someone did not give them the opportunity.


In my room often, it is because somewhere and someone did not teach them to read effectively or to think beyond just surviving day to day. It might have been that was the only alternative. I was reminded in an email of Dr. Laura Nolte’s famous poster, “Children learn what they live” as I spelled checked I made an error I had typed “Children learn what they love”. As I thought a bit you know what? That is just as true too. So how do we help children love learning, and love reading? I wish it could be an easy answer. Perhaps we can start with ourselves. Let’s all set an example today and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts 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

Teaching can be successful

Bird Droppings June 30, 2021
Teaching can be successful

When I am home, I try and walk out to a quiet corner of my back yard except today I am away from home and my walk was two miles on the beach at Pawleys Island. Even at the beach is you look there are strands of spider webbing that are still hanging connecting everything. The scientist part of me knows that they are simply webs from wandering spiders the previous night out hunting but the mystic in me sees the connections. I do see the interconnections, but many do not. As we walked looking for shells specifically Pawleys Island shells my wife said she felt we were drawn to them. I jokingly said that is something I would say. Just as she said that I spotted my first of the day a bright red one. I try and learn as I go through the day talking to people as we walk along the beach. Learning about the area and nature.

I am concerned about learning more so than the word education. That is a strange statement to make coming from a teacher by trade. We have institutions established called schools where learning is supposed to occur. Sadly various interfering elements within state and federal policy contradict and totally destroy the ability to provide learning experiences for children. Yesterday several editorial cartoons were sent through the internet showing a group of students all connected with wires from their heads staring ahead and one trying to climb out a window to the outside and nature, it has been around for some time but caught my attention. The just of the image was education reform wants us all to be education zombies all learning the same thing at the same time. If we cannot reverse the decline in learning our children will be simply pawns of whoever is or whatever is in power at the time.

“The first object of any act of learning, over and beyond the pleasure it may give, is that it should serve us in the future. Learning should not only take us somewhere; it should allow us later to go further more easily.” Ted Sizer

I received an email a few days back or I should say a response to a Facebook post I shared from a friend. The video clip I shared many months back was directed at the Teach to the Test mentality that has taken over education due to high stakes testing being mandated by states and federal law. A young man a recent college graduate stated he could not get a job because his method of teaching was more hands on than what administrators were looking for. I used to see the frustration of my son who was trained to teach in experiential manner and was limited by what was on the curriculum map that day. Fortunately, he was able to move schools and counties. I used to co-teaching with teacher in physics who liked to provide context to the learning. One day one of our physics classes in getting ready to study the concepts of velocity and acceleration did a slip and slide lab to take data in order to calculate acceleration and velocity. It was interesting to see how physics come alive for those kids and still comply with the curriculum requirements. If I was wagering I would definitely say they learned.

“A vision without a task is a dream – a task without a vision is drudgery- but a task with vision can change the world.” Black Elk

“Too much emphasis has been placed on reforming school from the outside through policies and mandates. Too little has been paid to how schools can be shaped from within.” Roland Barth

Just a few days ago I addressed the fact we are educating more diversified students in the United States than anywhere in the world. I borrowed from Black Elk a Lakota Sioux Holy Man who passed away nearly sixty years ago. Black Elk believed in the power of visions. Roland Barth was a professor at Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. His book Improving Schools from within, was a best seller in 1991. His latest book Learning by heart, addresses the need for school reform and changes and that they need to come from changing the culture of schools. As I read both pieces and thought a Sioux holy man talking about making a vision real and a renowned educator saying we need to look within in order to elicit change maybe we should be listening to them and not politicians.

“Rarely do outside of school remedies work their way into the fabric of the schools or into the teacher’s lives, and more rarely into the classrooms. Therefore they only offer a modest hope of influencing the basic culture of the school.” Roland Barth

“Community building must become the heart of any school improvement effort.” Thomas Sergiovanni

“The best we educational planners can do is to create the conditions for teachers and students to flourish and get out of their way.” Theodore Sizer

As I ponder my various authors I am reviewing and borrowing from today Barth, Sergiovanni and Sizer in the quotes above I find continuity. These men are all innovators and have made significant and powerful suggestions about education across the nation. Many school systems use the concept of learning communities that Sergiovanni promotes in his writing. I know that Roland Barth’s ideas are taught and re-taught in graduate schools nationwide and teachers seldom leave college without hearing the name of Ted Sizer. What concerns me is why is it with the potential to change education we seem to be in a rut and really going nowhere different. Why do we continue to know what to do to better educate kids and then do not do it. I wish an answer were simple to place in writing but I see blame as being in the leadership of schools. I see blame in school boards and in state education boards and eventually at a federal level. As the ideology leaves the classroom it goes from being real and meaningful to being business and is it cost effective? Can we afford this? Should we spend dollars on this? Somewhere children get left out and learning gets sat by the roadside.

“To cope with a changing world, an entity must develop the capacity of shifting and changing – of developing new skills and attitudes; in short, the capability of learning.” A. DeGues, The Living Company

“The challenge of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

“You cannot have a learning organization without a shared vision…A shared vision provides a compass to keep learning on course when stress develops. The gap between vision and current reality is also a source of energy. If there were no gap, there would be no need for any action to move towards the vision. We call this gap creative tension.” Peter Senge

Dr. Peter Senge is a professor at MIT and renowned scholar in the field of learning. His books and theories are used in management schools and education studies. The idea of a collaborative effort in learning falls back into many ideas that have been mentioned in previous droppings dealing with Foxfire and John Dewey and the democratic class room. Students learn more when it is relevant to them and they have some buy in. Proust provides that we need a new perception to see rather than using the same old mythology to view education and learning. We have to develop new skills not just use what is available. Although John Dewey’s ideas are still considered progressive at over a hundred years old always strikes me as interesting.

“We learn best from our experience, but we never directly experience the consequences of many of our most important decisions. In the absence of a great dream pettiness prevails. Shred visions foster risk taking, courage and innovation. Keeping the end in mind creates the confidence to make decisions even in moments of crisis.” Peter Senge

“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from non-conformity, the ability to turn your back on old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesteryear for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We mist dare to invent the future.” Thomas Sankara African leader

“Schools are among the very few institutions that have remained almost entirely unchanged for most of this century.” Judith Aitken

“No other organization institution faces challenges as radical as those that will transform the school.” Peter Drucker

“Today’s Schools are not Tomorrows Schools. That’s a fundamental misconception.”
David Lange

Author, speakers, management consultants, professors, educational leaders and each of them a great teacher in their own right have been outspoken for years about our schools and learning. Why do we let politicians decide what our students should be learning or how we should be evaluating these students? Why do we put arbitrary numbers on children with disabilities as to who can and who cannot exempt or not exempt state mandated tests. One IQ point separates two students one who because they cannot pass the High School graduation tests is and receives a special education certificate of attendance and is counted as a drop out because they did not graduate and the other by submitting a portfolio of what learning occurred in high school graduates with a legitimate high school diploma and is a graduate. One IQ point separates the two and how they are assessed.

“The overwhelming number of teachers …are unable to name or describe a theory of learning that underlies what they do.” Alfie Kohn

“It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather… I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” Haim Ginott

“In teaching students to think the emphasis is not on how many answers they know. Rather, the focus is on how well they behave when they don’t know.” Art Costa

I recall reading Alfie Kohn for the first time in 2001 at the suggestion of my principal who had formed a book club. The title of the book is The Schools our Children Deserve. As I read through these authors and quotes last night as I researched for my morning wanderings I wonder can we ever really change the industrial complex that drives education? Can we unseat lobbyists and politicians who seek profits at the cost of our children’s learning? I wonder as I finish up today if we can overcome.

“In the absence of a great dream pettiness prevails. Shared visions foster risk taking, courage and innovation. Keeping the end in mind creates the confidence to make decisions even in moments of crisis.” Peter Senge

I started and end with a vision. “A vision without a task is a dream – a task without a vision is drudgery- but a task with vision can change the world.” Black Elk The great spiritual leader Black Elk spoke of his visions and Peter Senge offers a shared vision. I was once told it took leaders who had vision to truly lead and I wonder if we can find those people within education who care enough about children and about learning to pave the way to a new understanding and realization of our educational system. 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

What do we miss?

Bird Droppings June 29, 2021
What do we miss?

Walking the beach at sunrise it is easy to miss the small things while gazing at a beautiful sunrise. A starfish or angel wing shell or even a cannon ball jellyfish. It is similar in life we often overlook small matters only focusing the on the large. For many years, this song has resonated with me. I have listened to many bands and individuals sing this song over the years. Perhaps the songwriter does it best and Bob Dylan can sure write a song.

All Along the Watchtower

There must be some way out of here,
Said the joker to the thief,
There’s too much confusion,
I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine,
Plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth.

No reason to get excited,
The thief, he kindly spoke,
There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that,
And this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now,
The hour is getting late.

All along the watchtower,
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went,
Barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance
A wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching,
The wind began to howl.”

All along the Watch Tower the words and Music are by Bob Dylan and have been covered by almost every major rock star from Jimmy Hendricks, Eric Clapton, Guns and Roses and Bruce Springsteen just to throw some names around. I read the words from the song and thought how easily this could apply to the political fiasco we continue to be mired in. Every day I talk with strangers, students, friends, family and a few maybe that are hard to define. Within my family I have a reputation of whenever I leave the house allow an extra hour or so because I will find people to talk with. I use the reference of a circle often as far back as 1971 I wrote about the circle of life and defined myself within a circle. It was my understanding of the circle that has changed over the years. Perhaps it is wisdom and reading and discussing with all of the above. I reference often the passage from Black Elk, Lakota Sioux medicine man.

“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours….” Black Elk

It was back a few years I was writing still learning about the circle of life and received on August 6, 2003 an email from a dear friend.

“Dear Bird, the circle may have more to do with the philosophy of letting the river flow. I think our culture is more involved with the spiral in the up direction. We have a hard time revisiting, editing, honing, or learning from experience – all involve the circle.” Frances Friedman

Frances and I have a dialogue of sorts ongoing now almost ten years with thoughts words and ideas and as I read this I recalled a bowl of objects in my room, and a Shel Silverstein book, The Missing Piece meets the Big O. Most of us are familiar with river stones, pebbles or rocks worn smooth with the flow of the river or stream. In Africa some of the hardwood trees have wood so dense it sinks and as a result pieces of trees will fall into the river or stream and much like river stone tumble and spin and soon have a round look like a river stone. I have a bowl of river stone wooden rocks in my room.


The story from the late Shel Silverstein’s is that of a pie shape piece missing from the whole (or so they think) and is sitting waiting for the right piece who is missing a piece to come by. The piece sits and sits and finally after many seasons and many pieces, a BIG O tells him you are on your own. You can do what you want. The piece begins to flip flop and such and soon as the edges wear down and it begins to roll. It is its own piece a simple child’s story maybe in a world where we all search for identity.

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle

So often we wait wanting only to be that which we are not willing to learn to change into and grow. A piece of wood lying on the bottom of a stream in many parts of the world would float away and simply be gone. However, as my pieces attest to some will roll and tumble smoothing the edges rounding off and soon be as the river stones. Just as the missing piece learned sometimes you have to move adjust begin to roll and sometimes even change or simply sit and wait. As Carlyle states what will you miss.

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outer results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Frances Friedman mentioned how so often we forget to learn from experience so often in our hurries we are not watching looking seeing. As I prepare for my classes I have been working on the concept of SUCCESS. Many of the people I know can relate to failure but not success it is a new concept. It is a new experience but hopefully they will learn through and of experience and move beyond failure.

“When I hear somebody sigh that ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’” Sidney J. Harris

Contrast and compare, Harris is a thinker that many may not know. He was a writer in the 1960’s through his death in 1980’s. A teacher friend nearly thirteen years ago shared several of his articles with me and Harris’ columns are intriguing reading. Strictly Personal is the name of his old column and in archives on the internet. You can find many of his articles and they are all good reading.


As I look back in my own life and times and see where and when corners were rounded and I learned and succeeded and failed many times. I also see other people who were affected by that moment and hopefully they have affected positively and grown as well. Yesterday I was in the guidance office and a little boy was sitting on the floor his dad is still overseas and I was forced to think a moment 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

In a world of data can we still use intuition?

Bird Droppings June 28, 2021
In a world of data can we still use intuition?

I spent the better part of today either sitting on or walking on the beach at Pawleys Island South Carolina. When ever my wife and I come we tend to make sure we see the sunrise every morning. It was supposed to be raining but we got a great two mile walk in this morning. In all honesty that was the longest walk I have gone in two years with stopping to sit down. I was told by my cardiologist that a pacemaker would change the quality of my life and he was not kidding. When I am sitting listening to the wind and waves, I tend to drift off into philosophical wonderland.

I had a thought this morning and it is kind of depressing when I think about it. We are basically training our new teachers in all the things that we as older teachers find wrong in education. (pre NCLB) It hit me as we are teaching all these new teachers how to take tests the “right” way. We are teaching all these new teachers that standardized testing is good and essential. We are teaching all these new teachers to skip the critical thinking parts of life in order to adhere to mandated standards. We are skipping the pieces that teach about imagination. Sadly, we teach we need to skip all these things because we need to concentrate on testing. I see far to often their courses are now being focused around how to take tests, how to teach kids to take tests, and how to talk to kids about testing. We are losing imagination and we are losing critical thinking skills in our new teachers. A piece I find disheartening is we too are losing all the stories. We are losing all the creativity and losing the individuality of the students by taking it away from the teachers.

It is the inherent skill sets that often make a great teacher. I am speaking of those almost instinctual attributes. Granted in a scientific study more than likely these are learned skills but there is an aspect that is still not with all teachers. I mentioned to a fellow teacher I can tell when a child has emotional issues after observing a few minutes and listening. Granted observations are part of most evaluations but I was referring to an intuitive aspect of observation. Something we learn perhaps as we experience and live life. Over the years several children I have worked with I have recommended additional involvement and unfortunately also got to say I told you so in future although I have refrained from actually saying that.

“Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” Edwin Hubbel Chapin

As I was discussing the final class debriefing as it is called in a teacher training program. I recall a thought hit me as to why some teachers can do more than others. Why some teachers succeed where others flounder, it is intuition, a simple thought and a difficult concept to teach to another. This is an area most education classes forget. I have for many years considered teaching an art form. There is an aspect of teaching that separates great teachers from poor teachers.

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” John Steinbeck

“Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out.” Michael Burke

Knowing what to do at a specific moment intuitively is not easily taught in a classroom it has to be experienced and understood at a deeper level.

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” Dr. Benjamin Spock

“Instinct is untaught ability.” Bain

In a teacher training session on grading one time, I listened to seasoned teachers discuss how they would do this or that. One teacher said do you have that written down, what is your starting point? How much planning time do you allow? I watched and heard in disbelief in this situation that was one of a teachable moment go by the way side. The person speaking turned around stunned as I was and said I really do not plan it takes ten minutes to jot down a daily note to my students and each day they experience new things and we build on that.

“Instinct is intelligence incapable of self-consciousness.” John Sterling

I began thinking of key words in teaching, intuition being a good starting point. Always when teaching anachronisms help and I found, IESP, Intuition, Empathy, Sympathy and Perception. These are all aspects of a good teacher and a good parent and a good person as well.

“Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” Dr. Joyce Brothers

In doing research on intuition in years gone by, many psychologists believe we have stored experiences and concepts that we do not even recall that are the basis for intuition.

“Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.” Florence Scovel Shinn

There are other researchers who consider aspects yet undiscovered as a basis for intuitiveness and intuition.

“A leader or a man of action in a crisis almost always acts subconsciously and then thinks of the reasons for his action.” Jawaharlal Nehru

So many years ago, Nehru was the first Prime Minister of an independent India and as well a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi.

“Instinct is the nose of the mind.” Madame De Girardin

I saw this note and it intrigued me. Instinct being a door opener and perhaps starting point, a beginning it could be possibly even one of our senses.

“I would rather trust a woman’s instinct than a man’s reason.” Stanley Baldwin

I do not know exactly what this entity is we call intuition. I have observed many teachers and parents, workers and managers. Some know answers and others have to understand and solve the issues. As I was thinking and pondering the past few days I always seem to come back to a favorite quote.

“Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

One of my red neck buddies responded, “what the h— does that have to do with intuition”? Some of us have a goal a destination but the journey the getting there is as critical and crucial as the end result. Each aspect of the pathway is essential rather than simply the end of the trip. When you are looking as you go you see so much more. I recall a long trip as a child and we would play games looking for animals. If you choose to look only for red tailed hawks, it would be miles and even hours between birds. If you choose birds and how many different ones you can see we up the chances of every few seconds or minutes seeing something. Open that to all animals and now every few seconds and you are looking for details in the road side and trees and grass. Life is so similar some people are looking for specifics so minute they seldom find what they are looking for. Others see every nook and cranny. Intuition is in the crannies I think.

“The really happy man is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.“ Anonymous

I wish I had said that. 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)

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