Is memorizing answers, really answers to our questions?

Bird Droppings March 6, 2019
Is memorizing answers, really answers to our questions?

 

Several years ago I would have said there were answers to almost any question that could be asked. Today sitting here I wonder, granted first you have to ask what is the question or questions but I have a different attitude now sort of one that is allowing for an unanswerable question. In the past few years there have been many marches and speeches but more recently over the last year it is children who are raising questions. I listened to David Hogg, and other high school students from Florida survivors of a mass shooting. I have heard Dr. King’s granddaughter beg for action. Her grandfather a victim of gun violence. Sir Paul McCartney as well addressing how he lost his best friend near the site of one march in recent months to gun violence.  I saw videos of counter protesters exercising their right to bear arms parading with AR-15’s behind police picket lines.

 

When I was researching yesterday and reading about W. Edward Deming’s and his quality solutions which was a rather simple solution to most quality issues in life. Deming believed in quality first and as I ponder education is it too pie in the sky to try and do such a good job that there are no questions no need to check (assess) at the end of the line. Is it too high and mighty to offer that there is no need to inspect or challenge and or no need to test if the quality is built in? I got to thinking of the gun issue and schools why are we answering questions with simply more of the same. More guns will stop guns. Current US gun ownership by any group’s information is the highest in the world. One article indicated two hundred million guns in US. Roughly 90 guns per 100 people. The same article pointed to twelve billion rounds of ammo.

 

I was once doing counseling work with a gentlemen who had fifteen guns and thousands of rounds of ammo. I found out after the fact of beginning working with him. He ended up receiving disability for psychiatric reasons. As I think back to this fellow. He lived in a resident motel and would sleep with his door open a crack. Several times I would go to check on him and he would be in diabetic shock unconscious. The owner had him put guns in a locked locker and or start locking his room door. He chose to put in locker.
While thinking about marches I am sitting pondering, eating eggs and cheese grits sipping a real strong black tea with agave nectar over ice and waiting on the cold to slack off a bit to pose such a question. But Deming’s ideas keeping coming back to me and I will diverse a bit in my thoughts as I wander to a discussion that came up yesterday with a regular education teacher a good friend who has concerns as well on education.
I was working on an idea on using academic achievement to address issues with Learning Disabled students by using a rubric which in and of its self is a way to provide quality versus simply quantity to an evaluation. This sort of led into as I headed toward school a discussion. As I sat driving around yesterday after discussing with another teacher the subject of autism and dealing with where do these kids go after school is over? On a more critical note what is even available? I had a brainstorm which was in part due to the thoughts that came out in our discussion. Over and over again parents were concerned about how their child’s life was being directed by people who did not know their child. Often changes in staffing will occur and parents do not even know. For nearly seventeen years I have recommended teachers of some students track students more effectively perhaps including group meetings of staff up and down the line who will have or have had that student. More often than not we deal with a cold folder of someone else’s opinion. Knowing a kid can make the difference so many times between success and failure. This concept ties also into the current discussion of educational issues being decided by non-educational people with our state and federal legislators. I reflect to a recent IEP meeting I sat in on as an advocate.
I met several years back at a conference a care giver who provides daily living assistance for several Asperger’s syndrome and autistic young men in a group home sort of setting. One of the young men who lived in this facility was also involved in the discussion. (This fellow lives essentially on his own and not only has Asperger’s syndrome which is a high function form of autism but is legally blind as well. Sadly for years the visual impairment concealed the pervasive disorder). The care giver who works for an organization that is involved with disabled adults who need some assistance referred to knowing the person well, many times. He and this young man have a language many would not understand actually part of this young man’s disorder idiosyncrasies that the care giver has learned to understand.
So often in schools and workplaces we want all the ducks in a row and someone who is a bit different doesn’t fit in so push them aside. Charter schools the big reform answer in and of its nature limits what students can come to that particular school with its charter. I could not help but think of IEP’s and such and even further to Deming’s ideas. My day yesterday was pondering achievement, a rubric and Deming. It has been a while since I sat as a student in class but I can’t count the times education professors have said we need to think outside the box. Yesterday as we talked two teachers I had walked the hallways of knowledge discussed opening the box. So often we limit as I think Deming’s pointed out when we have “the inspection” we only really get what we ask for. This has actually been researched in industry numerous times if you want to find twenty percent defective parts you will get twenty percent defective parts. My mind jumped to those students for whom seventy percent is passing and we get seventy percent from many.
I have watched meetings in which the group set IEP goals of eighty percent compliance on a behavior in such areas as not swearing at authority figures. I would have liked that myself back in several of my high school and college classes. That translates into two out of ten times I could swear and it is ok since I am achieving my goals. This is literally exactly what Deming’s is saying, you get what you ask for. So how do we imply quality and success without setting limits and or parameters? How do we measure achievement without providing a box even within the confines of a rubric? How do we measure friendship without having parameters to measure from? Hopefully the last one perhaps is one of the easiest to escape from we measure friendship hopefully not in some testing situation and not in some box ready format but we measure friendship in love and in emotion which often is not a measurable and quantitative form it is in simply knowing. Why do we have a difficult time in education? Far too often teachers do not know students. A school identity number and seat on a floor chart and we are off to educate.

 

“Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.” Dr. W. Edward Deming

 

This can apply in so many different fields including education but it will take some effort to teach teachers how to know students. It will take a different mindset for teachers to look for quality rather than quantity. It will take using innovative ideas to evaluate learning rather than standardized tests that so often are not even valid in the context of what they are testing. How valid is a test that students can score about the same in the beginning as in the end? I have not proved this point but I would wager on most High School Graduation tests if given to ninth graders they would come close to passing in effect if they are capable of passing the test in eleventh grade. I have similar thoughts on End of Course Tests. Sadly the difficulty is in developing within students and workers another of Deming’s thoughts.

 

“Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service…” Dr. W. Edward Deming

 

Listening to parents over the years always makes me think. We seriously need to address perhaps differently children and even each other so often we come at life in general rather than looking for specifics in an individual. We approach each aspect as from past experiences which are still important and do not let that experience of the moment have its way for that person. We lose individuality in mass production even in our own view of things. I am always reminded of first impressions and first impressions are based on past experience and not on anything to do with this person far too often. We need to see and hear who this is before passing judgment and we need as those parents offered over and over to get to know the real person not just the symptomatology. I sit here trying to figure out how to create an open ended rubric some method of scoring that has no parameters and no limits and that is an interesting venture for the day ahead and week ahead planting, gardening, mowing and reading. 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

 

Teachers! We should always be near the edge.

Bird Droppings March 5, 2019
Teachers! We should always be near the edge.

 

I remember taking groups hiking in North Georgia and always there is that one person who has to be at the edge of a gorge or edge of the trail dropping two hundred feet down looking over and nearly falling. A few summers back my oldest and middle son went to the Grand Canyon and of course many images over the edge. Granted they were beautiful but. I Often wonder if maybe they were being adrenaline rush junkies. It has been some time since I would edge my canoe off a rapids occasionally not knowing what lay ahead. I have gone off some pretty good size falls not paying attention. One of my favorite memories of canoeing is a good friend was with me and as we approached a ten foot drop he stood up to check it out. I was catapulted out of the canoe and he was pinned under it. We survived but a great life lesson for both of us. For him never stand in a canoe in rapids and me never go canoeing with him again.

 

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” Soren Kierkegaard

 

I often wonder if I had chosen differently at various times in my life what would be the outcome and where would I be. What if I had not left teaching so many years ago would one of my former students perhaps have changed directions and not be serving three life sentences currently. I was aware of issues back then over forty five years ago but I was just a kid working with kids.

 

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

 

It is through experience that the highest form of learning occurs and it is learning that will stay with us as we move through life. I can describe how to tie a square knot and I can show pictures all day long of a square knot but until you physically tie a square knot with a piece of rope you will not recall the intricacies and methods.

 

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap?” Cynthia Heimel, Lower Manhattan Survival Tactics

 

I recently did a timeline of my life showing what I call coincidence points where a slightly different twist, trail, or take would have altered my life. People I have met, things I have done or not done all altered by a moments choice somewhere along the line.

 

“I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I’m not afraid of falling into my inkpot.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I have been a fan of Emerson for some time and as I read this line I recalled several comments from a friend who is an artist and very independent drawing a comparison to the former TV show and Dr. House. He was an arrogant extremely brilliant physician who offends everyone and seemingly solves unsolvable medical mysteries. My friend was a graphic artist and had learned the game of preparing art boards for clients; she will always do several and sort of over emphasize the one that she feels is best. You are giving your customer choice and options yet controlling the situation for the better. This is a Dr. James Sutton trick for working with Oppositional Deviant children. My friend has a customer who never picks the best one always the wrong one and now without just being obnoxious directs the customer to the best art work.

 

“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” Frederick B. Wilcox

 

So often life presents us with challenges or with trails to follow do I go left or right do I take the steeper one or the easy pathway. Over the years hiking in the Appalachian mountains of Georgia and North Carolina you would come upon switch backs where the trail rather than going straight up would be a series of switches back and forth a bit more distance but an easier incline especially when encumbered with a heavy backpack. Some people want to charge forward and I had a few who would always make a beeline for the top of Blood Mountain and avoid switch backs and about half way up the rest of us would catch up to them exhausted and bruised and bloodied from rocks and falls. Often there is wisdom in experience. Still those of us moving up the mountain maybe in a slower pace but would still finish ahead of them.

 

“Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?” Frank Scully

 

I remember picking apples and crawling out a bit too far on a limb nearly falling going for the best ones. Learning the limits of your environment can be beneficial and help you get the best possible of what you seek.

 

“You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

 

I first used this quote nearly seventeen years ago putting a copy on my then principal’s door. Interesting that sheet of copy paper made the move to a two new schools and is still hanging in his Regional over ten counties, RESA director’s office.

 

“I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.” G.K. Chesterton

 

I have never been one to back down from a challenge and Chesterton’s words are true so often people sit and languish sadly literally molding away.

 

“The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny.” Napoleon Bonaparte

 

In Risk Management you terminate the risk, you tolerate the risk, and you treat the risk and or transfer the risk which equates to the four T’s of Risk Management, Terminate, Tolerate, Treat and Transfer.

 

“This nation was built by men who took risks – pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action.” Brooks Atkinson

It was the vastness of the frontier that truly gave us the American Dream. I have been working on papers dealing with the development of education historically and it is interesting how the frontier paid such a significant role. Europe had reached a point where every corner and every nook was owned and possessed and a totally new atmosphere occurred when the colonists came across the ocean. It was a vast un-chartered frontier.

 

“Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.” Samuel Johnson, Rasselas, 1759

 

So many times in history because of various limitations imposed by religion and by rulers because objections hold the society in limbo.

 

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert F. Kennedy

 

I recall the day Bobby Kennedy was killed and football Hall of Fame great Rosie Greer who had been helping with security knelt beside the still body a tear on his cheek. Greer was one of the great all time linemen, in pro football and was crying holding Kennedy’s head in his hands. As the news started a picture came across the media. The photo was the huge Rosie Greer bent over a fallen Bobbie Kennedy with tears in his eyes. Shortly thereafter news carried the words word that Kennedy had died. He knew the chances but believed in what he was trying to do. Two Kennedy brothers killed by gun violence before it was news worthy.

 

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” Seneca

 

Nearly 3000 years ago these words were uttered by the great Greek philosopher and today they hold as true as they did back then.

 

“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” Robert H. Schuler
Pastor Schuler was never one to limit himself such as in building one of the largest church congregations in the country and the largest TV audience of all time.

 

“Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide?” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

 

I am amazed as to how perception changes as conditions change.

 

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little course and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The old adage of getting back on the horse when you fall off still holds clout.

 

“Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.” Ray Bradbury

 

Every day some of us live this way waiting till the last minute and thriving on the adrenalin but not everyone can function in this manner. I sit back and recall my father going over the four T’s of risk management in a conference so many years ago and how applicable that still is not just in industry but in school, education, families, and life in general. Some people need a moment or two to catch their breath to ponder and make the wisest and sometimes safe choice. So today 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

 

 

We need LOVE

Bird Droppings March 4, 2019
We need LOVE

 

Sometimes we so easily use the word love. It gets used daily by many folks and yet do we truly have any conception of what it is we speak. I was just in a conversation and the word love came up, I responded how we each have our own understanding and definition of love. One of my favorite actors for many years has been the late Chief Dan George. He was a very devout man with a powerful faith and belief. I would like to share with you a passage in his words.

 

“My friends, how desperately do we need to be loved and to love. When Christ said that man does not live by bread alone, he spoke of a hunger. This hunger was not the hunger of the body. It was for bread. He spoke of a hunger that begins down deep in the very depths of our being. He spoke of a need as vital as breath. He spoke of our hunger for love. Love is something you and I must have. We must have it because our spirit feeds upon it. We must have it because without it we become weak and faint. Without it our self-esteem weakens. Without it our courage fails. Without love we can no longer look out confidently at the world. We turn inward and begin to feed upon our own personalities, and little by little we destroy ourselves. With it we are creative. With it we march tirelessly. With it and with it alone we are able to sacrifice for others.” Chief Dan George

 

I will always remember this great man for his role as Lone Watti, side kick to Josie Wales played by Clint Eastwood in the film, The Outlaw Josie Wales. I was reading an email in our high school group website several years back and I recalled this message from one of my former classmates. He was speaking about his father and his father’s death at 46 many years ago, and how he remembered now even though he is 56, his father always as being older then himself. I was thinking back to my father who was in his eighties when he passed away and yet if I was asked to recall an image it would be in Pennsylvania many years ago I was maybe twelve or so and my father and I raced around the house. So many years ago and he was younger than I am now at that time.
It has been a few years since closed a portion to a year of graduate studies at Piedmont College. We were sitting around a room reflecting, a very powerful tool for teachers and non-teachers alike. Dr. Julie asked us to respond to cards we had written nearly a year previous. There were twenty in our cohort group. One by one she would read the cards we wrote those many days ago. We were to reply with our thoughts today. Had they changed? What was different? As a rule I tend to be very monastic. I do little socializing outside of family. For the past few years my spare time has been in graduate school but even aside from that I tend to not seek others company. But in reading and communicating that day to responses and often tearful ones at that so much had happened within our group in a year’s time. I go back to Chief Dan George’s words:

 

“With love we are creative. With it we march tirelessly. With it and with it alone we are able to sacrifice for others.” Chief Dan George

 

It is so easy to say love. But it is far more difficult to truly show it. We went from a group of various assundery individuals to a very creative, tireless, and willing to sacrifice for others cohort. Was it love that bound us together? I put together a slide show for a presentation. I said in my ten minute talk such things as friendship, philosophy, and cohort, all big words in and of themselves. But as I look at the effects of a year’s interaction I do believe Dan George had it right it takes love.
I was sitting earlier outside wondering about the next few hours and moments, thinking about the days ahead and beyond. It was quiet outside virtually no sound and no breeze so still. I could hear my own breathing and almost hear the smoke from my sage and sweet grass floating off towards the sunrise. It has been many years since a friend left me a gift of a smudge stick essentially incense, made of sage and cedar which got me started. I was watching the smoke waft for lack of better terms it would go up and then circle and then almost pause with no wind or air current it hung near almost in a protective sort of way. I would blow on the embers and in doing so move the smoke.
I had started writing this today before I went outside but as I thought love is like that smoke it is there awaiting our interaction, our acknowledgment and acceptance. However it is through our example others than can experience love. I am wandering a bit pondering as usual. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Looking for reasons for why kids go bad

Bird Droppings March 3, 2019                                                                                                     

Looking for reasons for why kids go bad

 

“Come; let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can create for our children.” Sitting Bull, Lakota Sioux

 

Almost twenty years have passed since I did a research paper on the causes of various emotional issues with children. When I first started back to teaching it really was not all that much different from the early seventies when I last taught. When I wrote the paper I was looking for commonalities among children who had more serious issues in school and in life. I listed drugs use, alcohol use, jail time, probation, age, sex, drivers licenses, wealth, social status, child hood illnesses and whatever else I could find measurable numbers or information on. I did not question students, this was on their school and public record. As I looked deeper at my students and most were still children I concluded that most with problems were made they did not just happen. Indirectly we created each of the issues that manifested it. I found an article in Divorce Magazine entitled, Help for Generation. They listed statistics that in 1970 seventy two percent of adult population is married and in 1999 only fifty nine percent. This was an interesting statistic and furthermore the number of divorces granted is down per one thousand people but up per number of new marriages.

As I researched years ago in that group of students that I was using for my data only two out of twenty eight lived with their biological parents, I should say both biological parents.

“It seems that the divorce culture feeds on itself, creating a one-way downward spiral of unhappiness and failure.” David Brenner, New York, July 14, 1999, Associate director of the Institute for American Values

“There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents.” Leon R. Yankwich

Before Netflix and other streaming services I was hooked on reruns of Law and Order, SUV, the hit TV show which now runs it seems all day long in one form or another. I am captivated by the errors and flaws within our society it seems. As I watched old reruns similarities to former student’s families came out.

“Having children makes one no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.” Michael Levine

As I researched deeper in reasons children having issues often I found issues were learned and the examples were set at home. It could be drugs, abuse, alcohol and literally any of issues presented had been directly related to home situations. “Children learn what they live”, both positively and negatively as Dr. Laura Nolte, a favorite of mine, a leading psychologist, writes extensively about and which is featured in her Children Learn what they live poster of the seventies, and programs for children.

Yesterday the news was filled with stories of teenagers, young people who had gotten into trouble and teenagers who are trying to make a difference. Thinking back over nearly eighteen years to an event in Minnesota where a young man killed nine people in a shooting spree at his school. For whatever reason this incident seldom is mentioned in schools shootings, perhaps being on a reservation. Elsewhere drug arrests and gangs make the news, several young black men unarmed have recently been killed in shooting by police.

I recall several years back when I was walking outside my room and a student came up sheepishly and hugged me and apologized. I am so sorry for what happened it was only a few weeks prior this student was in a fight with another student in the cafeteria and I was pulling them apart. It was a strange feeling being thanked for breaking up a fight by one involved. In that same time period I was at a basketball game and parents were yelling at each other over and about their kids in front of the audience to a point a resource officer was involved. It really is no different than forty plus years ago when I coached basketball in Macon Georgia and the kids liked this old crude gym better than the new gym. I finally asked why and all the kids said parents could not fit inside and kids could just play basketball with no parents yelling at them.

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” Dr. C. Everett Koop

I never met the man but my father always spoke highly of him as he was my brother’s physician in Philadelphia back in mid-1960’s when my brother John was at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital.  In later years Dr. Koop was Surgeon General of the United States and one who was always looking for answers midst all the questions.

“Children are curious and are risk takers. They have lots of courage. They venture out into a world that is immense and dangerous. A child initially trusts life and the processes of life.” John Bradshaw

Perhaps it is the breaking of trust that causes issues to arise. Years ago I did a graph on the development of trust. Stages in how trust evolves with a child and then into an adult. We are born with a universal trust as an infant sort of you instinctually trust we then learn to not trust and eventually come full circle learning to trust again.

“Trust evolves. We start off as babies with perfect trust. Inevitably, trust is damaged by our parents or other family members. Depending on the severity, we may experience devastated trust, in which the trust is completely broken. In order to heal, we must learn when and how trust can be restored. As part of this final step, if we cannot fully trust someone. then we establish guarded, conditional, or selective trust.” Dr. Riki Robbins, PhD, The Four Stages of Trust

I have over the years read a book by Dr. Temple Grantin, Animals in Translation. Dr. Grantin’s unique view is she is autistic and provides insights as she looks at animals in a different light than we normal do and she can understand and operate on that instinctual level. She stills functions in a world of trust and maintains trust. In a family setting what more so than parents leaving could display trust in a child let alone destroy trust and then want them to lead normal lives.

“When a parent is consistent and dependable, the baby develops sense of basic trust. The baby builds this trust when they are cold, wet or hungry and they can count on others to relieve their pain. The alternative is a sense of mistrust, the feeling that the parent is undependable and may not be there when they are needed.” Eric Erikson, Eric Erikson’s Eight Stages of Life

Sitting writing here in my writing area in our grandkids room look at pictures of my three sons who are all adults now, it is so easy to say no problem but that would be lying. Then I click to Yahoo News and as I described the event in Minnesota those years ago the Red Lake shootings and headlines of this or that as to why a 15 year old would kill nine people and himself.

“Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.” Black Elk, Oglala Sioux, Holy man

In 1973 or so I met a young man in Macon Georgia at that time he was a year older than me and still is from last I heard from his brother a few weeks back. His tribal name translates to Red Clay, he was and is an artist. My family has many of his pieces of sculpture, drawings and paintings. In 1975 or so he went through a divorce right after his wife miscarried their first baby. Every day that I have known him he had been drinking. Once he was the most requested teacher in Bibb County now retired he has been an itinerant carpenter and professional feather dancer. Although I have been told he recently retired from dancing and is now a lead drummer in Pow Wow circles. But a comment that stuck with me and an image he had painted a small acrylic painting that my mother has hanging in her office area. It is of three burial platforms in the prairie. The platform in the foreground is one of a chief or man of importance, the second his wife and the third a small infant burial platform. His unborn baby from so many years ago. He told me nearly forty years ago he would not live past forty he is now almost seventy. As I look back and think of how we respond and how we set that example for our children.

I started reading Kent Nerburn’s books several years ago. He taught at te Red Lake High School in Minnesota and you can find his editorial and blog about this event on his website. As today as I wandered in my thoughts please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and remember to always give thanks namaste.

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

 

I am pondering about Dr. Carl G. Jung and “school reform”. I find the answer is simple, CARING.

Bird Droppings March 1, 2019
I am pondering about Dr. Carl G. Jung and “school reform”.

I find the answer is simple, CARING.

 

“If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” Carl G. Jung

 

Over the years I have seen this with myself, so often those attributes we see and are upset with we too have within ourselves. It is like a mirror, we are seeing them in others what we have within ourselves. I designed a few years back a student referral slip to refer teachers when they are inappropriate. I recall a detention I was supervising a year back as we now do our detention teacher by teacher.  I asked students why they were in detention somehow I have a problem with sending kids to another teacher for after school punishment, several days after they had issue and I know Dr. Jung would argue with me on this point. It goes against quite a bit of my training and education but was school policy. Sadly it is not consistent as to why students are in detention.
In that detention ninety percent were in detention for being late to first period. I always love it when the excuses come up. “Well I pick up a friend and they are always late” as this person strolls in with a Quick Trip coffee cup or Burger king bagel, you want to say to them in that teenage vernacular we all know, whatever. So I went to my duty and nearly twenty kids were in detention. The idea is to sit do your work and no talking. Of course a few wise kids who want to make cute little noises mimicking bodily functions are always there. The students soon settle in and most are reading or studying relatively quickly.
With ten minutes left I offer a ticket out the door always a great Learning Focused Schools period ender and learning tool. My ticket out the door was a question. What is the life expectancy of the pygmy shrew? There were blank looks across the room. Ok I offered some help how about within two months. Fourteen, a student asks and is in his way. Five minutes left in detention and they ask for another question. I was sort of amazed soon twenty or so questions later and fifteen minutes after detention is over I tell them time is up when kids are interested even in detention they want to learn. Yes there is a point to this story.

 

“It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.” Carl G. Jung

 

Is seems far too often we as teachers take the easy route the path of least resistance and settle into a groove often far too deep. The idea of sharing detention duty is one such easy route. Being one who actually looks at meaningful data I do crazy things like see which teachers have the most detentions. It always amazes me how six or seven teachers in a given period consistently have the most students in detention. Conversely the same fifty or so do not use the detention system as a means of punishment. I do my research every year when it is time for me to do detention and write a report offering simple psychological truths. Punishment works best when in conjunction with behavior not days later and not in a totally different environment.
Several years back for my capstone in my Piedmont Master’s program I had a slide and used a quote about students have to want to be there to truly learn. It is interesting how learning occurs in AP classes and Honors classes and seems to be less in those classes where we expect failure.

 

Yesterday and in the past week in the news several large school districts nationwide closed hundreds of schools opting for school reform. Teachers are blamed, chastised, fired, and in some cases loose certification. Where these schools are closing they are offering as a replacement programs designed by businessmen who are oriented around a profit mode, private run charter schools. I will admit there are some charter schools that are very successful and I look at why. Charter schools can limit enrollment to students they choose, are not subject to massive standardized testing schools being closed have been subjected. I might add meaningless tests. Learning is what occurs from point A to point B not what occurred at point B which is what these schools have been measured on.

 

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Carl G. Jung

 

I suggest that we are looking at the word reform incorrectly. We should be looking at why schools are not successful first as Jung points out looking at ourselves. In the American Journal of Education, November issue 2006 an there is an article entitled “’Drop-Outs” and ‘Push-Outs”, Finding hope at a school that actualizes the ethic of care” by Wanda Cassidy and Anita Bates. The school in the article is focusing on high risk kids but providing an atmosphere of a caring environment and is being successful. During my tenure at Piedmont College I participated in a Foxfire course, entitled Foxfire teaching techniques. In one exercise the students list attributes of good teachers and good students. In the responses now over twelve years the same words are used. A good teacher listens and amazingly enough so do good students. At the Whytecliff Education Center, the school this article was based on, students in interviews said the number one attribute of a good teacher is someone who will listen.

 

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” Carl G. Jung

 

For teachers often and for students trying to see and understand the other can be difficult. I watch this every day. Students have come to me and complained about this teacher or that and the teacher complains about this student or that and the complaints are the same. Sadly many times listening is a factor but perception is one as well. As adults we see a child’s world in adult terms. I picked up several booklets from the guidance office months ago almost sarcastically. Adolescences and Understanding teenagers, was the title of one. In the brochure there were several cartoons and explanations of why kids do what they do.

 

“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” Carl G. Jung

 

There are few people in history I would want to meet. Generally I start my list with Ralph Waldo Emerson. He is a fellow existentialist and the more I read the more I wonder about everything which is perhaps why I enjoy Emerson. Henry David Thoreau another I would like to meet and his philosophy so closely ties to Emerson. In the realms of modern folks my list includes a few Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Grandpa Niper (my great, great grandfather), William Savidge, my grandfather who passed away before I was born and Dr. Carl G. Jung. I have always been impressed with Jung’s approach to dealing with people. It has always intrigued me. He split from Freud because he saw another realm so to say. He saw a spiritual aspect not necessarily religion but something that we have beyond physical rationalizations.

 

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl G. Jung

 

I turned a young man away yesterday even though his line was good. Coming by my room on a bathroom pass to ask what we were doing in class. He was just interested the same young man who was in my room just before the bell and then left and then walked around the entire school to get to his class in the room next door history had caught up to him.

 

“The healthy man does not torture others – generally it is the tortured that turn into torturers.” Carl G. Jung

 

There are reasons why kids do what they do. It could be mimicking bodily functions or giggling out loud when something strikes them funny even though it disrupts the class. We accuse them of this or that and never really look or listen to why.

 

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Carl G. Jung

 

I do believe that acceptance unlocks the door and trying to understand and see beyond the symptoms can provide answers.

 

“Children love and want to be loved and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. Do not mistake a child for his symptom.” Erik Erikson

 

I am also a big fan or child psychologist Erik Erikson. I used this as a quote for the day a few days back and included in numerous Bird Droppings over the years, it is a powerful thought. I spoke with a dear friend yesterday about the current state of affairs in Special education around d the country and her response was we may be farther back then we were in 1973 when we finally had mandatory education for all children with IDEA. To me that is most interesting. Colleges are dropping Special Education as a major. Charter schools will not in many cases take problem children and or special education children be it from a learning or behavior standpoint.
I look back at the article in the November 2006 American Journal of Education about a caring school and difference it made. That sort of encourages my philosophy of caring about students. I wonder if we can or was that in legislation too, no caring under section 234.23 on page 569 in the very small print. 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

Reading a friend’s book a sixth time

Bird Droppings February 28, 2019
Reading a friend’s book a sixth time

 

I was so tired when I laid down last night after leaving the high school, driving around doing errands, cooking supper, and attempting to get into my reading and writing. My youngest son in now a nurse at Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, my son’s wife a nursing student graduating in only a few more weeks, my niece a pediatric nurse in Savannah and my wife is a family nurse practitioner. There is a community among nurses. About four years ago five student nurses at Georgia Southern University were killed in a severe car accident on their way to a final clinical. This hit me yesterday maybe a note I read or post on Facebook.

 

As a graduate student from Georgia Southern this event impacted me. One of girls injured in the accident was a graduate of my former high school. She is now a practicing nurse. We tend to get protective and for some reason I got thinking about that crazy few days four years back. About that same time one evening as time wound down my son called trying to find his wife she was late from work. In spring of 2014 my son fell asleep on his way home from a long day at work and was involved in a serious accident. All of these made for an intense evening and troubled sleep.

 

My oldest and I have been working on some outdoor ponds essentially summer homes for several turtles and to various water plants. The rain has put a damper on any outside work for some weeks, perhaps a few hours of sunshine will let us get some serious work done this weekend. Physical labor and getting old seem to not be compatible. Our dog did not wake me up a few times to see the moon and hear the whippoorwills which were nice even though I was so tired. I have three more IEP’s for the year including a young man who has been in five schools in four years. So as I prepare to finish an IEP I got thinking about a good friend Dr. James Sutton’s book today.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The experiences and perceptions have to be there so what is written is understood? One excellent writer I read daily uses riddles and word puzzles and play on words and many have not a clue what is being said and or why. That is part of her mystic and then all of a sudden it hits you.

 

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

 

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

 

It has been a long time

Bird Droppings February 27, 2019
It has been a long time

 

“Teaching is lifelong moral quest. You never have it exactly right and you keep trying to get better at it. You keep learning from your students and what they are going through, how you can do things better.” Nel Noddings

 

I was sitting along the edge of reality somewhere in my backyard listening to the wind blow through the pines, it seems pine trees make a better sound when the oak trees are leafless. Sort of a circular thing as the wind seemed to blow around the tops of the trees surrounding my house. The sound and movement in the air was exhilarating. It has been thirty seven years since our oldest son was born. I was wondering as a parent and now as a grandparent have we done all we should or could. I think parents question themselves often. I think parents always wonder did I do the best job I could have. Perhaps even thinking about what could I have done different? As I ponder I am very proud of my children all three and now two daughter in law’s and four grandchildren. Hopefully they know what ever roads they travel in life we will be there for them if they need and I am sure they will be happy and successful.

 

“You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.” William D. Tammeus

 

I have been to the nurseries at the local hospitals when my wife gave birth to all three sons and when my sisters and numerous friends and now nieces and nephews all having children. A few years back as we sat around eating I was watching my nieces, nephews, grandchildren, grandnieces and grandnephews. Several are still babies and there were great aunts, great grandmothers, grandfathers and grandmothers taking turns holding them. Great grandma was working on getting a photo of all of them together and trying to get fourteen or so little ones in a confined space for enough time to get one photo with all faces looking forward is quite an effort.

 

“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” Joyce Maynard

 

I have watched my brother and sisters grow as they raised their children and now grandchildren. I have witnessed firsthand my wife and I grow raising our children and now the changes taking place with grandchildren. There are challenges and pitfalls, those moments that we will never live down. I recall a little spat between my middle son and youngest at Disney World when the middle son while my wife was watching for our ride to Discovery Island, karate kick the youngest and he would of course holler and hit his brother who was claiming innocence to his mother. After three times I did intercede even though I had actually been videotaping the whole scene watching it now it is quite humorous. It is funny even now my middle son still denies any wrong doing saying I altered the film.

 

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Robert Fulghum

So often I use the term setting an example, we as parents have that responsibility and we as teachers, it is a double edge sword and often there is no chance to goof off.

 

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” C.G. Jung, Integration of the Personality, 1939

 

I recall my wife coming home from the hospital many years ago when she first became a nurse. She was working in GYN-OB and had delivery and nursery in her unit. She told me one day of a thirteen year old mother whose twenty six year old mother was there and her thirty nine year old grandmother was also there. The examples we set are seen by our kids every day and then they try and emulate. Watching my granddaughter try and imitate us as we make faces or stick out our tongue is amusing and her faces as she tries and mimics. Sadly children are always watching and our behaviors beyond making faces are seen as well.

 

“Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children.” Mignon McLaughlin

 

Each day as I walk down the hallways in our high school I am made aware of this with so many students pregnant and some married.

 

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone

 

It was a difficult day yesterday. My back was bothering me arthritis and old age and a student noticed. I am usually good about keeping it to myself. It could be the weather changes we keep having. Advil has kept me going and a good night’s sleep but a nice relaxing hot shower will be great. So in a few weeks my oldest son birthday hots and it is hard to believe as I went shopping with my oldest granddaughter this past weekend, that he was once just as small. As I finish up today so much out in the news around the world so 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