Bird Droppings June 17, 2013
Sitting at my kitchen table pondering
I am up a bit earlier than normal on a wet and soggy Georgia morning but a trip ahead of me one of which for nearly eight years now I try and make about this time each year this coming weekend. Very few times when teachers get together is there time for energizing and rekindling the passion that provides solace for what we do. It has been nearly forty years since I first heard the name Foxfire and now nine or so since I have been actively involved. During the summer Piedmont College offers a teacher’s course in the Foxfire Approach to Teaching as a graduate course of study. I sneak in as much as I can to watch new and old teachers get that light burning if only for a moment or two. I am so pleased I am able to sit in on class on Black Rock Mountain listening to ideas and thinking that may make a difference and that is always fascinating. So while I will be driving north to the mountains on Sunday it is always well worth the trip.
I am very much a creature of habit. I like my routines and seem to follow very similar pathways daily. I can understand when walking through the woods and seeing a rabbit run or deer trail I would be doing the same thing more than likely if I was running wild. For most of my adult life others have sought out my guidance on life issues. I was trained so to say between seminary and psychology and more recently education courses to be able to offer advice. All through my life I have always felt I had an intuitive side, an empathetic side that allowed me access too many other peoples inner feelings and thoughts. In thirteen tears working with emotionally and behaviorally disturbed students, this has a been good thing, although many times it can leave you drained. But I have always felt I have been successful reaching students in all of my classes across nearly forty five years of teaching and training. When in management I felt I was able to address issues with customers and staff in a more understanding way than simply one of profitability. This could have been my downfall back in my business days. I was more concerned about doing the job right for people than dollars. I might borrow a few words from John Dewey and his book School and Society.
“The primary business of school is to train children in co-operative and mutually helpful living; to foster in them the consciousness of mutual interdependence; and to help them practically in making the adjustments that will carry this spirit into overt deeds.” John Dewey
It is about what children take out into the world so much more so than how they score on tests and what curriculum is followed or not followed. Extremely radical educator and philosopher Ivan Illich adds:
“A second major illusion on which the school system rests is that most learning is the result of teaching. Teaching it is true may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstance. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school, and in school insofar as school, in a few rich countries has become a place of confinement during an increasing part of their lives.” Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
While Illich is somewhat off the spectrum from many teachers and educators standpoint he makes a valid point. In many cases schooling is simply occupying that period of time in a child’s life and doing little in terms of actual education. I try and maintain contact with kids after they leave high school through Facebook and twitter for example. Recently I have been using these programs to find graduates of The Foxfire programs to somewhat surprising success.
“In this world, in order to enable society to develop, all its members have to assume responsibilities and make their contribution. If we do not make collective contributions then there will be no development.” The Dalai Lama, speaking to the Tibetan National Assembly in Dharamsala, May 1989
Each of us lives in a society, a community, a culture and as much as we choose so often to be individuals we are members of and interact within that group. It is the vitality of that group where the development and growth that is so intertwined with contributions physically, mentally, and spiritually of the members. Society exists because of interactions. Sounds like I am quoting John Dewey again.
“Compare society to a boat. Her progress through the water will not depend upon the exertion of her crew, but upon the exertion devoted to propelling her. This will be lessened by any expenditure of force in fighting among themselves, or in pulling in different directions.” Henry George
We have to be working together moving forward, backwards, sideways and as humans do so often, much time is wasted fighting and arguing among ourselves and that motion or growth is limited one of the best examples is our congress and senate.
“The greatest difficulty with the world is not its ability to produce, but the unwillingness to share.” Roy L. Smith
Many times in life I see the high school students forming social groups, clicks in some instances a semblance of a family unit and then adults forming clubs or social groups we tend to be a selfish animals. We look so much to ourselves and what benefits us as a first rule of thumb even unconsciously. It can be by limiting friends and such to a degree we box ourselves into a tiny space, even by sharing a simple task which so often becomes a distant one. TV humor even plays on this subject several times in watching old reruns of Seinfeld and Will and Grace Sit coms, the concept of giving is a chore or a burden and the characters are literally parasitical instead of symbiotic. As I looked for quotes and thoughts, this one popped up earlier this morning just before I walked outside to watch the rain falling on my gardens.
“Societies that do not eat people are fascinated by those that do.” Ronald Wright
Ronald Wright was speaking literally yet interestingly enough we of modern society while we do not literally eat people we still do in some ways often psychologically destroying them. As I look at how we respond to others so often it is how we see ourselves indirectly.
“The most difficult we do not deal in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.” Mark Twain
In a project, a class room assignment several students simply “completed it” they did not finish the task but answered what they thought was the question they just simply wanted done. Whether it was right or wrong, good or bad was not the issue it was over.
“Until you value yourself you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” M. Scott Peck
I read this quote and saw an answer if you truly do not appreciate your self your time has little if any value even when you are self-absorbed in using it frivolously you simply are taking up time not using it. Guessing at answers to a test to simply get done or rushing through just to be over, still you wait just as the rest do so where is there any benefit in being finished. A favorite catch phrase, I don’t care, should read, I really do not care about myself. As we enter the end of another week our world is troubled and sore, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts but always give thanks for what we have namaste.
For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)