Teaching is far more than wanting to

Bird Droppings November 21, 2011
Teaching is far more than just wanting to

“I want to say one other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion, “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.” The world must hear this. I pray to God that America will hear this before it is too late, because today we’re fighting a war.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When I saw this quote earlier today it reminded me that wanting to in any endeavor is a powerful force. Yesterday a friend asked about the idea of wanting to teach and maybe I should write about that. As I am working on a paper while not on that subject it is about the art of learning and how we take away from kids that drive, that wanting to. Having taught in public school eleven years now and as a parent being involved for nearly twenty years or more in public schools I have seen many teachers who do not want to be teaching. For whatever reason they are there and how they impact kids is directly related to their lack of motivation for being a teacher far too many times. I just had to bold the following quote.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

I was subbing during my planning period a few days back and ran into a paradox. On the wall a sign stating you earn respect and yet the teacher I was subbing for demanded respect from students. Several students had mentioned to me that fact about this teacher. Granted third party conversation, especially from students is not always the best. However I know many teachers who walk in a room and demand respect that think in being a teacher students should bow down and worship the ground they stand on. Granted in some cultures teachers are revered. However a teacher in that particular culture also has a different view of their teaching. When respect is demanded many students take offense and immediately back away. Some students as in the situation with one of my students become antagonistic and fight back and argue against demand. So how do we then inspire daily and weekly and monthly and for a lifetime as Ward states.

“Teacher’s Prayer: I want to teach my students how to live this life on Earth, to face its struggles and its strife and to improve their worth. Not just the lesson in a book or how the rivers flow, But how to choose the proper path wherever they may go. To understand eternal truth and know the right from wrong, and gather all the beauty of a flower and a song. For if I help the world to grow in wisdom and in grace, and then I shall feel that I have won and I have filled my place. . That I may do my part. For character and confidence and happiness of heart.” James J. Metcalf

I want to teach, a simple statement but a basis for all that then transpires in a classroom. Over the years I have read many books on education, learning and on teaching. One that has always been a good read and reread is The Passionate teacher by Robert Fried. There is a need for passion in teaching.

“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 Jung

“Compassionate teachers fill a void left by working parents who aren’t able to devote enough attention to their children. Teachers don’t just teach; they can be vital personalities who help young people to mature, to understand the world and to understand themselves. A good education consists of much more than useful facts and marketable skills.” Charles Platt

Many disagree with my philosophy of teaching and walk by on the other side of the hallway so as to not be infected. I recall many years ago one teacher who would go an extra hall over to avoid coming by my room. Granted there are snakes and spiders and loud kids, maybe they are afraid of snakes. I often wonder what some people become teachers. Obviously it is a paying job, with relatively good benefits. Some teachers will say they were called it is almost a sacred mission for them. But those few who simple could not find anything else or thought they wanted to teach maybe should wander away to another field. I know of several teachers simply waiting to retire and collect their teacher retirement. I wonder is it a sacred mission?

“The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad… Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves and murderers of the future. Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day, lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow.” Ivan Welton Fitzwater

“There’s no word in the language I revere more than ‘teacher.’ My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher, and it always has. I’ve honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming a teacher.” Pat Conroy, Prince of Tides

“If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for ten years, plant a tree. If for a hundred years, teach the people. When you sow a seed once, you will reap a single harvest. When you teach the people, you will reap a hundred harvests.” Kuan Chung

Such a powerful tool is teaching for the betterment and or the fall of mankind. As I look at how we decide who teaches and who does not, and how we train teachers I wonder. Are we training for a hundred years or next year? Looking at government’s involvement it is short term. I find it interesting how in eastern thought so often it is beyond the now. Nearby in a community is the Church of the Now sort of paradoxical. We focus so much on short term goals and efforts. Reach this score now and or suffer the consequences. When independent data is finally compiled I think we will find NCLB, No Child Left Behind has left significant numbers behind. A great teacher here and there might change some of this. We need to change legislation, views about education, and views about learning.

“There is an old saying that the course of civilization is a race between catastrophe and education. In a democracy such as ours, we must make sure that education wins the race.” John F. Kennedy

Right now education is falling behind as we spend billions fighting several wars. I often find it interesting that John Kennedy wanted to pull out of Viet Nam, and Lyndon Johnson wanted to stay and continue. After Kennedy’s assassination Johnson did continue the war for a number of years and many deaths of Americans. Several of whom would have made great teachers I knew them personally.
In wanting to be a teacher, wanting to end a war, wanting to be a good parent, or wanting to be a friend, each requires of us to put in an effort. It takes an effort to be a great teacher, end a war, be a good parent, and be a good friend. It is how much beyond is where the wanting to fits in. You will know when you get there. It is a new day and I have many more pages to write and a much to do before heading to Macon Georgia tomorrow. I hope each of you as you prepare for the holiday coming has a joyous and glorious day. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Only a crazy thought or two

Bird Droppings November 18, 2011
Only a crazy thought or two

Occasionally I will get a crazy thought; my students will say occasionally I have a normal thought that would be more like it. They would be insinuating most of my thoughts are crazy. However Today I was driving to school being lazy I slept in till about four I did go out much earlier to see the stars and half moon or what was left of it as it snuck behind the pines. But I sat down in my chair and thought what if when we were born the hospital tattooed on your left foot made in whatever country and a hospital code for example and then underneath an expiration date. The expiration date being the exact moment and day and year you will die or expire. If I knew this information I started thinking at what point would I change how I lived.
My students were arguing with me about living it up since a few weeks back it was my birthday and I was getting old sixty two to them is a lifetime away which is true. They wanted me to have a, you only live once and rock and roll party etc. So I was wondering knowing exactly how many days you have to do whatever it is you will do would you change anything. I am sure back in years gone by there have been people I have hurt and things perhaps I regret as I distance myself but would I be who I am without those moments and pieces to my puzzle.

“There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.” Joseph Addison

It has been some time since I first used the concept of a puzzle to explain my own life. A constant display of pieces falling into place each interconnected to the next. As I speak with people I use this comparison, often showing how each aspect of our lives ties to the next. I look at how a consequence comes from even the smallest of things. Knowing we have a limited amount of time to finish our puzzle I find amazing as I think of what if we still had no directions and were floundering in trying to get done.

“There are no rewards or punishments — only consequences.” Dean William R. Inge

“Whatever our creed, we feel that no good deed can by any possibility go unrewarded, no evil deed unpunished.” Orison Swett Marden

We have to take each piece as it comes and try and build upon it. Each element leads to the next, a building block of sorts, as we travel through life, a deed leads to a consequence and then to another and another, each beyond the next.

“Men must try and try again. They must suffer the consequences of their own mistakes and learn by their own failures and their own successes.” Lawson Purdy

“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” Sir Joseph Stamp

As I wonder about my words and events that yet will play out today, I daily use the term ABC, Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence. In life, everything we do involves these three elements. Each aspect of our existence is preceded by an event, a happening that causes the behavior, no matter how subtle that event is. The behavior in turn leads to a consequence this is so simple, so clean and it can be cold. Perhaps why I enjoy Carl Jung over Sigmund Freud. We respond and soon cover up, ABC. What if we could analyze all events so simply and plan our day. I do this, then that, this, then that all day long however, conversely we tend to do this with students as well, if we see an event about to happen we can change the antecedent and alter behavior and of course the consequence. Managers in business do this. Retailers are doing it as we sit and read, altering our buying for this holiday season sales, specials and Black Friday etc. In reality through consequence the world is controlled. How do we keep our heads up and still be unique, independent?

“Independence I have long considered as the grand blessing of life, the basis of every virtue; and independence I will ever secure by contracting my wants, though I were to live on a barren heath.” Mary Wollstonecraft

It was a many months back I was introduced to Mary Wollstonecraft, a person who was ahead of her time, the ultimate feminist. Mary was writing about issues under her name and pen names, often a man’s name to get her point out. Her fire and zeal were passed on to her daughter Mary Shelly who penned the novel Frankenstein. How do we maintain within the struggle, to be who we are.

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Anne Frank

“Ideals are like the stars: we never reach them, but like the mariners of the sea, we chart our course by them.” Carl Schurz

How do we? I was thinking yesterday about my own direction in life one day going here and there and a slight bump and left turn and heading elsewhere. Do we have focal points to guide us stars as Schurz states? Can we find our way home when we get lost in life? I wonder at times even as pieces of the great puzzle fall into place maybe the pieces are wrong, maybe this is not where I am to be. But as events slow down and the fog clears we can see even the most confusing of life’s events seems to work out. I was reading yesterday a new book, Spirits of The Earth by Bobby Lake Thom. He starts the book with a prayer that I would like to end with today especially going into the Thanksgiving season.

“I ask that you bless our elders and children, families and friends, and the brothers and sisters that are in prison. I pray for the ones sick on drugs and alcohol, and for those who are homeless and forlorn. I pray for peace among the four races of mankind. May there be good healing for this earth. May there be beauty above me. May there be beauty below me. May there be beauty in me. May there be beauty all around me. I ask that our world be filled with peace, love and beauty.” Medicine Grizzly Bear, 1990

So easy to sit and write, yet around us, so much going on would we change anything if we knew our expiration date, I wonder? Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Can that aspect of who we are that we call soul be defined

September 29, 2011
Can that aspect of who we are we call soul be defined

“Soul is different from spirit, the deep soul is the way we live everyday, our longings and our fears.” Thomas Moore

It has been over twenty years since I first read this book written by Thomas Moore. I picked up a copy of The Care of the Soul at Borders bookstore so many years ago. I was impressed as I read this great thinkers words, who had been a student of James Hillman and Hillman who had been a student of Carl Jung. It was in his previous experiences I found some similarities with my own that drew me to his writings. Moore had studied most of his life to be a priest, soon after graduate school he found himself wanting to do more than simply minister to a church and went into secular psychology and therapy leaving the priesthood.

“It’s the aspiring spirit that gives life to the intellect and keeps it from being just a mind and a set of ideas.” Thomas Moore

“Soul is different from spirit—the deep soul is the way we live every day, our longings and our fears.” Thomas Moore

My own interpretation of what soul is really is not that far from where Thomas Moore identifies and defines what is soul?

“…to the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance.” Thomas Moore

“A genuine odyssey is not about piling up experiences. It is a deeply felt, risky, unpredictable tour of the soul. “ Thomas Moore

“How many times do we lose an occasion for soul work by leaping ahead to final solutions without pausing to savor the undertones? We are a radically bottom-line society, eager to act and to end tension, and thus we lose opportunities to know ourselves for our motives and our secrets.” Thomas Moore

As I ponder soul issues of politics and societal contradictions come into play. Sadly we have done this to ourselves. Living in a southern state that is either fourth or fifth in numbers of illegal immigrants primarily it seems states with agriculture as a major commodity and having worked with many students who I am sure are questionable I wonder at how we have done things in the US. Growing up in Coatesville Pa., I can recall being asked if I was interested in working at Lukens Steel Mill since while my dad was now in management he had been a steel worker at one time and literally all children were almost sure to get jobs if your father or mother worked at the mill when you graduated. Only a few years ago on my last trip back there was nothing left of Lukens Steel Mill.
Following the news as much as I can one item popped up in the past day or so. In the past few weeks’ legislation to stop tax incentives to companies out sourcing jobs was defeated primarily along party lines although some democrats did help stop it. We have been under the foot or maybe the boot of industry for some time and allowed to live a “happy” life until a more profitable means to do business comes along.
I watched a Johnny Isakson ad last night on TV as he promoted more flexible regulatory legislation and lower taxes and less government. The other side of the coin is he also introduced a bill to not allow unionization of airlines into Congress. Delta airlines is one of his biggest backers and Delta is in a fight currently over unions. Where am I going with unions, the way it was, and illegal immigrants, and outsourcing? We have stood by and allowed wages and perks of union driven groups to go throw the roof at times driving product cost up and often driving the industry such as steel to leave the country.
We have allowed industries for as long as I can remember (not just in this political season) to hire and bring in illegal workers for jobs at low wages. Many of the industries doing this in Georgia also back Johnny Isakson who by chances is supporting Georgia immigration laws. We support outsourcing to a point most customer service is a joke anymore on the phone a recent ad played on this with a fellow in Siberia with fifty phones ringing and he answers hello this is Peggy in customer service hold please and proceeds to make a sandwich. I guess my issue is we have allowed this and the banking and mortgage problems to happen because of our own greed. Sadly it will take more than elections to change the souls of people.

“When we relate to our bodies as having soul, we attend to their beauty, their poetry and their expressiveness. Our very habit of treating the body as a machine, whose muscles are like pulleys and its organs engines, forces its poetry underground, so that we experience the body as an instrument and see its poetics only in illness.” Thomas Moore

I have been working on my dissertation based on the loss of soul in education which is something I firmly do believe is going on. We have taken creativity and imagination away in so many instances and replaced with memorization exercises and drills. Critical thinking has taken a hit in lieu of teach to the test. Coming back to thinking about Thomas Moore and soul only reminds me that so much needs to be considered in our quest for improving education beyond the simple cure of more money.

“There are apartments in the soul which have a glorious outlook; from whose windows you can see across the river of death, and into the shining beyond; but how often are these neglected for the lower ones, which have earthward-looking windows.” Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts

“I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.” Carl Jung

We are so much more than profits or human capital as some business minded educators refer to students as. Maybe if we could grasp that piece of us that some call soul and encourage fertilize and replenish it so that imagination and wondering could take precedence over the type of clothes you wear, car you drive or jewelry that is hanging on your arm we might could make some serious changes to our reality.

“Many of the religions I’ve been exposed to preach reaching for an impossible ideal, and my attempts as transcendence have left me inevitably frustrated with myself, others, and my life. That is why I appreciate Thomas Moore’s philosophy. Here is, in a nutshell: don’t try to transcend your humanity, embrace it. Moore’s ideas would resonate with spiritual wanderers and people who view life as an artistic work in progress. When Moore was a therapist, he noticed that many clients would come to him, wanting him to remove a flaw of theirs. They went to him like patients seeking a surgeon to remove a tumor. Our culture celebrates light, and many feel ashamed when we aren’t happy. However, Moore contends that sadness is, in a sense, a gift, for it gives one depth and perspective. Healing can take time. It rarely occurs overnight.” An unknown blogger

“Everything was possessed of personality, only differing from us in form. Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth. We learned to do what only the student of nature learns, and that was to feel beauty. We never railed at the storms, the furious winds, and the biting frosts and snows. To do so intensified human futility, so whatever came we adjusted ourselves, by more effort and energy if necessary, but without complaint.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

Another day is near completion and perhaps I am still floundering in my meandering about soul. It could be the chill of fall has me enthralled as I get out in the cool air in the mornings. But for today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Learning to Understand and or

Bird Droppings September 23, 2011
Learning to Understand and or
Trying to come to grips with terminal consequences

Most recently the state of Georgia’s attention was drawn to a state prison in a small rural community just off the interstate. The Jackson State Prison is home to at least one inmate that I know a former student serving three life sentences. When I left teaching in 1977 I left a group of thirteen kids all of whom had learning issues simply classified as Learning Disabilities. One student in particular I had on several occasions asked and in writing proposed he be psychologically evaluated. This young man worked for me my summer after leaving teaching on our family farm and I will never forget after going to see a midnight showing of George Romero’s original zombie movie of how he and the other former student of mine who was working as well for me that summer did not want to stay in the quest house and asked to sleep in my wife’s and mine living room.
My last semester teaching in South Georgia this particular student had turned fifteen and was a strong average size kid although obviously from his demeanor had some physical and possibly mental issues. There was a slight speech impediment, a bit of shuffle to his gait very similar to what you might see in mild CP kids. The aspect of his behavior that concerned me was his self abusive bouts of tantrums where he would bang his head on a tree or brick wall when mad at himself. One day for a show and tell he brought his favorite pet that he talked about every chance he could his fluffy hamster. During a break several of the kids came in sort of scared and informed me he had stomped his hamster. I went out and he had already buried his hamster I asked what happened and was informed the hamster had bitten him so he stomped it. Over the next few weeks before I left that program he never brought up that incident again it was a terminal consequence.
Two years later I get a call to come south again this time to go to his mother’s funeral she had been diagnosed with cancer about a year earlier. I went to the funeral and this young man looked haggard and depressed. Through his life time his mother basically did everything from him or I should say provided directions. He had a difficult time deciding what to do or how to do things. About this same time his sister lost a baby to infanticide, the boyfriend angry over attention baby was getting smothered the baby while he slept. The family was having little time to cope with any grief. My former student now eighteen and legal drinking age was drinking heavily and wandering the streets of his town arrested several times and finally in an attempted rape of his former principals housekeeper institutionalized at the largest mental hospital in the world. He begged to stay since they told him what to do but after six months as downsizing was beginning he was released to a group home. Somehow he was allowed to babysit for two children. One day he stabbed the mother killing her and almost killed both children and police found him sitting on his bed with the knife in the kitchen sink. He was sentenced to three life sentences without any chance of parole. He has spent the last nearly thirty years living at the mental unit of Jackson State Prison.
On Wednesday another inmate made famous through his recent attempts to have a stay of execution Troy Davis was executed. As a society we have terminal consequences for specified crimes against humanity. While I cannot question the situation as I am not privileged to the case and facts I do know from what I have read this man was not a good man. He was involved in another armed robbery and supposedly was pistol whipping a homeless man at the time of fatally shooting an off duty police officer. Perhaps my point is the terminal consequence. For twenty two years appeals and repeals have cost the state millions of dollars and in effect kept the victims family on hold. I am not in favor of the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crime it has continually been shown to do nothing to prevent violent crime. Ted Bundy and Jeffery Daimler still would have killed all the people they allegedly killed death penalty or not. In the Old Testament one of the Ten Commandments states, thou shall not kill. As the story goes it only took a few minutes for the Hebrews to begin making amendments to the law. Within years over six hundred amendments covered a slave killing a Hebrew which was far worse than a Hebrew killing a slave. So where does that leave me this wet morning in Georgia and we need the rain so I am not complaining although I do have bus duty today. It is understanding why.
I was home alone for part of the weekend just a week or two back and while I probably do not get into the trouble the young man does in the movie version. I can always seem to find things to do and well not always what I had planned or my wife had planned for me. I did good on this weekend however shrubs got planted and flower beds mulched numerous animals cleaned up and moved out of the house. However Saturday night while everyone was gone I had an interesting incident. About 12:30 my dog woke me up wanting to go out. She had been pretty good lately been a night or two since a three or four dog night. We went out to a glorious moon, not quite full but almost. Off in the distance I heard my first coyotes in the area. I have seen coyotes as far back as 1978 but never heard one around here.

“Yearn to understand first and to be understood second.” Beca Lewis Allen

“I don’t understand you. You don’t understand me. What else do we have in common?” Ashleigh Brillant

I would attribute these thoughts to teenagers but unfortunately it seems we all seem to fall in this situation. We strive to be understood and in retrospect feel we are not understood. We walk around in a paradox, could be why there is so much anxiety in the world.

“It has taken me all my life to understand it is not necessary to understand everything.” Rene Coty

“I started out with nothing. I still have most of it.” Michael Davis

It is a learning process filtering out what we need to know, to understand and what we maybe should know and understand and what really is not needed. This is what teaching and learning should be about. So often in modern test driven curriculums it is simply memorize and documents and we are done.

“To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed — That can make life a garden.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” Leonardo Da Vinci

Seeing that sparkle when the light bulb comes on in students often makes the days of frustration meaningful. One success can counteract many failures. When a child grasps and understands a concept or piece of information as a teacher that is when you feel successful. I use the analogy of a cloud or fog, and to be able to know after being in a cloud, opening your eyes and seeing or hearing when for so long not understanding has been the verdict. It is an amazing time.

“The thing is plain. All that men really understand is confined to a very small compass; to their daily affairs and experience; to what they have an opportunity to know, and motives to study or practice. The rest is affectation and imposture.” William Harlitt

“If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.” Carl Jung

We all seem to when confronted with an unknown to be defensive and back away rather than seeking to resolve and know. Often labeling and categorizing in a manner to belittle and push aside, being in Special Education I see this daily. Many kids will hide the fact they are in Special Ed. Even though maybe only for consulate services.

“There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it.” Charles F. Kettering

“A man must have a certain amount of intelligent ignorance to get anywhere with progressive things.” Charles F. Kettering

Kettering was a simple inventor yet profound when all was said and done. His inventions and ideas still since his death in 1958 surround us and his legacies of the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute are pieces of a far greater puzzle. But for him knowledge was simply the fact understanding was seeing what was inside and made that piece work.

“When we talk about understanding, surely it takes place only when the mind listens completely — the mind being your heart, your nerves, and your ears- when you give your whole attention to it.” Jiddu Krishnarmurti

“The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.” John Locke

Knowledge is the beginning but only is it when we can share that piece of the puzzle we understand. It is when it has become a part of us that we truly understand.

“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.” Baruch Spinoza

“We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we know the path which has led to the present.” Adlai Stevenson

In 1960 after a tumultuous political past and two campaigns for President Adlai Stevenson was selected by President John F. Kennedy to represent the United States in the United Nations. Stevenson fought through the 50’s against the ignorance of McCarthyism and came under attack often. Spinoza states so eloquently “to understand is to be free”. We need to learn for understanding and teaching children to understand could change all around us and perhaps prevent that which has happened in the past and could happen again. I think back often about what ifs and could I have done anything different. A new dawn is near please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart.
namaste
bird

A few days misse and an extremely long weekend

Bird Droppings April 13, 2011
A few days missed and an extremely long weekend

On Friday April 13, 2008 I was driving and actually did not just forget to write my thoughts down but literally could not. I drove down to Statesboro Georgia to get approval of my course of study for my doctorial work and verify with my advisor my dissertation topic. I had a great session with my advisor and began selecting my committee for my Comprehensive Examinations and my Dissertation. As we met and as I do often when in a new office or study I looked at the numerous book titles and began to formulate who and what this person was about. I was comfortable as I saw many titles that are on my own shelves. I was introduced to a possible committee member just down the hall and she accepted the invitation and we talked for nearly an hour again with on her shelves very similar books and thinking about education that were scattered through my own.
So often I speak of coincidence, it was this way as that day unfolded and I met people and finally had dinner with my son in Macon Georgia and then drove the last hundred miles back to our home. That Friday as my advisor and I discussed educational psychology and the different kinds of measuring of data, intuition came up several times in our discussion. However intuition and coincidence it seems are difficult commodities to evaluate, this point was made several times as we talked about education and various educational programs. I have for so many years believed to the marrow of my bones however that intuition is crucial to being a good or great teacher.
It was nearly a hundred years ago that Carl Jung split with his then partner Sigmund Freud over similar matters and coined the word synchronicity. Just before school was out for the holiday as I was talking and it does seem I never stop, I was drawn to the front door of my room at school and as I stepped out a friend passed by exactly as I stepped to the door. A friend with a problem, had I been a few seconds later a moment later and that friend would have passed by. I was drawn to the door like a moth to a flame. Was I meant to interfere to get involved in a problem or simply to offer advice or questions? So is this a coincidence, a chance happening, or synchronicity perhaps?

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

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

I sit here wondering which direction we go as we try and unravel the human condition that frail substance about which we have evolved from. Can we separate out and categorize analyze and postulate at what makes us human versus a pack animal or simply a herding animals as some sociologists would suggest.

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

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

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

When beset with an issue, or a problem we so often fall victim to the easiest route the way of “least resistance least trouble” as John Dewey would say. Years ago in a book on Loss Control management my father used the illustration of an ice berg, we only see one seventh of the problem and as we too journey through life is only the visible one seventh of the total of all that is with sixth sevenths hidden away secreted somewhere from view.

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

It is how we choose that is important, each day for several years since I began this endeavor I have talked of the journey in life. I have used as a screen saver until recently an image of my son crossing a stream in North Georgia, stepping stone by stone across a rippling, rolling stream. In the photo my son is soaking wet and could have just as easily walked in the stream and avoided falling from the rocks. He was wet already but he choose to step on the slippery rocks, the challenge for him was doing it, making the journey not simply getting to his destination.

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

This becomes the difficult task trying to explain how a problem has purpose, how a human issue has reason in a world of measurement, where non-measuring is constant and so often the point. I can never find the distance between the stones of the stream as my son’s footsteps fall crossing rock by rock.

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

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

Going from a single person’s problem to that of the North Slope of Alaska may seem a stretch. But as we journey in life we essentially do not get to replay our hand once we lay the cards upon the table. A few nights back by chance somewhere before four in the morning I was reading and old National Geographic and how the oil fields are so enticing in the Wilds of Alaska. Greedy people see only the money; they say jobs and energy will abound to entice others. Then another group sees a loss of habitat, wildlife and wilderness that can never be replaced. In a similar article again in National Geographic the discovery of a new gold strike in another wilderness area. Most of us are unaware of the biological implications of gold mining. Mining for gold destroys land and processing the rock aggregate creates vast amounts of toxic waste as mercury is one of the most popular separators used. Another amazing coincidence this morning I could not pull this up it had literally disappeared as I was downloading my data from one drive to a new larger drive and as I went back my Bird Dropping was just on the new drive and not still on the computer. So this middle of the new week after Spring Break for me I will head to school, teach to those willing to learn, and after mow grass, plant a few plants in my herb garden, put out some fertilizer on my blueberries and feed the hummingbirds that seem to love our back yard. But for now this is a good reminder that maybe we should be looking for peace my friends and have a good day. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Looking into the depth of soul

Bird Droppings November 18, 2010
Looking into the depth of our souls

I received an email from a dear friend nearly three years ago after writing about humor and it truly made me think and as I pondered last night I responded to the note the following morning and it scares me how we can humorize our dark side often to a point of distain or callousness:

Dear Bird,
How about the humor of John Stewart and S. Colbert? Does anyone ever think that some incidents are too sensitive or horrendous to allow for satire or humor?
Frances

My response: I have an issue with humor that plays to our dark sides at times. It might be conceived perhaps as even being a part of that primitive aspect of who we are. Movies like Jack Ass 3D and the humor portrayed, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are mild compared to South Park for example. Stewart and Colbert are on a higher intellectual plane than South Park and Jackass. But the audiences thrive on it sadly enough. I think it is this aspect of humanity that allows the atrocities of man to happen as well. I remember once in Sixth grade a girl in special education who lived in the worst part of the community it was not even public housing but shacks along the river outside town. The joke was calling people names derived from that community and or specific people that lived there. I look back and I know I probably did this as well. Maybe it is my karma to be making up for my part being in education today. I still cringe when I hear the word retard even more so than the n-word. I am reading on Foucault again and much of the base in this book is focused on mental institutions and “normal” versus “abnormal” and I wonder as I read and see watching American Idol and how judges belittle people some who are special needs what a sad state our society is in. bird

“Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.” Aristotle

Often having been in teaching of special needs kids when with other teachers who have been in similar situations we will joke about events of the past not at a students expense as much as the moment and ourselves. It might be being bitten or changing a really nasty diaper for example. They are often common place in some settings. One of my favorites over the years was an OCD student who once asked me 54 times if he could hold our class room pet Stevie the wonder snake, a ball python. I ignored him and was working at my computer and this was before school. A general education student who did not have the capacity for patience and or ignoring that I do final blurted out to the young man “I love you” and tapped him on the shoulder. He took off to farthest corner in the room. She then asked me did I not hear him and I said I use planned ignoring and really did not after three or four times. I still have contact with this OCD student and he is now twenty two or so and did not finish school which is another story. When our last principal took over nine years ago this OCD student was so terrified from middle school of this man he couldn’t be in the same building. So he sits at home and watches TV in effect his disability keeps him from life.

“Humor is also a way of saying something serious.” T. S. Eliot

As I think and wonder maybe it is seeing the issues at hand and simply using humor as a medium for truth for opening eyes as I look at some of the dark humor of our time. But I do not see people viewing that way in all situations. I see people watching a movie or show and laughing often at human frailty and human aspects. Over the past weeks I have written several papers dealing with the search for the human soul. This is an aspect that Carl Jung, James Hillman, and Thomas Moore all renowned psychologists and authors write extensively on.

“Education must ensure that not only the material but the inward life of the individual be developed. Education should address not the isolated intellect, as the advocates of standards suggest it ought, but the hopes and dreams of the self of which intellect – the complex reflective self – is merely a part.” Allan Block

We get so caught up in testing, pretesting, predictor testing and testing of testing we lose sight of who children really are and could be. I have used the term funneling which is forcing as much as possible into a bottle through a funnel and sadly much will over flow. It is often these aspects of individuality and context for example that get left behind.

“Piercing through the illusions of modern life is extremely difficult, given a culture where advertising and other media forms are organized so persistently to produce mass public deception” D. G. Smith

Smith, points to an ongoing issue we have in finding who we are and why.

The illusions “obliterate the lines between fact and fiction”. We live in a society where deception is part of life. We listen to politicians tell us what we want to hear and or think we want to hear and we follow blindly. Why do we have to win a war “divisively”? Why do we even ….. ? I was very frustrated listening and knowing how much was based on deception on lies and yet billed as we have to keep going what ever it takes. A recent election shows as we slowly lose are humanity.

“Maybe this is the time to embark collectively on a new long journey inward, not for the purpose simply of celebrating our personal or collective subjectivities, but for the more noble one of laying down the outward things that enslave us.” D. G. Smith

This inner look is mentioned often as psychologists and theologians struggle with the concept of who we are.

“We need to know more of human nature, because the only real danger that exists is man himself” Carl G. Jung

Uncovering our past and memories is part of looking at who we are. The idea that soul or spirit is just confined to religion can be seen in the understanding of what constitutes that inner search. A word used often as a search word is faith and is explained in Dr. James Fowler’s book The Development of Faith published in 1981.

“Faith is not always religious in its content or context. To ask these questions of oneself does not necessarily mean to elicit answers about religious commitment or belief. Faith is a persons or groups way of moving into the force field of life.” Dr. James Fowler

The search and looking within trying to understand who we are trying to find soul is part of who we are. It is what makes us human and drives how we interact with the existing world and how we perceive that world.

“The subjective side of spirit is nature, matter and human life. But this subjective side that moves through us is unconscious” Dr. Marla Morris

Spirit is then who we are subjectively?

“Somewhere between reality and fantasy, between need and want, between the affect and the idea, and between dependency and autonomy, there can emerge the material from which the subject spins a life” Deborah Britzman

We end so often in metaphysical subjectivity as to what is this entity of spirit and or soul might actually be? Deciphering the concept of soul which too often is tied to a religious connotation is challenging. Thomas Moore, a student of James Hillman, and a former priest and now psychologist and counselor defines soul.

“Soul is not a thing, but a quality or dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with the depth value, relatedness, heart, and personal substance. I do not use the word here as an object of religious belief or something to do with immortality. When we say someone has soul we know what we mean.” Thomas Moore

“Renaissance philosophers often said that it is the soul that makes us human. We can turn around and note that is when we are most human we have the greatest access to soul” Thomas Moore

Mary Aswell Doll in the introduction to her book Like letters in running Water, includes in her thoughts her interdisciplinary studies with religion and psychology that help probe the inner workings of soul. It is only through coming to terms with inner understanding that we can address outer concerns. It takes inner looks to stir and fire up the imagination and to build and develop ideas and expand learning.

“To talk about the “soul”, we might as well say inner life of children. My latest book Education and the soul talks about Soul in a moral sense, which is really taken out of a religious sense” Jack Miller

It is that inner being of who are that is our soul? Is it soul that we are leaving behind in our effort to be the ultimate consumer? Is it soul in that consummate effort to produce children who can test and test well and take another test and do well? Is soul developing constituents who will listen without questioning the deceit of politicians and advertising and buy products they do not need and support wars not needed and politicians who are not needed? There are so many thoughts to ponder this early in the morning but please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Can the soul be defined and or codified part 2

September 29, 2010
Can soul be defined and codified part 2

“Soul is different from spirit, the deep soul is the way we live everyday, our longings and our fears.” Thomas Moore

It has been nearly Twenty years since I first read a book written by Thomas Moore. I picked up a copy of The Care of the Soul in about 1993 or so. I was impressed as I read this great thinking had studied under James Hillman and Hillman was a student of Carl Jung. It was in his previous experiences I found some similarities with my own that drew me to his writings. Moore had studied most of his life to be a priest and after graduate school and wanting to do more than simply minister to a church went into secular psychology and therapy leaving the priesthood.

“It’s the aspiring spirit that gives life to the intellect and keeps it from being just a mind and a set of ideas.” Thomas Moore

“Soul is different from spirit—the deep soul is the way we live everyday, our longings and our fears.” Thomas Moore

My own interpretation of what soul is really is not that far from where Thomas Moore identifies what is soul?

“…to the soul, the most minute details and the most ordinary activities, carried out with mindfulness and art, have an effect far beyond their apparent insignificance.” Thomas Moore

“A genuine odyssey is not about piling up experiences. It is a deeply felt, risky, unpredictable tour of the soul. “ Thomas Moore

“How many times do we lose an occasion for soul work by leaping ahead to final solutions without pausing to savor the undertones? We are a radically bottom-line society, eager to act and to end tension, and thus we lose opportunities to know ourselves for our motives and our secrets.” Thomas Moore

As I ponder soul issues of politics and societal contradictions come into play. Sadly we have done this to ourselves. Living in a southern state that is either fourth or fifth in numbers of illegal immigrants primarily it seems states with agriculture as a major commodity and having worked with many students who I am sure are questionable I wonder at how we have done things in the US. Growing up in Coatesville Pa., I can recall being asked if I was interested in working at Lukens Steel Mill since while my dad was now in management he had been a steel worker at one time and literally all children were almost sure to get jobs if your father or mother worked at the mill when you graduated. Only a few years ago on my last trip back there was nothing left of Lukens Steel Mill.
Following the news as much as I can one item popped up in the past day or so. In the past few weeks’ legislation to stop tax incentives to companies out sourcing jobs was defeated primarily along party lines although some democrats did help stop it. We have been under the foot or maybe the boot of industry for some time and allowed to live a “happy” life until a more profitable means to do business comes along.
I watched a Johnny Isakson ad last night on TV as he promoted more flexible regulatory legislation and lower taxes and less government. The other side of the coin is he also introduced a bill to not allow unionization of airlines into Congress. Delta airlines is one of his biggest backers and Delta is in a fight currently over unions. Where am I going with unions, the way it was, and illegal immigrants, and outsourcing? We have stood by and allowed wages and perks of union driven groups to go throw the roof at times driving product cost up and often driving the industry such as steel to leave the country.
We have allowed industries for as long as I can remember (not just in this political season) to hire and bring in illegal workers for jobs at low wages. Many of the industries doing this in Georgia also back Johnny Isakson who by chances is Republican. We support outsourcing to a point most customer service is a joke anymore on the phone a recent ad played on this with a fellow in Siberia with fifty phones ringing and he answers hello this is Peggy in customer service hold please and proceeds to make a sandwich. I guess my issue is we have allowed this and the banking and mortgage problems to happen because of our own greed. Sadly it will take more than elections to change the souls of people.

“When we relate to our bodies as having soul, we attend to their beauty, their poetry and their expressiveness. Our very habit of treating the body as a machine, whose muscles are like pulleys and its organs engines, forces its poetry underground, so that we experience the body as an instrument and see its poetics only in illness.” Thomas Moore

I have been working on my dissertation based on the loss of soul in education which is something I firmly do believe is going on. We have taken creativity and imagination away in so many instances and replaced with memorization exercises and drills. Critical thinking has taken a hit in lieu of teach to the test. Coming back to thinking about Thomas Moore and soul only reminds me that so much needs to be considered in our quest for improving education beyond the simple cure of more money.

“There are apartments in the soul which have a glorious outlook; from whose windows you can see across the river of death, and into the shining beyond; but how often are these neglected for the lower ones, which have earthward-looking windows.” Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts

“I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.” Carl Jung

We are so much more than profits or capital as some business minded educators refer to students as. Maybe if we could grasp that piece of us that some call soul and encourage fertilize and replenish it so that imagination and wondering could take precedence over the type of clothes you wear, car you drive or jewelry that is hanging on your arm we might could make some serious changes to our reality.

“Many of the religions I’ve been exposed to preach reaching for an impossible ideal, and my attempts as transcendence have left me inevitably frustrated with myself, others, and my life. That is why I appreciate Thomas Moore’s philosophy. Here is, in a nutshell: don’t try to transcend your humanity, embrace it. Moore’s ideas would resonate with spiritual wanderers and people who view life as an artistic work in progress. When Moore was a therapist, he noticed that many clients would come to him, wanting him to remove a flaw of theirs. They went to him like patients seeking a surgeon to remove a tumor. Our culture celebrates light, and many feel ashamed when we aren’t happy. However, Moore contends that sadness is, in a sense, a gift, for it gives one depth and perspective. Healing can take time. It rarely occurs overnight.” An unknown blogger

“Everything was possessed of personality, only differing from us in form. Knowledge was inherent in all things. The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks, and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of earth. We learned to do what only the student of nature learns, and that was to feel beauty. We never railed at the storms, the furious winds, and the biting frosts and snows. To do so intensified human futility, so whatever came we adjusted ourselves, by more effort and energy if necessary, but without complaint.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

Another day is near completion and perhaps I am still floundering in my meandering about soul. It could be the chill of fall has me enthralled as I get out in the cool air in the mornings. But for today please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

A continuing saga

Bird Droppings August 18, 2010
A continuing saga

It is so often that I write of coincidence it may seem boring to some. To me it is a never ending saga of special moments one after the other. During a college graduate class we discussed science and measuring of data, intuition and coincidence it seems are difficult commodities to evaluate. Carl Jung split with Sigmund Freud over similar matters and coined the word synchronicity. Yesterday as I was talking as always it seems I never stop I was drawn to the door of my room here on C-hall and as I stepped out a friend passed by exactly as I stepped to the door. This was a friend with a problem. If I had been a few seconds later a moment later and that friend would have already passed by. I was drawn to the door like a moth to a flame. I wonder was I meant to interfere to get involved in a problem or simply to offer advice or questions, was it coincidence, perhaps simply a chance happening, or was it synchronicity as Jung would proclaim.

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

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

Which direction do we go as we try and unravel the human condition the frail substance about which we have evolved from. Can we separate out and categorize, analyze and measure that which makes us human versus a pack animal.

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

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

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

When beset with an issue or a problem we so often fall victim to the easiest route the way of “least resistance least trouble” as John Dewey would say. Years ago in a book on Loss Control management my father used the illustration of an ice berg we only see one seventh of the problem. We too as we journey through life are only one seventh visible. There is sixth sevenths that stay hidden away secreted somewhere from view.

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

It is how we choose that is important. Each day for several years since I began this morning endeavor I have talked of the journey in life. I had used as a screen saver my son’s image crossing a stream in north Georgia stepping stone by stone across a rippling rolling stream. My son is soaking wet and could of just as easily walked the stream and avoid falling from the rocks he was wet already but he choose to step on the slippery rocks. The challenge for him was doing it, making the journey not simply surviving.

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

This becomes the difficult task trying to explain how a problem has purpose how a human issue has reason in a world of measurement where non-measuring is constant and so often the point. I can never find the distance between the stones of the stream as my son’s foot steps fall crossing rock by rock.

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

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

Going from a single person’s problem to that of the North Slope of Alaska may seem a stretch. But as we journey in life we essentially do not get to replay our hand once we lay the cards upon the table. Yesterday by chance somewhere before 4:00 AM I was reading an old National Geographic and how the oil fields are so enticing in the Wilds of Alaska. Greedy people see only money. Others see loss of habitat wildlife and wilderness that can never be replaced. Another amazing coincidence this morning I could not pull this up it literally disappeared and I wrote another piece which I emailed instead yesterday as I look at each it was time for this one today and now for this a good follow up, peace my friends and have a good evening and please keep all in harms way on your minds and in your hearts
namaste
bird