Do more than belonging

Bird Droppings December 4, 2011

Do more than belonging

 

It has been quite a while since I was unable to walk out first thing in the morning whether weather or being lazy it was not a good morning to venture out and I think the dog knew it as well and slept in. A semester heads into its final week of classes than End of Course Tests and it will be hard with a few days off to try and finish so much unfinished business with graduate school and around the house in my herb gardens and flower beds. It has been a very dry year currently and any rain is welcome. It seems we have been having daily weather forecasts with scattered showers and a chance of sunshine and a chance of freeze. So much of my yard work has been put off due to wet conditions, grandbaby birthday, my mother in hospital and staying after school tutoring trying to help kids pass EOCT. It has been nearly five summers since I submitted a reflection of sorts for my doctorate work on a book I read based on looking at history in more than one color, more than one culture and or societal norm. Rereading that reflection led me to a powerful thought.

 

“Do more than belong; participate. Do more than care; help. Do more than believe; practice. Do more than be fair; be kind. Do more than forgive; forget. Do more than dream; work.” William Arthur Ward

 

As I sit here this morning responding to emails from previous days I am slowly catching up. It is through our actions we are perceived, it was many many nights ago at a basketball game several fans were asked nicely to leave by administration and eventually sheriffs intervened in the altercation. You could be upset with a situation but when you vocalize using words that in reality do not really make sense, as so often swearing does not (sit and write literal meanings to most swearing) and add hand gestures and increase volume, you are being perceived as out of control. When asked nicely to cease such distracting behavior and you continue that too so only adds to the perception of perhaps out of control. When you on top of this you then speak to a sheriff in a derogatory manner, it again fuels the flames of perception, and you easily could be seen as a person who has ceased to utilize their own self-control and the result, being asked quite nicely to not be in the gym in public view might seem a bit understated.

It could be behavior modification time and coincidentally having a background in BM, that’s behavior modification by the way. Although today we use less harsh terms, Functional Behavior Analysis and Task Analyzes. BM is what it is about and there are times when I see some behavior that BM could mean more along the lines of potty training. For example, the first offense at a basketball game would end in the next game you can come but must wear a dog training collar. In control booth sits your modifier, preferably a spouse or child who probably will enjoy this, holding the button. If you get out of control they get to press the button sending a mild shock to your neck. However if you continue they also have on the side of the control the increase switch, raising the voltage. I think there are some spouses that may automatically go to max even for first jolt.

There is a chance of course that the child or spouse in the control booth has read Skinner’s books and articles and knows intermittent variable reinforcement works great too and shocks just to let their collared friend know who holds the button, and that might become the norm. Sporting events would never be the same. In the stands half the people sitting and twitching from shocks and the other half is sitting quietly smiling pressing the buttons. Kids could play their games and cheerleaders could cheer and what a wonderful time would be had by all. However had everyone read the first line of the first quote today none of this would be necessary.

 

“When you see a new trail, or footprint you do not know, follow it to the point of knowing” Uncheedah, grandfather of Ohiyesa, Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman

 

Is that something we now teach? In teaching biology I use a lesson and style of teaching that I had used myself in a graduate school class demonstration on existential teaching methods. I let the students find the answers and acted only as a facilitator. In one plastic container is a tiger salamander (Elmo) and in the other a leopard gecko (Emily) one is an amphibian and the other a reptile. The lesson is based on taxonomy and differentiating between amphibians and reptiles. Having done this numerous times in summer school in Biology and in my own classes during the school year those that work through the lesson will remember which is which far better than having read a book or heard in a lecture, they literally followed the trail. How often do we take away curiosity how often do we brush the trail clean of tracks?

 

“The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind is curiosity.” Edmund Burke

 

“It is a shameful thing to be weary of inquiry when what we search for is excellent.” Marcus T. Cicero

 

Far too often we do not have time for children’s questions; we do not want to follow a new trail as Uncheedah speaks of. We only want the status quo the peace and solitude of that lesson plan laid out months in advance and carefully formulated to cover each of the required curriculum needs of the subject in a given time span. Let us get from point A to point B and not venture off the track ever again.

 

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.” Samuel Johnson

 

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

So often I talk with students who are not curious. They seldom ask why and only accept what is taught to them and many do not even do that and simply shrug their shoulders and state they don’t care.

We should be teaching children to challenge, to question, never just accepting an answer. Back a few years one of my sons in high school had the highest regard for a teacher and on an occasion pointed out an error on a discussion transparency dealing with a specific type of animal. He pointed out that what was on the slide was in error and backed it up with the very biology book they were using, as well as other sources. A year later in he was in another Advanced Placement Biology class, and the same slide, same response. He again pointed out the error and the teacher was still teaching exactly the same, still in error and had never changed that slide. By chance three years later, speaking to a class, that slide again appeared, this time his respect for that teacher was gone, while a good teacher, a poor learner. It was difficult for a “teacher” to except a “students” understanding of a topic albeit that students brother had raised and bred that specific animal at home for many years so it was not simply a student spouting off, there was experiential knowledge involved.

 

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Carl Edward Sagan

 

“Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you: you must acquire it.” Sadie Black

 

We got into a discussion of sorts on Friday about doing school work. So often teachers assign a certain number of problems in math regardless of whether the students know how to do that skill or not, homework for example you need to do these twenty problems. If the skill is known, why do the assignment other than practice, if not known, doing problems you do not know how to do, doesn’t help. This is not to pick on math teachers but so often this happens and students begin to look down on busy work. If that assignment had meaning, perhaps more care and effort would ensue.

 

“I think knowing what you cannot do is more important than knowing what you can.” Lucille Ball

 

“It is not good to know more unless we do more with what we already know.” R. K. Bergethon

 

When you can apply a piece of knowledge it lasts far more than when it is simply an idea, a passing, thought something to forget. In some subjects it is difficult to make ideas applicable, at least this is what some teachers think and students soon grow weary and curiosity is gone. Several times I have mentioned a friend who in teaching history would occasionally dress as a knight or king and or a lowly goat herder to make a point drawing the class into the lesson. We got into a discussion at my nieces wedding on education of all things. Sitting talking between a new medical doctor, a nursing Ph.D. student, a recent college graduate, and myself a doctorate student in education and talking about Mercer Medical schools interesting concept of learning. Students are directly involved in learning which medical schools consider a new methodology and nursing students have known for a long time and well John Dewey explained nearly one hundred and twenty years ago as progressive education.

 

“The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.” Confucius

 

“I would have the studies elective. Scholarship is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure interest in knowledge. The wise instructor accomplishes this by opening to his pupils precisely the attractions the study has for himself. The marking is a system for schools, not for the college; for boys, not for men; and it is an ungracious work to put on a professor.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

To instill curiosity a teacher must also be curious; a teacher must also be a learner. Recently I read several articles about schools where students and teachers make choices and decisions on the operation of the school, a truly democratic school. TheSudburyValleySchoolinMassachusettsis an example as I mentioned recently. Many years ago Socrates would simply ask a question and students would have to find the answers, not be told the answers and Socrates would assist through more questions. He must have upset his school board since he was required to drink poison.

 

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that ain’t so.” Mark Twain

 

This is a good place to wind down today. I am sitting here, thinking, pondering, listening to R. Carlos Nakai on my Blackberry and wondering about where the day may go and what will be said and who will listen. I find solace in that thought. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks.

namaste

bird

Patience

Bird Droppings June 15, 2011
Patience

“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” William Faulkner

When I first read this earlier it hit me hard, so often in life we want to accomplish that great task all in one quick movement and all at one time. It has been a few years since I first read a favorite authors email blog and he had been working on an idea and book for years, based on Chief Joseph and he mentioned patience in relation to another Native American work in progress. As he wrote in that blog in the Dakotas nearly fifty years ago sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, promised to honor the memory of Crazy horse by carving out a mountain in his likeness. To this day rock by rock he and his family since his death in 1974 have kept that promise, the face was dedicated n 1998.

“Our patience will achieve more than our force.” Edmund Burke

So often as I teach each day it is not a great lesson that succeeds but simply patience. Being able to deal with difficulties of the day and move into the next without dwelling to long on a single issue, moving small stones one at a time, in our effort to move or carve a mountain as Faulkner points out above.

“The two powers which in my opinion constitute a wise man are those of bearing and forbearing.” Epictetus

“Patience means self-suffering.” Mahatma Gandhi

“That virtue of the mind which is called Patience is so great a gift…” St. Augustine of Hippo

I walked out earlier taking the dog for his morning constitutional before me a clear sky filled with stars and perhaps the most gorgeous full moon in many months. Our home sits slightly off the road with a large back yard going into about four hundred acres of wilderness, actually very private. But it was stars that caught my eye in the brilliance of the moon and each morning they are there when clouds allow lately. I was discussing with my principal and superintendent a few days back the concept of patience. I recall back seven or eight years ago when a former student’s mother had been killed in a car wreck, we were talking how students will come to certain teachers. This former student I had ten years ago yet everyday she would stop by when she was in school before graduation to check on me, consistency came out, students will flock to consistency when meted out with patience.

“Let this be understood, then, at starting; that the patient conquest of difficulties which rise in the regular and legitimate channels of business and enterprise is not only essential in securing the success which you seek but it is essential to that preparation of your mind, requisite for the enjoyment of your successes, and for retaining them when gained. So, day by day, and week by week; so month after month, and year after year, work on, and in that process gain strength and symmetry, and nerve and knowledge, that when success, patiently and bravely worked for, shall come, it may find you prepared to receive it and keep it,” Josiah Gilbert Holland

“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” Barbara Johnson

I typed in Patience’s as a search and the first few were all lyrics for a Guns and Roses song the words are not really applicable or I would use them but the song, there is a whistling start to the song and I am sitting here writing about patience and humming the start to the song. This is one of those songs you can not get out of your head.

“(whistle) …little patience, mm yeah, mm yeah, I need a little patience, yeah – just a little patience, yeah – some more patience, – yeah – need some patience, yeah, could use some patience, yeah, gotta have some patience, yeah, all it takes is patience, just a little patience, is all you need” Axl Rose, Guns and Roses 1989

In all honesty the words really don’t quite do it with out the whistling and tune especially with Axl Rose’s whining voice singing. But patience “is all you need”.

“Consider the hour-glass; there is nothing to be accomplished by rattling or shaking; you have to wait patiently until the sand, grain by grain, has run from one funnel into the other.” John Christian Morgensten

Whether this was made by the 16th century artist or more recently a whimsical poet of the 20 century this is a powerful statement. If you have never watched an hour glass at work, it truly is the best example and analogy of patience, one grain at a time falls through no more no less till the entire mass of sand drops.

“If I have made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.” Sir Isaac Newton

“Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.” Johann Friedrich Von Schiller

It does take patience, trying to accomplish any task takes patience. I have talked of world peace more than once and am committed to that ideal but it will take patience. However until that time we must keep all in harms way on our minds and in our hearts.
namaste
bird

Setting the example

Bird Droppings March 3, 2011
Setting the example

I received an email many nights ago from a friend several months back in Pennslyvania referring to comments I had made in a Bird Droppings, she borrowed from scripture and discussed how a house should be built upon a solid base. She was talking about how we get children to learn to want to learn.

“Education commences at the mother’s knee, and every word spoken within hearsay of little children tends toward the formation of character.” Hosea Ballou

As I think back to when I was a child which was not that many years ago my wife says. We were read to and we were encouraged to read. When I started school I was essentially reading. I wonder as I work with high school students who struggle with reading if their parents ever even opened a book up with them. My grand daughter is read too almost daily and was read to inutero as her mother read Winnie the Pooh.

“Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and approximate to the characters we most admire.” Christian Nevell Bovee

“Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other” Edmund Burke

“Children learn what they live”, across the room on my wall from my desk is the poster from Dr. Dorothy Laura Nolte and what amazes me is every once in a while a student is drawn to it and reads through. Several students have situated themselves under my poster during class since I do not have assigned seats yet they sit in the same spot every day and periodically will ask what is this word or that word.

“You have to set the tone and the pace, defines objectives and strategies, and demonstrate through personal example what you expect from others.” Stanley C. Gault

“It is easier to exemplify values than teach them.” Theodore M. Hesburgh

I recall a situation several years back, where a family, dad and both sons were jailed at the same time. Seems this same family was where the oldest son at eleven would drive dad to the liquor store because he was not able to drive. Examples works both ways, today that oldest son is in prison for twenty years. When I think back to that same child as a student nearly eight years ago sitting in my class wanting me to read Dylan Thomas again and then borrowing my book, could I have done a bit more as a teacher.

“Example is a bright looking-glass, universal and for all shapes to look into.” Michel Eyquem De Montaigne

“The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example.” Thomas Morell

I was fortunate growing up being in the family that I did. Examples were strong and powerful motivators and even today my children are motivated by their grandparents and all that they did in their lives.

“I’ve always led by example and I’m not that vocal.” Scottie Pippen

Pippen is a quiet and essential player that played on six NBA championship teams with the Chicago Bulls. My youngest son and I often talk about that team and the unbelievable stats that they accumulated during their reign.

“Example is leadership.” Albert Schweitzer

“Be careful how you live; you will be the only Bible some people ever read.” William J. Toms

I think back to memorable teachers and each set an example in their lives and how they interacted with students. Looking at my son’s teachers, the great ones example was a key teaching tool. Parents who have inadvertently succeeded in raising children often it is not a special formula but their example that lead their children along the pathway.

“A leader is a model whether he wants to be or not. He doesn’t have to tell the group to follow his example. In fact, he can even tell them not to follow his example, but they will.” Lewis Orens, The Pine Tree Web

As I was researching this morning I found a site Home School World and so often as a public school teacher, home schooling will come up, as parents makes choices as to how to educate there children. The following is in reference to public schools.

“Do responsible parents want their children to emulate the behavior of the teachers and children there? Disorder, ignorance, misbehavior, disrespect for parents and family, and worse are the norms in such schools, so they obviously do not provide the examples we want for our children.” Dr. Arthur Robinson, Children learn by example, 1998

Dr. Robinson is the founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine where he and associates work on several areas of medical research and home schooling curriculum and civil defense (militia) issues. Is example a powerful tool? It is in both directions. I myself do not agree with Dr. Robinsons ideas on public school for there are equally as many and many more good examples that many children would not have at home. One aspect of learning and schooling, if done at home is that the only example is their parents, and who judges them. I watch daily home schooled children who are taught that race is a dividing line in society and only Christians will attain some sort of spiritual awareness. On a good day most of my kids are together and interacting in appropriate manners. Maybe that means learning is working and or I am setting a decent example. That might be asking a lot. I almost forgot, Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.
namaste
bird