What is it like to be caught up in a moment of quiet?

Bird Droppings March 5, 2014
What is it like to be caught up in a moment of quiet?

Well it has been a day or two since the last occasionally coo or whisper on the baby monitor in the living room went off. My son and his family found a great little house nearby and are in process of moving. Many mornings that was the only sound I would hear from where I sit after I start my morning along with walking out to a smiling moon and clear sky after rain and storms most of the night. This morning it was silent no residual sounds of neighborhood air conditioning or traffic, no breeze to rustle pine needles and leaves over my head, it was utter silence. Then as I was absorbed in listening to the stillness the breeze started up moving circularly around my head the leaves rustled adding just a hint of sound to a blissful morning.

I picked up a copy of an old book Foxfire 2 from a box as I sat back down and opened up to a section on raising sheep and spinning fleece. Featured in this edition was Fred Darnell whom I had met so many years ago as one of the oldest purebred sheep producers in Georgia and the nation. The book was written in early 1970’s and Fred was a resident of the North Georgia Mountains. I had the privilege several years later in 1985 to interview Fred and walk about his picturesque farm nestled in the mountains near Clayton Georgia. As I looked around his farm there was development sitting along the ridges, it was literally a tourist spot.

On his farm a beautiful stream flowed through pastures and the mountains went up both sides of Fred’s valley. He had been born there and his family had lived on this piece of land for four generations. Fred raised purebred Hampshire sheep and had for nearly fifty years on that farm. He had been through ups and downs in sheep business and was content to work his farm perhaps the notion that daily he had offers in the millions of dollars for his farm sort of kept him going. It seems real estate folks wanted his valley for summer homes and condos. He enjoyed looking about and as you looked at the mountains surrounding his farm there were huge homes atop nearly every mountain. He mentioned this was his retirement fund but he didn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. I always wanted to go back and somehow never found the time although I would like to think that valley is still there with a quiet stream running through it and green lush pastures running up the sides of the mountains to the timber line.

“The supreme act of forgiveness is when you can forgive yourself for all the wounds you’ve created in your own life. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. When you forgive yourself, self-acceptance begins and self-love grows.” Don Miguel Ruiz

I was cleaning out boxes from years gone by moving from one storage building to another the other day and found some notes from May 8th 1998 which is the spring before I closed my publishing business. Nearly sixteen years ago I was President of a publishing company and living in the middle of a pasture and reading my thoughts of impending defeat was difficult. I knew my business was failing and I was failing my family or so I thought. Sixteen years have passed and I came back to teaching which had been something I desperately missed for nearly twenty five years. Reading my thoughts from so long ago brought back so many memories many journeys have taken place since then and many trails traveled.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Henry Adams

I was thinking back today talking with a student on how I got to where I am so many doors and pathways, colleges attended, cohorts formed, people were met and discussions held.

“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth.’” Dan Rather

Where were these teachers along the way? As I think back to second grade and sixth and seventh and eighth maybe ninth grade and a few through high school all prodding and poking or encouraging me along the way. As A teacher so seldom do we ever see results of our work. We get to see an End of Course test or Graduation test which really tells little about what and where a student will go or even came from. These almost useless tests basically line the pockets of testing companies who seem to driving educational policy these days.

“In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” Jacques Barzun

I had another student not in my class ask me what I was doing with my class one day while we were having a Lego challenge. In thirty minutes what can you create from a pile of Lego? We set up a simple rubric and the kids went at it. Then we explained our masterpieces and imaginations went off the wall. As I explained to the student asking what we were doing first we were interacting as human beings then using imagination and finally just having fun. I did not go into how two of my students that period had been self-contained and in resource rooms and or psycho educational classes all their lives. That just getting to be regular was an experience on its own. Sometimes appropriate humor and creativity was what I wanted and did get that was the real lesson today perhaps one day being accepted by others.

“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job.” Donald D. Quinn

So often teachers get a bum rap and there are a few who deserve it most however are dedicated to what they do and take pride in it.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Kahlil Gibran
I have for some time said in order for students to learn they have to want to be in the class and then provide an atmosphere that demands questioning and questions and learning will occur.

“Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the “naturals,” the ones who somehow know how to teach.” Peter Drucker

Seldom is this discussed or mentioned when working on a degree which is required by most states for certification and for more money. Most states you have more degrees and get more money. But somewhere in there is that inherent portion of DNA that makes a teacher who they are. Well I am tired so enough for one day peace and 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

Is it only a dropped feather?

Bird Droppings March 4, 2014
Is it only a dropped feather?

“If we consider the eagle feather with its light and dark colors, we could argue that ‘the dark colors are more beautiful and, therefore, naturally more valuable,’ or vice versa. Regardless of which colors are more beautiful, or necessary, or valuable, the truth is the bottom line: Both colors come from the same feather, both are true, they are connected, and it takes both to fly.” Dr. Michael Garrett, Medicine of the Cherokee

A seemingly inconsequential event that of a bird dropping a feather only to be found along the way by someone like me or you. I am always amazed at how special that moment becomes. Maybe back when I started this morning venture of rising early to journal, read and write for me it was a way of dropping feathers and it seems nearly every day one or two emails reinforce my thoughts.

“All birds, even those of the same species, are not alike, and it is the same with animals and with human beings. The reason WakanTanka does not make two birds, or animals, or human beings exactly alike is because each is placed here by WakanTanka to be an independent individuality and to rely upon itself.” Shooter, Teton Sioux

It has been several years ago we had several large ferns on our front porch and I was checking the fern and forgot about the nest of purple finches who had adapted our ferns and front porch, three babies sat there looking at me as I checked the fern for moisture surprising me as much as I them. There were three tiny babies sitting huddled in a fern basket all expecting breakfast and it was only me. As I think back I am not sure who was the most scared, me by the shock of three hungry mouths gaping or those tiny birds with a big hand poking in checking the moisture of the fern.

“We learned to be patient observers like the owl. We learned cleverness from the crow, and courage from the jay, who will attack an owl ten times its size to drive it off its territory. But above all of them ranked the chickadee because of its indomitable spirit.” Tom Brown, Jr., The Tracker

It has been several years since my first trip to Piedmont college and I am sure there will be many more to come as I am working on my doctorate in conjunction with several faculty members at Piedmont. However that first trip was one of meeting the Dean of Education for acceptance into the School of Education when I was working on my master’s degree. It seems I had forgotten getting accepted in the education department and that aspect of my journey, something you are to do first rather than last, be accepted into the education school. As I left the education building walking to the parking lot a flock of geese met me walking along weeding as they do across lawns at Piedmont back before the lake was drained, fifty or so Canadian geese scurrying about looking for tender shoots in the morning coolness. As I walked a bit of down crossed my path a tiny feather. I picked it up and my immediate thought was of Forrest Gump sitting on a bench waiting for a bus and the feather that starts and ends the movie.
I thought deeper as I saved the feather and still have it pressed in a book on my shelf. So often that little bit that tiny piece of fluff that we often miss it doesn’t have to be a feather it could be a kind word a hand shake a certificate from first grade for spelling everything right and it can provide the catalyst for the next day and for some a lifetime. As a teacher, parent friend many times we are the ones who have to drop a feather now and again a tiny piece of fluff to keep another person going.

“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.” Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation

In primitive societies a feather can be a very sacred and holy thing. The Aztecs made the cloak for the king from Quetzal feathers emerald green iridescent and no one else could even own one of these feathers under penalty of death. Native Americans would use feathers as signs of bravery and honor awarding an eagle feather for counting coop which is not killing your enemy simply touching and riding away and other great acts of bravery. I am intrigued as we now wage war often from an office with drones and smart bombs. What a battle that must have been back in the day to see a brave ride in touch a few people and ride out.

We have come so far in today’s world we “nuke em” no need to touch no need for honor for a bit of fluff blowing along the ground. As I walked about my yard a few nights back getting some exercise along with my wife who was checking her plants to see if any bulbs were sprouting and a feather caught my attention. It was a black tail feather from a crow. My day was made as I placed it on my desk with a hawk feather and owl feather from previous walks. It is the tiny pieces that count on our journeys. So for 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

Taking a break even though I don’t want too

Bird Droppings February pre28th – hopefully sooner than later
Taking a break even though I don’t want too

Somehow for nearly fifteen years I have written and produced Bird Dropping into Word Press, Facebook and in the past yahoo groups and an email list of people wanting to read Bird Droppings. Even on days I have been away from computers usually within a day or two I could get a thought or two through the cloud of technology. However I have encountered a stepping stone I need to get across over the next few days. A week ago I was told I had some abnormal heart tissue after extensive testing last week. First time I missed three days of school due to medical reasons in thirteen years. Yesterday I spoke with my cardiologist who tried to get me on Tuesday evening and I missed call. I needed to come in sooner than later for surgery after looking at all tests he saw something in tests he had not seen Friday. So I embark on a definitely pivotal point or piece to my life’s puzzle. I Have been stitched up, broken many bones, had joints repaired, steroids injected in joints and most recently my neck but I have never had surgery because I had too. I find some sort of finality in that. Having a wife in the medical field I am reassured ten times a day no big deal. I guess I will be disposing of my bacon stash and various not good for me foodstuffs. If all goes well home tomorrow afternoon and a day or two recovery no driving for a few days. Rest assured as quickly as my little fingers can find a computer I will be posting again.
Practicing Patience
It has been nearly forty years since I first went to Hemmingway’s just off the interstate in Decatur Georgia. It was a favorite local entertainment establishment. My wife and I would go prior and after our marriage primarily to listen to a local singer who with his band provided a fantastic evening of music. I recall my cousin Bill sending up a napkin with a Deep Purple song written on it numerous times. Ron Kimble and his band tended to cover southern rock and country songs more than anything else so it was always a big joke when our hard core metal cousin would pass the napkin up to the front. But one night Ron took the mike and said we have received quite a few requests for this song seems to be all in the same handwriting though and they cut loose on that song.

So here I am a day ahead putting out tomorrows writing sitting and listening to a song written and sung by Ron Kimble. Ron is a big man by most standards and his voice even bigger. The song is entitled, My little granddaddy, it is a story of his granddaddy telling stories and always having a “sweet tater” for his grandson. Seems every time I listen to this song I obsess and play two or three times and after a millions plays still a tear trickles down my cheek. It seems it has me thinking to my own dad and granddad to my sons and how he rode around on his golf cart with a load of grandkids telling stories about World War II and about the local hermit that lived in the woods below his house or about Little Strong Arm a Native American chief. I miss my dad and my wife misses her dad and as I talk with people who have lost parents over the year little things remind us as we go through our days. It for me could be picking up a piece of blue lace agate or gold ore at school but for now I sit and listen to a simple little song and a catchy little tune and thank Ron Kimble for it and giving me a tie to my father and my grandkids.

“Now, there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So, when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful to your enemy for providing that precious opportunity.” Dalai Lama

Over the past few weeks I have been working on getting annual Individual Educational Plans completed for my case load at school. It seems that on top of the stress and emotions of dealing with parents and kids trying to come up with how we should as a school provide an education for this child, I am heading to heart surgery today. I was talking with a dear friend a day or two back after finishing class that it is more exhausting sometimes practicing patience than getting upset. It takes effort to contain oneself rather than blow up. I have come to find that when kids are agitated there is a reason and far too often it has nothing to do with us but something from home or outside school compounded by whatever issues that particular child is involved with at school as well.

As I read the statement from the Dalai Lama and how we should be happy for the people who provide us with the opportunity of practicing patience it can be hard to at first understand what this man is saying. But as I ponder and I do a lot of pondering this time of day I am thankful for the week trying as it may have been and all of the people that added to and provided me with an opportunity of being patient. It is within these difficult relationships and interactions that we can practice and hone our skills at being patient. It is Friday and this week while perhaps it has flown by has seemingly dragged on for so long in other ways. So as I close today and as I have for many years now my dear friends please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in our hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

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

Wandering about while I am waiting

Bird Droppings February 27, 2014
Wandering about while I am waiting

Sitting listening to Crosby, Stills, and Nash acoustic while I write today. I have been saving my pennies to get a new lens hopefully to be ready for spring. There are so many possibilities with various flowers blooming all about and baby ducks and geese soon at local lakes and ponds. However right now I have a collection of bugs at school. Madagascar hissing cockroaches and Hercules beetles fill a couple of tanks. I have been making do with the a 55mm lens for nearly eight months now and actually get some good shots. I recall a paper I had been working on that frustrated me and yet was very interesting; how did the denominalization in the antebellum period in the history of the United States effect higher education? After writing about faith and religion a few days back this thought came back. I had been pouring through books for nearly a week and knew what I wanted to say but it was a research paper and I had to site sources and use others views not my own.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” First amendment to the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson

It has been several weeks back a student was using this amendment to justify mandatory school lead prayer in public school. As is for me a violation, as are so many of the efforts to teach Christianity or any religion in public school. Yesterday in a blog discussion various views on afterlife and or no afterlife went in numerous directions and even a challenge as to George Washington’s faith that I had mentioned in a previous writing. As I read and thought back in the day actually the first six presidents were college graduates then a trend towards doers and not education starting with Andrew Jackson. As higher education progressed in the United States there was a period just prior to the Civil war where churches were splitting and forming new denominations literally daily and in doing so to justify existence formed colleges for educating their clergy and members.

This is not a history lesson but as I read and looked through the hell blog it really became apparent how many different believers and in how many different things they believe. All going back to our First amendment we can believe what we want. What is so interesting is when belief is based on traditions and innuendos and less on fact not to push science versus faith but not that long ago people were burned at the stake for saying the world is round and not flat as advocated by the church. I wonder sometimes and well it has been said that ignorance is bliss and maybe that is why people are so gosh darn happy. A very scary thought in the news a few years back. A powerful representative is stepping down for improprieties and is publicly saying he will be more powerful out of the house than in that is a scary thought in other words he will be doing what he is being punished for, lobbying votes for various entities. Interesting one of his friends has just been found guilty of various illegal issues dealing with lobbying and we still elect these guys.

It is so amazing how we do find these people electable. It started back in 1820’s or so when intelligent people were not as important as what you could do for me became the trend. A major effort of Andrew Jackson was displacing eastern Native Americans to Oklahoma and giving their lands to his friends. Isn’t it wonderful how this system works? But quickly back to faith and belief, it should be a personal thing something in your heart and soul if you consider soul an entity.

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices no more easily made. And give, give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.” Kent Nerburn

As I close I thought of something this morning reading a note from a single mother. Children who are from broken homes, we always tend to think divorce equals a broken home but in reality a broken home is one “needin fixin” that could be many reasons other than divorce and can often be kids with both parents. Sometimes I wish Elmer’s glue made an adhesive for broken homes a simple fix for a complex problem so as always 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

A series of paradoxes and bewilderment

Bird Droppings February 26, 2014
A series of paradoxes and bewilderment

I received the following in an email back a few days, a friend of mine sent it out and as I read the first time it was humorous. However as I pondered then as a teacher I read deeper into what was being said. I listened by coincidence to a few words from a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. I recalled about five years ago early in the morning as I by chance I hit the AM button in my car. It was obviously a very conservative talk show and on the extreme conservative side. But the comment was “If a Democratic Congress gets in they will spend the first two years investigating the last two years of the current administration and then raise taxes and…”, and he went on. It interested me that is he saying something has been done wrong that needs investigating and then we go right back investigating now in a reverse situation. The news stories daily seem to imply that or are they just trying to stir up conservatives to get out and protect their money. Anyhow my email forward from a friend:

“Why do I tell you this? Because of the evolution in teaching math since the 1950s: Teaching Math in 1950’s – a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit? Teaching Math in 1960’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit? Teaching Math in 1970’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit? Teaching Math in 1980’s a logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20. Teaching Math In 1990’s a logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.) Teaching Math in 2005-6 un hachero vende una carretada de madera para $100. El costo de la producción es $80”

As I read this I wondered if this is really what the general public thinks. There are numerous books out on the dummying down of America. No one ever mentions we are one of the few countries with free public education to all children regardless of race, sex, disability and or income and in turn the only one trying to hold accountable educational systems for getting everyone to the same level. Each of the eras above has issues in its systems. However let me add I took a general biology course in my second year of college and the current general biology text for ninth graders at our high school is significantly more in depth and has numerous subjects and information not even conceived of in 1968.

So I look at the above email and see 1950 all was well, 1960 we are concerned about fractions, 1970 we are concerned about semantics, 1980 we are now worried about correct underlining too much Christmas treeing of answers on standardized tests and in the 1990’s we are concerned about environment and each other and asking why and how come questioning and wanting to perceive how this as wrong. I was amused at math in 2000’s and how it was touchy feely sort of kind of thing. They left out math in 2010 where a forester pays poachers in the rain forest of South America to strip a piece of land unregulated by an laws and sell to him at a dirt cheap price and then wander off so literally we have a near 100% profit.

In 1919 John Dewey was using reflection as a teaching tool very successfully he was considerably ahead of his time. Sadly reflection and discussion take time away from memorizing and with teaching to the test as we are now. Our students have to memorize volumes of material in every subject and many teachers do not have the time or they at least think they do not to offer context. Then looking back at 2005-2006 math comments and inferences to diversification it was not too many years ago women could not go to school and or hold positions in many companies and such. Even today woman are stereotyped into certain positions.

A friend who recently passed away was writing her dissertation on gender biases in administration in public schools. Sadly all the public hoopla in one arena is about immigration. I still recall a parent conference five years ago when a good old boy wearing scruffy shorts no socks, boots untied, and a dirty white T-Shirt explained it so eloquently to me. It seems he was out of work as he was a construction worker and at that essentially a gofer. He would be the one toting boards and bricks whatever. I was filling in forms since he did not read or write and his son was about to end up in the alternative school. I asked what he did for a living and he informed me he couldn’t get work. Obviously I was aware of the construction situation in our area of very few houses being built. However his answer took me by surprise. He commented with a few expletives “The @#$% Mexicans work too #$@% hard.” For him it could have been Afro Americans, Native Americans, Eastern Europeans, and or Hispanics, it was anyone who was actually willing to work and different than or not like him. Did I mention he did not smell very good sort of like a few old beers and cigarette stale smoke a paradox of sorts?

And so why am I bewildered we so often complain and whine and criticize and often only because we do not understand or lack of information. Simply put it is ignorance among the so many wonderful reasons. Parents expect wonders from teachers and many times we do deliver but years ago I wrote about the sixteen hour syndrome. Teachers have kids for eight hours and are expected to work miracles only to go home to parents, TV, video, friends, drugs, and many other misc. other distraction and they have sixteen hours to undo all they learned in those eight. It is sort of a losing battle in many situations.

“Grown men can learn from very little children for the hearts of the little children are pure. Therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.” Black Elk

As I read this thought from Black Elk a Lakota Sioux holy man written some years ago I was intrigued how we adults take these innocents and make them adults today losing all of their innocence. I watch the four year olds around school from our demo school they are inquisitive and wondering and yet in a few years they will be blank eyed and listless stripped of all of their joy and purity by our cultural efforts to make automatons and provide vehicles for the productivity of our manufacturing and corporate greed. This could be why I am bewildered that we have come to this in a free society and in reality are more imprisoned than many so called third world countries. We are imprisoned by our self-serving, self-centeredness and greed and watching calmly as monopolies are forming again and the big three oil companies are the only oil companies and ma bell is soon to be in charge again. I am paraphrasing and borrowing from an old folk song, where have all the steel mills gone or where have all the textile jobs gone. It is very simple they have gone to countries ever where. Then the chorus, oh when will we ever learn, oh when will we ever learn.

Paradoxes and complexities bewilderment and wonderment, I look at Black Elks words and wonder why can we not learn from children and maybe get back some of our lost innocence. 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

What is this desire for freedom?

Bird Droppings February 25, 2014
What is this desire for freedom?

“Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom and dignity. It is not enough, as communist systems have assumed, merely to provide people with food, shelter and clothing. Human nature needs to breathe the precious air of liberty.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama

In life as I look back humans also while seeking freedom also seem to have an urge to subjugate others as well. When I was riding down to Emory University’s Oxford campus a quite a few years back to drop my youngest son off for a summer workshop we were talking about people who need to feel in control, in power, to be in charge. So often people take teaching jobs subconsciously for that reason I have found over the years as I observe teachers. In talking with my wife about the same topic she was looking from a medical stand point and as I so often do, looking from a psychological view.

We each in our own way see the idea of freedom perhaps in differing lights and lenses. While attending a wedding shower recently in a subdivision in another part of the local community I was definitely not a free person. In my existence I tend to be somewhat monastic picking and choosing times to be social and spending much of my day by myself reading, writing, and pondering uninterrupted by the where and whys of social interaction.

However last night watching a rerun of House and a blogger who laid her life out in minute detail in her blog while living in somewhat isolation communicated and interacted on a level that was in many psychological terms very social. At this shower I was lost in a crowd of people that I did not know or really care to be among and eventually walked outside after sitting for nearly an hour and a half talking to my cousin who was the father of the groom to be. But as I look at my first paragraph I had no control of the situation.

Does this apply to learning and education most assuredly as we place children so often in places where they have no control and they have few if any liberties? Often the response is one of flight or of negative behavior as we define the norm and allow only what we as teachers deem appropriate. Freedom is just another word was the song from the early 1970’s and mid 1960’s written by Kris Kristofferson. Working with children who have Emotional problems and whose affect is impacted for whatever reason has me looking at the kids I work with differently than most teachers may even attempt.
But in my own research the past few months I found that in the early 1950’s a group of educational psychologists came up with several learning domains. One of these aspects or domains is the affective domain.

“Receiving, willing to listen, Responding, willing to participate, Valuing, willing to be involved, Organizing, willing to be an advocate and Characterization, willing to change ones behavior, life style or way of life” Cindy Vinson Ed.D.

These are the five areas of that domain outlined above, so what does an affective domain have to do with freedom? What do bossy people have to do with either? Literally we set ourselves up for failure so often in life. Internally a desire for liberty confounded by structure in societal entities, school, work, social organizations and such where we are told what to do by a teacher, boss or president. So many years ago I recall listening to someone discussing business and management back in the day my son would say. I had dinner with my father and the great management guru Peter Drucker at a management meeting in Chicago.

“So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.” Peter Drucker

As I read the great business author Peter Drucker’s thought and pondered how often is teaching much the same. I reworded the statement a bit with, could it be then that so much of what we call teaching consists in making it difficult for students to learn. But it was later when discussing that this thought I remembered another quote from a book my father wrote a number of years ago.

“It is not about telling workers (students) what to do, it is about asking them to do it and further if they believe it is their idea and they take ownership of that idea far more will be accomplished” Frank E. Bird Jr., Practical Loss Control Management

In educational research students having empowerment and ownership increases significantly the level to which they will achieve. I have seen this premise work in industry many times as workers take ownership of an idea and turn a company around in safety programs. I have seen students who have input in a classroom light up and move forward so much more so than when manacled by a dictator like teacher. In my own research and studies as I work on my dissertation in The Foxfire Approach to teaching the number one Core Practice states the following.

“From the beginning, learner choice, design, and revision infuses the work teachers and learners do together.” Foxfire Core Practice one

As I have been involved directly or indirectly now for nearly forty five years in training and teaching when a learner be it adult or child has ownership of the idea so much more is accomplished. Work goes from tedious to enjoyable. Success becomes the norm rather than failure. As teachers how do we give ownership to students of material such as Algebra or US History? How can we take student ideas and intertwine with mandated curriculum? These are not simple questions and there are not simple answers. It does take effort and work and often not being totally in control to allow this to happen and to flow.

As I thought a bit more I wonder if by accepting an inherent desire to be free as stated by the Dalai Lama and Dr. Vinson’s idea of an affective domain and building upon that we might just end up have successful students and workers. Imagine if we could build upon this in schools and improve schools because kids want to and not because of federal standards and demands. This concept is essentially the premise behind democracy in the classroom and much of John Dewey’s work on education and democracy in our own country. Every major politician is now for or against specific policies and each has a differing reason but I find it still necessary to end as I have now for nearly fifteen years. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. For so many years as I look back and each day find in harm’s way goes so far beyond the wars and tribulations of man. Several friends have battled cancer and won and as I look even at within my own family over the past few years the emotions and heart wrenching in harm’s way is a rather broad term. We need to be looking behind each corner and searching our hearts and keep as humans uplifting rather than tearing each other down. The potential for man is so great but we continually allow ourselves to be sucked into the vacuums of greed and denial. How do we rise up and offer a hand? How do we become a nation of people rather than of profit? It takes understanding and it takes as Dr. Vinson offers we need to be in the affective domain.

“Receiving, willing to listen, Responding, willing to participate, Valuing, willing to be involved, Organizing, willing to be an advocate and Characterization, willing to change ones behavior, life style or way of life” Cindy Vinson Ed.D.

So another school day is about to start and I sit pondering what might I bring to the table today as a teacher. Hopefully something that will impact students in a positive way and I close as I have for nearly fifteen years please keep all in harm’s way on your minds 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

Getting over the speed bumps

Bird Droppings February 24, 2014
Getting over the speed bumps

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Hannah More

Perhaps ahead of her time Ms. More wrote in abundance in the later 1700’s and early 1800’s. She was writing in a time when women should have been sitting at home according to customs of the time. She had her goals and she daily strived to achieve them, and several middle and high schools around the country still bear her name. When I am driving about the countryside I think back to days gone when the wonderful speed bump was purely a southern thing sadly they are now used across the country. Often we are taken by surprise upon approaching a stop sign or cross walk and even sometimes some grocery stores will mark pedestrian walk ways with those wonderful often unseen obstacles. They are put there to slow us down in our hectic lives.

When Hanna More wrote that line however speed bumps were many years ahead and she was looking more at life metaphorically. We tend to as we journey in life to become complacent and begin to slack and it is at those times when obstacles become frightful. I used to drive into Atlanta on a regular basis to take things to my son at Georgia Tech before he graduated. There is a stretch on North Avenue where you literally look down the hill and of course look up. When in a lazier mood it is fun to see how fast you can coast down and then see how far up the other side you can go without using the gas petal. Obviously hoping all the red lights are green through your free fall and ascent of the hill.

By chance several months ago when down town going to Piedmont Park I was thinking how hard it must be to walk up and down that hill. Even in a car as you begin up the hill after the momentum wears off you have to increase the pressure on the accelerator. Life is very much the same way and living can appear more difficult when we lose focus and become bewildered. I was thinking about learning and education as well which I in my earlier days I would wander aimlessly for semesters at a time losing focus, beyond staying out of the draft college had little other meaning for me at the time. I floundered around for several years.

Today in teaching I stress context as well as content which give meaning to the learning to my students.

“It is not so important to know everything as to know the exact value of everything, to appreciate what we learn, and to arrange what we know.” Hannah More

Ms. More was perhaps more methodical than I am and even her contemporaries claimed she was a Methodist. Methodist was the word used to describe John Wesley, founder of The Methodist Church and his friends because they were methodical in their teachings and beliefs. At that time the word Methodist which for The Anglicans, the Church of England, was sometimes a dirty word or one of jest depending on who they were referring too.
But this second quote knowing the value of everything, and appreciating what we learn it is giving that learning context, meaning, and substance. This is what true education should be about and better yet when we do as parents and teachers provide context so that learning lifts us over obstacles and carries through our lives. It is that extra pressure on the accelerator we need to climb all the hills on North Avenue that we have in life. Please my friends provide context and content and keep all in harm’s way in your hearts and on your minds as we go out and about our business today and always give thanks namaste. Peace!

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