Bird Droppings April 28, 2011
Going to school
So often as I start my writings each morning there has been an experience recently to build upon. It is utilizing these previous experiences that provide windows and doors into future experiences. I was driving through our town and a shop I had seen numerous times caught my eye. It is a store that caters to cooks, selling fancy cheese, wines and utensils. I actually stopped in I needed a good knife to cut and chop herbs as I cook. As I walked in a wonderful lady greeted me and we talked for nearly an hour about education and cooking. It turns out she was also prior to retirement a teacher of Emotional and Behavior Disorders. A small world or synchronicity, I think I know what Carl G. Jung would say. My major in graduate school always causes confusion as most teacher graduate students go for that Leadership degree required for administrative positions.
It has been nearly six years since I started my doctorial studies at Georgia Southern University. My major for some may be a bit obscure being in curriculum theory and it is a relatively new endeavor actually entitled in the course catalog as Curriculum Studies. One of the first pieces that caught my attention was, “the autobiographical method of currere, a method focused on self understanding” by William Pinar in his book What is Curriculum Theory. As I discussed with this retired teacher and now shop owner and purveyor of fine cheese, wines and meats we talked of education, various cuts of meats since my livestock background came out.
I have been listening as I read, write and study for a number of years now to R. Carlos Nakai, a Navaho-Ute from Arizona. Nakai is a classically trained coronet and trumpet player who thirty years ago took up the Native American seven note flute. He actually carves his own flutes from cedar and his haunting melodies stir the soul and calm the wild beast. I play his music in my room at school. As I was thinking of Pinar’s thought on the autobiographical method I recalled a note in one of Carlos Nakai’s CD’s.
“A lot of what I’ve been taught culturally comes from an awareness of the environment. …How I feel is based on my impressions of being in certain spaces at certain times. Thinking back…on personal tribal stories and the history of my culture figures into how I organize my music.” R. Carlos Nakai
One of the founders of pragmatism in philosophy is John Dewey who is also well known for his contributions to education and progressivism. Many of his ideas are from the early 1900’s. Dewey based his thinking on our experience.
“Every experience lives on in further experiences. Hence the central problem of an education based on experience is to select the kind of present experiences that live fruitfully and create subsequent experiences.” John Dewey
Dewey is a hard read and since I was only looking for a quote he is back to the shelf for now but only a minute or two as I am using several Dewey books in papers I am currently working on. As I switched CD’s to a Hawaiian themed CD where Nakai and Keola Beamer, a Hawaiian slap guitar master combine for “Our Beloved Land” another jacket note caught my eye.
“We were put on the earth to experience life in its totality. And if you’re not doing that, you’re essentially wasting your time.” R. Carlos Nakai
I thought of my professor in that first doctorial class as I read and a comment she made about how many of the courses are on line and the evaluations that follow online of professors. She said she always gets better reviews with the online courses then in person. On one of the first days in class she wore a black suit and starched white shirt long sleeves with dark shoes and argyle socks. She had one pirate type earring in one ear and after removing her jacket and rolling up her sleeves tattoos to her wrists covering her arms.
As I watched my class watch her as she came in being mostly conservative southern teachers the reactions were interesting but as I thought to my professors comment about why she did not understand why she always gets better reviews online I thought as I listened to a recognized scholar in the area of curriculum theory. Maybe the biases of the masses of people in the world really are insignificant you need to live life and if you are not doing that you are wasting time.
I got the impression within a few minutes my professor is not wasting anyone’s time she is who she is and comfortable with that as maybe we all should try and be who knows what might happen with self understanding and experiences. It comes down to all of the pieces to our life’s puzzle falling into place one by one. As I close as always please keep all who are in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.