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.



Quietly pursuing silence

Bird Droppings November 15, 2011
Quietly pursuing Silence

I was standing in my back yard listening. There was silence. As I stood how easy is it to find fear and or solace in silence. Many horror movies over the years and of course books for those of us who still read feature silence in all the buildup. How difficult is it to find silence? By chance today our sky is somewhat overcast and low which helps muffle the sounds of nature.

“Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality can disturb us.” Thoreau, Henry David

Sitting here in near silence in my kitchen working at my computer is relaxing and somewhat peaceful. The chill of the morning brought me in. I seem to have forgotten too put shoes on and my bare feet were getting frost bitten. I took my dog’s advice as she ran for the door. I have always enjoyed the calming effect of silence. But in a paradoxical way silence for some can be an effective torture. Taking away that sensation and limiting to only ones thoughts can for some be overcoming.

“The Pause; that impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words, however so felicitous, could accomplish it.” Mark Twain
Silence is a mighty sword in the hands of a warrior or poet. Yet why do we seek silence why do we try and find a place to rest away from the hustle and bustle of today’s world? Perhaps it is a contrast we seek. An exact opposite to our daily lives of running around, as if there were no tomorrow. Perhaps silence allows us to see beyond?
“Silence is the true friend that never betrays.” Confucius

“Silence is the genius of fools and one of the virtues of the wise” Pope Boniface VIII

“Under all speech that is good for anything three lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as time” Thomas Carlisle

I do find rest in the quiet of a forest or field. Often I will try and get away from everything put all aside to have a few minutes without the trappings of our cluttered world. I often wonder at the loud bellowing booming music often spilling from cars as they vibrate with bass so loud the cars are shaking. A joke around the house was a movie featuring a rock band only known for being loud. They were asked how they could be so much louder than all the others and responded they turned up to eleven on the volume, no one else can do that. I thought my son was joking and should have known better as he has had his band experience much more than I. I was in a large music store outside Atlanta and I checked the Marshall Amps, traditionally the biggest and baddest of all amps. They only went to ten.
So I wonder can I find that place where sound and noise is reversed and find a negative one. Set it to one point on the dial less than zero and a very silent amp. I seriously anyone would applaud a really silent amp or rock band. Well maybe parents and folks parked next to those cars with fifty inch woofers. Could that place of ultimate silence be where you can truly find solace and peace?

“Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.” Thomas Carlisle

For many seeking spiritual boundaries and finding doorways past where we are silence has always been a key. The great mystics of days gone by would retreat in silence often for days. Shamans and holy men seeking visions to guide their people would seclude themselves and find silence in order to delve deeper into their own existence. All through mans history silence has been a place of spiritual findings. Yet it too is one of fear for so many.

“A horrid stillness first invades the ear, And in that silence we the tempest fear.” John Dryden

Perhaps when we encounter something we are not accustomed to it is when we fear. Those seeking silence are on their own trying to find answers. Most people are content with the noise of the world. Being thrust into silence could be confusing. As I stood listening to see if the morning was truly silent after about ten minutes or so a rooster cut loose and I knew I would open my eyes to the world I left briefly in the quiet of the morning. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.

The Day after

Bird Droppings November 2, 2011
The Day after

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain

I find myself using age to my advantage when the little girl at the register at Kroger asked for senior citizenship or not. I carry my AARP card with pride when it gets me 15% off my hotel stays or car rentals. One of my favorites however and unfortunately true at times is; what did you say your name is? It seems I cannot remember or I gave you what grade yesterday seems folks at my age cannot remember to well. Sadly with nearly two thousand students in the school I do not always remember everyone and I have my days when kids in my class I play the where did you come from routine. You are really in my class?

“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” Samuel Ullman

I was standing in the hall yesterday when a senior stopped by. It has been many weeks since I had put up a photo of a ladder leaning against the new football building. I had also on the photo stated something to the effect of “when climbing any ladder some of the steps can be hard but to get to the top you still have to make them”. For me at sixty two yesterday it was easy to look back and recall. It was about this time eleven or twelve years ago I was at an away football game and experienced something that a few days after Bird Droppings got serious. I felt an overwhelming anguish and even mentioned to a friend standing beside me it was as if I saw the angel of death. At that moment a dear friend was in a car accident many miles away and eventually that night died. The next morning when I returned from the hospital I had a quote from Aerosmith attached to my computer, “Life is about the journey not the destination”?

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.” Douglas MacArthur

A very great man once said this as I look at the words faith, doubt, self confidence, hope and despair. What powerful barometers for us as humans? These could be gauges for our souls and humanity’s concern for humanity.

“In youth the days are short and the years are long; in old age the years are short and the days long.” Nikita Ivanovich Panin

“The years teach much which the days never knew.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I wrote a few days back someone I would want to meet is Ralph Waldo Emerson I am amused at how when in high school I passed him by so easily now read daily.

“Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” Sam Ewing

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Mark Twain

Pieces of the aging process and so many fight it with tooth and nail. Various anti-aging drugs and concoctions plaster the TV and media. A favorite is the smile exerciser on QVC (not that I watch QVC) but this couple have invented a rubber band mouth exerciser to cut down on facial wrinkles.

“Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.” George Bernard Shaw

Sitting watching my sister with grand children and my mother and mother in law with their grandchildren and now me with my granddaughter I might argue with Shaw youth brings vitality to the aged.

“A man’s age is something impressive, it sums up his life: maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, grieves and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves. A man’s age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I was in a Bar-B-que stand looking and reading hot sauce labels. Tabasco sauce is made on a small island in Louisiana. The peppers are aged in vinegar in oak barrels. My nephew was a waiter for some time at, The Capital Grill in Buckhead before medical school. He was learning the wine list showing my wife and I nearly four pages of wines many of which were near my age and those had the most value. I like this age determines your worth.

“Live as long as you may, the first twenty years are the longest half of your life.” Robert Southey

Talking with and dealing with teenagers daily I can see this it is harder to remember my own teenage years or even watching my own children as they deal with the angst of teenagedom.

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” John Barrymore

The day I stopped looking at regrets as hindrances as boulders in my pathway of life my journey gained meaning. These encumbrances simply became lessons to endure to further my journey.

“The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.” Jerry M. Wright

I often am amused when a teenager pulls alongside as I am driving with the bass fully loaded and stereo blasting to a point all you hear is the throbbing of woofers ready to blow. Some cars mounted on hydraulic shocks can emulate the tunes bouncing in time. I wonder what music is being heard funny when I play certain native American drum and flute pieces students question my sanity yet it is nothing more than a quiet throbbing of a drum versus the ear numbing bass of modern pop music.

“When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.” Mark Twain

Samuel Clemons aka Mark Twain would also be on my list of those I would like to meet along with Ralph Waldo Emerson. There are so many great writers, speakers along the historical way but these two for me stand out.

“Everyone is the age of their heart.” Guatemalan Proverb

An interesting use of heart, what it referring to is not the muscle that drives blood through our bodies and as the advertising business reminds us, needing Lipitor, Advicor and or Benicor or this or that to keep functioning. Heart is that inner piece of us some call the soul. Many authors have written their best sellers about this subject, Gary Zhukov, and Thomas Moore to name a few.

“There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age – I missed it coming and going.” J.B. Priestly

A bit of humor, we earn respect at any age, that credibility and impression can be a significant factor as we go through the pathways of life and love. I find it is the lack of respect for students that often gives poor teachers trouble. I always enjoy the comment of teachers demanding respect from their students. That is earned and demanding respect usually leads to conflict. I recently attended a conference with Dr. Sutton and sitting by my desk several books on Oppositional Deviant students. Adding to the excitement across the room two students who are when they leave my room.

“I still have a full deck; I just shuffle slower now.” Author Unknown

Trying to keep up with three sons can be a task, fortunately they also like sitting still occasionally and are in college now. I have many former students and non-students who simply passed through my room with babies and youngins and watching them now as parents is fascinating. Many of these kids were problems in high school and now are moms or dads. There are some who are extraordinary parents and one or two I am concerned about.

“The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity.” Mark Twain

“It’s sad to grow old, but nice to ripen.” Brigitte Bardot

In my childhood days Brigitte Bardot was the poster girl, the Pamela Anderson of the 1960’s. It is interesting how she is still in so many ways, still a beautiful women, I like that word ripen. I sometimes disagree with her animal rights activity which goes overboard occasionally.

“Old age is fifteen years older than I am.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

The author of Sherlock Holmes enjoyed life; he sipped each drop and tasted it to the fullest. As often as I see thoughts from authors and poets, for a moment a glimpse of whom they were and are. I told my wife no grandbabies till I am sixty. Granted I we were blessed with a granddaughter just a little under a year ago and that changed many things in our lives. So a few more weeks and we our grandbaby is one and all are excited.

“Age is opportunity no less, than youth itself, though in another dress, and as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Morituri Salutamus

The moon is still blazing away or I should say reflecting away well half way as it is waning in the morning sky in these early hours. When available stars scattered about light the night, Orion is just over my house a few hours back. I liked this illustration of how at night we see the stars and during the day they are invisible. As I age many things that were insignificant during youth now become crucial and have such significance.

“There is still no cure for the common birthday.” John Glenn

Our former Senator and astronaut John Glenn has embraced aging and made being a senior citizen cool. A movie a few years back Space Cowboys with Clint Eastwood featured aged former astronauts and test pilots who get their chance to show their worth. We do get older day by day but it is in the heart.

“Everyone is the age of their heart.” Guatemalan Proverb

This I cannot say enough and this is so true. My friends please today keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart.

Developing a community requires contributions of self

Bird Droppings September 4, 2011
Developing a community requires contributions of self

We have become a world of self centered egotists which I know is a generalization of perhaps a bit too much. In education building an educational school community has consistently been shown to improve schools effectiveness yet we always seem to turn in other directions. A new test or new curriculum for example versus building community show we can produce. A bit down the lines I use a quote from Roy L. Smith, author and biblical scholar that gives emphasis to my first point.

“In this world, in order to enable society to develop, all its members have to assume responsibilities and make their contribution. If we do not make collective contributions then there will be no development.” The Dalai Lama, speaking to the Tibetan National Assembly in Dharamsala, May 1989

Each of us lives in a society, possibly a community and as much as we choose, so often it is to be individuals. We are members of and interact within that group that we chose to be within. It is the vitality of that group the development and growth that is so intertwined with contributions physically, mentally, and spiritually of the members, this society exists because of the interactions.

“Compare society to a boat. Her progress through the water will not depend upon the exertion of her crew, but upon the exertion devoted to propelling her. This will be lessened by any expenditure of force in fighting among themselves, or in pulling in different directions.” Henry George

We have to be working together moving forward and as humans do so often much time is wasted fighting, arguing, and bickering among ourselves and motion or growth is limited and stifled.

“The greatest difficulty with the world is not its ability to produce, but the unwillingness to share.” Roy L. Smith

Watching high school students form clicks, groups, and other circles of friends and adults join clubs, social groups, and again other circles they chose to join, we tend to be a selfish animals. We look so to ourselves and what benefits us even in limiting friends and such to a degree we box ourselves in. even sharing a simple task can be so often a distant one. Old TV humor even plays on this subject. In several episodes of old Seinfeld and Will and Grace sit coms, the represent giving as a chore, or a burden. The characters are literally parasitically instead of symbiotic. As I looked for quotes and thoughts the following was found.

“Societies that do not eat people are fascinated by those that do.” Ronald Wright

Wright was speaking literally. Yet interestingly enough we of modern society while we do not literally eat people we still do, psychologically and inadvertently often destroy them. As I look at how we respond to others so often it is how we see ourselves indirectly.

“The most difficult we do not deal in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.” Mark Twain

Just before school was out last year, in a project assignment several students simply, “completed it” they did not finish the task but answered what they thought was the question, they just wanted done. Whether it was right or wrong, good or bad, was not the issue it was over.

“Until you value yourself you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” M. Scott Peck

I read this quote and saw an answer, if you truly do not appreciate yourself, your time has little if any value even when you are self absorbed in using it frivolously you simply are taking up time not using it. Guessing at answers to a test to simply get done or rushing through just to be over still you wait just as the rest do so is there any benefit. A favorite catch word “I don’t care” should read “I really do not care about myself”. As we enter the middle of a week, our worlds is troubled and sore please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. Maybe change is around the corner sooner than we think?

Sitting at my kitchen table pondering

Bird Droppings June 10, 2011
Sitting at my kitchen table pondering

I am very much a creature of habit. I like my routines and seem to follow very similar pathways daily. I can understand when walking through the woods and seeing a rabbit run or deer trail I would myself be doing the same thing more than likely if I was running wild. For most of my adult life others have sought out my guidance on life issues. I was trained so to say between seminary and psychology and more recently education courses to be able to offer advice. All through my life I have always felt I had an intuitive side, an empathetic side that allowed me access too many peoples inner feelings and thoughts.
In working with emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children and many times adults this is a good thing, although many times it can leave you drained. But I have always felt I have been successful reaching students in all of my classes across nearly thirty five years of teaching and training. When in management I felt I was able to address issues with customers and staff in a more understanding way than simply one of profitability. This could have been my downfall back in the day. I was more concerned about people than dollars. I might borrow a few words from John Dewey and his book School and Society.

“The primary business of school is to train children in co-operative and mutually helpful living; to foster in them the consciousness of mutual interdependence; and to help them practically in making the adjustments that will carry this spirit into overt deeds.” John Dewey

It is about what children take out into the world more so than how they score on tests and what curriculum is followed or not followed. Radical educator and philosopher Ivan Illich adds:

“A second major illusion on which the school system rests is that most learning is the result of teaching. Teaching it is true may contribute to certain kinds of learning under certain circumstance. But most people acquire most of their knowledge outside school, and in school insofar as school, in a few rich countries has become a place of confinement during an increasing part of their lives.” Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

While Illich is somewhat off the spectrum from many folks standpoint he makes a valid point. In many cases schooling is simply occupying that period of time in a child’s life and doing little in terms of actual education. I try and maintain contact with kids after they leave high school through facebook and myspace for example. Recently I have been using these programs to find graduates of The Foxfire programs to some what surprising success.

“In this world, in order to enable society to develop, all its members have to assume responsibilities and make their contribution. If we do not make collective contributions then there will be no development.” The Dalai Lama, speaking to the Tibetan National Assembly in Dharamsala, May 1989
Each of us lives in a society, a community, a culture and as much as we choose so often to be individuals we are members of and interact within that group. It is the vitality of that group where the development and growth that is so intertwined with contributions physically, mentally, and spiritually of the members. Society exists because of interactions. Sounds like I am quoting John Dewey again.

“Compare society to a boat. Her progress through the water will not depend upon the exertion of her crew, but upon the exertion devoted to propelling her. This will be lessened by any expenditure of force in fighting among themselves, or in pulling in different directions.” Henry George

We have to be working together moving forward, backwards, sideways and as humans do so often much time is wasted fighting and arguing among ourselves and that motion or growth is limited.

“The greatest difficulty with the world is not its ability to produce, but the unwillingness to share.” Roy L. Smith

Watching high school students form clicks and groups and adults forming clubs or social groups we tend to be a selfish animals. We look so much to ourselves and what benefits us as a first rule of thumb even unconsciously. It can be by limiting friends and such to a degree we box ourselves into a tiny space, even by sharing a simple task which so often becomes a distant one.
TV humor even plays on this subject several times in watching reruns of Seinfeld and Will and Grace sit coms giving is a chore a burden and the characters are literally parasitical instead of symbiotic. As I looked for quotes and thoughts, this one popped up earlier this morning just before I ran the dog to the groomer.

“Societies that do not eat people are fascinated by those that do.” Ronald Wright

Wright was speaking literally yet interestingly enough we of modern society while we do not literally eat people we still do psychologically destroy them. As I look at how we respond to others so often it is how we see ourselves indirectly.

“The most difficult we do not deal in facts when we are contemplating ourselves.” Mark Twain

In a project, class room assignment several students simply “completed it” they did not finish the task but answered what they thought was the question they just simply wanted done. Whether it was right or wrong, good or bad was not the issue it was over.

“Until you value yourself you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” M. Scott Peck

I read this quote and saw an answer if you truly do not appreciate your self your time has little if any value even when you are self absorbed in using it frivolously you simply are taking up time not using it. Guessing at answers to a test to simply get done or rushing through just to be over, still you wait just as the rest do so where is there any benefit in being finished. A favorite catch phrase, I don’t care, should read, I really do not care about myself. As we enter the end of another week our world is troubled and sore, please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Is your imagination out of focus?

Bird Droppings April 12, 2011
Is your imagination out of focus?

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Years ago I saw this quote and as I was watching my own young children with Lego blocks as they were growing up and then seeing a pile of Lego blocks change in their hands to cars and houses and castles and dinosaurs it truly hit home. I have used Lego at times as a tool to get the thinking process going with students. I usually would start by placing a pile of blocks on a table and saying, ok be creative. It is amazing what transpires it seems that sometimes the little kid comes out and in others a vast out pouring of creativity and imagination as blocks are placed together to create castles, cars and monsters. Teachers and adults often have a more difficult time getting started on this exercise. We tend to want to start with a red block or a square block and spend our time sorting through the pile rather than just creating.

“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.” Lewis Carroll

I was sitting here thinking about Foxfire after reading several reflections from students in a former graduate class I had help teach at Piedmont College. Most teaching techniques require memory of items those things that are the content of the course and this is where and how you are assessed as a teacher and or student. Sadly it is not on how you use or can use that information in the real world around you. Years ago John Dewey focused on experience and how we use our experiences in education. The object was building on past experience and supplementing with current information and new material. I recall several years ago teaching Biology in summer school. Vocabulary is crucial as it is in any of the science classes in today’s world of testing. In many of the sciences the words are literally changing daily. In the most high school science books there are about three hundred vocabulary words. In preparing for today’s testing environment step one is know those words. Surprisingly if you know the vocabulary that will give you answers to seventy four percent of the questions on final exam for example in Biology.
Now the more difficult part is giving context to those words and bringing life to a Biology class which just happens to be the study of life. I used daily pre-quizzes and post-quizzes on vocabulary that last summer I taught Biology. Then I intermingled experiments and even outdoor activities tying it all together. An example is taxonomy which is a key word. I had a salamander and a lizard side by side for observation and research and this exercise we would do can have students remembering the differences between amphibians and reptiles for a lifetime. Once a teacher commented and said that is a great idea but they did not have access to lizards and salamanders. I asked, that teacher why not as I was holding a leopard gecko (a lizard). Amazingly that teacher never once asked to borrow my gecko or salamander. It is a great idea but it needs implementing.

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” Muhammad Ali
I recall the mystique of Ali in his prime watching news releases and his fights so many years ago. I enjoyed listening to the banter with his good friend and featured commentator Howard Cosell back and forth it wasn’t for several years that it came out Cosell and Ali were very close friends.

“My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. It’s the letter I use to spell yuzz-a-ma-tuzz. You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond ‘Z’ and start poking around! “Theodor Geisel

A few years back Stan Bernstein of “The Bernstein Bears” fame passed away. Over 200 books were written and illustrated by Stan and Jan, husband and wife, a children’s book team effort for real. However as I read the review of Stan’s death the story mentioned that their first book was published with a Children’s book editor at Random House Theodor Geisel who a few years later would be more so know as Dr. Seuss.

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Michelangelo

As legends go it is said Michelangelo would wander the quarries for days searching for blocks of marble not with a vision in mind of what he wanted to carve but looking for images within the blocks. The famous block of stone that became the statue of David and a single piece that would become his most famous and his only signed piece “The Pieta” took many days to for the great master sculptor to see.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” George S. Patton

I was thinking what if everyone did think alike in a war situation you would know immediately what the enemy was doing or on a football field immediately what the offense was doing so in effect there would be no winners and no losers and a rather drab game.

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Edgar Allan Poe

It was a few years ago I met over the phone a fellow who believed himself to be the incarnation of Edgar Allan Poe. It was most interesting as he looked the part as well. He too was a poet and writer of sorts but his income came from his gift as he called it. He was an idiot savant and could instantly compose a poem using your name as an acronym with each letter of you name starting the line of a poem and the poem then describing your personality. This was most weird to watch I have a video somewhere showing him being interviewed at Tufts University by the psychology department in amazement. However he always needed a starting point a sort of a mental kick start.

“People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.” William Butler Yeats

“Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.” Jessamyn West

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.” Mark Twain

So often we only think of artists writers and such as having imagination and yet we tend to stifle it in children by ridding the world of imaginary friends and wanting only reality as it may be, to be where and how children see and do. Let’s take away the Legos and only allow TV and video games.

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau would walk for days through his world seeing and meeting people learning daily about life and humanity and his beloved nature.

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.” Carl Sagan

Without imagination we would still be working on a flat map of the world concerned about sailing off and doing it without the use of light bulbs and Microsoft word and hybrid cars and plastics and polymers and so many things

“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them.” Pablo Picasso

Several of the great artists are studied in psychology as you can see in their work their slips from reality – Van Gogh as he rapidly dissipated into his own world – but in turn in his art we see how he thought as Picasso says.

“They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.” Francis Bacon

Sir Francis Bacon was not to far remove from the day when everyone thought the earth was flat and if you could see no land well do not go there for you will sail off the edge. I wonder what was over the edge. Each day we so often try and stay cozy in our box of our own reality and much like sailing over the edge there is so much outside the box. I remember one of the greatest toys of all time is those giant cardboard refrigerator boxes. They had so much more room to play in. But while we are content to do often with a bigger box, it is still a box until our imagination makes it into a castle or car. We sort of live in a world where we are much like hermit crabs when we outgrow our box we look for a bigger one still keeping the sanctity of the box. Now serious individuals are much like the hermit crab that carries along stinging sea anemones on its shell and when it outgrows a shell it moves but then moves the anemones as well. Those stinging anemones are to keep predators away and new ideas. If you need a box use a transparent one and or permeable membrane so you can see and hear and feel what really is there and for today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.

Ognorance versus the journey

Bird Droppings August 9, 2010
Ignorance versus the journey

“If I want to justify my existence, and continue to be obsessed with the notion that I’ve got to do something for humanity — well, teaching ought to quell that obsession — and if I can ever get around to an intelligent view of matters, intelligent criticism of contemporary values ought to be useful to the world. This gets back again to ……The best way to help mankind is through the perfection of yourself.” Joseph Campbell

It has been so many years ago, at first I thought my goal was to do something for mankind as in some great event or task. As I sit and wonder this evening I find in Campbell’s thought so often it is searching for and bettering your self that we truly help mankind. Earlier I wrote today to a friend about trying to understand and reduce ignorance. I seriously think it is funny how during political campaigns ignorance seems to be rampant.

“Unintelligent people always look for a scapegoat.” Ernest Bevin

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” Derek Bok

Working with children it becomes interesting as each day you see pieces of ignorance fall away only to be there again in the morning as parents and all those outside of school can rebuild during the night.

“Ignorance is never out of style. It was in fashion yesterday, it is the rage today and it will set the pace tomorrow.” Frank Dane

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

I live in a place which borders on ignorance and wants so terribly to cross over to the side of wisdom. It seems those in power always want to keep those ignorant folks in the dark hence for example the Dark Ages back in the day. During that period most could not even read or write and those that could were in power.

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” Benjamin Franklin

“Naiveté in grownups is often charming; but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity.” Eric Hoffer

Looking at politics Hoffer may be very right. It does seem that in every election we watch politicians play with words against rhetoric that sounds good to that group that is being addressed. I recall when the legislation to prevent the sale of assault weapons was up for renewal and how ironic that in the midst of anti terrorism it would fall by the wayside.
“The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is ignorance.” Brian Hwang

“When I was fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have him around. When I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” Mark Twain

In a search for knowledge and for understanding so many roads can be walked. We can search in books, in schools, in our families, and in life in general, but it must entail a search. For to assume you are there is to cease the journey and to cease is to assume you have reached the destination. We are born with a starting point, point A and when we die we have reached point B it is that which connects A and B that is crucial.

“Life is about the journey not the destination” Steven Tyler, Aerosmith

Funny thing in as I am sitting here in my writing spot I was talking with my son and Aerosmith’s greatest hits was playing in the background, coincidence maybe who knows but the journey continues.

“Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation…” Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces

I listen to the words and read the gibberish of the politicians and wonder if a hundred years ago or so would these same men and women be pushing for an Indian Territory and reservations. Today instead it is illegal immigration and Gay marriage that strike nerves in so many people. I was reading a National Geographic account of the salvaging of a slave ship. In 1698 humans were bought and sold for trinkets. Eleven thirteen inch bars of iron would buy a black man and forty pounds of glass beads a black women. On this particular ship the historians believe they were from the Ibo tribe in Western Africa. These people believed no one was greater than any other. It was their life philosophy that made them susceptible to being taken as slaves. This tribe was a peaceful people they were human beings bought and sold as things. Not until a war was fought were black men legally human beings and it was not until the trial of Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe that Indians received the legal term of human.

‎ “Only to the white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land ‘infested’ with ‘wild’ animals and ‘savage’ people. To us it was tame, Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.” Luther Standing Bear

I have become spoiled sleeping late and forgetting to see the sunrise. This morning I went out and sat for thirty minutes in the stillness of morning. Morning Doves were cooing around me and various other birds just waking up. A woodpecker started on the old black walnut trunk nearby our house and I felt at ease. So many thoughts passed through my mind sitting listening in the barely lit morning. Soon I will be back in my normal rising early and writing reading getting back into the groove so to say. So it is evening now and I must end my day may peace be with you all my friends and please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart.