Using pronouns as a cover up

Bird Droppings March 16, 2016
Using pronouns as a cover up

I have been off the computer for too many days. It was one of those days yesterday and a word caught my attention as I was listening to a friend talk. The word was them. I never realized the extent of prejudice till a pronoun was used. Such words as they, them, or those people never were clearly a term used to delineate who they or them was but it was obvious within moments. It was about then that “they” took over in that area or verbiage to that extent. In our current candidates political speeches they, them, those people, and other applications permeate the talk. I wrote a whimsical tale of observation this morning to a friend about watching a leave floating along a stream. My premise was do we allow the leaf to pass or do we interfere lifting the floating leave from its journey to observe or interact.

I recall I had lunch with a dear friend back a few years ago a friend who reflects with me on many topics. This person does not use they or them unless referring to political parties or politicians. I recall my oldest son came along as he was helping me at that time at school move and such to my new abode on C hall. This was over thirteen years ago. We talked of education at lunch of why so many teachers have difficulty and of why some parents have a hard time and why some children end up the way they do. We discussed scholars and philosophers and we talked of my son’s journey in school and now he too is a teacher.

We reflected on my own life’s journey and directions and that of several mutual friends and the paths they had taken. We compared our observations, made notes and reflected on new directions and pathways ahead. I raised the question as I heard earlier in the day of them and we talked of them and is there a difference in teaching us or them, is there a difference in attitudes between us and them.

It is so funny when two people, three actually my son was there talking about life and attitudes and we were very positive, it is hard to use pronouns of us and them it changed to we continually. We should do this or this, not us and or them.

“There is a destiny that makes us brothers, No one goes his way alone; All that we send into the lives of others, Comes back into our own.” Edwin Markham
As I talk with people, email and other wise communicate, I find I am no longer simply an observer I am now interacting and altering by my words. It is at that moment of destiny and of the future, my choice to use or not use a word or even discuss a subject and respond positively or negatively affects the journey for myself and that other person.
“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We need to sometimes take a stand and try to alter destiny it really isn’t destiny till it happens anyway. We can change the direction of the leaf floating by, a slight movement a word and perhaps light can permeate even the darkest of corners and a person who sees only in black and white may be allowed to see color and realize in an instant what has been missing in their journey. A good friend who is professor at a nearby university and I were discussing the butterfly effect. The flap of a butterfly’s wing in the Andes of Peru could create enough turbulence to alter the path of a hurricane. As I thought deeper, never simply let a leaf float by if you know only a few feet away is a waterfalls. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and pull a few leaves from the current when you get a chance as I will and always give thanks

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

The journey starts here now

Bird Droppings March 11, 2016
The journey starts here now

“Who, then, shall conduct education so that humanity may improve?” John Dewey

A very deep and broad question, I was thinking back to my own community and associations. We elect school board members who hire teachers and principals, they decide on schools to build and a place to build them and rules to govern schools. What and how does Dewey the great educator answer his own question?

“We must depend upon the efforts of enlightened men in their private capacity. ’All culture begins with private men and spreads outward from them. Simply through the efforts of persons of enlarged inclinations, who are capable of grasping the ideal of a future better condition, is the gradual approximation of human nature to its end possible…. Rulers are simply interested in such training as will make their subjects better tools for their own intentions.’ Even the subsidy by rulers of privately conducted schools must be carefully safeguarded. For the rulers’ interest in the welfare of their own nation instead of in what is best for humanity, will make them, if they give money for the schools, wish to draw their plans.” John Dewey

We are manipulated and educated as pawns in a society for the society’s own good and many top educators believe this. There are times when I believe that watching new teachers come and teach in a manner that has been that way for a hundred years, as we develop curriculums that are what was and will always be. Occasionally a bright note a light on the horizon, a student of education or two sees a different view a different point and follows a different path. Here I am thinking and routine keeps popping up.

Today as I do every day I let out our Huskie, Timber the dog we found on our door step, then I get to my reading of emails and writing. I recall only a few years back when we had two dogs and they could not be out at the same time or in the same room or space, I always thought that was interesting as they were raised together. Then I go to the computer and write trying to catch up on emails. What is of concern as I think is this is a trivial item to be concerned about? We want things to be smooth to run efficiently and effectively and “OUR WAY”; the further up the chain of command the bigger the “OUR WAY” is.

“The new idea of the importance of education for human welfare and progress was captured by national interests and harnessed to do a work whose social aim was definitely narrow and exclusive. The social aim of education and its national aim were identified, and the result was a marked obscuring of the meaning of a social aim.” John Dewey

Teachers and administrators like routine, sameness I call it and easy to can and be bottled. Borrowing from Sydney J, Harris “easier to stuff a sausage than cultivate a pearl” The student effectively gets lost in the mandated and regulated manipulations of society. The advent and proliferation of charter schools run by profit seeking entities only adds to this problem.

“Is it possible for an educational system to be conducted by a national state and yet the full social ends of the educative process not be restricted, constrained, and corrupted?” John Dewey

I find irony in the concept of a democratic classroom which I do believe can be successful. I find paradox in our efforts to be so democratic in our own country and yet we tend to bow to where majority wants even at the expense of free thought. We say individualism on one hand yet want the majority to rule and to dictate. As I was watching the election process in Iraq over the past few years and previously these concepts seemed to be exemplified. One faction has won and another literally did not vote in protest.

As I look at education and our own country how often do we do this and then when that which we did not elect nor even cared about happens we whine. In Georgia it is our state legislators passing laws for charter schools while continually cutting finding to public education, increasing class sizes, and in some cases eliminating funding to special needs. We complain and we are faced with a journey with neither provisions we do not want nor need. We can be often on that journey in a wrong direction for several years till another change, or pathway appears. Far too often we dictate direction in a top down scenario. In our own state a state representative was elected and almost beat by a write in vote for Charles Darwin because no one ran against him.

On the path the one on the journey is being told go this way and go that and should be the one directing the effort. It is so easy to raise an issue; following through with ideas is the more difficult aspect. Where in should the direction be set for example in education? I approach students in a manner that may be contradictory to some and way wrong to others. I offer here is where we need to go and ok class how do we get there. At first that is a difficult proposition, many want a map, a guide, a compass at least. The teacher can be that, facilitating in a guiding manner. But for learning to happen students have to be engaged and interactive in the journey each day.

“To get where they’re going, navigators first need to know where in the world they are.” Dragonfly web site,
http://www.units.muohio.edu/dragonfly/find/find/PAGETH1.shtml

If we substitute educators and or students for navigators an interesting situation occurs. Any journey needs a starting point and how we find where that is often is the hard part in education. A journey starts at the beginning, where it is going is wherever and whenever but it does start somewhere. As a teacher helps students find a starting point and then provides tools to navigate the journey. I was talking to a young man yesterday and trying to get him to understand it will be difficult to continue as he is and pass the class. His response was simple I am not coming back to school next year so what. So easy to say I quit and why was this kid left behind in a society that has the tools and means to educate and has for so many years. Many times I hear that is just the ways it is. For some time I have been a fan of Dr. Nel Noddings and her relationship philosophy of caring in terms of education.

“Without imposing my values on another, I must realize that my treatment of him may deeply affect the way he behaves in the world. Although no individual can escape responsibility for his own actions, neither can the community that produced him escape its part in making him what he has become.” Dr. Nel Noddings, Stanford University

It is not just the student who is to blame it is also we as an educational system have let him down. We to are to blame, we have supported the concept of No Child Left Behind and continue with the Race to the Top ideologies and in doing so leaving students by the wayside as we go. 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

Could it be neither wolf nor dog in education?

Bird Droppings March 10, 2016
Could it be neither wolf nor dog in education?

In light of watching current news and political turmoil I recalled a trip to the Atlanta Zoo. I was approached as I walked up the hill at the Zoo by an elderly man. I had never met this man previously and hope to never meet again. He saw my camera around my neck and asked if I saw the rare creature ahead. I asked him which one as several endangered animals are housed at the Atlanta Zoo. His next comment took me by surprise. It was a derogatory racially motivated jab at nonwhites. My first reaction was numbness. Why did this racist out of all the random people pick me to talk too. Synchronicity as I say. I watched him walk away down the hill thinking how in this modern world does a man like that even live? How can someone be so jaded and hate so much? Yet every time I sit down to my computer and read even a few social media posts there is a more virulent infectious racism. “But I am not racist.”

It has been sometime since I first read the book, Neither Wolf nor Dog, which happens to have been written by one of my favorite authors Kent Nerburn. Listening to political gibberish and sitting watching twitter comments through indigenous news casts the issue of the Native Peoples has never gone away and is perhaps equally as appropriate as we are in a situation as a nation with a current nontraditional president who happens to be of a different color than what many Americans would prefer and are afraid to say they are. So easy to say “I am not racist but his church affiliation cannot be over looked.” I was listening to several of my students discuss politics and always a little other reason somehow gets mentioned. Listening to polls and news similar rationales seem to prevail although cloaked in Republican or Democratic jargon. I saw a poster recently of an Indian woman stating something to the effect anyone not speaking Lakota, and listed numerous more dialects and languages needs to leave as you are trespassing illegally on Indian land.

“Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country?” Sitting Bull, (Tatanka Iyotake), Lakota Medicine man and chief

This great warrior and holy man died in 1890 shot by his own people as fore told in a vision he had many years before. At the time the federal government was concerned with his affiliation with the ghost dance cult, which was sweeping the reservations. Armed Sioux officers were sent to bring him in and as legend goes he was reaching for his grandson’s toy and the officers perceived a gun and shot him multiple times. Sadly most of the officers themselves were killed in mysterious ways the next year or so. Perhaps the officer’s deaths were retaliation for the killing of a great leader from the Sioux nation. Perhaps it is the paradox of the Indian wars.

It always seems interesting to me how it was patriotic for soldiers to kill Indians and yet the statement “I would die for my people and country,” is a very patriotic statement we still hear from American patriots down through history. Today around the world we are witnessing similar events in many countries and we are the invaders again. It just depends on which side of the fence you are sitting on as to who is patriotic and who is the enemy. Recently on a public broadcast a former rock star that is also an alleged draft dodger from the Viet Nam era and is very pro guns was blasting our current president and came awful close to threatening him. Many considered that tirade as patriotic, at least the NRA convention crowd applauded.

“To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle.” Confucius

“Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” Hans Margolius

With each word spouted from some conservative’s lips about lowering gas prices and yet never do we ask oil companies to decrease their ever increasing profits. I have not quite figured this out how we as citizens will save if oil companies increase profits. Perhaps it is looking for new lands to subdue which is the credo of so many conservatives and their religious affiliations. Taking away lands from wilderness to own and subdue and to plunder. Sometimes I wonder if we have run out of wilderness to conquer as I watch world events. Even the rumor mill is involving Haiti now as a possible new territory for the US. Do we need another General Custer and another battle of the little Big Horn? I was thinking back in my own time and war, Viet Nam, and to the Malai massacre but those folks had no weapons and only were standing around not fighting back. I am always amazed that Custer was a hero and yet he disobeyed orders and egotistically rode into battle outnumbered and was slaughtered. Perhaps it was the fact the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors had the newest weaponry, repeating rifles and Custer’s men still had breech loading single shot rifles. Interestingly enough word had it the unit was offered the new weapons but felt the old ones were good enough for what they were doing killing Indians.

“What white man can say I never stole his land or a penny of his money? Yet they say that I am a thief. What white woman, however lonely, was ever captive or insulted by me? Yet they say I am a bad Indian.” Sitting Bull

I went to school for a semester in Texas in 1968 and experienced racism I had never seen before to that degree. Hatred for Indians nearly one hundred years after the wars were over. Geronimo and Chief Joseph were both refused on their death beds by sitting presidents to return to their sacred lands for fear of up risings. Nearly seven years ago on a Monday a South Texas town abolished an anti-Hispanic segregation law more than seven decades after it was enacted in Edcouch Texas. More recently Arizona enacted even stricter laws that are currently in court and today before the US Supreme Court. Back in the day we were the illegal immigrants and we stole a land and destroyed culture after culture taking and subduing. In Georgia government and in several other states today they want to forget that type of history in US History classes since it ruins our image (European white) as an elite people.

In 1973 I met the contingency of Creeks who were working at the Okmulgee Indian Mounds in Macon Georgia, we became friends and I was honored to be invited to take medicine at the Green Corn dance. Nearly 150 years earlier under Andrew Jackson’s orders the Creeks were taken from Georgia to Oklahoma, the now infamous Trail of Tears. With the Creeks gone all the land became available. I found searching for information on my Leni Lenape, great, great grandmother an article about my great great grandfather George Niper who lived to be one hundred and fourteen years old and was the last living person to have voted for Andrew Jackson. I found it interesting Jackson was a Democrat; I do not think he would be in today’s politics.

“Now that we are poor, we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die, we die defending our rights.” Sitting Bull

I wonder what slogans were used in the 1880’s in presidential elections, Grant wanted a third term and Garfield supported Grant interesting how Garfield’s speech for Grant got him the nomination over Grant and elected. Tariffs was the main issue, high tariffs was what Garfield backed and possibly that which he was assassinated for. The plight of the Native Peoples was a small issue during the years recovering from the governmental corruption of Grants time. Government seems to be by nature corrupt. We watch as senators and congressmen argue over health care and yet they have universal health care for life. Maybe if on equal footing legislation would be different and maybe if the threat of you could lose yours was on the table things would be different.

“A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky. I was hostile to the white man…we preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came…They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight.” Crazy Horse, Tashunwitko

Interesting how an invaded people fought back yet we condemned them and how history changes the views. I have been reading a book that I entitled today’s wandering about, Neither Wolf nor Dog, by Kent Nerburn. It is an interesting book about an old man’s effort to explain who his people really are. Nerburn was asked to write the words of an elderly Indian, a member of the Sioux nation, to explain why and how. One day maybe someone will offer explanations for the issues of today that go beyond the political views of warring parties and ideologies as we wander today. I am sitting with the lingering aroma of sage and haunting flute music of Carlos Nakai in the background please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and please always remember to give thanks namaste.

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

Teaching is making a difference each day

Bird Droppings March 9, 2016
Teaching is making a difference each day

“Dialogue, is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world” Paulo Freire

A Brazilian educationalist and one of the most influential thinkers of the late twentieth century made famous the term dialogue in his writing. As I read a bit about Freire this morning a word in his vernacular that is interesting, praxis, for teacher’s praxis is that horrible battery of tests for certification. For Freire a meaning with import, “acts which shape and change the world”

“Man must prove the truth, i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice…. All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mystics, find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice…. The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” Karl Marx, 1845 Theses on Feurbach: II, VII, XI

It is through thinking that events change and draw meaning it is not simply thinking but applying these thoughts.

“It is not simply action based on reflection. It is action which embodies certain qualities. These include a commitment to human wellbeing and the search for truth, and respect for others. It is the action of people who are free, who are able to act for themselves. Moreover, praxis is always risky. It requires that a person ‘makes a wise and prudent practical judgment about how to act in this situation” Carr and Kemmis 1986

Wise and prudent are not often used terms in most human situations. It is infrequent that most people go about thinking in terms of world good even community good we live in this more self-oriented society, a society of hedonism.

“Dialogue in itself is a co-operative activity involving respect. The process is important and can be seen as enhancing community and building social capital and to leading us to act in ways that make for justice and human flourishing.” Mark K. Smith, 1997

There are pieces here I started with a word dialogue and have moved rather rapidly through the concept of praxis but reading Mark Smith’s comments the idea of human flourishing impresses me. I find it is what we do that perpetuates the species and ideals and thoughts of the human kind. I did a questionnaire for the state department of education on Thursday last week. The questions were discussing standards and assessment and such combine that with teachers who are so uptight with only five weeks or so left two till end of course tests. This is now standard in most states but part of quantifying but I question are we making strides in education in this manner. It becomes all about cramming pieces of information into the minuscule brains of teenagers. I recall Sydney J. Harris’s comparison to stuffing sausages. In our great effort to quantify we have stripped quality.
“Educators have to teach. They have to transform transfers of information into a ‘real act of knowing” Paulo Freire

So in effect cramming and pouring vast quantities of information into students to take a test that had to be pushed up due to calendar and state parameters makes a lot of sense. How much water can be poured in a one liter bottle and how many state officials will it take to figure out that one. I recall a summer or two ago reading tests to students with learning disabilities almost a paradox in and of its self “reading graduation tests”. I looked across at my water bottle and that thought hit me can we put more than a liter of water in a liter bottle. Immediately I was thinking freeze it water expands when chilled then heat it again expansion and so how do we put a gallon of information in a one liter container or is it actually ten gallons of material?

It was back in the winter on a trip to the mountains and a walk through visit to the Foxfire museum that the reality of doing this hit it is possible to fit ten gallons of knowledge in a one liter container. The museum curator and guide held up a copper device and talked about the mainstay of mountain life years gone by, “moon shining” the device he held up was a condenser used in making white lightening, grain alcohol, or moon shine. In theory you can condense and distill those ten gallons to whatever capacity you want. You teach the necessary aspects borrowing from Freire, “transform transfers of information into a ‘real acts of knowing”. This is the key taking the content and applying context then it will be remembered and provide the latitude to advance thinking and that persons direction in life and to making a difference. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and be sure to always give thanks namaste.

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

Potential is only that unless it is acted upon

Bird Droppings March 8, 2016
Potential is only that unless it is acted upon

“Love is a complex experience which seems to follow no rules but its own. Romantic love can have the power of a hurricane or the tenderness of a soft wet wind. I have known, too, a chance introduction which instantly and magically merged into a lifelong friendship. And I’ve known love that refused to blossom over decades despite close, frequent contact. Then suddenly, this same person I had not considered significant became a treasured friend.” James Kavanaugh, A Lifetime Isn’t Long Enough To Love you

It was nearly fourteen years ago I went for an interview to be accepted into a Master’s Degree program at Piedmont College. I failed my interview. I had already been in school for over a year in the program and somehow I had just failed the entrance interview. Perhaps in my zeal for the program I had forgotten the interview process. I called my advisor and an appointment was made with the Dean. I was extremely fortunate to sit in with the Dean of the Education department and gain acceptance to the program officially. A few months later I faced the professor who failed me on the interview. Much like Kavanaugh’s thought we have become good friends and in effect he reintroduced me to a long forgotten bit of my past in the poet James Kavanaugh. I have now many of his books in my library and this particular one caught my attention. The above is the first paragraph of the introduction to this book.

As I was thinking of potential it is so much on how we perceive and see the world and those around us. It is the acceptance and caring we share and that we allow others to participate in. Potential a simple word yet so often robbed from students from friends as we impose our own priorities and limitations on relationships on communication and on life itself.

“There comes that mysterious meeting in life when someone acknowledges who we are and what we can be, igniting the circuits of our highest potential.” Rusty Berkus

As parents, teachers and friends we need to be igniters for others and when needed be a self-igniter for us. Each day I watch teachers and other students limit the potential of others. Often indirectly and without thought we do this.

“Rough diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles.” Sir Thomas Browne

A number of years ago in 1905, a miner unearthed in South Africa a baseball size rock, pulled from the ground covered in mud. It may have been discarded but when an observant miner carefully washed and cleaned the stone it turned out to be the largest diamond ever found. The Cullian Diamond weighed in at over 3000 carats. When cut the diamond was made into several now famous cut stones most of which reside in the crown jewels of Great Britain including the golf ball size diamond in the scepter of the Queen.

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” Liane Cardes

“The treacherous, unexplored areas of the world are not in continents or the seas; they are in the hearts and minds of men.” Allen E. Claxton

So often it is within us that we become limited. We ourselves become the stumbling blocks for our own potential. It takes perseverance and effort to many times over come our own fears and inadequacies. Often children are put down and carry that into later events and undertakings, a sense of inadequacy and potential is squashed.

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Steven R. Covey

A virtual business empire has been built by Covey helping and inspiring people to become aware of their own potential unlocking what they hold inside. Great coaches in sports and life through understanding of people achieve success with teams that may not have the greatest athletes but have a concerted effort for achieving their potential. In a recent college football game, a seemingly invincible team was upset by a smaller college. It was that team’s effort to reach their true potential and another team thinking less of them because of who they thought they were.

“A pint can’t hold a quart — if it holds a pint it is doing all that can be expected of it.” Margaret Deland

“It’s the moment you think you can’t that you realize you can.” Celine Dion

“What you can become you are already.” Hebbel Friedrich

There are really no secrets to unlocking our own potential, it is there waiting. So many years ago I remember my father saying never say “I can’t”, “you can achieve anything you set your mind too”. .

“The cynic says, ‘One man can’t do anything.’ I say, ‘Only one man can do anything.’” John W. Garner

John Garner was the author of numerous books on a range of subjects including Leadership and motivation. Garner states it is there inside us “Only one man can do anything”.

“The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we could become.” Ben Herbster

“Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make very small use of their possible consciousness and of their soul’s resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger.” William James
We so get into the habit of accepting limitations, of listening to those around us who keep us back. We should instead seek people and friends who uplift and raise the standards for us and those around us. Try and look for people who also want to reach their potential.

“It’s not what you’ve got; it’s what you use that makes a difference.” Zig Ziglar

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you’ve obviously never been in bed with a mosquito.” Michelle Walker

We each can make a difference within ourselves and with others by not holding friends, family and or students back. Instead each of us should by helping them to reach their potential, by not having expectations that limit growth and achievement. We can accomplish anything by reaching for the sky. Today it is the near the end of the week let us all be more aware of those around us

“Normal day let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.” Mary Jean Iron

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 there a difference between progressive and traditional teachers?

Bird Droppings March 7, 2016
Is there a difference between progressive and traditional teachers?

In a ninth grade literature class that I happened to co-teach in, I was introduced to the book Freedom Writers Diary and the film based on the book. In some ways the story is similar to the story of Foxfire. Erin Gruell a first year brand new teacher in an inner city school circa 1992 is baffled as to how and approach literature with her classes. Elliot Wiggington in 1966 was just as baffled as a new teacher of literature in the mountains of Rabun County Georgia. I recall my own first time teaching verbal students I should add as I taught several years working with severe and profoundly disabled students who all were nonverbal. I will say my earliest teaching experiences with non-verbal students did instill in me an appreciation for empathy and intuitiveness. That first verbal student class picture is on my wall in my room today from 1976. Over forty years ago I saw the same issues Wiggington and Gruell faced walking into a class of students who did not want to be there. Lesson one is always the hardest.

“The work teachers and students do together enables learners to make connections between the classroom work, the surrounding communities, and the world beyond their communities.” Foxfire Core Practice three

I was given a class of thirteen I was told that they were learning disabled students. As day one progressed I found someone put down the wrong disability on most of these kids. My principal emphasized reading and I found very quickly the highest reading level in the entire class was three or four years behind. I was not privileged to see folders of students I was to only know they are learning disabled. Our readers were the Dick and Jane type books from first grade and my youngest student was twelve. I learned day one these books we were reading would not work period after having one nearly miss my head. At least my teacher’s podium was not set on fire as happened to Elliot Wiggington back in his first teaching job. When I went home that night I swore day two would be different.

“Mankind likes to think in terms of extreme opposites. It is given to formulating its beliefs in terms of Either-Ors, between which it recognizes no intermediate possibilities. When forced to recognize that the extremes cannot be acted upon, it is still inclined to hold that they are all right in theory but that when it comes to practical matters circumstances compel us to compromise. Educational philosophy is no exception. The history of educational theory is marked by position between the idea that education is development from within and that it is formation from without; that it is based upon natural endowments and that education is a process of overcoming natural inclination and substituting in its place habits acquired under external pressure.” John Dewey, Experience and Education, 1938

So many college education programs across the country teach a classroom should be like this with a picture of rows of desks all neat in a row and board in front and so forth like so many classrooms we all have seen. Dewey labeled this traditional education and points to the industrial revolution as the basis for this. In current educational reform which in effect is not reform in terms of improving education for children but an effort to streamline and make more efficient the processes of education so as to be more profitable for corporations now buying into education through charter schools. In effect even a stronger sense of traditional education except now imagine the ideal reform classroom banks of computer carousels with students focused on screens room after room and somewhere a “teacher” monitoring programming of computers. No longer would certified teachers be needed only a programmer. Room after room all sitting in rows focused on the screen. Definitely not the classroom I would want for my kids or grandkids.

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

This is why perhaps I am drawn to John Dewey’s writing. In the turn of the century he knew education was the key to democracy and the key to the future. Dewey set a lab school at the University of Chicago that still is operating. It was after several years and a graduate school course that Elliot Wiggington realized he was using ideas from John Dewey.

“The work teachers and learners do together clearly manifests the attributes of the academic disciplines involved, so those attributes become habits of mind.” Foxfire Core Practice two

I found on my own it was about learner choice and interaction between students and teachers that learning occurred not in some magically programmed curriculum guide. I asked on day two what my students liked to read and nothing was the basic answer from all of them. So what do you like to do was question two. Now we started to get some answers. A rush of favorites started spilling out wrestling, cars, girls, fast cars, baseball, football and it grew quickly. So day three I brought magazines about cars, wrestling and I did leave playboy at my house but I was tempted. By the end of year reading levels soared and my principal was so excited she ordered next set of Dick and Jane books.

As I watched the film Freedom Writers my thoughts went back to why did this teacher succeed and why did Wiggington succeed. As I looked up information on the Freedom Writers I found in the references a list of teachers on the Wikipedia page. Listed in the references and for further information Ken Carter, education activist and former high school basketball coach portrayed in the 2005 film, Coach Carter, Joe Louis Clark, high school principal portrayed in Lean on Me (film), Ron Clark (teacher), portrayed in the 2006 film, The Ron Clark Story, Pierre Dulaine, dancer and dance educator, Jaime Escalante, high school teacher portrayed in the 1988 film, Stand and Deliver, Marilyn Gambrell, parole officer-turned high school teacher portrayed in the 2005 Lifetime movie, Fighting the Odds: The Marilyn Gambrell Story, and LouAnne Johnson, writer, teacher and former U.S. Marine featured in the 1995 film, Dangerous Minds. All of these teachers also were successful with their classes. Why were these teachers successful and others perhaps trying to emulate have not succeeded.

“As Foxfire grew and gained national recognition, beleaguered teachers all across the country looked at The Foxfire Magazine, and saw an opportunity to change things. They started producing their own magazines in an attempt to “do Foxfire.” Most of these teachers met with partial or little success because they had missed the very heart of why Foxfire succeeded—student choice.” Foxfire Fund website

After ten summers of Foxfire teacher’s courses I have found only a few teachers use the ideas and are successful and it comes back to allowing students to take some ownership.

“The success of the Foxfire program was due in large part to the fact the students chose to create a magazine. Since the magazine was their choice, the students were deeply invested in the work of creating it. The magazine product itself was not the solution to classroom woes that so many teachers thought it would be. Kaye Carver Collins, an early magazine student and later a Foxfire staff member for 13 years, explained the problem like this: ‘It seemed that people couldn’t understand the importance of the difference between the magazine, which was the choice we made, and the fact that we made a decision.’” Foxfire Fund website

After being in education and training for nearly forty five years I have found it is much easier to ask someone to do something than tell them. I have found it is easier if it is of interest to that person and if it applies to that person outside of educational setting even easier to teach.

“The work of the classroom serves audiences beyond the teacher, thereby evoking the best efforts by the learners and providing feedback for improving subsequent performances.” Foxfire Core Practice eight

Hanging on my wall over my head in my classroom the Foxfire Core Practices and another poster of children learn what they live. One poster the Foxfire one shows me I am a learner as well as a teacher, more a facilitator. Dr. Laura Nolte’s poster shows me to set the example the children are watching. So progressive versus traditional where does this lead?

“The traditional scheme is, in essence, one of imposition from above and from outside. It imposes adult standards, subject-matter, and methods upon those who are only growing slowly toward maturity. The gap is so great that the required subject-matter, the methods of learning and of behaving are foreign to the existing capacities of the young. They are beyond the reach of the experience the young learners already possess. Consequently, they must be imposed; even though good teachers will use devices of art to cover up the imposition so as to relieve it of obviously brutal features.” John Dewey, Experience and Education, 1938

Teaching should not be simply a control issue. Education needs to be less of a prison and more oriented around creating an atmosphere of learning. Down through history developmentalists including Piaget and Erickson have shown children are learning different than adults and in effect are developing in their learning styles and means. Yet we assume they are operating on an adult level almost from day one. I have brought up several issues why some teachers, who are progressive are successful and others not and why is traditional education not succeeding but simply staying almost on a level progression even reformers ideas are not impacting just making someone somewhere wealthy. I have wandered a bit today and will clarify in days to come trying to raise some questions. As today progresses 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

Have we sold our souls for a few trinkets?

Bird Droppings March 5, 2016
Have we sold our souls for a few trinkets?

Morning is a special time for me always a new beginning. That might be far too easy of a way to say what I am trying to say. Today I went out a bit early from the house to take out the garbage and just stand in the silence for a moment. As I drove from the house an owl was sitting on the road and flew away as I drove up giving me an interesting start today. But for me several aspects of that start to the day almost are routine like taking our dog out, going to QT, then sitting down for writing and reading each has become a significant part of my day. I walked out this morning and felt the coolness of perhaps hopefully the end of our winter as we close in on spring. Across the sky clouds muffled the stars but the silence was literally alive. The stars were crystal clear in spaces between clouds in the morning darkness and the moon barely a smile sort of snuck a peek through a veil of darkness.

“Life is raw material. We are artisans. We can sculpt our existence into something beautiful, or debase it into ugliness. It’s in our hands.” Cathy Better

Yesterday I got into a discussion about a Bird Dropping from a few days back dealing with sacredness. In the course of the discussion I began to realize how much we have in our hedonism given away. I wrote a paper on the stripping of soul from students as we demand and seek higher test scores as a means of showing learning. I listened last night to update on the years ago shootings at Virginia Tech and history of a young man and his anguish and angst that lead to it. They pointed to his observations and experiences with the hedonism of our society. He in his questioning and counseling was mentioning over and over in his rants the materialism of our society. I began seriously thinking have we sold our souls for a few mere trinkets?

“It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.” Evangeline Cory Booth

“Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality–not as we expect it to be but as it is–is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.” Frederick Buechner

Last night I sat down thinking and trying to put down words perhaps meaningful written pictures that may have significance. I emailed several people last night just touching base opening discussion about this idea of sacredness. But as I thought the interactions and intertwining of life that occurs daily, those we seemingly miss and ignore. I was talking with several high school students about how life is much like a puzzle interlocked one piece to the next and we tend too often miss seeing the tiny yet needed interconnections.

Watching the news and each new report bits and pieces of how and why the events of the past few days have spilled out around the world. I recall many years back when I suggested psychiatric treatment for a student and was told not my call. Six years later he is sentenced to three life sentences for killing a young mother and nearly killing two children he baby sat for. Sometimes those at the top may need to listen to those of us doing the labor at the bottom.

“If, after all, men cannot always make history have meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.” Albert Camus

“The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” Thomas Carlyle

As I moved through the day yesterday sensing something was amiss and even after knowing it is difficult to offer from a distance any sort of comfort to those in need other than keeping them on our minds and in our hearts. Most people as the day finished never missed a stride I am sure around the world there was tears from family, friends and those that are experiencing hardship and harm. But as I tried to explain even in tragedy there is purpose and meaning. That concept is difficult to explain to people who live in a materialistic world view.

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” Crowfoot

I have used this quote several times and each time it seems appropriate. I remember as a child chasing fireflies across a meadow gathering those life forces in a jar to light my room and then releasing into the night watching them float away in the darkness. Life is seeing beyond the tangibles and foibles of our existence. Life is not the shirt, shoes or coat we wear. Life is about what is in your heart. Life is about your soul.

“It’s not how long life is but the quality of our life that is important.” Roger Dawson

“Life is made of ever so many partings welded together.” Charles Dickens

In 1996 my brother passed away and my family was faced with a new beginning. We all had built our lives around my brother. He was severely disabled and our being in Georgia was directly related to him. As we celebrated his life reviewing the intricate webs that were laid each moment and the many people touched and lives affected what seemingly had been was now an enormous out pouring of life. Every day a new piece of that puzzle falls into place. It may be another teacher of special needs children, another person recalling the time spent helping with John’s rehab and how it impacted their life. Within our difficulties and disasters always there is hope.

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really merely commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the planning, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chain of events, working through generations and leading to the most outer results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

We each approach the morning in a different way I embrace the day and begin with my writing seeing each moment then unfold trying to understand each tiny piece. Since 1996 I have taken many different roads and journeys and as I look back each has had meaning and direction and led me to now. I told a dear friend while I am always wondering where I am to be next it is not because I do not enjoy what I am doing but because I may be needed elsewhere. It is about making and experiencing the journey.

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

Several years ago I received a call from my nephew that a close friend had been in a car accident and as the night proceeded I spent that night in the Athens Regional Hospital holding a young man’s hand as monitors beeped and droned and he lay unmoving. We were all hoping that the numbers on the dials would change, they did not. When I arrived home on my computer there was a sticky yellow note from my oldest son, this Steven Tyler quote from an Aerosmith song. As I think even farther back and as I was discussing sacred yesterday with a student, in 1968 as I left for Texas for college I received a book from my parents which reads on page 596.

“To everything there is season, and a time, To every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Many years ago the late Pete Seeger a folk singer and environmentalist wrote music and borrowed the words, a song was born “Turn, Turn, Turn” soon to be released by how appropriate “The Byrd’s”. “To every season turn, turn, turn there is a reason turn, turn, turn and a time for every purpose under heaven” the song became a hit.

“Nothing is beneath you if it is in the direction of your life.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” Robert Frost

So often a poets words offer comfort or give direction back to a journey set off course one moment. There is no filling of a void yet when looking at life and all that has been, when looking at the journey to now there truly is no void. There is a turn in the road a new direction all that has led to this point has not changed and is there behind us lifting us guiding us strengthening us as we continue our experiences. I remember back to a photo of my son crossing a stream in north Georgia already sopping wet from falling in but still intent on making it across. He clambered stone by stone crossing the stream and a favorite Zen saying I often attach to the photo.

“You can never cross a stream the same way twice.” Zen Saying
We all can cross in our own time and there are times when a hand is welcome. Years ago I set up a website for a youth group and today I will close with the starting line from that website, “Friends are never alone”. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and today keep those friends who may need extra support close at hand and always give thanks namaste.

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

Teaching and life are simply feeding wolves

Bird Droppings March 4, 2016
Teaching and life are simply feeding wolves

I have heard and seen this in many forms. “’One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a debate that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.’” From Jodie Schmidt, 2005

Many years ago in my travels and in reading emails I read this story sent by a friend. Only a few days ago it was on Facebook. As I read over this short story and by chance I was thinking about how children respond to various situations. We adults then commend or condemn them, feed them. Those two words are so closely spelled yet so far apart in meaning and understanding. Yesterday morning a young lady came in and was visibly upset but more of a moping kind of upset. Seems her boyfriend and she were sort of at odds. I shared the Thomas Merton quote I have hanging on my wall and have used here so many times.

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we see in them.” Thomas Merton

I asked the young lady to look up Merton and see some of his other writings and who he was which she did before school and then she left with a copy and a Kent Nerburn book, Calm Surrender. As we talked I thought of this quote about the wolves inside of us and how we all are fighting as she told me of conflicts in her life and in her boyfriends.
Several days back my wife and I were discussing kids as we tend too and the topic of learned behavior came up. We teach kids through our actions and inactions and yet we then punish them for the same exact thing. An attorney was on TV saying parents who knew kids were drinking at a party at their house should not be held responsible for any actions of drunken teenagers. The discussion was on a point, counter point discussion and then the other side mentioned that the person who was involved in the accident had been arrested previously for DUI and the parents knew that so there was a history established.
So I sat listening to this back and forth, an underage drinking party led to a teenage driver killing a child. The underage drinker who was driving had left the party at that particular parent’s home with their knowledge he was drunk and had been drunk previously, both parties were found guilty. On the one hand the defense attorney was saying kids will be kids and on the other a dead child.

I look back at the story which wolf is being fed. We are responsible as teachers, parents and we and others need to be more actively involved in keeping such situations from happening. Whether it be teenage love or teenage drinking there is harm being done around the corner and often under our noses. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

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

Why is it when putting a puzzle together a piece is always left behind?

Bird Droppings March 4, 2015
Why is it when putting a puzzle together a piece is always left behind?

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another!” Gail Sheehy, American journalist, author

It has been a most interesting couple of months even weeks for me. I was sitting here thinking about time spent with my grandkids it is always exciting, enjoyable and a learning experience. We play, snuggle, play, go to the park, read books and each new thought process and hand gesture lends to excitement. I sat and watched a week or so ago as my wife and granddaughter talked at the park and then when we got home they were playing with some puzzles and one was a puzzle of letters and animals. She knew each letter and the only animals that threw her off were a skunk and quail. I was floored when she said iguana for the letter I. Then on Facebook my daughter in-law posted how our granddaughter in North Carolina was being the focus of everyone’s attention as they went shopping. Having been through as a parent so many years ago it is not about having forgotten but watching as a grandparent it is so much more meaningful and after the past few weeks realizing while understanding the circle of life there is much more to do.

I walked out the door this morning to three deer grazing by the house. All in all it was really not a surprise as we have had deer around the house since we moved in nearly eight years ago. Just recently the pine trees once so thick you could not see ten feet into them were thinned and timbered. Now you can see a hundred feet into the forest and opened alley ways to allow for tree growth were cut along entire section of land. On Sunday as I went to watch a sunrise I saw my first coyote since living out here. I have heard them almost nightly but not seen one. So my fear of disturbing the wildlife from the timbering may be somewhat displaced. The only animal I had not seen many of was wild turkeys until this past year and they are back for sure.

It has been nearly four years since we were informed our principal was being promoted and going to the county office. This was a significant advancement for him and a great loss for us. As I looked around my room this morning and wonder what would it be like to move again to another room, another school and or even retire I think, many of us were going through this. As teachers in today’s crazy educational setting we are wondering who will be going here or there, why and when and with class size increases whose jobs are safe and whose are not. As it seems so far this year we may be gaining some positions due to student increases and we are getting our preferred classes and everything seems to be very stable.

As so many teachers do each year I am hoping I will be doing what I am this year and can stay in my room. I recall boxing up nearly nine years of photos and moving many gigs of data to a portable hard drive from computers around the room four summers ago. I had to move my eland head. It had been situated on a wall among former student’s photos. The eland is a head and shoulder mount and very big. I raised him from a two year old and when he died a good friend said he would be impressive mounted and well he looks pretty impressive, the largest African antelope. He was six foot at the shoulder and 1400 pounds when he was alive. My numerous aquariums and my pets had to be moved as well. A few I scattered about school a few in my smaller room and some came home.

It has been two years since I was home for two weeks on sick leave. I had gone nearly two weeks since had any students came my class room. Those mornings were strange lying in bed or in a recliner at home, doing a bit of work and then napping and each day realizing I need to change my way of living. I have since made a concerted effort to eat better. As I was coming into our driveway late yesterday a large hawk sailed over the house. At first I thought it was a buzzard but the movement was more hawk like and as I pulled in the hawk settled on a tree directly in front of me. A big red tailed hawk just sitting about eighty feet from me watching and gazing at me through my windshield. As I opened the door to the car he flew off.

I often wonder about such coincidences in life. What if I had been thirty minutes sooner no hawk or ten minutes later again no hawk. I by chance was in a window of time on the same wave length at least for a moment as the hawk. Maybe it was the fact I was thinking about so many Native American ideas and teaching about the sacred in life and was excited talking to several old friends who are teaching and or working at the University level in that area. Maybe it was simply coincidence the hawk sat and watched me. As I left the grocery store yesterday evening the sunrise was ok but nothing exciting. By chance I forgot a ream of paper for my son. Coming out the second time the sunset was intense synchronicity at its best.

As I write this morning I did manage a few moments outside watching the clouds move around the little dipper an interesting arrangement literally six lines of clouds in a circle around the constellation and quickly dissipated along with a faint smile of the moon again a few minutes later or earlier and I would have missed it. A few more moments and fog set in.

“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours….Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.” Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Holy Man 1863-1950

I have used this quote many times borrowing from the wisdom of Black Elk including at my father’s funeral and my youngest son’s wedding. It has been many years since I described myself as a circle, alone unopened in a short poem I wrote one night sitting alone in my apartment in Pennsylvania. As I am sitting listening to the running water from my room’s tanks and native flute music of Carlos Nakai it is a peaceful feeling wandering through memories and thinking about where and when and how. Which path should I choose to walk today, tomorrow and the day after? What new trail or should I stay secure in the old.

“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected. You must teach the children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know, the earth does not belong to man, and man belongs to the earth.” Chief Seattle

I sat back and thought about my hawk yesterday and how we are all intertwined on this globe, the hawk and I my students at school each an aspect of who we are and why we are here. I look forward to the journey today as always and one day way off when a destination does approach it will be when it is. But for today I am occupied with the journey 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

I am pondering about Dr. Carl G. Jung and “school reform”. I find the answer is simple, CARING.

Bird Droppings March 2, 2016
I am pondering about Dr. Carl G. Jung and “school reform”.
I find the answer is simple, CARING.

“If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” Carl G. Jung

Over the years I have seen this with myself, so often those attributes we see and are upset with we too have within ourselves. It is like a mirror, we are seeing them in others what we have within ourselves. I designed a few years back a student referral slip to refer teachers when they are inappropriate. I recall a detention I was supervising a year back as we now do our detention teacher by teacher. I asked students why they were in detention somehow I have a problem with sending kids to another teacher for after school punishment, several days after they had issue and I know Dr. Jung would argue with me on this point. It goes against quite a bit of my training and education but was school policy. Sadly it is not consistent as to why students are in detention.

In that detention ninety percent were in detention for being late to first period. I always love it when the excuses come up. “Well I pick up a friend and they are always late” as this person strolls in with a Quick Trip coffee cup or Burger king bagel, you want to say to them in that teenage vernacular we all know, whatever. So I went to my duty and nearly twenty kids were in detention. The idea is to sit do your work and no talking. Of course a few wise kids who want to make cute little noises mimicking bodily functions are always there. The students soon settle in and most are reading or studying relatively quickly.

With ten minutes left I offer a ticket out the door always a great Learning Focused Schools period ender and learning tool. My ticket out the door was a question. What is the life expectancy of the pygmy shrew? There were blank looks across the room. Ok I offered some help how about within two months. Fourteen, a student asks and is in his way. Five minutes left in detention and they ask for another question. I was sort of amazed soon twenty or so questions later and fifteen minutes after detention is over I tell them time is up when kids are interested even in detention they want to learn. Yes there is a point to this story.

“It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.” Carl G. Jung

Is seems far too often we as teachers take the easy route the path of least resistance and settle into a groove often far too deep. The idea of sharing detention duty is one such easy route. Being one who actually looks at meaningful data I do crazy things like see which teachers have the most detentions. It always amazes me how six or seven teachers in a given period consistently have the most students in detention. Conversely the same fifty or so do not use the detention system as a means of punishment. I do my research every year when it is time for me to do detention and write a report offering simple psychological truths. Punishment works best when in conjunction with behavior not days later and not in a totally different environment.

Several years back for my capstone in my Piedmont Master’s program I had a slide and used a quote about students have to want to be there to truly learn. It is interesting how learning occurs in AP classes and Honors classes and seems to be less in those classes where we expect failure. Yesterday and in the past week in the news several large school districts nationwide closed hundreds of schools opting for school reform. Teachers are blamed, chastised, fired, and in some cases loose certification. Where these schools are closing they are offering as a replacement programs designed by businessmen who are oriented around a profit mode, private run charter schools. I will admit there are some charter schools that are very successful and I look at why. Charter schools can limit enrollment to students they choose, are not subject to massive standardized testing schools being closed have been subjected. I might add meaningless tests. Learning is what occurs from point A to point B not what occurred at point B which is what these schools have been measured on.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” Carl G. Jung

I suggest that we are looking at the word reform incorrectly. We should be looking at why schools are not successful first as Jung points out looking at ourselves. In the American Journal of Education, November issue 2006 an there is an article entitled “’Drop-Outs” and ‘Push-Outs”, Finding hope at a school that actualizes the ethic of care” by Wanda Cassidy and Anita Bates. The school in the article is focusing on high risk kids but providing an atmosphere of a caring environment and is being successful. During my tenure at Piedmont College I participated in a Foxfire course, entitled Foxfire teaching techniques. In one exercise the students list attributes of good teachers and good students. In the responses now over twelve years the same words are used. A good teacher listens and amazingly enough so do good students. At the Whytecliff Education Center, the school this article was based on, students in interviews said the number one attribute of a good teacher is someone who will listen.

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.” Carl G. Jung

For teachers often and for students trying to see and understand the other can be difficult. I watch this every day. Students come to me and complain about this teacher or that and the teacher complains about this student or that and the complaints are the same. Sadly many times listening is a factor but perception is one as well. As adults we see a child’s world in adult terms. I picked up several booklets from the guidance office yesterday almost sarcastically. Adolescences and Understanding teenagers was the title of one. In the brochure there were several cartoons and explanations of why kids do what they do.

“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” Carl G. Jung

There are few people in history I would want to meet. Generally I start my list with Ralph Waldo Emerson. He is a fellow existentialist and the more I read the more I wonder about everything which is perhaps why I enjoy Emerson. Henry David Thoreau another I would like to meet and his philosophy so closely ties to Emerson. In the realms of modern folks my list includes a few Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Grandpa Niper (my great, great grandfather), William Savidge, my grandfather who passed away before I was born and Dr. Carl G. Jung. I have always been impressed with Jung’s approach to dealing with people. It has always intrigued me. He split from Freud because he saw another realm so to say. He saw a spiritual aspect not necessarily religion but something that we have beyond physical rationalizations.

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Carl G. Jung

I turned a young man away yesterday even though his line was good. Coming by my room on a bathroom pass to ask what we were doing in class. He was just interested the same young man who was in my room just before the bell and then left and then walked around the entire school to get to his class in the room next door history had caught up to him.

“The healthy man does not torture others – generally it is the tortured that turn into torturers.” Carl G. Jung

There are reasons why kids do what they do. It could be mimicking bodily functions or giggling out loud when something strikes them funny even though it disrupts the class. We accuse them of this or that and never really look or listen to why.

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Carl G. Jung

I do believe that acceptance unlocks the door and trying to understand and see beyond the symptoms can provide answers.

“Children love and want to be loved and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. Do not mistake a child for his symptom.” Erik Erikson

I am also a big fan or child psychologist Eril Erikson. I used this as a quote for the day a few days back and included in numerous Bird Droppings over the years, it is a powerful thought. I spoke with a dear friend yesterday about the current state of affairs in Special education around d the country and her response was we may be farther back then we were in 1973 when we finally had mandatory education for all children with IDEA. To me that is most interesting. Colleges are dropping Special Education as a major. Charter schools will not in many cases take problem children and or special education children be it from a learning or behavior standpoint.

I look back at the article in the November 2006 American Journal of Education about a caring school and difference it made. That sort of encourages my philosophy of caring about students. I wonder if we can or was that in legislation too, no caring under section 234.23 on page 569 in the very small print. 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