Bird Droppings March 27, 2012
A morning meandering here and there
Sitting in my classroom which in many ways for me is a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of reality I wonder as I sit writing pondering the day ahead. I sit listening to the haunting notes of R. Carlos Nakai a Ute Indian playing a handmade cedar flute and the constant flow of water through my aquarium filters a calming effect and wonder. I had my annual evaluation yesterday and was reminded of my major weakness procrastinating and my total distain for paperwork especially meaningless paperwork. We write Individual Educational Programs IEP’s for kids in special education yet have become so restricted within our curriculum as to how do we implement when according to politicians all children will be on grade level by 2014 at least according to federal legislation. All the talk and yet that still I believe is law. We have become nation of test takers and at that not very good at it since across the country as per yesterday’s front page of the Atlanta Journal constitution cheating was widespread nationwide. Yesterday on my Facebook I shared a photo that amazingly enough was liked and shared by quite a few, those that can teach do and those who cannot make laws about teaching.
I was up early today checking my emails and various blogs and wondering how that simple thought had hit such a note across both republican and democratic friends and then I walked outside to take our trash out and listened for a few minutes. Across the woods a great horned owl was calling only to be interrupted by a barred owl on the other side of the house. The bright sky was a contrast to the darkness and every star was visible no clouds hanging around this morning. I paused to give thanks for the day ahead and for life. I pondered on the owls for a moment listening intently as the calls were wandering away and soon were silent. Only a few days ago I was talking with a dear friend from Oklahoma whose grandfather in his lifetime had been medicine man to the Creek Nation. We spoke of medicine and life and how a true medicine person shares their power and knowledge and they do not sell it. Meanwhile in Washington debate is on as to who will reap the benefits of a Supreme Court ruling on healthcare. Some say it is a right others say it is purely a business and profit making at that recalling how the CEO of my healthcare provider made in excess of a hundred million dollars in a year last time I checked and somehow I do not think that benefitted my health. I found it was easier to listen for the owl than worry about politics.
Procrastination should be a major and if so I would have highest degree offered as I read through several emails from my doctorate graduate school cohort and class mates that are defending their dissertations in the coming weeks. In another set of emails from an article reviewed on a blog several commented on how these particular readings provided insight into successful educational programs. I actually had enjoyed the readings and it made me recall a teaching principle I learned in from my father who used it in the steel industry many years ago and I actually was taught this concept in a Red Cross course for instructors in 1968. It is called the FIDO principle, hence Frequency, Intensity, Duration and Over again. If you repeat something, often enough maybe it will sink in. Granted in today’s educational system of teaching to the test this might be happening a bit too much.
I look at John Dewey’s ideas from 1900 and how we still call those ideas progressive education. With all of the educational materials out now, many are only a few years old in effect yet are called traditional when comparing to Dewey, I find that amusing. One of the topics I have been reviewing is looking at performance versus social support. I am of course leaning in the Social support direction as this is an integral part of my day when I am teaching even with general education students. This is how I see kids and deal with kids. I go back to my idea in one of the postings today of getting away from a swing of the pendulum and going in the direction of a pulse, no swing either way but a steady beat or energy.
We should try and steer away from that concept of right or left swing and go towards what is best for the kid not always for the society. I have worked with a large number of kids from a certain trailer park nearby. Many are very bright and all are poor. The sixteen hour syndrome as I call it is alive and well in that trailer park. As I go by often several times a day between my mother’s house and my own, I see kids I have had and often new ones but always similarities. As I look back at the last nine years of teaching EBD students I have had more kids from that one spot in the county than any other specific spot. Sadly in actuality many are marrying within that group. There are more kids being born, coming from that environment. Many are on the fringe of society. Many of the kids are anarchists, punkers, suffering from divergent behaviors, drug addicts, alcoholics, and few if any have jobs. I wondered why as I drove by thinking of past kids from this enclave. Several are serving hard time; several will be back next year. I wonder if anyone in that community was approached about their participation in the greater good.
Interesting as I am having a difficult time getting started this morning wandering off a bit as I had just driven by that trailer park. I am always trying to stay up with our youngest thinking back a few years I recall back to a day as he says when he decided to do a Godzilla marathon with the old Godzilla movies. I did not make it through the first one. When I got up the next morning the TV was still on and he had crashed somewhere after five in morning watching the twenty eighth movie featuring the man in a monster suit. He just found the latest installment which features every major other monster and a walk on by the computer generated Godzilla. I often wonder if there is a hidden meaning to Godzilla the all-powerful beast who always eventually has a weakness. Sort of the David and Goliath of nature and humanity, and my youngest of course came to the rescue offering that the original concept of the monster was an antinuclear effort.
“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.” Laurens Van der Post
For many years I have been intrigued by this man whom I had not heard of prior to finding a quote several years back and yet he has written literally hundreds of books and articles on Africa and numerous other countries. He was raised by an African Bushman woman and taught their ways and his philosophy of life and his writings are permeated with nature and the thoughts and aspirations of this primitive people. Van der Post was knighted by the Queen many years ago and actually is the Godfather to Prince William. He is the only non-royal to have ever been given that honor.
“It's easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top.” Arnold Bennett
“What is to give light must endure the burning.” Victor E, Frankl
As I sit this morning so often it is conversations and happenings of yesterday that drive the thought that inspires me as I write. Yesterday I was talking with some friends of where they had been and where they were going, adversity is a good word as we spoke. It is about looking the lion in the mouth and walking away knowing you have survived. A new graduate of a well-respected associates program was daunted by her rejection at a four year school. She had gone to the two year program on a full athletic scholarship and suffered grade wise in order to play on a nationally ranked junior college team. As time to graduate came close she had to quit and actually lost her scholarship in order to raise her grades and put more time into studying. She had conquered her adversary and now was trying to move on.
“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” Maori Proverb, the Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand.
“Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right.” Laurens Van der Post
“The chief condition on which, life, health and vigor depends on, is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny.” Colin Powell
Overcoming adversity begins with action, with a step forward, with realizing shadows are cast by light with knowing that growth comes from effort. It is difficult to cross a stream if you never take the first step. In borrowing from the Zen teachings “You can never cross a stream the same way twice”. I was sitting here remembering old stories and thoughts in the past we would hike up a stream in north Georgia the Toccoa Creek and in that hike transverse about 500 feet up hill over rocks and boulders and such climbing up the creek. In the process of course water is continually flowing against you and depending on the rainfall it could be a good bit. Cracks and crevices abound and more than several times you actually swim in rock channels ten feet deep and eighteen inches wide all uphill but at the top is a water fall.
“The view at the top is always worth the climb” Sir Edmond Hillary
Keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and remember to always give thanks.