Bird Droppings June 4, 2012
How do we see things?

When I spend time alone with my granddaughter who is now eighteen months old we communicate in a sort of pointing fingers, hand signs, words, facial gestures and occasionally a pop pop I will show you what I want look as she picks up the item. She is learning much like setting a dry sponge on a table with a puddle of water and it is soaking up. I am amazed each time I see her at how much more she has learned in a week. As I sat reading Three Billy Goats Gruff or I should say my ipad was reading the book I found a great children book app and this book was ninety nine cents. We went through the book about four times and first thing I noticed she did not like the page with the troll telling the goats he was going to climb up and eat them she knows how to change pages and would skip that page with each goat. After the fourth reading when the big billy goat gruff butted the troll into the river never to be seen again she clapped. I did not advise her or offer suggestions she learned as we went through the story. So it led me to how do we see things.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham H. Maslow

Thinking back to my granddaughter she is limited in her world view by her only eighteen months of existence yet is still able to make inferences and choices. Maslow’s thought is a rather simple statement as I look at it yet so true. We tend to be limited to what we know and what we have at hand, be it emotionally, physically and or mentally. Far too few times do we try and go beyond our limited resources and fall on our faces. Small children learn by doing and experiencing life.

“Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed. Their highest merit is suggestiveness.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

It has been a few years since I was told my opinion was wrong, as I expressed an opinion on a test about Melville’s, Moby Dick. Sitting here reading this thought from Hawthorne however, isn’t this true, as we look at art or poetry. Should that piece we are involved with not take us somewhere besides where we are and perhaps even beyond the expectations of the artist, who at the time of that piece’s creation was limited by their own limited perspective and perceptions.

“The seeing of objects involves many sources of information beyond those meeting the eye when we look at an object. It generally involves knowledge of the object derived from previous experience, and this experience is not limited to vision but may include the other senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and perhaps also temperature or pain.” R. L. Gregory

Years ago I remember seeing a movie about an African Bushman who finds an old green glass coke bottle. It was the old small kind that was so good in the old water cooler type coke machines. The movie is entitled; The God’s must be crazy. It involves a bush pilot who throws an empty coke bottle out of a window of his plane and barely misses, totally unintentionally, a bushman hunter. The hunter picks up the bottle, totally unsure of what has nearly hit him, seeing the plane flying by, this object came from the heavens, the Gods sent it. As the bottle makes the rounds when he returns to his camp each member of his group finding new and differing uses for the bottle. A woman pounds and grinds meal with it, one fills it with water, one blows into it making a sound and so on each person finds a new use but soon greed sets in and fighting occurs. Everyone wants the bottle. The hunter takes it back and carefully returns to the edge of civilization and throws it back.

“Perspective, as its inventor remarked, is a beautiful thing. What horrors of damp huts, where human beings languish, may not become picturesque through aerial distance! What hymning of cancerous vices may we not languish over as sublimest art in the safe remoteness of a strange language and artificial phrase! Yet we keep a repugnance to rheumatism and other painful effects when presented in our personal experience.” George Elliot

An interesting passage coming from author Mary Evans who wrote under the name George Eliot in the mid 1800’s in England. Actually she became a rather famous novelist and eccentric in her own time. Several months ago I was watching art student’s work on perspective in a hallway. The project was teaching the idea and concept of drawing a three dimensional object on a flat piece of paper to appear with perspective and dimensions. Often as I write each morning I come back to teaching. Teaching is part of what I do each day but more so of what each of us does each day as a parent or even as a friend. If we learn something we want to teach it, share it and literally pass it on. It could be tying a shoe or showing how to use a new digital camera.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” Abraham H. Maslow

It has been a few years since I was driving to north Georgia for graduate school and an idea hit me. In teaching I have used the word symbiosis as an example of where I see teaching.

“The term is usually restricted to a dependent relationship that is beneficial to both participants.” North Carolina State – Biology dictionary

In this case both parties student and teacher benefit but they are dependent a step up from parasitism.

“A plant or animal that at some stage of its existence obtains its nourishment from another living organism called the host. Parasites may or may not harm the host, but they never benefit it.” NCS

In teaching there are many instances of teachers being parasites, as well as friends and even parents. It could be about feeding egos and that desire for control, power over others. There are many different ways people become parasitic in their relationships. As I drove, working actually on the idea of feedback between teachers and students and then I came to osmosis.

“In either case the direction of transfer is from the area of higher concentration of the material transferred to the area of lower concentration” NCS

This I have come to find is what teaching, friendship and or parenting in its purest form, is about. However this movement works both ways as concentrations change. The students can become the teacher and teacher a student as ideas and thoughts diverge and converge. The semi permeable membrane is the secret rather than barriers and walls a membrane separates. Granted this is semantics and symbolic concepts but teaching is about transferring knowledge.
Maslow in his hierarchy of needs follows a similar pattern moving from physiological needs to self-actualization. We as parents and teachers need to carefully check our tool boxes and see if all we have is a hammer, if it is, then stop by the hardware store and get a few more tools. Never be limited in how you view and see all around you. Periodically I change my screen savers and backgrounds often using photos from students or art work and their perspective, what I see in that piece may be more than what the artist intended. A few days back I borrowed from Walt Disney a quote a simple line “If you can dream it, you can do it.” As I sit here thinking, wondering, perspective has a lot to do with succeeding in life and fulfilling dreams. How you see tomorrow I have shared many times a dream of world peace. Maslow would offer “the dominant need is always shifting.” Until we need peace, war is inevitable let’s need peace. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and to always give thanks.

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