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Category Archives: 21st Century Education

A Smile To Remember – Charles Bukowski

A Smile To Remember – Charles Bukowski.

Charles Bukowski is a poet who uses wit, sarcasm, and everyday experience, good and bad, to catch my attention. In this poem, domestic violence is the topic he explored.

I don’t know if he was a product of this violence, but he provides an insight that is perhaps a survivor’s insight and poses a question that needs exploring.

What do we notice in life? Is it the trivial things? Or, is it the major things? What happens in a child’s life when she/he live in violence? What can we each do to reach out and touch the lives of those living in violence? Perhaps, it is a smile to remember making the difference.

¡Nunca más!

¡Nunca más!.

The link is to a short poem in English and Spanish. If our children do not learn, we may not teach them. The role of parents is teaching their children.

It is not that what we teach will be accepted. Children, as they become more independent, become more able to set their path.

Teaching is inviting others into learning. It is not about guaranteeing learning. The world changes and the result is what is needed to live in the world and be in relationships is changing. Perhaps the best thing we can teach our children is to be thankful for what they have and live in the moment recognizing what they have in each moment.

Daily Reflection and Peace

Daily Reflection and Peace.

We face an important challenge with mindful practice. The article linked above addresses this challenge with questions. Questions are fundamental to being challenged. When I am challenged, I ask questions. I question what is happening and what is making me feel a particular way.

When I read many articles about mindfulness, I find the articles miss the key underlying aspect of mindfulness, being present in the world in ways that improve one’s life and in that improvement the world is continuously becoming a better place. It is not about a corporate bottom line in the way we understand a corporate bottom line. I guess the bottom line is harder to measure. I cann0t apply a number to it, report it to shareholders, and make a banker satisfied. What I can do is ask, “Did I make the world a better place in some way by becoming a better person?”

Can you imagine if 7 billion plus people worked on making the world a better place through their living? That might be a number that is unmeasurable, but that is OK. It would be so big it would not need to be reported. Its quality would speak for itself.

Initiation Song from the Finders Lodge

I did not realize Ursula LeGuin wrote poetry I knew she wrote prose and the poetry was a pleasant surprise.

Besides the last line about always coming home, two other lines stood out. The first was letting my fingertips be my maps. This suggested being in touch with the world I live in; feeling it in a visceral way. When I close my eyes, the world reaches into me through my body. In there, the world lives in my soul which is house which is not a house. That feels Zen-like.

Ted Aoki wrote about bridges which were not bridges. Teachers invite students into learning. In those spaces, anything happens and teachers intuit their way around.

Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well-loved one,
walk mindfully, well-loved one,
walk fearlessly, well-loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
be always coming home.

Inviting Silence

Until yesterday, I had not heard of Gunilla Norris and her poetry. Parker Palmer sent a Facebook message with this beautiful poem embedded. It is a long poem, but is worth whiling and lingering over. Parker Palmer writes about the need for silence in life. This allows us turn inward and listen as our soul speaks to us.

As I move forward in the dissertation process, several things stood out in this poem. Sharing silence as a political act reminded me of how the polis consists of persons where exchanging anything suggests we act politically. In the early writing stages, I argue that teaching is a series of ongoing political actions as we choose the way we teach and what we teach.

Thich Nhat Hanh suggested we find the extraordinary in the ordinary. It is in the lives of each person that the extraordinary potentially emerges. It is in a thoughtful pedagogy that this can emerge in our self, our children, and their children. It is Sabbath’s silence we find space.

Within each of us there is a silence

–a silence as vast as a universe.

We are afraid of it…and we long for it.

When we experience that silence, we remember

who we are: creatures of the stars, created

from the cooling of this plant, created

from dust and gas, created

from the elements, created

from time and space…created

from silence.

The experience of silence is now so rare

that we must cultivate it and treasure it.

That is especially true for shared silence.

Sharing silence is, in fact, a political act.

When we can stand aside from the usual and

perceive the fundamental, change begins to happen.

Our lives align with deeper values

and the lives of others are touched and influenced.

Silence brings us to back to basics, to our senses,

to our selves. It locates us. Without that return

we can go so far away from our true natures

that we end up, quite literally, beside ourselves.

We live blindly and act thoughtlessly.

We endanger the delicate balance which sustains

our lives, our communities, and our planet.

Each of can make a difference.

Politicians and visionaries will not return us

to the sacredness of life.

That will be done by ordinary men and women

who together or alone can say,

“Remember to breathe, remember to feel,

remember to care,

let us do this for our children and ourselves

and our children’s children.

Let us practice for life’s sake.”

Learning is the Thing for You

I told students, when I learned something new, I was going home to tell my wife. I unsure they believed me, but, often, I would go home and tell Kathy what I had learned or a particular frustration from the day. Often, the latter led to learning.

T. H. White, in this excerpt from The Once and Future King, suggests learning is a universal solvent for what ails us at any given moment. It distracts us from worrisome, sad, and fearful things focuses on something right here in the present moment. It occupies our minds, fills our bodies, and feeds the soul of our being.

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn… “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss you only love, you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then–to learn. Learn why the world ways and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured, never fear or distrust, and never dream regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”

Landscape Survey

I chose a metaphor about 21st Century learning being similar to a living topography in my writing to date, which is different from the flat world view of some i.e. Thomas Friedman.

There is definitely more information available in our world and it comes at us much faster, but my view is one that of textured and layered world and not flat. This uses the etymological roots of topic linked to topikas and topos. In this sense, we engage topics which are alive and there multiple meanings continually emerge, one for each person in the learning environment.

I am challenged by the thought my understanding is not the only one that applies. I only need to turn to nature and see what John Brehm pointed out in this poem. I constantly survey landscapes as communally a better world hopefully emerges, not through a unified understanding, but one diversely rich and humane. I am called to remember others see things from a particular and unique perspective that is their own, not mine.

And what about this boulder,

knocked off the mountain top and

tumbled down a thousand years ago

 to lodge against the stream bank,

does it waste itself with worry

about how things are going

to turn out? Does the current

slicing around it stop itself mid-

stream because it can’t get past

all it’s left behind back at

the source or up in the clouds

where its waters first fell

 to earth? And these trees,

would they double over and

clutch themselves or lash out

 furiously if they were to discover

what the other trees really

thought of them? Would the wind

 reascend into the sky forever,

like an in-drawn breath,

if it knew it was fated simply

to sweep the earth of windlessness,

to touch everything and keep

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