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Category Archives: Learning Organizations

Sweet is the Oneness

I just finished writing the first draft of a short paper on complexity and the teacher’s practice. Much of this is not new. A classroom has the potential to become a community. It is about the needs of each student within a classroom and their personal lived histories. Around that community has the potential to emerge. I cannot plan for it. I can wish for it. Community grows out of the livingness of our lives when we linger on bridges that link us and we while away time in those moments. This is different then when someone chooses a team with a specific goal in mind.

Those are not my thoughts. I added to the thinking of Hans-Georg Gadamer, Max van Manen, David Jardine, and Ted Aoki. I found  complexity is something we have talked about throughout history, yet we it treat like it is new. I looked for a poem that fit my writing. The first poet that appeared was Rumi and he led me to this beautiful poem about the oneness of community.

If ten lamps are in one place,

each differs in form from another;

yet you can’t distinguish whose radiance is whose when you focus on the light.

In the field of spirit there is no division; no individuals exist.

Sweet is the oneness of the Friend with His friends.

Catch hold of spirit.

Help this headstrong self disintegrate;

that beneath it you may discover unity,

like a buried treasure.

Dream Boogie

Stony Creek, where I taught for almost 15 years, was a special place. It does not exist other than in name only. It was a place where parents, students, and educators met and learned together. It was a place that defied the way ‘traditional schooling’ was done. The goal was to meet each child where they were in their learning and not force the child to fit the learning. For most of the time I was there, I taught and learned (those are not inseparable if we allow them to emerge together) in a way I could only dream possible. For those years, the dream was not deferred. It was real, but fragile as all dreams are.

I enjoy Langston Hughes and his wonderful poetry. Each year, I chose a poem or two from his wonderful writing and shared it with the students. I found that if I share my passion for learning and what excited me in my learning students and parents reciprocated. We lived and learned in community not in school. This is one of the poems I shared from that place.

Good morning, daddy!

Ain’t you heard

The boogie-woogie rumble

Of a dream deferred?

Listen closely:

You’ll hear their feet

Beating out and Beating out a –

You think

It’s a happy beat?

Listen to it closely:

Ain’t you heard

something underneath

like a –

What did I say?

Sure,

I’m happy!

Take it away!

Hey, pop!

Re-bop!

Mop!

Y-e-a-h!

A Place; A Space

Recently, I began to consider the word organization and its meaning. We use it as a noun for the places where we work, learn, and play. Its root, organ, suggests life and interaction. Without all parts working together in some cohesive way, it disintegrates. As well, an organ, as a musical instrument, needs a human touch. Humans organize, work, learn, and achieve through a common purpose. When we fail, it is the humanity around us that helps us back to our feet.

This place–

This space–

Welcomes–

Beckons.

Cold, aloof–

Some frigid lover.

Not frantically clinging–

An anxious lover

Here one moment; gone the next

A capricious lover

No! Fully alive–

Not on life support!

Exudes a hearty warmth–

Healthy, vibrant.

It is the human touch;

A lover’s gentle embrace–

Arms hold close;

Not too tight

An invitation.

A place–

A space–

I want to be.

A place–

A space–

That calls me–

Gives me voice

Something in common.

That Space, That Silence

It has been another long day. I am not always a politically correct person in the way some want. I struggle to say what the dominant group of the moment wants everyone to say. A reason we have polarization in the world is we want others to agree with us sometimes without giving reasons for it to happen. I might agree, but what about those who are not present?

That invisible space between us–

Between our truths

Sacred ground

Till it gently.

That silence you hear–

Almost imperceptible;

It is reverent

Hold it gently.

That space,

That silence,

Emerge magically

No recipe needed.

That space,

That silence,

Easily chased away–

Shhh…

What to Remember When Wakening

It was a long day. I was up at 5:45 AM, on a flight at 11:30 AM, and just wrapping up my day in a different time zone than the one I began the day in. Again, I had a great day and will find time to speak about it as the days move on. I am doing an Art of Hosting workshop and the first day was pretty incredible. It speaks to the David Whyte poem about thing coming to life even when unplanned and only need nourishment and nurturing to come to life.

In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.

What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.

To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.

You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.

Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?

Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?

Shoulders by Naomi Shihab Nye and Out of Great Need by Hafiz

I finished reading Healing the Heart of Democracy by Parker Palmer. It is a wonderful book and, even though he wrote it from an American perspective, it has many universal messages. These poems focus on a message we are in life together-we share, reciprocate, appreciate.

I am reaching the point of settling into the dissertation process. My theme is technology, its implications in learning, mindful practices, and the role of leadership in the use of technology. Today, the responses I received from yesterday’s post, Inspiring Blog Award, was evidence that various social media offer opportunities to build digital community. Gonzaga has a journal club for its doctoral students. We find research articles, read them and summarize key points, and present our understanding as they relate to leadership. I presented one about Virtual Communities of Practice today. A key point is reciprocity or the giving and receiving of gifts. This is not a material gift, but one demonstrated through appreciation for the other when they post or say something online. I was able to share I saw the reciprocity and appreciation fully today. You are part of an emerging phenomenological study.

These poems are for you.

ivonprefontaine:

Larry Cuban is a leading writer and researcher in school reform or I think a better way to phrase it is a lack of true reform. He points out several key points in this excellent article. His first paragraph about teachers working together daily is not prophetic as you will see in the article. It has been part of the educational reform lexicon for a several years, perhaps decades is a better word. Why do the ‘reforms’ with all their pat answers and revolving, recycled fads secret this away in the closet? I think they are afraid.

 

First, top down measures are not the order of the day. Second, schooling and learning (my added word) at all ages are complex systems and forged out of relationship not transactional activities. This nature does not invite top-down. It encourages community and collaboration. The leading thinkers he refers to part way through the article are a short but impressive list. I would add others who contribute in many ways i.e. Deb Meier, James Comer, and Nel Noddings come to mind. Finally, real communities actually are dysfunctional. It is what we do in those moments that leads us to collaboration. Joining hands around the camp fire is nice, but only superficially functional. Agree to disagree is sometimes the path.

 

I read another blog today and my conclusion is slow is sometimes the way forward.

 

We in Canada who think we are doing something better are wrong. We all need the same wake up calls, a new conversation, and a reimagining of schooling and learning. Note I did not say school. That is the brick and mortar that in some cases is passé.

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Want to give a “no excuses” reformer a stroke? Suggest that teachers working together on a daily basis have a better shot at improving teaching and learning than the highly marketed structural changes of standards-based testing and accountability, Common Core standards, more charter schools, and evaluating educator performance through student scores.

Too many reform-driven policymakers high on the rhetoric of these current reforms ignore how much improvement in teaching and learning can occur when  teachers work collectively in their classrooms and schools to improve their content knowledge and teaching skills aimed at common district goals.

For many years, teachers, administrators, researchers, and a sprinkling of policymakers have concentrated on both traditional and innovative professional development and learning communities to build teachers’ capacities in knowledge of subject and teaching skills to improve instruction in schools and districts. Such school-based efforts converge on the teacher simply because within the complex system of…

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