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quotation: Henry David Thoreau (above morality by points)

quotation: Henry David Thoreau (above morality by points).

Thoreau provided great insights in living off the grid long before we thought seriously about that idea. Living life based on a checklist of moral behaviour is nearly impossible. Living a life that we are good at is a growing experience.

We cultivate our lives like farmers and gardeners when we pay attention to our work, our living. It is in the moment that we realize and recognize the ethical needs. Certainly, there are rules to live by i.e. The Ten Commandments and The Three Universal Truths of Buddhism. When we live life and include those rules and truths, it is in living that we become who we are. It is in living we become good for something.

Travel Theme: Inviting

Travel Theme: Inviting.

Some of the reading I have done for my dissertation has focused on the idea that teaching is an invitation into learning. I recall cold Alberta days when I would take out books and read. I never left the warm confines of the house, yet I traveled the world.

Teaching and learning are invitational. The John Muir quote in Ese’s post is easily reworded. It is not just the mountains calling. It is the world and the universe. Subjects come alive and speak to us when they hold meaning.

Teaching cannot guarantee learning. What it can do is provide spaces where learning happens as students find the subjects speaking to them. We, in turn, respond and a life-long conversations are struck up. Living and learning entangle and are inseparable.

Live in Wonder

Live in Wonder.

The world is a place of wonder. It is poetry in its most indefinable ways and that is why we need pauses between the words. It is in those pauses that the wonder soaks in and we can live in wonder. If the world had no spaces and only noise, we would be overwhelmed. The spaces are an inviting into the most precious relationships we can possibly have with the world, those we share the world, and all matter that matters.

When we pause and listen in the stillness and quiet, we are present to all that is holy and real. The world is made whole in those moments.

¡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.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue Lost

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue Lost.

Dialogue is a flow of language which requires listening. Listening is the often overlooked component of dialogue. Without listening, the flow is broken. It is not that we do not listen; however we listen to answer, to correct, to defend, etc. meaning the flow is broken. When we just listen, the silence speaks volumes and the flow remains in tact.

Listening is not limited to human-to-human listening. It extends outwards to other sentient beings and non-sentient phenomena. When I listen, the wind speaks as it rustles leaves, blows through leafless branches, and across the mountain’s sheer rock face. Even the wind, has nuanced voices telling me something and guiding me in life. The wind asks questions which call me to explore and seek the next question.

I Am Much Too Alone in the World, and not Alone Enough

Today, I talked with students whose main concern about school is they do not like it. One thing I gleaned was a reluctance to accept personal responsibility which should be something students learn in school. There are reasons for this lack of responsibility. One that is overlooked is responsibility is taken away from children.

What made this an interesting conversation was some of these students are ‘special needs’. In many ways they are bright, articulate problem-solvers frustrated by a system that has failed them leaving them to feel as if they were failing. They see school as a place they have to go and not a place of learning.

What was disconcerting is I am told just get them these students through the system. These children are someone else’s problem next year. We shuffle these students from school to school in this fashion, in effect sorted out of the failed system. Educators, politicians, and bureaucrats fail them daily.

Rainer Maria Rilke wrote this poem and it reminded me of one thing humans want in life: free will and to be part of conversations about them in honest ways. School is not  a game played with unrevealed rules, but a place of learning. What if adults took time, listened to children, and helped them find the path where we each learn new words each day?

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
enough
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.
Nowhere I wish to stay crooked, bent;
for there I would be dishonest, untrue.
I want my conscience to be
true before you;
want to describe myself like a picture I observed
for a long time, one close up,
like a new word I learned and embraced,
like the everyday jug,
like my mother’s face,
like a ship that carried me along
through the deadliest storm.

Tolerance and Flexibility

Despite the weather, we had a great day. Many students do not attend Fridays. In past years, we attended every second Monday. Our administration changed that this year without consulting parents or me. I struggled with it for several months and made a dramatic shift a couple of months ago. I decided to devote Fridays to art i.e. drawing, painting, and building. I am not an artist in that sense, but was able to get access to resources from a friend who is an artist and an excellent teacher. The students enjoy the change. We built kites today and I felt a positive and life-giving energy in the room. I thought of this poem by Lao Tzu.

Living humans are soft and limber.

Dead they are hard and rigid.

Living, the 10, 000 grasses and wood species are soft and crisp.

So “hard” and “rigid” accompany death.

“Soft” and “limber” accompany life.

So if armies are coercive, they do not triumph.

When wood is strong, the axe comes out.

Strength and dominance reside below.

The soft and limber belong higher.

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