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Happy Birthday, Albert! | Catherine M Johnson

Happy Birthday, Albert! | Catherine M Johnson.

I am a big Albert Einstein fan and it is his birthday today. I enjoy his eccentric behaviour and wild hair.

Several years ago, a student asked who the guy was in a poster in our classroom.

Without hesitating, I said, “My Dad!” A second student expressed skepticism, but I answered with “Look at him. He has wild hair, is eccentric, and tells great stories. Its my Dad!”.

A third student responded, “It’s Albert Einstein. His name is on the poster.”

For the rest of my teaching years, students, parents, and I were always careful when I began to say something about my Dad. I clarified whether it was my real dad or my figurative dad. The two had interesting quotes in common.

My real Dad would say, “When you stop beating your head against the wall it feels better.” I shared that with students when we talked about Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

26 responses »

  1. My dad said to me that I would complain if my head was caught in a golden vise. I told my dad he was right, because a vise is still a vise and my head in it, would be un wise!! lol

  2. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    WHOOO-HOOO! let’s celebrate !

  3. LOL .. this is really true…all of my life , my father had this yiddish expression…if something hurts, he would say : hit your head against the wall & say 3 times, es hot ma nichst (it doesn’t hurt) & schrei bravo & then you will feel better…he would laugh & you would laugh. i think that’s the part ,that makes you feel better.

  4. Catherine Johnson

    That’s a fun story, Ivon. My dad has said similar things too. Dad’s are so wise. Thanks so much for linking to my post.

  5. This was great, Ivon. Einstein’s image has become an icon of the modern world. What’s always interesting to me is that he birthed some great ideas, and at the same time he fought vociferously against others. And he did so for philosophical reasons… He didn’t want to live in a universe built on chance, but one in which the truth was true, to any observer, once you understood how to translate one reference frame to any other… To me, this is the heart of the practice of being a whole human being: to be flexible enough to see the world through any reference frame…


    • Wonderfully said Michael. He was an interesting man. He stopped wearing socks when he was at Princeton. When asked about it, he said he deserved to be eccentric after he was a certain age.

  6. Every once in a while my dad’s words come back to me in a meaningful way. Dads are such special people and ingrained in us worldly wisdom in simple ways.

    • Parents have a way of finding their way into our thoughts and that is good. I know our boys now go out of their ways to remind us about our pearls of wisdom as they were growing up.

  7. Thanks for sharing. I have been repeatly thinking on the quote on repeated behavior that its funny you shared it when you did. These cunning pieces of reality and sometimes unintended advice are awesome. i’m reminded of one from my parents: “A lazy man works the hardest.” This is so simple that its true.

  8. Your dad and your r other dad make good sense. Don’t repeat the negative!

  9. thanks for making me smile.


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