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Do Pigs Have Udders?

The last year I taught I was away for a week in the fall. When I returned, the students told me they had not enjoyed the substitute teacher. They felt he did not let them chat and told them their conversations were inappropriate. As those students rarely crossed the line between appropriate and inappropriate, I was surprise and asked for an example of a conversation topic.

As they did their Science one day a student asked another if pigs had udders. They felt the conversation was proper and it fit with biology and animal husbandry. One girl, who lived on a farm, insisted they did and the other, who lived in town, said they did not. They asked me if I knew. I laughed and told them I did not know.

Initially, I phoned Kathy who was raised on a farm. She said pigs might have udders, but, if they did, it was a result of a biologic need to nurse offspring. Over the years, the topic came up. A farmer told me farmers don’t ask questions like that, because they don’t really care. Last summer, I read this poem at a retreat and described what had happened. A colleague did a search and informed us pigs do not have udders.

The experience informed me in two ways as a teacher. First, it pointed out an irrevocable truth: human curiosity and questions without absolute answers are essential in living and learning. Second, humans require safe spaces to ask questions like this.

A simple question

Eloquently posed,

It lacks a ready answer

Our curiosity is engaged;

Fueling our learning and conversations.

What does something mean?

Is it true?

Many queries;

We seek to fill gaps–

Certitude is elusive;

Uncertainty prevails.

Years later

I smile and chuckle;

I (re)member–

I appreciate–

A simple, provocative question–

Do pigs have udders?

People can ask the darnedest things. Humour is a cure for even the most challenging moments. It opens up safe spaces for questions to emerge.

 

Faith

Source: Faith

Thich Nhat Hanh writes wonderful and spiritual poetry. Shobna’s post shared a poem about faith and how it evolves daily, perhaps moment-by-moment.

In living with other people we each find faith that is not fixed and set by rigid rules and laws. In this way, we discover “joy, freedom, peace, and love” that is part of living life fully.

When we experience living fully, we engage in conversations that do not answer questions, but raise new questions. We create a dialogic world to share with each other.

 

goldenquotesrb 

Source: goldenquotesrb 

I began following this blog recently and it has many great quotes.

Einstein is one of my favourite sources for quotes. When I taught, I had a poster in the classroom with this quote: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

One day, a student asked who the person in the poster was. I replied that it was my dad. Another student said that could not be true. I answered that we both had wild hair and were eccentric. A third student pointed out Einstein’s name on the poster, but from that time on, students always asked which dad I talked about when I said something about my dad. It was a great way to teach about literal and figurative ideas.

Being present includes responding reflexively in appropriate ways. Listening to others mindfully, I can respond properly. When I began to teach, I found it hard to do that, often tripping up, saying the wrong thing, and sometimes nothing at all. With experience, I grew and became more effective, listening carefully to what others had to say.

Mindful

This poem is my favourite by Mary Oliver. It took on more significance in the last week, as I defended my dissertation and completed my PhD requirements.

Every day I see or hear something that more or less

kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle

in the haystack of light. It was what I was born for – to look, to listen,

to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over

in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant – but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help

but grow wise with such teachings as these – the untrimmable light

of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?

I find the idea that the daily life I live, which I often take-for-granted, is essential to my growing wise. The dissertation and research took on that form, as I gathered the lived-experiences of several teachers, including myself and explored how we are becoming teachers.

It is in the daily lives we live, our autobiographies, that we find the richest date, even though it sometimes slips through our fingers in the midst of the busyness we experience. Our stories call us to stop, be mindful of them, and seek meaning in the thoughtful questions we ask.

I find wise teachings in the untrimmable light of the world.

Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born this day in 1904. Teachers, librarians, and parents use his books in children’s literacy, but I found children and adults never really out grow Dr. Seuss.

Several years ago, I read an article about Dr. Seuss. He created cartoons as a critical response to Hitler and Mussolini. He deplored racism and his books were a means of introducing children to diversity. Even though we think of his books as essential to children’s literacy, they are as important to social justice and equity.

It was not just his characters, but what they ate or did not eat that were part of the diversity.

Do you like green eggs and ham?

I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like green eggs and ham!

Would you like them here or there?

I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.

I do so like green eggs and ham!
Thank you! Thank you,
Sam-I-am!

 

The Guest House

I know I have posted this poem before, but it has a beautiful message. Rumi reminds me I cannot accept only the good that comes into my life. When the darker emotions show themselves at the door of my life, I should welcome them and accept them as a guide from beyond.

Like my delightful emotions, the darker ones are fleeting and temporary. While they are with me, the metaphor of a guesthouse allows me to experience them more fully and be mindful to what they mean at that point in my life.

In those moments, those closest to me help me understand what each arrival may mean. We can ask questions without presuming the answers in advance.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Langston Hughes

As far back as I can remember, I have adored poetry. I’m especially drawn to the works of poets who courageously dive deeply into their stories… their journeys through life. These are m…

Source: Langston Hughes

Similar to Gina, I enjoy poetry. I wrote poetry in junior high school. When I began teaching Language Arts, I taught poetry. During difficult times in my teaching career, I returned to writing poetry.

I loved Langston Hughes‘ poems and used them each year. His poems were short and students discerned their themes, such as holding fast to one’s dreams, social justice, and life’s challenges, and relate to them fairly easily.

Langston Hughes wrote poetry that reflected both his experiences and the culture of the African-American community. This reflected both the celebrations and suffering that people experienced, which are often intertwined with each other.

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