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Tag Archives: literature

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 Journey

I am not sure what my schedule is like for the rest of the afternoon, so I will post earlier than I normally do. I read quite a bit yesterday and one of the books I finished was by a friend, Deb E. Berg and is called Ja-Mya and the Journey. I taught two members of the Berg family and Deb was a founding member of our small school. Much of the underlying philosophy that led to this group of parents approaching educators with their idea of a different way of imagining a school and children’s learning is reflected in this book.

The book weaves story-telling reminiscent of classics such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, and many others. The two main characters, Teagen and Andrew, search for life’s meaning as two adolescents who embark on their summer vacation with their uncle. They search for their Heart’s Desire, explore deep and timeless questions adolescents ask, and enter a fourth dimension where time is not as we understand it. They witness two opposing worldviews: one of abundance and stewardship; the other of scarcity and depletion. They learn their greatest strengths are often their greatest weaknesses. The reader embarks on a journey with Teagen and Andrew as they learn about nature, connect to a new world through their imagination, and find wisdom. In a single afternoon, Andrew “fought a war, rode a dragon, wrote and performed a song while learning about my Heart’s desire.”

This book is about finding and integrating the contemporary with the traditional. It is about a real need to see legacy not through the eyes of adults, but through the eyes of children. What world do we choose to leave for them? What is our gift to them?

I leave you with the song Andrew wrote and performed at the end of the book:

Life begins, life ends,

Struggles come and go

What the Journey holds for each

Is something we cannot know.

Friends along the way,

Providing what we need

In companionship and wisdom

With varied type of deed.

One’s Heart’s Desire can only be found

When walking the road of life

No matter what we find it is

The awareness will bring less strife.

Emotion also finds its place

Along the Journey’s way

With welcoming and firm embrace

Wisdom will guide today.

Value, meaning, the hope of life

Shows in the time we take

To listen to a kinder voice

Love’s words to never forsake.

Life begins, life ends,

Struggles come and go

What the Journey holds for each

Is something we cannot know.

I would love to use this book in the form of a novel study or a reading project with junior high students.

From Teaching a Stone to Talk

Annie Dillard is a wonderful writer whose prose has a great poetic quality. Her words ask me to find quiet and solitude provided on the Sabbath. In that quiet, I go deeper and seek peace among the turmoil.

“In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if we ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop them further over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the test, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. It is given. It is not learned.”

Take care and see you Monday.

The Booker Award

I compare the world of blogging to living in a small community. We meet each and acknowledge each other. We get to know some people better than others, but recognize something unique in each other.

Mimi from Waiting for the Karma Truck recently honoured me with The Booker Award and I am grateful she recognized me.

I look forward to Mimi’s each day.  She shares various gifts and lessons from life, work, and, family. She provides wisdom drawn from those sources through her blog, public presentations, and writing.

The fun and challenging aspect of this particular award is to list my five favorite books.  Similar to Mimi I can’t do that, but I offer five books which I found compelling at some point. I enjoy reading and this list is sorely incomplete. I read very few fictional books, but that is a product of the doctoral journey I undertook.

The Alchemist – Paolo Coehlo (actually any book by this Brazilian author is a worthy read).

To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee (I cheated and left this on from Mimi’s list, but it was and remains an outstanding social justice reminder).

The Executioners – John D. MacDonald (I read almost anything by this author. This book became Cape Fear, but he is famous for a pulp fiction character Travis McGee).

The Courage to Teach – Parker J. Palmer (I first read Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak before returning to university for my education degree and read this author extensively.

Why I Wake Early – Mary Oliver (I could have included a number of this poet’s books or books by Wendell Berry, Billy Collins, Robert Frost, etc. I love poetry).

I nominate others who I hope can add into our libraries and expand our literary worlds. I tried to expand and move beyond those who received earlier awards from me. I think their blogs are diverse and we will receive a range of new ideas for our ‘cosmic library.’

I tap into the libraries of:

Elizabeth’s Ramblings

Nick Falkner

Thinking is Writing

Thought Baker

The Blazing Trail

Colour the Day

Katz Ideas

Practical Practice Management

Sylver Blaque

Elke Teaches

An Angry Young Poet

Each year, I spend time on poetry with the students. Two years ago, a student asked if I wrote poetry in junior high school and I was able to say, “Yes!”. He asked me to share with them. I found them in a small lock box I keep at home and shared several with the class.

I mentioned in Culture of Peace Sam Intrator. He suggested teachers expose adolescent students complex, existential questions of life as they move through those formative years. I wrote my poems in about 1969. It was a time when identity was increasingly rooted in the global nature of the world, not just immediate community and family. War, even in Canada, entered our homes via television. I found voice in poetry and expressed an abhorrence to institutional and government approved murder. What set me apart from my peers, was I took no sides. Each was equally wrong in my mind. Mr. McKenzie, an innovative English teacher, encouraged that in us-find our voices.

I shared the following poem with my students. I concede it is not exactly the original, as it was pretty angry. I hope the original message is still there. Students asked for more poems and I complied. These past few months I rediscovered my poet’s voice. It is a gentler voice, I hope.

Win or Lose: What Difference Does it Make?

 One game

If it is one

No fun to lose

No great thing to win.

War!

Hollow

Men, women, children gone

In no time

Woe! The vanquished losers;

No winner

Each, vanquished in every sense.

Divided

In ruins

Rebuilding

On countless graves

Rudderless.

Without pride

Beggaring citizens

Values of others

Resenting conquerors

What does war bring?

No jobs

No hospitals

No schools

No homes, but the streets

Destruction everywhere.

What does war bring?

Death of innocence

Loss even in victory

Comrades fallen

But see an enemy vanquished.

Killing

Proving nothing

What fools

Going on forever

Will we learn?

We must

I pray

For human survival.

Take care and have a great 20th of July, 2012.

Reading and Blogging

I love to read a good book. I feel I have conversation with the author. As Carl Sagan suggested, I hear the voice of the author. It is the same with blogs. Each time I read a blog, look at its pictures, or both, I feel I am listening to the person share something special about their life with me and the world. Blogs break both the shackles of time and space.

I am grateful.

One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person -perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millenia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time.

~Carl Sagan

Words from the Wise

This arrived today. It definitely was not how a felt yesterday or when I first got up this morning. Sometimes our childhood heroes say it best and, as adults, we need to listen with a beginner’s mind.

And today I am off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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