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Albert Einstein

via Albert Einstein

Mrs. Vee offers a quote from Einstein and a headshot. The quote suggests imagination, which is unbounded, is more important than knowledge, which is limited in scope.

Those who educate provide “images for [the] imagination and for forming…memory….to grasp the ‘circumstances’ [we live in] in their infinite variety.” I use the word educate purposely, as each of us learns in settings other than schools. Schools are formal places where a particular agenda is followed.

Over the last few months, I struggled as I transitioned from having taught and wanting to teach. I define myself as a teacher. I taught one term at a small, private, Christian-based university. I applied twice for a tenure track position and have been ignored both times. I think there are multiple things at play and will deal with three. First, others my age are ready to retire. They say things like “I worked to get to this stage.” I understand teaching as a calling, so never worked to get to this stage. Second, it turns out, in the eyes of some, I am the wrong kind of Christian. I am Catholic, yet I am probably, in the eyes of many Catholics, the wrong kind of Catholic. Third, I limited my imagination. I think this is natural. I have not been here before and have few images for imagination. I only knew myself as a teacher, limiting the possibilities of what I could do and who I was still becoming.

The last point is essential. I mentioned this in the last two posts. I have been writing and am invited by others in to collaborate. I can imagine myself as a writer. I don’t know what kind of writer and what other doors it will open up. But, I have been here before.

Kathy reminds me frequently that “when one door closes, another opens.” What I have to recall is I do not know what will happen as I walk through the new door. I can imagine it and, with imagining, new worlds open up and hope exists.

Mount Robson 1 August 2019

This is the front side of Mt. Robson. I have never seen the backside. I can imagine what it might look like based on what I see and what I have read about it. There is a glacier and lake on the mountain. Based on past experience (history), I can imagine sitting on the edge of the lake, like I can imagine sitting and writing the next poem, article, book chapter, a book about teaching in the best little school in the world, etc. I get to imagine my life, so I don’t have to be the right kind of anything for administrators who can only operate in binary terms.

“He who allows oppression shares the crime.” — Art of Quotation

via “He who allows oppression shares the crime.” — Art of Quotation

Gigi shared a wonderful quote from Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (known as Erasmus) who was a Catholic priest during the Reformation. He is a humanist and spent little time as a priest and is considered to be a reformer who remained in the church , questioning its abuses. In some ways, he was Thomas Merton (the link is to an article by James Martin, SJ) some 300 years in advance.

I had not read Erasmus before last fall. His works were part of my syllabus for an educational foundations class I taught. I have since purchased a book with his essays and find him refreshing in many ways in today’s context.

When we ignore things that are improper and inhumane, we become complicit. This includes my place in Nature. It is hard to speak in today’s world without fear of being attacked. How I undersgtand the world and my presence in it, is less in terms of polarities and in continous emergence. Even the past holds uncertainties. When I sit and reflect/meditate, I often find phenomena emerge I did not experience in previous moments of reflection/meditation.

It is the same in my reading. I am re-reading Wendell Berry and find so much about how he speaks about Nature can be applied to teaching. We are stewards in this world and this includes stewards for our children and grandchildren. We are not seperate from Nature, even in urban settings. How do we preserve and conserve Nature for our children and grandchildren? Economy comes from the Greek word oikos, meaning household. How do we keep our household in order?

Gulls at Neurotsis Inlet

I took this picture in the river valley here in Edmonton. It is a beautiful place to walk and a historic, cultural, and natural gathering place for people and animals as demonstrated by the terns. Not in the picture are the people who gather to walk and sit along the river.

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” — Art of Quotation

via “Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.” — Art of Quotation

I have been remiss in my blogging lately. It has been busy with moving, building a new house, writing a collaborative scholarly paper, grandchildren on the way, and visiting our one grandson. I plan on being more faithful and maybe doing some writing to go with presses.

Gigi has a wonderful blog filled with quotes, poetry, and images. She shared a Wendell Berry quote to remind me how I am part of nature, not separate.

This post reminded me of something my mother used to tell us growing up: “birds do not spoil their nests.” Ecology and economy share etymology, coming from the Greek oikos. Besides being a Greek yogurt, it means household and how we care for that household. When I think about Nature from this perspective, I want to treat Her well and be in full relationship with Her.

Deer Resting

I took this picture about a year ago, as we walked out of the United Church in Radium Hot Springs, BC. It is wonderful to find one’s self so close to all God’s creatures.

A Child Sits

Several years ago, during a lively family discussion about war, I was asked where I stood. Peace is simple, yet apparently unachievable. I am opposed to war on the grounds there is a Commandment: “Thou shall not kill!” This underpins all Abrahamic traditions which guide Judeo-Christian and Islamic faiths. Furthermore, this premise is central to the Golden Rule which is universal.  Who suffers? Inevitably, it is the weakest, the most vulnerable.

A child sits–

Shivers

Is it the cold?

Hunger

Loneliness, fear

So fragile and weak

In desperate need.

Amidst war’s carnage–

No refuge

Only chaos

Military heroes wreak havoc

Who is the toughest?

The biggest bully?

Kick sand in a child’s eyes.

There is no right side

Real courage

Begs and pleads?

Stop

Wanton, senseless

Violence and death!

Who gains?

It does not take a hero to order bombs lobbed into civilian areas of cities. Nor does it take a hero to hide behind women and children when bombs are lobbed. Last night, I heard a talking head on TV ask who has the moral high ground. Is there really one when the objective of both sides is to punish the most vulnerable. What a silly question. There is no moral high ground in war only criminality.

Politics as Usual

We are in the midst of a provincial election and I find myself in a quandary of who to vote for. This is an essential question and served as a catalyst for examining the issues. The concerns that emerged are the inability of politicians to stop using catch phrases, stop making illogical promises, and stop thinking all the electorate do not get it.

Danielle Smith, the leader of the Wildrose Alliance, claimed her party, if they formed the government, would act as servant-leaders. Her logic is that they would serve the interests of the people of Alberta. Robert Greenleaf proposed the ultimate test of servant-leadership is the growth of those most marginalized within an organization or society. What would Ms. Smith do for those who have the least, live on the street, are undereducated, and lack access to supports they require to grow as people? Several days later she promised, when a surplus budget was achieved, her government would pay each Albertan $400/year. What does that do for those who are most needy? I submit, if the roughly $1.2 billion that amounts to was used to upgrade, not close, schools in settings with the greatest need and further transformed them into community hubs to provide a broad range of social, health, and educational supports for people in those communities, there would be money left. For those living on the streets, allocate resources to responsible charities to help people in need. There would still be money left. When a similar enticement was sent out some years ago, I turned it over to a charity but not everyone is able or willing to do that. I believe governments, modeling true servant-leadership, have mechanisms to effectively develop and distribute resources. Moreover, I can only think of a handful of politicians who deserve the label of servant-leaders. Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire and former Conservative MP Doug Roche, come to mind. Surely, Ms. Smith is not suggesting she and her party fit that mold?

Premier Alison Redford made promises, as well. She seems to have fallen out of favour with some media people and is taking a bit of a hit. My concerns are about building a number of schools and refurbishing others. Besides asking where the money will come from, what happened to the concept of transformative education? That term suggests the possibility of real conversations about public education happening at and with the grassroots in this province. Are politicians not aware of a growing trend towards alternative, private, and home school decisions made by families in this province? It seems to go unnoticed by politicians and bureaucrats alike. What does this trend mean to the future of public education? This question is long overdue; and we need to consider it and develop real, meaningful dialogue around it. If we consider the increasing usage of technology in our lives, do schools have to be buildings or is that, in some cases, an outmoded way of thinking? Surely, Ms. Redford and her party do not think they are promising anything transformative in public education? Keep in mind, there are other areas requiring transformation. What would transformation of education, health care, social services, and environmental stewardship look like in this province?

The most likely candidates for the Premier’s office make promises, use catch phrases, and will spend money and resources in ways that perpetuate the status quo. Both are nominally politically conservative, but what are they trying to conserve? I want to conserve things, too—the environment, public education, affordable, accessible health care, and a social support system working for all citizens of Alberta. This conservation assumes a different view of community, leadership, conversation, and resource development. No politician or media shill has the right to say they speak for all Albertans until they have spoken to all Albertans. When did that happen? Will it ever happen?

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