Monday, June 26, 2006

Sold!

I think I've got all the problems associated with comments resolved. No restrictions, no moderation, etc. So any comments any of you have made should now appear. So please re-post your comments, I'd like very much to see them.

Our home has been sold! Now it's a matter of "can't waiting" until our new one is ready. That will be some time in late fall, I think. Unless there is a stretch of good weather ahead.

It will be a bit complicated, as we will have to vacate by August 25th and go to our place in Michigan for a few months. So coordinating our packing, moving, storing, and leaving will be a bit of a problem, but fun in the end.

I must get onto some matters at the moment, but will be back with more of my writing, and some more comments re: politics.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hi, everyone! It's another nice day here in NEO.

Some may wonder why I don't comment on local politics. I'm not sure why, either! But some has to do with the rather dubious candidates for governor. Mr. Blackwell impresses me quite negatively. His "religious" front seems to me to be in poor taste, to say the least. Name calling and other low tactics turn me off. I'm tired of negative campaigning, locally or nationally. I wonder when we will hear some positive programs from either party.

I would like to hear the Democrats come out with a positive program, that is realistic and forward looking. Health care, environment, taxation, education, and of course foreign policy are areas that call for some seriousl thought. And proposals. I've had enough of the Republican's policies - policies that cater to big business and the large power brokers. A voice is needed for the little people - the workers in the trenches, so to speak. The real income of most Americans has been dropping for a number of years, pensions are disappearing, and on and on.

We do live in a truly global world, and jobs are going to tend to go where they are cheaper. It's unfortunate that this means that many will travel to other parts of the world. So, what should be done? A good program of retraining within industry would be a good start. I know there are some who already have such programs, but more are needed. The jobs will develop, but higher levels of skills will be necessary.

Health care in this country is a scandal. Too many Americans are forced to forego needed care from lack of any kind of insurance. Isn't it time to have a universal health care system? of course it may cost more, but it seems to me that we should be able to afford it.

The debate over global warming is clearly going to the affirmative - that is, that global warming is a fact, that human misuse of natural resources, excessive use of carbon based fuels, etc. have contributed to it. We are sitting on a disaster that's going to happen within the foreseeable future. A sound program of research and prevention is desperately needed.

Financing education on the local level needs reform. Somehow the funds available must be shared with all school districts, rather than the present system of local funding based on property taxes. Equalization of some sort must be instituted in order to insure good learning environments in ALL schools.

Well, I've gotten some things off my chest. How about other ideas? I'm waiting!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Well, here it is, Saturday morning. And it looks as though it will be a very nice day.

I'm not sure if I told you why I'm and angry grandpa. If so, forgive me, but I thought I should make that clear.

I have several grandchildren, and a few greats. I have lived in this country for 81 years, and it has changed. Some has been for the better, but the overall direction this country has been taking, especially in the past 6 years, bothers me no end.

I grew up thinking that I was free to express my thoughts without fear of someone hauling me off to jail. I thought I could go where I liked, do what I liked, etc. so long as it didn't hurt any one, or interfere with their rights.

I spent 30 plus years in the classroom, teaching history, government, sociology and psychology, trying to instill in my students a love of learning, respect for themselves, and respect for others.

I stressed the atmosphere of free inquiry and free expression as being what made this country what it is.

Now we have the Patriot Act, domestic surveillance, suspicion and fear of government as an intrusive element of the atmosphere.

The "war" on terror is projected to go on for many years, permitting the government to continually raise fear of attack, excessive expenditure, increasing intrusion into the private world of citizens. I cannot avoid the thought that it begins to sound like 1984. I know that that world projected by George Orwell is horrible, totalitarian, and absolutely counter to what this nation has always stood for. Yet isn't it fairly obvious where the current trend can lead to?

I'm afraid for my children and grandchildren, and for all others younger than I, who will have to live in this country, and world.

Add to all of this the obvious results of human misuse of the natural world - global warming, with it's inevitable results. What has man wrought?

I'm sure there are many who do not have my pessimistic viewpoint, and I would welcome comments that would give me more positive reassurance.

Now I'll add some more thoughts on teaching and learning.



INTERLUDE III

The focal point of all so far -
To teach - the teacher - who is
To combine, facilitate, instruct,
Discipline, analyze, direct - to
Deal with the puzzles, open the boxes
(Always within the box, of course).
A puzzle himself (or herself) within
A box, and neatly labelled.
Restrained, defined, structured and
roled, status-important - part of
The System. A system lacking
Imagination or creativity - lock-
Step to the clock, Carnegie Unit
And seat-time. An industrial
Model of production even as the
Production system has moved on.

The Nineteenth Century dealing
With Twenty First Century needs -
Read Toffler, for goodness sake,
Instead of always calling up the
"Good old days" that never were,
And cannot serve. And Rogers, and
Buscaglia, Lair, and the host of others
Who at least look forward from today.

TEACH

"To teach" - a verb that means - what?
To impart? To give information, or
Knowledge, or wisdom, or skill - to another?
To be learned sufficiently to have
Mastered the arcane mysteries of some
Subject? To know the right words?

To teach - to discipline - to penalize;
To create a hierarchy, from failure
To excellence; to make the system work?
Correct response, proper spelling,
Dates in right order - are these the
Stuff of which we truly teach?

Can anyone teach anyone anything?
Can I, by my efforts, cause you to
Know one slightest thing more; to
Understand; to be wise? If I
Have knowledge, skill, understanding
And wisdom, can I teach it to you?
NO!

What, then, can I do - you do - who are
Called teacher? We can know, and
Show our knowing; can understand
And be ourselves understanding;
Can be wise, and in our wisdom

Take care to love - ourselves, our
Truths, and those with whom we share our wisdom -
All and any who wish to learn.

We can live that which we are,
And know to be good - quietly
And patiently. For to teach is
To model - daily living our own
Search for Truth, Beauty, Wisdom,
In such ways as to entice others to follow.

Facilitate, a sometime substitute
For teach, yet still insistent,
Demanding, assuming more than
Learning; too often management
And efficiency and order are what's meant.
And learning's left behind.

And teaching as judgement on a score-
Card leaves little room for ought
But fear. And fear? Now, there's the
Greatest motivator, is it not?
So teaching must mean inducing fear?
Oh, no - of course not! Oh?
When - under what circumstances - did
You best truly learn? How were
You taught? By whom? Consider.
To teach? we must come now to
Think of learning, for that is
The avowed purpose, is it not?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

OK, here's one for you.

Why is the Congress bent on amending the Constitution to prohibit flag burning? The Supreme Court has protected flag burning as an expression of freedom of speech. Apparently some persons believe that the court was mistaken.

The flag is not a person, its a piece of cloth (usually), with red and white stripes and some stars.
It is a symbol, it is not the nation.

As a symbol, it stands for different things to different people. Among other things it stands for what this nation values: freedom of speech, religion; the right to a fair and speedy trial by a jury; the right to be protected from encroachment upon our person and property from others.

It is not a sacred symbol, such as a cross, a Buddha, or other such symbols.

To ban the burning of the flag is to make Consstitutional a denial of one of the rights already granted, hence it is at cross purposes to the document it amends.

And it doesn't belong in the constitution. I don't recall that there is any mention of any flag in the Constitution, it's design, size, color, whatever.

Obviously this is another ploy in an election year to play to the sentiment and perhaps even the fear that is a marker of the present Republican Administration's approach to the elecoral process.

They have been using fear - fear of terrorists, fear of diverse opinion, or just unnamed fear, to keep the population in a state of tension that is easily manipulated state. This is one of the characteristics of a totalitarian regime.

If the American people don't wake up and start thinking clearly, we may pay dearly for our lassitude and inattention.

This amendment should be roundly defeated, and not brought up again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Good Morning.

After a nice hot day yesterday, some thunder and lightning last evening, and several rain showers during the afternoon and evening, it's now a delightfully cool and sunny day.

No further notice on our new home construction. It's staked, so they can start digging the foundation hole anyday now, I assume.

This place has had some lookers, but no buyers yet. We'll wait patiently for more to show up, and for someone to say "I'd like to make an offer". That will be the day!

Here are some more of my thoughts on education, as of 1987. I don't think I would change anything, from what I hear about todays high schools. A bit more ferment, but the usual stuff you would expect from kids first trying on adulthood, and some doing very well, and others failing miserably! Most of them just managing to stay out of trouble, and get decent grades.

Great lead in to the next topic, no?

GRADES

And now, we come to that great
Educational invention - the mark!
Oh, boy! What power therein lies if
Empires are to be built! What critical
Acclaim by which to say "I'm better,
I'm winning" - or with which to fail.

And failing, once again somehow to
Prove - the System works. All cannot
Reach the top, you see! Some must
Fall - so the System dictates. And
Someone must play God, you see, if
All mortals demand success.

Why must there be a lowest learner?
Because there is a highest? - is that all?
And what of growth, of time and
Learning, do they count for naught?
'Twould seem so! Although a grade at best
Is merely one small part of a single snapshot,

In which all stand still, frozen
For that moment - an illusion only - of
Who is best or worst. Insecurity,
Uncertainty - must be allayed lest someone
Else achieve first place (and woe to my career!)
Why is it so? Why must it be?
You know!

INTERLUDE III

The focal point of all so far -
To teach - the teacher - who is
To combine, facilitate, instruct,
Discipline, analyze, direct - to
Deal with the puzzles, open the boxes
(Always within the box, of course).
A puzzle himself (or herself) within
A box, and neatly labelled.
Restrained, defined, structured and
roled, status-important - part of
The System. A system lacking
Imagination or creativity - lock-
Step to the clock, Carnegie Unit
And seat-time. An industrial
Model of production even as the
Production system has moved on.

The Nineteenth Century dealing
With Twenty First Century needs -
Read Toffler, for goodness sake,
Instead of always calling up the
"Good old days" that never were,
And cannot serve. And Rogers, and
Buscaglia, Lair, and the host of others
Who at least look forward from today.
So, there you have it. Enjoy!
Bob

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hooray!

i've found the place to make coments available to anyone. Thanks to Jill Zimon, of Walks like she Talks. I am eternally grateful to Jill for her help in getting started on this adventure, and for her encouaragement.

I will add some more of my thoughts on learning and teaching, and hope that readers will realize the they only make complete sense if you start with "Puzzle" and from that on in order.

If anyone had read the preveous content of this blog, you would find that I had duplicated a previous one. So, we continue with the next one. So,


So - now we have the beginning
Of a pattern. It remains to
Tie in the content and the substance -
The subjects, words, styles
And all else that goes together to
Make up an education.

To what end, you ask? Has this
Not been done before? The 1983
Commission on Excellence had
Everyone chattering - and has it
Truly hit the mark? Do you think
So? And what of Bloom, Hirsch, and others?
More homework, tougher standards, more courses -
Are these the things, lacking which,
We remain puzzles within boxes, boxes within boxes;
Roles to roles responding, while
Fear and insecurity increase, violence
Breeds violence, and the doomsayers
Predict the end?
Not so, say I - read on!

SUBJECTS

History, geography, language and the arts;
The sciences: biological, behavioral,
Physical and social; mathematics, and
Literature; physical education, health,
Home ec and driver ed; values and
Philosophy; computers and - what else?

The list is long, and varies somewhat
According to the fad; or someone's
Assessment of the needs of the marketplace;
Or the availability of a grant; or of
A person with an interest or a passion.
And of what do these consist, really?

Of answers, conclusions, rules and theorems,
To be absorbed by each eager puzzle,
Contained within the box; repeated back
Upon command, in recitation or exam;
Approved or disapproved, whether right
Or wrong, according to the game.
But what of that great conversation, begun
So long ago with questions, aimed
At deity, at man himself, and nature?
What of truth, beauty, virtue,
Wisdom at the end? They're not the
Stuff of answers, but of questions.

What organizes these subjects, if not
Questions? The world is full
Of answers - 'tis right inquiry that
Gives them form and shape, their importance.
No mere name, nor label, nor complicated
Structure alone suffices to give them meaning.

Yet we persist in the assumptions that
Subjects, too, are boxes; yet seldom
Is their puzzle truly shown, but
Rather their solutions, all neatly
Set forth to be repeated, on command,
According to the game.

WORDS

Words can clarify, or mystify;
Explain or confuse; reveal or hide
A meaning; create or destroy; dominate:
In short, words are one of man's
Greatest problems - and my problem,
In using them to talk with you.

Undoubtedly Man's greatest invention -
Language - look what we have done -
From direct discourse to abstract thought.
Empires, arcane priesthoods, closed
Societies and long vocabularies - and
More than ought else, these we teach.

The simple made difficult; the difficult
Impossible; and the result? Control!
Control the non-initiate, the student,
The outsider, in whatever field, and
Justify an institution by the clever
Use of words - the puzzle grows.

And puzzles, in their boxes, learn only
Words, and words become reality, and
Despite the proper labelling, all seems
Lost - to understanding and to sense.
Words are not reality, but symbols
Merely - a clever human invention.
As such, they are of great use; in any
Other way, of great abuse, a
Disservice to all - haven't you noticed?
True wisdom is brief, clear and
Non-controlling of others? So
Why the proliferation of verbosity?

PERIOD

Friday, June 16, 2006

Selling a home

Here we are, in the midst of sorting, tossing, donating, packing, and selling our home of 51 years.
You never know how much you have accumulated until you start to dig into the back of closets, shelves in the basement, etc. Wow, stuff I had long forgotten!

I'll have to have a yard sale to see if I can get some cash for some of my tools, garden tools, snow blower, lawn mower, etc. We're taking all of our furniture with us, but there are always a few things you can get rid of.

Since the new home won't be ready until late October or November, we have to think of taking a lot of clothing with us to our place in Michigan after we move out. And finding an inexpensive mover is apparently not possible! We'll have to store everything for a coule of months, and that isn't cheap either!

Our new home will be within three miles of our daughter, in Macedonia, Ohio, and our younger son and his family in Akron, about 20 miles away. That's the main reason for the move - so that we will be closer to them. Our older son is in the Denver, Colorado area, so no way we can get any closer to them!

Books - we've given nearly 500 to the county library, and will have to box about 300 more to take with us!

I'm finding that some persons have tried to post comments on my other blog, and can't do it.
Apparently you have to have a login name and password. I still don't know what to tell them to do about it. Any ideas, or info on how to do that will be appreciated. I was under the impression that anyone could post a comment. What gives?

Guess that's all for this morning. Have to get at the sorting and tossing again!

Bob

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tomorrow is a red letter day for us - it's our 57th anniversary! 57 years of love, companionship, good friendship, and all the best that one could expect. I have been so very fortunate in having Katharine by my side for all of these years. And our three children(!) now in their 40's and 50's!
Wow - what else can I say!

In following up with my thoughts on learning and teaching, I will include here another one or two of my poems, to be read following the previous ones. I hope you're following me here! One never knows, without feedback, does one?

ROLES

Teacher, student, counselor, principal;
Parent, child; freak, jock, bookworm,
Fool, star, leader, follower; all roles.
All words - labels for more boxes
That divide, create contention, interfere
with growth, with living.

Why must they be? Is there a law,
A rule, that dictates their ever-
Present intrusion? Perhaps. A part
Of the game? Is this the only game
In town? You'd think so, to hear
The protests when the roles break down!

Some must teach, so that others may learn,
And someone oversee the lot, to -
What? See that each box, each label, and
Each puzzle remains properly in its spot?
Can anyone teach? Should we closely
Examine this role, and all the others?

Clearly determine if the roles are functional,
Practical, nonsensical? So, what if we
Do, what then? It's still the same old game,
Kept going by the winners, constantly
Reinforced - and the critic put aside
As visionary, revolutionary, or dangerous.

RULES

I guess it's necessary to have some rules;
Otherwise, who would know what's possible.
Or not allowed, in everyday social situations,
In the best ordered classroom or school.
But, it's beyond comprehension what sometimes
Occurs in the name of 'rule making.'

Sometimes it seems as though it's "get even time".
For all the supposed insults that have occurred. At
other times, it takes on the character of
Righteous indignation - the students soon
Become mere objects of decrees. And, oh, so
Often, it's "Band-Aid" time; the rules
Don't seem to work, and in the absence of
Philosophy, or the simplest principles
Of learning, new rules are made to make the old ones
Work.

What's missing is respect, that simple
Idea that under-pins all true relationships;
Upon which trust is built; an atmosphere of
Understanding and cooperation within which the
Enterprise can go forth.
Oh, sure, it's difficult to work this way;
It takes time, effort, and patience. But
We're in the learning business! If not,
Then perhaps the rest makes sense (although
I doubt it very much!). It's hardly possible to
Enforce respect, but when willing to
Tender it to others, it's usually returned,
Often in surprising and rewarding ways.
But, most importantly, it results in a whole
New way of seeing one's self, and of being
Whole, with others, truly a person working
With persons in the most truly loving
And growing ways - and isn't that what's supposed
To be going on?

Oh, as for discipline: there is that, isn't
There! There's news that's good!
Discipline can mean other than imposed
Limits, punishments. It can be, instead, Discipleship -
a following not slavish, not
Unthinking, but responding to the best that
Is called forth in each of us.

Of course, the key is self-respect - that's understood;
What many of the young have not yet had
Nurtured. So it must be gently urged along, with
Patience, and with respect from
All the rest of us. Else, fill up the detention
Halls, and buy another case of
Pink slips!
So, we make progress in the examination of secondary education in 1987. How much has changed now, I don't know. But I think it's still valid for the most part. I hope not, but I'm afraid so, from what I hear from former colleagues.
Think about it, and enjoy.
Bob

Monday, June 12, 2006

Here it is, Monday morning! Just took some books to the church for the library. I didn't realize we had so many books! We've already donated perhaps 500 to the county library for their book sale! Wow!

A word about the essays I'm posting. They aren't appearing in the order in which I have them organized. So, to get the thread of my thinking, you have to read Puzzles first, then Boxes, then the next one, and so on. They don't make much sense standing alone. I wrote all of them over a period of about 6 months back in 1987 as a summation of what I had learned in over 30 years of teaching. As such they only make total sense read in the correct order, especially for the first few. After that, they will stand by themselves.

So - I'll add the next ones here,

ROWS

Straight lines march, from front to back,
Of thirty chairs, more or less. In
Each a student sits - eager, apprehensive,
Perhaps afraid. Thirty places, thirty
Faces (puzzles, really) facing toward
Number thirty-one: authority, order,
Fate - yes, even fate. For grades
And credits are the coin dispensed by
Number thirty one!

And rows serve order, authority, and
Again fate - papers, tests and answers
Must somehow match a name, a face,
Else none can know - the final
Evaluation.

Presumptuous, impersonal, all must
Face towards the center of the whole.
Ignoring others (mustn't talk), only
Number thirty-one can know! Mystery!
Each puzzle in its place - a box, labelled.
On the chart - the book of puzzles
In their boxes, in their rows,
Facing toward the front.

SEPARATION

Desks, tables, rows, front, back,
Authority, rules and roles;
All work to separate, each from other,
All from one as well. Each within
His (or her) allotted space, divided by
The unspoken language of the system.

Boxes, puzzles - squares upon a board -
A game, the rules of which are
Firmly set by others who have won. And
Competition, fear, conformity - these
Three the values prime that set the lines
Between the players - define the rules.

'Tis called education, and learning its'
Supposed goal. And what is learned?
Ways to truth? Sharing in a great
Conversation of Man? Appreciation
Of Beauty, Wisdom, Truth, Virtue? Life?
Some, yes - no thanks to the game.
But most learn only how to win,
To perpetuate the game - separate,
With right answers and proper words -
Unable to recognize the differences
Between the boxes and the puzzles,
And life.
So, I hope you can begin to understand where I'm going with this.
Enjoy,
Bob

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Good morning! Another sunny, but cool day in NEO. Doesn't feel exactly like June, does it?

Oh, well, it will warm up, and I can spend more time outdoors. I love to read outside, where I can enjoy my pipe, and the warmth, and a good book.

We have been donating a lot of books to the County Library. Many of them are older textbooks, and the like. But some of them have been much read books that we won't have room for in our new digs. It's very tough deciding what goes with us and what to donate, sell, or throw away. I never thought we'd ever be in this position. We were so well established here that I thought we'd end our days right here. But nope, our daughter Chris had a different idea! She wanted us closer so that she wouldn't have to drive 30 miles to see us. It sounded good to us, so here we are in the midst of cleaning this house, eliminating non-essentials, checking the plans for the new home, and "can't waiting" for the move. Wow!

In all of the years we have lived here, 51 all together, we've raised three kids, seen them off to college or training, sheltered them when they had to come home for a bit, then happily seen them get established in their chosen careers. Then came the weddings, and the addition of some very wonderful additional children in our son and daughters in law. How wonderful it is to see them all happy, creative and enjoying the life we had hoped for them. Such are the joys of parenthood.

We have been so very fortunate - we did not try to direct their lives, but let them grow into what they were as persons. And lo and behold, they have each become good friends. And we couldn't be more pleased and happy. There is nothing better than good friends. In fact, I'll add my thoughts on friendship in a minute.

I used to tell my students that friendship was the greatest relationship, and when they married, they should marry a friend, or someone with whom they would build a friendship relationship.
I truly believe that, for Katharine and I are the best of friends, and have been for over 57 years now.

Thoughts on Friendship
I cannot imagine living without friends,
Or without friendship - they are my
Completion, in a way. Oh, I am whole all
By myself, and true to that within me
That is best. But, being human, and alive,
I need more than me, alone, to do
And share with, or what's the point? We
Aren't made with feelings and with
Caring just to sit beside a stream all day.
There's time, and need for that as well,
But other's are around; without my friends
I might well lose touch with all I am,
A person with a heart, who needs other hearts in tune.

Friendship is the finest of all the
Ways there are to care for others.
It's the way to say: "wake up, live, grow"
To reach the peak of all that's
Best in each of us, and share it
With another. And sharing, be just
Who I am, no more; and if sometimes I am
A bit less, it doesn't matter, for
I have a friend who cares, accepts, and
Doesn't judge. A friend who knows
How I may feel, or think; who listens with
A hearing heart and lets me be - myself.
In this tough world, there's enough aloneness
To serve the solitary souls who
Seem to want to be without connection;
Who in their deeper hearts may cry
For solace, respect, love and comfort,
Yet do not find it in their hearts
To give; fear letting others in.
Such is not for me, and if it's weakness
Then I'm weak, unafraid to let another
See my need, unashamed of tears
Of sorrow or of joy, unabashed by softer
Thoughts, buoyed up by love.

For love it is that's at the core;
The corner stone, the keystone of
The arch that's friendship. Without condition,
Absent judgment, possessing no one,
These stones so closely fit together form
A solid and enduring monument to the
Best that's in us all. So join with me
And be my friend, and live, and love,And grow.
So, there it is. Have a wonderful day!

Friday, June 09, 2006

More thoughts

Good morning! The sun is shining, and it's about 60 degrees here. Looks like it will be another nice spring day here in NEO!

Since I'm not getting many comments, I assume I'm not stirring anyone up! Let's see - how can I get something going?

I think about the state of Science education in our schools. Can it be any wonder that our kids do poorly? Consider the attitude of the Bush administration toward stem cell research! And the "Religious Right" to evolution. They insist on Intelligent Design being a valid scientifically established FACT! Where's the evidence? Where is the theoretical framework? How can it be tested or verified? No way except by circular reasoning going back to the Biblical accounts and assuming those accounts to be factual! Evolution is a mere theory, albeit it's over a century's worth of findings, theoretical work, and continually increasing evidence. How can kids be expected to understand science when it's presented in such a framework? Not well, that's for sure.

The Social Sciences, being in the category of "soft" sciences, are often suspect as well, since they foster critical thinking on political and social issues. And there's nothing more sensitive than such issues in a time of fear and trembling.

My teaching years began during the early days of the cold war, McCarthyism, John Birch, et al.
That envronment made it sometimes very uncomfortable to question the powers that be, policy, and the like. Most of us did OK, with some caving in to criticism and an occasional threat.

The environment today, with the Patriot Act in place, is even more fraught with possibilites for abuse by government. The climate of fear engendered by the Bush folks and the strident right wing of politics bodes not well for open speech wherever it may impinge upon sensitive minds.

At my age, I have no fear for myself - the scare tactics that have been used - the repeated references to "9/11", terrorists, WMD, etc don' t really pose much of a personal threat. But they do frighten me when itr comes to the future of this country. The "war" on terrorism, with the implication that it will go on and on, is fraught with bad vibes for the next generations.

I'm not at all assured by the two party system, either. Where is the opposition? Where is the political stance of a democratic party candidate? Both major parties seem to be most concerned with being re-elected, and lack the guts to say "NO" when they can clearly see that it should be said. Oh, yes, there are a few, but all too few, who do. Pick your own favorite.

Well, I guess that's enough for this round. I wish all of you a great and rewarding day, and keep thinking and talking!

Here's a link for you to check out! I was encouraged to open it by a friend in Saugatuck, MI, where we spend seveal months each summer, and where both Katharine and I grew up. They need some waking up!

Saugatuck-good-government

Let me add some thoughts on education in general. Many have spoken about how bad the schools are, what a lousy job, etc. I wonder where the parents are? They are surely there when there's something to complain about, or to haul in a lawyer when discipline is involved! And they don't seem to value education enough to provide the funds to pay teachers adequate salaries. I have also noticed, in recent years, for superintendents to be business managers, not educators. Boards of education too often are playgrounds where people play out their power fantasies. And a stepping stone to higher office locally, if not beyond.


Bob

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Hey, whoever you are - let's have some substantive feedback. You have any thoughts to share, disagree with, whatever? I surely hope we aren't all losing our ability to think critically. If we do, we're sunk. What's great about this country, and being a part of it, is the ability to learn, to think, to express, and to act reasonably on that process. I only wish I had had George W. in one of my classes for a while - maybe, just maybe, he might be a little better at thinking through what he says, and does. Oh, well, you only reach one or two each year, and that's a great feeling!

Are we gettting all bent out of shape over Iran's nucliear development? I wonder. Of course they have every right to pursue science where it takes them. And how do we really know that they are aiming at weapons? Am I naive, or is the Bush crowd assuming? I think I've lived long enough to be fairly realistic, but it does sound like a repeat of "weapons of mass destruction, ready to let fly at the U.S" by Saddam. Paranoia, or practicality?

Well, anyway the weather has been improving, and I can be outdoors more. I love to sit on the front porch or the back patio and read, and think. Can't write worth a damn by hand anymore - can't even read my own handwriting some times! So I sit here at the trusty PC and try to think and type, etc. Seems to work, or so I delude myself.

We're in the midst of a major change here. We will be moving from the home we bought back in 1955 to a new one, to be closer to our daughter. So it's decisions, decisions - keep this, take this to the library as a donation, throw this out, what do we do with that, etc. But it's coming together, and I'm beginning to get that itchy feeling that tells me I'm ready for it to happen.
Thank goodness for wonderful kids and friends!!

Speaking of kids, I've got to show you a picture of our little Joni Allen, who is 6 and a beauty. The picture at the header is the young lady, in her kindergarten class last fall at Halloween time.
She is, by the way, a legal immigrant, having been adopted in China by our son and his wife. What a delightful child she is. Now and then I'll toss in other pics for you to look at, but no big gallery - that's asking too much of anyone!

Guess I'd better get a refill of my Folger's, and get at some other stuff. See ya!

So - it's off to school

From puzzles to boxes to rows, and
Rows to boxes and puzzles - what
In the world is this about, anyway?
Each of us is a puzzle, in many
Dimensions, contained in boxes with
Labels - names, addresses, occupations..

A puzzle to ourselves and to others,
We often confront ourselves, and
Others, as boxes only, rarely with
The cover open.

Other boxes are larger, seemingly
More complex - schools, factories,
Offices, churches, and the like.
And each of us has our position
Somewhere, as a puzzle, in a row
(Or rows) of boxes, within
A box - often unable to relate,
Save on the surface. And
Thereby hangs my tale - tied to
The box called school.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Think classbox(room)


I face a wall - not blank, but
Two dimensional and flat.
Squared up against another, and
Another - they form a box around,
Above and below. Six sides my world.

Yet more: a box immediate surrounds
Me; not of finite walls, but of
Quiet, one-direction facing, looking,
Responding. One side open: all
The rest closed off by rule and
By the demands of attention;
(Really, the right answer) - for
My box is labelled with a name,
Whose passage through this series
Depends upon proper markings,
Good words, written by the
Puzzle at the front.

That puzzle, like myself, is in a box,
Alone, it seems. Neither truly sees
Nor hears - knows - the other. Objectivity
Is said to be the virtue, intimacy
The crime. And so, puzzles within boxes,
Boxes within boxes, we remain - alone.

Puzzles

Thoughts on learning and teaching, or
What my students taught me.

Enigmatic is a good word, I guess.
It certainly describes my thoughts
And feelings - to myself. Others
Also oft' respond to me this way -
Hence I seem a puzzle to both worlds -
Within and without my box.

Neatly packaged, described, labelled:
I'm in a box - a puzzle box - that
Moves - now here, now there;
With other puzzles in other boxes,
Through time, and all the larger boxes
Into which all the most
Important things seem placed: all
Riddles - mysteries - enigmas;
Puzzles, in a word - labeled, each one
With its proper name.

I'm not my name, nor my description,
But myself - my puzzle. How to
Break the box? Work at the puzzle?
Ask any questions? Communicate?
Feel the mystery of just one other
Puzzle in its box? Larger and more
Numerous boxes do not serve this need.
What then? And why?

Random stuff

Thanks to Jake - I had a brain slip when writing that! I do know that Sen. Byrd is a senator from W.Va.

Sometimes my brain says bye by to my fingers, and all sorts of crazy things can happen!

Another great day here in NEO! Perhaps true Spring has arrived? Who knows, but the weather guessers!

Thanks to all of you who written with encouraging comments. I do need that. I'm not new to computers, nor the internet, but I sure am new to this new, democratic and world wide communication system. It's great. I've read Tom Friedman's The World is Flat. Excellent read, and I think he has put it very well. Now, if we can get this global warming thing cleared up. Who is right? Is it or ain't it warming up? Who or what is to blame? Etc.

Gotta run and chat with some ham buddies, so see y'all later!

Bob

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Comment: 11/20/02 Op Ed piece for the Saugatuck, MI Commercial Record

I suppose almost everyone has read George Orwell’s novel, 1984, never thinking that such a state of affairs could ever exist outside of the Soviet Union.

As I look around me, watch TV news and talk shows, read the papers, and contemplate what I observe, the more I am struck by how much like the early stages of Goldstein’s society must have been like. The world is slowly but inexorably moving to a three state international world. And how is it taking place?

Since September 11, 2001, we have been continually reminded of the presence of terror and terrorists “out there” as well as at home; we have been told repeatedly that in order to deal with and defeat terrorism, it is necessary to resort to secret tribunals, secret detentions, and secret information. Such has been the thrust of the Bush administration’s argument and action.

I am disturbed by the apparent capture of the Presidency by the very conservative right, which is highly nationalistic, parochial, and contemptuous of public opinion. Such individuals have filled in most of the key advisory positions around the President, and now that the Republicans have captured the entire Congress as well as the Presidency, may well soon include the Supreme Court.

Now we have not only terrorists such as Usama bin Laden to deal with, with his Al Queda terror network. Now we have Saddam Hussein as the focus. It isn’t enough that we have to fight the terrorists; we are told that now we must, if necessary, mount a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.

Why? It is alleged that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; chemical, biological and nuclear. No doubt they do. It is claimed that Iraq presents a “clear and present danger” to the United States, its friends and allies, the Mid East in general. It is claimed that the United Nations must act through the Security Council, but will in any event act alone if necessary.

This watcher wants to know: Why Iraq now? Where is the concrete evidence that Iraq has the capability of delivering WMD to the U.S.? Where is the concrete evidence that Iraq has reconstituted its WMD program, and has made significant progress in their development? Why is diplomacy, through the United Nations, seen as such a weak approach? And, I have to add: what, if any, is the connection between the financial interest of Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush and the matter of Mid-east oil? There may be none, but it would be interesting to explore this line of inquiry. It is to be recalled that both, at one time or another, have been closely associated with domestic oil production and distribution corporations!

The press has been less than forthcoming in it’s pursuit of the truth, apparently willing to accept the Minister of Information Arie Fleisher’s word, or Minister of Military Planning Rumsfeld’s briefings. Oh, yes, the reporters ask questions, but they don’t seem to be able to pursue them to the core.

There are some who try, and valiantly speak and write, but in the background noise surrounding these events can be heard the words “traitor”, “un-American” and similar epithets. Not loud, not many, but they are there, and they are disturbing, to say the least.

Since when has it been unpatriotic to ask questions of the government? Since when has it been a treasonable act to express disagreement with policy.? One of the fundamental rights in a free society is the freedom of expression, freedom of speech, which includes a free press. Are we approaching the Alien and Sedition Acts of John Adams’ administration? The words of Attorney General Ashcroft do seem to lead in that direction.

This 'n that

Thanks to all of you who gave me such encouragement. I guess I'll carry on for a while!

I've been thinking about this Defense of Marriage Amendment - what a major, major act for Congress to spend time on! First of all, such an item does NOT belong in the Constitution. Second, marriage is primarily a matter of personal and private concern, and if it must be defined, let it be done differently. Third, it's a political ploy - part of the gamesmanship of the Bush people to win the Christian Right. Incidentally, I saw a bumper sticker a few years back which read "The Christian Right is neither" Nuff said on that!

Marriage needs defense, but not from Congress. It needs a better social environment. Kids grow up getting a distorted view of sex, happiness, relationships, etc. Where do they get it? Why, I'm glad you asked - from TV shows. I don't watch the current crop of sitcoms, etc., but I read about their content, and wonder what world they are portraying!

And speaking of TV - we have become a nation of addicts - drug addicts! Look at the ads for all the happy pills, male enhancement pills, pain killers, you name it. It's no wonder that drug addiction is a huge problem!

Back to the first topic - (I'm thinking randomly, as you probably guessed) - The matter of same sex marriage needs a format which will grant the same legal protections and rights as any other combination. Corporations are granted personhood, why do we insist on discriminating on this particular matter? Oh, I know - the Bible and what some believe that it says about homosexuality. Well, I thought this was mostly a Christian society, and I don't see anything in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth on the subject. He was totally, unconditionally, a loving person, regardless who you were, or are. And that's all I need to know. So let's get off this topic once and for all and start acting what we claim to believe. If you believe otherwise, OK, but please don't try to impose your own personal belief on the rest of us through legislation, etc.

Now - something that has bothered me for many years. War! We fought WW II because we were attacked, as a nation, by another nation, and then two more. That's one kind of war - defensive. But now we come to current U.S. policy of preemption, and that changes everything.
The older and "wiser" among us managed to get us into the situations, so the youngsters have to go into the meat grinder. And folks, believe me, war is a mea grinder. It's mud and stink and death and pain and never ending hell on earth. It ain't no picnic in the park, and the kids who haven't had a chance to mess up anything but maybe their own lives are sent out to undo our mistakes.

No one ever said the world was fair, but come on, let's get with it. We older and supposedly wiser folks should be able to elect the best and brightest, back them up with our best thinking, and avoid these situations. Oh, well, I guess I live in never-never land. Oops, I forgot - politics is all about winning elections, not about thinking or doing your best for the country.

Well, I guess that's enough for this round. To all out there, keep up the good fight, keep thinking clearly, without prejudice. As I used to teach my politics classes, make sure of your frame of reference, check you biases, and then think, really think about what you are saying, writing, etc.

Bye for now - MIK (more in the kitchen)

Monday, June 05, 2006

First thoughts

I'm just beginning this blogging thing, so bear with me.

I'm an 81 year old retired High School teacher - History and Social Sciences. I taught for 30 years, and I served in the Army during WW II, two years in Europe during and after the war. I didn't spend those years only to see the direction this country has been going in recent years.

I graduated from Oberlin College with a BA in Political Science, and received the MA from Oberlin in 1956.

Now, to the present discontents.

After 9/11, George W. seemed to have the country with him. But it didn't last long. The Patriot Act scared the pants off me, and I immediately thought of George Orwell's 1984. Big Brother was now watching our library check-outs, etc. Anyone suspected of terrorism could be taken into custody, and held without charges and without access to an attorney. Not even allowed to let the family know what was going on, or where they were held. And all of this for as long as the government wished. Wow! - that's scary! And more recently, we have the NSA conducting surveillance of domestic communications. Big Brother again, with a vengeance.

Then along comes the Iraq invasion. I had a strong suspicion from the start that this was not justified. No weapons of mass destruction, no connection to Al Queda, no direct or immediate threat to the United States. The obfuscation continued with the continual shifting of justfication for invading. And the removal of Saddam would be welcomed with open arms, and the world would be safer from terrorism!

Well, now we see that things aren't as advertised. Not at all. We are over there with troops who have not been trained for the kind of duty they are asked to perform. They are in effect policing a civil war. And the terrorists seem to proliferate, the violence increases, and the government of Iraq is uncertain and tenuous at best.

On the subject of terrorism. Calling our actions a "war on terrorism" is a misnomer. There is no nation, no flag, no national symbols or uniform, and no identifiable enemy. The Geneva Convention does not apply, and the International Rules of War, long established in International Law, do on apply either. Well, well, how abou that?

George W. made a grave mistake in calling our action a "crusade" No word carries more threatening meaning to Muslims in the Middle East. They well remember the Crusades of the 12th to 14th Century, with the Christian states of the West attempting to annihilate the "Infidels". Instead of understanding the mind and culture of the Muslim world, we have created a situation in which suspicion is heightened, and an environment for recruitment of terrorist enhanced. How wrong can one be?

And Congress! They spend time debating non-essentials, while the health care system, immigration, and other serious issues are set aside. The present members seem most concerned with assuring election, hence they don't take a stand on much of anything. They folded their tents on Iraq, and are elsewhere when matters such as Congressional oversight of the Executive are concerned. Senator Byrd (D, VA) commented near the end of his lecture to the Senate on the Constitution, that they might as well hang a sign reading "gone fishin'" on Congress! Well said.

Well, this is a start. I have more to say, so keep checking.

Angry Grandpa