When the Sun comes up. By Dave R. Otey

When the sun comes up the day is bright again. The paths are clear to see. The directions are easy to choose, the potholes and rough spots are easy to avoid. Clarity makes peace and progress possible and definite.  We have our sights set clear and wide, to change our directions to a happier life. Until the next set of clouds that form a storm that makes a darkness and a mood forlorn,

I wonder many times where the clouds come from: the ones within ourselves. What wind brings them in and how are they formed ? What sight or smell, or sound or touch, or taste can turn around our state of mind from joy to fear, from confidence to doubt, to hiding inside instead of going out ?  What pain within gives rise to pointing and yelling instead of finding the way to resolve whatever we think or know is the cause ? What makes us forget the peace and good we have to turn away into self-pity and spiritual depression ?

Hope is happy, the promise of a chance to see life get better, to feel connected to others who care and are waiting to give. Hope connects to the HOW TO, for knowledge of the steps to make, when and where. Hope points out the beliefs that must change to form the right empowering thoughts that must be focused on to provide the guiding insights that energize the desire and drive to confidently commit to the actions that are the steps from where you are to where you want to be.

Where does the rising sun of hope come from? From the right questions.  Why am I off the path of confidence and happiness ?  What needs to change ? What did I say or do that took me off the path ? What do I need to say and do to get back on the path ?  Is there anything I need to stop doing, to stop saying to myself and others to make that shift back onto the path ?  Who must I connect with to help me ?

Life is much better with good wise friends and sometimes strangers God provides along the way to help ”see” what we missed along the way and show us what we need to realign our spirits with peace and happiness.  Who are your sun rays of HOPE ?  Who are YOU a sun ray of hope for ?   Keep the lights shining every chance you get. Make every day glow for others and yourself.    End.

This never ends. By Dave R. Otey

This will never end. The hate based on color, on entitlement, on size and shape, height, weight, clothing styles, hair styles, choice of spiritual faith, mental capabilities and more.  Someone somewhere is chosen to be a scapegoat for the lacks and/ or failures of others. There seems to be a world wide need to have some group to point to and say, “You are the reason my life is in the pits. You are the fault of the pains and terrors I face. You are the cause holding me back from the life of perfection and life of purity in wealth, joy and happiness I must have.”

Slowly, in different places and at different times there are laws made to control the hate, to push back the line, to make freedoms increase for all. But it will never go away. Hate will always find a place to go, always find some weak willed minds and greedy hearts to infect. That is a reality forever existing, and all I need to do is be aware that I stay in tune with my own feelings and my own ”moments” when I might want to blame someone else for any reason for something that is MY responsibility.

I do not worry about the world falling apart. Every puzzle has cracks. None of the pieces are one hundred percent fitting. Challenges happen every day, big or small. Challenges mean changes and we DO have some control over the changes in our lives by how we respond to the challenges we face. Understanding where the challenges come from is a necessary beginning to knowing which steps to take for separating from a  painful situation or how to change the conditions and circumstances that make up the situation.  In my training as a volunteer for CASA–Court Appointed Special Advocate for children– we learned 5 Conflict Resolution Strategies that I say as part of a personal growth drill every day. Avoid, Compete, Harmonize, Compromise, Collaborate. This is the list from weakest strategy to strongest. Sometimes none of them work, and in that case the best action is to MOVE away from the person or place where all the pain is pooling.

I know and understand prejudice, bias, whatever other names label this divisive mindset.  I understand it is wise of me to be careful, if I have to drive through certain places or if I get lost and find myself in an OBVIOUS environment I don’t instantly fit in with. I am wise enough to know how to walk and talk and how to make a peaceful physical presence. I am friendly with everyone but sometimes and in some places it is best to just stay quiet and do whatever business you have to do and leave. In some places, if locals notice you definitely are not from around their area, you might be approached by a helpful person or by someone targeting you for money or a game.

I am sixty years old. I thought and believed naively for a long time that my generation got to see the end of the serious physical attacks of prejudice. Sure, life has become better with more open doors for unity and harmony and climbing up a social and economic and political ladder for personal and community success. But I see now that history changes not so much in ”final” points reached. It changes more in ”steps” slowly walked in  a state of extreme caution, making certain the step is solid and cannot slip back before going on to the next step.  Some places will not allow advanced steps beyond a certain point so the people who want the advanced steps must move to the places that do allow it.  Crazy, nutty world.

The most peacefully integrated arena in the whole world–still not 100% perfect within itself either but higher than anywhere else–is the arena of creative arts. The arts exist for all humankind. There one can express the thoughts, feelings, dreams, horrors, tragedies, pains, pleasures; every human experience and plea, and know there is an audience who gains comfort and understanding and sometimes courage and empowerment from what is seen, felt and hear and tasted in the arena of art. It also has its dangers to watch out for, if someone is offended. But life still goes on.

The greatest power each of us possess is to make sure the hatred ends within each of our own spirits and souls, ends within our own homes, our own neighborhoods, our own towns, our own family reunions, anyplace and everyplace we stand to talk and act.  Be the peaceful and understanding person where we are.   End.

How serious is this problem ? By David Reid Otey

We have a problem, or do we ?  Maybe it’s only an inconvenience magnified by the fact that we hate  to be stopped to give extra thought to just about anything. Maybe we expect life to go continuously smooth on the basis of  feeling we deserve it that way.

Intensity, frustration, concern, doubt, fear–all of this stuff is prime plot material in movies and television shows, and many of us give ourselves a constant diet of this mind frame. It must affect us in some ways that are unhealthy for us. We live in a consistently electronic world where even programmed peace on television is interrupted by commercials. We are often subtly conditioned to interrupt our own thoughts, to train ourselves to be distracted on a schedule, tired of anything and everything after fifteen minutes, ready to make excuses every half hour to avoid and escape from anyone or anything.

One remedy is to try controlling  everything. Controlling our time, our thoughts, our actions, our plans, our steps to our dreams, our moments of breathing, talking and walking is a great demand upon our minds, bodies and spiritual sense. Where is the “surprise” in life going to take place with such watchful eyes upon every second, every person, every sound and movement?

Being aware and present is the most necessary factor to having ”sane” control: the kind of control which means we can 95% of the time respond correctly, appropriately and quickly to any frustrating or dangerous situation. Response is the key to control. We can have thoughtful responses based upon ability to predict points of interruptions, from inside or outside of us. Choosing planned times to focus on the steps of what is most important in our lives maintains the frequent and steady consistency needed for progress.

Maybe a problem belongs to someone else, who wants that problem to also belong to us with equal concern, intensity and time involvement. Maybe we choose to include ourselves in someone else’s problem of their making, to be a hero. Every problem needs three basic elements: time to analyze causes and solutions (which can take 2-4 hours average), comfort from friends and family (which can take from 2-4 hours), and action/response (which is up to the person who must do that part).

The time we take to involve ourselves in other’s problems must be given a specific and reasonable time limit. The comforting element has a purpose of building hope and confidence for the person to be able to make the chosen response. Dragging on this part of the process leads to codependency and helplessness, and will take time away from our own life needs.

Maybe the problems are not even ours to personally worry about. Wars and atrocities in other countries should not worry us, if we do not live anywhere near them. We can empathize with their needs. We can pray for them to resolve and reconnect in peace. We can donate money to funds targeted for their reliefs. We can prepare for how those events might affect some elements of our lives in our own country. In cases of other places being devastated by storms, we can travel there to be part of comfort and clean up if that’s part of our personal life goals. The point here is to stay away from an “end of the world” worrisome mindset. “End of the world” scenarios and media hype have been around for eons. We do our best in this world by staying focused on where we are, on what we dream to do, and on the steps of those dream goals along with our necessary daily needs.  Don’t worry, be aware.  Don’t worry, be focused. Don’t worry, be happy.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids are NOT Pill Boxes. By David Reid Otey

Kids are NOT Pill Boxes. By David Reid Otey

Pill boxes are nice for organizing the right pills for the right days and for the right times. This ensures having exactly what you need when you need it and in the right amount you need. There is no creativity involved in the process. It is cut and dry, simple as pie, easy as a straight line. Structure IS important for specific ultra sensitive issues such as medical needs and physical therapy and making healthy safe meals. Each of these areas have detailed task analysis, proven action-reaction relationships, undoubtable proven results from definite combinations of elements with very predictable expectations. BUT-kids are not THOSE kind of elements.

Kids are human beings. The variations of human beings cannot be simply classified by IQ, environment, heredity, neighborhood, county, state, country, continent nor economic status. The results of human reactions to thousands of variables have shown that one can always expect to be shocked and surprised at the predictable unpredictability of human beings. Senseless things can be of the upmost importance, like the songs, Red Solo Cup, and What does the Fox say. Humans shake their heads at each other, wondering if we as a species are going forwards or backwards, or maybe in consistent circles.

The attempts of government are to try really, really hard to force our species into some sort of straight line of great intellect and common sense, to save us from killing ourselves off or from making too many idiotic choices that could turn all of humanity upside down and drive us all back into caves. Standards have been the main chosen route to gauge the success of anything. Set a standard and make tests that match. Then make matching curriculums and the trio of success is certain. God bless the trinity of standards-test-curriculums. Great money maker, for sure. Great way to shake up a country into a state of confusion. While the public scrambles to deal with the pain and shell switch tactics being forced upon them, making them look the other way, government leaders associated with related businesses, who see the opportunities here, quickly make their moves for their own benefits.

I teach for a living. My occupation is steeped in absurdity. That means we are already working in a consistent fog. It is hard for us to see who is sneaking in to do us more harm than good. It’s never boring, that’s for certain. But it is very frustrating many times because the power we think we really have as teachers is only half as much as we are told. That’s ok, I guess. Because the real leaders of how things turn out are those little people sitting in the desks. You can try any trick you want. They all work for awhile, until the kids figure out the game—which their minds are always looking for–and then sabotage reigns.  Bandaid after bandaid, meaning standards after standards, cover a wound too deep to ever heal. I know this because I’ve watched the history of this nonsense. The government cannot apply the real medicine because of human unpredictability. Most of all the government cannot apply the medicine needed because it would mean losing their power, their hold over the districts monies, their demand to force education to be 99% College and University directed with no other equally viable alternatives. Absurdity Prime. Kind of like a game character isn’t it ?   End

The Mother Land ?–The United States Of America. By David Reid Otey

First of all, I am a teacher. I am very good at what I do because, so far, I have the freedom to teach according to my gifts of understanding, connecting, guiding, helping kids to see their gifts and enlightening, encouraging and empowering them to become the “real” them instead of a merely cloned worker of whatever anyone else may want them to become. But I wonder how long even I can be myself, using my  gifts the way I know they must be used, teaching with MY talents to see what must happen next according to the scope and sequence combined with the emotional and psychological make up of my students.

This push for a national standard system so that every single kid in the good ole’ U.S.A. will be “learning” exactly the same things at the same time all over this grand country of “individual freedom” strikes me as a paradox. Is the idea supposed to be that if every kid has the exact same standards and every teacher has to teach “according to the tests” which is what really happens here, then the whole nation will be saved from the fears of poverty and idiocy ?  Hmmmmm.

What does individual freedom mean in this case ?  Are we going to blame all the teachers of this country for the increasing poverty and idiocy reported by media ?  What about families who choose drug addiction and all types of abuse within their families to frustrate their own children with a life of fear and anger ? Does this count anywhere in the equation or are teachers to blame for that, too ?

Is college education –“college readiness” the only important target for defining the purpose and direction of education ?  Is this whole ploy a market saving scheme, to save colleges from losing their usefulness in a world that increasingly depends upon entrepreneurship, active, experimental, useful, consistently creative imagination gained more from apprenticeship within such companies who themselves teach what they want their employees to do ?  “College Readiness” is no longer the best  direction to aim for.  How about Life Readiness ? Where are the standards that stress money management, first aid, family planning, job skills (of which homework and class room ass-sitting have nothing in common with), talents development, community service, personal psychological and emotional development, making sure every kid can swim and more ?

This push of Common Core States Standards is taking out a middle ground , an island of safety for children, forcing more pain and confusion, increasing lack of hope for dreams of talented people who could really turn this country around if given the reigns to aim their own talents in the directions they have the gift to see for themselves. If we keep allowing this to grow and take over our states, will we be courting the same disastrous results as some other nations where some higher grade students commit suicide over the pressure of trying to prove themselves “worthy” of the mother land ?

The “real” progress we seek for our children and for the future of our country’s positive growth will come ONLY FROM enhanced OPPORTUNITIES for personal growth in the talents through the public education system. The truth of educational growth NEVER HAS BEEN the state standards. It’s been the Parents Standards and the Student’s Personal Standards. What a shame this country is now embracing the “one size fits all” mentality–and to the tune of the billions of dollars it costs for the production of the NEW standards supplemented by the NEW tests and NEW curriculums that all of the state enforced cooperating school districts must pay for  out of their own pockets when their own states hold back the financial support already owed to their school districts.   Yes, what a trick of the old con game genre to make someone believe that if they eat this one pill they will become ten times smarter. On and on and on it goes. How far will the people of the U.S.A. let this one go ? No one knows. BUT I can tell you WHO will make the final decision. It will be THE KIDS. I am a teacher, and the greatest barrier that I can NEVER beat is when a totally frustrated child stops working, stops trying, pushes the paper and pencil to the floor and lays his head on the desk or simply walks out. he might just look up at me and say, “Make ME Do It.” It is a challenging thing for me at 60 years of age to see the lunacy of our country’s leaders allowing this sort of con game to be played on their people, their populace who voted for them.  Time will tell how far this “Mother Land” concept will go. I hope the parents and the children rise up and show the spirit this country stands for, that “independent” right of each state to run its own show in education.   The End.

“REAL” SCHOOL By David Reid Otey 11-09-2014

The basis of this piece is founded upon the fact of how knowledge is naturally acquired and naturally applied. All knowledge ever gleaned by humankind has come from the process of “living”. Living means experiencing the elements and connections of knowledge through personal relationships with observation and motion with all working senses collecting information into the brain. Living is made up of collecting and experimenting. Living is a scientific process in natural form. Science is the result of living. You learn something (gain knowledge)  from all your senses. Then you get curious about some of it (an idea comes from your brain’s connection of facts). Then you experiment in some fashion ( try out the idea based on the question “what will happen if and when I do…”). The results are more knowledge gained. The point to understand here is that before any experimentation was done knowledge was first collected through natural experiences. That knowledge was eventually written down to guide the next generation so they could “keep on experimenting” to review, maybe double check and then to further the knowledge and understanding,  to add content of “what we learned by this point in time”.

In most schools all knowledge is taught separate from experiencing it. Lists of facts and photos and sentences “telling” you what things are and how they connect are presented like a ready made meal on a ready made plate with ready made tools to eat with. The only act required is to take it in, ingest it (memorize it) and say it back, write it back, pick out the right answer from the wrong ones and say it back. Occasionally you are asked to create a copy of what you memorized (like the models of Indian villages displayed in a library). That is a very unfortunate, extremely limited  process of  education. It is only the first step of learning and it is not connected to “really using” that information at all. It is NOT the way people have successfully learned how to create and connect all that we have in this amazing world we live in. I have another teaching idea that involves the “living” process over the spoon fed process.

Here is my dream school for all students starting with at least 6th grade. All Special Ed and Regular Ed kids would be in the same class room because they would be peer guiding each other as a supplement to the teacher guided lessons.  This school would combine academics with apprenticeship to create “real” knowledge, meaning lessons that form understanding in a context allowing immediate application to real life situations.  Gone is the concept of teaching pieces of knowledge separated from their original source of real life connections.  Gone is the mystery of how all the knowledge connects. Gone is useless repetition of facts and figures that keep younger generations  in stupefied mystery. Here is how it works.

I start this enlightenment with the first day of registration. You and your child  walk in the front door and are directed by guides to the main hall where a series of professionally designed posters show a list of ‘occupation’ classes.  The ‘occupations’ cover plumbing, carpentry-house framing and finishing work, wood working crafts, building furniture, electrician, cooking-choice of two areas/types of meals, musician-choice of two instruments at the same time, medicine (beginning with first aid)–aide, nurse, doctor, medical science, veterinarian, space science for astronauts or space exploration, writing to be a writer, mathematician-to teach or to work in a field of math, clothing design and creation/sewing, business development-choose a business you would want to create, money management for banking and investing, sports-choice of 2 at the same time, the arts-dancing, theater, painting, drawing, clay, statues, etc., exploration-historical studies of great explorers and real-life explorations as a class in field trips, journalism, broadcasting, and more.  I think making everyone learn first aid and how to swim would be powerful personal growth confidence features.

The students show up for their classes where 2 or more teachers will instruct their sections of  the class. In PHOTOGRAPHY, for example, the class sections will be already arranged by the teachers. Some would say it is necessary for professional photographers to teach the class. That will be true at a later stage of the lessons where the services of the local professionals, already connected to the teachers during the planning stage, can be paid to add practical authenticity for instructions, as well as ”field trip” locations to practice.  Sections can be divided into the history of camera development, of techniques developed by historical photographers, comparing the old cameras to the new cameras, of making a home made box camera, using ‘film’ strips, developing images from negatives, practicing with natural and artificial lights and angles, taking care of cameras, switching lenses, all sorts of detailed lessons connected through the art of creating images and catching historical moments for family and community. Taking photos can start right away, giving real time photos as examples of how certain images are created and to show how and why we get weak or strong results. Learning a bit about each historical photographer and life in their times, and what it took for them to be able to make just one photograph compared to today, can count for history and social studies. Studying the photographs of historical moments through world history will enlighten the students and spark questions for discussion and for ideas to flow. Photography will teach students to look inward as well as take a closer look at the outer details of their world and their lives. This creates an inner awakening for some. Every occupation comes with a list of terms, a vocabulary. These terms contain the ideas, the processes and the connections of the occupation. Students will be writing about their projects, planning projects, actively creating projects alone and with others, accomplishing reading and language skills related to not only this occupation but also to other concepts in life: such as, how your own life “develops” from who and what you “expose” yourself to for a specific amount of time. Can you see how the development of confidence through personal growth of a “real” work can happen here ? Math is used in the angles, in the amount of light needed, in the distance for clarity, in the varying degrees of focus for effect and much more. Teachers are trained first and foremost to be excellent at research. That means finding, understanding, arranging in sections for lessons, any content that needs to be taught. Connecting with professionals who do that work for a living adds the life element to create the perfect class. My vision is for consistent activity in the class, always creating something while learning the foundations, even if they are not immediately connected.

A University teacher of mine told us the order of understanding. It is something I never forgot. It is MPCB-First comes Motor skills which lead to Perceptions which lead to Concepts which lead to Behaviors. He stated, in my paraphrasing, ‘ If there are any holes in the first two, there will be serious deficits in the last two.’  I feel, as a professional teacher, that our public school system seriously shuts down the Motor skill area to the point that student boredom and carelessness result and then lead to the eventual negative behavior problems so prevalent in every school.  That’s always the challenge, isn’t it? What is commonly said that teachers talk about in teacher lounges ? Problem students.  And what happens to most of the graduates from high schools ? They just ship off to another school (college) for more of the same unsure about a degree direction while they pay good money for useless training of the first two years, or go into the military, or begin working for someone else who wonders why they cannot add or write well or even remember a list of things. Now, some graduates end up growing in the business they started in as a clean up person or server of some sort, to eventually become their own boss opening their own business of the same type. And why did that happen ? Real life learning, knowledge connected with a real job in real time learning and actively doing real things that mattered. And what was their test ? Improving in the job in skill and in attitude and their grade was the praise and raise they got from their boss.

A story to share that has influenced this way of thinking for me. I had a student in Junior High School whom I felt–by my professional experience and perspective–was heading to a life of working for the local developmentally disabled business agency. The only jobs there are sorting recycled trash and cleaning at local businesses. I had not been at the same school to see that student graduate. I discovered later from talking to his parents that he ended up working on cruise ships and then connecting to a photographer and traveling with that person. His life had turned out far richer than I anticipated. His mom was super happy for her son, even though it meant he had to be away from home to have this life. I learned a lesson: maybe the doors are not already set as ‘closed’ for those who “seem” to be unable to succeed. There was something there regarding connections to “real” life to understand.  That something is this: LIFE is the real school. So why not turn school into a reflection of real life.

If we run schools the way I see them as being successful, then we have a guarantee that our children will graduate ready to work in a chosen field, ready to be deeply involved in the process of maintaining and improving the communities they live in, ready to handle their choice of college starting at a higher level instead of repeating the last four years of high school all over again at a faster pace during the first two years of college , and ready to make a life instead of crawling through life as a cleverly ‘educated, conditioned and enslaved’  worker bee for mass production. Some will choose that mass production life/work style happily for themselves and that is fine. But it is very wrong to maintain an educational system geared to ‘force’ a mindset and extremely limited opportunity lifestyle upon our children from k-12. The basics can be covered easily between grades k-5. The REAL SCHOOL can start at grade 6 and we can watch our children grow into the strong and talented people they were meant to be.

The end.

Education’s Changing/Unchanging Cycle By David R. Otey

It is crazy the way the same road of education is taken over and over again. To me, it looks like only one road is traveled on.  At a certain point someone goes back to where we used to be and repaints that part of the road a different color, adding some new bushes and benches, new clocks and happy music from a speaker. Then they shout ahead and say to the leaders, “Hey, turn them around. We’ve got this section ready for them again.”  No matter how you dress up state standards, change the lingo to create the “new and improved” paradigms, restructure and repackage the curriculums to sell the same content for higher prices, tack on a “new and improved” state testing system worth billions to the geniuses behind that, present some very serious looking smart people in front of a camera for the ‘public display’ of intelligence at work, it’s STILL the same routine, the same interference of non-educators making the rules for “real” teachers. The content is the same, too.

What I understand from the articles and videos I’ve studied so far about the origin, the con-artist push for connecting to states with financial aid packages to accept the program without public involvement, and the methods of practice involved with the Common Core Standards and the multi-million dollar business creating matching curriculums and matching state tests, there are two main factors that stand out.

One main factor is the utopian idea of a national set of educational standards. This forces every participating state to accept new curriculums, making them replace very good already being used great curriculum  Every kid studying exactly the same thing at the same time so they all come out of the cookie cutter assembly line with exactly the same smartness and abilities for academic wonder kids. Imagine the kid assembly line idea Pink Floyd used in their classic film, The Wall (1982)-for their  song, Another Brick in the Wall.  Now is the time, I guess, for the country to try and do with schools what has been successful for fast food franchises. Uniformity for the sake of conformity, for the sake of having a stronger hold to ensure the survival of a dying system of education that has not met the needs of society for the past 50 years at least.

Is there really that much difference between the states for teaching Reading, Writing , language and Math ?  I was educated in New York, Florida, Georgia and Maryland when I was growing up between 1960 and 1972 when I graduated. I remember all the numbers looking the same everywhere I went. The letters for the words looked the same, too. Even their sounds were the same, give or take a slight difference in dialect for pronunciation. I was taught the same lessons for periods and commas and exclamation points–all of that stuff. It was all exactly the same in every blessed school I attended.

How about this ”new math” idea coming around with Common Core, driving the parents and teachers–I’m one of each–crazy. Guess what. It is NOT new math. It is another style, another method, another way of looking at how to process numbers. It’s been around a long time, taught in higher level course work. I feel like it was purposely chosen to alienate the parents from being able to have any control over the education process and direction. The programs disable the effectiveness of parents in relating to their children for school work.  My school recently sent a letter to the parents stating we are doing all we can to also master the new forced changes and will try to help them as much as possible, for the parents to please remain patient and to call with any questions and the teachers will collaborate with the parents.

I work a full time job in special education in a grade school, and I shake my head at this ridiculousness. I also foresee a great increase in the population of the kids I teach. Just watch the “resource rooms” blossom in population within the next 5 years. The only plan to prevent that might lie in the fact that our state has been requiring that by the year 2015, if I’m not mistaken, every special ed. kid is to spend 80% of his/her day in a regular class room. Combined with that has been the push to make every class room contain 2 teachers teaching along side each other, sharing the responsibilities of both groups of kids in the same room. You already know how that works, don’t you. The same as it always has worked. The main lecture of the lesson is given to all at the same time. This time with 2 teachers instead of one. Then the class is split into 2 or more groups according to “their abilities” (academic level). Forget “confidentiality”,  which is a joke anyway, as far as communities go, because everyone knows who can and who cannot “get it” in the academics kid world. So, this new set up can hide the weakness this program will create, is already creating.

An instructor of mine at the University I attended said this, I paraphrase. ” Every 20 years the system changes. First they had all of the special ed. kids in the same room. When the parents screamed about the hardships their kids were going through the system split them up into different rooms according to their abilities. Now, you watch..”, he said in 1995 as I sat listening in class. “You watch what will happen. They will put them all back into the one room again.” As he spoke, he placed one after another of those plastic transparency sheets on the overhead projector so fast no one could write the information down. His point was to simply show us the research already accumulated about this practice by that time. He had at least 30 of those sheets. I never forgot what he said. The shift didn’t start as soon as he said it would. it actually started five years later. But I saw him in a grocery store one day, knowing he retired, and I told him, “You were right. It’s happening now.” He smiled and nodded.

Another factor is this push for government control of the nation’s education system. It is another chapter following the fiasco of No Child Left Behind. This plan looks more innocent but the same “program” is  within the Core like jelly in a donut. State rights are being conned out of the public sector without any avenue for the public to fight for the protection of their statehood. State governments sell out their people for big piles of money to supposedly help the state in other ways. Governmental destitution and desperation override creativity and communication, as this wave of control freaks plug in their sales pitches to grab a whole side of the Monopoly Game neighborhood for long enough to drain more of the taxpayers money and local school districts money through forced purchase of those curriculum texts and new state tests.

The love, care and skill of real teachers and their administrators for their students, their schools and their communities will make them learn and guide others through this swamp. They know how to work through bad days and bad plans without giving up. They know how to handle sudden changes. Support your teachers. Ask what you can do to help all around. Be patient and also think about visiting your capitol leaders to encourage them to maintain state rights for their education.

The end.

Balance for Peace By David Reid Otey– September 2014

I recently wrote a piece titled The Oil Man; A down to earth perspective. I have taken it off after I read that traders/ buyers and sellers are the people who REALLY determine the prices of gas and other needs. Although the oil companies are definitely in that batch of people. BUT the question still remains: HOW does a trader/seller determine the price rise and fall?  I guess that enough subjective reasons set in place can become an objective standard ?  I know they give all the reasons of war, weather tragedy, etc. But WHY ?  It seems to show a belief that when times are troubled people need to be gouged and taken deeper down into despair. Really ?  Or is it that profit gain must never go below 500% ?

No matter what the reason, a fact–in my objective experiences list– remains that history shows business rules all nations and empires. Government is business. Government creates boundaries for various reasons. Government taxes citizens. Government makes laws to protect both objectively and subjectively. Leaders create changes for those they rule over. The changes come from the way the leaders handle their responsibilities to the public versus their personal desires.  Sometimes a huge change is made at one swoop, and sometimes a major change is the ”seemingly sudden” result of tiny connected changes not foreseen by enough people to redirect it.The public, the citizens, all have an affecting power base, too, but not enough to stop a major shift whether that shift be an act of God or a direction of mass mindset on both sides of the power arena.

One thing for certain. The shifts happen. But if the balance of safety and happiness become extremely uneven for those who have less and less, revolts rise up. The common people who work their bodies and minds to the max, to make life better for them and their families against all sorts of odds. These people can handle only so much frustration from being shoved back down through the many tricks and excuses the leaders present. Exceed that frustration point and you have those people asking the next smart question, “Now what can I do to change the leaders minds, since they have taken down all the ladders for me to climb?” It’s happened many times before. It will happen again. Somewhere.

Circumstances create situations which become events. Events change the lay of the land. Some fall and some stay standing. Leaders are not the only ones who can create circumstances. Leaders need their foundation of the common people supporters. That foundation is the greater yet often silent power that holds up the walls and ceiling of the leaders’ security and comfort. The foundation of common people cannot be forced to maintain the loyalty and devotion leaders need to accomplish their wishes. Notice the  recent story of Arthur T. Demoulas, who was reinstated as the Market Basket leader  due to the power of the common people,: the employees and the customers. Those common people were pushed and they shoved back. Emotions were affected deeply. The common people did win. It’s an incredible story to show the truth of how power must be balanced between leaders and the people they serve. Neither side can control nor operate and manage the entire system of needs and services by themselves.

Politicians are business men and business women. Serving the needs of goods and services in their areas is their jobs. Philosophies and ideologies are great, if they are tied to the needs. But bandwagon mindset at the expense of  common people’s livelihood and well being is an act of imbalance. It doesn’t work to try building a utopian dreamland of everyone being forced to think alike. But those groups are always out there pushing against each other. Most of the time they’ve been on the streets of their communities, spending their free time expressing their views both peacefully and violently. Sometimes national protests have taken place, still with the common public planning and enabling and attending to be involved. But now there seems to me to be this type of mass group thinking among the leaders. They are spending their time protesting each other, blocking each other, and doing this all in the capitol regions and buildings.

Whatever happens in any house depends upon the condition of the leaders of that home. In my occupation as teacher, I see kids from all kinds of homes. They show the results of the leadership in their homes. It doesn’t take much to know who has the caring and loving parents  and who comes from careless, self-centered parents. On a grand scale our national leaders have become much more careless and self-centered.  DCFS is called for the homes in communities to help retrain and straighten out messed up families. Who do you call to straighten out a messed up government ? Only the public. Only the foundational power core. Lots of changes have taken place since I’ve been born. Now, at age sixty, I see the already sown seeds of the coming changes. Historically inevitable. It’s just sort of weird though, to me, because these changes are not so obvious until they break out in power. Negative power is how they usually break out, too.  It doesn’t have to be that way, or, maybe it does. The rules of relationships apply no matter how small or large or how many people are involved, even if they are total strangers.

How I adapt myself to this is: I pay attention to my home and my family and my job and my community. They are the people who will support me for what I need and when I need it, and I for them. One for a bunch and a bunch for one. 🙂 That balance begins to set up the healing process for what will eventually take place in many places.      The End

If I start falling….. By David Reid Otey

If I start falling, don’t push me the rest of the way over the edge. Please grab my hand and pull me back into a balance, so I can have a chance to change my steps, my beliefs, my hurtful ways, my stupid and dangerous choices. I do not ask for codependency. I will not claim that you do not understand my pain and tortured thoughts.  I do not ask for entitlement. I will not claim to be so sick, stupid, ignorant, disabled or lazy that I won’t work to try pulling my own share of the weight in family and community.

I have already seen blind, crippled, maimed, diseased and severely burned people regain their lives independently to become a strong and proud part of their families and communities. They had the right to scream out, “You don’t understand” to many.  But they have the love and support of many by choosing to try, to give, to live among others instead of hiding away in a private world of pain. They allowed others to pull them up and forward and into a better place, better peace, better lives of greater joy and hope and success.

It is very hard sometimes to leave the mental room of self pity. There is a false significance, a twisted self-worship in pretending to be the most abused and misunderstood person in the world. There is no competition when hiding away from others. It is easy to make daily dark clouds of ”poor me” statements to sustain a personal package of pain and self-torture; to maintain a dreary, lost, hopeless, bottomless pit type of existence,  when being allowed to hide away from anyone who would tear it all down with talk of dreams, gifts, connections of love, personal growth and contribution.

I met a middle-aged lady outside a small town grocery store one chilly autumn day. She stood with her bicycle when I made the mistake of asking her, “How are you today?” She told of her leg pain. I tried consoling. She said no medicines work and no one cares. I offered ideas. She said she already tried every single one of them. She listed more complaints. I offered more compassion, nodding, saying more ideas. Soon I understood that her life will be a constant and consistent package of self-induced misery for all of her life because, for her, it is easier to feel important by spouting off how hard her life is rather then by making any effort to make it better. Sometimes laziness can become a disease. But it’s more than that. It’s a trained and conditioned helplessness. She pushes herself over the cliff every single day. Nothing will ever be good enough. No one will ever be able to do anything well enough for her. Yet she seemed genuinely unhappy, or maybe bragging about misery carries a perverted happiness of its own addiction. When I had enough of her glorifying tragedies to listen to I said, ” hope the day goes better for you”, and walked away.

The encounter led me to think about why I will never become like her. What is it that will protect me from sitting in self-pity beyond a heathy time frame ? The answer is my family and my friends. I have friends because I connected with those people through church,  through classes, through work, through creative events like open mic nights and through volunteering. I have a social job, teaching. I also extended my teaching to after school lessons for music and martial arts.  I believe in dreaming and forming the dreams into reality. I believe I have talents for a reason. Others have told me I am important to them when they said “thanks” for teaching their kids to be stronger. I felt empowered enough to begin a women’s self-defense class-Level one, as a contribution, to have in churches and social centers and for girl scouts. They said “thank you” for making their lives safer. I knew how to seek out the help I know I needed when life was changing, by talking to friends, by watching videos of speakers on youtube, by reading books by the speakers, by paying attention to the opportunities that appeared and by grasping them and working with them and becoming more of the dreams I want.

Life is action, creative action that leads to certainties mixed with unknown surprises and unknown results. A Successful and Happy Life is accepting two continuous constant facts:   1. You WILL make mistakes often and consistently, in differing areas at different times, because that is part of creating and personally growing in life.   2. You WILL survive the mistakes, learn from the mistakes, be stronger because of the mistakes, and be led by your corrections to becoming a better and more creative person.

There are two types of  “falling” : 1. The one where you missed a step, forgot a point, let go too soon, held on too long, forgot to stay in the kitchen when you cook, didn’t think before speaking or acting or temporarily forgot you are equal to almost everyone else.

2. The kind where you give up everything and everyone who loves you, who stood by you, who accepted you as you are–to think of only you and the misery you have, and to handle it all on your own in a pride seeking to prove yourself as a king or queen who needs no one for anything. You give it up  to be abused by your own self-world, one of a kind, not of this world, twistedly, pervertedly unique–because this disease of extreme loneliness makes you hate yourself as being not deserving of anyone else, but you want them all to see it because you really do need attention like the rest of us. You give up to be seen. You take yourself out of life to be missed.

If you can see that those actions are pleas for recognition, for validation that your humanness is needed as much as anyone is needed, that you are disconnecting instead of connecting, and that you need to give someone else a chance to hold you, to include you into their lives, to let them be blessed by who you are and what you have to offer to make this world, their world a much better and happier place, you can and will save yourself and save those who would be lost without you in their lives.

Every one of us has loving, good and creative value for others to grow in and with. We were made to be joiners to life, extenders of life’s creative possibilities. So, if you start to fall, fall into someone else instead of away from the world. Fall into arms that want to hold you, that WILL care for you and help you heal, who will give patience and peace. Fall into another chance. Fall into the risk of hope and maybe, instead of into despair and self-degradation. F.A.L.L.  Faith And Love Live.     The end for now.

Education: The struggles to get it right. Part Two. By David Reid Otey

Before children enter a school building for ”formal” education,  they are already equipped with curiosity, imagination, willingness to learn, energy, excitement, expectation for fun, joy and wonder. Kids already naturally lean towards certain ‘ways’ of taking information in, of categorizing and using the information as a life skill before they enter the class room.  Every child has a talent area where the child’s mind goes frequently and consistently.  It’s that ‘something’ they like to create, to study, to play and experiment with. Music, Art, Cooking, Sports, Building, etc. Kids already have ‘their way’  of looking at ‘their world’, of figuring things out for themselves and choosing what is worth their attention. This is what every person is born with: a natural connection to the world through curiosity of the senses  with a natural purpose of understanding what surrounds them and affects them. So, what is the purpose  of having school at all in the formal public sense?  Two main reasons, I think.

One is to keep the kids off the streets. It cuts down on possible crime rates and gang formations, on any negative that would exist more so with kids on the streets all the time. The second reason is to maintain the community structures and businesses that make every town’s existence possible. Someone will have to take over the businesses and services that make every community run smooth. Those are the two practical reasons for schools.  There has always been school, if you count the teachings kids get at home all the time in helping their parents with caring for the house and the family and sometimes a family business. But in the far, far past, there wasn’t the chance for kids to see or learn much beyond their own front yard or the beyond the limits of their town, city and communities. With a public school they have the chance to know more about what’s in the whole world rather than just a tiny percentage their hometown represents. This extra knowledge gives them more ideas of interest and might help them discover, for the first time, things they are good at doing.

Elementary school is the most likely place for new information to be exciting. Then comes Junior High and Senior High where children start getting beaten over the head with redundancy in English, Language and Math classes. When I did a “block” teaching assignment, which is free assistant labor for a paid public school teacher in their classroom, I was told to teach Algebra. I needed exciting ideas so I approached a math professor at the University I studied at. He took me into a back room full of shelves and books. He pulled out a book and said, “Here are some good math games and mind puzzles for them”. I looked it over and said thank you but handed it back. I left his office wondering why he could not think of a practical use for Algebra. I soon discovered the use in areas of money and sales. And a friend of mine showed me how he used Algebra figuring roof pitch before building a roof and for figuring how many shingles to order.  In a “student teaching” session, which is the same as ”block” only ten weeks longer, I watched a special education teacher use a ’21 spelling rules’ workbook with her students. Really ? There was no creative writing. This was a ‘waste time’ class, as far as I was concerned. As more and more examples of these “more of the same” content situations appeared, I started wondering what else was possible to make our students really capable of getting on with life after school. Even newspapers nation wide would carry articles about schools not preparing students for the real world, claiming a high percentage of graduates could barely read and spell, or do simple math calculations. They needed retraining by the people who hired them. So I have a framework of an idea. Nothing really new but a blend of the old and the new.

Taking the practice of apprenticeship, it goes like this. For grades 6,7,8,9, a student chooses an occupation from a list. This occupation is the area of focus that all math and reading and language and spelling will come through. Every occupation has an extensive vocabulary with many words inter-defined. Every occupation uses math in some capacity. History, Social Studies, Health and Geography can also be taught through an occupational focus. Three weeks before the end of each nine week quarter, the student is given a one week opportunity to put in for an occupation change for the next quarter or to stay in the current one. Think of the experiences and ideas and curiosities that would be aroused, enlivened and excited from exposure to this format. In grades 10, 11, 12, the students would choose two occupations and be made to stay in those occupations for all three years. This would guarantee every student being capable and trained for at least two kinds of jobs. This would also help more students decide on college education and exactly what they’d like to do, thereby reducing needless expense floating around majors and minors and circumvent poor academic counselors.

The list of occupations would cover sciences, law, medicine specifics–nurse and doctor and surgeon topics, music–instruments and writing and singing and performing, theater/acting, cooking, business, construction specifics–carpenter, electrician, plumber, arts, writing/journalism, radio/television, movie industry, semi-driving,  farming/agriculture, operating heavy machinery–bulldozers and such,  wood working/furniture and more, watch repair, sales work, sewing/seamstress, and more. This would obviously take work preparing and setting up for, but that is what ”real” teaching of youth should be in the first place. It would take help from the community at large to make it successful. It would be worth it because it would make education sensible and directly related to the needs of both the children and of the community. It would create more pride in belonging to the world at large. We would see more talent showing up in the world of entrepreneurs. So many benefits to this and great payoffs for the investments required. This, to me, would be ‘getting it right’ in our education system.     The End.