Tearing it apart to confuse the kids. By David Reid Otey

I teach for a living. I’ve been at it for twenty years. I love it. I have an unusual special education class. I know I am fortunate. Throughout all these years I have been studying the process of education, of how we really learn the best, through personal  experience and repeated questions and possible answers from my own mind. The basic operation being used in most cases and most places, from what I see, no matter how the package is relabeled and redefined on paper, is an unfortunate simple process of breaking things down and presenting various modes of repetition for fact memory. In a best situation there will be the hands on projects where students actually create–not simply duplicate–to understand and have ownership of a process.

I tutored for two summers, meeting my two girl students in the local library. We each had to travel half an hour from opposite sides of the library’s town. I was determined that they receive more than just ”the same old same old” routine from their class rooms. I decided upon building their confidence in themselves first and foremost, to get that most important foundation built much stronger than it was. I knew their current math and reading challenges came from a weak beginning understanding of their own inner powers of learning. Each of their first tutoring sessions went like this.

I said, ” The first thing you need to know and believe is that you already have a ton of knowledge/information inside your brain. You are much smarter than you think you are. It shows in your eyes. Smart people can never hide their intelligence if someone can look in their eyes. You’ve seen people who you know are not very smart. You look in their eyes and you can even see their limits. But you have the look of a smart kid. So, you are smart. If it were possible to hook your brain up to a typing machine and to type a copy of everything you know right now, typing it all on both sides of each sheet of typing paper, and then stacking all of those papers neatly on the library floor, this library would be stuffed with those papers clear against all the walls and up against the ceilings and the doors such that no one would be able to get in. There would be no place to stand. No room for anything else at all.”  At this point they look around the room, look at me and smile, and sometimes say, “really?”.

I say, “Yes, and you already know the answers to 90% of what you are going to have in math next year, and probably in science and social studies and even in reading, if you happen to like to read.”  Then I explain what happens from the beginning.

When you are born your mind begins instantly to take in information of all kinds without judgement, without refusing any of it, without any resistance at all. You will no doubt complain about some things and cry at what hurts. Your spirit bonds with your mind and your body through this process of ”taking it all in”. Before you ever set foot in a school you have already had practical real life,  hands-on, creative, reflective experiences. You have observed, wondered, planned, experimented and discovered results and made new plans based on discoveries from the past attempts. You know land marks and how to get around your town. You know the architectural designs and differences of the homes of your family and friends and some of there buildings in town. You already understand elements of art and music and social skills. You understand psychology through interaction. You understand history by personal experience. You have experience in nutrition, in ethnic foods, in classifications of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and dairy and other groups such as spices and herbs. You understand language, listening, reading, speaking and even some writing. It is really amazing what your mind has absorbed and experienced and acted upon in such a short time.

Then you walk into school where they tear it all part. All that knowledge you have is shown back to you in pieces, totally discombobulated, dislocated, shredded, mangled,  renamed, hidden from its connecting pieces that make sense of it all, suddenly becoming mysterious. Yet, after awhile, your brain tells you that you are familiar with this. There is something about it that you ”feel”. So you open your mouth and say what’s on your mind. The teacher, however, has a ”plan” to follow and your information cannot come out too soon. It might ”confuse” everyone else. So the teacher says, “Just hold that thought. We’ll be getting to that soon.” That means maybe by the end of the week or more likely not until next week.  Soon you feel dumb, stupid, and bored because, after all, your brain knows very well that this is old news being regurgitated. It’s also being forcefully applied by an unnatural formula unrelated to how the real world works. This begins your downfall. This is why you end up not even trying to ”get it” because you feel like you never had it and never will.  Now you are left with trying to survive with some speck of self-respect and self-confidence, to prove you belong somewhere important in the school. You have by then accepted the school’s definition of what a smart kid is and how a smart kid acts. You lose your own self-definition and give in to the status quo. The last thing I do is begin the process of showing them how to use the ”pieces” to bring in the whole of what they’ve known all along so that they can truly add knowledge without the torture of having to go backwards and redefine the meaning of what they’ve lived.

I have a neighbor who understands this idea very well. She home schools her boys and she makes them use ‘what they know, to figure out at least some part of what is needed to add on. When they do the process of discovery on their own instead of being shown every little piece, they like it better, learn more, remember more from creating with it. In short, she teaches them to teach themselves, to carry on the torch of never stopping improving their knowledge of themselves and the world.  End

 

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.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHICH CHAIR AM I SITTING IN ? By David Reid Otey

The challenge to successfully change any part of my life has been difficult. After trying my own ideas over and over again and discovering that I was limited on options of imagination for whatever reason, I sat down trying to figure out another method of getting more ideas. What I finally decided to do, which was the right thing to do, was start listening to other people who shared ideas on how to change. I watched videos on Youtube and then used inter-library loan service to check out the speaker’s books. I bought a handful of the 25 plus books I read and took notes on.

I would try each idea, memorizing a short title phrase to remind me of the purpose and action of the idea. Then I would practice mental focus and physical action of that idea. I could feel the change of mind frame within me and the  strengthening of my confidence and happiness.  I could see the changes on the outside, too, as my choices of action led me a different direction with better results  being produced in the areas I aimed for.

But there was a constant fight of mental control against the conditioned distractions, against the conditioned ”stops” in my mind. I would always end up settling back in the chair of self-defeat—less and less, but still extremely annoying to feel and give in  to when I knew what I wanted to do and I had already been successful to a point, and yet for some reason I was being pulled back by the hands of something into  sitting down and giving up action. Instead I’d be watching tv, cleaning constantly and brooding through melancholy space outs.

More and more I’ve been gaining ground in controlling more of my focus and purposeful action time. The latest idea I adopted this past week is to think of myself sitting in different chairs. I have my ”daily work”chair for my day job as a teacher. I have my ”relationships” chair for family and friends. I have the ”body care” chair for my health. I have my ”soul/spirit” chair for my prayer and meditation time. Then I have my personal growth chairs: ”Martial Arts Class/Women’s Self-Defense (WSD)”,  ”Song performance/guitar practice”, “Songwriter”, and “Blog Posts for sharing thoughts and helping others”.

The trick is to consciously switch from one chair to another without too much of a mentally distracting walk  between the chairs. Every endeavor is made up of brain time and body time. Brain time for reflection, meditation and planning. Body time for the physical connections to the responsibilities and dreams planned.

When I’m driving home I can talk through the next WSD class plan, or I can listen to the music on the radio to focus on lyrics and melody and rhythm. I use the mornings for my prayer and mind frames drills, starting before getting out of bed. So I have developed a plan to solidify. It feels good to see how a certain automation takes over once the ball is rolling. For example: At work this week I accomplished more by starting with strong focus on lining up a specific lesson and the kids involvement. At a certain point of the lesson, when they’re working on their own, I realized I could work on part of another task and I did. After work, before going to a private TKD lesson, I realized I could stop to visit two businesses I had to see about a project of mine. I did that, leaving school when I could, instead of hanging around an extra fifteen minutes waiting for the clock to get closer to my lesson.  What surprised me was the friendly prodding voice in my mind pushing me with confidence to act right away, not in fear and not with a rush, but with consistency.

I have to accept that working on every piece of a plan, even if it’s only a small piece, whenever I can is important. Each piece is like a brick for a sturdy road. I must be satisfied with having any time at all even for just one brick, instead of waiting around until I can impress myself by doing three or more bricks worth and then patting myself on the back to say THAT was a great leap. Waiting for LEAP moments make a project wait for long to forever to maybe never getting done. The LITTLE STEPS are always the power builders. Believing that is not easy. Ego is tough to redefine into ”bad ego” and ”good ego”.  The same goes for the word ”Obsession”. I decided there is ”good obsession” and ”bad obsession”. So I try to be obsessed for the good side.

The last thing to share in this piece is that I had to break a usual pattern of work then home then just relax and do whatever until bed time and go to sleep, wasting time. I am tired at early night and would often stay awake until ten o’clock or so because , ”I’m not old. I’m not gonna lay down this early. That’s ridiculous !” BUT then I realized I thrive and produce better planning and better product when refreshed and when the environment is quiet. So, I come home, visit and eat supper with my wife, watch a half hour of tv with her and then take a nap for 30-60 minutes. Up again, she’s still awake, too. I visit a bit and then get started on my dream goals steps. When she goes to bed I have my totally silent time in the front room for up to two hours. I am patiently striving to make this happen on a seven day basis rather than the three or four I do now. I’ll get there. I’m obsessed to do so. 🙂  END

 

 

 

WHERE AND HOW DO I FIT IN AROUND HERE ? BY DAVID REID OTEY

We have to be right about some things to feel qualified to exist. That is why frustration is so strong when we’re wrong. Belonging to life means belonging to other people. Most of that belonging is to “fit in”. We fit in with clothing style, hair style, language/lingo, body marks or lack of, tastes in food, literature, films, hang outs for social fellowship, points of view with a degree of individual differences allowed, as long as intelligent discussion can take place, AND with being recognized as “right” about ‘anything’ once in a while. It’s a praise to hear, “Well, yeah, you’re right about that.”, as a ‘just scraping by’ acceptance from a member of the group.

The ‘being right’ part is more important than the rest because it’s easy to change or excuse something about any of the other elements, but to NOT match in mental blend means one of two things: you really don’t belong in that group by nature of who you are–and therefore should get out and find the group you really do match with—OR you are labeled as the ‘joker’ card of the group—and that is a social death blow for continuous social contact because ‘invitations’ to special events will not reach the joker, thus being cut off, and that action will become common knowledge among others and will eventually lead to the ears of the joker who will then be depressed, etc. Bottom line, the joker card spot is never a permanent position for anyone. If the joker doesn’t leave by half-way intelligent free will, the group will make sure the door is closed with a subtle ‘shunning’. The subtle shunning is far worse than the “in your face” shunning. Direct insults are always better because you can yell back in their faces regardless of being wrong or right about it. At least you get the satisfaction of standing up to the ‘mean ones’. BUT subtle shunning is cruel and feels like a knife being slowly pushed in. NOT GOOD.

There is strong merit to this idea that we REALLY DO need to be right about a certain percentage of things in life, to feel that we have a right to exist at all. Belonging to people as a group is the purpose of existing, perhaps. This can explain the extreme inner spirit pain that so many feel to the point of committing suicide. They really feel that they do not belong, that they cannot be right about anything, or what they want to be right about. And maybe they do not want to belong to a different group.

Their (our) perspective of which groups are important is where the wiring might be a bit skewed, twisted, off set. We gain much of our “opinions” through conditioning of facts and fictions mixed. The conditioning comes from family and friends, each being led by traditions and beliefs from private or social cultures and the current community culture of ‘what’s cool today’ in connections to music, clothes, political viewpoint, hang outs, lingo, etc. The fact is, every group—good or bad, sane or crazy– has a following, a fan club, a history and, especially in these times, an outlet of connection and fellowship through internet, world connections for chat, hook ups, you name it, it’s all possible. SO, the pressure is on “being where you are”, fitting in where you see actual people walking around you. It doesn’t matter, in a sense, if you DO belong to some group NOT physically represented where you live. What matters most is belonging to people you can immediately touch, see eye to eye and talk personally to while looking in their eyes and feeling the energies from their presence directly. THAT’S the winning card. It’s the big gold ticket like Willy Wonka’s chocolate bar prize.

I just have to be right about all of this. 🙂 Why ? Because sanity is extremely important if you want to hang on long enough to see the proof that we all belong, we are all important and we all have someone who deeply loves us for who we are because we match their energies in some ways, some of the times and that’s all we really need to belong, to be right in the connection sense instead in the fact sense.

You already belong. The journey of life is to find where and then to recognize and accept when to change, as you grow inside toward other groups that provide what you need next for your spiritual journey. Eventually there will be some groups you always belong to. Relax and enjoy the journey and be brave and bold when you walk where you live. Be true to your sense of yourself, and if you cannot find the group that matches you, start your own. Then you will see them show up from their own hiding places because someone was brave enough to give them permission to be ok.

The end.

On A Whim. Stay Alive. By David Reid Otey

Every action makes a reaction, common knowledge for most people. And it applies not just to bouncing balls but to thoughts behind the actions we commit to. You know that every act happens for a reason , even an accident happens because someone was day dreaming or involved in some action of not attending to the moment. So, people’s actions create reactions, responses, results.

This is also one of the ways we know when someone is in trouble somehow. If you have a teenager looking depressed yet who says nothing’s wrong after you ask, you know that’s not the total truth, and we have to, we must try to interfere with that depressing or troublesome thought that occupies their minds because that thought might lead them into hurting themselves or someone else. What do you think has happened in the minds of every kid who committed suicide? Definitely not boredom. But fear of shame and embarrassment.

And REMEMBER from your own experiences that you survived, and yet which may have also affected your own personality to some negative degree in order for you to survive the more serious consequences, REMEMBER you committed to some negative action because of that disturbing thought or belief. And one way you became a prisoner of that thought that led you to make a bad choice was the fact of fear of embarrassment and shame.

THOSE TWO feelings alone are the mental TRAP that we all need a support group to free us from. Trying to go it alone, to prove we are mavericks or super men and super women, kings and queens of the mountain and all that other anti-social, anti-community crap, isolates us even more; makes us want to hide as if we’re some freak of human nature that no one has ever seen. Somehow those thoughts of tragic disillusion make us see what is NOT really real. Yeah, so we may have screwed up somehow. Maybe we stole something. Maybe we killed a neighbor’s dog on purpose instead of by accident. Maybe we broke windows, key scratched a car, flipped off a cop, or had horrible thoughts about relating to close people in obscene or extremely hurtful ways. Suddenly we have crossed a line; a moral line; a line we never believed we could ever step across, mentally or physically.

Now we wonder” what is wrong with me”. Now we think we are turning into the nightmare people from horror shows, from really nasty murder mysteries and whatever other depressing, scary, perverted negative junk we’ve been filling our minds, eyes and thoughts with for hours at a time in front of any screens. WHEN YOU FEEL THE ATTACK OF SHAME OR EMBARRASSMENT–DO NOT GIVE IN TO IT. We all know there is a limit to what is ok and what is not ok, as far as when the law becomes involved. We all NEED TO KNOW that consequences are varied,

BUT CONSEQUENCES ALSO have a very POSITIVE purpose; TO REBALANCE the spirit, soul, humanity, personality and communal connection that was TEMPORARILY separated, broken or cut. Remember that word: TEMPORARY. THAT is the word you must focus on. THAT is the word that will beat down the shame and embarrassment you will feel when others know what you have done or said. ADD THIS TO YOUR THOUGHTS: Are you the only one who ever did that thing or said those words ? NO WAY. NO ONE IS A CLUB BY THEMSELVES. IT’S NOT POSSIBLE TO BECOME SO FAMOUS. You would have to be well over 2,500 years old to claim being the founder of any specific perversion or horrible crime. MOST PEOPLE who take themselves down and out of regular social life and regular social connections are not even close to belonging to the worst clubs in the world. Not—–even—–close. Yet THEY are the ones who are lining up to commit suicide or become alcoholics or drug addicts.

The last two self-destroying avenues have a great deal of club members NOT because of horrible behaviors but because of having no direction, no purpose, no inner vision of their “could be” values in life around them or no confidence in their real values they probably do not even recognize that make others want to be around them and love them. SO–THE SOLUTION is THIS. Accept the feelings of shame and/or embarrassment because they are ALWAYS TEMPORARY feelings. They DO go away because the people who support you will apply forgiveness, grace, hugs and love, as well as their own stories. And these actions of support for you have the power to diminish, erase and dissolve the feelings of shame and embarrassment.

GIVE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THE CHANCE TO SAVE YOU from the horrible, life-threatening powers of shame and embarrassment. Ask for help from the right people. YOU KNOW WHO THE CONDEMNERS ARE, WHO THE FEAKS OF SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS ARE, WHO THE “LET ME MAKE DAMNED SURE YOU FEEL LIKE COW PATTIES” PEOPLE ARE; STAY AWAY FROM THEM. Just call the one or ones you know who will not pass judgement. Just show up to their door and say, “Hey. I’ve made a real mess and I need someone to listen to me confess, hold me, forgive me and help me go through the gauntlet that I will probably have to suffer as a consequence. I really need you. Please help me with this.” Just ask. Show up. Be there. Speak the words of need. Stay there. Stand there. Fall down in tears. Whatever it takes to hold on to the value that you give from within you for other’s happiness, joy and successes. Never let go of your real self.

You’re never as bad, nasty, stupid, ignorant, hopeless nor demented as you might think. No matter what degree of human imperfections you have–and we all have them—thus the reasons for therapies, laws, all kinds of depressions medications, prime time “fix me” shows, etc–you are, more than anything, a wonderful person with talents, humor, passion for love and creation and healing. There are projects you can create or become a strong part of the team that helps the rest of the world maintain and improve the qualities of kindness, compassion, decency and human equality regardless of gender, color and any other barriers built up by the wall makers. There is always a way to turn your negative feelings, negative circumstances and negative situation around to a forgiving and community supported positive pathway. Go for the Light, not for the Dark. Go for the Smile and not the Frown. Surround yourself with the positive, healing friends. The end of one beginning is start of another beginning. Grab all the beginnings you can.

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.