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. ūüôā 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.

Driven By Research-? By David Reid Otey

A recent article about people angered over Common Core Standards included a statement from CCS supporters that the CCS system is “Driven By Research”. ¬†I teach special education in a grade school as my day job. It’s been a joy for eighteen years and still is, more so today than when I started. Not because of any specific standards but because of why I do this job: the love of learning and of helping children grasp, understand, practice and master skills they will use later to help preserve the existence and progress and success of the communities they live in.

In my work I stay aware of the pros and cons of every new system that comes a long as a result of someone figuring out a way to get government grant money for ego-building projects disguised as national improvement utopian plans. CCS is the newest happy meal in the mix. I have listened to ¬†peers praise and damn the CCS. The phrase ”research driven” has been used so much that it makes me laugh now. One lesson I finally understood after decades of learning and sorting through pros and cons of any issue is this: Research is as subjective as anything else in life. All research is driven by whichever club, committee, family, organization, street corner gang, political party or neighborhood watch group has an interest in researching anything. Here is the clincher. WHY they are researching in the first place: to affect an improvement that benefits and advances the position of control, fame or finances of their group. ¬†Experts exist on both sides of every issue. It becomes a match not of wits so much as of who advertises the most, yells the loudest and convinces the best with expertise in all styles of social-political propaganda (which, in itself, is good or bad–depending upon which side of the propaganda you stand.)

A ¬†teaching friend told me recently she was frustrated by the stresses CCS is placing on our students. She said it very unfair to shove this system into a place where it doesn’t belong. I smiled as I said, ” I agree. But we know something those great researchers overlooked or never worked with kids in the first place to understand. Kids Rule. They always have and they always will. They rule by giving the results that prove what motivates them and what they consider to be important techniques to keep them interested. It’s a business. The kids are customers, like it or not. They can shut something down pretty fast. If they understood their powers better, they would be shutting a lot of things down regarding curriculum choices in their schools.” ¬† I have seen curriculums change, watching old text books of past “research driven high quality perfection” being thrown in the dumpster.

In the meantime, as the cloud of controversy slowly moves its mass across the crowds of protesters and praisers, the clock keeps ticking. I have never yet seen the three hands on my class room clock stop because of issues, only because of dead batteries. The kids show up and we get started with “ok, today we look at this and how….”. ¬†Numerous reading and math programs have sailed through the halls of every school, each one being labeled as the ”King James” version for all to use for the conformity systematic learning, as if all minds were wired the same, as if all families agreed on the same standards for raising children, as if all families shared the same importance of education in their homes.

Bottom line is this. We teachers will do what we have to do, are told to do. But when we see THAT LOOK, that warning sign in the faces of our students, equally represented by the shifting grades they receive from assignments, WE will shift, too, as we teach them, as we feel what they are telling us with their moans, with their aggressive or nervous energies. We are the real experts. We know how to intervene with subtle weavings of ”common sense standards” between the scripted sentences of the teacher manual. We know how to reach the minds we have interacted with consistently in close quarters for a long, long time. Think of it this way: combine the film where the children’s eyes would glow as they stared at anyone to hypnotize them into a self-destructive act WITH the opening speech of The Outer Limits-“we control your tv set” (mind), and you have the reality that makes ALL “good” teachers instantly engage with ”sanity preservation standards” to run a smooth, happy, successfully learning class. And THAT, by the way, comes from ”driven research”. ūüôā ¬† ¬†Have a great day. ¬†The End.


Life In Numbers. By David Reid Otey

I go to dreamland at 11 pm on my sleep number bed set for 5, unconscious for 7 hours, peek at the world at 6 am, use 3 gallons of water for flushing, bathing, cooking and drinking. I pull on my size 36/32 pants, size 15 shirt and size 9 1/2 shoes. I walk down 4 steps into the garage and stroll 15 feet to my 1995 Buick with 230,000 miles on it. I drive 27 miles one way to work, reading  25mph, 45mph and 60mph speed limit signs and license plate letters and numbers LV 0065H. I consistently notice my mph numbers between25- 65 and mentally work through my daily mental drills of 8 multiple intelligences, 5 love languages, 5  master evaluation steps and more numbered sections. I think of the 20 dollars camping as supply money in my wallet until pay day.

I walk into work at the grade school, instantly joining a herd of 300 plus children who roam through four hallways and occupy 15 class rooms during the day. In my class room I consistently look at the clock numbers, to make sure my multi-grade level special education students go where they need to be and on time for music, art, pe, lunch and therapies, as well as when to start and stop my own lessons. I teach math: counting, time and money, the four basic operations, order, sequence and fractions. When grading math, I’m calculating to check and correct, sometimes punching the tiny numbers on my cell phone calculator to speed things up and always to get the correct percentage.¬†When the hour number for snack time arrives, ¬†I divide the choice of energy-fix ( cookies, raisins, apples, oranges) per child.

In the grocery store on the way home I look at the printed dollar and cent numbers of what I need, tally my bill before I get to check-out, watch the digital numbers pop up on the screen, and I watch myself hand over a 10 and a 5 and a 3 dollars more. I carry my 13 pounds of groceries to my 1,850 pound car. I sit my 145 pound body onto the 5 1/2 feet long front seat, start the 285. 6 cylinder engine and turn the 10 inch steering wheel back and forth once in a while to take the right roads home. For my enjoyment at home I play guitar and I use numbers on guitar tabs for playing. When I exercise I use numbers to be sure I work out long enough.

I’ve asked my students a few times, “why do we use numbers?” It takes them awhile. I usually have to narrow the question to “where do you see numbers that you know of ?” ¬† They come up with the street signs, the phone, the clocks, money and math papers. ¬†We add addresses, thermometers, clothes sizes, food amounts in pounds and ounces, ¬†measures of sound (decibels), ¬†sizes and food portions for their school lunches. After twenty minutes it always feels overwhelming just how much we need numbers in our lives, to calculate for our health and wealth and welfare. Numbers give us a sense of control, a way to think ahead, to prepare, to know how long for any type of change–in seasons, ¬†in healing, in anticipating and planning strategies, ¬†a visually objective certainty of major differences and powers involved in our lives. Numbers are identifiers, locators, descriptors, determiners, advisors, judges, qualifiers and always have the final say in who wins, right or wrong.

Well, it’s time for me to go now. I say that only with regard to this writing, but someday I will have to say it with regard to being unable to wake for another day. I will be 60 years old soon. That’s not old. That’s perseverance and love of life. So far, all of my numbers, including my IQ, have been fairly decent. They seem to be vastly improving, too. Or is that an illusion ? I wish my mom and dad had lived longer numbers, but I also calculate they had some very bad habits in their youth that may have caused a diminishing of the possible number length. ¬†I didn’t have the same bad habits, so maybe I will see a much longer number. ¬† The end of this number of words.