I wonder if my students feel like that.

I’ve recently had a knee operation and have been spending some time recuperating.
After a long period of hobbling around, prior to the op, I’m highly motivated to get back to my normal movement and ability.

As part of my recovery I’ve been going to a gym/aquatic centre. I ride a bike for 15 minutes, do my stretches and exercises. I head for the warm water pool and spa and alternate between walking relaxing and stretching. Nothing too difficult, nothing to strenuous. But as usual as I’m doing my thing my brain kicks in and thoughts emerge and swirl.

I know the gym is good for me and I’ve got lots to improve on.

I wonder if my students feel like that.

I can choose when I go and what I do.

I wonder if my students feel like that.

I know the bike helps my leg, it gets things moving, it will help me get to where I want to be, it’s good for me.

I wonder if my students feel like that.

I don’t want to ride the bike.

I wonder……

I know there’ll be something nice afterwards, it’s like a reward, but I don’t care I don’t want to.

I wonder……

I understand the logic, the reasoning; the consequences, I don’t want to.

I wonder……

I get on the bike, 15 minutes is too long, I don’t want to.

I wonder……

Surely I can just do some, but if I don’t do it all, I’ve failed, if I fail now I might be more likely to fail next time.

I wonder……

I start, I don’t want to, my head’s buzzing… 15 minutes too much, I don’t want to… maybe 10 minutes. I stop looking at the ‘massive task’ in front of me, listen to the music, 15 minutes only 4 or 5 songs- less if they’re Van’s songs).

I wonder……

I don’t look at the end, I look at what I’ve done. 3 minutes. Well that’s less than half of 5 minutes. 5 minutes. Well that’s half of 10 (don’t think about the 15) 7 minutes, I’m nearly half way there, almost the top of the hill, it just gets closer from there.

I wonder……

I get it done. I’m glad. I can bank that one away as a time I made it, I know I did, I know I can.

And I wonder…..

How do I help my students when they don’t want to?

Do I recognise that it’s probably more than just not wanting to?

Do I understand that reasoning is generally futile in overcoming feelings?

How many times can they feel like they failed before they stop believing they can do it?

Do I acknowledge that their feelings are real to them?

Do I create activities that minimise the confrontation?

Do I acknowledge their feelings and value them when they resist?

And I wonder…

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Lines, borders and boundaries

 

It’s a bit on the late side, but it’s quiet and well, like many things, when I need to do something, the other things says ‘what about me?’ I should sleep, but my knee hurts. I’ve been ruminating over these thoughts and it’s time for them to come out.

As usual I have a kaleidoscope of thoughts churning, like fairy floss, I need to grab one thread and wind it around this post. I know it’ll end in a sticky mess, but hopefully it will be worth it.

One more thing before I launch into this… Mark is not to blame J
Mark Weston is a prolific poster of quotes, sayings and thoughts, possibly #2049 of them. J I usually find myself agreeing with them but then, occasionally, like the creaking of old door opening, my mind opens to the possibility and other alternative thoughts creep in…

 

The words come from John Mayer’s song, ‘No Such Thing’ (link and lyric below), which seems to be a tale of deception, conformity and the settling with limitations. The narrator knows there’s “something better on the other side” with the discovery that “there’s no such thing as the real world, just a lie you got to rise above”.

Sounds like a classic rebellion of youth and the search for their own ‘real world’.

I believe that pushing boundaries is a normal behaviour for kids, it’s a developmental stage of discovering autonomy and control. Temper tantrums and toileting and that moment when your baby looks at you and says “No!”

I believe every child needs to go through this process and every parent has to determine how to hold the line, and let them push. This line is designed to help the family operate and to provide a safe environment for the child. This line slowly changes, as the child either increases in ability or takes more responsibility for themselves. Bed time is an example of this, where the parents determine the best way to work with the baby/child to ensure they are getting enough sleep.

It’s been my experience that the boundaries and lines are continually pushed and renegotiated as the child stumbles and surges towards adulthood and autonomy.

The family is possibly the first social institution to impose controls over the child. Where, hopefully, benevolent parents seek to help the child reach their potential.

Our wider society gets in on the act too. From the registration of birth, compulsory education and the government agencies who aim to ensure our children are looked after; there are lines imposed on us through our society.

The way I see it is that we have lines and boundaries placed upon our lives from different sources. Some are family and societies norms, others are laws placed upon us by our government. Each has consequences for transgressions.

When I heard that creaking noise of disagreement I was questioning the limits, what line shouldn’t be crossed, what if it does seem better, more enticing on the other side?

I’m not sure, but suspect that in an effort to accept diversity and to break down some of society’s norms, generalised, ‘catch all’ phrases have become accepted and defended.

Statements like:

  • It’s my body I can do what I want
  • Let people be who they want to be
  • It’s my life and I’ll do what I want
  • It’s my mind and I’ll think what I want

I think the above statements (and others like them) are based on acceptance and allowing others to reach whatever potential and purpose they have. It’s also about self-determination. I think the above statements are defended with a belief that everyone is naturally good and will operate morally.

The desire to feel free to choose and make our own way can result in blindly pushing back against the restriction. People don’t like being told what to do. And yet society will and needs to protect people from others. We need laws that support the safe use of our roads. We need laws that protect us in our work places.

I’m reminded of a Cub leader (Scouts) who ran a game he called, ‘No Rules’
He would give the group of children a basketball and said “there’s no rules, it’s your game”.
The kids would start throwing or kicking the ball. Within a short amount of time the leader would step in and stop the game, “Now there’s no rules, but it looked like Jimmy was going to get hurt. Is that ok? What should we do?”
The children would come up with a few ideas, like no kicking the ball. The game would restart, “There’s no rules, but you can’t kick the ball”.
A little later some people would be actively involved, others not so much. The game stops again “I’ve noticed that no one is getting hurt and that’s great, but Sophie isn’t looking happy, what’s the matter Sophie?”
“I’m not getting to have a go”

“Ok, how about if we share the ball around so everyone gets to join in”

“Right. No Rules, but you can’t hurt people and everyone needs to be able to play, but there are no rules…”

The above game helps the children to understand that it’s the rules that make every game fun. We need the restriction of lines on a basketball court to provide the challenge and structure that is basketball.
Rules, boundaries and lines all restrain but they can also allow freedoms and protection.

 

There are no rights without responsibilities

 

I want add one last thing ‘social responsibility’.

This will mean different things to different people, depending on your values. I consider that we have a responsibility to ‘add’ to society, to help it move forward and develop.

Recently I became aware of a young person I know who was harming themselves. It was their choice, but I don’t think it was good for them. Through social media they communicated to other young people and more became involved in self-harm. This is the opposite of adding to society, it’s the promotion of something detrimental.

 

Studies suggest that around 20 percent of people under 24 have self-harmed, and a warning that some social media websites are fuelling the increase, and a warning that this story contains confronting images and subject matter.  http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2013/s3845800.htm

 

There are lines, borders and boundaries. We can push against them because they are there or we can think about them, and their purpose. We can look at the consequences of pushing against them and the cost to us if we do; and if we don’t.
I guess it’s for each of us to work out who we are and who we want to be. To work out how we engage with society and others. And possibly to be aware of what our lines, borders and boundaries are and how that might impact on others and their experience of life.

 

No Such Thing – John Mayer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1W2UddURXI

Welcome to the real world, she said to me
Condescendingly
Take a seat
Take your life
Plot it out in black and white
Well I never lived the dreams of the prom kings
And the drama queens
I’d like to think the best of me
Is still hiding
Up my sleeve

They love to tell you
Stay inside the lines
But something’s better
On the other side

I wanna run through the halls of my high school
I wanna scream at the
Top of my lungs
I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world
just to lie you’ve got to rise above

So the good boys and girls take the so called right track
Faded white hats
Grabbing credits
Maybe transfers
They read all the books but they can’t find the answers
And all of our parents
They’re getting older
I wonder if they’ve wished for anything better
While in their memories
Tiny tragedies

They love to tell you
Stay inside the lines
But something’s better
On the other side

I wanna run through the halls of my high school
I wanna scream at the
Top of my lungs
I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world
Just a lie you got to rise above

I am invincible (x3)
As long as I’m alive

I wanna run through the halls of my high school
I wanna scream at the
Top of my lungs
I just found out there’s no such thing as the real world
Just to lie you’ve got to rise above

I just can’t wait til my 10 year reunion
I’m gonna bust down the double doors
And when I stand on these tables before you
You will know what all this time was for

    • “No Such Thing” by John Mayer

 

Spoons.

You know, those things we use for making coffee, stirring the tea.

Spoons.

I don’t like those spoons pressed out of thin metal, you the type? Round top edge, sharper harsh edge underneath; thin, light functional, but not substantial.

At my school we have a multitude of different spoons we use in the kitchen when we make our drinks. Spoons that have accumulated over the years from others kitchens. Spoons that find a place of belonging, no longer the odd one out, but part of the family where individuality isn’t a problem.
I’ve recently discovered a spoon in the collection, a spoon of weight, of balance and predictably it makes a great cup of coffee. A pleasure to use.

Spoons

spoons Manuel Razzari

Image by Manuel Razzarivia Pixabay

A while ago I noticed spoons appearing on the kitchen sink; used, alone, abandoned.
The sink is immediately above the dish washer. The perfectly functional sink, with two kinds of running water, and a matching tea towel with easy reach.
I’m not sure if it’s the parent in me that bristled, or something else, but that feeling was very strong in me.

That inner voice grumbled, “Who left that spoon there for someone else to put away?”

Spoons took on a different meaning for me. It’s a term I use (mostly internally) to refer to things that are left for someone else to deal with.
It’s funny how when something grabs your attention you see it everywhere. Whether is the type of car you like, or expecting mums, when you’re going to have a baby there seem to be so many mums to be about.

Spoons was a bit like that.

I guess somehow I’ve worked out my bristling is about me, it’s my response. My value that’s being ‘transgressed’, and so my issue to take responsibility for.

Sometime later I noticed items in my building, placed up in the shelves of a communal area.
Spoons!

As I looked I started to remember the times they were used. The ideas behind them. Late night meetings, PDs, lessons for the students, and creative ideas.
So why were they there?

Sometimes they were left because the person who brought them was not the person putting them away. Others were things got out on the hope of using them. All things were based in good intentions for purposes of helping others.

Oh and some were my spoons too.

My definition of ‘Spoons’ has deepened to include looking at what goes on behind to encourage the spoons. When I see them on the sink, I know some are there because teacher’s minds are coming out of or getting ready for classes, rushing off to yard duty, or just can’t get access to the sink for now.

I ask myself …..

“Am I judging before asking?”

“Am I leaving spoons for others to clean up after me?”

“What do I do that might create situations where I’m leaving spoons for others?”

I wonder if ‘spoons’, like absenteeism, is a barometer for staff welfare and moral.

 

I still see spoons, but look a little deeper and when it’s time for a coffee, well I have a little rummage for my favourite spoon

Leave the bottle full for others

Reading Marks quote encouraged me to relay a story to you.

If your lucky enough

 

I agree with Kevin, – If you’re doing well then help others to do well too.
I guess it’s easy to think “Yep! I’ll do that, when I’ve made it.”
Nothing wrong with that, but what about now, what can I do now, I don’t have spare cash. I don’t have influence, what can I do now?

 

A little over 30 years ago I was working (as a young fella) out in the back of NSW.
I was working with a shearing team contracted to work at a large station. A 15 stand shed, with 30,000 sheep to be shorn over the 6 weeks by a rather large team of about 30 men.

One Friday night some of us had gone into Hilston for a drink at the RSL.
It was a quiet night in a quiet town.
I was washing my hands in the bathroom at the same time as a middle aged shearer.

He called out to me as I went to walk out the door.

“Hey leave some water for the other guy.”

His tone was guiding and friendly, but I was confused.

“The paper towel.” he said “When you tear it off, make sure there’s some for the next bloke. It’s just like that song about the pump in the desert”

He proceeded to tell me about the song. About how for a pump to work it has to be primed, that if you don’t have water to replace the air you won’t be able to pump water. It could be life and death for anyone needing water in the desert.

It’s about thinking about the next fella. Being aware that someone else will come this way and need things too. We don’t need to know them, we just know they will be along.

That simple little moment of sharing has stayed with me ever since, never far from the surface, bubbling; “Have you left some water?”

It might be for the nameless person following after, that I restock the paper towel for, put paper in the copier for, wipe down the kitchen bench for. But equally it could be knowing that you have a little happiness to share, a smile.
It could be knowing others might be a little low on tolerance or patience for the moment, that’s ok, I can spare a little of mine.

It’s the power of one good deed

It’s easy to focus on what we need to get done, whether it’s the shopping, the lesson, the destination, but on the way there are many times to remember that others might be lifted by something we do, something we say.

 

I’ll ever be grateful for a man who took the time, took the risk and reminds me to ask myself…..

Can I leave some water?

 

A couple of verses from Desert Pete…..

“You’ve got to prime the pump. You must have faith and believe. 
You’ve got to give of yourself ‘fore you’re worthy to receive.
Drink all the water you can hold. Wash your face to your feet. 
Leave the bottle full for others. Thank you kindly, Desert Pete.

Yeah, you’ll have to prime the pump, work that handle like there’s a fire. 
Under the rock you’ll find some water left there in a bitter’s jar. 
Now there’s just enough to prime it with, so don’t you go drinkin’ first. 
Just pour it in and pump like mad and, buddy, you’ll quench your thirst.”

Desert Pete – Billy Edward Wheeler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRSIFmlJwgM

 

What do you see?

I have often wondered if other people think about things like I do. I wonder if they see the things I see.

I’m not talking about the way our brains ‘see’ an image coming through our eyes, but rather how we use our brains to notice and interpret what we are seeing.
It’s occurring to me that there are multiple factors at work here.
The image is one thing, our awareness (how present and attentive we are) is another, as is the knowledge that we bring. Knowledge can be used to interpret and understand but it also allows us to take another look to observe something we may have missed the first time.

Oh, and I wonder if I’m weird? 🙂

 

image

Most days I walk past a tree.
It’s a tallish tree with a straight trunk, growing skywards.
This tree is growing about 30cms from a building, so close that it has negotiated the buildings eaves. Without touching the eave this tree has grown so that its’ trunk goes out and up to continue its journey, upwards. As straight as it can given its circumstances.
It’s a marvel I have often admired. How has it done this? I know that auxin in the leaf tips cause the plant to grow towards the sun, maybe this has played a part. Is it that the soft leaves and young branches have sensed the buildings resolute structure?
I don’t know, I could have googled and explored to seek understanding, but I’m perfectly happy to just admire the way nature interacts with our human interjections.

One of the massive benefits of going to Uni was to be able to do an Arts degree 🙂 What a wonderful course of study for people who wish to follow their interests. During one of my lectures my lecturer talked about Viktor Frankl and his book “Mans search for meaning” (which has been kindly posted online as a free PDF http://goo.gl/uxo2cI ). One of his points was that we ascribe meaning to things. What means one thing to one person may mean something else to another.
What a wonderful understanding. It allows me to understand how many people respond differently to each other. They aren’t wrong, they just see it differently. It’s the judgement that may follow it that leads to conflicts. How cool to be able precede our views with ‘in my opinion’ or ‘the way I see it’. To me (😊) this is not about diplomacy, it’s about acknowledging that others might have a different, and for them a perfectly valid, way of seeing things.

What’s this got to do with my tree?

Well, I see it as another opportunity to reflect.
I look at the way the tree has grown and developed. I firstly wonder in amazement and delight,. I marvel at how this plant has adapted to it’s situation and I wonder how people do the same.

Obstacles-what obstacles are placed before me?

Often ‘we’ are faced with obstacles and impediments, things that we have to negotiate our way around. Some of these things we are conscious of, others, not so much.
Do we feel a sense of loss or imposition? I wonder if our potential to be ‘perfect’ has been crippled, or is it part of our journey of uniqueness, developing our character?
I don’t see the tree as being crippled or scarred. I see a unique tree that has continued on its way in spite of barriers being placed before it.
I relate this to children and adults I interact with, all who are faced with things that can build character, or stifle their potential. For some I believe that the environment in which they grow will provide them with difficult obstacles that an keep them from prospering as much as they could have.
I wonder if I’m like the tree, shaping myself to accommodate the world I live in, or am I continuing to be who I think I want to be. Is the building (those immovable blocks and obstacles) hindering me or helping me?

Obstacles- Do I create obstacles for others?

Am I the building to other people? Do I cause obstacles to others? Do I harm and hinder or do I help?
I’m not sure it’s all one or the other. Maybe it’s situation by situation (case by case), maybe it’s accumulative too.
What’s that saying about the tough times being like sand paper, smoothing our rough edges? Too much sanding will create a different shape, unrecognisable from the original.

Do I review my planning?

I wondered too about the origin of the tree, how did it come to be growing there? Was it planned and planted, or did it spring from a seed?
How do I ensure my planning isn’t flawed and going to create problems in the future?
Do I monitor the progress of my plans to be open and aware of how they impact on others?
Do I notice things, like the tree, where early intervention might create a different outcome?

So where does all this wondering leave me?
While I might not be able to control many things that happen in my life, I can, to the best of my ability, control my response to them. To inform my responses, I believe I need to be aware; aware of what I, others (and the situation) are doing. I try to be open to others ways of doing things. That’s not about joining in, but understanding that many factors have come together for the other person to choose this way of behaving.

Ps
Reflections; they’re worth thinking about…..

Why I write

I’ve never considered myself a writer, for me writing was purely functional.
I’d write shopping list, I’d do essays for school and job applications, but writing for pleasure? In the old days, long before we thought of mails as being ‘snail mail’, I’d write letters for fun. I’d use it as a way to communicate with friends, part entertainment, part relationship building.
I wonder if blogging is a little like that for me (now I even get to keep a copy of the ‘letter’ I’ve written).
Do we think of things as being binary, maybe more then we should? I’m a writer or I’m not. Maybe if we can write we are all writers, given the right circumstances.

I seem to have this desire to share thoughts and ideas. I’m not sure that I’m imparting wisdom and knowledge, or if it’s helpful for others, but what if it makes a difference? What if it’s slightly helpful in some way? Well, for me that would be an added bonus and the point of posting them in a public arena.

So here’s to hoping someone out there finds my writing useful in some way 🙂

Perfect

“She’s perfect”

Cupping his face in his hands, elbows on hospital table, the paediatrician looked up at me, smiling through his bushy grey eyebrows and glasses, “she’s just perfect”.
His smile was so warm, a man who found delight in this aspect of his work.

(Sourced from http://www.imagesource.com)

There she was, safe, healthy and delivered. That’s all I wanted. She was perfect.

Fast forward 18 months, laughing and running in the lounge room. She trips, stumbles and crashes into the TV, her cries cuts through me. It wasn’t a bad cut but it left a scar, her first scar.

She was still perfect, but for ever more would have that little scar, just above her lip. Still perfect, but not how she was. She was different, altered.

Perfect?
What is perfect?
Is she less perfect?
I think that’s a question we all would have to answer for ourselves.

Many babies are born, just like she was, many containing yet to be revealed health issues, the origins of which are already present within them.

What is perfect…..

I knew when I decided I had to write this post that I would struggle, I think I almost always struggle.
It’s an internal battle to fight past the doubt and the insecurity and start writing. What if people reading this get bored? Don’t understand? What if I don’t convey my thoughts in a way that connects with people?

What if I’m wrong? ….wrong?

Perfect –perfection- speaks to me as the absence of error, without blemish. Perfection is absolute. There’s nothing wrong with that, the issue for me is all about the criteria, what is required for something to be perfect.

Water is perfect, when all I want it to be is wet. If I want to wash or drink it then I want it to be clean too. If I want to have a bath then temperature is important as well.
What determines ‘perfectness’ is not the ‘item’ or ‘thing’ but the criteria of how we assess it.

I think that sometimes the criteria is clear and apparently obvious.

It was a perfect kick = the ball went where it was meant to.

As I’ve been writing this I was thinking that systems of scoring gymnastics and diving could measure if the performance was perfect, but there seems to be some degree of personal judgement that could vary. I was thinking that measuring could remove the personal judgements and leave only scientifically accuracy. But then that is influenced by what we think is the perfect amount and the tolerances we are accepting of.

Someone once told me there isn’t such a thing as a perfect circle. That when you enlarge the image enough you would see that the curve wouldn’t be perfectly curved. And given that numbers are infinite, then accuracy of measurement is limited by the increments we can measure by.

This leaves me thinking we use ‘perfect’ to describe how something fulfils our requirements, (it was a perfect Sunday afternoon) it’s not absolute perfection, but it perfectly fulfils the criteria we place on it. Another way I think ‘perfect’ is used is to judge somethings shortfall; the cake I made isn’t perfect, I did a good job, but it’s not perfect. This action in its self is probably not a problem, especially if the ‘criteria’ is clear and it’s accurate.

For me the problem is when the criteria becomes unclear or generalised and when the judgement becomes a statement about the person, their self-worth.

So what is perfect?

For me, it’s what meets my criteria.

I’m in control of that. I can choose how I’m going to judge my efforts. I can choose how I judge others too. I can choose to be generous and accepting that we are all perfectly imperfect.