11/23/09

Katie Byron quotes I love right NOW!!!

"Nothing can cost you someone you love.
The only thing that can cost you your husband is if you believe a thought.
That's how you move away from him.
That's how the marriage ends.
You are one with your husband until you believe the thought
that he should look a certain way, he should give you something,
he should be something other than what he is.
That's how you divorce him.
Right then and there you have lost your marriage.


~ Byron Katie ~

I can find only three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours and God’s. Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our business. When I think, “You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,” I am in your business. When I’m worried about earthquakes, floods, war, or when I will die, I am in God’s business. If I am mentally in your business or in God’s business, the effect is separation.

~ Byron Katie Quotes from Loving What Is

To think that I know what’s best for anyone else is to be out of my business. Even in the name of love, it is pure arrogance, and the result is tension, anxiety, and fear. Do I know what’s right for me? That is my only business. Let me work with that before I try to solve problems for you.

~ Byron Katie Quotes from Loving What Is


I have never experienced a stressful feeling that wasn’t caused by attaching to an untrue thought. Behind every uncomfortable feeling, there’s a thought that isn’t true for us.

~ Byron Katie Quotes from Loving What Is


"Hurt feelings or discomfort of any kind cannot be cause by another person. No one outside me can hurt me. That's not a possibility. It's only when I believe a stressful thought that I get hurt. And I'm the one who's hurting me by believing what I think. This is very good news, because it means that I don't have to get someone else to stop hurting me. I'm the one who can stop hurting me. It's within my power.

11/20/09

Clarity of Motherhood


There is something about motherhood that has cleared up my world, my mind, my soul.
Just like when you're exhausted and without any conflict know exactly what you can't handle
In parenthood, you no longer waver in the realm of indecision or fear
Way back, as young childless teacher, I was often offended at being told I did not "understand"
"How could I not understand such elementary concepts" I gasped...I surely knew more, for I had the fancy degrees.....
These certificates carried my pride, disregarding parents, all these potential partners.
But now as a mother of two I need nothing more than my kids' love to survive.
Conflicting days melt away in the midst of their smiles
The love I feel for them fuels me with strength and fills me with purpose
The clarity comes from this love, a fearlessness and a sheer resolve to protect always.

11/19/09

Being Green is Okay BUT only if it's cool

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091118/us_nm/us_usa_laundry
More and more I am seeing how it's more important to appear green, than to actually be green. Living in NW DC I see tons of people righteously toting around their canvas bags full of groceries. When I go shopping I myself always get plastic for I use them as trash bags and therefore also being green, because I never buy trash bags, EVER. I don't even buy foil, saran wrap or paper towels EVER. Naturally, when I see these people, I often wonder if they buy plastic trash bags for their trash.
On that note, I just read this article about how more and more families are drying their clothes outdoors to either save money or to be green. The article recounts a situation where one woman who hangs he laundry outdoors has gotten 2 anonymous notes from neighbors telling her they do not wish to see her "unmentionables flapping about". So these canvas bags being carried around by everyone (who most likely purchase everything from plastic trash bags, to tins foil to saran wrap) is okay and looks cool, yet when an energy saving practice that could really make a difference comes about it does not pass the test simply because it does not look cool. Is not the solution here to learn to not see it that way?


The World Is Coming to an END....AGAIN

I watched some show a few nights ago about how these religious families who believe the world is coming to an end in 2012 are preparing themselves, their homes and their families to become to survivors of this catastrophe and inheritors of the Earth. This one father who was interviewed had taught his 4-year old about how the son of god will come down and basically get rid of all the non-believers. As a non-believer myself I find it hard to embrace how giddy and righteous these people were about thinking themselves the "saved ones", but that is for another whole post.

See full size image
On another note along the same lines, I teach up to 500 children art at a school in the District and almost daily I am getting kids coming up to me and telling me that they are sure the world is coming to an end in 2012. This is happening so often that I now know exactly what they're going to say when they come up to me with their wide eyes and pronounce, "Guess what I know!!". Obviously somewhat spurred on by the movie and some shows like the one I saw, yet, somehow I can't help to see how this mass anxiety also speaks to our own need as humans to so desperately want to exist within the drama. It also speaks to our need to cling to some story about ourselves that glamorizes our experience out and away from the dull and ordinary. "We are the people and this is the time" is what we are meant to believe about our existance, temporarily taking our minds away from the dishes.

COME ON!! Does anyone remember Y2K? It was 1999 and everyone thought THEN the world was ending as we knew it. The dumb shows came on real strong with predictions and strong tie-ins to biblical text assuring all viewers that this would be the end as we know it....everyone was scared. Now it's 2009 and it's like the entire world is not aware that "end-of-world theories" have been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years.....and guess what....we are still here.

So here.....the world is NOT ending, now get up and go do the dishes.





11/14/09

Pleasantries

I am not the pleasantries kind of girl. Ever since I was a young child I could immediately tell the honesty in one's voice, the sincerity in people's compliments the minute they'd say one sentence and my trust would then be built on these hunches. I am sure this faculty developed into a strong muscles after years of seeing upstanding adults be duplicitous in their lives. The examples can go on and on but that is another whole post. Also, It's not that I hate these social norms. I do follow some conversational pleasantries when I first meet people, yet after the sugar and spice of these initial conversations I need to connect with some humanity IN you in order to build trust.
I have found that people that remain in the "pleasantries" stage of a friendship or acquaintanceship too long never really let down their guard and therefore causing me to stay away; FAR, far away. Think about it. Have you ever met anyone say at work or elsewhere and a year later you realize you still do not know a thing about them? Would you trust them with your child? or your cat? or even a pet mouse? NO! Letting down your guard and sharing your humanity is part of bonding. We've all felt more at ease with a coworker or Friend the minute we find out this person has either done something hilariously dumb, or gone through an embarrassing situation. This is because temporarily the wall is lifted and we see this person's softness, their humanity!! People with pleasantries-itis does not allow this to happen. They keep things at this sterile level, never allowing you in their personal lives.



11/8/09

Weaning Ourselves From Research

It saddens me to see the world move closer and closer towards research and revere it as if it were the answer to everything. I equate it to a cancer that has now even taken over even my child's education. I'm pretty sure you too have been lured to think research-based anything is also the way, but before you turn your head let's question why we think research is important? In a very simplified set of reasoning....it must be because most people want 100% assurance that learning is happening in classroom.....we've all heard about the bottom line; are kids learning what they are being taught? But in trying to frantically assure ourselves of the content in our child's brains, we have undone a few golden nuggets of hundreds of years of when education existed without the assurance of research . For starters, the trust we have in teachers and in teaching has been lost. Teachers are bombarded with professional development sessions weekly because they are not trusted to know what they know. Two, we now operate from a fear-based model and have abandoned teaching our children flexibility. Last, we have parsed out learning into units of information, disconnected from one another and thereby taking away the magic of their connection to each other.

Research has broken the creativity and stripped away and invalidated the inner knowledge of teachers. Teachers become teachers because they notice they work well with children and so they are already blessed with knowing how to communicate information to a young mind. Teachers use to be able to have an innate knowledge of their child population and were allowed to come up with creative ways to transmit that knowledge based on that specific population's needs. Now, teachers are handed down systems and programs that often do not fit their populations. These programs are labeled research-based and teachers trust less and less in their own inner research of their population.

Research is a fear-based approach. We fear that if the child is not given 100% proven methods success will not be assured later in life or that somehow they will not be successful in their path. How incredibly stupid and absurd! In the Buddhist philosophy you learn that the cessation of pain and suffering does not happen through control, instead, it happens through letting go and learning to assimilate life events into our life. In my own life experience I have suffered greatly as a young child, anyone would shudder at hearing all I have gone through at a young age. Yet, I have used all my negative experiences growing up to make myself stronger. So if what we want for our children is success, should we not be teaching flexibility instead? No one can control what happens in later life at all so trying to research things to death to assure us of 100% anything is a lost cause. I reward my children for being flexible and allowing small disappointments to teach them about how what we consider tragedies may not always be surrounded with pain. Tragedies and suffering are opportunities for being broken open as human beings and if we stop operating with fear of what might happen we might actually see that even in the deepest of tragedies light shines through.

My 5 year old son who cannot write or read yet is being taught about question marks. I do not doubt in the future , maybe in 2 years, this information will come in handy, but teaching a non-writing child about a punctuation mark is as important as teaching him how to do Morse code. I of course do not blame the teacher, I blame the people on the very top who make these decisions about my child; they do not have the right perspective to be making these decisions. In buying into research-based programs we have abandoned the research we ourselves do as teachers in the classroom by observing our own kids. We have also abandoned our trust in our own judgements as we evaluate their needs. In being forced to superimpose these foreign programs and ideals created by" researchers" who probably work in antiseptic offices far, far away from REAL kids and bringing them into our classrooms we face a conflict of huge proportion. Disconnectedness is bound to happen when too many systems float around in one classroom; how can it not. None of this information will matter to a child unless it's taught in the context of his own world and I do not need research to know this. As a nation, as parents and as educators we need to forcibly insist on education being holistic and always somehow intimately connected to our child's lives. I want my children to love learning and when education is parsed out into disconnected bullets of knowledge it looses it's magic. I will never forget a lesson learned in graduate school. My professor gave me a xerox copy of an apple and told me to tell her all the apple facts I could come up with based on the information I was given; obviously not much information could be derived from a picture of an apple. Next, she gave me a real apple and a butter knife and told me to write down about apples.

We do not need years of research to tell us what we already intimately know about the way we learn. I urge teachers to trust their minds and their love in children and that is the most powerful "program" you can buy (into). I urge parents to fight for their children and to question systems that teach children disconnected pieces of knowledge. In the urge to get to the finish line first, schools are sacrificing the magic of childhood; our child's childhood. Think, and question why it's so important to read at a certain age? Does a child who learns to read at 4 have a more successful life? Will it assure happiness in later life? Why have we become so frantic about memorization? Question whether your child knowing their alphabet sounds really spells out a more successful or happy adult? Should not the love of learning and the love of satisfying our creative and intellectual curiosity be the driving force behind our child's education? None of these issues were important to me before I had kids, but now that I have children these issues take center stage. This is my child and I want him to love learning. That will not happen is he's taught about things that have no connection to his life now. I am disappointed to see so few parent and teacher advocates on this issue. We have come to a point where we no longer question or investigate. We look at the numbers and trust them. "Oh, this is a 10 school, they must be doing something right". Or, "this is a 2 school, they must suck". Think....but WHO is evaluating and what criteria are they using?

11/7/09

Early Childhood Dreams!

Children

Competent, capable learners

Operate in the “scientific method” (making assumptions about the way the world works and then experimenting to check them out)

Children with disabling conditions do not have “special needs”, they have “special rights”

Drive the curriculum with their observations, insights, and questions


Teachers

Are seen as “researchers”

Spend much time observing and documenting children’s work both in words and photos

Are partners with children in the learning process

Remain with a group of children for a three year cycle (birth to 3, or 3 to 5)

Are educated with “on the job” training


Families

Are true partners in the life of the center

Are expected to participate in decision making

Are reflected in the documentation throughout the center


Program/Curriculum

Centers have an artist on staff

All of the arts (visual, dance, music, etc.) are integrated into the daily life of the center

One administrator with an education background oversees one or more schools

There is a regular routine to the day, but the schedule for activities is not fixed

Children are encouraged to take multiple perspectives. They look at things from different aspects and angles

Children represent and re-represent their impressions through different media (drawing, writing, sculpting, etc.), building on their knowledge through in depth projects over time


Environment

Thoughtfully prepared to function as the “third teacher”

Along with art areas in each classroom, there is an art studio in the building

The outdoor area is as important as the inside as a learning environment

Natural light and plants abound

Documentation of the children’s work is displayed throughout (and left up for a long time)

Lots of mirrors and places to climb up and under (to allow children to see things in a different perspective)

Attention paid to use of light and shadow

Creating a Light Table CommunityColors On Our Hands