AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

29 February 2012

David Gilmour, "Smile"

Listening.


I wish there was a way to maintain a listening presence in the world. Paying attention in some ways excludes that; we listen to words, give them meaning, and delve into our minds searching for adequate retorts, all the while closing off our ears. Hearing everything leaves no room for mental formations, and witty reply, does it?

Read the rest at tricycle.

Head in the clouds.

Arrows of light over the county line ...



Eudaimonia.

In this searing polemic on our industrial scale education systems teacher and author, Francis Gilbert, discusses the myths and purpose of education, the promise and reality of the teaching profession, the negative impact of assessment on learning and how teachers construct their identity.



Find your way through eudaimonia here.

Working.


U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brandon Mann uses his automatic rifle's scope to scan the area while providing security with his military working dog, Ty, around the villages of Sre Kala and Paygel in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 17, 2012. Mann, a military working dog handler, and Ty, an improvised explosive device detection dog, are assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

BLACKFIVE is a daily stop.

Flipped.

Ok, I'll be honest. I get very nervous when I hear education reformists and politicians tout how "incredible" the flipped classroom model, or how it will "solve" many of the problems of education. It doesn't solve anything. It is a great first step in reframing the role of the teacher in the classroom. It fosters the "guide on the side" mentality and role, rather than that of the "sage of the stage." It helps move a classroom culture towards student construction of knowledge rather than the teacher having to tell the knowledge to students. Even Salman Khan says that the teacher is now "liberated to communicate with [their students]."

It also creates the opportunity for differentiated roles to meet the needs of students through a variety of instructional activities. But again, just because I "free" someone, doesn't mean that he/she will know what to do next, nor how to do it effectively. This is where the work must occur as the conversation of the flipped classroom moves forward and becomes more mainstream in public and private education. We must first focus on creating the engagement and then look at structures, like the flipped classroom, that can support. So educators, here are some things to think about and consider if you are thinking about or already using the flipped classroom model.


Read the rest at Edutopia.

Here's a model to ponder (click on it) ...

Flipped Classroom

28 February 2012

Better.


Return

The sun's warm against the slats of the granary,
a puddle of ice in the shadow of the steps;
my uncle's hound
lopes
across winter wheat
fresh green cold green.
The windmill. long out of use, screeches
and twists in the wind.
Spring day, too loud for talk,
when bones tire of their flesh
and want something better.


- Jim Harrison

Barn.

27 February 2012

Vanished.

Homer, Two Children in a Field, 1878


Do thou, if gratitude inspire thy breast,
Spurn the soft fetters of lethargic rest.
Awake, awake! and snatch the slumbering lyre,
Let this bright morn and Sandys the song inspire.

I looked obedience: the celestial Fair
Smiled like the morn, and vanished into air.


- William Wordsworth, from "Lines Written as a School Exercise"

26 February 2012

Learn.

Ben Dunlap talks about a passionate life ...

I realized, in this moment of revelation, that what these two men were revealing was the secret of their extraordinary success, each in his own right. And it lay precisely in that insatiable curiosity, that irrepressible desire to know, no matter what the subject, no matter what the cost, even at a time when the keepers of the Doomsday Clock are willing to bet even money that the human race won't be around to imagine anything in the year 2100, a scant 93 years from now. "Live each day as if it is your last," said Mahatma Gandhi. "Learn as if you'll live forever." This is what I'm passionate about. It is precisely this. It is this inextinguishable, undaunted appetite for learning and experience, no matter how risible, no matter how esoteric, no matter how seditious it might seem.



Bartok, Piano Concerto No. 3, II Adagio religioso

Choice.

Wright, Da Moon, 2011


Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.


- C.S. Lewis

Thanks, Casey.

Better.


I thought about evolutionary historians who argued that walking was a central part of what it meant to be human. Our two-legged motion was what first differentiated us from the apes. It freed our hands for tools and carried us onthe long marches out of Africa. As a species, we colonized the world on foot. Most of human history was created through contacts conducted at walking pace, even when some rode horses. I thought of the pilgrimages to Compostela in Spain; to Mecca; to the source of the Ganges; and of wandering dervishes, sadhus; and friars who approached God on foot. The Buddha meditated by walking and Wordsworth composed sonnets while striding beside the lakes.

Bruce Chatwin concluded from all this that we would think and live better and be closer to our purpose as humans if we moved continually on foot across the surface of the earth. I was not sure I was living or thinking any better.

- Rory Stewart

Mozart, Symphony No. 41 in C major, "Jupiter"

Sky-watching music.

Go out.

Look up.

That bright spot to the left of the Moon has 120 times the surface area of the rock we're standing on.

Here is Nicolaus Harnoncourt conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He is bigger than us, as well. He contains multitudes.

Question.


The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything.

- Milan Kundera

In today's world, the old ways of doing business no longer produce the results nor provide the value they once did. We are constantly faced with having to find new and better ways of operating. Consequently, one of the top challenges we face as leaders is that of "enhancing creativity" within ourselves and within others. In taking on this challenge we must first comprehend the intimacy of the relationship between creativity and thinking. Our ability to be creative depends upon our capacity to think which in turn depends upon our ability to question not only our practices but also our beliefs and assumptions. We must learn to question the limits of our thinking. It is through this manner of questioning that we are able to rethink our thinking. Thus, the quality of our questions determines the quality of our creativity.

To enhance creativity, we must develop and maintain an attitude of creative questioning. We must become competent in the art of "asking dumb questions," the first of which might be: "What is a dumb question?" While this question may sound naive, after all everyone knows what a dumb question is, the answer to this dumb question, like all answers to dumb questions, is not as straight forward as we might imagine.


Read on at The Creativity Post.

Tough.

With a 4-3 loss to the Turtles, the Wings have now lost three straight.

"You have high points during the year and sometimes you're not as energized," Babcock said. "You've got to be mentally tough and push through it and we haven't been able to do that."

Read the rest at The Freep.

24 February 2012

Happy Birthday, Harrison.

George Harrison was born on this date in 1943.

"Beware of Darkness" from The Concert for Bangladesh ...

Skilled.

Curtis, Prayer to the Stars, 1909


The great works of imagination--the masterworks of poetry, drama, and fiction-- are simply indications for performance that you hold in your hand and, like musical score,s they call for skilled performance by you, the artist and the reader. Literature is an art, and reading is also an art, and unless you recognize and develop your qualities as an interpretive artist you are not getting the best from your reading. You do not play a Bach concerto for the solo cello on a musical saw, and you should not read a play of Shakespeare in the voice of an auctioneer selling tobacco.

- Robertson Davies

O'Connor, "Appalachian Waltz"

The composer performs on fiddle, accompnaied by Yo-Yo Ma (cello) and Edgar Meyer (bass) ...

Real.


To the Hand

What the eye sees is a dream of sight
what it wakes to
is a dream of sight

and in the dream
for every real lock
there is only one real key
and it’s some other dream
now invisible

it’s the key to the one real door
it opens the water and the sky both at once
it’s already in the downward river
with my hand on it
my real hand

and I am saying to the hand
turn

open the river


- W.S. Merwin

Head in the clouds.

Cirrocumulus undulatus from Jess' end of the county ...



... and from mine.



Thanks, Jess!

Beyond.


Put your clothes on, we're not streaking anymore ...

Jimmy Howard protected the Red Wings through one subpar period, then another. Newcomer Kyle Quincey and the third line helped in the third. Ultimately, the Wings came up short, and their record-setting 23-game home winning streak ended ... a magical stretch for the Wings at the Joe -- one Babcock called "beyond impressive."

Read the rest at The Freep.

23 February 2012

Alive.

Karr, Floating Tree VII, 2011


Karr, Reflection Interrupted, 2011


Karr, Cloud III, 2011



... but only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical will live the relation to another as something alive.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Wanderations.

Now.


Waking from Sleep

Inside the veins there are navies setting forth,
Tiny explosions at the waterlines,
And seagulls weaving in the wind of the salty blood.

It is the morning. The country has slept the whole winter.
Window seats were covered with fur skins, the yard was full
Of stiff dogs, and hands that clumsily held heavy books.

Now we wake, and rise from bed, and eat breakfast!
Shouts rise from the harbor of the blood,
Mist, and masts rising, the knock of wooden tackle in the sunlight.

Now we sing, and do tiny dances on the kitchen floor.
Our whole body is like a harbor at dawn;
We know that our master has left us for the day.


- Robert Bly

22 February 2012

Well-being.

Curtis, Navajo Weaver, 1907


There were very special people. These were the bards, sorcerers, and magicians who conjured webs of intrigue and excitement; treachery and death; rebirth and forgiveness. These people were our writers, filmmakers, musicians and folklorists, and they were the keepers of our social and psychological well-being. Their words created our cultural narrative, guided us through adversity, and illuminated the darkest caverns of our collective subconscious. They helped us navigate to happily ever after.

Then ...

Along came the internet. In the mid-nineties -- the dawn of the internet -- blogging software made it easy for anyone to publish their stories to a global audience. Then in late 1999, internet audio enabled anyone with a computer to create an entire radio network and reach far more listeners than even the largest, single, traditional AM/FM station. Today, we live in a world where the average first world teenager has more video production capacity in her pocket than all three TV networks circa 1955, combined.

So our stories – our cultural mythologies – which were once the domain of a handful of beknighted, priestly, or just plain lucky people, are now in the hands of the masses.


Read the rest at Edutopia.

Carry.


This whole train of experiencing, and the meanings that I have thus far discovered in it, seem to have launched me on a process which is both fascinating and at times a little frightening. It seems to mean letting my experiences carry me on, in a direction which appears to be forward, toward goals that I can but dimly define, as I try to understand at least the current meaning of that experience. The sensation is that of floating with a complex stream of experience, with the fascinating possibility of trying to comprehend its ever-changing complexity.

- Carl Rogers

Read the rest of Rogers' essay, Regarding Learning and Its Facilitation (1969), here.

21 February 2012

Zachary Richard, "Colinda"

Diversions.


Stray from the path.

Look around.

Get distracted.

Dream.

Explore.

Try something new.

Slip the chain.

Break the rules.

Be open to the pleasant surprise.

20 February 2012

Amazing.


i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes




(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)




how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?




(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


- e.e. cummings

I have been fully awakened. Thanks Jess, Will, and John!

Happy Birthday, Adams.

Adams, Grass and Water, 1935


Ansel Adams was born on this date in 1902.

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.

- Ansel Adams

19 February 2012

Within.


Birds Again

A secret came a week ago though I already
knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.


- Jim Harrison

23.


Joey MacDonald backed up his coach's decision to start him in goal by delivering the Red Wings a 23rd straight victory at Joe Louis Arena.

Aided by another good game from the third line, MacDonald led the Wings past the Sharks, 3-2, Sunday afternoon, helping Detroit defeat the Sharks for the first in three tries this season.


Read the rest at The Freep.

That's Joey's sixth straight.

Explanation.


Scientists' greatest pleasure comes from theories that derive the solution to some deep puzzle from a small set of simple principles in a surprising way. These explanations are called "beautiful" or "elegant". Historical examples are Kepler's explanation of complex planetary motions as simple ellipses, Bohr's explanation of the periodic table of the elements in terms of electron shells, and Watson and Crick's double helix. Einstein famously said that he did not need experimental confirmation of his general theory of relativity because it "was so beautiful it had to be true."

What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?

Read the rest at Edge.

Schumann, Romances for oboe & piano, Op. 94

Hélène Grimaud, piano, and Albrecht Mayer, oboe, perform ...

Look.

Lucianne Walkowicz asks, "How often do you see the true beauty of the night sky?"

Rembrandt.

Rembrandt, Self-portrait, 1657


An exibition entitled Rembrandt in America will be helld at The Cleveland Museum of Art from February 19 through May 28, 2012.

Rembrandt in America is the first major exhibition to explore in depth the collecting history of Rembrandt paintings in America. Consisting of over 50 works, the exhibition brings together autograph works by Rembrandt as well as others thought to be by the artist when they entered American collections but whose attributions can no longer be maintained. The exhibition therefore surveys the long career of Rembrandt as a painter, including his studio and a broader network of adapters, followers, and copyists.

Read the rest at The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Innovate.


The system will always be defended by those countless people who have enough intellect to defend but not quite enough to innovate.

- Edward De Bono

Divergent thinking is the ability to generate many different original ideas in response to a given problem.

There are probably a number of reasons why divergent thinking is difficult to encourage in the classroom:

It takes a great deal of time to incorporate activities that support divergent thinking

Divergent thinking’s difficult to grade

It’s difficult to allow for the possibility of failure as an acceptable outcome; consequently, risk-taking in projects is generally not rewarded

Succeeding on standardized tests, where you have to identify the single best answer, requires convergent thinking


Instructional Design Fusions offers many strategies and tools for divergent thinking here.

18 February 2012

Alive.


Robert Montgomery.

Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara, "Ya Ta Kaaya"

22.

Pavel Datsyuk made a couple of dazzling plays to help extend the Red Wings' NHL home win streak to 22 games.



Datsyuk assisted on Johan Franzen's goal and scored the game-winner with 5.8 seconds left to give the Red Wings a 2-1 win over the Predators on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Read the rest at The Freep. Wow, this is fun!

Differently.

Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it's the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.

- Sir Ken Robinson



It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way andyou lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the otherway and you release resources and give people back to themselves. To realize our true creative potential—in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities—we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative.

- Ken Robinson

Do yourself a favor, read this ...

17 February 2012

Living.

Digital artist Scott Ligon talks about the value of art and creative thinking in living life.



Thanks, Dawn!

Beyond.


Let me start with some amazing scientific facts that justify our ancestral right to art, because long before we were building cities, writing, or taking tests, humans were painting, dancing, and playing music. Paleontologists have found evidence that as far back as 100,000 years, human beings were painting. The oldest evidence of humans making music dates back 35,000 years-carved flutes have been found in caves in Europe.

All around the world, for tens of thousands of years, humans (including kids) have expressed themselves in a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons. How can we think of removing such a mode of expression from the place where children spend half their lives?

For a meditative, surreal experience on the role of art for ancient and modern people, watch Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog about the Chauvet Cave in southern France. It might transform the way you think about art and human beings.

Into the modern day and our schools. Let me review the points that many have made before:

Art education brings communities together and offers a language that transcends race, language, age, and ability.

The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution, that there are many ways to see and interpret the world, and that the limits of language do not define the limits of our cognition.

Teaching anything through music/lyrics helps kids remember (think of the ABC song); music helps children in math, language development, and to manage their emotions.

The arts help children find other ways of expressing their thoughts and feelings beyond the traditional.


Read the rest at Edutopia.

Moment.

Rothko, Blue and Gray, 1962


I took a walk in my swimming trunks and no shirt on. And I thought that one natural effect of life is to cover you in a thin layer of . . . what? A film? A residue or skin of all the things you've done and been and said and erred at? I'm not sure. But you are under it, and for a long time, and only rarely do you know it, except that for some unexpected reason or opportunity you come out--for an hour or even a moment--and you suddenly feel pretty good. And in that magical instant you realize how long it's been since you felt just that way. Have you been ill, you ask. Is life itself an illness or a syndrome? Who knows? We've all felt that way, I'm confident, since there's no way that I could feel what hundreds of millions of other citizens haven't.

Only suddenly, then, you are out of it--that film, that skin of life--as when you were a kid. And you think: this must've been the way it was once in my life, though you didn't know it then, and don't really even remember it--a feeling of wind on your cheeks and your arms, of being released, let loose, of being the light-floater. And since that is not how it has been for a long time, you want, this time, to make it last, this glistening one moment, this cool air, this new living, so that you can preserve a feeling of it, inasmuch as when it comes again it may just be too late. You may just be too old. And in truth, of course, this may be the last time that you will ever feel this way again.


- Richard Ford

16 February 2012

Fully.

Fraenger, Die Masken von Rheims, 1922


The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

- Mark Twain

Expect.


Don't expect to be clear to others if you aren't clear to yourself. Don't expect loyalty from others if you are not loyal to them. Don't expect people to overlook the gap between your words and your actions. Don't expect to be worthy of respect if you lack self-respect. Don't expect your plans to go smoothly or for people to heed your every whim. Don't expect your team to be passionate when you exhibit indifference. Don't expect people who have many reasons to be unfair to embrace fairness without prompting. Don't expect information to convey wisdom. Don't expect achievements to be noticed. Don't expect success without hardships and hard work. Don't expect people to read your mind. Don't expect gratitude. Don't expect things to remain the same.

Thank you, Execupundit.

My old friend, expectations ... keep reminding me.

Happy Birthday, Ford.

Richard Ford was born on this date in 1944.


For a writing life to flourish, your mind has to go outward.

- Richard Ford

Fragrance.


I have a mind to confuse things,
Unite them, bring them to birth,
Mix them up, undress them,
Until the light of the world
Has the oneness of the ocean,
A generous, vast wholeness,
A crepitant fragrance.


Pablo Neruda, from "Too Many Names"

Thanks to the golden fish.

Hockeytown.

Fredericks, The Spirit of Detroit (as Wing Nut), 1958


The Wings won for a record-setting 21st straight time at Joe Louis Arena by besting the Dallas, 3-1.

Oh, how quickly things change. When the opposing team gets off the bus now they better be ready to play, because this is Hockeytown and 91% of the time we don't give up points in that old grey barn on the river.

21 straight wins and 55 straight sellouts- the community has taken notice. People are responding to this team in a way that they haven't since The Captain was captain and our locker room was the Detroit branch of the Hockey Hall of Fame. I haven't seen this many winged wheel car flags and window decals since 2002.

These recent home wins have generated points, interest, and a psychological advantage. The points have carried the Wings to the top of the standings, which will guarantee home ice throughout the playoffs if the team continues this pace. The interest comes from a portion of the fanbase that has been asleep for too long but has awoken and found their way back to the Joe. The psychological advantage comes from an extended streak of dominance, a streak that teams are thinking about before they even set foot in the building. The league has been put on notice. This is Hockeytown, and Hockeytown is back.


Read the rest at Octopi Garden.

13 February 2012

Jump.


A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation:

As you go the way of life,
You will see a great chasm ...

Jump.

It is not as wide as you think.


- Joseph Campbell

Happy Birthday, Wood.

Wood, February, 1941


Grant Wood was born on this date in 1891.