On a Pedestal

pedestal

A pedestal is defined as:

1. An architectural support or base, as for a column or statue.
2. A support or foundation.
3. A position of high regard or adoration.
(thefreedictionary.com)

Pedestals are designed to put something on display. The displayed item must always look good. It must be very still or it can fall. It cannot be too large, or it is unsteady–again in danger of falling. Its use is limited to being viewed, bragged about, and admired. It collects dust and can eventually be taken for granted. In the event of a fall, damage can occur; sometimes a fall results in being broken beyond repair, at least not without a scar.

Think twice before putting a person on a pedestal. People on a pedestal are at great risk of falling, being damaged, collecting dust, and being taken for granted. If I place perfectionist expectations on any person, I set myself and others up for disappointment.

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Guidelines for Fully Living, Part 4

  1. Be still and quiet
  2. Do not interrupt
  3. Apologize
  4. Mind your manners
  5. Watch the watchers
  6. Go boldly where no one has gone before; do it.
  7. Shoulders back, chest out, head up
  8. Don’t take yourself too seriously
  9. Rest is as holy as work
  10. Practice, practice, practice (if you want to improve)

Guidelines for Living Fully, part 3

  1. Baby steps, slowImage
  2. Count the cost
  3. Selah
  4. Keep your eyes on the ball
  5. Wrist follow through
  6. Practice, practice, practice (if you want to improve)
  7. Give extravagantly
  8. Give 100% effort
  9. Network
  10. Collaborate


Rules for Fully Living, part 2

11. Honor confidentiality
12. Be appropriately transparent
13. Listen well
14. Grieve your losses fully
15. Confront evil
16. Honor differences
17. Hurting people hurt people
18. Trust your instincts
19. We teach people how to  treat us
20. Enjoy simple pleasures

Chuckology

Who wants to study Chuck? Why would anyone want to? He’s a nice guy and fun to be around; even I acknowledge that. He’s also interesting and has some great experiences to share. He likes people. Chuck is also human and can empathize with almost anyone. There are skeletons in his closet, but he doesn’t try to hide them–for the most part.

But study him? He doesn’t want anyone to study him. The very idea gives him the shivers. Chuckology? The suffix, ology = the study of.

Bio = life.

Biology = the study of life.

_________________________

Geo = the earth.

Geology = the study of the earth.

_________________________

Chuck = me.

Chuckology = the study of me.

Boring! Why not just spend time with me, get to know me. We might become friends. I’d like that. Yes, indeed.

_________________________

Theo = God.

Theology = the study of God.

Boring! Why not just spend time with him, get to know him. You might become friends. I’m told that he’d like that. Hmmmm.

____________________________________

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Racial Discrimination

My friend and colleague is Portuguese.  He grew up in Dubai and spent most of his summers at his grandparents in India.  He rocks!  When he and I recently discussed his considering moving to the small town where I live, he shared a concern with me.

“What if,” he mused, “God-forbid, we have another 9/11?  Would I be in danger because of my skin color and physical features?”

Sadly, I had to concede that it might be a problem.  He’s neither Arabic nor Muslim.  But he could, by ignorant people, be mistaken for either of those.  Sad!

And, so what if he were Arabic or Muslim.  That should make no difference either.  Racial profiling and prejudice continue to prevail in this country.  Not just with Arabic and Muslim people, but with Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian people, and others.  How embarrassing.  The land of the free?  Home of the brave?  Those discriminated against have been brave; the prejudiced have not!

Being Real

Four from our little church went to the home of some members who would probably be classified as poor. They were having a neighborhood cookout – in a “poor” neighborhood.  About 20 hungry people of various skin colors showed up, and we had a great time.

Afterward, the youngest of us – a recent college graduate – remarked that he had noticed that poor people are open and honest.  They have very open and real conversations.  That sparked a conversation about middle class and upper class (rich) people.

Most middle class people, we concluded, are not as real and honest and mostly talk about each other.  The difficulty of climbing out of the middle class is that everyone else in the class is working hard to pull each other down in their own effort to climb up.

The student then said he’d never really hung out with any upper class people.  I shared that in my experience most upper class people are not very real and honest (they work hard to give the impression that they are doing great) and in conversation they talk about business, philosophy, politics, and society subjects.

Hmmmm. Interesting. What do you think about our observations?

Parenting and Public Schools

My hypotheses about the current fundamental public school problems are simple.  First, effective parenting is paramount.  And, second, sound relationship skills undergird the entire education enterprise.

Exemplary teachers usually have solid parenting skills.  Must a teacher be or have been a biological parent to acquire these skills.  Not at all.  They can best be learned by rearing children in a nuclear family.  But, they can be learned other ways too.  Most importantly – they can be learned (and taught).

Good parenting skills teach us the importance of letting our children (students) know that we value and accept them, regardless of their behavior.  Simultaneously, we inform them (and demonstrate to them) that bad behavior has negative consequences.

More to come….

Poverty on the Navajo Nation

In a previous post, I briefly discussed the “third world nation” status of the Navajo Nation (NN). This was primarily due to the poverty issues they face.  Yet the NN received millions of federal and state funds – enough to distribute non-trivial monthly checks to each family living on the “Rez.”  On the other hand, citizens of the Navajo Nation:
  • do not pay federal or state taxes.
  • do not pay to register and license their vehicles
  • do not pay real estate taxes
  • rarely have house payments
  • never have to pay for land, since no one owns the land (yet every family has an allotment of land)
  • rarely have credit cards, so their debt load is minimal, usually a vehicle payment
  • receive free medical, dental, and eye care
  • much of their education is paid for by the tribe via workforce development or other social agencies.

How can one explain the ironies of monthly checks, incredible tax breaks and other government provision, and persistent poverty?  Government Dependency is an insidious thing.

Teaching in the Public School

Two quotes:

“Teachers face an impossible task of truly educating students in a world where traditional support of their efforts by administrators and parents has evaporated.  Those young people who are entering or thinking about entering the teaching profession should think about taking lessons on how to be a magician because navigating the sea of expectations they are about to enter is fraught with distraction and misdirection.” – Alan Stocker

“…although [I] am aware I could not withstand the crushing workload and confinement of high school teaching in this country.” – Milan Kovacovic, college professor

At the school where I teach, lack of administrator and parent support and unrealistic expectations loom large.  The workload for teachers is indeed overwhelming.  Teachers are treated as employees, not professionals.  Even worse, to me, is the lack of discipline.

In addition, the great majority of students lack self-discipline and positive role models.  I felt incompetent most of last semester.  A fellow teacher, at least as old as me and a 9-year veteran just at this high school, told me recently that she felt incompetent (something new for her).  And a veteran administrator (principal) also told me a few weeks ago, “Sometimes I just feel so incompetent!”  The current systems promote this feeling of incompetency.  The public school environment is unhealthy for teachers.  We need a revolution in public schools!