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)
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Guidelines for Living Fully

I started a few months ago compiling some guidelines (rules, if you prefer) for living fully. I share a few with you below.

1. Be grateful
2. Rejoice
3. Smile and laugh often
4. Trust
5.  Don’t waste good
6. Tell the truth
7. Know when to cut your losses
8. Know when to say no
9. Know when to wait
10. Know when to say nothing

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DISCLAIMER: WordPress occasionally adds an advertisement at the bottom of my blog. Twice, I’ve been notified by readers that those ads were offensive. I am unable to view these ads, and I cannot delete them. I apologize and am attempting to prevent this from happening in the future.

Lessons Learned on the Navajo Nation

As I near the end of an amazing two-part adventure (5 more days, but who’s counting?), I reflect on what I have learned.  Part one of the adventure was living on the Navajo Nation.  Part two was my first foray into teaching at a public school.  Both adventures taught me much.

Living on the Navajo Nation provided many lessons:

  1. Government dependency can lead to poverty (40% of the Navajo people fall below the poverty level) and high unemployment rates (60-75% on the Navajo Nation, depending on the source).  From my observations living among the Navajo, both poverty and unemployment can be directly attributable to government dependency.
  2. While the Navajo people are amazing, bright, and resourceful, a very high percentage of them are bored, depressed, and in poor health.  Diabetes is epidemic among Native Americans.  An estimated one in eight will get the disease (thanks, largely, to commodity foods).
  3. The Navajo are losing their language.  In nine months, while walking through the hallways, being in the cafeteria, having students in my classes, and other observations – I never heard any two students speaking to each other in any language other than English.  I do know that many of them know how to speak Navajo, because that’s the only language some of their grandparents speak, so they must speak Navajo to communicate with the grandparents.

Teaching in a public school taught me more than I taught the students:

  1. Public schools are in trouble.
  2. The source of the trouble is debatable, but I suggest that government dependency is again one source.
  3. Standardization, lack of self-discipline, and poor discipline practices are other sources, in my opinion.
  4. The last, and possibly most damaging source of the problem is the lack of parenting skills.

Hopefully, I learned some things from my adventures that will help me be a part of the solution to these serious problems.

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!

Government Dependency

“”Todd’s family had worked hard to escape a rut that some find themselves in when faced with harsh conditions.  They saw that when government programs started growing, sometimes citizens became dependent on the programs and abandoned the strong work ethic of their elders.  This resulted in too many young people giving themselves over to a dependent lifestyle that often leads to fractured families, abuse, subpar education, and other problems.” – Sarah Palin referring to her Native American husband, Todd.

Working and living on the Navajo Nation the past year has confirmed Todd Palin’s observation.  I’ve also seen it on the nearby Hopi Reservation, and I saw it on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation when I worked with them several years ago.

Is the same thing happening to the U.S. general population?  Hmmm.