The appropriate words or inspiration have escaped me during this very strange week. The situation the world finds itself in is so unprecedented in our lives.
May our thoughts and prayers be with those who will develop vaccines and medicines to help fight this pandemic. May our thoughts and prayers be with the medical personnel who are tending and who will tend to those who are desperately ill. May our thoughts and prayers be with those who have lost loved ones. May our thoughts and prayers be with those who have lost and will lose their livelihoods. May our thoughts and prayers be with those who will design the policies to nurture humanity to better and hopefully more sustainable times. May our thoughts and prayers be with teachers and all those who work in schools during these difficult days.
‘… when we change the way we see things, the things we see change.’ – Stan, S. (2016). Mindful Meditations for Every Day. Columba Press: Dublin.
This week some thoughts from KD Lang’s song, Constant Craving. They have been quoted recently by Emeritus Professor Michael Fullan in his article, The Battle of the Century: Catastrophe v Evolutionary Nirvana (ACEL, 2020, pg. 8). Lang wrote:
Maybe a great magnet pulls
All souls towards truth
Or maybe life itself
That feeds wisdom
To its youth.
This week I’d like to share a quote from John Marsden’s (2019) book, The Art of Growing Up. When talking about the importance of literary fiction he concludes:
‘… it has an integrity that simply may not be available in the places we have been accustomed or trained to expect it. It enables readers and writers to journey together, sharing the path from the first page of the book to the last, and through all the exhilarating and difficult pages in between, and in so doing to confront honourably humanity’s toughest and most tangled questions in a mutual search for truth.’
‘Genuine communication involves contagion; its name should not be taken in vain by terming communication that which produces no community of thought or purpose between the child and race of which she is heir.’ – Dewey, J. (1910). How We Think.
‘The goal in all education is always receding before the advancing student, just as the top of a mountain seems to retreat before the climber, remoter and higher summits appearing successively as each apparent summit is reached.’ – Professor Paul Henry Hanus
‘Make hope practical in a world where despair would seem far more convincing.’ – Lingard, B., Hayes, D., Mills, M., Christie, P. (2003) Leading Learning: Making Hope Practical in Schools.
Welcome to the 2020 academic year. I hope everyone had a relaxing and refreshing break, and feels rejuvenated for the year ahead. A peacefully poignant quote from Thou Whose Harmony is the Music of the Spheres by Robert Leavens, to start the School year.
Thou whose harmony is the music of the spheres, By our presence here with one another,
In thy presence,
May some of the harshness and discord of our human lives be transmuted into music.
A new song in our hearts may there be,
And a new harmony in our beings,
So that we may return to our many duties, With fresh courage,
With rejoicing, And with eagerness.
‘Not to speak, is to speak. Not to act, is to act.’ – Theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Recently we have all been concerned about the fire engulfing our country in so many places. During the week I re-read poems from an anthology entitled Earth Prayers. One poem ends with this line:
‘We give away our promise to begin to learn how to stay in balance with all the earth’ – Roberts, E., & Amidon, E. (2009). Earth Prayers.
Balance is such a simple yet difficult concept. Let’s hope balance pervades all decision making when addressing the pressing issues about the climate.
‘Without nourishment there can be no growth and no love….give thanks and celebrate!’ – Leunig, M. (1991). A Common Prayer.
‘People learn best by stories, because stories lodge deep in the heart.’ – Nerhburn, K. (2016). Voices in the Stone: Life Lessons from the Native Way.
‘The beauty is in learning from each other … and having constant growth!’ – Queensland Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Ms Alondra de la Parra.
‘A liberal education helps us claim our own voices in the midst of the clamorous crowd, staying engaged with the communal conversations of a democracy in ways that keep opening us to larger versions of the truth’. –Parker, P. (2011). Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create A Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.
Foundational truths are only as solid as the strength of democracy’s schools. We should pause and reflect on the plight of students, teachers and the communities in Syria.
So much of what we do as educators is about individual difference.
‘One thing my grandfather Bart taught me is that no two race horses are the same so treat them as individuals.’ – James Cummings (grandson of legendary racehorse trainer Bart Cummings), November 2017
This week’s Pedagogy Quote of the Week is aimed particularly at the summative start of the new QCE/ATAR system.
‘Approach your own personal voyage and projects like Michelangelo approached a block of marble, willing to learn and adjust as you go, and even to abandon a previous goal and change direction entirely should the need arise.’- Epstein, D. (2019). Range—How Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World. Riverhead Books.
‘Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.’– Dr Seuss
‘Good thinkers not only know how to think creatively, critically and deeply they actually do it!’–Harvard Project Zero
‘Most people believe that physicists are explaining the world … they are only dancing with it.’-–Physicist, Gary Zukav.
The natural world keeps groaning and we just keep doing what we do. Our role as educators is to ensure that our students at least, in part, understand and appreciate the intricacies of the moves!
‘… Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.’ –Saint Matthew’s Gospel (6:34)
‘Lying is done with words and also with silence.’ – American public intellectual and poet, Adrienne Rich.
Silence can transform with its stealth. Let’s hope humanity has learned from past silences so that it won’t ignore outcomes that may well be predictable.
‘Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.’ – American-Cuban-French essayist, Anais Nin.
‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not!’– Dr Suess.
‘Culture turns the other into us, and it does this through trust, imagination and empathy.’ – Cellist, Yo Yo Ma.
Culture is all about the invisible as well as the visible. The unsaid as well as the said, the action as well as the thought.
‘Leaders throw long shadows!’-Morgan, D. (2019).
Sometimes the most obvious statements are timely reminders. Working at this School makes us all leaders in some way—leaders in core educational values and deeply interrogated thought—our articulation of a 21st century concept of a broad-based liberal education!
‘… the future is always contingent upon our cooperation, choices, and actions.’ – Buber, M. (1949). Prophetic Faith.
‘Feminine power is deeply relational and symbolic—and thus transformative—in ways that many men cannot control or even understand.’- Rohr. R (2019). The Universal Christ. Convergent Books.
Not everything fits into a gendered binary. I do sometimes wonder if more qualities of the feminine were allowed to seep fully into public discourse our world might be a better place.
‘Own the jungle!’- British General, Sir Walter Walker.
There are many possible applications for this week’s Pedagogy Quote of the Week. Some might say that ‘grit’ is counter-insurgency of the mind.
As assessment commences we are reminded of the following words:
‘Don’t worry, be happy!’- Bobby McFerrin.
‘You’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic!’- Slavin, K. (2016). Design as Participation.
Slavin’s words prompt us to think, what can we do, from a personal practice sense, during an era of amazing educational complexity to limit congestion?
‘Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten!’- paraphrased quote by author, GK Chesterton.
‘A ship is safe in habour, but that is not what ships are built for.’- Theologian, William Shed.
From listening comes knowledge
From knowledge comes understanding
From understanding comes wisdom
From wisdom comes well-being.
-Kerr, J. (2013). Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life, Hachette Australia.
‘Feminism is not about women …. It’s about changing what is valued!’ -Cox, E. (2019). Late Night Live: Phillip Adams.
‘Don’t confuse pessimism with profundity: problems are inevitable, but problems are solvable, and diagnosing every setback as a symptom of a sick society is a cheap grab for gravitas (pg 452).’ -Pinker, S. (2018), Enlightenment Now, Penguin Random House.
‘The ultimate source of a happy life is warm-heartedness.’-Dali Lama.
As we approach the Christian festival of Easter, a time in which re-birth, hope and renewal are celebrated, remembering the wellspring of humanity that can emanate from warm-heartedness is very appropriate.
The events in Christchurch, the aftermath and the leadership of Jacinda Ardern has resonated with all people of goodwill over the last week. The poetry of George Herbert has provided food for thought over the last few days. He wrote a series of poems in 1633 called The Temple: Sacred Poems. They were set to music by the English Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams under a collection entitled Five Mystical Songs. The fifth of these songs, Antiphon, starts with the words:
‘Let all the world in every corner sing!’
Let our world sing with peace—peace in heart, mind and soul! May something good come out of the horror that has been so confronting. Here’s to the genuine and inspirational leadership that the world has been witnessing in recent days.
‘Looking up not only lets our brains improvise and play, but it improves our capacity to maintain a focused state of mind—with less effort—so we actually get better at thinking.’
-Kerr, F. & Maze, L. (2019), The Art and Science of Looking Up.
‘The whole struggle of life is to some extent a struggle about how slowly or how quickly to do each thing.’
-Nadolyn, S. (1996). The Discovery of Slowness. Penguin Books.
‘I am because we are!’ -African proverb
This quote is a wonderful way of thinking about connection and caring—the fundamental essences of schools as agents of community.
‘….education—as a societal good—is both a means to participating in public , and a means of creating ‘the public.’-Robertson, S. (2018). Recovering the Political in the Idea of Education as a Public Good—and Why it Matters.
‘We must be guardians of a space that allows students to breathe and be curious and explore the world and be who they are without suffocation.’ -Brown, B. (2018). Daring to Lead. Penguin Books Limited.
‘Expedience asks the question, ‘‘Is it politic?’’ Vanity asks the question, ‘‘Is it popular?’’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘‘Is it right?’’’-Dr Martin Luther King.
‘Kind words are a creative force, building relations and securing foundations for growth.’ -Lovasik,L. (1962)., The Hidden Power of Kindness.
‘Learning is more than the acquisition of the ability to think; it is the acquisition of many specialised abilities for thinking about a variety of things.’ -Lev Vygotsky, Psychologist (1978).