Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fear or Hope? What is a better motivator?

Q: Movie Line"Hope!  It is the only thing stronger than fear!" What recent film claims hope is a greater motivator than fear? (answer below)
Off in the distance, we see Table Rock Lake.  Does a spanning vista like this inspire hope or fear? Does this big picture drive us to do more, or fold our hands and quit?
(From Young Life's Clearwater Cove lookout peak)
Assembling all these quotes leads me to believe in the wisdom of those before me, considering their experiences, thoughts and perspectives worth regarding.  Asking questions about what they thought important, why they thought it important and how it applied to their situation prods me to continue in my own quest of understanding.  What follows are the quotes in italics, the author in bold and my remarks, for what they are worth.
The greatest mistake a man can makes is to sacrifice health for any other advantage.  A.  Schopenhauer
Money, power, importance, control, being right, being the best or any other aspirations do seem subordinate to health.
Our bodies are apt to be our own autobiographies.  F.  Burgess
What story are we writing?
I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.  C.  Sandburg
Cynical, accurate or perceptive?
Knowledge is power.  F.  Bacon
It's both how we get the knowledge as well as what we do with the asset.
Perhaps the most valuable results of all education is the ability to make yourself do the very thing you have to do when it ought to be one, whether you like it or not.  This is the first to be learned.  T.   Huxley
That sounds like a good definition for self-discipline.
It's great to be great but it's greater to be human.  W.  Rogers
What is really important?  Being a contributing member of the community?
The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness.  W.  Saroyan
It's like joy and happiness are closely related, but not the same!  Happiness seems based on external situations or circumstances.  The pursuit of happiness drives our foundational documents, as well as our economy, yet inner joy, peace or contentment have another source.  Not based on our plight but stemming from some inner drive, motive or security, the greatest happiness is recognizing happiness is optional.
Even when the experts all agree, they well may be mistaken.  B. Russell
Experts are experts, but data should drive, inform and influence the experts.  Without the data, the experts are just telling stories.
A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling to do the unnecessary.  F.  Allen
Without norms, clear purposes and leadership, this can be true.  However, with a clear objective, leadership and manners, a committee is an example of synergy!
If you respect your job’s importance, it will probably return the favor.  L. D. Turner
Persistence, staying power and the ability to outlast others often defines the champion, since he does what others do not do!
An expert is a man who has stopped thinking he knows. F. R. Wright
Maturity, experience and mistake after mistake reveal to us there is always more to learn, complete and conquer.  The life-long learner gravitates to the status of expert due to their quest for understanding.  To consider knowledge and wisdom as complete or sufficiently amassed implies
I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.  T. Carlyle
So what do we “believe in?” Majority may not know the best.  Wisdom and understanding may have an alternate perspective.
If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it I'd still a foolish thing.  B. Russell
Remember “Animal Farm” by George Orwell to get a matching point of view.
I've got to follow them, I am their leader.  Ledru-Rollin
Admittedly, I had to search out the back-story of this politician as he  worked to represent the oppressed masses.
Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you.  R. W. Emerson
We spend time trying to be somebody else, when we should be just be ourselves, content in that but giving it everything we have.
Yes, these quotes are concise.  My words add little.  Yet the focus, concentration and deliberation to expound on each quote add insights and hopefully wisdom.  Only time will prove it effective!

Answer:  In The Hunger Games, the President Snow, played by the esteemed Donald Sutherland, asked the game-maker Seneca Crane played by Wes Bentley "Why do we have a winner?"  As the ruthless president of the post-modern world, he frequently ponders motivation of the masses.  In reply, Crane stumbled through a response but Sutherland answered his own question. He posed a "little bit of hope is effective but a lot of hope is dangerous," then reiterates that a "spark is fine, as long as it is contained!"  What pressure do we apply when we motivate our students, in fear, or in hope.  Which is more effective?  Which reaches the hearts of our students?  Which is more lasting?  Fear drives today but hope inspires for tomorrow!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Build Bridges or Walls?

Build bridges or walls?

Concise, direct and an efficient use of words and terms allow us to communicate directly and effectively.  When talking with others, we try to communicate ideas but often, fail to transmit the pure thought.  One great thing about quotes is their ability to communicate an abstract concept into a simple thought.  These following quotes were all pulled from the The Treasure Chest.  Which are your favorites?

Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.  D. Pire
Walls are simple to build but bridges take a bit more attention to assemble.  In the same way, healthy relationships require us to reach across differences, gaps, perspectives and stereotypes forcing us to get along with others that may not align with our way of thinking.  A far easier route would be to ignore or even work against reconciliation! 

It gives pleasure to be praised by one whom all men praise.  T.  Howe

The real purpose of books is to train the mind into doing its own thinking.  C. Marley
As an educator, this is paramount!  Think depth of knowledge.

The slave has but one master, the ambitious man has as many masters as there are persons whose aid may contribute to the advancement of his fortune.  J. De. La. Brayer
Ambition, aspirations and a quest for advancement is a common theme.  Do we own our things, or do our things own us?

If ambition doesn't hurt you, you haven't got it.  K.  Norris

A man’s home is his hassle.  Mrs. L Peter
I thought it said castle, but it is really his hassle.

Ambition is a lust that's never quenched, grows more inflamed, and madder by enjoyment.  T.  Otway

Find where your main roots lie and do not hanker after other worlds.  H.  Thoreau.
Keep the main thing, the main thing.

It seems like so much wisdom is contained here.  Our quest in reviewing these lies in uncovering common themes that apply to all mankind, regardless.

Here at Winfield Middle School, we just finished another school year.  As principal, I felt like I learned every day!  From the existing staff, I learned about the current state of affairs.  I learned about their strengths and areas of interest.  I learned about their classroom talents and was eager to see them in action, molding, opening and forming young minds.  Middle School students showed me culture, drama, the Harlem shake, #dontgiveup and excitement.  A middle school student is singularly an enigma, a joy and entertaining, all at the same time.  Finally, I learned my own limitations.  I learned to let go, to delegate, to communicate and apologize whenever necessary.  I learned where I fall short, areas of improvement and just a bit of what it means to actually lead.  Thanks for following.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Family Traditions

Public Speaking, Toasts and Orations
Traditions, weddings, celebrations, annual remembrances all point to family get-togethers.  Times when generations can meet, compare notes about today, recollect past occasions and mile marks and speculate about the future.
Recently, a cousin was in town from the big city.  It was enough of a reason for us to gather for an impromptu birthday party.  At many of these events, somebody gets up and starts waxing away!  To prime the topics, my uncle's gift book from 1974 was brought out, the treasure chest.  This book compiles nuggets of wisdom gathered over time from 2500 years of written wisdom.   There was a summary sheet that listed some of my uncle's favorite quips. 
As I reviewed them, I could see my uncle in the meaning, but interestingly, I could see myself.  It was a testimony to the nature of the connections established by strong bonds. 
Take care of the means and the ends will take care of itself.  M. Gandhi
The genius of a good leader is to leave the behind him a situation which common sense, without the grace of genius, can deal with successfully.  W. Lippmann
A failure is a man who has blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience.  E. Hubbard
Jumping to conclusions seldom leads to happy landings.
Reformers are those that educate people to appreciate what they need.
A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before.  R.W. Emerson
There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision.  W. James
Thoughts are but drams, till their effects can be tried. W. Shakespeare
When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.  C. Reade
Deliberating is not delaying.  Ecclesiastics
Let no man presume to give advice to others that he has not first given counsel to himself.  Seneca
He who praises everybody, praises nobody.  I. Johnson
Strengthen me by sympathizing with my strengths not my weakness.  B. Alcott
As I transfer these quotes from hand written cursive script to my iPad, I see wisdom. I can imagine my uncle using them as daily affirmations.  I imagine his quest to find truth and trace the path from cairn to cairn. I am also convicted of my own shortcomings, failures and character flaws.  Yet I am reminded to persist.  I am encouraged to find success and strive for constant improvement.  I am driven to push myself to a breaking point.
How can I be a better member of my family?  What does my work setting need for me to do differently?  How can I take better physical, mental and spiritual health of myself?  What does society, the environment and our civilization require of me? What legacy, if any, will I leave behind?
The above quotes are hand written on plain white paper, the first two pages of six, condensed from a publication of 250 total pages.  Are they the best? No.  Do they contain any extra wisdom? No.  They were chosen for their own merit, but still ring true!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Flood or 2013, Cuiver River from Frenchmens Bluff

Sandra McCracken, my sister, writes a song titled Age to Age.  Interestingly, this song is written about flood waters along the Mississippi, where two boys would play by the water, along the levy.  In the song, the levy breaks and water and sand overcome them.  Authorities come and pull the one up by the hand and they ask where the brother is, he replies, "I'm standing on his shoulders."  She continues to mention atrocities of war, the Trail of Tears and Martin Luther's thesis nailed to the establishment door, all in a quest to urge us to persist in the face of challenges and transitions.

Sure enough, here in spring time, where school officials adjust assignments, administrators relocate and students and teachers alike prepare for summer break, we wonder about change.  What are we going to do with new teachers, students and staff?  According to Sandra, we are going to persist, continue on and build on the efforts of those that have traveled before us, standing on their metaphoric shoulders!  We are not going to quit! We are not a going to throw our hands up in frustration. We are going to do all we can to continue growth, advancement and progress. 

Of course, things will not be the same and neither will our students so we will push forth. Again, referring to Dr Seuss,  will keep trying and asking for things to be better, even something as simple as green eggs and ham.

These pictures show a bit of the before and after during the floods of 2013.  This puts a graphic illustration to the song and reminds us of the power of time on our lives. The water spills out of the banks and takes over the surrounding fields.  This disaster is a setback but gives us options.  We could continue where we are, rebuild and go on!  Or we could relocate, find a new place to call home and start over someplace else.  A final option is to lament and wallow in the perceived sorrow, thinking we have no control! 

In Winfield, we don't quit.   We won't stop.   We will persist through these tests, get stronger and learn from the battles, coming out wiser and better prepared for our future.  During transitions, some are overcome and others come through and grow. 

What will we do?  What will you do? 




Age to age, Best Laid Plans, 2004