Listening to Krista Tippett's new podcast, Becoming Wise, and she's interviewing Maria Popova of BrainPickings. Maria quotes William James,
My experience is what I agree to attend to.
I'm reminded of the iAnthology post I wrote last night, from the Prompt, "What Are You Going To Stop Doing?"
It came up just this afternoon, as an old computer I had restored for my wife stopped working, and all I had the energy to do was a few reboots, and that was it. She said to me, "You used to fix computers." It made me think about how all of that detail and "keeping up with it" that went with being everybody in my small circle's "go-to guy" for computer repair. I just wasn't interested--or rather there were other things I was so much more interested in, that I stopped doing that. If a few reboots won't fix it, it's not a device worth using. I'm too busy either teaching string games or figuring out how to teach string games better! And gardening, and a few other things...
Teaching--the experience of sharing the learning process with others--that's what I need most to attend to. For a while I thought I could lead a campaign to spread this curriculum I've developed, organize a study to demonstrate how well it works for all sorts of things that are measurable. Then those fantasies became much less interesting as I tried to break down what doing any of it would entail. And most of those steps are things I'm not great at, or that I don't really enjoy doing. It's the teaching that infuses me with joy, and that's what I need to focus on doing.
Many times a month I am reminded of the poem from "When We Were Very Young" called "Halfway Down the Stairs." It's something I've done all my life--sit on some stairs, not at the bottom, not at the top, and just rest, wonder, let the mind wander, reflect, observe, wait...
Many of the deepest and closest conversations I had with friends and family have taken place with one or both of us sitting on some stairs. Feeling at the moment in more than a bit of transition--my second long-term residency teaching string games ends tomorrow, and I'm not sure what exactly will follow--I have a waiting feeling. New moon and Chinese New Year in the coming week. Not sure what it means, but the year to come is a Monkey Year, and I'm a monkey...
One of those epiphany kind of moments, when a phrase or even just a pair of words stop me and force me to sit down and write. Listening to the New Yorker podcast interview with a poet who began to write as part of her recovery from a catastrophic accident, which included traumatic brain damage as well as multiple other bodily injuries – and she uses the term "exquisite hypersensitivity" [@25:06 in the podcast] to describe the period in her recovery where any stimulus would set off some kind of symptom. I immediately thought of the hyperactive kids at school, and then of the image which pervades my childhood and to which I return as often as I can: my father's bookplate, engraved for him by his father, Herman Pumpian:
What those hyperactive children need is a lot of time with the same quality of peace within one's own thoughts which can be found in the quiet forest, reflecting on a passage from a book. We do that when we give them time to read, in the places and postures that please them, and the silence to enjoy their reading.
The New Yorker's notes:
Episode 12: part two, a Resilient Poet1/7/16 Robin Coste Lewis, who recently won a National Book Award, explains how a devastating injury damaged her brain, but aided her poetry.
where both my children were born, where I want some of my ashes to go...
Info from the YouTube page:
Published on Feb 2, 2015
The ancient forests of the Klamath-Siskiyou survive as a vivid, living window into the melding of biological and geological evolution on Earth. Mostly untouched by recent ice ages, the region's flora and fauna provide glimpses into a history barely imaginable by us today. This keystone of life's triumph is hidden in far northwest California and southwestern Oregon, between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade volcanoes.
Filmed by Aaron Moffatt
Narrated by Jennie Greenberry
Special Thanks to:
The Siskiyou Project
Music: Jean Sibelius - Impromptu for String Orchestra
Jean Sibelius, 6 Impromptus, Op. 5: Nos. 5 and 6 (arr. for string orchestra) Virtuosi di Kuhmo
Fascinated pursuing my mad dream to tie each month of the six coming to a string game, a shape, a star shape, a song, a movement exercise, a continent, a culture, a hand game, and a challenge. Somehow came up on this post of a class practicing hand games and singing prior to a math lesson,m based around the idea of whole brain teaching. Will pursue that piece soon,m but for now, I'm thrilled with this song as a start, and the challenge to develop the corresponding hand movements collaboratively with my students:
Three moments stand out over the past couple of months around my delight and amazement at having found my calling as a teacher of string games. I made a deliberate choice to transform myself from a technologist to a teaching artist, and I credit that intentionality with the greatest influence in making it happen. I've had a lot of good luck and warm support along the way. The first moment was largely negative--I was trying to help my wife order sunglasses online, using a tool in the web browser where one is supposed to see how any frame you select would look on by seeing them superimposed on the photo we had just uploaded. All we saw was grasshopper-like bug eye frames that appeared two to three times bigger than any normal sunglasses would be. I just gave up. It seemed clear to me that no amount of tweaking or redoing was going to make this tool work so as to give a very picky artist a satisfactory view of her glasses. This refusal to proceed on my part was frustrating to my wife, who really needs sunglasses to drive safely. But we were not saving anything of real value by spending our time and energy with this alpha-level software, and we were losing a lot of time. If the tech's not easy, I no longer feel any obligation to figure it out. All I ever do for trouble shooting is to re-start the device. If it fails the second time, I'm done.
The next moment was overhearing the school district's site technician for our site talking a staff member through how to fully shut down an application, instead of just closing its open windows. I remember how long it took me to understand that lesson, and thought about how many times I'd passed it on. I felt a bit of pride that there might never have been technicians who would take the time to give such instruction without the work I did pioneering technology training for teachers, not just for administrators. When I started using computers with students for them to connect with a global community of learners, it was revolutionary to think that these devices had uses outside of the financial and administrative realms, and to assert that teachers deserved support for using the computers that way did not fit in with the plans or budgets then being considered. It was a struggle, where for a few brief years we made some headway. By the time I abandoned technology in 2011 or so to focus on string figures, it was clear that all opportunity for students to use technology for creative and communicative purposes was gone, and the tech was now only for testing-related tasks.
The third, profound moment is not a single one, but many, spread out over the past months of launching this new career as a teacher of string games, a Teaching Artist, a movement and graphic and visual and performing arts teacher, and a singer, of all things! It's liberating beyond my wildest dreams to think that I can sing in public, with relative strangers able to hear me. I've never felt comfortable doing that before. It's still not exactly what I'd call comfortable, admittedly, but I'm doing it... And still shiver with amazement each time I get to share with someone that I went back to work full-time in order to be able to realize my dream of teaching string games in the public schools.