Friday, April 27, 2007

The Parson on Peace, Peace

Two of my regular reads have come together in one post: The Questing Parson has reviewed the new book of our friend and former neighbor Frank Logue, Peace, Peace : Finding peace in a frenetic world.

You can order the soft-cover or hardback version of the book, or you can save trees and money by downloading the virtual book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

PTSW: Introduction to Poetry

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy looking under the hood and kicking the tires, admiring the styling and color and detail.

I like knowing the history of the make and the influences that affected the designer.

But mostly I want to slide behind its wheel and cruise down the river road on this warm late April evening with the top down and Sheila nestled against my shoulder.

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with a rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

by Billy Colllins, "The Apple That Astonished Parts"

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Y'all Come!

Garrison Keillor is bringing his radio show, A Prarie Home Companion, to Columbus, Georgia for a live broadcast. I get a big kick out of the PHC show. Guy Noir, Lake Wobegon, Powdermilk Biscuits, good music, jokes... While visiting the PHC website I happened onto Russ Ringsak's column, Gruntled. Here's a little of what he wrote:
April 20, 2007

For what it's worth, I've been told that "y'all" is singular. The plural is "all y'all." We're going to Columbus, Georgia, next week, and I understand that for travelers it's good form to try to speak, if even in just a few small snippets, the native language. I'm looking forward to it. Hoping to pick up a few more words.

As many of you know, that set me off. The misuse of "y'all" drives me up the wall! So I had to write Russ:

Dear Russ,

I'm right glad y'all are coming to Columbus. If I was as rich as those fellows you talked about I'd pay the $120 bucks for a pair of tickets (and the tank of gas it'd take to get to Columbus and back) to see y'all. I have enjoyed hearing the show for many years, and I guess that's how I'll keep on perceiving it. I did see the movie and got a kick out of it.

Now you may have noticed that I used the second person plural personal pronoun "y'all" a couple of times in that first paragraph. It's a useful word that I learned on my Mama's knee 60 years ago.

When I was about eight or nine my granddaddy, a barber who liked to own the latest gadgets, bought himself a brand new TV, and he gave his old one to my daddy and our world changed a lot. I got to hear folks who talked different from my folks. Not different like the big house folks in town, or the poor folks on the farm, but seriously different. People from Brooklyn and Minneapolis and other exotic places. I noticed that a lot of those people don't know the second person plural personal pronoun at all.

The TV showed lots of old movies and lots of old movies are set in the south, but I guess very few old movie actors were from the south. The actors who played southerners would put on such gosh-awful imitations of southern accents that it would make your skin crawl. They seemed to think that if you'd just throw in a whole lot of double negatives, honey-chiles, and y'alls, you'd conquer the dialect. Their worst crime -- like fingernails down a blackboard -- was the use of the second person plural personal pronoun in place of second person singular personal pronoun. That's just plain stupid. No self-respecting, reasonably intelligent Southern person would do that.

It is true that occasionally a person might use the term "all y'all" much as we might in informal speech use a double negative - for emphasis.

Look back at the first paragraph. Being a Yankee, you might have thought when I said I was glad y'all are coming that I was only glad that you are coming to Columbus. Now you know I'm glad that you and Garrison and Tom and Tim and Mr. Noir and that barking boy and any-hitchhikers-you-pick-up-along-the-way are coming. It's good for business and will give some entertainment to all the folks rich enough to attend and all the rest of us listening on the radio.

So, what I'm trying to tell you is, no matter what fool thing you've heard about the term "y'all", it is, exclusively, the second person plural personal pronoun. The boy that barks will tell you. He's from Georgia. Of course he's one that will mess with you it you don't watch out.

I hope y'all have a ball down here! Eat some barbecue but don't let somebody pawn off beef or chicken on you. Barbecue is pig. If you eat some grits for breakfast, do it right for mercy's sake. Ask somebody else. I don't want to have to get into that subject, too.

Say hi to Garrison for me.

Yours very truly,

Terrell* Shaw

* Nowadays some folks are bad about screwing up my first name by putting the emphasis on the second syllable [TuhRELLE]. Don't do it! The accent is on the first syllable: "TEHrul". Lord, I didn't know this note was going to get so complicated.

Well, I hope I was some help to the old boy.

Late Bulletin:
Ol' Russ found my missive so helpful that he responded by offering me, pending availability, two of his comp tickets to the show! Brannon is singing at a friend's wedding that night, but I'll just have to go hear her sing (and hug the bride) at the rehearsal-- I don't want to miss free tickets to A Prairie Home Companion! I swanie! All y'all Yankees have moved up a mite in my estimation. I am no longer disgruntled, but as pleasantly gruntled as a freshly slopped hog!

Friday, April 20, 2007

College Town

Rome, Georgia - my hometown - is a college town. We have Shorter College, Berry College, Georgia Highlands College, and a technical school now known as Coosa Valley Technical College.

It is a crying shame that Sheila and I have lived here since 1971, and have only been regularly taking advantage of the cultural events at the colleges for the last few of those years. A favorite activity for me is attending the "Senior Shows" of the musical theater students at Shorter College.

Tonight, after a stop at the new Starbucks for overpriced coffee and pastries, we saw one of the most entertaining senior shows I have seen -- though Brannon's is still the all-time best in my humble, biased, and correct opinion. Meagan Lewis is a sweetheart and a friend of our daughter's. Justin McGough has performed with Brannon several times and was a fellow cast member of "The Civil War" with me last year. Courtney Foster also shared a stage with Brannon.

Meagan, Justin, and Courtney put together a well-crafted, quick-paced, thoroughly entertaining show. It was often hilariously funny, occasionally achingly romantic, once or twice steamily exotic, sometimes intricately staged and choreographed, sometimes intimately simple. Meagan wowed the audience with a long medley of Disney Tunes ranging from the lovely "Candle on the Water" to the raucous "Poor Unfortunate Soul". Later she had us laughing out loud at "Alto's Lament." Justin dedicated a beautiful love song to his girlfriend and captured the exquisite passion of Snoopy (Charlie Brown's beagle) in "Suppertime". Courtney had a ball with the elaborately choreographed "Show Off". Those are only a few of 22 excellent numbers.

Tomorrow evening and next Tuesday we will return to Shorter's Callaway Theater to see other Senior Shows of young folks we have come to love and admire.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Random Flickr Blogging: 4374

Nothing profound or witty here... just a little jealousy: Wouldn't you love to visit New Zealand. Check out this person's pics of New Zealand. Isn't it interesting that the reflection of the mountain is clearer than the direct image of the mountain?
(Click on the pic to see the original.)

Tom Hilton at If I Ran The Zoo originated and posts "Random Flickr-blogging" every Monday and invites other participants. Check out how it works here. Here's my all-time favorite Random Flickr Post.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Wild Life...

A quick walk through the campus and woods today to see what's bloomin' turned up little in the way of newly showy flora.

...clandestine sprites have cleaned up my classroom garden, assembled and placed the new garden bench, and planted an assortment of new flowers! And I think I know the identity of the sneaks! Thanks!

And three glorious surprises on my nature walk today...

...a Red-Spotted Purple sipping at the stream, safer because he mimics the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail...

...a 48" plus snake (rat snake? water snake?) lying in the blackberry brambles awaiting lunch...

...and a scurrying little groundhog, too curious to stay holed up for long....

Monday, April 16, 2007

At peace while the nation mourns...

I spent a blissful day walking around the Lock and Dam Park nature trails today. Taking pictures, contemplating the beauty of a river, the calm of a wetland, the graceful flight of a pair of hawks, the delicate tracery of phacelia clinging to a stone outcropping, the clean, shiny red of new poison ivy leaves, the delicate waxy white flower of the May Apple drooping beneath twin umbrella-leaves, the craft in the park walkways and bridges, the majesty of a gigantic tulip poplar and a huge four-trunked red oak. When I tore myself away and arrived home, I downloaded the pictures:

...then I absently switched on the TV.

Back to the cruel world of mankind.

Why must unhappy folk compel others to share their misery?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

PTSW: Jenny Kissed Me / The Lamp

A Poem to Start the Week

My mother recited this poem the other day as she, a couple of my siblings, and I sat around the table. I hadn't thought of it in years. One of my blogging sisters has beaten me to the punch by posting this at her blog. But, what the heck, I'll post it too. I've had some Jenny-kisses, literal and figural, in my life, haven't you?

Jenny Kissed Me

Jenny kiss'd me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss'd me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss'd me.
-- by Leigh Hunt

That poem reminds me a little of the more serious poem Sheila recited to me during our wedding ceremony, 36 years ago. Since I got busy and skipped a PTSW last Monday, I'll give a twofer today:

The Lamp

If I can bear your love like a lamp before me,
When I go down the long steep Road of Darkness,
I shall not fear the everlasting shadows,
Nor cry in terror.

If I can find out God, then I shall find Him,
If none can find Him, then I shall sleep soundly,
Knowing how well on earth your love sufficed me,
A lamp in darkness.

~Sara Teasdale

Yes, I recited one of my own poems to her that day: Wedding Song
Another of my sister's has posted poetry this week. Check out Daddy's Roses.


The series of posts, A Poem to Start the Week, is my little anthology of poetry, many of which I have used with my students in elementary schools during 27 years of teaching.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dear Fellow Georgians

If you are a Georgia Blogger try submitting a post to the folks at the Georgia Carnival. The current edition is up!

The Joys of Blogging

Checking my Sitemeter, I see that there has been a dramatic drop-off of folks climbing out to visit me on my limb. No wonder! It has been loading vvvveeeerrrryyyy slowly or not at all, according to reliable reports. My friend, Mike Bock, has found it impossible to post to the Limb. (I had to post his Einstein post for him.)

The Carnival of Education folks said we crashed their system when they tried to connect this week! Yikes! When I have opened some of my recent posts I have found as many as 200 pages of nonsense html that I didn't put there! When I deleted the garbage code and re-posted, things were better, then a while later - shezammm!-- there it was again! (What is going on??)

So I have grafted the Limb onto the New Blogger tree.

Please let me know if it works better.

from Mike Bock: How Did Einstein Become Einstein?

How Did Einstein Become Einstein?
Einstein’s Science Failed
To Teach Him About Himself

by Mike Bock

Einstein, in a book by Walter Isaacson, is quoted in Time Magazine as saying some pretty amazing things about human nature. Einstein says,
“Human beings in their thinking, feeling and acting are not free, but are as causally bound as the stars in their motions.” And, he says, “I am a determinist. I do not believe in free will.”
These assertions astonish. If Einstein is right, we have no choice as to how or what we think, how we perceive reality, how we make decisions. Einstein liked and agreed with Shopenhauer’s statement: “A man can do as he wills, but not will as he wills.” Amazing. Time Magazine quotes Einstein as saying, “Jews believe in free will. They believe that a man shapes his own life. I reject that doctrine. In that respect I am not a Jew.”

I am wondering why Einstein would make such contrarian claims about the nature of humans. His view, it seems, are determined by his science. Einstein is quoted as saying, “Science can be created only by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding.” It was Einstein’s commitment to truth, it seems to me, that powered his thinking, and that produced his astonishing discoveries. When Einstein says that he is a determinist, I am guessing, he is staking out a claim to a scientifically derived hypothesis about reality: that in this universe, all is determined. And if all is determined, then, it follows, there can be no free will.

Certainly we feel like we have freedom to choose our own life’s paths. It is surprising that Einstein says No. The first impulse is simply to dismiss Einstein’s view as impossible. But, the fact that other Einsteinian ideas, that initially seemed impossible, later proved to be true should give us pause. I am wondering if Einstein discovered a basic insight into man’s nature through science that others have discovered through contemplation. I’m wondering, if maybe, in a profound way, Einstein is right. Einstein’s conclusion about humanity supports the notion that, yes, we are all sheep; yes, we are all plugged into the matrix. It is not hard to believe that humanity is sleeping; the evidence seems everywhere. It is hard to accept, however, that I, as an individual, have no more freedom to choose my path than the stars have freedom to choose their paths.

Einstein offers a hard doctrine. A great teacher may emphasize how those who think they are free, in fact, are totally enslaved -- as a means to convince his listeners as to the reality of their situation and as a way to convict his listeners that they are in desperate need for salvation, for inner change. What makes Einstein’s doctrine of free will so devastating, however, is that Einstein offers no path to salvation, even for the exceptional person -- no way to rise above the bounds of causality, no way to awaken. Einstein is recognized as a genius, but in this matter of free will, we must hope that he is wrong. If Einstein is right, then humanity is doomed.

It is hard to understand how Einstein could conceive that there is no free will. It seems to me that Einstein’s scientific insight failed him. It failed to help him to accomplish the most ancient of educational goals: “Know Thyself.” Einstein, in his own life, ascended to a consciousness where his intellect could flourish. A good question: how did that happen? Einstein did not believe in human exceptionalism, yet, it seems to me, a great model of exception was ever before him: his own self. Einstein grew into Einstein -- not a trivial accomplishment. Einsteins don’t just pop up. It seems to me that it is likely that Einstein grew into Einstein not through the forces of causality, but, through humility, through deliberate awareness, through a commitment to truth, and, through a conscious willingness to suffer for the sake of truth. And, is that not the path to growth that is available to everyone?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Learning in the Great Outdoors: First Edition

Volume One Number One

As the audacious creator of this Carnival of Environmental Education I welcome you to our inaugural edition of
Learning in the Great Outdoors. We have had only a few entries submitted. I have listed more of my own posts than I would have had there been more submissions. I also have posted links to several websites that may be of interest to you. And I have gone out and solicited permission to post a few links to blogs that I found helpful or interesting. We hope our visitors will spread the word and help this grow into a real clearinghouse for web log posts about outdoor education.

Your host began compiling this while holed up in the Days Inn on Jekyll Island GA, as the 2007 Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia Conference came to a close. What a treat the conference was. I will use this first edition of the carnival to intersperse a few of the online resources we have here in Georgia to aid those who want to share the wonders of the natural world with young folks. One week later, in the midst of the annual high-stakes testing madness, we launch. I apologise for my tardiness.

Nature Centers, Preserves, and Trails

Riversider presents Ribble Coast & Wetlands - the Ribble becomes a Regional Park posted at Ribble Cycle Diaries.

From the header for this interesting web log:
The Ribble Diaries
A blog dedicated to the River Ribble, an Internationally important ecosystem which runs for 75 miles from Ribblehead in West Yorkshire, through Lancashire and out into the Ribble Estuary to the Irish Sea. The Ribble is one of Britain's Last Great Wilderness areas, full of wild beauty, with many moods and seasons as it meanders through its Green Belt, Floodplains, and Wetlands.

Little St. Simon's Island wraps around the northern end of the larger and heavily developed St. Simon's Island GA. It is a privale island and preserve that is an Eden for birds and other wildlife. Thursday your host visited there with a small group of Georgia educators and naturalists.

Accessible only by boat, the island is a relatively young addition to the coast. We observed a plethora of flora and fauna, including a juvenile bald eagle on the nest.

My wife and I visited the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain Wildlife Management Area near LaFayette GA a couple of weeks ago. Another Eden! Blankets of wildflowers!

And here are a few others of my posts with pics of trails:
Our School Trail I
Our School Trail II
Our School Trail III
A Leaf Walk at Berry College
Floyd County's Pocket Trail
A River walk in Rome GA

Stephanie presents My Amazing Race- posted at Stop the Ride!.
We started off well, making good time down the hill. We stopped to look at tadpoles, wildflowers, wild rose, and blackberry brambles. Upon arriving at the destination, the three oldest children quickly changed into water shoes and commenced playing in the creek. Third child enjoyed himself thoroughly, and soon was soaking wet. Meanwhile, I scoped out the daffodils and chose my prize spot.
Anco presents Mountain Hiking Tips posted at Tipskey - Unlock Practicality, saying, "Mountain hiking is one of the fun ways to learn about nature. It can be really educational."

Classroom Gardens

Rebecca Newburn presents How to Create a Labyrinth posted at Ms. Newburn's Math 7 Blog, saying, "It's easy to make a labyrinth outside with your students. Here are simple directions."

Lesson Plans

If you haven't had the chance to participate in Project Wild, Project Wet, or Project Learning Tree, you are missing a great opportunity. Check them out! If nothing else find a copy of their curriculum books around your school or buy them from eBay. They include lots of great hands-on lessons.
Project Wild
Project Wet
Project Learning Tree

EE Opinion

My co-host here at Alone on a Limb, Mike Bock, remembers his own "outdoor education" in a post about what he sees as Authentic Teaching. Mike writes:
I grew up in an old farm house in the country. We had no TV until I was nine. I was constantly outdoors. I remember seeing a huge snake shed its skin; I remember seeing a Momma skunk with five baby skunks following in a line after her; I remember playing endlessly outside -- the clucking chickens, crowing roosters, my Dad’s garden and my Mom’s flowers. All of this, and much more, was part of my education and, like a little sponge, I took it all in.
Does U.S. Environmental Education Make the Grade? asks Larry West.
Environmental education has long struggled for legitimacy alongside more traditional disciplines within the liberal arts and sciences. But “environmental literacy” studies in the late 1980s revealed that schoolchildren lacked basic knowledge about the natural environment. This convinced the U.S. Congress to take action...

The environment is a context within which all sorts of learning can happen. Human beings are naturally curious about the world around them, and it is always available, even in urban areas, for exploration. The movement to use the environment as the basic context for learning in schools is near and dear to your host's heart. Here are some sites where you can learn more about it.

The EIC Model™
Environmental Education in Georgia
Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning (EIC)
Captain Planet Foundation
State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER)


Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect writes in a post called Seeds and Growing Things:
Since I am lost in thoughts of spring these days, I decided that this would be a good time to offer up a list of books on seeds and the magic they bring.
Tricia also posts her guidelines for choosing science related books for elementary -- also worth a look: Selecting Literature for Science Instruction

And Tricia shows herself tio be a true kindred spirit to your host with this post: The Times They Are a Changin"
My faithful readers ... and students know well that I teach a course that focuses on teaching science and social studies. It is called Integrated Curriculum Methods because I want students to think about the curriculum as a whole and connected piece, not discrete little units that never relate to one another. Wherever possible we look at the ways these subjects relate to English and math, but more importantly, to each other.


National Environmental Education Week April 15-22, 2007

Shamelle at Inhance Life proposes 5 Life Lessons You Can Learn From World Cup Cricket!
Well, cricket is played outdoors.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
Learning in the Great Outdoors: the Carnival of Environmental Education
using our
carnival submission form. Or send your post to thelimb (at) mac (dot) com.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on ou
blog carnival index page
.Technorati tags:

, ,