Posts Tagged ‘school problems’

“Sweet is the work.” ~ Jack Weyland

Friday, January 14, 2011. Today I am grateful for Jack Weyland who tells a sweet tale of a young man who dislikes both church and school attendance.

Image from: http://www.raisinghoneybees.com/

I posted my comment on the website where I found this story: http://lds.org/new-era/1980/10/sweet-is-the-work?lang=eng

“Sweet is the Work,” by Jack Weyland, New Era, Oct 1980, page 39.

“I loved this story, ‘Sweet is the Work.’ I wept through most of it. Not sure why. Probably because much of my professional life has involved helping students to utilize their learning differences and become successful in school and in life. This story of the unmotivated church member and unmotivated school student who learns how to make a success of learning and life touched me deeply.”

– J. Collins Meek, Ph.D., Learning Specialist; Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, CANADA; Liahona High School, Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific Islands; South Jordan, Utah, USA

……………………………………………………………………….

Thank you, Jack Weyland, for showing us that “recalcitrant” teenagers can find their own way to be successful in school and in life!

Doc Meek, Friday, January 14, 2011, Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA

P.S. Here is Jack Weyland’s  sweet story if you wish to read it. It’s worth reading I think!

SWEET IS THE WORK by Jack Weyland, New Era, Oct 1980, p. 39

From: http://lds.org/new-era/1980/10/sweet-is-the-work?lang=eng

Bees, friendship, love, loss, and a girl with hair like a tan flame. A guy never knows what he’s in for when he accepts a welfare assignment

[The young men] met in the kitchen [of the church] for the [Sunday] lesson. John sat in the back row and idly played with a set of keys while his adviser gave the lesson. He never volunteered any answers; it was a practice he had acquired early in school.

Brother Stewart came into the kitchen and interrupted the lesson. He had a large bald spot that made his head look like an eagle’s nest. John never did know what calling Brother Stewart had, but he always carried a clipboard.

“We need some help with the ward welfare project next Saturday,” Brother Stewart announced.

John hunched over in his chair, trying to make himself as small as possible.

Seconds of silence passed. Finally one of the priests cleared his throat: “I can’t next Saturday. That’s when we’re going to practice for the roadshow.”

“That’s right!” another remembered happily. “I can’t either.”

Brother Stewart waited, his pen ready to pounce on a name.

“John,” his adviser asked, “are you in the roadshow?”

“Are you kidding?” John scoffed, “No way.”

“Well, could you work for a couple of hours next Saturday?”

“I don’t know anything about the welfare project,” John complained.

“No trouble,” Brother Stewart replied, already writing down the name, “we’ll show you what needs to be done. Anybody else?”

Before he left, one other priest had agreed to work.

On Friday night John was involved in his usual TV marathon when the phone rang. His father answered it, took the message, and relayed it to John. “It was Brother Stewart. He just wanted to remind you about working on the welfare project tomorrow.”

Since his father now knew about the assignment, John realized that he wouldn’t be able to conveniently forget it.

“I guess that means you’ll need the car,” his father said.

“Yeah,” John brightened, “I guess I will.”

John stopped by Saturday morning for the other priest who had volunteered to work. On their way out, they stopped at a drive-in and had a milk shake.

They arrived a half hour late.

The welfare project was honey production, and the ward had 50 hives. The efforts on that February day involved building new hives for the coming season. John was given the job of collecting nine newly assembled wax frames from the assembly line of ten people making them. He put the new frames into a newly constructed box that people called a “super.” Then he carried the new super to a storage area.

On the second that the two hours he’d been assigned to work had elapsed, John was heading for the door. Before he made it out of the building, he was intercepted by Brother Stewart.

“Where are you going?”

“Home,” John answered. “I’ve worked my two hours.”

“But you’re not smiling.”

“So?”

“When I see someone leave here who isn’t smiling, I get concerned.”

“Oh wow,” John cynically thought to himself.

“Aren’t you happy that you worked here today?”

“Sure, and I’m also happy to be going home.”

Brother Stewart thrust his arm around John’s shoulder. “You can’t go home yet.”

John felt himself being escorted back to the assembly line.

“Why not?”

“You haven’t worked here long enough to catch the vision of Church welfare projects. You need to work here until you do.”

John stopped and squared off, facing Brother Stewart.

“You can’t make me stay.”

“I know, but please stay. Working on welfare projects is supposed to bring you blessings. It’s supposed to make you feel good. Stay here just a little while longer. I’ll even give you a different job.”

John was given a hammer and a place in the assembly line.

“Work with Brother Mattson. Ask him about bees.”

Brother Mattson was at least 70 years old. He had worked with bees all his life and helped the ward start its honey project two years ago.

“If you’re going to work here, you’d better learn how to build the frames right. Next summer, each of these frames will hold 20 pounds of honey. They’ve got to be built right so they won’t fall apart.”

Brother Mattson showed him each step in assembling the plastic laminated sheet and wooden frame together.

The first frame that John built needed some work by Brother Mattson before it was good enough. On the second frame, John had to pull out one of his nails and redrive it.

Finally, after 15 minutes, John showed Brother Mattson a frame that was built exactly the way he had been told. Brother Mattson examined it carefully, and then smiled and said, “I couldn’t do better myself. Now all you need to do is work on speed.”

At what seemed a short time later, his friend from the priests quorum came over to John.

“Let’s go. I finally got away from Brother Stewart. Let’s get out of here before he puts us back to work.”

“I think I’ll stay,” John said.

“Are you crazy? We’ve already been here three hours.”

“Can you get a ride with someone else? I’m staying.”

Sunday morning during their quorum lesson, Brother Stewart came again with his clipboard.

“We need to build some more frames next Saturday. We didn’t finish yesterday.”

Two of the quorum members began to tie their shoes.

“I’ll go,” John said.

“You went last week,” his adviser said.

“That’s okay. I don’t mind.”

“We need two crews, one to work in the morning and one to work in the afternoon. When do you want to work?”

“I don’t mind working all day,” he said. The priest next to John looked at him strangely.

On Monday morning John faced the ordeal of school and, much worse, American History and Mr. Lattimer, who had a theory that the more uncomfortable a student was in class the more he learned.

John was gazing out the window, coveting the cars in the parking lot, when Mr. Lattimer confronted him.

“You seem bored by our discussion.”

“No,” John answered. He had learned long ago that you never tell a teacher that you’re bored—even when you are.

“Maybe it’s because you already know about the Civil War. Let’s see, can you tell me when the Civil War began?”

“No.”

“Can you tell me when it ended?”

“No.”

“Can you explain the extent of foreign intervention in the war?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know,” Mr. Lattimer derided. He had a habit of repeating what a student said and making it sound ridiculous. “Did you read the assigned material?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know. There must be a better reason than that.”

“I don’t like to read,” John confessed.

“You don’t like to read. If you don’t like to read, then why don’t you pay attention in class? Do you think that might help?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know how important an education is today? What kind of a job do you think you can get if you don’t read?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you know? Let me tell you. I might as well give you a broom and let you practice using it because that’s all you’ll do in life unless you show a little interest in school. Do you read anything?”

“No.”

“I bet you watch TV though, don’t you?”

“Sure.”

Mr. Lattimer then went on about how TV was wrecking the education system. John sat quietly in his desk, outwardly quiet, but inside furious and embarrassed.

The winter months passed slowly. John’s grades that year were even lower than they had ever been before, which prompted several discussions between him and his father.

“How do you expect to go to college on these grades?”

“I don’t. I’m never going to school again after I graduate.”

“What will you do to make money?”

“I’ll work.”

“You need an education to get anywhere today,” his father said.

“Okay,” John exploded, “I won’t get anywhere!”

The next time the ward built new frames was in May. Again John volunteered to work. By then he was almost as good as Brother Mattson in assembling frames.

While he was working, Brother Stewart escorted a girl over to the assembly line. “John, this is Cathy Barker. Her parents just moved here a few weeks ago. Cathy’s just come back from BYU, and she’s here for the summer. Will you show her how to build frames?”

Cathy stood next to John and observed as he put a frame together. He found it hard to concentrate on his work. Her pale blonde hair flowed gently around her face. Once as she leaned over to see where he placed a nail, he could feel her hair brushing against his arm.

John knew guys at school who had clever sayings that could start up a conversation with a girl, but John didn’t remember what they were. The more good-looking a girl was, the less he could say to her. With Cathy he couldn’t say anything at all.

“How old are you?” Cathy asked.

“Seventeen.”

“I’m 19,” she said.

“Oh.”

Several minutes passed as they both worked silently.

“You must be the strong silent type,” she said.

“Why?”

“You don’t talk much.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“How about, ‘Tell me about yourself.’”

“Okay.”

“Okay what?”

“Tell me about yourself.”

Cathy talked about where her parents had lived before they’d moved, and about BYU and her roommates, and how she didn’t know anybody in the ward.

“How about yourself?” Cathy asked. “Tell me about you.”

“There’s not much to tell. I’ll be a junior in high school next year. That’s about it.”

“That’s not much.”

“No.”

At noon they walked outside and ate their sack lunches together.

“John, would you consider … no, forget it.”

“What?”

“Well, I’m going to go crazy this summer unless I get out of the house. Could we go roller skating or fishing or something this summer?”

“Me take you out?” John asked. “There must be plenty of guys who want to take you out.”

“Well, there’s a 26-year-old returned missionary I met last Sunday in church. But I’m a little wary of him. He keeps talking about how much he wants to get married and about the rising price of houses. He says if he waits any longer, he won’t be able to afford a house. I think he’d marry me just to avoid spiraling inflation. Anyway, he makes me nervous.”

“I can take you fishing, but I still don’t see why you’d go with me.”

“I’m waiting for a missionary who gets back in 18 months, and I don’t want a romance, but I could use a friend. Okay?”

“Okay,” John agreed. Before John left that day, Brother Mattson asked him if he’d go out with him next Saturday to work the hives. “I’ve got to install some new queen bees. The ward has a bee suit you can wear. How about it?”

“Okay,” John said.

A week later Brother Mattson picked John up about 10:00 in the morning. They rode in his old battered pickup.

“Sweet clover looks real good this year, don’t it?” Brother Mattson remarked as they bounced along a gravel road toward the ward’s beehives.

John looked out the window. It was the first time he’d ever noticed the tiny yellow flowers on what he thought were just weeds along the side of the road.

After they arrived at the site, they put on their bee suits over their clothes. By the time John got on the white coveralls, the veil, the long gloves, and put elastic bands around the cuffs of his suit to keep bees from crawling up his leg, he felt like an astronaut about to set foot on the moon.

Brother Mattson opened up a hive and examined each frame to find the old queen. When he found her, he killed her and set a small cage with the new queen carefully into the super.

“See that plug there,” Brother Mattson said, pointing to a plugged hole in the cage. “It’s made of candy. The worker bees will go to work clearing the plug, and by the time they get it open and get the new queen free, they’ll be accustomed to her and they’ll accept her.”

As they worked, Brother Mattson pointed out the drone bees, the larva cells, and explained about beekeeping. Even though there was a cloud of bees around them, John felt his fear leaving and being replaced by deep respect.

After they got back to town, Brother Mattson loaned him two books about beekeeping. John read the books in two weeks.

From that time on, he went out with Brother Mattson every chance he got.

A few weeks later in priesthood meeting opening exercises, Brother Stewart announced that a local beekeeper wanted to sell his 50 hives. The ward was going to buy 20 of them, but any members who wanted to buy any of the other hives should contact him.

As they were leaving to go home to get the family for Sunday School, John told his father, “I want to buy ten hives.”

“What for?”

“I can provide the family with honey for food storage and sell the rest.”

“I don’t know,” his father said. “The last project you started and didn’t finish was selling Christmas cards. That cost me $20.”

“That was four years ago. Besides, this is different.”

“Let me think about it. Okay?”

On Monday night after family home evening, the family talked about John’s plan. Finally they decided that John would borrow $500 from the bank on his father’s signature, and he’d also throw in $200 of his own savings to buy 15 hives.

By Wednesday, John found a place to put his hives. It was in the middle of an alfalfa field in a small valley whose hills were covered with sweet clover.

He took Cathy fishing a couple of times a month. She was easy to please, she could bait her own hook, and she seemed happy just to be with him without feeling pressure about getting serious. But John felt himself falling in love, although he didn’t tell her because he knew it would upset her.

Once that summer he took her out to see his bees. As he helped her get her bee suit and veil and gloves on, she half-seriously threatened, “If I get stung, you’re in real trouble.”

“Don’t worry. Bees don’t hurt anybody unless they’re being hurt.”

He took off the top hive cover, and pulled out a frame of honey, covered with bees. He gently brushed them off with a small brush. A cloud of bees surrounded them. He showed her the pattern of eggs laid by the queen, and, after some searching of some frames from another super, he showed her the queen.

“You love it here, don’t you?” she asked him thoughtfully.

He nodded his head. “I really do.”

After they were through, they moved several hundred feet away from the hives, took off their veils, and sat down and ate lunch. John looked up from his sandwich, and it seemed that his mind etched the scene forever into his memory. Cathy, her hair the color of ripe wheat, talked happily about the Church; her voice was like a pleasant song. The field of alfalfa was a sea of purple blossoms. Further up on the hill, the yellow sweet clover blanketed the ground. John watched a steady stream of his bees returning to the hives, each one carrying a small bead of pollen. Small puffs of clouds hung lazily in the sun-drenched sky.

It was a moment that lasted forever.

“Are you listening to what I’m saying?” Cathy asked.

“Cathy, you’re so beautiful.”

“Oh sure,” she said with embarrassment, “in a pair of coveralls.”

“Really you are.” He thought about telling her that the sun made her hair look like a tan flame, and that he loved her, and that the moment seemed perfect, as if all nature had contrived to give him one moment when all his senses would come alive and record forever in his mind one instant of his life, and that no matter how old he got he’d never forget this one moment.

“It’s real nice out here, isn’t it?” was all he said.

The next Sunday the bishop called him to be an assistant beekeeper for the ward welfare project. John learned as quickly as he could. When Brother Mattson applied powdered antibiotic mixed with powdered sugar to the church bees, John helped him and then hurried to his bees and did the same thing. When Brother Mattson split some hives, John split some of his hives.

By the end of the summer, he had extracted 1,800 pounds of honey from his hives, sold it for $900, paid off his loan, and put $100 dollars in the bank.

From that time on, John knew what he’d do with his life. He’d be a beekeeper.

A day before Cathy was supposed to go back to BYU, he took her out fishing. As they sat in a small rubber raft in the middle of a lake, he finally got the courage to say it.

“Cathy, I think I love you.”

“Do you? I think a lot of you too.”

“If I were older, and if I’d already been on my mission, I’d ask you to marry me.”

She touched his cheek. “I guess our timing’s not too good, huh?”

“I guess not,” John said.

“But you’ll always be one of my best friends,” Cathy told him.

The next day Cathy left for the Y.

The next summer, John set aside $2,000 for his mission from money he’d earned from his hives.

That November John worked with Brother Mattson to winterize each hive. They reduced the entrance holes and wrapped tar paper around each hive to cut down the flow of cold air. The hives were then two supers high, giving the bees just enough honey to survive the winter.

In January of that winter, Brother Mattson died. John learned about it from his father when he got home from school one day.

“It was a heart attack. It came in the night when he was asleep. Maybe he never even woke up.”

John didn’t cry at the funeral or out at the burial site. The graveside service took place in a snowstorm as the prairie winds whipped across the cemetery, slowly drifting over the flowers set there by friends.

The next day John drove out to the ward’s hives. Walking ankle deep in fresh snow, he trudged across the barren fields to the hives. It was too cold to open up the hives, and he didn’t really have a purpose to be there, but he just stood for a long time, his hands in his pockets, looking at the black, tar-paper-covered hives standing alone in the middle of the cold white field. It’s like the bees are in mourning, he thought, seeing the blackness covering each hive. And then the memories of Brother Mattson flooded into his mind, and he heard himself sobbing loudly, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself for a long time.

Two weeks later John was called in to talk with the bishop. “John, you’re the only one in the ward now who knows the details of beekeeping. We’d like you to take Brother Mattson’s place and be the ward’s beekeeper. You’ll work with the priesthood quorums when you need help. Will you do it?”

“Nobody can ever take Brother Mattson’s place,” John said.

“I know, but he’d want us to continue on, wouldn’t he?”

“He would,” John agreed.

“He told me once how proud of you he was, and how much you’d learned. He said that you knew as much as he did. After we cleaned out his apartment, we found a couple of books about beekeeping. I think he’d want you to have them.”

They were the same books Brother Mattson had loaned John after the first time they’d gone out together to work the bees. John handled the worn books with care.

“Bishop, I’ll be glad to accept the calling.”

“I knew we could count on you.”

“There’s just one thing. I’ll need to train someone who can look after the bees while I’m on my mission.”

“Who would you like?”

“My dad.”

“Okay, we’ll call him to be your assistant.”

That winter John spent an hour a week with his father, training him. It brought them close together again.

In April John received a wedding announcement from Cathy, who was getting married to her returned missionary. John attended the reception in the ward cultural hall. She and her husband looked radiant.

“I gave you some honey for your honeymoon,” he told Cathy in the reception line.

“How sweet,” she countered, kissing him lightly on the cheek.

“Have you met my cousin yet?” she asked. “She’s going to be staying with my parents this summer. I’ve told her all about you, and she wants to learn about beekeeping.”

He looked four places down the reception line where a girl with long blonde hair smiled back.

“She’ll be 19 when you return from your mission,” Cathy said with a scheming smile.

The last semester of his senior year, John took an elective course from Mr. Lattimer. It was a class in which each student could specialize in some aspect of American history. John chose to write about beekeeping in America.

“You’re the last person in the world I would have thought would take another course from me,” Mr. Lattimer remarked one afternoon.

“People change,” John said.

“You have. You seem like a different person. You seem to know what you want from life.”

“I do,” John answered, proceeding to outline his plans for a mission, marriage in the temple, and becoming a professional beekeeper.

“What’s made the difference to cause you to change?”

John thought back over the past two years and finally answered, “I guess it all came because I agreed to work on a Church welfare project.”

J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)
“What if you are smarter than you think?”
Learning Specialist https://docmeek.com

For brain health, ensure heart health (short video):
http://www.amiraclemolecule.com/themeekteam
More on heart health http://www.themeekteam.info
Ph (801) 971-1812 (Jeannette); Fax [801] 282-6026

THE LEARNING CLINIC WORLDWIDE, INC.
CANADA: P.O. Box 3105, Sherwood Park, AB T8H 2T1
TONGA: Mele Taumoepeau, P.O. Box 60, Nuku’alofa
USA: 3688 W 9800 S, #138, South Jordan, UT 84095

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“Ask me anything.” – Doc Meek

Thursday, August 12, 2010. Today I am grateful that I have had more than thirty (30) years of great experience with almost all aspects of education and learning. They call me the “the brain guy.” – Doc Meek

People are always asking me questions about teaching, learning, and how the brain operates. And how the school systems operate.

I am delighted to answer any and all questions! 😮

So this is an open invitation to all of you who are parents, teachers, students, or educational administrators:

“Ask me anything”

I learned that phrase from my internet mentor, Connie Ragen Green. She teaches people how to be a business success on the internet, like she is. She is a great teacher/learner. Kind, considerate, and patiently able to explain answers to all questions, including the “dumb questions” people are almost afraid to ask. That’s Connie.

“There are no dumb questions, ” Connie says, and she practices what she preaches. And she keeps learning. She never stops learning. I think that is one reason she is such a good teacher. She is a good student as well. Thank you Connie! I am grateful for your example.

Same invitation from Doc: “Ask me anything.”

“Ask me anything about education, training, the brain, the mind, behavior, emotion, teaching, teacher training, student learning problems, and so on.”

I have had extensive training and experience with almost all aspects of education and learning, including the administrative and financial aspects. (See my Qualifications Brief by clicking on the date of July 15, 2010, on the calendar on the right-hand side of the screen when you first visit THE LEARNING CLINIC WORLDWIDE blog at

https://docmeek.com

There is almost nothing about education, learning or the brain that you can ask me, about which I have not had some degree of familiarity.

You can ask me with confidence and I will respond with both knowlege and compassion. If I don’t know the answer I will find it for you.

And even a little humor may go a long way, eh?

Years ago, a Calgary magazine reported:

“Dr. Meek brings a unique blend of warmth, intelligence and humor to everything he does.” Thank you, Calgary!

If you have any questions or comments, just click on the little blue word “comments” at the bottom right-hand side of this article, and a form will appear that you can use to ask any question you wish.

Doc Meek, Thursday, August 12, 2010, at Nose Hill Public Library in Calgary, Alberta, CANADA.

—————-

J. Collins Meek, Ph.D. (Doc Meek)
“What if you are smarter than you think?”
Learning Specialist https://docmeek.com

For brain health, ensure heart health (short video):
http://www.amiraclemolecule.com/themeekteam
More on heart health http://www.themeekteam.info
Ph (801) 971-1812 (Jeannette); Fax [801] 282-6026

THE LEARNING CLINIC WORLDWIDE, INC.
CANADA: P.O. Box 3105, Sherwood Park, AB T8H 2T1
TONGA: Mele Taumoepeau, P.O. Box 60, Nuku’alofa
USA: 3688 W 9800 S, #138, South Jordan, UT 84095

====================================

“Change the world? Try Love . . .” – Sri Chinmoy

Photo from Workshop Way (TM): http://www.workshopway.org/faq_1-7.htm …………………………………………………………………………………………….

Previously I wrote about those yearning to change the world. If you wish to review those articles, click on the two titles below:

Sunday . . . a sunshine day? Maybe a family day?

“I wanted to change the world.” – Unknown Monk

Try Love instead

“Instead of  trying to change the world [or change others or change yourself] try loving the world instead.” – Sri Chinmoy.

See Chinmoy’s website for several quotations and poems about changing the world: http://www.shortpoems.org/blog/2010/03/06/quotes-to-change-the-world/

How does this relate to learning?

I listened to a lecture by a counselor. He was telling about a mother who was ready to commit suicide (literally) because she could not control her children. The same story could be told about teachers who are in despair because they cannot control their students.

This counselor urged us to recognize that it is not our job to change our children or our students.

This comes as a great surprise to most parents and teachers.

What is our job then, in relation to our children or students?

Our job is to love them.

Not necessarily with the “feeling state” kind of love, although that can be very effective. The problem with feelings as the only guide is that, in the heat of anger (brought on, say, by children or students who don’t perform, or who flout rules), feelings of love are often lost. Certainly the child or student has difficulty feeling them when our anger is boiling and our words are accusatory or mean or even just unkind.

Our job is to care about them enough to respect them, specifically and especially when they don’t deserve our respect.

Kids have pretty good “personal radar.” They know when we respect them, despite our satisfaction or lack of it in the moment.

It’s a cinch to love a kid who is performing and obedient to rules

Being loving (caring) when someone is doing what we want, or what we say, is pretty straight forward.

Being loving (caring) when someone is behaving in a manner that is not appropriate, is a real challenge.

Can it be done?

Emphatically yes. No name calling. No lecturing. No put-downs. Repeating (paraphrasing) what that person says, even if it is negative and about me! 😮  Why? Why should I do that? S/he insulted me for pete’s sake!

That is just the point. No point in me reacting to their problem (negativism, anger, whatever), which in the final analysis has nothing to do with me anyway. It is their problem. They are obviously having a bad day. Or a bad year. I am just the target at the moment.

Sometimes I have to find excuses to care about them! 😮

Grace Pilon did it. Dr. Merrill Harmin did it. Martin Luther King did it. If they can do it, I can do it. Less well perhaps. Still I can do what I can. That is all anyone can ask of me.

Or a child.

Don’t take the “bait”

If I react to the negative content of what the child/student is saying, I am acting exactly the same as they are (out of control). That means I am no better than they are! Sometimes I have to leave the room! 😮

As my Dad used to say: “What can you do? Just love them.”

That’s all we can do. They will change in their own time and in their own way.

To respect, when not deserved (that’s what I want for myself isn’t it?).

Doc Meek, Wednesday, June 23, 2010

At Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah, USA

“A paper brain is a good thing to have.” – Doc Meek

Pocket Daily Planner Small  Daily Planner Medium  Daily Planner Large  Daily Planners
Pocket Small Medium Large

Images from: http://www.ataglance.com/ ………………………………………………………….

Your own personal paper brain–any size  you like 😮

For years, professionals of all types have been using appointment books, pocket diaries, or day-books to help them keep track of busy days. Mothers of all types have been using home bulletin boards, daily diaries, or refrigerator calendars to help them keep track of busy days for themselves and children and husbands, a complex task indeed.

These paper brains are invaluable. I always encouraged the students whom I was helping to overcome learning problems to carry a paper brain.  I always told them that a paper brain was probably the best friend their brain could have.

Some professionals, mothers, and students have now turned to electronic “keeper-trackers” to help them through their often over-scheduled days. These have been dubbed “PDAs.”

What’s a PDA?

Some of the earlier PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) were simply electronic versions of paper brains, except that the available “writing space” or “memory space” was much larger. These earlier PDAs had no connection to the internet. Wireless functions are not required for a simple paper brain equivalent.

According to Wikipedia, a PDA is “a personal digital assistant (PDA), also known as a palmtop computer . . . a mobile device which functions as a personal information manager and has the ability to connect to the internet. The PDA has an electronic visual display enabling it to include a web browser, but some newer models also have audio capabilities, enabling them to be used as mobile phones or portable media players . . . . Many PDAs employ touch screen technology.”

A mobile handheld device

Image from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_device ………………………………………………………………………………

Can we keep up with our paper brain (or electronic equivalent)?

Even though our busy schedule may not overtax the paper brain or the electronic brain, our busy schedule may overtax us, personally. Our brain may be running on overload. And over-loaded brains, sooner or later, bring with them possible anxiety, burnout or depression.

What’s one answer?

Scheduled time for ourselves.

For ourselves alone, private time.

Of course we have to put this appointment with ourselves faithfully into our paper brain or our electronic brain, or it won’t happen.

Book it, and keep it. Then we’ll reap the rewards of a busy day with a real plus:

Time for us.

Of course, you have to consult the paper brain 😮

Sometimes someone may upbraid me for missing an appointment: “You should book your appointments in your paper brain; that’s what others do; that’s what you teach your students.”

My reply?

“I did book it.”

“Then why did you miss this appointment.”

“I did not remember to look in my book.” 😮

Hey, even the best of well-intended systems can break down occasionally, eh? 😮

Summary and Conclusion

In our modern world, anxiety, burnout and depression can be kept at bay by keeping solid appointments with ourselves for scheduled quiet time. The brain loves it. It absolutely needs the respite, and more than that, the brain needs the time to attend to different, vital and important tasks not normally addressed.

Way to go, paper brain (or PDA), for looking after me!

Doc Meek, Saturday, June 5, 2010

At Calgary and Cochrane, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah

The Second Brain

When we think of our brain, we naturally think of what is inside our heads, located between our ears, behind our eyes, and safely within our skull.

Very few of us would think of our brain as partially residing in our intestines. Our spinal cord, maybe, not our gut.

We do say to others sometimes, “I feel in my gut that this is true, ” when we have no hard evidence to back something up. However, we don’t think of that as a brain activity usually, do we?”

Well, perhaps our “gut” doesn’t think in the way we usually think about thinking. However, it is intimately acquainted with our brain and they talk to each other all the time. We may not understand the language they are using when they talk to each other. They do understand it, however, and are really good at communicating with each other.

And, amazingly, when the stomach or intestines are having trouble with food or toxins in the food, they not only yell at the brain, they cause the brain to function less than optimally.

“Brain fog,” is familiar to many. Thinking of the digestive system as a possible cause of “brain fog” is not something very many of us think about.

Not very often would a parent think of digestive problems as related to the learning disabilities of their child.

More on this “second brain” in my future blog postings here.

Doc Meek, Learning Specialist

Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; and South Jordan, Utah, USA

Anger Management in Classrooms

A school teacher wrote me the other day, asking about anger management in the classroom.

I referred him to my previous blog entitled “Anger Management in Schools,” as an introduction. (See previous blog entry dated April 10, 2010.) That represented a starting point for anger management, for individual students, for immediate short-term solutions in the “foreground” of the problem so to speak.

Here I would like to explore longer-term “background” solutions.

Longer-term solutions for anger management

All teachers and school counselors (and school principals) and students
should have the opportunity to read  Dr. Merrill Harmin (2002),
Strategies to Inspire Active Learning: Complete Handbook.
When I was in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific islands
back at the start of the new millennium, nearly every teacher
and administrator had a copy of this vital handbook. Many
teachers had a copy on their desk for ready reference every
day in the classroom. It is for daily use, showing how to become
a better teacher right now, and tomorrow, not down the road
somewhere.
Many libraries had multiple copies as well.
In a future post, I’ll report on the effective learning-teaching
changes that came out of using Dr. Harmin in the classroom.
And the test scores on external examinations went up to boot.
The teachers would place on the walls of their classrooms
Dr. Harmin’s “TRUTH SIGNS” (from pages 49-51 in his book,
and practiced using them (not just let them hang on the wall).
More on these “TRUTH SIGNS” later.
Using Dr. Harmin’s suggestions lead to more dignity and mutual
respect in the classroom between teachers and students, and
between students, and less anger.
Dr.Harmin’s book (pages 5 and 6) shows a teacher what a 
DESCA classroom looks/feels like and the rest of the book
shows the teachers how to help the students more and
more to develop themselves into a DESCA group of students,
students who have developed:
Dignity and respect for students (and teachers).
Energy that is at a good level, not too low and not too high.
Self-management and self-control for students (and teachers).
Community, where all students (and their teacher) work together
to learn, not just listen to the teacher lecturing; students help each
other learn in small groups of two or three; helps them learn to get
along with each other.
Awareness of self and others; “How am I doing?” thinks the student.
The whole book will transform the whole school if its inspiring strategies
are learned and practiced by teachers and students alike. (And of course
taught and encouraged by school principals and other administrators.)
Needless to say, one of the foundations is inspiring lessons taught by
inspired teachers, and taught by inspiring and active-learning students
as well.
Inspired strategies for active learning,  practiced daily in the classroom
by teachers and students alike, reduces anger to almost zero.
The reason?
Everyone is actively engaged in the tasks at hand. Students feel more
worthwhile and more engaged in learning, more proactively involved
in their own present learning and their own future learning possibilities,
as opposed to simply reacting in anger to problems that present.
The students are even taught interpersonal and negotiation skills–
as an alternative to the use of violence–as a problem resolution pattern.
– Doc Meek, Inspired Learning Strategies Specialist
South Jordan, Utah, USA; and Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA
P.S.
“Anger is the ultimate troublemaker. I feel you can express a strong disapproval or dislike of an object without losing your temper.”
– Dalai Lama

Son labeled ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

I mentioned to the Mom whose son had been labeled ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) that I was not fond of labels. I said that while a “private label” may be necessary for funding, insurance, or medical purposes, I hoped that in everyday life, neither she nor her son would take the label too seriously in terms of finding solutions for school problems.

I have found that when working with a child who has been labeled ADD, say in grade 4, that I would generally ignore the label and inquire: “Harold, the teacher tells me that you have the ‘squirmies’ in her class, that you are a bit restless, that you don’t find it easy to stay at your desk. Is that right?”

I have found that it is much easier to help the child find ways to overcome the “squirmies” than it is to overcome a label, which is, in the final analysis, really a description of the child’s behavior, not an eternal pronouncement carved in stone.

No one really knows what’s going on inside the child’s head, exactly. I would much rather work with a friendly mystery, than a dismal certitude, wouldn’t you? Besides success is greatly enhanced when you work with concrete behavior, not deterministic labels.

The same problem occurs with adults. Let’s say somebody has been labeled “alcoholic.” It is a lot easier for them to change their behavior when I work with them in overcoming their “drinking problems,” which is a set of concrete behaviors, with which we can work, piece by piece, as opposed to trying to refute a label that some think is stamped in their psyche “forever.” – Doc Meek, South Jordan, Utah

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