'Over the years people have said things that have really made me think. I enjoy remembering what was said, the people who said them and the circumstances and each time I remember I learn something new. It helps me think about what is important when I am confused. Sharing a smile of pleasure with someone and remembering those from the past helps me re-find my focus and tap into the energy that gives my life meaning and purpose. Some quotes are very short - others you will have to scroll down.
I want to be a person who can think for myself and think of others.
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity" Hanlon's razor or The character "Doc" in Robert Heinlein's story described the "devil theory" fallacy, explaining, "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity."... or goes back to previous centuries. The other phrase I find helpful 'dont mistake cockup for conspiracy'. I think there is hope in conspiracy - at least if someone planned something they could plan something else, where is the hope of progress if problems are a result of cockup - the best of intentions?
"It is not what life brings us, but the manner in which we receive it, that shapes our destiny."Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882
"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will." ~Jawaharlal Nehru
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
from the poem Invictus 1875 by William Ernest Henley.
Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
― Mahatma Gandhi
“My fate is the hand of cards I am dealt, my destiny is how I play them” Chief Rabbi Mervis, Thought for the Day, Radio 4 – 18 Sept 2020
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (attributed to writer and philosopher George Santayana) - transformed into 'those who can not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it' - interesting the shift from 'remember' to 'learn from')
"Not everything that is significant is relevant"
"I organise myself so that I am effective in the world"
Rachael Burgess in conversation - 19th June 2020
A Man Who Boozes - An Irish Poem of Unknown Origin
It was a year ago, September
a day I well remember
I was walking up and down
in drunken pride
when my knees began to flutter
and I fell down in the gutter
and a pig came by and lay down by my side
As I lay there in the gutter
thinking thoughts I could not utter
I thought I heard a passing lady say,
"You can tell a man who boozes
by the company he chooses..."
And with that, the pig got up and walked away.
This pandemic has made me realise that Negative is not negative sometimes it's the greatest sign of Positive.
Shivani Mishra personal communication 040520
Effective science communication happens when we listen and connect. It happens when we use empathy. Communication is headed for success when we pay more attention to what the other person is understanding rather than focusing solely on what we want to say. - Alan Alda
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
"Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out." A quote from a film 'What a Girl Wants'.
“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” Gandhi
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."
"Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill."
Arianna Briganti was creating the first full draft of her thesis 'My living-theory of international development' (May 2019). She generously shared with me some of what was emerging. Her work as an International Development practitioner is inspiring. I was particularly interested in her methodology chapter as I want to improve my understanding of Living Theory research and the implications of an academic and scholarly research methodology for anyone who is asking questions such as, 'how do I improve what I am doing' and wants to understand, improve and explain their educational practice and contribute accounts of their valid explanations of their educational influence in their own learning, the learning of others and the learning of the social formations they live and work in) to an educational knowledgebase we can all draw on. These words sang out to me from the pages and I don't want to lose them.
"Living Theory research is a values-based and action-led research methodology"
"I soon realised that the way I was approaching my research, namely the awakening of my consciousness leading to the creation of my own and unique living-theory was influencing other spheres of my life"
"My living-theory as my way of life"
"... to co-construct and co-generate knowledge and start seeing ‘all of us equally together, a new world where we can celebrate and all gain for interconnected reciprocities’. I do so by using a Living Theory research methodology, which represents an epistemological space in which critique has no negative connotation, but instead is perceived as a valuable way of improving one’s own practice, enriched by other people’s knowledge and practice."
"Knowledge – a belief that has been justified and validated by inter-subjective criticism." Jack Whitehead, 030119
“If I had to reduce all of educational psychology to just one principle, I would say this: The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly.” DP Ausubel in Educational Psychology: a Cognitive View (1968)
And here you are. Here you are! In the sacred present. I can’t heal you – or anyone- but I can celebrate your choice to dismantle the prison in your mind, brick by brick. You can’t change what happened, you can’t change what you did or what was done to you. But you can choose how you live now.
My precious, you can choose to be free. (p. 360).
Edith Eger (2017) The Choice: Even in hell hope can flower. London: Ebury Publishing. An amazing book!
"Make sure you worst enemy doesn't live between your own two ears." From Laird Hamilton - thanks to John Reeves for this quote
“Neither the prestige of your subjects and
The power of your instruments
Nor the extent of your planning
Can substitute for
The originality of your approach and
The keenness of your observation”
"The human brain is a stimulus response organ, but between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our ability to choose, and in that choice lies our freedom." Viktor Frankl.
“How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation.”
― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
What is a Jew? This works for me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCmHd_scHik
Hillels maxim has been with me since I first came across it as a child. Despite my lack of religion this has helped me make more sense of what was meant http://nihonshock.com/2009/11/the-many-ways-to-say-i/ but was very confusing because of the difficulties of translating language without a cultural concept. How come English with so many words has so few for important things like 'love' and 'i'?
and this one seems to a surprise too - language and deep frames comes to mind
and this piece of poetry
“What is the use of living, if it not be to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?” Winston Churchill (speech in Dundee, 1908) (Thanks to Paula Shore for this one)
"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." Aristotle
'Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.' Gandhi
'I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it… We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.' C. Day Lewis The Poetic Image
'Everybody is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend its whole life feeling it is stupid!' Albert Einstein
'If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.' William James 1884.
'We know nothing but that we face each other in this place' Yeates. Thanks to Robyn for this one.
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” Disraeli - from http://thinkexist.com/
Bateson, G. (1988) Mind and Nature: A necessary unity. New York; Bantam.
“Whether Russell and Whitehead had any idea when they were working on Principia that the matter of their interest was vital to the life of human beings and other organisms, I do not know. Whitehead certainly knew that human beings could be amused and humor generated by kidding around with the types. But I doubt whether he ever made the step from enjoying this game to seeing that the game was nontrivial and would cast light on the whole of biology. The more general insight was – perhaps unconsciously – avoided rather than contemplate the nature of the human dilemmas that the insight would propose.The mere fact of humor in human relations indicates that at least at this biological level, multiple typing is essential to human communication. In the absence of the distortions of logical typing humor would be unnecessary and perhaps could not exist.” (p. 124)
, "It's no use to decide what's going to happen unless you have the courage of your convictions. Many a brilliant idea has been lost because the man who dreamed it lacked the spunk or the spine to put it across. It doesn't matter if you don't always hit the exact bulls-eye, the other rings in the targets score points, too." A. P. Giannini Founder of the Bank of America.
‘We must learn to feel addressed by a book, by the human being behind it, as if a person spoke directly to us. a good book or essay or poem is not primarily an object to be put to use, or an object of experience: it is the voice of You speaking to me, requiring a response’ (prologue p39) Buber Martin Translated by Kaufmann Walter 1970 I and Thou pub T&T, Clark, Edinburgh
This really appealed to the the optimist in me
I wish I was a glow worm
A glow worm's never glum
How can you be unhappy
When the sun shines out yer bum?
"gently put aside" Jack Whitehead circa 1st Nov 2011 in private conversation
''The second principle of magic...things which have once been in contact with each other continue to act on each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed'. Sir James Frazer -
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~Buddha
The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. ~Benjamin Disraeli
5 way to make kids smarter - not so sure about their explanations but what they are suggesting seems like a good idea anyway. These are put into my words - Start the day at a reasonable hour, provide windows onto the world, make sure people can hear what instruction easily, check out that you give positive rather than inadevetantly negative messages about themselves and their ability to learn, get some exercise and give people a brain break - what did they use to say about all work and no play?!
Thanks to Pete Mellet for this
Patti Lather (1999) describes the sort of approach I intend taking when she says that a review can exemplify a non-mastery approach:
“... a learning that can tolerate its own failure of knowledge and the detour of not understanding.” (p.4)
I am reading the BERA review 1999 - 2000 that Peter Mellett wrote and this has really resonated
Patti Lather (1999) describes the sort of approach I intend taking when she says that a review can exemplify a non-mastery approach:
“... a learning that can tolerate its own failure of knowledge and the detour of not understanding.” (p.4)
'To understand what a real essay is, we have to reach back into history again, though this time not so far. To Michel de Montaigne, who in 1580 published a book of what he called "essais." He was doing something quite different from what lawyers do, and the difference is embodied in the name. Essayer is the French verb meaning "to try" and an essai is an attempt. An essay is something you write to try to figure something out.
Figure out what? You don't know yet. And so you can't begin with a thesis, because you don't have one, and may never have one. An essay doesn't begin with a statement, but with a question. In a real essay, you don't take a position and defend it. You notice a door that's ajar, and you open it and walk in to see what's inside.
If all you want to do is figure things out, why do you need to write anything, though? Why not just sit and think? Well, there precisely is Montaigne's great discovery. Expressing ideas helps to form them. Indeed, helps is far too weak a word. Most of what ends up in my essays I only thought of when I sat down to write them. That's why I write them.
In the things you write in school you are, in theory, merely explaining yourself to the reader. In a real essay you're writing for yourself. You're thinking out loud.'
Paul Graham, The age of the essay. 2004 (Thanks to Kate Kemp for this)
"If you've come to help me, then I don't need to your help. But if you've come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." Aboriginal social worker Lilla Watson. Thanks to Ernie Stringer for the quote.
"We do the best we know how, and when we know better, we do better." Quote attributed to Maya Angelou, poet Thanks to Pip Bruce Ferguson for the quote
Extract from William Wordsworth poem 'Tintern Abbey'
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration: -- feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened: -- that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on, --
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
To do easily what is difficult for others is the mark of talent. To do what is impossible for talent is the mark of genius. (Henri Frederic Amiel)
'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed
it’ s the only thing that ever has' (Margaret Mead).
'Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.' from the song, Some Mistakes, by Brad Paisley
'I have always supposed that the whole thing (i.e. life) is a bit of a cosmic joke so I stagger on with a smile on my face.' Pete Mellett 16th Nov 2006 in a personal email
"There is nothing more difficult and dangerous to undertake, nor more doubtful of success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things; because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old order, and only lukewarm support from those who would do well under the new. This coolness reflects a fear of the old guard, who have tradition on their side, and also people's general suspicion of unfamiliar innovations." (Machiavelli, The Prince, quoted in Claxton, G. (2008) What's the Point of School? Oxford; Oneworld Publications. p.187)
‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lies our growth and our happiness.’ (Covey 2004 p. 43).
"To conduct a conversation requires first of all that the partners to it do not talk at cross purposes. Hence its necessary structure is that of question and answer. The first condition of the art of conversation is to ensure that the other person is with us…. To conduct a conversation…. requires that one does not try to out-argue the other person, but that one really considers the weight of the other's opinion. Hence it is an art of testing. But the art of testing is the art of questioning. For we have seen that to question means to lay open, to place in the open. As against the solidity of opinions, questioning makes the object and all its possibilities fluid. A person who possesses the 'art' of questioning is a person who is able to prevent the suppression of questions by the dominant opinion.... Thus the meaning of a sentence is relative to the question to which it is a reply, i.e. it necessarily goes beyond what is said in it. The logic of the human sciences is, then, as appears from what we have said a logic of the question. Despite Plato we are not very ready for such a logic." (pp. 330-333) Gadamer, H., (1975), ‘Truth and Method’, Sheed and Ward, London.
W. Gordon, ‘the ultimate solutions to problems are rational; the process of finding them is not.’
W. H. H. Gordon. US creativity guru. Howard Gossage. US advertising executive. http://creatingminds.org/quoters/quoters_g.htm
'My present philosophy is that what does change is my perception. As I look back over my life and that of others I feel that when things haven't been good it has been a perception only and not necessarily a reality. I no longer need to be anything whether that is recognised, believed, understood, congratulated or content but I do need to appreciate all feelings I and others have and the lessons from those moments- however with that state of mind can come a certain arrogance I believe that I do need to be wary of!!!' - email from Paula Shore (teacher) 26th July 2008
Daisaku Ikeda (2004) A Piece of Mirror and Other Essays. Kuala Lumpar;
Soka Gakkai Malaysia.
"Everyone has some kind of gift. Being talented does not mean just being a good musician, writer or athlete. There are many kinds of talent. You may be a great conversationalist, or make friends easily, or be able to put others at ease. Or you may have a gift for telling jokes, selling things or living economically. You may be punctual, patient, reliable, kind or optimistic. Or you may love taking on new challenges, be strongly committed to helping others, or have an ability to bring them joy. Without doubt, you possess your special jewel, your own unique talent. In the same way, each of us has a mission that only we can fulfil. That mission will not be found somewhere far away, in doing something special or extraordinary. Even those people who seem to have led great lives have really only done what they felt they had to do in order to truly be themselves.
We realize our purpose in life by doing our very best where we are right at this moment, by thinking about what we can do to improve the lives of those right around us." (2004, p. 4)
'The human mind treats a new idea the way a body treats a strange problem it rejects it.' Sir Peter Medawar - now ain't that the truth!
A point made by Eric Idle with pleasure on the Care2.com site. This is one of their cards and with the legend 'Smiles are contagious. Start an epidemic. With over 25,000 free Care2 eCards, you can brighten anyone's day.' I dont know who they are but seems like a nice thing to want to do. You might like to send some of their cards to add to the smile epidemic.
I'm smiling at your 'being the author of your own stress' . I don't know why you bother when there are so many people in the world who are willing to do it for you!! Jack Whitehead 21st Oct 07
You offer acceptance of me for what I am and push at the boundaries of what I could become. You accept ideas, puzzlement and confusion from me as part of a process of me coming to understand but the understanding reached seems always a new understanding for us both. I think I've seen our work as collaborative parallelism - which was part of the correspondence between Erica Holley and Jack Whitehead before 23rd Jan 05. Says so much for me about what it is to be an amazing educator.
This story by Jane Spiro 'Eye and the Fellow-traveller' is beautiful and I really dont want to have to keep searching for it. Again a beautiful description of an amazing educator.
'Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of becoming.' Goethe 17th Century German playwright My thanks to Jane Hill for this one.
“(Auden) was always moving on to the next task, suffering failure sometimes, and aware of a widespread rejection of his later work. He had a private, even secret, generosity to match the public generosity, the copiousness of his achievement. An enviable gift, then, although not always an enviable life – unless we say that in some cases the gift is indeed the life, and that the suffering is all part of the gift.” (The Guardian Review, 3 February 2007) My thanks to Barry Hymer for this.
The major cultural dichotomy affecting educational provision for the gifted and talented is between the largely Eastern perception - ‘all children have gifted potential’ - and the largely Western one - ‘only some children have gifted potential’.
'The human spirit survives most attempts to be categorised, selected and treated in accord - for good or ill.' Joan Freeman 2006
Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. Plato
While there is a mystery about the source of life, I feel the flow of a life affirming energy that connects me with the cosmos and everything in it. and as I let my own light shine, I consciously invite other people to do the same... (Jack Whitehead emailed 3rd Dec 2006)
When there are enough vampires around we could do without the cuckoos, but we know that real life means meeting both!! (Jack Whitehead 10th Feb 2007)
Great educators hold their space in service to others by the lived expression of their values. (Jack Whitehead 11th Feb 2007)
Giftedness is not a statement of being. At its best, it’s a description of what one can do – not an explanation of what one is. ( Barry Hymer 2003 Four Weddings and a Funeral)
Gifted and talented students have, we believe, a right to something qualitatively special now. And so do their peers, just in case they’re gifted and talented too but don’t yet know it. (Barry Hymer – his book)
"When a child does something correctly, she's had a chance to practise something. When she makes a mistake, she has a chance to learn something." (Barry Hymer email 11th Feb 2007)
“What drives us in our society to pin children to their measured competencies, like so many dried and mounted butterflies? Let’s enjoy their colours, not measure them. Let’s not pin them down – let’s watch them in flight. (Barry Hymer email 11th Feb 2007)
'We dont have the luxury to be that angry and creative of hurt' Eden Charles 27th Nov 2006, at Jack Whitehead's Monday Conversation, BathUniversity
The shortest distance between people is a smile a Chinese saying from Moira Laidlaw Dec 06
‘Perhaps learning is a journey we undertake our whole lives, by realising the quality of the experiences on the journey and not the results, we learn more about ourselves and our values grow and change’. (Belle Wallace, 2004)
'A word carries a life time of experience' Shirley Johnson 2006 - thanks to Kathie Souter, her daughter, for giving me this quote from Shirley.
The late Kate StJohn ( a Head teacher of 3 schools I had worked with over the years) gave me some very sage advice when I was feeling pretty bad when some people didnt respond well to a workshop I had run. She said the trouble was that a few people want it 'warm pink and fluffy and on a spoon' and were irritated that I had made them think. I have remembered this over the years and while sometimes I am painfully aware I have just not communicated well, occassionally I think Kate had a real point - some people just want it 'warm pink and fluffy and on a spoon'. When I was planning a day with a school on Thinking I told the person who was commissioning me that I dont do 'warm pink and fluffy and on a spoon'. She was delighted and told one of her pupils, who very kindly came up with this illustration which my new found friend pasted on all the course folders. I think of that pupil, her teacher and Kate when I need a bit of encouragement.
When I was talking with Sue Jones (Head, Farrington Guerney) she gave me the thoughts of Marley Hall, one of her Y6 pupils 'Philosophy is trying to answer questions there might not be an answer to' -he definitely didnt do ... on a spoon! Nov 2006
This question by one of Prof. Moira Laidlaw's student's Ma Li Juan at Ningxia University, has really resonated 'How can I attract my students’ attention educationally?' July 2006, email and I feel this, from a pupil of Joy Mounter (Dep. Head Chew Stoke), show's what happens when a teacher engages creatively as an educator with such a question ‘I have learnt to never underestimate my skills of craft and learning, because nothing is impossible to a child with imagination.’ Learning evaluation by R. aged 10
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest that which is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." The actual author of the quotation is Marianne Williamson. To be precise, it is from her 1992 book, "Return to Love" (hardcover p. 165, paperback pp. 190-191)
This piece really means a lot to me but I am not a deist or a theist and have taken the liberty of removing references to a deity.
“The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.” Pablo Casals
A renowned genius once asked a student, "What are you watching when you sit on a hillside in the late afternoon as the colors turn from yellow to orange and red and finally darkness?" He answered, "You are watching the sunset." The genius responded, "That is what is wrong with our age. You know full well you are not watching the sun set. You are watching the world turn."- Buckminster Fuller in Jeremy Kagan