Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tuesday will be the first day of April and the beginning of a month long group of activities at school that will revolve around Earth Day.  I helped organize the first Earth Day at my college in 1970.  We were certain that once people understood the impact they were having on the earth they would eagerly change their behavior.   Ever the eternal optimist, I continue to believe that and so I continue to do small acts to live out my belief.  This year I am issuing a challenge for students to be conscious about doing one green act every day this month.

As I got out of my car as I ran an errand on the way to school Saturday I was framing how I could do this.  The first thing I saw was a cigarette butt on the ground next to my car. I did not pick it up, but I did think about the fact that a butt lasts in the environment for 5 years.  They also contain chemicals that get washed into the water supply.    I headed toward Starbucks for a rare treat from one of the children at Christmas.

The car directly in front of mine was a luxury SUV.  Next to it sat a large Starbucks cup neatly set down and left for someone else to pick up. first green act!  I picked it up and carried it into Starbucks.  Looking around I saw no recycling container.  I hunted up the manager.  "You do recycle don't you," Starbucks did not recycle but they would throw the cup away.  I regularly bring my plastic home to place it in Curby, but I did not want to do so with a cup of questionable origin.  The employee took it and threw it away.  Not so green an act, I thought, but at least I did take it out of the waste stream of Richland Creek. 

Never fear multiple opportunities in that same parking lot awaited.  I left with my coffee and headed to Katy's Hallmark to purchase a gift for one of my favorite little two year olds when the sound of something approaching from behind caught my attention.  The breeze pushed a coke bottle, empty with lid in place, briskly past me.  Ah, my green act I thought as I chased it finally down the hill trapping it against the curb.  But then trying to find a recycle bin once again thwarted me.    Our city won an award for being green, but when I looked for a bin like those I saw all over Europe I found none. Green Hills wasn't so green with only a dirty old trash bin and once again, I had no opportunity to exercise my virtue!

When I carried the bottle into Katy's I asked them if they recycled.  No.  On the way back to my car I found an apple core near my vehicle.  Ah well, I thought, At least this will decompose in just a few weeks and if an animal eats it there would be no harm!  So in the space of 15 minutes I had the opportunity to pick up four things littering the environment.  So I challenge you to commit one green act a day for the next 30 days. 

Then be sure to let me know what it was either by responding her or sending me an email at so that I can keep track of all our good deeds.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid

I have always seen technology as transformational, but of late I am beginning to wonder just what that transformation will be!  Just this morning I was reminded of the frustration and tension that technology introduces in education and daily living.   The title of this piece is purported to be a quote from the wise and sagacious Ben Franklin. Prior to using it, I wanted to have the citation for this wonderful quote.  Where and when did Franklin say these words? 

Honestly, it occurred to me to question the veracity of the quote because I think Franklin might more likely have said,  "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain so."  I was unsure as to the use of the word stupid in the 18th century, and wanted confirmation that he said these words.  After 30 minutes of searching, I had found hundreds of references to this quote, but not one of them with an attribution!

The quote is good, you might say, what difference does it make whether he actually said it or not.  The gospel of Luke says, "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities." (Luke 16:10)  We would do well to respect this as we use technology.  Dishonest, misleading, or plain stupid all result in the same end.  Intention means little.  How can democracy survive in a world where accuracy and validity are not valued?

Everyday information is disseminated that is not validated, yet it is spoken as though it were the GOSPEL truth.  Sometimes who says something is as significant as what is said.  The chamber of commerce, members of our legislatures, our state commissioner of education, and the news media suggest education fails.  I advise that you do a quick search of thoughts on education over the millennia.  If you do you will find that every age has condemned educators and education.  

As I spend this snow day at home working on improving my technology skills to help students and teachers, I wonder if it is not time to challenge the invalid statistical data that is being bandied about.  It is time to challenge the evaluation tools being deployed to prove that teachers are failing.  It is time to challenge the notion that teachers should be held accountable for another individuals willingness or unwillingness to learn.

I'm thrusting my head out the metaphorical window and crying out, "I'm not going to simply smile and take it anymore."