What about those who cannot think?


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What would I say if I could again be a teacher?

I taught for seven years. It was truly as paraphrased from Charles Dickens the best of times and the worst of times. I had a chance to work with some of the best people I could have imagined. Marilyn Owens, Karen Lentz and Tom Mobley impacted me for years beyond my teaching career. They remain some of the best people I have ever met. I also got divorced while teaching. Finally I got hooked on computers as a teacher. The last two the highest point and the lowest.

Is the business of education to merge what is taught at home, religion (if you believe) and state into a single entity? Is the role of education to provide a pathway?

What do we expect our educational system to do?

I believe it is the inherent job of our educational system to teach the students of that system how to think. My father used to always start off talks with two jokes the first being I am from the (either state or government) and I am here to help. The second was the line “Those that can do, those that can’t teach, those that can’t teach teach teachers.” What about however those that cannot think?

That is the thing that scares me, the reality of a world where people can be force fed information because they cannot process it fast enough to keep up.

I believe schools are needed to teach students to think.

To expand beyond what is known and to being to form hypothesis about how things work. Ask yourself this, do you ever look at something and wonder how does it work? Do you take the next step and learn the components and pieces and see how they work together? Or do you simply let that slide out of your head? All of us are busy – and if I were again teaching I would say take a moment, don’t smell the roses, figure out how they bloom.

 

.doc

Reflections on a million miles…


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1 million miles.

Its more than I will ever walk. Its more than I will probably ever drive. It is however how many miles I have flown on United Airlines since 1999. 13 years producing 1 million miles of air travel.

Seems cool but if you think about air travel, most of it was for business. So I was flying away from home and some of the trips were long (23, 24 hours in an airplane).

I haven’t been on an airplane since I went to West Lafayette in August. That was only my second trip of the year for the entire year of 2012. It is wonderful to be able to come home nearly every night at a reasonable hour. Yeah sometimes I have to work late, but for the most part I am home around 6 or 7 pm at the latest.

The question I have now is given that it cost me all that time with my family would I do it again?

That is the question that plagues me. My family was able to handle my being away, they missed me sure, but in the end they were better off in many regards with my being away. The other side of that is simply the reality of my being gone, for years I worked very hard to maintain a relationship with all 3 kids. It isn’t easy when you are away but I worked very hard at it (I suspect the 4th child will realize that someday – right now she blames me for changing her mom).

.doc

long day, Monday…


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The boys and I went on a long walk yesterday – 6.3 miles. The best part of those walks is the conversations we have as we wander around the neighborhood. Its nice to have time to unwind and just be a person with your kids sometimes. Parenthood is a tough job but frankly so is being a kid.

Yesterday was Octoberfest in the Kentlands. We walked around the edge but didn’t go into the actual festival. We actually went last year but Barb was working yesterday and the boys weren’t really into going so we walked around it. We mowed the yard and trimmed the grass for the last time as well yesterday. It’s amazing to me sometimes, we have a 1/2 acre plus in Indiana. In Maryland we have less than a postage stamp of a yard but it takes as much time to mow the tiny yard as it did the bigger yard. Of course we had a ride on tractor which made the bigger yard go a lot faster.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do when I retire. When I was 20 I thought I would always work as a teacher for a while, leave and then come back to teaching. I suspect I will go back to teaching my last few years of working but probably not at the elementary school level as I did when I started. I suspect I will probably focus more on high school or even community college students now. Not that I don’t love younger kids I just don’t have the energy to stand outside at recess anymore.

We setup a Skype camera in the living room as a trail to play with the new Logitech Skype camera. I have a few friends that Skype and so does Barb. With Microsoft owning the service it is a little more reliable now, then it was before.

Time to get rolling on a long Monday.

.doc

I was asked where my favorite place to visits was…


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Jordan asked me the other day what was my favorite place that I had visited in the world. I thought about it for a bit, I have memories of Bangkok. Copenhagen, Paris and Kabul that are different from my childhood than the same memories I have of those places in recent years (I haven’t been back to Kabul however). Bangkok of 1972 remains my favorite place to visit outside the US, but I can’t go back to that place and in all fairness I did live there during that time so it really isn’t as fair a comparison.

My mentor my first year of teaching always told me to think about great questions. She said that they get better when you spend time with them. Plus she said that you give the questioner real personal value when you take time to review questions. Its why I post them here on my blog when they come to me and make me think.

So Jordan, I’ve thought about my answer to your question. My favorite city to visit in the world is London. London because I have never had a bad visit there. Amsterdam is a close second with Bangkok. Bangkok of today is not the Bangkok I love so it is hard for me to both accept the change and to see the new Bangkok. Memories of the old city take over and I can’t see the new one some times.

But here is the reality of my answer. It depends. I have been to London with a dear friend and frankly that makes the city that much more fun in my mind than other cities. I also went to Paris with my family as a child and my beloved wife as an adult. So Paris, which isn’t high on my list because frankly French people aren’t the most pleasant, is much higher because of those two trips.

Reality is the destination is less and the company is more. Its about who you journey with.

That said, London, Amsterdam and Bangkok are all three places that I have fond memories of. I remember and will to my last breath the day spent wandering around Paris with Barb. Or the day we spent in Mexico City. Wandering around London with Chris was a fantastic experience I will not forget as well.

So Jordan, there is your answer.

.doc

To Barbara as she was 22 years ago, and as she is now…


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In just two days I will have been with Barb for 22 years. What began as a blind date set up by my roommate Sean has become other than my parents and sisters the single longest relationship in my life. When you think about how things start (in our case there are three things that happened that first night that remain the lore of our relationship – Potato Soup, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Jesus Christ). By the way as a religious person it isn’t Christ in the way one would normally include him – if you know Barb ask her.

We actually had our blind setup date on October 15 1990. Our “When Harry Met Sally Story” started many years before that however. As a high school senior on April 1, Barb wore a white bunny suit to school. As a high school freshman I asked her if she had the time,  a reference of course to the most famous white bunny of all time. She looked at me like I was crazy then. Many years later Barb and I were dating and attending a party, I was telling the story of the crazy white bunny in my school as a freshman that didn’t have the time, she got a funny look on her face and said “that was you.” We’ve laughed about that one for many years.

The second time we met was when Barb was waitressing at the Trojan Horse and a mutual friend tried to introduce us. Barb was busy and so was I and the second time didn’t take either.

The last time we were introduced was when we had both gone through painful divorces. In fact both divorces made both our families very uncomfortable for awhile. Barb and I met on October 15 for our blind date. We went out that following Sunday to a series of one act plays. Barb invited me to attend a friend of hers wedding the week after that on a Saturday.  Rebecca, her daughter asked us during that wedding why we didn’t just get married. We had been dating for 8 days. That evening I wrote a wedding proposal that talked about how wonderful Barb was. I decided to take her to the Carillon tower in Bloomington Indiana to propose as the sun was setting. As we were driving to the tower for my well planned and devised proposal, Barb proposed to me. Her only rule about getting engaged was that she wanted an engagement ring. Her ex had never bothered to buy her an engagement ring and it bothered her.

Our parents who were nervous before because of the two divorces, were now even more nervous. Our timeline was aggressive – we started dating October 15, 1990 were engaged by November 1, 1990 and married on June 15, 1991.

We have lived together in Indiana twice (Bloomington and Greenwood), Cincinnati Ohio and now Maryland. In the course of those 22 years we have gone to a number of countries (Thailand, Cayman Island, Bahamas, Mexico (3 times) and France). We have had three wonderful children – who are without a doubt the most fantastic people I’ve ever met.

So 2 days early, thanks Barb for 22 wonderful years.

.doc

Come on Guys–let’s talk about education!


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I work around people for whom the concept of service is simply the day they work. They, the people I am fortunate to work around, focus on doing the right things and moving this country forward. From Military to Civilian agencies they are focused on building and doing the right things for this country. Please accept my humble admiration and a huge thank you for your service.

Reflection for Today

The problem with the road less traveled is that it isn’t paved.

 

Any four left turns going equa-distance between the turns leaves you back where you started. It seems to me listening to the debates that both sides are basically making four equa-distance left turns. I don’t think either side has a particularly innovate idea that will help the people listed above.

The movie Roller Ball is a look a future controlled by corporations. You simply have to look around this country to realize that corporations don’t care as much about people as they probably should.

The other side isn’t the answer either.

The reality of of country today? We need to educate the people. Why did America win the space race? We were a distant 2nd in 1960. Yet by 1970 we were first, and now we are 2nd again. Why is that? Why?

Many years ago I wrote a series of essays about the concept of teaching and training. I’ve found over the years in reviewing how things are managed in this world that we have a small series of problems. In my book the Syncverse I talk through a model where we could greatly impact education at a very functional level without increasing the cost of that education. I called the concept the Eduverse.

Education is what won the space race. We started helping the best and brightest minds of our country. We didn’t cut taxes or increase the deficit. In fact the president at that time is one of only two in the past 60 years to balance the federal budget. Its not about the budget its about having a national agenda focused on education.

Not a equal shot for all – the same shot for all.

.doc

Shameless Review–1 year with a Mini-Cooper


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I have owned a car since I was about 17 years old. My first car purchase was an Old’s 98 a big car that you could literally camp in with a tent and camp fire and still have room left over. Over the years I have owned a number of different cars. I have for the vast majority of my life owned American cars. Not from some sense of loyalty or maybe out of some sense of loyalty I don’t know. Other than a Subaru (which we loved when we lived in Cincinnati Ohio) and a Toyota (Highlander that we just traded in) I’ve owned many more American cars.

The cars were always newer and for the most part for resale and comfort we’ve always bought cars with most of the bells and whistles. Overall during that time I thought of cars as a mode of transportation. Fun wasn’t really in the cards I simply used the car to go places. That changed when we traded in our Town and Country on a Mini-Cooper.

What I love about the Mini-Cooper

  • Navigation system is simply amazing –with a Sirius Traffic subscription you never have to worry about traffic (except of course in DC where you always worry about traffic but for different reasons).
  • The mini connects to my iPhone and makes both more fun.
  • Mini-connect the iOS application is the most fun you can have with a car and an application
  • the seats are amazing
  • The Harmon Kardon stereo is fantastic
  • I love listening to Sirius/XM radio so that adds even more
  • USB port for updating the car, playing music off a USB key or charging your iPhone!!!!
  • The car is simply fun to drive – even when you are sitting still in traffic
  • Service/repair and dealership – simply a fantastic customer experience – both the first dealer we bought from (Indiana) and the second we bought from (Maryland)

By way of disclaimer we loved the Mini-Convertible so much we ended up trading our Toyota Highlander in for a Mini-Countryman. The countryman is an all wheel drive Mini-Cooper. Both cars are amazing to drive. You can drive them as manual cars or automatic. The paddles for downshifting are located on the steering wheel.

The cars make a solid thunk when you close the door. The Convertible has a little more road noise than the Countryman but it isn’t too bad even at highway speeds.

If you are in the market for a new car – stop by your local Mini-Cooper dealer. If you live in the Rockville area, stop by the fantastic Mini of Montgomery Country (passport) those guys are simply amazing.

.doc