Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I Seem To Be A Verb...



I have recently become more familiar with the life and times of Buckminster Fuller. When I think deeply about the spirit of inquiry, I find it useful to learn about those who personify it, and Buckminster, or "Bucky" as he was oft referred to, had to be a premium example.

In his 1970 book I Seem To Be a Verb, he wrote,
I live on Earth at present, and I don't know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe. Buckminster Fuller
This quote reminded me of  Robert Sylwester, another individual that beyond a shadow of a doubt for me, personifies the spirit of inquiry, I think mostly because of the Buckminster Fuller reference to "being a verb." Verbs connote actions, or movement. In another post here I explained that we (human beings) are in constant motion; traveling in simultaneous physical, psychological, emotional and cognitive realms. Robert Sylwester characterizes this need to be in motion ...
The planning, regulation, and prediction of movements are the principal reasons for a brain. Plants are as biologically successful as animals, but they don’t have a brain. An organism that’s not going anywhere of its own volition doesn’t need a brain. It doesn’t even need to know where it is. What’s the point? Being an immobile plant does have its advantages however. Plants don’t have to get up every day and go to work because they’re already there. 
On the other hand, if an organism has legs, wings, or fins, it needs a sensory system that will inform it about here and there, a make-up-its-mind system to determine whether here is better than there or there is better than here, and a motor system to get it to there if that’s the better choice – as it is, alas, when we have to go to work.
I think that learning can be described as movement; multiple journeys over a lifetime in the simultaneous physical, psychological, emotional and cognitive realms. I believe the process of inquiry provides us with opportunities to travel the most engaging pathways on these journeys, perhaps fortunately, the ones less traveled by.

Buckminster Fuller and Robert Sylwester both present learning as a process that does not stand still. Young children certainly understand that learning doesn't stand still. They have a hard time standing still for any reason. Moving and evolving (aka learning) is a natural state for kids. In another post here I addressed the natural learning tendencies of preschool kids. Kids have massive learning potential in the first five years of life before educators even meet them in kindergarten. Kids are curious, inquisitive and unafraid for the most part to make learning mistakes. Play is learning for them in these formative years. Virtually everything they do at this stage of life teaches them something. It seems like Buckminster and Robert are on to something.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fair Isn't Equal; Equal Isn't Fair

fair
adjective \ˈfer\
  • agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable
  • treating people in a way that does not favor some over others
  • not too harsh or critical
"Fair." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

equal
adjective \ˈē-kwəl\
  • the same in number, amount, degree, rank, or quality
  • having the same mathematical value
  • not changing : the same for each person
"Equal." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

If something is to be fair according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary it has to be 'right' and 'acceptable,' and it has to avoid favoritism and overtly directed criticism.

If something is to be equal according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary it has to be measured in 'sameness' and cannot change.

Seems pretty simple. What I'm thinking about a lot lately though, is the lack of simplicity in these definitions as they move from Merriam-Webster to practice in the world. In many cases it appears  that something can be perceived as very fair, but perhaps not very equal. It also appears that some things can be perceived as very equal, but not very fair.

Another word that inevitably enters the debate around fair vs. equal to make matters even more confusing is 'equity.'

equity
noun eq·ui·ty \ˈe-kwə-tē\
  • fairness or justice in the way people are treated
"Equity." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

Equity reflects what we do. It's a noun. Equity is what results when we're able as individuals or groups to treat people fairly and in just ways. Because fair is not necessarily equal, I think that we can say that equity may contain elements of being equal, but being equal is not required to create equity.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Exclusion Is Like A One Way Window...

Exclusion by Gabriel Kronisch, on Flickr
"Exclusion" (CC BY 2.0) by  Gabriel Kronisch

I'm feeling pretty down today. I haven't written here in a very long time, but today I feel like I have to in an attempt to understand what is really, really bothering me on the deepest levels of my soul; exclusion, and the heartache that goes with it every time.

It's hit me pretty close to home recently on different levels, but no more powerfully than during the past few days when the most caring, dedicated and accepting person I know on earth has been crushed through a single act of exclusion committed by a person who would have previously been considered a very unlikely perpetrator.

I have always thought of exclusion as the absolute most insidious form of bullying. I've been victimized by it myself many times, and so have many people I love. If I do one thing as a husband, father, teacher, mentor, coach etc, I strive to ensure that nobody has to feel the emotional pain and stress that accompanies being excluded. Once it's already happened though, it is so hard to know what to do in support of healing and recovery.

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