War and Fatal Attraction- Drones and Death

Considering the Drone Attack on the Hospital:

War is Hell
Friendly fire is never accurately depicted or understood
Fatal mistakes are made
Apologies are never enough
Reparations are never enough
It is easy to bomb the wrong thing from 10,000 miles away.
The smells and horrors of death are rarely or never seen by drone pilots or their commanders
The more we take the humans out of war the more inhumane it will become.

I keep thinking of Hamlet’s soliloquy where it seems to me he covers everything about living and death

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry, [
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered.[4]

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A Principled Principal- Gary Eyerly

I had two great principals to work for, as a classroom teacher, in my teaching career. The first was Terri Cunconan at Johnston Middle School in the 70’s and 80’s and my second was Gary Eyerly at Hiatt Middle School in the 90’s. Both principals shared the same educational virtues in totally different ways, Terri has been gone a while and Gary has just left us but the truth is with Gary’s passing I feel the loss of a generation of principals who understood teaching and teachers. A generation that depended on the human factor to get the job done that didn’t need to look in the manual to do what was right or give a test to determine if kids were learning. They were men who listened more than they talked, did more than they thought, and supported even when it hurt. In short men whose actions spoke louder than their words a rare commodity in education these days.

Gary Eyerly was my principal at Hiatt Middle School, what passes for a fairly tough middle school in Des Moines Iowa. Hiatt is a high poverty school , with lots of other problems piled on top. He hired experienced teachers because he knew the job and he wanted teachers who needed a challenge and wanted to work in an inner city school. He didn’t take the left over teachers we so often hear that are found in inner city schools and in doing so he assembled a staff that stayed and worked together often in difficult situations. I remember during my interview to be hired at Hiatt I said, “this is where I want to be.” and his almost immediate answer was , “ Your hired.” His leadership was quiet but firm, in short he was a principled principal . He believed in leadership, he believed in discipline, he believed in his teachers and the kids they worked with. He made teaching fun even when it was anything but fun. He always seemed to be there when you needed him and on the other side of the coin I believe his teachers were there for him when he needed them.
Oh he was human of that there is no doubt, He could be angry but it usually ended with a laugh. He made mistakes two memorable ones occurred when he casually threw a box of candy into the bleachers during an assembly trying to give it away but instead caused a 5 minute melee. Apparently because all those middle school kids were in a permanent state of starvation. And most memorably for me when shortly after hip replacement surgery he was kidding with a kid about who was fastest and then threw down his crutches and raced a kid down the hall , “ just because.” Later he said that little race set him back about a month in his recovery.
He always had something for his teachers on teacher appreciation day and yet he didn’t need to because we knew we were appreciated.
I guess the easiest way to say it is he understood that in education and life , “ You get what you give” He gave compassion, understanding, and strength to all of his teachers and students. (there may have been a few exceptions in the student area) I hope we gave it back
Rest in Peace Gary what you had is what we so dearly need in modern education and yet can no longer seem to find.

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Death by Political Correctness

Political Correctness destroys a teacher while she is in the process of teaching kids to be politically correct.

A teacher for 40 years, landed in hot water Sept. 18 when a student in her Advance Placement U.S. History class brought up the Redskins as a football team name and asked her what was the big deal.
“The kids kept saying, ‘It’s no big deal, it’s a football team,’” Pierce told the Newport News Daily Press Thursday. “I said, ‘How would you feel if people had a team named after another group?'”
WTKR-TV reported Thursday that Pierce then said to the class, “What would you think if someone started a team called the Newport News N—-r?”
At the end of the school day, an assistant principal informed the teacher she was being placed on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation to determine if she should be disciplined or allowed back in the classroom.

I am totally speechless at the impasse we have come to in this country where words overwhelm actions and intent is no longer a factor in any decision. I have been in a similar position over the use of Black vs African American during that transition. One of my favorite classroom moments came when one black kid said to another as part of the situation above,” Leave him be he don’t mean nothing by it.” Would the whole world be a better and safer place if we could follow the lead of that 8th grade student, and pay attention to the intent rather than the rhetoric?

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Change Is The Only Constant

Less than 100 years ago obesity was not a problem our schools were concerned about.


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No Pain… No Gain?

Children in general learn to not touch a hot stove by touching or nearly touching one. Not by someone telling them to not touch the stove. The experience is much more effective in imprinting the message in their memory than words will ever be. Do we do our children a favor by totally protecting them from the experience of emotional and physical pain? hot stove

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He Was A Ballplayer

yogiOn the passing of Yogi Berra I feel I must pass on his many mantras to the young. I was a catcher for much of my baseball career and he was my baseball and life guru, my philosophical foundation. His wisdom even now affects everything I do and say. I offer up some of his timeless wisdom. In short he was a ball player not a speech writer!

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
“It’s deja vu all over again.”
“I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four.”
“Never answer an anonymous letter.”
“We made too many wrong mistakes.”
“You can observe a lot by watching.”
“The future ain’t what it used to be.”
“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
“It gets late early out here.”
“If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.”
“Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
“Pair up in threes.”
“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
“He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”
“I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”
“I don’t know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.”
“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”
“I never said most of the things I said.”
“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
“I think Little League is wonderful. It keeps the kids out of the house.”
“Take it with a grin of salt.”
“We were overwhelming underdogs.”
“The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”
“You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

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For Some Every Day is Memorial Day

tankAs I was driving early this morning I noticed an elderly gentleman standing by one of the tanks that overlook the peaceful valley of Camp Dodge he stood alone, silently, gently touching the cold hard steel of the war machine with just the finger tips of one hand while his other was clenched at his side, His back bent and his head bowed in an attitude of prayer. One can only imagine where his tank had taken him and what he had lost and gained on the journey.

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