The Eagle and the Raven

I love this from college.  We spent about three hours on it one afternoon:

An Eagle, flying down from his perch on a lofty rock, seized upon a lamb and carried him aloft in his talons.

A Raven, who witnessed the capture of the lamb, was stirred with envy and determined to emulate the strength and flight of the Eagle. He flew around with a great whir of his wings and settled upon a large ram, with the intention of carrying him off, but his claws became entangled in the ram’s fleece and he was not able to release himself, although he fluttered with his feathers as much as he could.

The shepherd, seeing what had happened, ran up and caught him. He at once clipped the Raven’s wings, and taking him home at night, gave him to his children.

On their saying,

“Father, what kind of bird is it?’

he replied,

“To my certain knowledge he is a Raven; but he would like you to think an Eagle.”

Ownership of the anticipated rhyme

“Rhyming and echoing were important in preschool learning. Little ones find comfort in the patterns but also take some ownership of the anticipated rhyme.” – my mom

My mom and I were talking about gameplay today.  How a “get out of jail free” card makes you feel in Monopoly.  How learning and fun are constructed from (or at least always include) emotional echoes.  Surprises.  Recognition.  Comfort.  Relief.  Connection.  Ownership.  Resilience, etc..

In the movie, Witness, the Amish grandfather admonishes the boy: “What you put into your hand you put into your heart.”  Which might also be expressed as: What you put into your heart, you put into your hand.  When you feel, you participate.  When you anticipate, you engage.

Personal Helicon

As a child, they could not keep me from wells

And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.

A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.

Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Seamus Heaney


What is learning like?

  • Content is discovered as belonging to a larger pattern
  • Skills are developed to interrogate specific content

How do teachers plan this?

  • They curate content by knowing patterns of content
  • They introduce relevant skills for specific content.

What happens to the student?

  • They discover content and the relevance of its pattern.
  • They don’t see the pattern and miss the content.
  •  They develop skills and its application to content.
  • They don’t develop skills and the content loses meaning.
  • They learn something else by accident.

How do you organize a classroom:

  • to let students discover content at their own pace?
  • to address moments when students miss the pattern of the content?
  • to let students develop skills at their own pace?
  • to address moments when students don’t develop the skill?
  • to increase happy coincidences when students learn something else by accident?

What do you mean by accident?

  • Serendipity: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
    • (happy) chance, (happy) accident, fluke; good luck; good fortune; prividence; happy coincidence
    • from Horace Walpole’s 1754 observation of three heroes who “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of” in the fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip.

What are options to planning learning?

  • How can content be organized in small, interchangeable, atomic pieces?
  • How can content become self-discovered using what teachers know?
  • How can skills become self-developed using what teachers know?
  • How can content assessment become self-measured using what teachers know?
  • How can skill assessment beome self-measured using what teachers know?

Girl in the tree! Girl in the tree!

From my friend Sri in NY: “it’s 2 p.m. we are between the vets and the union plumbers, in the march but moving very very slowly—-soooo many people! to our left, there was a girl up in a tree, probably about 12 years old, chanting her little ass off. She had a bunch of posters and kept switching them up, changing the chant with every poster, and she was LEADING the crowd. She was fearless and untiring. Because of the slow momentum we were there for quite a few minutes and she led maybe ten rounds of chanting. After a while, in awe of her and in love with her, the crowd started chanting, “Girl in the tree! Girl in the tree!” #resist

Seven Fires for cooking

1) a parilla grill with a mother fire supplying it with charcoal.  2) a chapa griddle.  3) horno de barro, a wood oven. 4) caldero cauldron. 5) rescoldo, cooking in ashes. 6) infiernillo, cooking between two fires.  7) asador, cooking things standing over a fire on an iron cross.


Chef Magnus Nilsson.  Sweden’s Fäviken restaurant.  Mind of a Chef. Season 3. Episodes 9-16.  He ponders: 1) the sources of influence, 2) the crunchiness of electricity leaving the body of a trout, and 3) the ways that limits provoke creativity. I also love the Norse origin myth where a cow, standing at the yawning gap of nowhere, licks a block of ice until Ymir falls out of it.

Sweet pickle justice

This giant in my life (father-in-law) just made North Carolina law with a unanimous Supreme Court decision. The justices said that the State Bar had no jurisdiction trying to discipline his client who is a sitting judge. This protects all judges in NC from politically motivated attacks. We are celebrating with homemade mustard slaw, fresh tuna salad, and sweet pickles jarred by his sister using their mother’s (Annie Belle Hall Shearin) secret recipe.


Praise: Nobel Prize for Literature

Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, I got my signals crossed
Just to think that it all began on an uneventful morn
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm