Monday, October 30, 2006

The Quickest Way To Reach The Destination Is By Submitting To the Journey

It has been a whirlwind here. And still, it is that - a resounding quiet within. My project, “Rapping On Walls” at The Tower Of London progresses at an astonishing pace. It has become a tremendously successful project. I am well pleased.

I had thought I’d be working with older people - 15 and 16 year olds. Instead, I’ve been working with 12, 13 and 14 year old kids from Tower Hamlets who are in Pupil Referral Units. (You get into a PRU by being so antisocial that you have been excluded from school. Or, you are just an immigrant who doesn’t speak the Queen’s English well enough. )

I’ve been trying to get these kids to write text pieces in the voices of the walls of the Tower. (During the first session, the majority of them wouldn’t even tell me their name. That was a 1/2 hour exercise... building trust.)

One week ago, we hit our fourth session and we have had a major break through. They’ve written some fantastic poems! And gasp! They’ve written two group poems without me! Because they wanted to!

Videographer, Jason Larkin and I will work with the kids on turning these into word videos. Just in the nick of time to shoot this week!

I’ve been blessed that the teachers at the PRU who are overseeing the project have been willing to work together as a group. I’m lucky that they’ve been willing to engage in the project fully and without hesitation. The support from the Tower staff, the active participation of the teachers, the kids and I have all energised this project.

What is even more exciting - is that the teachers have been willing to use their own classroom time to heighten the enthusiasm of the kids. They've been using my exercises, creating their own, introducing movies and discussions about Tower history. It has gotten the kids so excited that....the teachers are "rewarding them" for their good behaviour by promising to take them on field trips to other historical sites!

But, more importantly, we - as a group - have single-handedly changed the perception of PRU kids! At the beginning, any interaction with the kids by Tower staff was greeted with harumphs and great sighs about “performing one's duty.” But, my kids have fallen so deeply in love with The Tower - that there is quite a buzz about the project. If all great things come to pass as I believe they shall - there will be an unbelievable update forthcoming!

We did have one typical PRU incident.... They had new Royal Guards the other day. The kids are fascinated by them. I have two very pretty and verbal girls who decided they were going to make them laugh. And they did - during the Changing Of the Guard!!!! (They never laugh. It is one of the favourite things tourists like to do. They never succeed. ) Their Sergeant was so angry that as they left, the marched straight towards my kids, shouted, "Make way for the Queen's Guard!" so loudly the kids all jumped and scrambled out of their way. I feel bad for the guards. They were disciplined for it. And it's not nice to tease the guards. But - it was pretty funny that they did it. I guess they’ve really begun to internalise the power of the spoken word. But, that one incident - making a Royal Guard commit G.O.D....Giggling On Duty - has been forgiven.

Finally, this project has served to demonstrate that the philosophy of directed autonomy is such an effective teaching style. And it gives me hope for my journey with Winston. Unschooling is so much harder than traditional education! Every week, I scrambling to find a way to support their interests, create activities which will hold their focus and in general follow their lead.

All of us are having so much fun learning together! It gives me so many ideas about fixing the educational system using theories about autonomous education combined with the power of the high student -teacher ratios. I think - if only....if only...

Then - I think back to Yellow Springs, Ohio and The Antioch School. I have seen these theories successfully in action. I know - somewhere in the world it is real and it is working. I just hope it continues to spread outward and onward.

I sense one day, I may just become a master teacher...like Jeannie , Ann, Kit and Chris. It is not very far away. It will be in this moment that I will have realised my higher self.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gigan

for professionals who practice attachment parenting

choice box overflowing hard
won wisdom of a second chance.

cream tattered newspaper clippings.
coffee stained recollections. frayed, flattened
crepe paper. oil marked memorials.

love. and tumours forcing eyeballs from sockets
joy. and adolescent bile swished like wine

over taste.....buds,.....opportunity...clots
drag me to the door. ear pressed to wood.

a silent refusal. pretending emptiness.
choice box overflowing hard

love’s humours force brains from sockets
Grandmaster Flash - Bach - Holiday - Smith - Chilli Pepper -
Carmen - wake up and then witness West Side

stories mutter. See: spot marked “x.” your hands mine.
eyes cloud read. tut-tut at lightning. sky is full. drink.

Note:
The ............. are the original white space I inserted into the poem but can not get blogger to recognise.

The form: 'gigan' was invented by Ruth Ellen Kocher. Find it here. It is a very evocative form which Ruth executes exquisitely.

A Gigan is basically:

16 lines
couplet, triplet, couplet, couplet, couplet, triplet, couplet
line 1 repeats as line 11
line 6 repeats as line 12.
last couplet turns the subject askew

This is my first attempt. I’ve got it wrong. But - I’ll keep trying.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The NHS Should Be Grateful For My Daughter

Those of you who’ve been with me for awhile will remember Imani’s stroke last year. Here we are again, a year later and I’m just thrilled that she’s nearby this time.

Imani came home (to London) for the weekend. On Saturday night she was hospitalised. Tests revealed that she has a pulmonary embolism. (Translation - she has several blood clots in her lungs.) For you medical types out there - we are fortunate that they are not on any major arteries.

Today, she’s feeling a lot better. Less pain. Less blood when she coughs. I’m grateful. But, more so - I’m finding myself so proud of her.

She's appalled by the UK hospitals. Her ward doesn't even have rooms. Imagine the curtained cubicles in an American ER with six people to a room. The doctors don't work weekends - unless someone needs to have meds authorised. Then, they page the on-call doctor. There are four weekend on-call doctors to serve the entire hospital. And the other doctors only work 9 - 5, Monday through Friday.

The nurses don't really do much. Imani calls them "glorified waitresses serving up people their lives." Imani's been quite the candy striper, since she's felt better. She’s been keeping herself occupied by:

* Helping the old ladies take their medicine - the ones who can't pour their own water or hold a cup to drink. (Yes, the nurses just set the meds down on the table and leave.)

* Soothing the frustrated children of senile patients.

* Soothing senile patients.

* Drawing portraits of patients and making them look pretty.

* Running to the nurses station for old ladies who are in pain or trapped on bed pans, but can't get anyone to help them because their call buttons don't work.

They'll either be happy or sad to see her go. Happy because they can get back to neglecting their patients. Or sad because she provides support to them and improves the quality of care for patients.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Scavenger’s Daughter Asks Raven If They Will Now Flee?

(on the passing of the Military Commission Act of 2006)

waterboarding

saline sunshine hard rippled burnished sand
cerulean azure aqua Tarfia winded bays
mornings bobbing alongside watchful prophetic whales
paella nights settling dreams towards Morocco days

beach boys moan soothing california girls
mottled mammoth waves venerate Venice boys
avocado salsa velveeta drenched organic chips with sprouts
black holed by supple mouths with eyes that believe
they see Hawaii like Brigadoon

terrorist

sexy mirror glassed suave g-men
quietly stealing home from citizens in a foreign land.
swaggering a cowboy’s true colours finally
flying stripes like star-bellied criminals - on and off

for microphones biting sound into sense.
work-a-day men and women electrocuted by power
wand and strip pregnant women and toddlers.
undress the peaceful, take shoes from the newly shod
attempt to fling them sky-borne with clipped souls

law

my father’s consort and concubine
dragged from her home, stoned, holding
her head hoping higher justice returns
eternal rewards a soldier

accepts the point of his sword
hidden behind holly bushes. their winter promise
waxy tourmaline complimenting crimson,
colour stabs
nation’s heart. sleep.

sleep now.

her ample iron hips and slender top
sneer and beseech simultaneously.
raven turns his back. cocks his head. reads
the weathervane spinning atop the White Tower.

He caws. Only true decisive majesty
can hold him here. Her question swirling
like Thames mist conquering the space
between inner and outer curtain wall.
invisible footsteps on cobblestone.

Her body revolted, shivers the question again.