The Weekly Watch

Fertile Soils and Fertile Minds

The YouTube algorithm has delivered some interesting comments/statements by teachers on my feed. I want to share a few of those. I'm so glad my teaching career was in a smaller rural school with quite a different environment. At any rate those interviews make it obvious why we don't have a thinking, civil population. My original notion for today's column was to focus on soil fertility. This is really the time of year to address that, so when its time for spring planting the soil is already prepared. Then I started putting these two concepts together in my mind...we can use agricultural practices to make soil fertile and we can use educational techniques to create healthy fertile minds capable of independent thought. Both touch the future in profound ways.

fertile minds.jpg

Let's start with the challenges teachers face in some schools...
Award winning teacher Kerstin Westcott resignation speech in Green Bay School.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SRCY8FqoyQ (13 min)

Here's a similar story from a retired teacher. Lee McNulty is now retired after 27-years as a public school teacher in Paterson, New Jersey. His descriptions of the school in which he worked, a regular district public school, are chilling.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVNC_R260pA (13 min)

There are many other nightmarish stories. No wonder teachers have been striking.

Chicago teachers went on strike Thursday, marching on picket lines after failing to reach a contract deal with the nation’s third-largest school district in a dispute that canceled classes for more than 300,000 students.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/chicago-teachers-strike-say-issue-is-s...

Several teachers explain what issues they face...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qz7dysrSFw (4 min)

So how do we improve schools?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOZocYcttO4 (4 min)

We could look at how Finland developed the highest preforming educational system.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHHFGo161Os (10 min)

We could listen to outstanding educators like:
https://dianeravitch.net/
https://deborahmeier.com/

I found this "America in One Room" project quite interesting...
https://helena.org/projects/america-in-one-room
Suggesting we are capable of listening and learning from one another.

When I was in high school in Birmingham there was a conference of all the high school student government members in the entire county (at least they were all invited). There were break out sessions on the Vietnam war, feminism, sex, civil rights, and so on. This conference held at UAB, led to a year long exchange between the participants...writing workshops, a play was written and performed, church visitations, even school assembly exchanges. How can you learn to understand differences when you never encounter other people and cultures? I've often thought this exchange should be promoted in all communities.

plant seeds.jpg

Learning is a life long process. We all listen and learn from one another, and a variety of other voices. Chris Hedges is one of my faves. He was back this week with Matt and Katy in a great interview about his career and the culture of the NYT.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riXEEwhJ4N8 (he comes on at the 10 min mark or so)
(part one if you missed it last week - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjMiUJuEPPE )
Chris gave this sermon last Sunday
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-age-of-radical-evil/

Chris Hedges talks to Marion Nestle, New York University professor of nutrition, on how food companies distort the science and research into what we eat. In her book ‘Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew The Science Of What We Eat,’ Nestle explains that the food industry follows the formula pioneered by the tobacco industry – cast doubt on the science, fund research to provide desired results, offer gifts and consulting arrangements to buy silence or loyalty, use front groups, promote self-regulation and personal responsibility, and use the courts to challenge critics and dismantle regulations.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo3p3PpNRT8 (27 min)

Lee Camp had a great intro to his show this week calling out the US as a rogue nation.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zEDxd7KGQ4 (1st 5 min or so)

Caitlin Johnstone is also a good educator. https://caitlinjohnstone.com/
I liked her article this week...
"Russian Asset” Is A Meaningless Noise War Pigs Make With Their Face Holes
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/10/19/russian-asset-is-a-meaningless-n...

Jimmy Dore is doing good work too. Trying to educate America about its political system. He had several excellent pieces this week...
He tackled the NYT hit piece on Tulsi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_iJsy-bJ-k (35 min)
He explains to Bernie how to address Biden's weaknesses.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j8SgkGpz_Q (22 min)
He examines WARren's flip flops
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5KZcQ5BRuM (18 min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEfzE6qLmS4 (22 min)

Aaron Mate' and Ben Norton had a great discussion about Syria and foreign policy this week.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UlC8OSoDgk (the entire podcast 1.2 hours)
There are also smaller bites...
US allies supported ISIS in Syria - and Washington knew it all along
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs7RiJL_Zmo (9 min)
Western pundits who lobbied for Syrian rebels now admit they are jihadist extremists.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tkg4wJFpc_E (11 min)
Israel helped al Qaeda and other jihadist 'rebels' in Syria
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2f7YlNojevA (9 min)

Moon of Alabama always has an interesting take on foreign policy..this week looking at Syria. https://www.moonofalabama.org/

The World Socialist web site - wsws.org - is one of the few outlets supporting Julian and Chelsea.
UN official’s briefing on torture of Assange boycotted by US media
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/10/18/melz-o18.html

Assange is also supported by https://consortiumnews.com/

So those are a few of the sites and sources I use for self education. I hope you'll add some of your favorites in your comments. Because like our health, we must be in charge of the information we consume. Even in a good school you must walk the path to what you want to learn.

220px-Horizons.gif

Soils...
https://www.soils4teachers.org/fertility

If you prepare your garden this time of year, it will be ready for planting in the spring with high fertility. In my established beds, I use manure from a nearby horse farm. We've dug two of our four beds of sweet potatoes. This is a perfect time to apply manure and a straw mulch cover. All winter the soil biome works on these nutrients to make them available to your spring plants.

I like this Brit's approach to creating no-dig beds. Charles demonstrates and explains two methods of clearing weeds to grow vegetables, without digging soil or removing any weeds or soil. Mulches were applied at his Homeacres garden during the past 6-12 months, and you see the results: crops taken, while soil is being cleared of weeds, some of which were vigorous perennials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mmv2zGfhG8w (6 min)
https://charlesdowding.co.uk/

Geoff Lawton has a permaculture approach to gardening and fertility. He uses more perennials which involves the mixing of species.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZXBxtpq3E (14 min)

Here's an approach to minimize your work to build fertility...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajIB1xWx7oU (7 min)

If you don't have a garden plot you can still think about gardening with a grow tower...
How to easily build a self sustaining grow tower for only a few dollars! Grow 50-75 plants in three square feet! All organic, no fertilizing, no weeding, no hassle system that produces a lot of food in a small space, with very little work.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG6HN2bPsVU (11 min)

positive.jpg

We are responsible for our own education. The only person who knows your interest is you. When I went to ag school in the 70's, organic ag wasn't in vogue. I went to the library and started educating myself, reading books from the 30's...Sir Albert Howard, Louis Bromfield, Edward Faukner, F. H. King, Lady Eve Balfour, Ruth Stout, Masanobu Fukuoka, and many others. These voices from the past taught me as much and really more than my course work. I took those lessons with me when I became a teacher. I learned the most from my degree when we did real things...pruned and grafted fruit trees, worked bees and gathered honey, surveyed landscapes and designed water flow, visited working farms, and so on. I want my students to do not just regurgitate. I put my students in teams around tables, gave each team interesting projects and had them report their findings to the other teams. I established an arboretum and each year we planted trees. We made solar ovens. Worked with other schools to measure shadows and calculate the planet's size, and measured the speed of spring by reporting on the time of the daffodil bloom from school to school. We took daily weather measurements. I had very few discipline problems...nothing like the two stories which are at the top of this piece.

I'll close by wishing you all fertile creative lives and the best of good health. Happy gardening!

Share
up
19 users have voted.

Comments

magiamma's picture

Thanks for another great OT. My education began in my first college ceramics class at age 19. We were taken to the glaze room. Shown the huuuge periodic table on the wall, shown all the bins below the table full of glaze chemicals, and told we were expected to have a glaze of our own on our first pots at the end of the term - using mole weights. We were expected to have fired one of the large kilns as well. At one point I asked how fast I could dry a pot I was working on and was told to make three, put one on top of the kiln, one in direct sun and one in the shade. We learned how to build kilns, dig and process clay and have a good time to boot. All said, I learned to think critically as much as anything. Thanks for all the links on gardening. Bookmarked again! Be well...

up
11 users have voted.

Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

Lookout's picture

@magiamma

We once visited a friend going to Alfred College in NY
http://www.alfredceramics.com/
and saw their ceramics lab. It was impressive as was their art.

All the best. Glad you came by. Sorry I missed my usual visit to your Thursday OT.

up
6 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Lookout's picture

I've not been watching much in the way of news this week. Some music buddies from Ohio were passing through and spent some time with us. So I didn't review many of my usual sources like the real news and common dreams. There were some good pieces at both sites.

Like the possibility of Palestinian unity.
https://therealnews.com/stories/palestine-election-hamas-fatah-13-years

More on the Chicago teachers strike.
https://therealnews.com/stories/chicago-teachers-strike-for-children-ser... (21 min sorry no text)
But here's an article https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/10/18/demanding-education-justice...

Bill Black looks at Bernie's worker empowerment policy...(20 min sorry no text)
https://therealnews.com/stories/sanders-workers-corporate-boards-shares-...

An excellent piece looking at the reasons democracy is failing...
https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/10/15/legalized-political-corrup...

Anyway a few sources for those looking for more news.

up
9 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

ppnortney's picture

Consortium News and especially their weekly live broadcast. They're always informative, they interview people from all over the world who can provide insight into current events and I always learn something new.

The CN Live from Oct. 11th included interviews with anti-war activists Brian Becker of the Answer Coalition; and Kevin Zeeze and Margaret Flowers, co-directors of the anti-war Popular Resistance (video is marked at the beginning of the latter interview).

Good information about how these groups collaborate with other activist groups, how public opinion can and does constrain the government, the different strategies employed that actually get public opinion before the government and how even when we aren't hearing about large protests, effective activism is still occurring. A Harvard study from two years ago shows that when independent, alternative media creates an echo chamber of consistently reported facts and background on a topic that the corporate media is propagandizing, and then these are disseminated via social media, it can change the narrative. So, in effect, we each become the media ourselves by sharing these reality-based reports through whatever social media we use or in activist groups we're involved with, etc. That was one of the most hopeful things I've heard in a while.

up
10 users have voted.

The smaller the mind the greater the conceit. --Aesop

Lookout's picture

@ppnortney

Did you catch Chris interview with Kevin Zeeze and Margaret Flowers last week? Really good
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPsejRx4dsU (28 min)

I caught a couple of their long form sessions on Assange.

Thanks for the suggestion!

up
7 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

The dedicated women and men who enlightened us and the sadistic jerks who tormented us. Sadly, the latter outnumber the former and turned most of my classmates away from education. Oh, most of them went to college and got their degrees, having learned how to regurgitate the "correct" answer on demand, but their natural desire to learn was squelched. Look at most any pre-schooler. These innocents are eager to learn and in wonder at the world around them. Look at them after a few years in school. Incurious, intent on just getting out of class. Their natural desire to learn (a survival skill) destroyed by cruel sadists.

up
7 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

Lookout's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

Bucky Fuller had a line that went something like...

The child wants to understand universe. The teacher says we must start with A,B,C and learning never gets back to the whole.

Schools are a far cry from what they should be...learning communities.
5 min

up
9 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout
There is education and training. We all need training, such as spelling, reading, writing keyboarding"(ugh!) in order to function in the world. Most of us don't "need" education. Those of us who enjoy PBS specials about ancient Egypt, need it. Those who couldn't give a rat's patoot, don't. A key error in the concept of democracy is that everyone is educated and understands the issues. But other systems either don't have "consent of the governed" or assume that some people are superior beings by birthright.

It always amazed me that classmates could memorize the batting averages of dozens of baseball players but couldn't remember that seven times six is forty two despite drill in the multiplication tables year after dreary year.

As a teacher maybe you can explain this:
In first grade we were taught reading (Kindergarten or pre-school now). There was this big book with with pictures and simple sentences like "See Spot Run". One of my classmates was in the hot seat with "Run, Jane, Run". He said, "{pause} Run {longer pause} Jane, {infinite pause}" I wanted to scream out "RUN, it's RUN, can't you see that the third word is the same as the first!" I could understand not knowing that r-u-n spells run, but forgetting it five seconds later?

up
5 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

Lookout's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

...or might have been pulling everyone's leg. That's my off the hip guess.

Lots of folks have stage fright when reading aloud. My mom was a teacher and I knew how to read when I went to school so I didn't have any pressure. My weak skill continues to be spelling. Spell check has helped me identify the words I habitually misspell.

When we are motivated we learn. That's why it is important to tap into students interest as well as expose them to new things which might become interest. I agree with the progressive education movement of the 30's...the goal is workers who are intellects, and Intellects that can do work. We need more training in the trades throughout the school experience. Plus we need more democratic processes embedded within our ed experience.

and if frogs had wings...

up
5 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

lotlizard's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness  
she and the other blind kids were handed in order to learn reading was a Braille version of one of those Dick and Jane readers.

How unthinking does an educational establishment have to be, that the very first line blind kids are supposed to learn is “Look, look, look“?

up
4 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

@lotlizard

...but it should be. I was at a conference and Newt was speaking about the use of computers in schools. His vision was everyone learning from their own screen...computers replacing teachers. My question to him was, "How is the computer going to hug a child?"

up
5 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout

up
2 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

Thanks Lookout for so many things to keep me reading on this lazy Sunday. Have done most of my chores and so now can relax for awhile. The education system is in real trouble but to me it is symptomatic of our society in general. Like, The Voice.....said, look at the preschooler so interested and then the teaching of the test begins in elementary school!

Much of the violence the students are bringing to class are what they hear and see outside the classroom. The Finnish teachers were very interesting to listen to and would be great if our schools could do like they do instead of rote memorization, etc.

Thanks for all the gardening tips as well. Always looking for some ideas on how to grow a little as I move back and forth between Texas and Santa Fe. We are forecast to get a light dusting of snow during the night on Thursday. We will see.

Have a good week and thanks for all the articles you give us each week.

up
7 users have voted.

Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

Lookout's picture

@jakkalbessie

Thanks for your weekly visits and comments. Makes the column worthwhile knowing people enjoy it.

Have a great Sunday and a lovely week!

up
5 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

snoopydawg's picture

@jakkalbessie

have to deal with. Instead of being sent to the principal's office the kids are being arrested by school resource officers. Just recently a 6 year old girl was arrested. Can't remember what her 'crime' was, but it's something that used to just get a talking to about. Her parents were lived that it happened. Close to 1,000 kids were arrested last year.

Lots of kids are homeless or living in poverty and they get shamed if their parents can't pay for school lunches. How does one learn in these types of environments?

up
4 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Lookout's picture

@snoopydawg

We are taught to blame first and then punish. Healing and support are our last response.

For example, the thought that drug addiction is a health issue not a legal one is totally ignored. Portugal has good effects decriminalizing all drugs. But science and evidence isn't part of our lexicon. Hence the climate disaster, endless war, and so on...

up
2 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@snoopydawg over school stuff.
They criminalize everything at my local school

up
2 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

@on the cusp

So many tells of the collapse of this system everywhere. Jailing children is just one of many. Sad state.

up
2 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Anja Geitz's picture

I was shocked by how many teachers were completely burnt out and just going through the motions. But what really sealed the deal for me was the mind numbing bureaucracy of the Dept. of Ed. By the time I graduated, I knew I wasn't going to be teaching with the public school system. It's a pity because I always felt I would've been a good teacher and had a lot to offer.

Thanks for the OT and the links.

up
7 users have voted.

There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. ~ Minnie Aumonier

Lookout's picture

@Anja Geitz

It is difficult not to burn out. There is no other profession that tries to weed out the most promising practitioners. We give new teachers the most difficult students, three or more different preparations, and make them wander from room to room with no home of their own. Smart people say f this. Good teachers that last were called to the profession. There are few of these good souls.

I figured out about midway through my career that I worked for the kids, the administrators worked for me, and I started treating them like they were my employees. I had tenure and served as a teacher advisor to the state dept of ed. which threatened them so that didn't hurt either. In my class we did projects to enhance thinking skills and problem solving. TPTB never could understand why my student test scores were so high when I refused to do the stupid boring testing practice work. But the scores also helped insulate me from the BS.

Sadly I no longer recommend teaching as a profession to young folks for the very reasons you stated.

Glad you're happy with your life now. That's the real gift!

up
8 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Selection_001_9.pnglink

American-made weaponry has fallen into the hands of rival militia groups in Yemen, some of whom have turned their arms against each other in a bitter and worsening conflict, a new CNN investigation has found.
Fresh evidence shows that military hardware that was supplied to US allies has been distributed in contravention of arms deals to militia groups, including UAE-backed separatists. They are now using it to fight the Saudi-supported forces of the internationally recognized government, who are also armed with US weapons.
These new findings follow an exclusive investigation by CNN in February which traced US-made equipment that was sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The weapons were being passed to non-state fighters on the ground in Yemen, including al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, the report found, in violation of arms sales law.
up
6 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

@gjohnsit

...but there are many others.

Do you think Yemen is going to drone the Saudis again? I think about the time they get the repairs completed since the last foray was so successful...six lives lost, but better than a school bus full of kids like we drone.

Thanks for the link. I wonder about the CNN motivation for this piece. It's not like them to point out our idiot wars other than encourage them.

All the best!

up
8 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”