Sunday, 22 December 2013

A Tribute to Fresh Snow: A Morning Musing

Morning light revealed a light snowfall that has covered the ground, not more than an inch or two, but as I look out my window to the east, it is a winter wonderland.  Just in time for a white Christmas but this snow will not last three days without being refreshed.  Our sun melts it except above the snow line around 8000 feet.  And for that I am indeed grateful for the skiing has already begun.

For many years I have used the illustration of fresh snow, where there are no tracks, as the day that lies ahead.  Neither I nor anyone else has walked in it yet and there it is, untouched except perhaps by one of the animals or birds who are often ahead of their human counterparts.  The question that looms is what kind of tracks will I make?  What will I give to this day that lies ahead?  It has already blessed me with a new beginning and each encounter I have today will be like the snow, fresh with possibilities to make new tracks.

Each of us will go through our day today and how will it be different from any other day or will it be pretty much the same?  Or, because it is Sunday, as opposed to some other day of the week, and the first day of this coming week, will that affect me in some way that will influence my conscious intentions?  Several activities, commitments and plans are already laid and I know where I am going and how I will get there, at least for those few that I can see ahead.  I best get started!

We will go through this day, making new tracks in the snow, here and there, straight lines from A to B, wandering routes, meandering in thoughts and conversations, going wherever it seems to evolve through the synergy of the moment.  We will continue the process here of sorting and packing, getting ready for the movers who arrive January 3.  We will walk through the snow to our friends and neighbors for an early evening Christmas dinner and finally, we will get ready for a holiday trip tomorrow to a city and family some 583 miles away.

At the end of the day today, I shall look back and see what kinds of tracks I have made, review where I have gone, what I have done, who I met along the way, what was said, and perhaps anticipate what may lie ahead.  Then, with gratitude for the gift of yet another day, I will put it away, let it go and perhaps after a little reading, sink into a deep sleep of a winter's night.  As of right now, more snow is falling and had I made any tracks, that new, fresh snow would cover them and make ready for more tracks.  Just like another day being made ready for tomorrow.

Friday, 20 December 2013


On Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 10:11 AM MST (for me) the sun reached its southernmost point before starting back on its northward trek toward Spring.  You can calculate your own time accordingly.  Actually it has more to do with the tilt of the earth on its axis and its elliptical orbit but we will leave that to the astronomers.  I am just one of those who watches the sun regularly rise and set, notice where it is on the horizon, and give thanks, for I am blessed to be able to see the horizon most of the time. 
The winter solstice really only lasts a moment in time, and some of the other terms for the day on which this occurs, are "midwinter", "the longest night" or "the shortest day".  It really is not the shortest day or longest night.  It just refers to the amount of light within a 24-hour period.  And, it should not be confused with "the first day of winter" especially here in northern New Mexico where we have had lots of snow and cold since before Thanksgiving.  The sun was brilliant on the ski slopes last week.
What winter solstice signals for me is the return of the light as now the days start getting longer or rather there is a bit more daylight each day, just as it has been decreasing slowly each day since last summer’s solstice. This celebration of light is recognized and honored by many religious groups.  From the Roman Saturnalia to the Indian Pancha Ganapati to Hanukkah and Christmas, to the Persian Yalda and the birth of Mithra, and the recent creation of Kwanzaa in 1966, all kinds of cultures have found ways to pay special attention to our source of life and follow the sun.  
You may well celebrate this season with your family and friends, give gifts and light fires; you might take a walk in the woods or ski down a mountain or through a forest; you might read or pray or sing; many of us will eat and drink around a community table. Whatever you do, take some time to do something special that is worth remembering. Stop whatever you’re doing for just a moment in time, for that is what solstice is, a moment in time.  Mark it in your journal or on your calendar with your own special thought and experience and share it with your family and friends.  At the  least, be open to receive the blessings and gifts of the season and celebrate joyfully and gratefully.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Grateful for Change

Living where there are four distinct seasons is a reminder of preparing for and welcoming change, mostly a change in the weather. The accompanying  visual and visceral experiences range from the position of sunrise and sunset to variations in temperatures and colors and mother nature at her best.  On this Thanksgiving morning the sun bathed the clouds in a deep coral hue and then the color shifted slowly to a silvery, feathered array of scattered altostratus.

We have had some snow, more at the higher elevations where the ski areas are opening today as we hover ever closer to winter solstice in a little over three weeks.  The trees are bare and appear dormant as they overwinter in a resting phase with essential life processes continuing at a minimal rate. Full-on root growth resumes in spring, shortly after soils become free of frost, usually sometime before bud break.

Here in the high desert our first frost comes as early as October 15 and the last one as late as May 15.  While that makes for a short growing season, some of my farmer neighbors have found numerous ways to extend that on both ends of the cycle and thus we all benefit from their creative, dedicated energy and commitment.  If you have a local CSA, consider joining if you have not this past year.

As we plan to move from The River House after almost 9 years here in the midst of such natural beauty replete with various animals in our miniature peaceable kingdom, it’s an opportunity for a transition from one place to another, from one lifestyle to another with less maintenance and worldly cares.  This offers a measure of freedom and independence for us to work less and travel more. This change has been in the works for about a year and is now coming to fruition.

For all the time and pleasures we have enjoyed here with ourselves, our animals, our families and friends and good neighbors, we are enormously grateful.  We have been richly blessed by their presence, their genuine caring and generous sharing and we appreciate so many good times together.  We are grateful to now be able to choose to make this change while we have the time, the resources and good health to do so. There will be more changes, and as we all know well, not all may be the most desirable, but for those that are, thanks be to the gods of change!

Friday, 22 November 2013


(Moving toward Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013)
This phrase, “less is more” appeared in a love poem (line78) in 1855 by Robert Browning , “Andrea del Sarto” called The Faultless Painter. The phrase was adopted by Mies van der Rohe, an architect whom I studied briefly in an undergraduate course called “The House.”  He, along with a number of others, including Frank Lloyd Wright, were leaders in the minimalist movement that tried to scale things down rather than up, clean lines, good design. 
Since then that phrase “less is more” has been popularized by all kinds of movements and people from philosophers to musicans.  Most notable among these are St. Francis,  Ghandi, Albert Schweizer, Henry David Thoreau, and more recently, E. F. Schumacher in his 1973 work, Small is Beautiful, a study of economics as if people mattered.   Two musicians known for their work in this genre are Steve Reich and John Cage.   There are numerous others from many fields, some in the environmental movement.
Living a more simple life has been espoused by various religious and secular groups, including the Quakers. Related notions such as self-sufficiency, conspicuous consumption, sustainability, downsizing, intentional community, and the slow movement are all expressions from those who do not necessarily agree with the economics of a culture where GNP is the measure of success.  There are many people who believe that there are other values that could contribute to a meaningful and productive life so that that we do not base our worth on the market value of goods and services produced in one year.
What if we looked at a quality of life based not on how much we have but how much we can give?   What if the measure of a man or woman at the end of their lives was not how much they had accumulated but how much they had been able to give away?  Then we might have a bumper sticker that says the one who ends up with the least wins instead of the one who ends up with the most toys wins.  It seems to be true that simplicity and clarity which lead to good design applies to much more than objects. How about designing our lives around simple and clear rather than complicated and cluttered? 
The small house movement has gained in popularity the past few years as more and more people discover how efficient and economical it is to live in fewer square feet.  There is even a small house society whose tag line is “better living through simplicity.”  (  Thas is quite different from better living through chemistry!
You can find many people who live full time on boats of various sizes all over the world and we have met many fellow travelers on the road whose only residence is their RV or recreational vehicle.  These range in size and kind from small to large and ones that you pull behind a truck or that are self propelled by their own gas or diesel engines.  Most are self contained and are able to provide adequate and comfortable space along with the necessary functions of heat, light, cooking, bathing and even connectivity with the rest of the world.
We are taking a step in that direction ourselves.  We put our house and six acres on the market.  It’s currently under contract and we are planning to live for awhile in a house on wheels, read motor home, even if it doesn't sell.  Gypsies, someone said. No house or apartment, just wandering here and there, working and living on the road.  Our theme song could be Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”
That is but one illustration that affords a level of freedom, independence and a significant reduction in possessions, equipment and property that must be cared for, maintained and supported.  More importantly perhaps is asking this question. What would improve the quality of your life that is within your reach?  The answer may or may not have to do with “living space” but chances are at some point you will arrive at a time of transition and then you can design the change and make the choice.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Getting Ready, Set, Go

Last night was the full moon known as the Beaver Moon.  I did not know for sure why it was called that so looked it up in the Old Farmer's Almanac, a trusted source for many years, and here's what it said, "Full Beaver Moon – November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon."

That set me to thinking about how we, at least in the northern hemisphere, and in the northern climes of the northern hemisphere, prepare for winter.  On the farm, that preparation began with the Fall harvest, illustrated by the horn of plenty and the abundance of food.  That time was also characterized by putting up hay and straw in the barn, corn into the cribs, meat into the smokehouse, wood chopped and split for stove and fireplace, and canning that had been done from the garden supply of vegetables and fruits.  Those storehouses of supplies lasted well throughout the winter to feed family and animals while the ground was frozen and often covered with snow. 

Thanksgiving, a time to count our blessings, in just another ten days, is also a time of gathering family and friends who sit down for a meal featuring turkey with stuffing and all the preferred side dishes of cranberry this or that, sweet potatoes, vegetables, pies and cakes and you name it.  It is doubtful that the first Thanksgiving in 1621 had any turkey at all and Thanksgiving was not declared to be a national holiday until 1916.  While national holidays are largely symbolic, what we make of them personally and in the context of our families is up to us.  There are many ways to make them meaningful and memorable.

There is something about Fall, probably the change in the weather, that signals preparation for Winter and Thanksgiving used to be the time when it was OK to start thinking about the next holiday of Christmas.  Commercial enterprise has changed much of that and now it seems the stores make the shift at Halloween as in sooner is better, at least for the cash register.  Getting ready, the act of preparation, can be more important than the event itself.  I think about painting, for example.
Adequate preparation is at least half the job and most of us know the adage that poor preparation leads to a poor performance or outcome.  Yes, there are times when improvisation is just fine but change, whether in the seasons or in celebrations, requires a process of preparation that is valuable and worthwhile.

Here's a final note.  There appears to be some tension between all of the time and energy invested in getting ready and than being fully present in the moment for which one has prepared.  Perhaps the key lies in balance and being sure we can do both with the requisite and genuine enthusiasm that makes both getting ready and celebrating truly enjoyable and even exciting.   Get ready, set the table, celebrate!  Share the blessing and the joy in giving thanks and give that some thought in the next ten days, and beyond.

Friday, 15 November 2013

No Virtue in Being Busy

I receive at least a dozen or more emails, telephone calls or messages each week (I don’t text) that are filled with comments about how busy someone is and I am often guilty of the same kind of remark.   And for those who must travel for work, that adds a layer of time consumption, creating more pressure and stress on the schedule, calendar and one’s self.  Add up the demands and expectations of a family, a specific job or task, running a household, managing a business, dealing with the oxymoronic customer service, absorbing the news, being entertained, using the social media networks, watching and listening to others, and perhaps most importantly and more often neglected than not, taking care of ones own mind, body and spirit.

Yesterday my wife and I set out to winterize our mist away system for the elimination of mosquitoes.  Without going into the details of installation early last summer, let me say simply that it is an engineering and chemical mystery and marvel that sprays pyrethrin (an organic compound) around our house and garden according to a programmed computer system and a 55 gallon drum of the mixture inside a shed adjacent to our house.  It has to be “winterized” and now I laugh at the scene although at the time it was anything but funny.  We had to call the “source” three times to accomplish what should have been a simple task.  It took over an hour and a half.
I now watch or listen with some degree of amusement as a friend or colleague refers to an electronic calendar to find a slot where a meeting is possible or impossible and I do the same thing although my calendar and schedule have more leeway for the first time in 49 years.  When I served as an interim head of a school last year, I remarked that I was fortunate to be able to work half time.  That was 6 to 6!  And there were those evenings and weekends that added hours of work, most of it meaningful and productive.

Another thing I am fond of saying although it does not resonate all that well with some others goes like this:   A friend or colleague says, “It was a very long day” and I know what they mean but I have the audacity to respond with, “I have news for you. They are all the same length, 24 hours.”  The point is that we all have the same amount of time and it’s simply how we use it, how we spend it, how we choose to invest ourselves in the moment or the hour or in the day that has been given to us.

Maybe there is a way of looking at the day or the week not as something to be filled up but rather as this miraculous and precious gift of time which, in fact, could be our last day.  If that were to be, how would we spend it?  The point is not to create a personal drama but to be sure that we are including some of those things that we value the most and not postpone them until we find the time or have the time.  Now, go put some of those into your schedule and on your calendar and see if it makes a difference.  Go ahead.  Just do it!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Time for a Change -- October 30, 2013

When we move clocks back and forth, which we do twice a year in almost all of the U.S. it reminds me that once again, we are often manipulated by outside forces over which we have little or no control.  One option, not possible for most people, is to ignore the watches and clocks and create our own time cycles, perhaps more in rhythm with nature, the seasons, sunrise and sunset, the moon and the stars.  This history of the daylight savings phenomenon is rather interesting should you care to investigate further.

I have been a follower of the sun for many years and seasons as it moves, or seems to move, north and south along the horizon and I find ways to celebrate summer and winter solstices along with the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.  I don’t go as far as dancing with the local coven in the moonlight, although I participate enthusiastically in seasonal celebrations of harvest and home, Halloween and Thanksgiving, this month and next. 

Calendars and clocks are good for measuring, for planning, for anticipating, for meetings, for looking ahead and looking back, for marking special occasions and for remembering anniversaries, birthdays, beginnings and endings.  My calendars are often in sync, sometimes not, and that’s OK.
I got a new watch recently (a Timex Expedition) and remembered the comment about why would I have something that did only one thing, to which I replied that my watch also has the date on it.  The problem is that today is October 30 and my watch date says 20!  However, it does keep the right time because I don’t have to do anything to insure that.  Seems that a lot of people use their phones to tell what time it is.  I say, whatever works.

Earlier today, while contemplating and musing about this and that, it occurred to me that most of life is about change and growth and thus about transitions, not unlike Fall to Winter to Spring and to Summer again. How easily and beautifully she does that, most often gradually, but marked by a date in time.  Perhaps the lesson for us is to be more gradual and allow the change to percolate up or down more slowly and not be so eager to just get to whatever is next.  Sit with the change for awhile, immerse yourself in it and enjoy the transition by shifting gears a little more slowly, intentionally and consciously.   You can make of it what you will.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

FALL 2013 - Timeless Lessons to Learn and Enjoy

About a year ago I wrote the following blog that attracted a fair amount of interest so I am reposting it here, slightly revised for your enjoyment.  It's that time of year again here in northern New Mexico when the cottonwoods are the most golden hues imaginable.  It gets one to thinking about being blessed with such a riot of color in this brilliant sunshine today and most days here.

Photosynthesis is as natural to plants as eating is to humans.  In fact, there are some similarities with several significant exceptions.  One is that plants seldom overeat.  They take what they need, water from the ground through their roots, CO2 from the air and sunlight to turn water and CO2 into oxygen and glucose.  The way they do this is called photosynthesis which means literally “putting together with light.”   
Chlorophyll helps make it all happen and is what gives deciduous tree leaves their green color in the summer.  During winter, there is not enough light or water and the trees will rest and live off the food they stored during the summer.  As they begin the transition, as one who lives where I see this magnificent color change into yellow and orange, I am amazed and delighted every year, this year just as much as ever.
Plants and trees are very smart.  As plants grow, they shed older leaves and grow new ones. This is important because the leaves become damaged over time by insects, disease and weather. The shedding and replacement continues all the time.  We do the same, we let go of the old and grow something new for that which we leave behind.
Right now the leaves on our hundreds of cottonwoods are this most brilliant orange. The brightest colors are seen when late summer is dry, and these Fall days are bright, sunny, and cool (low 40's Fahrenheit) nights. Then trees make a lot of anthocyanin pigments.  The frost and freeze will hasten this process, the daylight diminishes, the leaves will turn brown, fall off the trees and most of the plant activity we will not see for it is going on underground.
Lessons from nature abound.  The rhythm and dance continue in this annual display that offer us some lessons to consider.
1      Eat what you need to sustain your vitality.
2      Save resources for leaner times.
3      Add some color to your life.
4      Figure out what you don’t need and let it go.
5      Prepare well for the next season.
6      Wait and don’t try to rush the process.  Let it work.
7      Embrace and celebrate inevitable change.
8   Know that what is not seen is often more important than what is seen.
9   Stay warm, dry and safe.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Seven Decades: A Learning Memoir, River House Press, 2013

This memoir highlights some personal and significant learning experiences over the past seventy years, lifting these moments from each decade beginning in the 1940's. From World War II right up through the most recent decade, I describe some of the experiences that have influenced, shaped and changed me. As an educator devoted to the pursuit and practice of lifelong learning, I am still at work, helping others to pursue their own learning and development, whether as leaders of schools, or as teachers, parents or community activists.

As someone committed to organizational development and school reform, I am a big proponent of planned change. I believe that one of the critical variables in the success equation is a "purposeful shared vision." It is evident to me that the Biblical precept in the Book of Proverbs had it right. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." For individuals and institutions to succeed and thrive over time, change is not only a prerequisite, it is an essential characteristic. Change is inevitable. The question is what kind of change would you like? What can you learn that will enable and empower the kind of change you want and who will you be as a result? "Our journey as lifelong learners reveals who we are as human beings, not simply human doings. When we speak of passion and purpose beyond ourselves, we need to know what the implications are and how we can realize more of our humanity, our own individual and collective purpose. I believe that this realization has enormous power to effect growth the is real and lasting." Preface p. vii

This small volume, (98 pgs) published September 30, 2013, is a quick read, inexpensive and available now by clicking here: 
Or you can order a copy directly from me but I have to charge a bit more for shipping and handling.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Shifting Models in Leadership Development

Leadership development has most often been based on an externalized approach.   People take courses or go to workshops that instruct them on the desirable characteristics, or qualities, of leaders and how they should act. Moreover, training has relied to some extent on old assumptions about leadership. In particular, the “heroic” approach to leadership (i.e., the strong individual leader) still prevails in many areas of leadership development.  It’s the old model of problem solving and decision making, the executive functioning of the CEO.
It is only recently that a growing portion of the literature is concentrating on leadership development from the inside out. That is to say, getting people in formal or informal leadership positions to take a hard look at themselves. “Who am I as a leader? Why do I behave as I do?” are questions that we need to periodically ask ourselves. When we pose these questions, it takes us to a deeper level of inquiry and reflection.
The Santa Fe Leadership Center has, for the past four years, focused its approach more on the internal than the external aspects of leadership development.  It is my belief that E.Q. trumps I.Q. any day of the week.  Not that intelligence is any less needed, because working smarter instead of harder is still much to be desired.
The recent, rather extensive research conducted by IBM that looked at some 1700 CEO’s in 64 different countries representing 18 different industries shows some interesting trends.  The major challenge of these executives used to be managing change.  That has shifted to managing complexity.  One of the more striking findings to me was that these executives did not feel prepared to deal with the enormous changes in the world as they are experiencing it.
Just as important is the way these leaders engage with their employees and the organizational attributes they focus on to draw out the best in their workforce.  Those attributes are ethics and values (65%), a collaborative environment (63%) and purpose and mission (58%). 
According to the 2012 study, it seems that productivity in almost any organization is now more rooted in empowering employees through values rather than through quotas or some other quantifiable measure, through engaging constituents (customers) as individuals rather than as numbers and amplifying innovation through partnerships rather than going it alone.
The question is how are you getting the best from your colleagues in your own work place?  What are you focused on?  Are you satisfied with the results?  If not, why not and what can you change to get a different outcome.  If you are satisfied, how long do you think you can sustain that level of satisfaction and how do you plan to do it?

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Two Legendary Stories for Our Time

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

The other story comes from India and probably many other places too.  Several boys. hoping to trick the village wise man, figured out a fool proof plan.  They would capture a bird, hold it in their hands, take it to the wise man and ask him whether the bird was alive or dead.  If he said it was alive, they would crush it and show him he was wrong and if he said it was dead, they would open their hands, the bird would fly away and the wise man would be wrong.
So they captured the bird, went to the village wise man and asked him the question, "Sir, is the bird in our hands alive or dead??  After a moment of silence, the wise man replied, "Boys, the answer is in your hands."

Saturday, 28 September 2013


Ted Mitchell, CEO of New Schools Venture Fund, which has raised $3.4 billion over the past decade for entrepreneurs in education, has a big idea.  His big idea is to allow kids to progress at their own pace, accumulate course credit as they master their work, not as they put in required time. Ted says that the good news is that we actually now have technology tools that can help us do that. We have adapted tools that provide students with the right challenge for the right problem sets and examples as they move through courses like algebra or chemistry or even American history.

As many as 25 years ago, there was a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, in conjunction with Germany and what they found was that we have the "formula" for education bassackwards. We hold time constant and make education the variable.  In other words, a student has so much time, whether a quarter, a semester or a year (what Ted Mitchell and others call seat time) to get it.  Ted's daughter has a semester, or a year to embrace Algebra I.   He says what if she could show mastery of Algebra I in four weeks?   That is but one example.  

If we are about reforming and reshaping education, we would hold education constant and make time the variable.  The sad conclusion of the study was that although this was clearly the problem, it would not happen because schools and those in charge would not be willing to change the system.  It is not only broken.  It is mired in the status quo, protected by incompetency, institutional arteriosclerosis and fear.   Do you think the Gates Foundation's billions to reform high schools, Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million to Newark's public schools, and the gazillions of dollars being thrown at the problem to try and fix schools are making a significant difference?

There are plenty of people with big ideas and if money would make the difference we would have seen the impact long ago.   What I concluded was that education was not going to reform itself in the same way that governments refuse to change.  Educators are not going to solve the problem because they are the problem and the only way we will have reform is a revolution.  I believe it's time for real intervention and rehabilitation.  Systemic change requires the commitment and action of those responsible and for too long we have thought that if we just got better at what we were doing, that would be sufficient.  It isn't.

Here's a quote from one principal that illustrates what has to happen. "At first I didn't see the magnitude of the change. I thought if we just did better what we had always done, we would be OK. Then I realized we had to do something totally different, but I didn't know what. Gradually we began trying some new approaches. One change led to another and another and another, like dominos. I started to see what people meant by systemic change. A new energy and excitement surged among us as hope grew and the cloudy vision of what we wanted became clearer and clearer."

The really big idea is change, real change, not just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!  How do we get the change that is needed?  There has to be some agreement on what is needed and then we have to get rid of the industrial/factory model of education and replace it with one that is designed to set kids on fire with learning, to ignite their passion and purpose beyond themselves and turn them loose on solving the world's problems that are confronting all of us.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Common Vision, Common Purpose, Common Goal

Honest homeless man’s fund over $91K via crowd funding.  The story touched enough people that by now it’s probably over $100K.  
 The point here is not his honesty nor the money but what the guy who set up the fund said that I have been “preaching” for over 50 years.  Ethan Whittington, who started the fund, has been overwhelmed by the response but he understands why it works as revealed in this quote: “If we come together and work toward one thing and work together, then we can make it happen."
What I experienced in World War II was what I call the circle of success, common vision, common purpose, common goals.  It is what works to make an organization, a jurisdiction, a country successful.  What is often missing are the will and the desire to come together and create that vision, purpose and mission around what we can all agree on that we either need or want to happen.
The most recent decade has seen plenty of examples of political obfuscation that results in inaction, a kind of institutional arteriosclerosis.  There are also wonderful examples of success at the micro level, individuals like Whittington and others who are having an impact in positive and constructive ways, rewarding desirable behavior and reinforcing the principles and practices of ethical choices.
So, what will you do today to advance common vision, common purpose and common goals?  What is your individual and institutional mission?  How will you invest your time and energy today to get the biggest bang for your efforts and the greatest return on your investment?  Go ahead, make your choices conscious and intentional and take the initiative to act and get out of the react and respond mode for awhile.  You will feel better at the end of the day, guaranteed.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Pursuing Happiness: Is GNH of any real value?

Is GNH useful?  Probably not, but on a personal level, I believe it is immensely valuable.  I came across the following brief article this past Saturday in the Lex Column of the weekend edition of FT (Financial Times) and share it for your own musing. See if you can read between the lines for the U.S.A.
“Oh, perfect: another study concludes that Scandinavia is wonderful. The Swedes, Norwegians and Danes are already known to be the best educated, most egalitarian and richest, not to mention the tallest and blondest.  Now the UN World Happiness Report 2013, published this week, rubs our noses in it buy finding the five happiest countries to be Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and Sweden.
The rest of us – ignorant, unequal, poor, short and ugly – cannot help but feel our misery all the more.
Other surveys have thrown up the same conclusion, the only difference being which nations join the Nordics. The Better Life index produced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has Australia, Sweden, Canada, Norway and Switzerland at the top.  What these countries share is not great weather.  It is that they are rich, stable and western.
Do these measures teach us anything?  The UN says happiness is closely related to ‘social equality, trust and quality of governance.’  Intangibles such as these are important in evaluating what has come to be known as a country’s gross national happiness (GNH).
Life expectancy and personal freedom are also important.  So is real gross domestic product per capita.  But it is only part of the mix.
The UN survey shows that the Irish, who have suffered huge falls in personal income as a result of the financial crisis, and the Italians, who have been in recession, on and off, for at least the past decade are happier than the Germans, who have come through the global crisis without undue hardship (schadenfreude is overrated, apparently).  Family and social ties in Ireland and Italy at least partly compensate for declining wealth it would seem.
The trouble with GNH, though, is that it may not be any more useful as a political, economic and social tool than GDP.  The GNH measure was pioneered in Bhutan in the 1970’s and is a key measure of progress made there.  In July, however, the government that made a fetish of it was voted out of office.  Personal happiness is elusive.  The pursuit of happiness on a national level is likely to be harder still.”  

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Video Games and Overcoming Resistance to Kill

Various media sources have been giving a lot of attention recently to the role of violence in video games and its effect on the players.  The two basic positions are that either the worst of these games have an undesirable and negative effect on the player or that no, the players can separate fantasy from reality and have no problem from playing these games.  Perhaps it can be either, depending on the player but it's clear that we should continue to collect the data and document the results.

To understand some of the effects of video games, you need to go back to debriefings conducted by the U.S. Army after WWII. Interviewing soldiers returning from battle, researchers discovered a disturbing fact. A significant number of soldiers had been face to face with an enemy soldier, rifle in hand, enemy in their sights, gun not jammed, and had not fired. Something deep in their being, some sort of innate humanity, or values instilled early on, had prevented them from actually pulling the trigger.
This was very disturbing to the military. They began a research effort to figure out what to do about this problem. They discovered that in the heat of battle, under the incredible physical and psychological stress of being faced with another human being you were supposed to kill, the higher mental functions were largely absent. Under such conditions, the mind reverts to much simpler modes of operation, to deeply wired, almost instinctive behaviors. In other words, no amount of target practice and classroom lectures about how you're supposed to kill the enemy had much effect when it counted.
Over the following decades and wars, the Army learned that the way to get soldiers to reliably pull the trigger was to use very basic, repetitive operant conditioning, along the lines of standard behaviorist theory. Behaviorism provides a poor model for how humans act in everyday life, but it turns out to be a fairly good model for how humans act when they are under stress and have to act quickly, and are responding primarily to fear. Under stress, fearful people do what they have been conditioned to do.  That is one reason we have repetitive fire drills, so that we know how to react in an urgent situation.
The Army's solution was to replace dry target practice with realistic training grounds, complete with pop-up targets, loud noises, smoke, stress, the works. The goal was to condition the soldiers: if it moves, shoot it now, don't think about it. Repetition, repetition, repetition: Target pops up, you shoot. Target pops up, you shoot. Do that often enough, and, research shows, next time you see something pop up, you are more likely to shoot it, even if it's a real human in a real battle. Sometimes it’s called “friendly fire” when it is a mistake.  This is not just a theory, it is documented by exit interviews from soldiers in later wars: The Army got what it wanted.
What does this have to do with video games? The answer should be obvious. The whole point is, if it moves, shoot it. Again and again and again.  The military uses all kinds of expensive simulators, basically high powered video games, similar to what kids use every day, to train its recruits and to overcome the aversion to killing.   And there is evidence to suggest that those who are expert at gaming are some of the best and most effective fighter pilots and soldiers.  In the end, if you believe in war, maybe video gaming is a good thing for survival!  The downside is that, in most cases, the enemy is also trained in shoot to kill.  Is it that he who presses the right buttons faster wins?
The cost for soldiers who survive, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating.   As many as one-third of the homeless men in the U.S. are Viet Nam veterans, most of them suffering from PTSD and we are only beginning to count the cost from the years of human destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
What can we learn from this?  Whether or not violent video games cause aggressive behavior may not be the real issue.  Perhaps the real question that needs to be explored is whether video gaming might contribute to an acceptance of the need to destroy the “enemy” without any need to feel anger or anything that can be consciously identified as aggressive behavior.   After all, it’s just a game.

Here is a sample:
“Hunched with his troops in a dusty, wind-swept courtyard, the squad leader signals the soldiers to line up against a wall. Clasping automatic weapons, they inch single-file toward a sandy road lined with swaying palm trees.
The squad leader orders a point man to peer around the corner, his quick glance revealing several foes lying in wait behind a smoldering car. A few hand signals, a quick flash of gunfire, and it's over.  The enemy is defeated, but no blood is spilled, no bullet casings spent: All the action is in an Xbox-based training simulator for the military, called Full Spectrum Warrior.”   (Associated Press 10/03)

Finally, here is something which should also concern all of us.  When many people see a real video, shot live, they think that because it’s seen on a screen, that it’s not real when it is.  It’s just like a video game or worse, a television program with a script and actors and made up in a studio or on a set somewhere like a movie.  If you want to test that out on yourself, take a look at some of the current, live, very real, military videos and register your own cognitive and emotional response.  This is somewhat the flip side of the video gaming issue and equally important because it is very real and not a game.
Not every child or adult playing video games will develop aggressive behaviors and only a small percentage will become soldiers who are trained to do what soldiers must do.  The point is that both children and adults can be easily influenced by the media and high powered, well- conceived video games.  What the short and long term results are will continue to be debated but there is compelling evidence to suggest we better take a hard look at what is happening as a result of violent video gaming.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

BLOG # 100 - The Spirit of Effective Leadership

I started this blog two years ago and without any prescribed schedule, I wrote something when the spirit moved me.  In honor of the one-hundredth blog, I reviewed some of the earlier ones and this is an excerpt from the second one that I wrote, September 3, 2011.

I believe the “spirit” of the outstanding leaders I have known can be seen, heard and felt in at least the following ten ways.  These are not in any order of priority.
1 - Enthusiastic and energetic - There are many different ways of expressing one’s spirit of enthusiasm, whether overtly or more quietly, but we most often characterize this contagious quality as passion, thus strong feelings that are shared.
2.  Positive and optimistic - While best balanced with a heavy dose of realism, the expression of hope in the present and for the future is a quality of spirit that any good leader is well-advised to have in his or her repertoire of attitudes.
3.  Caring and compassionate - A spirit of genuine concern for others and their well-being goes a long way toward helping a community to develop an ethos of mutual support and collegiality.
4.  Inquiring and curious - The leader who asks thoughtful questions and demonstrates the spirit of an inquiring mind helps to further the conversations to a deeper level of understanding.
5.  Conscientious and intentional – Designing change requires a spirit that is transparent so that others may see how seriousness of purpose pervades the leader.
6.  Pleasant, friendly and joyful  - As one friend and colleague puts it, “be kind, tell the truth and say thank you.”   Good manners, social grace and comfort in a crowd contribute significantly to the perception of one who is “at home” easily and genuinely.
7.  Confident and courageous – Unafraid to make hard decisions, even unpopular at times, the leader is able to take a stand, express convictions and move forward, even in the face of opposition.  It helps to take others along on this often perilous journey.
8.   Humble and modest – Without any need to be boastful, arrogant or prideful, the leader allows his or her deeds to speak for themselves.  Such a spirit speaks volumes without having to say a word.
9.  Creative and open - The leader exhibits a mind that seeks and welcomes new ideas.  This is the mind that works like the proverbial parachute, best when open.   However it is not change for the sake of something new.
10.  Fair and firm -  These qualities speak of a balanced response, an attitude that knows how to assess and when to draw the line.   This works with both individuals and groups and the leader’s spirit sets the stage, the tone and the process.
Many of these qualities of spirit overlap and are part of a larger dimension of one’s personality, having to do with attitudes and behaviors, as defined earlier.  It's E.Q. trumping I.Q. one more time. The  point of all of this is that being aware of how these play in the environment in which one works can really make a big difference in the outcomes of so much that you want to accomplish and these make it easier to get a lot done without caring who gets the credit.  Most importantly, these are qualities for good mental and physical well-being.

Saturday, 24 August 2013


Why do we say that you are going “back” to school?  We know generally that it means returning, often to something familiar, going “back” somewhere and that is certainly one of the meanings when using the word “back” as an adverb.  However, it also implies a past condition or situation and although we might hope for a new condition, we would probably not say that you are going “forward” to school.  This set me to wondering how what we say influences attitudes and perceptions as in, “here we go again, same old, same old, very predictable and often not very exciting or engaging.”
There may be some comfort in returning to the familiar where you know the  environment, the players and the program.  You know the expectations, you know the rules and you know how to navigate through the system relatively successfully.  Even in a different location, schools look and smell fairly much the same.  The teachers and students may have different names but they act very much the same as those in the other place.
 An alternative, an easy shift, would be to say that you are going to “start” school rather than you are going “back.”  At least, there is the hope of a fresh beginning and not merely a re-tread of last year.  As I have seen and talked with children in the past couple of weeks, I consciously asked when they were starting school rather than when were they going back to school.  I know it’s a very small thing, and maybe it makes no difference at all, but it made a difference to me as I asked them what they were looking forward to as they thought about starting school.   Kids tend to tell you the truth and if you go as far as asking them what they might like to change about school, they can tell you that too!
Here is one such conversation:  
Me:  When do you start school?
She:  Tomorrow!
Me:  You sound excited to start a new grade.
She:  Yeah, I am.
Me:  Let’s see, you must be about third grade?
She:   No, fourth.
Me:   So, you’re 9 years old?
She:  Yes.
Me:  What are you looking forward to as you start school?
She:  Seeing my friends and being in a new room.
Me:  Do you know your new teacher?
She:  She’s the same one I had last year, she’s moving up with us.
Me:   Is that good?
She:  Yes, I really like her and she has lots of fun things for us to do.
Me:  So going to school and learning can be fun?
She:  Oh, yes, and there is so much to do, lots of different things.
Me:  Is there anything you would change about your school?
She:  Yes, I would have it be longer.
Me:  You mean you would like to go to school more days or longer days?
She:  Uh, I think more days.
Me:  Well, you are a very lucky girl and it sounds like you will have a good year, at least I hope so.
She:  Bye, I have to go now.
Just a couple of minutes of a conversation while we were sitting in an airport and this girl was the oldest of three children, mom and dad holding the other two, babies, in their arms with a large stroller in tow.  I watched the interaction between parents and children – loving, adoring, calm, focused, and all three kids reflected an early air of confidence and security.  My hunch is that this 4th grade girl is going to have a great year, that she is a happily engaged student and if I were her teacher, I would certainly love to have her (and her parents) among my class.  We would have a great start to a new year.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


I had the opportunity recently to spend several days in Wyoming at Brush Creek Ranch where fly fishing is a major activity along with numerous other western sports such as archery, sporting clays and targets, horseback riding and a lot of social interaction around food and drink.  Needless to say perhaps but those days of delight were filled with being engaged in lots of activity.  And the company of a couple of special family members made it even more meaningful and enjoyable.
However, during the trip to and from the ranch, I decided to take a different approach and in addition to escaping the interstates and expressways, I chose instead to travel some of William Least Heat Moon’s highways.  And, I did not intentionally take a GPS although I had a couple of good, old-fashioned maps which allowed me to see the bigger picture and make some on the spot choices about a different route here and there, or from here to there, and there to here.  Here is northern New Mexico and there is southeastern Wyoming, just over Snowy Range in Medicine Bow National Forest.  The lesson here is seeing the big picture and making conscious choices.
In addition to less than the fastest route, how quickly we can get somewhere or how fast we can get the job done, even with a high level of efficiency, I also chose to drive under the speed limit by at least 5-10 miles per hour.  This was not to annoy other drivers although at times, I know it did.  What it did for me was not only to gain better fuel consumption but to allow me to relax and enjoy the scenery so much more, even being able to stop if I saw something of particular interest.  Driving at or above the speed limit, which is my usual practice, carries an element of stress which was eliminated completely.  The goal was not the arrival at the end of the journey but rather being more immersed in the journey itself and not see it simply as a means to the end.
Besides spectacular scenery in New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, I saw many more details that would have otherwise passed by in a blur.  Those details included wildlife, architecture, small town cultures, local cuisine, and one of my favored pastimes of flea markets and antique shops. There was also the usual music, NPR and chatter on the radio, if I wanted it, and often that was silent to avoid any distraction.
This was a nourishing road trip, soul food if you will, and I look forward to the next one whenever and wherever it will be. Lots of lessons learned!

Monday, 22 July 2013

"We Will Call You Back"

Since when have customer service operations started putting a customer on hold for up to an hour and offering to call back?  Here is the scenario.

I got a call from American Airlines this morning saying that an upgrade request for an upcoming trip has been confirmed and I am to call an 800 number to determine which account the miles should be taken from and what credit card I want to use for the surcharge of $350.  So, this evening I pick up the phone dial the number provided and get the message about wait time between one hour and one hour and ten minutes.  How the hell do they know that?  I did not leave my number to call back and I was not going to be on hold for an hour.  Instead I dialed another American number I keep on my phone and the wait time for that number is only twenty-three minutes.  Same deal.  I can hold or leave a number and they will call me back.  I left my number and will write this while I wait.

I am working with a publishing company on a manuscript and if I sign in to their web site and leave my phone number, my phone rings immediately and someone answers on the other end.  All I do is give them my account number and either that person can give me the information I need or they transfer me immediately to someone else who has the answer or information I need.  I don't know who is bigger, Amazon or American Airlines, and it makes no difference to me.  What does make the difference is the way they treat their customers who are willing to spend real money for their services.

The best response is when you call a number and a real person answers, not some recording offering a menu of choices from one through eight for various departments.  Oh yes, if you know the extension of the person you're calling, you can punch that in and most often get a recording telling you how important the call is.  I like the real person on the other end, flesh and blood and brains, and we often get along famously because I'm in a good mood.  Some human being, usually with sufficient knowledge, has answered in real time and I don't have to waste time waiting, calling back or waiting to be called back.

Enough already.  I am going to start rating customer service based on how the company deals with telephone calls and I will rate them from one to ten, one being the absolute worst and ten being the best.  Once a company gets three ones, unless it's a local utility, most of which are not very good although better than average, I will look elsewhere for a place to take my business where I at least have the distinct impression that they really do care about their customers.   Some places even know my name without my having to provide the city where I was born and my mother's maiden name.
Those places go to the top of my list.  No wonder there are big companies having problems competing in today's marketplace.  American Airlines isn't the only carrier that goes across the pond. They haven't called back as yet.

How would you rate your own company, organization or group?  How do you think others would rate you?  Are you willing to find out?  Go ahead, ask!

Monday, 8 July 2013


Margaret Wheatley has published an excerpt from her new book, So Far From Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World, published by Berrett Koehler.  I haven’t read the book but I read the excerpt called “8 Fearless Questions.” You can read it here for yourself here and see what you think :

What follows is what it spawned in my early morning thoughts on this day.  I picked up two questions that I wanted to address briefly and they are these: What do you call yourself and what is the relationship between hope and fear?  These can be two essential, defining questions and your answers may reveal a lot about who you are and what you are about.

Each of us has a name by which we have become known, a name given to us by our parents, a name sometimes chosen at random, or from a list of popular baby names, sometimes by family traditions, and sometimes with special meaning.  In some cultures a name has particular significance with regard to a blessing or something sacred.  Indigenous people seemed a whole lot better at this, maybe because they lived closer to nature?

Beyond a given name however, what do you call yourself as some kind of identification? It may have to do with your role as a worker, as some kind of survivor, as a citizen of a particular nation or the member of a group or association. It could be one of the big 8 social identifiers such as ability (physical and mental), age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation. Think for a moment how circumscribed those may be or how limiting. Is "writer" or "author" sufficient?  Even the word "American" can be controversial because when we are south of the border we are "Norte Americanos" and technically so are the Mexican people because they are still north of Central and South America.  Some people were identified as members of a particular tribe, a social division of families or communities with a lot in common.  Occupation or vocation? 

Rather than define ourselves by what we do, how about defining ourselves by who we are, our essential nature as human beings rather than human doings?  The essence or ground of our being brings to mind the writings and work of Paul Tillich, especially in The Shaking of the Foundations, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955. 

 "The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him…. For you cannot think or say: Life has no depth! Life itself is shallow. Being itself is surface only. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not."  

 Perhaps we can call ourselves “believers” and that would require more discussion about where we place that belief.  As Tillich says, what is our ultimate concern, the depth of our life, our passion?  What are we to be about?  Suffice to say here that the next question may shed some light on this first one about what are we to call ourselves.

The second question has to do with the relationship between hope and fear.  What I have said for a long time is that faith and fear are perfectly correlated, inversely.  The more you have of one, the less you have of the other.  What if we were less invested in the outcome and more present and invested in the process, in the present moment?  Would that have any effect on our behavior?  On our choices?  On our relationships with our work and our colleagues?  On our connections with family, friends and neighbors?   I hope that, at the least, we believe in who we are and what we’re doing and that who we are defines what we do rather than what we do defining who we are.  Think about that!

Margaret Wheatley, in the excerpt noted at the beginning of this piece, has quite a lot to say about working beyond hope and fear, of living in the future now.  How about going beyond work and seeing what it is that motivates us to even consider the kind of work that we want to be about?  How about forming your own essential questions that define you?   If you come up with one or two that you find particularly helpful, I would be most interested in knowing what those are.  I chose my two questions based on what it was that moved me this morning to consider my continuing learning more about who I am and what I want to be about, today and all that may follow.  If you have gotten this far, let me know what you find to be your essential questions.  Thanks!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Summer Solstice

Tomorrow, June 21, marks the end of Spring, beginning of Summer.  You can read all the details about why that occurs on this site:  and learn a lot about the earth's relationship to the sun.  However, rather than get bogged down in the details, I want to reflect on the meaning of Summer from a different perspective.  It's a little like remembering what it was as a kid just out of school on the one hand and finding a way to return to that as an adult in later years with time to enjoy it again without work being a dominating presence.

I have had the privilege this past year of working occasionally, very part time, by choice, and that has been and continues to be an interesting life transition.  It is also a gift and a blessing.  It's not that I am looking for things to do to keep me busy.  I have more than enough to keep me engaged, active, entertained and involved.  For a quick example, I sit on a local non-profit Board and I am off in about 30 minutes to help move an 8x10 shed from Taos to Abiquiu to store our records and files.  The afternoon will be spent cleaning, sorting, mowing, trimming, repairing, and general maintenance on our house, barn, sheds and 6 acres of land.  That could be a full time job alone but it's not demanding work although it has numerous requirements. (I never made it back in time to do anything at home this afternoon)

Later this month we will head for Utah for a trip in our motor home and visit one of our 7 children and family and next month I go to Wyoming and join a son-in-law and grandson at a ranch for some fly fishing and other western outdoor activities.   We just entertained 20 other family members and guests for lunch this past Sunday and our we are able to enjoy our extended family more often and in more places than previously.

Earlier this month we spent four days on the Conejos River in southern Colorado. Living here in northern New Mexico, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, makes it easy to appreciate the western landscape and be close to many outdoor activities , enjoying so much of what nature offers on a daily basis from sunrise to sunset and beyond.

So for summer solstice, we celebrate another season of joyful connections with warmer weather, clear blue skies, views over the Chama River to Sierra Negra, and on the pond portal, a view of our own bosque and a few free ranging chickens that supply us with enough fresh eggs to keep us supplied for our needs and an occasional surplus to share with others.  The local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) gives us fresh produce grown and consumed locally and the summer is a time of harvest and real taste treats in the kitchen.  Summer, for me, is a time to remember good times and re-create them in a different place with many similar experiences of happy occasions with family and friends and the products of land and stream.  

I hope you find your own ways to celebrate summer solstice and the next three months prior to the autumnal equinox, another time of anticipation, appreciation, and celebration.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Seven C's of Competent Leadership

1. Communication that is clear, concise, compelling and timely.  Stay in touch with customers'  information that keeps them connected

2. Collaboration that is supportive and encouraging.  It takes time, effort and energy,  but the results are compelling.

3. Confidence that inspires mutual trust, mutual respect and the open sharing of information, otherwise known as transparency that provides clarity.

4. Courage to take on the difficult challenges and find workable solutions, solve a problem and move forward.

5. Compassion that illustrates and demonstrates care for the well-being of individuals and the environment in which they all work.

6.  Commitment to agreed upon goals and plans and to the enduring completion of tasks and projects affecting all constituencies.

7. Character that reflets integrity, honesty, empathy, genuineness and warmth, indications of  concern for the common good.

* In addition to the beginning C word in each of the seven, find another C word or more in each number!  

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Is 21st Century Education Obsolete?

Can you imagine using a cell phone that is 10 years old?  I have seen a few but not many.  Driving a 10-year- old car has become more possible since that is merely a 2003 model and cars haven’t radically changed all that much in terms of performance, especially as they enable you to get from one place to another.  And, if one is careful about maintenance (and sustainability) any good car can get 200,000 miles.  However, hybrids and other alternative fuel cars have come on the market within the past decade for the most part.  The world of consumption designs built-in obsolescence to make us believe we need the newer, better, much improved model and a lot of that is nothing more, or less, than slick marketing gimmicks.

I have several pairs of shoes and lots of clothes older than 10 years that still have a lot of wear left in them and I don’t care that much about style.  Tools in the barn?  They are pretty much the same ones as I have had for more than 10 years and still performing well.  And me?  Well, I am about to start my 77th year and I don’t think I am quite ready to be put into the obsolete pasture just yet.  That will come soon enough, thank you very much.

But education, being defined as 21st century, while well intentioned, and calling for reform, has yet to show widespread signs of significant change.  There are certainly bright spots here and there and signs of hope in many places where people are investing in a different kind of delivery and outcome.  But we’re still bogged down by standardized test scores, obsolete measurement and assessments that do very little for kids, bureaucratic systems that thrive on top-down, heavy-handed management, and too much one size fits all mentality.  Kids are still primarily grouped by ages.  Ken Robinson refers to that as the only thing they really have in common is their date of manufacture.  His talk on changing the paradigm is a must see and hear.

We need another name and another concept for education that is truly reformed, truly catholic (little C, please!) and truly evangelical.  I remember that phrase from a long time ago, uttered by James I. McCord in a theological debate about reforming religion, still a big issue in my mind.  My point is that the terms could also be applied to education.  The operative word may, in fact, be truly.  Instead of tweaking the edges, adding a new course, hiring someone in charge of creative learning, etc. we need a radical re-design of the entire enterprise.  There is not much short of a revolution that will accomplish what I see is needed.  Evolution will take too long and leave too many children behind.

So, you ask, what is needed?  What can you do without “throwing out the baby with the bath water?”  For starters, ask yourself what you would do if you were starting over, what you might do if you were starting a “school” from scratch, a clean, blank slate and you can create whatever you believe will make a difference in the lives of kids, regardless of the age group you want to serve?  First, why would you do it? What would you do?  How would you do it?  Who would you like to join you in the effort?  And, finally where would you want to do that?  OK, have you gotten some answers to those questions?  Really?  Are you sure?  Maybe it’s not even a “school” as such places have been defined in the past.

Now, move to what the obstacles are that are preventing you from accomplishing reforming, reshaping and redesigning where you are.  How would you go about removing those obstacles?  Maybe it is not re-anything as that might be regression.  How about the concept of a new school within a school, not for everyone, but for those willing to take an intelligent risk on a new design for teaching and learning, emphasis on learning, not teaching?  How about that for starters?  Now come up with your own and go for it.  Need help?  Ask for it.