Friday, November 5, 2010

Women's Myths of Yore

It occurs to me that, as the fight-or-flight research was done only using male test subjects, and that a tend-or-befriend model is more applicable to women, maybe Joseph Campbell's "The Hero's Journey" is based on mythologies rooted in a male dominated society.

In Mary Renault's The King Must Die the hero Theseus makes his way about the Greek back-country encountering matriarchal societies whose goddesses have been seduced by Zeus; these groups were pretty much overwhelmed by the Greeks, and their mythologies incorporated into Greek mythology to quell any resistance. What became of the matriarchal societies? And what came of their belief systems?

In the song "I hope you're happy" the two main characters from "Wicked" argue about the means by which each has chosen to achieve her ends. Their friendship wins out, however. In the book I'm currently reading, Hunger Games, a strong bond of friendship develops between two female characters. (In an effort not to spoil, I will say no more about the book.) There appears to be a current of compassion that runs through each of these stories, and I am curious to find if there are more metaphoric stories that speak to the buried mythology of women.

The Heroine's Journey by Maureen Murdock, a contemporary of Campbell, has parallels to Campbell's Hero's Journey but seems rooted in the same rationale. Any suggestions for further study?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Looking for a Career

Here's how you do it:
1. What big changes do you want to affect with your life?
These can be worldwide phenomenon that you want to do something about.
2. What sort of activities associated with #1 would you be able to do?
This has to do with your skills, personality, knowing your limits, and knowing what you won't let limit you.
3. What jobs match #2.

4. Where do you want to live?
5. What employment options are there (within commuting range)?
6. What job skills do you need for #5?
7. Go to college for the specific job skills...
or get on-the-job training
or build up to the job you want by working somewhere similar

Consider moving...where would you move?
Consider your needs...what will you be doing for yourself?
Consider ignoring all this and just living life as it comes to you.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Transcendental Space

In a dream last night I was traveling through the park in one of the little springy kid toys from the playground. Apparently I was flying.

Monday, August 9, 2010


In elementary and high school we got to play with clay. Almost all my projects fell apart. On a lark, my first quarter of college I took a ceramics class to balance out the overly academic workload. The teacher was inspiring, energetic, and a taskmaster. I got a C. But more importantly, I realized why my projects had all fallen apart: it was the clay's fault. I learned to choose better clay, and by the end of that first quarter I was hooked. I took my second quarter of Clay sculpture a year later from another teacher.
The ceramics studio at Spokane Falls Community College became my retreat. I ended up there instead of in my regular classes, thrilling in the energy and community. I felt I had found my "safe haven" and worked hard to learn every aspect of the studio. I took more than 12 ceramics classes over the course of 8 years. I even met, in that ceramics studio, a beautiful girl who would become my wife. We spent many long hours together around the clay classroom, "working".
Two years ago my wife and I bought an electric kiln. I think we were both wanting a bit of that old studio in our lives again. This year we finally got around to setting up a working pottery studio: "Red Panda Pottery". Recently, a friend asked what my long term plan for the studio is. In answer, I would like to generate some of the same dynamic qualities that I adored from the ceramics studio. Here are a few things I would like to incorporate into our operation.

1. An attitude of constant improvement.
2. Fun and challenging assignments designed to pull from deep within the students' abilities.
3. Free use of clay, glaze, and kiln space (a creative way to do this could be to sell the best of student work to fund the studio) --thoughtfully, I know that student fees and government grants actually paid for the materials at SFCC. I don't have very many "students", and I would like to make money, so to break even, I'm making and selling stuff, too.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cadence of thought

Why do authors have to pace their stories, have to describe scenes, and use rising action? Why don't they just get to the point? Why can't the story just be problem-solution-done?

For some reason, it doesn't work that way. When I read back over the previous post, I find it hard to follow because it's over too fast for a reader to even get into, the pacing is too quick. The post seems like it could be just a condensed paint stroke, where I intended a whole painting to be. Maybe it would be okay with spaces separating the thoughts, or on different pages with pictures punctuating the text.

We are so big, our minds so teeming with brains, that there must be a cadence to what we do. This includes reading, and thinking. As a teacher, I find it helps to expose the class to certain ideas a little early, and repeatedly mention it before the day I present it. There is a cadence that our relaxed minds work best with. We are slow. We like concrete imagery, and time to process the thoughts being presented. Why are books so slow? Sometimes authors have to use filler to get their message across.

Swell of Fortune

When an opportunity to do things is not acted upon, a moment passes. You could draw a surfing analogy here, having to get up on that wave and ride it when the moment is right. I grew up on a farm in Eltopia, WA. with lots of unorganized time. Some was used to do work; much of it was spent playing. Opportunities could be felt by the pressure of their approach (every week my mom offered to take us to church) and lamented in their wake (most weeks I would stall my decision-making until it was too late to catch a ride with her.)
Although Spokane is a little more densely populated, those opportunities still happen. I'm just out of practice listening for them.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Just ordered a video from Phoenix Films called "The Art of the Potter" that documents the work of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. It should be here tomorrow. I've decided that this summer will be full of pottery, and a minimal amount of working for others. I've started teaching how-to classes, and am lining up different projects for commission.

Still haven't found a Cone10 reduction kiln for rent, so it looks like Cone6 oxidation is the direction to go. Maybe Cone6 reduction with a saggar. This would depend on the kiln being used. I'm still working with Cone10 clay.

Recently I don't have a job. Oh well. Spokane is a service-industry driven place anyhow. This just gives me more time to network.
Don't do so well without structure, though.

End of School Year

It took till the end of the year to find out what to do that would get the kids learning:
laughter is really important too. Makes everyone more easygoing.
Not getting angry is also a plus.
Getting angry, a minus.
They appreciated me when I wasn't trying so hard to teach things.
So that's where I'm going to start next time.

(Really, I will be aiming to teach self-motivation skills. quality vs. quantity of work, asking questions for your own benefit, and starting off the year with fundamentals for maintaining a positive environment already set in place)

Be the change you want to see.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Algebra Lesson for 7th Graders

I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I'm going to teach and how I'm going to teach it. I came up with this lesson this morning--having fallen asleep worrying about how and what I'm teaching next week.

You have two children, one boy and one girl.
Whatever you give to the girl you have to give to the boy, and vice versa. They ar really loud and annoying, so you have to keep everything equal.

Bank Account Game:
Materials: Slateboards/Whiteboards, pens, erasers
Setup: Draw a girl in one top corner of the board and a boy in the opposite top corner. You're going to set up a bank account for the children. Your goal is to see if you can keep both sides equal.

Rules: Start with a solved expression (like x=2)
Student calls out an action and a number from -5 to 10
You can + or - a variable
You can + - x or ÷ by a constant

and we all do it. For example "Add 2x" or "multiply by 5"
X is just a fixed amount of money in a bundle. (Different banks use different ways of bundling their money. You're new at this bank and they didn't tell you).

I would do one example round, then one class round, using a different letter as the variable each round.

Then ask how we can get back to the original solved equation. You can follow the same steps backwards (using inverse operations) to get it solved...kind of like a rubik's cube.

One day, to keep them busy, you give one of the children 3 bags of comic books and 12 more, and the other you give two bags of comic books and 16 more. And they start to complain, until you say "I gave you EXACTLY the same amount, but I'm keeping them now until you can tell me how many is in one of the bags. Each bag has the same amount in it."

At this point the class would solve the problem together.
Then I'd set the kids on 5 problems for guided practice, making sure to throw in a negative number or two, and go over it 10 minutes later.

The independent practice would be a homework assignment posted on the board.

Finally, we'd review the guided practice and I'd ask for some feedback about understanding--this tends to be a slip of paper with a checklist and room at the bottom for comments from the students.

Friday, February 12, 2010

What I'm doing now

Motivation is strongly tied to success.

Success cannot be given. To be felt, it must be earned. (yeah, I came up with that!)

The Houghton-Mifflin style of math textbook that I grew up with does have its drawbacks, but it works well to motivate kids to success. Each day a new skill is taught and then the day's work is to practice that skill. Learning and applying a new skill is a success reward on its own. The teacher is free to meet with students individually and to answer questions, and the student gets practice applying the skill. Highly functional.

The current book that I'm using (the CMP2 textbook series) does much to tie big ideas together, thus making the skills learned meaningful. However, it does lack some in the motivation department. In Looking for Pythagoras, the book has students proving that a general case of the Pythagorean Theorem works before they understand how cool it is, or what it even does. Transitions are missing: Too much learning is heaped on without time to build up to it, and it is not easily accessible as an "I-just-want-to-learn-it" tool.

However, the CMP2 series is generally better because of the story-like approach it gives to each lesson. There are deeper questions early on, that require deeper understanding of the subject being taught. And it does provide practice problems at the end of each chapter. In addition, CMP2 books are much lighter, since they are broken into mini-units.

Although I am coming to a realization here about how motivating it is to learn, and how teaching a single separate skill each day is functional in the classroom, I am stuck with the CMP2 series, and I now just need to try fixing my teaching style to increase that motivation.

And I need to keep waking up with this kind of epiphany.