Tag: Inspiration

August To June; Bringing Life to Palm Beach Schools


copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

As any Mom or Dad might do on Parent Teacher Conference Day, Amy Valens, the Educator featured in the documentary film August To June, traveled from “classroom to classroom.”  This journey was not a conventional one. Indeed, Amy did not attend a series of Parent Teacher Conferences.  What she did was appear at Palm Beach screenings of her documentary.  The film follows twenty-six [26] third and fourth graders who studied with Amy in her last year of teaching.  The public school open classroom “Brings Life” to education.

After the movie was viewed, Ms Valens and the audiences engaged in conversations. They discussed what they saw and how it might relate to a broader dialogue.  The subjects of Education Reform, Classroom Standards, Teacher Quality, Merit Pay, Student-Rewards for Success, Parent Involvement, and Testing are but a few topics prominent in our national debate.  While the assemblies of viewers varied widely, the results were the same.  Every child, every class, all Teachers, and each parent, tells a unique tale.  Regardless of the individual or group, we see the world, or in this case the film, through our own lens.

Primary Teachers and Their Pedagogy


copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

I offer homage to a Teacher whose pedagogy touched me in a manner invisible to me until this moment.  For scores, I understood what a gift he was to me.  His open and caring ways were as I craved.  However, I had never imagined that this man’s schooling style made the difference in my life.  Today, I invite each of us to look beyond the boundaries or the labels.

Often in life we are asked to reflect; who was or were your most profound Teachers.  I shared my stories in a missive or more.  Those Who Can Teach; Life Lessons Learned, Those Who Can Teach; Transformative Teachers, and Why I Write and Write, Then Write Again.  There are myriad sorts of Teachers.  A few are true treasures.  These special souls take a personal interest in us as individuals.  Students are seen as whole beings, not solely a score, or a name to be identified as a number.  Without these rare Teachers we would not soar.

Innumerable Scholars seek to inform rather than interact in a way that inspires.  Academicians, an abundance of these, think to fill a brain full of facts, formulas, and figures, is to teach.  I wonder; do these Educators believe they learn from their students?  I cannot know with certainty. For myriad mentors, their labor is not born out of love, but out of need . . . the need to train students for a test.

A great film

One mother’s day, my mother insisted that I watch a movie.  She has never done this before or since.  The movie is called Paper Clips, it’s out on DVD, and I urge everyone to see it. It’s about the holocaust, it’s about a small town in Tennessee, it’s about changing people and changing the world.

Why am I recommended a film on Docudharma? This isn’t a site about film, after all.  There are two big reasons: First, I am coming to think of myself as part of this community, and to count some as friends.  My friends should see this movie.  Second, although it isn’t totally obvious, this is exactly a Docudharma kind of film.

Before I go into a little detail, I will say that the movie, while uplifting overall, does deal with a lot of horrible information.  It’s a disturbing film.  It’s a good kind of disturbing, but I think that it might not be right for kids younger than about 10, and even older ones will need guidance with it, particularly if they do not know about the holocaust.

Paper Clips is about the Holocaust; but not really.  It’s not really a film about Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, it’s a film about Tennessee in the 1990s.  It’s not really a film about the genocide of millions of people, it’s about learning.  It’s not really about hate, it’s about hope.  It’s about changing the world.  And isn’t that what Docudharma is about?

OK, some details, without (I hope) spoiling it.  In 1998, in Whitwell, Tennessee (a small, all-white, all-Protestant town near Chattanooga) the high school principal decided that the kids should learn about some different people.  She decided that the school would study the holocaust.  They started off with not much idea of what to do.  Few of the teachers knew much.  One of the teachers admits to having been rather prejudiced.  The kids got the idea to try to collect a paper clip for every Jew who died in the camps.  This is their story.

Go see it.

It’s inspiring.

My Drill Nation

People try to make us drill,

Just to try to get a gill.

The things they do look awful bad

I hope it stops before it gets more mad.

How To Start A Movement In 3 Minutes And Be The Next Messiah

Tormented by corruption? Feeling Overwhelmed? Depressed? Frustrated? Fed up to f’ing here with the state of the world?  Bedeviled with angst?

Have a great idea? The best idea ever hatched in a human mind in all of recorded history? You’ve been to the mountaintop and he spoke to you and only you, man?

Are you the one the world has been waiting for all these millenia?

Are you Morpheus, man? Have you got THE ANSWER? The WAY?

The ONE TRUE PATH to world peace and justice for all but you’ve also had it up to f’ing here with all the morans in the world who are simply far too thick and obtuse to know what’s good for them and to comprehend your unique brand of genius and won’t get off their fat lazy asses and follow you?

Do you have a movement you’d like to start that you know in your heart will sweep the world like a planet scouring tsunami brushing all in it’s path aside if only you could find your first follower?

Here’s your one chance for a free lesson in becoming the next messiah. Grab this incredible opportunity while it’s hot. It may never present itself to you again.

Inspiration: Activism From Where You Are

Years ago, when I was training for and running marathons, I learned that the best way to perfect form, to have economy of movement, and a smooth, fluid style, was to watch others who ran beautifully and just imitate what they were doing.  It was basic, monkey see; monkey do.  Similarly, when I see somebody who has seized the moment to make the world better, I wonder about what I could do that would imitate what s/he did.  I’m inspired when I see people nourish their activism.

Here’s today’s example from the New York Times:

Playwrights and producers have used scathing commentary, heartbreaking drama and sharp satire to score political points about war, torture, presidents, AIDS, race relations and women’s rights with New York theater audiences. Now the Broadway musical “Hair” is expanding the concept of stage activism by taking to the streets and urging audiences to follow. The producers canceled a Sunday matinee so that the cast and crew could attend and perform at a march for gay rights in Washington on Oct. 11.

That unusual – and expensive – decision to skip a popular weekend performance at the beginning of the theater season originated with the show’s star, Gavin Creel.

“I said, ‘My God, we have to go, we have to go,’ ” Mr. Creel recalled when he first heard about the rally late last spring.

Although Mr. Creel, 33, stars in a show that is associated with ’60s-style activism and sexual liberation, he personally wasn’t much interested in politics before Barack Obama ran for president. On Election Day last November, he said, he was ecstatic that his candidate won, but was crushed by the victory of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. So he decided to help create the activist organization Broadway Impact to mobilize the theater community.

Then in May Mr. Creel met Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, when he came to see “Hair” with Dustin Lance Black, author of the Oscar-winning screenplay for “Milk.” At a party afterward for the release of the cast recording, they all talked about the Oct. 11 National Equality March that Mr. Jones was helping to organize. The rally’s organizers say they are seeking “equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states” for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

And so, to make a longer, interesting story more concise, Gavin Creel and the tribe, the cast of “Hair”, are going to DC for the Equality March.  And they’re closing a Broadway Sunday matinee to do so.  With the full support of the producers of the show.  Because, and this is the important part, because Gavin Creel thought it was a good idea and he decided to try to make it happen.

I just love this story.  It’s inspiring.

It’s a reminder, a beautiful reminder that even seemingly impossible ideas can be brought into reality, and that you and I and everybody else who is passionate about something can make a difference.  It’s surprisingly simple. When we have a good idea, we can decide to try to make it happen.

Here’s to Gavin Creel with thanks for being a great example.  One I happily will copy.  Please join me in that.


simulposted at The Dream Antilles

Musical Inspiration – What music inspires you?

We have a few hours to wait for change, to wait for the mandate to be declared by the majority.  So, until we get to that point, and before the Republican Spin Machine starts flooding the airwaves with the names and numbers of all those to blame for such a turn of events, I thought I’d start a little thread of inspirational music.  Not religious music, unless that’s what inspires you, but music that helps to get one through the day.

I have a few to start with, and feel free to add yours in the comments.  I’m interested to see what we find inspirational on this great day.

Sly and the Family Stone – Everyday People

More below *****************

Welcome To Our Very Own St. Crispen’s Day

So yesterday I wrote a diary pleading for lawyers to help the Obama campaign ensure the vote on election day and the response was overwhelming and heartening.

Lots of “I just signed up” and “I’m in” and “They’ve got my info”, and yet, for every person who stepped up, there was another who said, “I want to help and have sent an email, but no one has gotten back to me.”

Well, to that, I smile and say… we are reaching the St. Crispen’s Day in this election.

St. Crispen’s day?

Henry V. The English badly outnumbered by the French. And in Shakespeare’s retelling, Westmoreland, cousin of King Henry, wished for more troops…


O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day!

…but Henry did not share Westmoreland’s need, wanting instead to hoard the glory…


What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

Happy Mother’s Day

Sorry that i cant embed this video

(click it…watch it….you know you want to)


Me mum left this earth decades ago and me babies chose not to be born. Seems to me I’m the last person to write an essay on mother’s day. So I’ll throw this out thought out there, and ask for your stories.

The creation energy isn’t limited to our bodies; it isn’t limited to our gender. We– all sexes, all ages– experience the process of conception, gestation, birth and mothering through our projects, our gardens, our loves, our lives.  We experience still birth, early death, abortion. We know the power of a two-year-old’s “No!” and rambunctious thoughts that won’t behave. Most of us have colored outside the lines. And we’ve all rocked ourselves, or someone else, to sleep at night.

So, what are your stories of love and creation?  Of sunny days in the park and late nights in darkness?  Who is your favorite mother?  Who is your most troublesome child? What project just wouldn’t take despite the best sex in the world to make it so? And what joy has been just too enormous for a single heart to contain?  “I wanna story!”  😉

Because Kokopelli, that rascal, was a mom, too, I’m sure of it!

Deliver Me

Because of my frank criticism people sometimes question my love of country, but make no mistake, I do love this country.

Aside from a hideous past and a hideous present, what do we have to be ashamed of?  I do love my country.

I love her for her promise.  I love her for what she was meant to be.

I love that we as a people are finally ready for change.  I’m glad that we are making history and that once again we are inspired by a leader with poetry in his soul.  Some have said that words are cheap, and while that can be true, they can also mean everything.

Tommy Douglas

One of the great strengths of this social experiment we call ‘blogging’ is how one writer’s words can inspire others to look at problems in a new light. Even casual throw away comments can cause a light bulb to flash somewhere and start a chain reaction leading to…well, to anywhere one might imagine.

There has been a lot of brainstorming about what to ‘do next’ around here, and it’s all very inspirational stuff. The other day, Meteor Blades stopped by in Buhdy’s manifesto diary with a link to a 40-year old article discussing many of the issues we are struggling with today.

Light bulb. People have been through this before. Duh – how obvious. Still, sometimes the obvious escapes us. Other groups, other communities, other countries have struggled with very similar issues we face today. How do you break through and effect real change? Where do we find our inspiration? How will we be nurtured on this journey? Perhaps history can help us a little.