Reflections made during the year-long odyssey
in search of the first Masters Degree
presented to a Canadian educator
by Brandon University's Faculty of Education

A juxtaposition of thoughts emanating from nostalgia, 
family, music,teaching and the university experience

ACT I: Chapters I-IV (excerpts)
a personal journal...
a new remedy...
PO as a skill...
theory and practice...
first steps....
PO and children...
music of the spheres...
the morning stars sing together...
the colour PO juxtaposition in art...
a personal analogy...
the writing tool box...
computer jargon...
the real you...
outrageous ideas...
not difficult, but different...
even more difficult...
PO mixture...
PO and promotion...
sharp polarization and arrogance...
PO and discontinuity...
nothing in the way...
a metaphoric theory of the river PO...
blocked by the ideas we have...
intelligence and education...
somewhere in time...
perception and first stage education...
...difference push...pull creativity...
judgement and change... 
cures, not complaints... 
PO persuasion... 
split infinitives...
dinosaur dung...
peer evaluation... 
the best laid plans... 
computer takeover computer paradox... 
strange bedfellows... 
find your own voice the moons of barsoom... 
springboards across the mersey... 
pervasive PO... 
there ain't much PO in death... 
the crucifixion... 
divine love... 
crutchifixion cosmos... 
feet of clay... 
stop the future... 
country cousins... 
academic irrelevance... 
old style thinking and the real world... 
crisis of confidence... 
flight and fight... 
PO as a skill, reverse gear and change tool...
everyone's a critic...
beyond a clockwork orange... 
future shock... 
only everything...


CHAPTER III (video documentary)
CHAPTER IV (video documentary)
stop the future... 
PO gestation... 
a pc on every lap... 
red, write and blue... 
lean on me... 
one disk--big risk... 
idea holders... 
good stuff go your own way... 
stir it up... 
information please... 
the techno-teacher friendly persuasion... 
time in a bottle... 
solo PO... 
che english... 
psi---pc/student interaction... 
act one -- pre-writing stage...
act two - writing stage... 
all the world's a stage... 
hunt and peck... 
act three - revision stage... 
the neutral word... 
it's ok...i'm here... 
five-star rating... 
fix it in the mix... 
fleet street... 
the itinerant mentor... 
down the road... 
square pegs--round holes... 
and they're off... 
we shall overcome... 
the diners are served... 
a clockwork orange... 
fantavision credits ...
strathclair school... 
small school technology... 
computer awareness... 
empty traditional classrooms... 
computer classroom... 
language arts workstations... 
writing procedure... 
pre-writing phase and 
. . . motivation composing on screen...
roofreading swaps... 
personal video library... 
audio library... 
home computers... 
software library... 

while my guitar gently weeps... 
listen to the music... 
a long and winding road... 
here comes the sun... 
mile zero... 
nano land... 
show and tele... 
one night stand... 
once upon a morning... 
owed to a guitar... 
bring back the good times... 
omphale's spinning wheel... 
thanks for the memories... 
candle in the wind... 
basement suite in a-flat... 
blowing in the wind... 
you ain't seen nothin' yet... 
wayfaring stranger... 
doo da... 
mark twain... 
the curriculum web... 
to the sea... 
the steeplechase... 
willie and the po boys... 
heart of gold... 
the race is on... 
there's a riot goin' on... 
the motherlode... 
mad artist first borne... 
blue shallow river... 
the river alph... 
dream team... 
the outsiders pooh hollow... 
from the mouths of babes... 
time bandits... 
little house on the prairie... 
back in the ussr... 
good investment... 
follow me... 
"i could-a-bin a champeen"... 
memory take me back...


...and back... 
...to the future... 
coat of many colours... 
virtual reality generators... 
big train from memphis... 
life is a song... 
abbey road... 
harpers bizarre... 
reelin' in soho... 
war of the words... 
invasion of the body snatchers... 
something wicked this way comes... 
turn turn turn... 
the kettle boils... 
twin peaks... 
blackboard jungle... 
of mice and men... 
day tripper... 
route canal... 
shop till you drop... 
schicklgrubers, fickleflubbers, and others... 
the 'f' word... 
lame laws... 
a day in the life future shock... 
the show of shows... 
american woman... 
podsnappery in potemkin... 
the high frontier... 
perspicillum perspective... 
20/20 to 2020... 
the fount of wisdom... 
upstairs, downstairs... 
californian or carpathian... 
tut's trove... 
clouseau clues... 
'jogfree' lessons... 
highway 354... 
dejah thoris... 
diggin' up bones... 
deja vu... 
john campbell - pioneer... 
take it to the limit... 
zen and the art of life maintenance... 
time out 4d stretching... 
resource management
buridan's herd... 
wind beneath my wings... 
china song... 
china lady... 
both sides now... 
a grim prairie tale... 
the good ole days when things were rotten... 
the great santini... 
flight of the mockingbird... 
teenage mutant hardrock miners... 
flight of the oesophagus... 
...all the difference... 
dr. frankenstein's prescription... 
quaestio--polygonia interrogationis... 
worlds without end... 
mrs. ludlam's k-9s... 
bathysiderodromorphobia and historiomorphobia... can be cured... prairie mecca... 
my darling boy... 
i.e.p. *** s.v.p.... 
sins of the teachers... 
ok wise guy--you try it... 
desert storm full cycle... 
it'll never fly... 
prom night, niagara falls, reno and beyond... 
hansel and gretel on the yellow brick road... 
gossamer umbrellas... 
just the fax ma'am... 
luddites in lotus land... 
the 5 s's meet the 5 w's--2b or not 2b... 
new clear fusion...
alone again...
up against the wall... 
sons of thetis... 
ego to go... 
occupational hazard: careers... 
from the rear... 
press gangs--000press drills vs. press freedom--press agents... graduation day... 
walls and bridges and troubled waters
hurricane - willy willy - cyclone - typhoon... 
don't stop... 
sorcerer's apprentice use it or lose it... 
golden goose or golden eggs... 
joy to the world (aka jeremiah the bullfrog)...
run like hell... 
smell the flowers... 
view from the trellis... 
rose-coloured specs... 
good-time jamboree... 
zen and the art of cycle maintenance... 
the old man and the sea... 
off the wall... 
intrepid margins... 
poseidon's trident... 
sittin' on the dock of the bay... 
bay street shuffle... 
under the bay leaf... 
passing of the laurel... 
under the plow... 
sonar waves... 
so what? so when? so why? so who? so where?... 
cram it!... 
solomon's curse... 
ring the brass bell... 
take it to the ex spurts... 
olduvai gorge... 
september 1st...
do dos or dodoes?... 
how're the kids rex... 
tele--the fast talkin' agent... 
outlaw ramblin' band...
hillman express... 
rule of rapport--take it to the max... 
side track... 
take the bull... 
reign in' a catadoupe... 
talk to me... 
over the top... 
into no man's land...
suicide is painless?... 
eagle woman... 
o billie boy...my darling boy... 
royal canadian air force... 
joy geen
SeaQuest: A dramatic reading for educators

ACT I Chapters I-III (excerpts)


"imagination is more important than knowledge" einstein
a personal journal
This quotation came to mind as I sat in my first class of the first course in my venture back to Academia. A major activity in the course is to involve a daily, on-going journal of personal knowledge linked to course content and professional experience. All of this, however, is to be done in such a way as to reflect my own character - to find my own voice - and to take the venture as far as my imagination and creative abilities can stretch. The daily ramblings are to be fodder for a final paper - format of my own choosing. The style and spirit of the resulting paper owe much to the thinking tool PO proposed by Edward De Bono. This is totally unlike any assignment I have ever attempted under the "education umbrella - you hold the culmination of this effort in your hands.

first steps
Little China-Li often begs to go for a walk through the cow pasture down to the ravine so we can play on the big round bales. The innocent excitement of a four-year-old is a remarkable dose of therapy anytime, so I never fail to put down my work for a while and off we go exploring with our Pyrennese/Newfoundland pup Mya. If only I had the wonder, grasp and retention for new things that this little marvel has. A pre-requisite for every teacher should be to bear and spend time with his own child - it gives an emotional outlook and tolerance far surpassing that from any other experience in life. The ultimate PO generator. There is no experience quite like such a walk in a fantastic, cool, sunny day with an energizing west wind. Fall is so bitter-sweet - so much like going into middle age.

PO and children
"it is a wise father that knows his own child" Shakespeare... For a while, a long time ago, we wrote down the words from the mouths of our babes. We stopped. I don't know why. We must have been too busy. I think we may even have lost the book. I hope not. It would be a tragedy if we have. I have written nothing better or of more import in my life. Funny how the really important things in life distill down to that which is most simple...and so fleeting...
Our China-Li is four...Robin is nine...and Ja-On is 12. Coincidentally each falls within one of the three intellectual ages of man as described by De Bono. He would be reassured to learn, I am sure, that China is our 'why-girl'. It seems that every phrase, every look is permeated with "Why Dad?" But it is a two-way street, as I feel I have as much to learn from her. I long to crawl into her magical world where everything is filled with wonder...to relive a past I have long forgotten...to break down the most profound into little phrases...to have heroes to look up to...to have someone wipe my nose - or dab a tear. Robin creates. He puns and funs. Our house is filled with drum rolls, piano arpeggios, fridge drawings, inventions, books, rocks, junk, tears of frustration, 'why not's... and laughter. Ja-On has been through seven years of school larnin', peer pressure, and goodnight hugs. He is also the eldest. He is grown up. Ja protects and explains things to the little guys. But really, the little guys are protecting him...they are holding him back from the jaded years of adolescence... I'm glad. God I love them

music of the spheres
A love of and association with music can be vital part of one's whole being and it has a direct bearing on how a person thinks, acts, talks, teaches and writes. Despite the fact that I have tried to keep the two careers separate (it saves hassles from school boards, administrators and even some parents) I have sometimes shared my song writing with students - but, my innate shyness usually takes over and I seldom go too far with the venture. Writing is such a personal thing - far easier to play-act the interpretation of a song on a stage, looking into blinding lights and role-playing to an anonymous sea of faces.

the morning stars sing together
Creative scholarly writing and PO application have much in common with writing a song - an activity with which I am perhaps more familiar. Good songs usually have a hook - title - turn of phrase - pun - metaphor - analogy - riff - and even the jargon of the genre. Every word must count but within the confines of rhythm, rhyme and convention. Indeed, many progressive writing teachers often assign precis assignments emphasizing these elements to be done on 3x5 cards - the similarities to songwriting, and the value of both activities in the ultimate writing of 'more serious' papers becomes more and more obvious.

the colour PO
What colour is Po?... White - Black - Gray - Purple - Sunburst Gold...?... PO is Insolation White - the light which comes from the source of life - Sol...our star...our sun. Light which is made up of all colours of the spectrum - rainbow burst - all melded to form white...... .......but imagination is the prism......

juxtaposition in art
I have had to shift gears many times recently to accommodate the many demands of writing styles required in my Master's courses. One of my favourite tasks has been the creation of creative analogies. A silly comparison kept coming back to me until I decided, for want of a better idea, to try to do something with it. Eventually it developed into a rather interesting exercise: a personal comparison to a guitar string. I ended up tossing out most of the original comparisons for brevity - hoping that what I kept wouldn't come across as being too sophomoric. It is always hard pushing the fledglings from the nest into the real, critical world but the class seemed to like it.

a personal analogy
In recent months I have found myself approaching a state of juxtaposition with the ubiquitous guitar string. With mounting work and study pressures, I find myself being stretched to a tautness akin to that experienced by a Gibson Special being tightened to playing pitch. Too many turns and it breaks, but, if not enough pressure is applied, the string stays too loose and is unplayable, sluggish and discordant. Tuned to the proper pitch, the string is sympathetic to waves from the ether and is capable of producing a product which appeals to the player, the listener... and the instrument Maker.

nothing in the way
Very often we encounter a different kind of block in life or in our creativity - a block that occurs because there is nothing in the way. Because a wide path is available, we are 'blocked' from taking any other path. The main stream is so well-established that it is extremely difficult to find an alternative way even if one is already available.

a metaphoric theory of the river PO
The creative growth of a person may be likened to the evolution of a river which passes through stages of youth, maturity and old age. We all start as little wandering streams but we soon enter into the straight-ahead, down-cutting regime of a rushing river. Some never abandon this stage - ever onward - down, down - yes/no - no-Po. One who shows Po development soon commences to meander laterally and enters braided channels - abandoning non-productive loops like oxbow lakes. Some people are completely cut off from the mainstream, to ever wander as parallel yazoo rivulets on the swampy floodplains of life.

blocked by ideas we have
This is no more evident than in the field of education. Old traditional ideas of what is good schooling keep getting in the way - set hours - set grades - straight rows - stern disciplinarians... Teachers tend to teach the way they have been taught and the system perpetuates itself. Universities and teachers' colleges complain about the quality of students entering their doors so they promptly set about to rectify the situation by lecturing, assigning essays and term papers, and insisting on students to fit into their little jelly molds. These paragons of higher learning are soon emulated and graduates leave the iv(or)y covered towers so as to recruit another crop for the old alma mater.

intelligence and education
"Education thrives on tests and measurement."
We have a fixed idea of something called "intelligence." We too often neglect other concepts such as learning ability, effectiveness, drive and motivation, thinking ability and creativity - or the whole human being. The long list of famous people who frustrated teachers and did very poorly in school includes: Churchill, Einstein, Edison, Darwin, Ford, Newton, Puccini, and Wellington - a rather illustrious group. a common fallacy about intelligence and education

"Spaling iz ah mayjer in dick ator uv 1's intellajintz, liter assy und scil." Charlie Farquharson?

Highly intelligent people may be very poor spellers. Uniformity in spelling is quite a recent development in English, springing from the rapid increase in printed material since Shakespeare's day. During the time of Elizabeth I, nobody worried much about "correct spelling." One wonders how intelligence and literacy were judged back in the days when England's greatest literary genius was spelling his name Shakespere on one page of his will and Shakespeare on the next. It was not until the middle of the eighteenth century that English spelling achieved something approaching uniformity. Bernard Shaw once pointed out that ghoti can quite logically spell "fish": gh as in enough - o as in women - ti as in nation. Today's "logical" or "phonetic" spelling, fixed in form by the printing press, has become convention whether it "makes sense" or not. In any case, viewed from the long perspective of the history of our language, spelling - or more precisely, making a fetish of it - is quite a Johnny-come-lately.

somewhere in time
The PO mind can not afford the luxury of stalling and hibernating at any point along the time continuum - past present future. Yes, it is sometimes more comfortable to bask in the protection of some time warp...many of us put our minds on a shelf somewhere along the way or live only for today...'wee beasties'... "Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me! The present only toucheth thee: But, och! I backward cast my e'e On prospects drear! An' forward, tho' I canna see, I guess an' fear!" If Robert Burns had never experienced the adrenalin rush of the past and future, the world (and we Scots) would have been a whole lot poorer.

A companion which helps me in timeshifts is music. I suspect that most people have a favourite piece of background music which can transport them to certain moods - the sure-fire mixing ladle for my 'PO pot' is the soundtrack music from the romantic Jane Seymour/Christopher Reeve film on time travel Somewhere In Time. For some reason, this mix of an original score with Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini is the catalyst which works for me. Another favourite is Mark Knopfler's (Dire Straits) soundtrack from the warm, wonderful movie Local Hero. (I guess it helps too, that all the keyboards and many of the arrangements were done by regular Dire Straits member Alan Clark who worked with us on an album we recorded in Durham, England.) Adding to this music-driven time shift, I believe, is an obsessively eclectic fondness for all musical styles across all of the decades of this century - dream machines.

perception and first stage
A popular part of my English courses centers around improvisational drama. Warm-ups for this involve a zen period of meditation followed with karate style stretches and loosening exercises - all done to traditional Chinese music (some of the saddest music in the Universe) or Ravi Shankar classical Indian ragas. All of this is to free the mind and body to enter the world of imagination. Improvisational and scripted mimes lead to improv activities a la the Second City Comedy Troupe (SCTV). To make this work, the thespian has to forget the idea that there is only one way of looking at things - a valuable tool a necessary first step in coping with the ever-more complex modern world. Personally, I have tried to avoid the obvious path in almost every aspect of my life - and surprisingly this has usually worked and the result has been a PO pourri of experiences which have melded in sometimes remarkable ways.

Our karate Sensei, Bruce Dunning (Black Belt) of Virden, has never taken a teaching course but he conducts karate classes with enthusiasm, skill and dedication that would be the envy of most school teachers. The discipline - mental, spiritual and physical - is excellent for kids and adults. Karate is the only sport I can think of in which whole families can participate together - it has certainly been a unifying force in our family. Even this martial arts activity seems to have a strong connection with my educational sphere - all of the Wado Kai Karate clubs of SW Manitoba and Saskatchewan use school gymnasiums with full sanction of all the various school boards.

Little did I know when I became involved in karate that many of the principles of this martial art would cross-over into the other arts. The first realization came when it dawned on me that many of the moves were very familiar...Elvis was a black belt karateka and many of his stage moves which dazzled us in Vegas back in the '70s were a direct outgrowth of his karate training. An even more vital link was pointed out by Dr. Robin Enns who showed us that one great creative ploy involves the concept of 'push-pull'. In addition to being the basis of our style of karate - Wado Kai - this 'philosophy' which involves deflecting and going with an opponent's power so as to unexpectedly turn it back on him, can also be used to great effect in everyday life and in the creative arts. I have seen this maneuver used very effectively in debates, show business, interviews and teaching - especially in dealing with difficult students - to shock and throw people off balance. As a variation of this in my writing or in my career, I often go with the flow or spin to pick up momentum enough to tangent out of orbit in an unexpected direction and with unpredictable force.

creativity...judgement and change
"The PO system explores and creates new patterns...With it you move away from old ideas to try and find new ones." It is always a pleasure to talk over old times with Barry Forman, a close friend, and former band-mate, college classmate and teaching colleague. He recently delivered a bit of a bombshell - his son Kent, who has been teaching violin at BU and playing in the Winnipeg Symphony, has put his music career on hold to go back to University to study law. He has played since age four and I guess he decided there must be something more to life.

cures, not complaints
There are so many more activities and programs for students now compared to when I went to school - there just are not enough hours in the day for the active teenager. The country seems like a good place to raise a kid - I believe there are much fewer temptations and bad influences in a rural lifestyle. It's a pity that there are such increasing pressures on the "small school" and the teachers who choose to work there. There is so much which can, and needs to be done to save our little towns but so few people are prepared to change the "old think" and do something about the future. po persuasion

Ponce de Leon Rest Home Hardware Stores
A tantalizing magic elixir for aches and pains and squeaky door hinges is cascading through the portals of your local PdL hardware store. WD-40 - an all-purpose lubricant - is experiencing phenomenal success lately as sufferers of arthritis and a multitude of muscle maladies are limping to their favourite ironmonger for relief. Users of the product swear by its penetrating and pain-soothing properties when it is used as a liniment. Surely, more relief must be just around the corner as sufferers discover our cholesterol-reducing STP, Turtle hair wax and jumper cables for faulty pace-makers.



strange bedfellows
The blossoming of the computer age gives a whole new perspective to Po. Computer awareness class discussions often center on computer "pioneers" with much of the talk revolving around the role of Apple in the early years (late '70s). Wozniak and Jobs created one of the first home-market micros in a garage in California. They were very much the creative hippies and struck a sympathetic chord with many loyal customers who saw them as "the little guy" pitted against the corporate giants. Their company grew and for a while all factions of art, science, creativity, pleasure, business and young and old came together - but only for a while. The unique marriage of these strange bedfellows fell apart as one of them, big business, outgrew the marriage bed...indeed, he outgrew the bedroom. The company creators felt uncomfortable as business administrators - their interest lay in creativity and in developing new ideas. The yes/no element of the "marriage" pushed them out of the bed and hired a real business man to run the company. He certainly had the experience, he used to sell Pepsi. Apple continues to make money but somehow much of the grassroots spirit is gone and many would argue that so are the fresh ideas and creativity which were so evident in the early years. No Po No Mo'

This whole business of writing seems to be a constant quest and seems to lead one from one step to another up some horizonless inner wall of some infinite sphere.

find your own voice
Every class and piece of required reading in Dean Robin Enns' graduate writing is concerned with the importance of imagination and the releasing of imagination in writing - of finding one's own voice. Writers are encouraged to write from their own experience or perceptions in a style that is an idiom or match for their true characters. More and more I find my self reaching back into my formative years to acknowledge from where some of my inspiration has come.

the moons of barsoom
Writers such as Ray Bradbury and even thinkers/scientists such as Carl Sagan acknowledge a debt to the pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bradbury writes:
A number of people changed my life forever in various ways. But Mr. Burroughs convinced me that I could talk with the animals, even if they didn't answer back, and that late nights when I was asleep my soul slipped from my body, slung itself out the window, and frolicked across town never touching the lawns, always hanging from trees where, even later in those nights, I taught myself alphabets and soon learned French and English and danced with the apes when the moon rose.

But then again, his greatest gift was teaching me to look at Mars and ask to be taken home. I went home to Mars often when I was eleven and twelve and every year since, and the astronauts with me, as far as the Moon to start, but by Mars by the end of the century for sure. We have commuted because of Mr. Burroughs. Because of him we have printed the Moon. Because of him and men like him, one day in the next five centuries, we will commute forever, we will go away... And never come back... And so live forever.

I too did all of this, but the difference is I never learned to express the legacy as Bradbury learned to do so well.

springboards across the mersey
Lennon and McCartney were often amazed at the serious in-depth analyses made of their songs. Like most limitedly schooled rock musicians they chose words for their sounds and absurdity and purposely left the lyrics ambiguous so that "deep thinkers," and even - rechh - music critics, could use them as springboards to launch their own imaginations. Perhaps this is all that any great writer or composer should be expected to do.

there ain't much PO in death
Death seems to make its presence felt in cycles. Our cross-the-road neighbour is engaged in a death struggle with cancer - just another in a long line of victims in our immediate community over the last few years. Meanwhile, Uncle Don - Mom's brother - has had a series of very serious heart attacks. He looks great considering that he has gone through agonizing pain and has kept death at bay with nitro tablets - morphine - intensive care hook-ups, etc. They warn me that the condition is handed down through the mother's side of the family - not very reassuring - maybe I'm next. I'm not the first to ponder death.

"Death may be beautiful; dying is not." "It is so much like our own lives when we stand in perfect vigour and feel so much that time has given us all his flowers... ...and that the next work of his idle fingers will be to steal them one by one away." "As we advance in life we acquire a keener sense of the value of time." There ain't much Po in death. Lights on/Lights off... "Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."

the crucifixion
The same Sunday morning programs on my one-eyed video friend which get my writing juices flowing also bring me to a realization of De Bono's criticism of the sharp polarization of 'good' and 'evil' and the resulting intolerance, arrogance, righteousness, and dogmatism bred by the fear, sin, and guilt associated with the Crucifixion. Although I respect dedication and personal commitment, I can't help but get a little impatient, annoyed and even somewhat frightened by many of the over-zealous missionaries who try to force their particular brand of religion on every moving thing. Their god has chosen some pretty second-rate people to represent him/her. I'm reminded of the Shangri-la philosophy in Hilton's Lost Horizon "The jewel has many facets." "Our people would be quite shocked by having to declare that one [religion] was completely right and another completely wrong." "It is possible that many religions are moderately true." Think of how many religious wars and how much destructive prejudice could have been avoided if a more tolerant Po-like premise had been followed by civilization. Any crackpot can justify anything he does by saying it is the will of God. God is on our side. God's word. God's will. God's only son?

divine love
As De Bono suggests, the world might have been a better place if somehow the Crucifixion had been dropped; this would have emphasized divine love rather than the dangerous yes/no arrogance associated with this historic death. I see so much of what passes as religious thinking as being anti-intellectual - a spewing of platitudes without thinking -"Thou shalt not...Thou shalt not...Believe without questioning - Fahrenheit 451 - 1984? Elmer Gantry - Wyndham's Chrysalids? Jimmy Swaggart - Jimmy Bakker - Jimmy Jones - Jimmy Snow. A "religious person" can do just as much harm to his fellow man as an non-religious person and can usually do it with less humour and more prejudice and misguided intentions. As with all Yes/No proponents, since an idea that is right is absolutely right, there can be no point in going further to look for a better idea. This smugness of logic cuts off creative exploration by making it unnecessary. They dare not question and this leads to incestuous tail-chasing within the parameters set by traditional doctrines.

There are many people in my circle of acquaintances who owe a tremendous debt to their religion (although many of them are tithing it off annually at a rate of 10 per cent of their incomes). Their beliefs have helped them whip personal devils, emotional trauma, grief, failed relationships, misfortunes, chemical dependency and have helped them to get their lives back on track. So many of us have soft emotional underbellies and I guess it's a matter of whatever gets us through the night.

I consider myself very religious but I guess I have taken a lateral loop around the 'middle man' - I've gone right to the top - The Cosmos. This is infinity... timeless... everything and more... beyond our imaginations... a question mark... creation and destruction constantly - before our eyes... ever expanding - ever contracting... minute - colossal... Theory and Practice (whoops! how'd that get in there - we'll leave it - I think it fits).

feet of clay
I have had many idols throughout my existence - I have believed in many people and things but they have all developed feet of clay. I expect a belief in a mystical being would meet with the same end - certainly none of the popular gods appear to be doing much to alleviate suffering, disease, injustice, unhappiness and man's inhumanity to man on this infinitesimal speck in the Universe. I have never tried, till now, to formulate these thoughts into words - this is not a popular stand to take in a country where most people will mouth what they believe are Christian beliefs without question.

stop the future
"manitoba schools face teacher shortage" brandon sun
My frustrated, out-of-work "Master's friend" threw this headline at me the other day. All efforts to find work as a class seven teacher for the last three years have met with dismal failure and rejection. He is not alone. We have, and are producing many teachers who are falling through cracks in the system. The fact that hundreds of education graduates can not find work should be some indication that the mill is turning out teachers not meeting the needs of today's society. It is a strange chaotic situation when there is such a demand for teachers in many areas while in the waiting room there is a cattle call of out-of-work professional.

country cousins
"the more change there is, the more chaos will there be, 
since chaos is caused by differing rates of change in different parts of the system"
The rural areas seem to be taking most of the brunt of the current upheavals in education. There is a reluctance of city dwellers to relocate to small towns due to the current stigma attached to the rural lifestyle. A lower standard of living, inadequate housing and amenities, lower wages, flack about being over-paid, lack of teaching resources, a scarcity of people in one's own age group and social status...these are just some of the problems facing a teacher considering a move to the country. Instead of alleviating the problem, technological advances seem to be compounding the problem. The Information Age, Computer Age, and Global Village concept all seem to be hastening the exodus from the country. Perhaps it is time to make the assumption that we are all Canadian persons living in a global village as part of a Global Village where our links to our neighbours are via technology and English. It doesn't take much of a mind shift to see that it is just as feasible to make links to the global community from Strathclair as from Brandon.

academic irrelevance
"the universities used to be the centres of thinking, but they are now dropping out of the scene ... old style intellectual habits have no relevance to the modern world"
Sadly, many institutes of "higher learning" seem to be wrapped up in navel probing and rear-view mirror gazing. Many professors are so concerned with 'publishing' that their classes 'perish'. Surely, one can preserve academic traditions and remain a member of the intelligentsia and still bring a '90s relevance to courses...too many "P"s and not enough "cues"... Pipes - patches - puppies (hush) - pulpit - past - preach - papers - prestige - publish or perish - passivity - preserve the past - plato - passe - pablum-for-the mind - piss-up-the-wall measurement of achievement...let's hatch a phoenix.

old style thinking and the real world
We have been equipped to defend ideas but have not been given any tools for changing ideas. More and more the gloom-and-doom artists are making themselves heard. We are surrounded by talk of the good old days when times were simpler and better. My mother often calls me into the retirement lodge to adjust her VCR, TV, stereo, or digital appliances and I am always amazed at the limited range of interests her lodge-mates possess. My mother, who reads everything in sight and is a world news fanatic, is a little out of sync with many of them - they constantly complain about lack of things to do and the long, long days. Many of these doomsayers are stalled in a time warp of their youth - perpetuating the likes dislikes, dress, speech, habits of their formative years - forgetting just how bad the 'good ole days' really were - now awash in a sea of new technology and values - a sea not necessarily 'gooder or badder', but infinitely more exciting.

flight and fight
Many of the problems experienced by young people and indeed, a large segment of the rest of society, stem from their being saddled with an old-style thinking system which is inadequate to deal with the modern world. Class discussions bring out some scary attitudes and beliefs - a direct result of their lack of coping strategies. Evangelists, cults, astrology, mysticism, drugs, satanism, the world of heavy metal, a distorted view of sex, glorification of mindless violence - are all ways of coping with a world they don't understand. Even scarier is that these are pretty straight-laced kids from stable homes.

PO as a skill, reverse gear and change tool
The experience of creating analogies and metaphors in my graduate writing is one which shall stay with me. It is not that I have never thought in, or created, metaphors but now the whole process is somehow legitimized - it may even be a wild, runaway stallion until I can get a saddle on it. To many of us, approaching the technology and grok of the year 2000 is akin to driving Aunt Nelly's Model 'T' in from the country to explore the big city. Travelling slowly, with shaky steering, intermittent brakes and unreliable reverse gear, we leave behind the pastoral plains with their straight-and-narrow country roads. We suddenly find ourselves in a loud, congested urban setting with traffic jams, fast lanes, slow lanes, passing lanes, back lanes, and dead ends. There are vehicles of all shapes, sizes and speeds navigating by-passes, under-passes, over-passes and day passes through intersections, stop lights, yield signs, radar traps, toll gates, bridges, crescents, bays, potholes, detours and pile-ups. There is an interplay of speeders, crawlers, tailgaters, truckers, patrolmen, impaired drivers, hotdoggers, cyclists, joggers, jaywalkers, pedestrians and dogs. It soon becomes evident that, to cope, we need new skills in communication, law interpretation, lane changing, reverse driving, defensive driving, courtesy, braking, accelerating, map reading, sign reading, parking, entering, exiting, maneuvering, maintenance, and interaction.

everyone's a critic
Accepting criticism as being directed toward your work and as not being of you as a person is one of the hardest things with which an artist has to contend. He has already overcome his severest critic - himself - and has exposed his soul to the world. A tearing away at this offering becomes very hard to accept as anything but personal criticism.


"What are you trying to say?" "Johnny has absolutely no writing potential!" "Stupid!" "This does not make sense!" "Why are you wasting my time?" "Very limited vocabulary." "SUBJECT! VERB! OBJECT!" "Limited perception!" "This is an incomplete sentence!" "I can't believe the calibre of students today!" "Writing at a Grade 2 level!" "Foolishness!" "Johnny is thinking on a very immature level" "Immediate remedial help recommended!" "Johnny requires immediate psychological testing!" "Kids can't think anymore!" "The kid will never be able to communicate with a vocabulary of four words!"


beyond a clockwork orange
Vital to the success of the bold new world of learning is the choice and creation of learning materials. One of my favourite genres in literature is science fiction and I have set up a wide variety of writing ideas centered around imaginative fiction - finding its source in novels, short stories, graphic novels, TV and radio drama, songs and poetry - anything to break through the walls of the mundane. Keeping in mind the necessity of collating a useful toolbox of writing skills I have tried to compile an eclectic potpourri of writing assignments - all to be done on the computer and all related to Sci-Fi. In the two months I have been working with my class I have noticed amazing progress on their part and I feel I have realized my objectives beyond expectations. They have had the added "bonus" of experiencing the ideas I have gleaned from Dr. Robin Enns in my Graduate Scholarly Writing course - ideas which have not really changed my teaching and living philosophy too much, but have surely helped to crystalize and offer encouragement that I may be on the right track. The PO philosophy too, was especially elucidating.

The many themes found in current science fiction provide fertile ground for a multitude of writing and discussion topics - good imagination releasing stuff. I think it imperative that a teacher remains open to new ideas and I am constantly looking for new approaches. It is all too easy to fall into a trap of apathy or arrogance-based smugness. Smugness of logic cuts off creative exploration by making it unnecessary - that dangerous logic which suggests that since an idea that is right is absolutely right, there can be no point in going further to look for a better idea.

future shock
"science fiction should be required reading for future 1" alvin toffler
We have a literature about the future...a literature to take us into the future...and it is science fiction. As with most good literature much of it is rooted in the analogies, metaphors, myths, and conventions of the past, but science fiction writers acknowledge that the power of imagination is limitless - allowing the expansion of our little spheres of understanding and civilization to the limits? of the Cosmos - and beyond present human consciousness. Many people, today, are looking into the future and do not like what they see - they turn for solace in self-pity, cynicism, alcohol, drugs, religion, and mundane pursuits. But a futurist is not content to just fret and fume or mark time - he puts his mental powers to work as he imagines solutions and what marvels could be. Instead of complaining about the future he tries to do something about it. Science fiction can lead our minds through an imaginative exploration of the maze of political, social, psychological, and ethical issues that confront us. It does not try to predict the future or to stamp scientific breakthroughs as good or evil. Rather, it uses imagination to explore the consequences for human happiness and to hold up a mirror to tomorrow to examine contemporary life. As Issac Asimov replied when asked the question: "What's left to write about?"
"Only everything!"

ACTS II & III: Chapters III & IV


ACT IV: Chapters V-VIII (Excerpts)



Who am I?
My lineage is of venerable vintage. The first half of my name comes from the Greek word meaning afar. I share this esteemed title with some of the most important words associated with modern communication: telephone television telegraph telex telescope telemetre telepathy telephoto telespectroscope teletype telstar telephotograph telecommunications
A person or thing that casts
to throw... to launch to throw one end of a fishing line into the water to shape by pouring into a mold used to support something broken while it is mending to arrange actors or parts in a play the actors in a play form, look or appearance
to search or look
to let loose... untie from moorings
to turn upward
to present a ballot for the candidate of one's choice
electronic transmission to the public the act of throwing and scattering seed for dispersion in sowing

I look at the world and I notice it's turning While my guitar gently weeps With every mistake we must surely be learning Still my guitar gently weeps
I don't know how you were diverted You were perverted too I don't know how you were inverted No one alerted you
I look at you all ... see the love there that's sleeping While my guitar gently weeps I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping Still my guitar gently weeps -George Harrison

I'm alone now. Sue-On and the kids have gone to bed (1 am). I look again at the pink book in my hands, I look at the yellow course outline which will dictate most of my waking moments for the next two months, I look up at my music wall. What in Hell am I doing this for? I have turned my back on my old friend hanging on the wall. But why? Like so many of my best teaching ideas, the inspiration hits me under fire. I presumed that a journal would be required in this, the final course of my Masters Programme, but I wasn't sure just how I would approach it. RE suggested tonight that we should cut through the bullshit...that curriculum should involve experiences. Some of my most rewarding lifetime experiences have revolved around that weird-shaped, metal-adorned chunk of wood hanging in front of me. If Robert Pirsig can be presumptuous enough to share a spiritual odyssey with a motor sickle and endeavour to make motorcycle maintenance a high art and spiritual event surely I can turn to my old friend for a bit of guidance. My old friend uses just as much technology and can at the same time be a much more intimate companion. Cycles get you from A to B...they shake...and stink...they can kill you. Guitars transcend such mundane pursuits and in doing so, I feel are much more in tune and in sympathy with the journey upon which I am about to embark.

For some reason, reading and skimming Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance drives home just how much I crave that which has played such an integral part of my life till now...MUSIC. Oddly, this perusal of tonight's book purchase seems for some reason to open a deep yearning for one of my consuming passions - not a motorcycle but my music...my guitar...my Fender...my Telecaster.

I think I have made a big mistake in my teaching. Yeh, after 23 years. I have tried to separate my musical experiences from teaching activities...till now.

Mistakes abound tonight. I skimmed through "Zen" enough to see that much of the book centers around a father's relationship with his son. I read the Afterword. The son was murdered on the streets of San Francisco, some time after this book was first published. For some reason I am really shaken by this - I don't feel like reading this book - I'm afraid it's going to turn into a painful flashback experience. I'm going to try to sleep.

I embark on my odyssey accompanied by Kemo Sabe (my faithful briefcase companion) and my bruised and dented coffee flask. But, along with these regulars I add a touch of pizzazz this morning. Dr. Enns arranged for me to sign out a laptop computer to facilitate the electronic transfer of my writing assignments in the interim between regular classes. True to my promise of last night I also pack a road-weary guitar case adorned with even wearier stickers: North England football clubs, flags, band logos, etc. Wedged in between all of this paraphernalia for teachin' and larnin' is one of my most amazing sources of inspiration - 5-year-old China-Li. Mom, Sue-On, left much earlier for her teaching job at Birtle Collegiate - having crawled out of bed two hours ago. The first stop on the first real day of my two month journey through the mosaic countryside of education is quite fittingly at the door of my daughter's nursery school. She can't wait to get there. She has been dressed and "packed" for hours. Strung across her shoulder is her empty book bag - empty so that she will have room to bring back another lot of paintings, drawings, models and other creations to hang on our already heavily laden fridge door. Our kitchen art gallery would never pass fire inspection. The flurry of excited activity around this nursery school is soon cancelled out by the lethargic scene which greets me across town in the hallway outside the Grade 12 room. Where did they lose this excitement? How can I maintain my daughter's sense of wonder, excitement, and momentum in her quest for knowledge?

(POV WH as pre-schooler) Sheep... sun... porridge... Oh Oh! Bonnie's crying again... Mommy's awake... Oh No! I don't want to go! I bet Mommy forgot. She's not calling me. I don't want to go! Why do I have to go? I don't know any kids. I want to stay with Nipper. We can go down to the tree fort. I saw a rabbit there. "Billieeeee! Time to get up. You don't want to be late for your first day at school. Breakfast is ready." I'll hide under the covers. She'll forget. She'll think I can't wake up. I won't have to go. I just want to hug Noo Noo and stay here for ever and ever.

This year I have the same grade 9 class of 20 kids for three courses - all morning, every morning. I approached this schedule with not a little trepidation. How could I keep twenty kids motivated for four consecutive periods all year long? Despite my fears it has turned out to be a very successful year. Only now, with my yet fledgling new perspective on curriculum, can I start to analyze why it is working. Through employing my own experiences and interests I seem to have made it work. This has been a journey of twenty interacting experience-generating minds travelling through a milieu of different physical settings (I use two classrooms and a multipurpose/stage area), on every known method of conveyance (we experience a barrage of A/V and interaction devices which conjure ever-changing atmospheres, moods, times, weather, and milieux).

(POV WH pre-schooler) I like it when Mommy drives the blue truck. I get to ride by the window. Oh no. Bonnie's crying again. I think Mommy's crying too. Poo ooh stinky diaper. There's Daddy on the tractor! Ouch! My new black lunch kit's getting hot. "When can I open it Mommy?" "Will Gary be there Mommy?" "Will you stay at school with me Mommy?" "Why do I have to go Mommy?"

The first leg of our journey today turned into a Tron-like odyssey - Tele and fellow travellers were drawn with all the force of a black hole into the alien universe of the microchip. Their mission was to try to unravel the mystery of how cold, impersonal 0s and 1s could master the art of music.

(POV Telecaster guitar) I like these times. I get to see faces, reactions, close up. The surprising thing is that kids who think they know so much about rock and the music scene, really know so little about guitars. Even after our classroom demo, few kids could actually name many guitar or synthesizer parts. A speaker is something you sing into, a chord is something you plug into a speaker - a bridge?... a nut?... a pickup?... an acoustic?... Most think I have 4 or 5 strings! Makes me feel like one of Disney's three-fingered anamorphic creations. My style has changed considerably over the last 30 years. There was a time when my partner in sound was just a small amplifier. Even though I sometimes wax nostalgic for simpler times it is with not a small measure of pride today that I bask in the adulation and wonderment shown by the kids in Will's class. Something magic seems to fill the air when people and guitars come together. Most everyone admits to having tried or to having wished he could play the guitar. We started off with my simple solidbody sound but we soon got carried away with chorus, echo delay, octave, compression, overdrive, distortion, and of course this led to a tour of our 128 synthesizer sounds: violins, trumpets, tubas, organs, flutes, percussion, sax, ad infinitum. Most of our time was focused on my synth capacity since the whole raison d'etre for this display was to show the effect of computer technology on music. I think I'll be back.

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (CD ALBUM #10)
Make the same ole rounds 
Hit the same ole towns 
Pickin' Country and Rock 'n Roll
Crowd gettin' loud 
Band gettin' louder 
Till the whole thing's outa control
Hey Hey...All right 
Gonna be All right... tonight
We boogie all night 
Watch 'em brawl and fight 
People never listen like they should
They want the same ole songs 
Say there ain't nothing wrong 
With "Roll over..." and "Johnny B. Goode"
It's a one night stand 
It's a one night stand 
And we're standing up for Rock 'n Roll
Fifteen years 
Of smoke and beers 
And fifteen thousand bars
Nights get lonely 
When you're on your own 
With nothin' but your old guitar
It's a one night stand .......... It's a one night stand
And we're standing up for Rock 'n Roll

(POV WH pre-schooler) "Good Morning Children. How many of you know O Canada? Stand up straight. All of you sing now. Now children, line up along the wall and sit on the bench. Billie can you count to ten? Can you count to five? Can you print your name? What are your initials then? How old are you? Can you talk?" BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP That's the sound of Daddy's blue truck. That's how Bonnie blows the horn. Mommie's ready. Ooo that door is heavy. Now I can go home and play with Grandpa. "Billie! You can't come out yet! It's not noon yet. I'll take you back." "I don't like it Mommie."

(POV Telecaster guitar) I feel like a common whore. Admittedly, I am hanging on a rather impressive music wall, no rundown street corners for me. But can there be any other name for it when one is taken down and used to make money on slam bang weekends... and then put back wet with the discarded Gretsches, Voxes, Harmonies, Mosrites, Silvertones, Banjos, Steels, Chinese Lutes, Fiddles, Flutes, Ovations, Twelve Strings, Yamahas.... You yearned, saved for these others .... these one night flings... you used them but you always came back to me.

Looking back over the thirty years of my life, this year has to be a low point. First you neglected me for the computer - this I tolerated, after all, I am also part of a computer now. But then came the long night drives - I have always been a part of your night life but you have been going alone. Then, my creator, Leo Fender, died last March.

Final blow ... your ode to a guitar string in your last journal...A guitar STRING!!!...Will, we change and discard these things like dirty socks! Not one word about me...about us!

(Words & Music Desperado) (From CD Album #10)
You don't look at me like you used to do Babe 
You don't say the things you used to say
We don't seem to talk like we used to do Babe 
Does it really matter anyway
Is this the end of the line 
Is there nothing left to be said
Do we forget the past - what's gone between 
Or just look straight ahead...or should we...
Try ...to bring back the good times
Try ...to forget all the bad
I ...just wish we could start again
And bring back the good times 
And all the magic they had
Is there any point in this rescue operation 
Is there any meaning to this song
Should we call it quits - no obligation 
Just turn our backs and say so-long
I just can't believe it's over 
Won't you tell me you've changed your mind
O Baby! O Baby! Don't leave this thing behind 
Why can't we just...

(Suspense Radio Show theme)
Some years ago I developed a course for the Department of Education which I called Entertainment Arts. As part of our journey through Language Arts, we often take time to turn off into some of the side trails originally carved out for the Entertainment Arts course. Lately, we have been exploring the long-forgotten world of radio drama. Some of my fondest memories and most formative experiences came out my youthful travels through the Golden Years of Radio. In an attempt to crystallize these memories I have, over the years, amassed a treasure vault of over 10,000 shows from the '30s-'70s. As usual there is just not enough time to share much of this material or experiences with today's travellers. I listened then and the sounds are with me to this day. Radio listening was very important to me. It was certainly more important than eating - I remember bolting down a meal to hear Tom Corbett - Space Cadet, Superman, Gene Autry and The Cisco Kid (coincidentally, as I write this the familiar voice of Jackson Beck comes on, doing a voice-over for Thompson's Water Seal - he must be in his 70s but can still be heard doing commercials and cartoons like the Transformers). Evenings were spent with Jack Benny, George and Gracie, Lux Presents Hollywood, Fibber McGee & Molly, Amos 'n' Andy - the list, and variety is endless. Radio listening was infinitely more important than going to school. How many times did I make my cold last longer so I could stay home to follow kindly old Ma Perkins or Pepper Young through their daily soap operas. Radio listening was as much a part of life as dodge ball, recesses, bicycles and homework. How could you do without it? I fell in love with radio at a very early age, and though the radio I loved is lost to me, my love has continued. Radio was largely a private thing whether in the family circle in the living room, or in bed listening under the covers. You had things your own way in Radio Land. No one could tell you the monster on Lights Out was too gruesome, because you could make it as gruesome as you liked. No one could suggest that Buck Rogers' girl friend, Wilma Deering, wore a spacesuit that fitted rather too snugly for a boy of your age to observe. You ran the show. The results your imagination provided were good. There were no padded shoulders on the Lone Ranger or Batman, Superman flew with no jiggly trick photography, and the Martians whom Orson Welles helped attack Earth were certainly more convincing than anything the movies have ever provided. It was all as true as a dream. A child simply to save his sanity must at times go underground - have a place where he cannot be got at by grownups. Even now my head is swimming with trivia from that time period - but, sadly, no one is interested or wants to hear. I do believe, however, I can use some of these experiences as I attempt to pass on the spirit and wonder of it all to my fellow travellers.

The lights go out. My travellers are scattered about this mysterious world of the imagination on an undulating magic carpet. Organ stings and stabs, minor chords, crescendos, segues, fade-ins, fade-outs, filters, foreshadowing, flashbacks, S-FX, overacting, underacting, laughs, screams... During our trip we travel to outer space, inner space, jungles, deserts, mountains, sea bottoms, the wild west, the orient, '20s...'30s...'40s... '50s... past...present...future.
My travellers entertained each other today. Radio drama is an excellent imagination generator and it opens many doors for creativity and expression. Over the last week we have been creating our own radio scripts - and our rehearsal activities have made their presence known to all within earshot: sound effects, technical tricks, shouts, weird accents, exclamations, wild read throughs, pandemonium. It is a very non-threatening way for shy kids to hang up their wallflower cloaks and to enter the performing arts.

(POV WH 6-year-old) "Stand up straight now Grade Ones. When the curtain is drawn I want you to look out across the theatre audience and try to find your parents. Billie will recite first. Remember to speak up" The lights. They hurt my eyes. Everybody's clapping. Everybody staring. I don't know what to say now. There's Daddy. And Nanny. Why are the kids giggling? I feel awful. They're staring. Teacher's telling me what to say. That's all? The other kids know what to say. Prizes! Maybe I'll get one another time.

(POV Telecaster guitar) I was with you during those lonely awkward early years at Brandon College - in that basement room watching you cook spaghetti when the landlady wasn't smelling, you held me and caressed me while you listened to those far off American radio stations all night instead of cramming calculus, physics, chemistry, crystallography. I was with you before you dreamed of becoming a teacher....remember the nights you stayed out all night...not at beer bashes ... no you weirdo - you came back bleary-eyed after spending all night hiding from the Brandon College Library watchman...hiding in the out-of-bounds board room off the stacks with piles of newspaper archives just so you could bring back some story to me about early show business greats.

(POV Telecaster guitar) We did something today we haven't done enough of over the years - a campfire singalong. This has to be the strangest one I have ever done. We are in a storage room off the gym...the lights are out but there is a glow from a campfire in the middle of the room (a good imitation of one, least). Will arranged earlier for the kids to compile a collection of songs which they all know. Since he had a feeling that this compilation would not be a roaring success, he prepared a backup set of lyrics - mostly songs from the hootenanny era... all of them popular before these kids were conceived. After an initial uneasiness things went surprisingly well...the darkened room was a real motivator. They want to do it again - next time around a smokey campfire and under a bona fide luna (with mosquitoes).

(POV WH First Year University Student)"Taught yourself how to play guitar and sing eh. Blues...Bluegrass...Bob Dylan...Beetles (sic) ... BeBop...Boogie Woogie... Working your way through college by doing television, radio shows, playing one nighters and bars uh? Sorry son, we don't offer college courses on that type of stuff... well, you might try the Music Department... Lorne Watson. History of Western Music... Wagner... Mozart..." "Sure... I'll take it. Wow... listening lab... stereo headphones... stereo records... A new world!!!" "Where are you going with that Elvis record...Johnny Cash!?? THE BLUEGRASS OF DON RENO & RED SMILEY... Good God! Do you know where you are?... We study MUSIC here!" Great in stereo though.

Many progressive curricularists like to adopt the metaphoric self-image of swimming upstream against the mainstream deluge of current practice. This image has a certain appeal to my rebellious side but going upstream can not change the course of flow nor can it have any effect on the shape and nature of the river bed. It changes the mainstream little or not at all - water will not run up hill. The combatant struggling against the current is gradually worn down. I am convinced that a more effective strategy must be to use the momentum and power of the mainstream. One can harness such power and redirect it to carve out cutoffs and new channels downstream - to reach the sea carrying maximum alluvium, with maximum force, at peak flow.

Much of my time lately has been ticked off thinking about curriculum. I have tried numerous methods of sorting and classifying the various definitions of curriculum. The harder I have tried to come up with fancy cut-and-dried sheaves for the stook, the more I have kept sliding back to the original latin root of curriculum - "race course." All of the words I have ever heard applied to curriculum have kept dovetailing and veneering together into some amorphous, kaleidoscopic, surrealistic, spiraling race course. I have been immersed in the pool of education for over 40 years - at all grade levels, in nearly every subject, on both sides of the desk, and in many strange places - steered fore and aft, starboard and larboard (yes, and sunk and salvaged) by many different navigation lights - and as a result I have been tugged and tucked, shrivelled and shrunk, rolled and reamed, ballooned and burst, and illiterated and alliterated into some kind of mutated hybrid cynic and pollyanna clone...in equal parts. 

While attempting to condense the various species of curricula down to a wieldy file card size, an image of Darwin kept coming to mind. "Mr. Darwin...Please classify the contents of your Origin of the Species in a hundred words or less on the palm of your hand." In my dilemma, my first thought was to turn to contemporary experimenters who had just invented the zoetrope - an animation device that contained a pedestal-based revolving drum slitted so that as it was spun around, small figures in various positions (such as horses on a race track) on a strip of paper inside the drum seemed to be in motion when viewed through the slits. My plan of creating a dynamic, visual interpretation of the runaway, ever-interacting, centrifugally-bound curricula thoroughbreds fell through when I made a model on the required 3x5 card. It made a drum which could only be considered a success - and comprehensible - in Lilliput.

(POV WH a kid on the farm) "Do you know what we used to do Willie, when I was a kid back in Elrose, Saskatchewan. We used to make water bombs out of scrap paper." "Holy Cow, Dad! Neat!" "You fold a square. Fold again. Fold diagonally. Again. Bring together. Now fold the edges in. Tuck away the wings. Put your mouth over the opening...AND BLOW IT UP. It holds water. It's like a hollow ball...a sphere." Wait till I show the kids...not all the kids...just Boof and Bill and the gang. We're gonna terrorize the school. What if I put ink in it?

A racecourse is just too 2-dimensional - that's the whole trouble with curriculum today. How about a SPHERE! Round! Expanding. PO! Yeh. Think tank. Nuh uh! DeBono doesn't go far enough with his term "lateral thinking." I see it as 3-D thinking. Expanding Universe! How to turn a file card into a sphere? No, you silly bugger...not that...A WATER BOMB!? Nope! Back to Lilliput. It's a golf ball...Maybe Dr. Enns is a golfer. It would float. Waaaaiiit. It is just a vessel. An idea generator. I can still put the concepts/ideas/defs on a card. 59 words. Cut them out of the card. Leave the frame of the card. Put the words into the ... the ... Dialectic Generator - The Dialectic Sphere of Curriculum. Mix them up. Pull out words. Fit them back into the empty frame of the file card at will. Fill it up. Any order that fits. All the defs that fit. Voila! 3X5. Do it every day. The only definition I can live with.
Thanks Dad.

(POV WH a kid on the farm) Gold! Here in our own stone pile. "Mom can I have some cloth to sew some little bags?...and a needle and thread?" "Look Mom! Look what I sewed!" I'll hide the bags all along the stone fence with the other treasure I've hidden there. The best stones I'll put in my pirate chest under the verandah...nobody can get in there. I've got almost enough pop bottles in there to buy another Hardy Boys or Zane Grey book. Wow! I'm going exploring again tomorrow.

For over 10 years now my blood "yung uns" have been finding little bundles of treasure in English style stone fence around our grounds. Fantasies of pirates, wild west prospectors, sunken galleons, and all the popsicles such long lost treasures could buy lure them back year after year to peer into all the hidden recesses of the ancient stone wall built by their great grandfather.
The broadcasting and harvesting of such touchstones along the road we travel is probably my most important, and most enjoyable task - and I hope, an ongoing legacy.

(POV WH a kid in junior high) Humming Bull, Keyhole Mugsy, Korak the Grocery Boy...Ken, Catherine, and Ernest don't seem to mind their characters - they are even giving me stories about themselves to put into my book. I've got to finish drawing this page by noon...then if I can get it coloured I can pass it around. Oh Oh...here comes the teacher...she doesn't like comics. Last week she took away one of the greatest pocketbooks I have ever bought - Mad Strikes Back by Harvey Kurtzman. If I could draw like Wallace Wood, Jack Davis and Will Elder I could sell a million of these comics. I'd draw everyone in the school. And the stories - are they funny: Prince Violent...Gopo Gossum...Ping Pong... Poopeye... Teddy and the Pirates...Manduck the Magician... Superduperman... WOW!

(POV Telecaster guitar) One of the first songs Will and I wrote, over 20 years ago, was really a metaphor. Sue-On and Will did a great job of singing this song about a free spirit lover and I put in some pretty original chord and key changes:

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (CD Album #10)
Blue shallow river Why must you race
Blue shallow river Why not slow your pace
Take it slow in your wanderin' Must you keep drifting free
Why be always searching For a distant land or a never reaching sea
Blue shallow river Stand your own ground
Blue shallow river Get yourself unwound
You know love's never going to find you 
In your dance to a distant hill
You can let your dreams unravel 
Only if you take it in your mind to lie still

A teacher employing journals in his teaching is calling on the student's own resources which means he must have the patience and wisdom to listen, to watch and wait, until the student's stream of thought becomes apparent. This stream may be quite irregular and meandering but learning becomes incomparably easier if it is built on such a dynamic basis. The teacher's duty is merely to set the creative pattern into which these forces will then naturally flow and to promote a constant flow from the well of inspiration. This is not a new idea - it can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece but mankind has seldom had the desire or intelligence to apply such an insight to the process of education. Why is it assumed that education must involve only the layering on of endless veneers of alien wisdom when there is such magic locked inside already? I see a journalistic approach to teaching as a way of drawing out, or better still, just releasing this elixir to enable it flow out under its own power. Destructiveness and creativity are opposed forces in the realm of the mind. I have found that a student's creativity nearly always develops and grows at the expense of his destructiveness. To create is to construct, and to construct cooperatively is to lay the foundations of a peaceful community. Great changes in the destiny of mankind can be effected only in the minds of our young.

So much hangs on the love of reading - an aversion to the written word is a habit we have observed... and promoted - if unintentionally... for too long in our education system. For the reluctant reader, the books must be made out of the stuff of the student himself.I have found such a motivating piece of reading to be the s.e hinton novel, The Outsiders.

We stopped at a clearing along the road today to share another chapter of the teen novel The Outsiders - which even though set in the '60s, still reeks of relevancy. All of us sought out a different part of the wood to mark off our private little dream capsule - a place where we could comfortably and magically crawl into the pages. After reading our chapter of the day we all wrote three observations in the form of questions, or open ended statements, into our road journals..."I don't understand why...What bothers me about...My favourite scene occurred when...I don't think it fair that... I predict that..." All through the process we decorated the facing page of the journal with sketches, random thoughts, words, poems, songs, pictures, doodles, tracings, lipstick impressions, fonts... anything to convey our immediate impressions. We call this hodgepodge potpourri our "Bonkers Page." I promised my fellow artists that they would soon have even more fodder to add as the Francis Ford Coppola movie adaptation is playing just down the road.

(POV Telecaster guitar in England) They're looking at us kinda funny Will. Haven't they ever seen Canadians before...I'm sure they've seen Telecasters before...Albert Lee plays one. And Clapton (God) plays a Stratocaster. Three nights ago we played Saskatchewan, two nights ago Sault St. Marie, and last night we slept in a posh hotel in Bromley, Kent...are you as tired as I am. I believe all the stories about jet lag now. England's longest drought and heat wave for almost a century! Not much greenery here. All day in a Cromer van - the gear and eight people - to get from London to Middlesborough. You mean we play up there...no air conditioning...500 people...the what?...the Boofs...oh...The Order of the Buffalo. A Workingman's Club. How do we plug in? 220 volts? Are these amps going to work? Damn rented stuff. We're on in half an hour? We haven't even had a sound check. The houseband opens for us? Then a comedian and singer. OK. We're on for half an hour? OK. Then you break for what? Housie? Oh. Bingo. We close with a dance set...before ELEVEN? That's it? No we're not Yanks. We're from the colonies. Whew! That made a difference - but we're still outsiders. Now if we could just understand THEM! It's lonely up here...just me and Willie, Sue-On on those rented Rogers drums and Kevin on that silly Hohner Clavinet and keybass. I hate to admit it but I think being with teachers helps a bit up here. The Beatles played here? Here? ... and Elton John?... Neil Sedaka?... What do you mean we went down a bomb? They seemed to like us. Aha. To bomb is to do good here. All right. Bring on another 30 nights...and a shandy.

(POV WH pre-schooler) They're the ones. They're my favourites. Peter Rabbit, ABCs and Brer Rabbit. Read longer tonight Mommie...Please.

As I packed for the day's journey this morning, I noticed that China-Li had helped organize my briefcase again. She often sends little things that we have shared and enjoyed as family - things that she thinks my students would also enjoy. Usually I leave them unpacked - a little girl's simple treasures - rocks, sketches, bugs, figurines, cookies, etc. don't always hold much appeal for a super cool adolescent (it sure must be boring being cool). 

This morning's offering, however, touched a sympathetic chord - it was a simple little book I had read and sung to her last night. I had promised to read aloud a chapter of The Outsiders to my rowdies today but something told me the time was right to go against the grain and really get back to basics. I read the book to a group fully prepared to hear about gang rumbles, teen alienation, and generation gaps. Instead they were stroked with simple, childlike words - words which stoked the universal reciprocal emotions which forge the love ties between parent and child. 

The book describes a mother coming into her son's room each night after he falls asleep, to gaze lovingly at his sleeping face and to hold and rock him gently as only a proud, admiring, loving mother can do. Each time she sings the same lullaby - a bond timeless and universal. The pages describe her doing this through all the stages of her son's growth - infant, toddler, school age, right up till he leaves home to start a family of his own. One night he receives a feeble telephone call for help and he races back to his old home to rock and embrace, hold and comfort her one last time. The last page shows a baby girl asleep in her father's arms while he rocks and sings:
I'll love you forever I'll love you for always As long as I'm living My baby you'll be
Not a dry eye in the house.

(POV WH school kid on the farm) Oh no! Not again! My head! My throat! ...and I can't stop coughing. Heck! I'm sick. Hey! I can stay home from school. Nanny will make eggnog with snow in it. I can listen to radio and read my books all day ... and play war with my soldiers ...and all my neat junk. Mommie will bring me ice cream & orange juice and Nannie will rub my back. It's not bad being sick at home.

Dixie cup lids with movie stars! Beanie badges with comic book characters! Tarzan Big Little Books! for box tops Buck Rogers Secret Repeller Ray Ring! Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring! from Ovaltine Invisible Ink! from Sky King Straight Arrow cards! from Shredded Wheat Official Pilot's Hat! from Cream of Wheat Roy Rogers Bandanna and Six Shooter!
Nooo oooH ...not the mustard plaster!!!

Curriculum should be intertwined with the student's home experience...but the sad truth is that many students come from either a near-vacuum or home situations they would rather forget. Many of these kids find far more fulfillment hanging out on street corners or at the 7-11. My home has always been the core of my existence. I dwell with family, love, warmth, shelter, food and entertainment, in a place to unwind and recharge. I try to instill all of these elements into my curriculum.

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (CD Album #12)
Mother's mother on the porch where she's making butter.
Grandfather's out in the yard where he loves to putter.
Screen door slams - sister runs in cryin
Skinned a knee out where the collie dog's lyin'.
Memory take me back just one more time.
Daddy's in the field where he keeps the prairie dust flyin'.
Rain don't come but the clouds they keep on tryin'.
Though drought and hail made times a lot tougher
A mother's love saw that we didn't suffer.
Memory take me back just one more time.
Saturday night Daddy takes us into town for a movie.
Late night shopping and farm talk swapping on Main Street.
Old men standing by the pool hall talking
Young folks out on the sidewalk walking
Memory take me back just one more time.



...AND BACK...
(POV WH a kid on the farm) Hi barn. Can't talk now... goin' over to the airplanes. Hey, the subs are launching... dive bomber... one torpedo... two... Come on Nipper, let's go to Tarzan's tree house, I'll take my musket. Dad will get me some shells tomorrow and we'll hunt lions with his high-powered rifle. I know! I'll climb Mount Everest. Hi down there Mom. Nah. I'm OK. Wanna go into the Chamber of Horrors? Only five cents.

"Things won are done; joys soul lies in the doing." - William Shakespeare
My role as a teacher? To stoke curiosity...so that the bearer will leave on a quest with fire through life. My goal is to lead and to tempt students to taste and to actually live life - my gift is the 'beanstalk' seed of self-motivation which can yield the courage and determination needed on the long trek ahead. This really is the only lasting gift I can pack with them as they hurry out the door - they must travel the road to wisdom by themselves. Emotions, thoughts, memories, intelligence, and imagination are the magic vehicles which bear us along on this quest - powered by the boundless fuels of curiosity and love. The more of these fuels we use, and give away, the more abundant and accessible they become.

The Department of Education has not shown many of these fuel stations on the curriculum road map they issued, so I pack my own supply. I look upon the this map as an open, multi-dimensional grid into which I can weave rich, coloured tapestries - ever-swirling and unfolding and encompassing like some Merlin cloak with enchanted linings. This tapestry does not belong to me or the school, but to the student. It goes with him through life to either fall into disuse or to be embraced and nurtured into infinitely expanding universes. Some are content to pin a badge on it and hang it away, draped over a mortar board - but those who have been successfully touched and sparked never stop weaving and re-shaping this travelling cloak.

Imagination, curiosity and a sense of humour...if a kid can start with these gifts I believe he can achieve most anything. My kids have the rare privilege of growing up on a farm lived on and handed down by their ancestors, the bloodline stretching back unbroken to their great-great-grandfather. 

The grounds they explore have a legacy of traditions and family vignettes - and they are adding to them every day. Many times I have pointed out the strange and wonderful worlds I explored when I was their age - the loose shingle in the barn which seems to talk when the wind blows right... the fallen trees whose silhouettes can float above the horizon like mis-shapen bi-planes... the slough which magically turns floating logs into submarines and thrown rocks into depth charges... the tree house made of saplings cut with my dad's (or was it Lord Greystoke's) hunting knife... the piece of curved wood from an old horse harness which surely must have at one time been an ancient musket... Dad's deadly .22 rifle with which I hunted gophers (the only creatures I have ever hunted)... the ancient towering spruce tree I used to climb... the pitch black crawl space under the verandah in which I duplicated a whole carnival strip of side shows and gyp joints. Silly? Maybe...but a few more minds have expanded to share all these spaces and it seems that each space is just a gate to countless more spaces - hypermedia gone wild.

(POV Telecaster to the kid learning guitar) OK. Try again Will. You may not have much talent but you sure have desire. Now try the "C runs" your Dad showed you. Ha. Yep. Ya sound more like Luther Perkins every day "...because you're mine. I walk the line." Now the new chord Uncle Don taught you. OooYa. E7. Just like Elvis' Mystery Train. Yuch. That blister broke again. You're dripping blood all over my frets!

"A man's life of any worth is a continual allegory." - John Keats
It has been popular to metaphorize life. All sorts of meaningful or implausible analogies have been concocted to paint a visual picture of the human condition. Modern day technology-influenced comparisons go so far as to suggest we are all runaway spaceships or computers without instruction manuals. The processes of life and learning, and of course teaching, have always touched me as being more like a series of songs. A song is brief and fleeting, but it can be sung continuously in many keys and parts - in unison, or with other voices and instruments. It can be perfectly in tune or sharp or flat and out of sync. It has the structure of verses and choruses and of rhythm and rhyme as well as the mathematical precision of notes, measures, and musical theory. Within this classical structure, however, there is room for unbounded creativity and improvisation. The traditional technical expertise of the classical form is open to experimental, emotional jazz interpretations. The singer can make the song sad or sweet, depressing or joyous.

A constant companion on our travelling adventure has been music. I try to walk a line between presenting the music kids can immediately relate to and that for which they have to stretch a little to comprehend. A favourite inspirational trick for encouraging both creative writing and musical tolerance is to turn down the lights and to put on some of my jazz, classical, or blues favourites. This aural stimulus usually becomes an intimate catalyst between the creative mind and the beckoning flicker of the computer monitor. I decided today, as a break from writing, that it was about time to show how this music is created. With this in mind, we squeezed into a recording studio to see first hand how a hit is recorded and then pressed, dubbed or 'CD'ed. As an introduction to all this, I showed the evolution of a song - going from hasty ciphers soiled Newcastle Ale beer blotters through scat melodies on cassette through rough demos and culminating in a rough-mixed studio out-take followed by the finished 2-channel mix. The overwhelming lesson which always comes out of this experience has to be the tremendous integration of art and computer technology in the music world.

(POV Telecaster guitar in England) It felt great to be back in the studio although today's was pretty tame compared with some of the ones we've been in - a punk rock dive in a converted coal cellar under a sidewalk in London's Soho, where we struggled with an ailing 16-track console while Chinese Tong wars raged on the street above. The Chieftains' studio up in Newcastle above a huge bingo hall... a haunted 24-track studio in a row house in Pity Me, just outside of Durham - where we used Elton John's piano, Keith Moon's drums and worked six consecutive 20-hour days Dire Strait's Alan Clark. I think Will did a pretty good job of explaining the excitement and complexities of a recording studio to his students - he couldn't have done it without my help though.

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
Warm summer night in a green Bromley garden
Done thirty nights of singin' - runnin' 'round ole England
Picking out the songs to lay down tomorrow
Songs about lovin' - leavin' - and sorrow
Monday morning moving into Bromley Station
Munchin' fish and chips wrapped in the news of the nation
A Charing Cross stop and then we're out to Trafalgar
Humpin' piano and draggin' a guitar
Rocking and rolling and reeling to Soho
Boogie Woogie Woogie into London Town
Rocking and rolling and reeling in Soho
Boogie Woogie Woogie 'til we get back home
Huff and puff and shove to where the lions and pigeons stand
Wave and jump and whistle - callin' for a cabbie man
Cabbie man don't understand or talk Canadian
Drive around in circles - takin' every street he can
Later in the morning we're reelin' in Soho
Rocking a studio - ten feet down below
People on the street are dancing, pushing and shoving
Listening to the band just a reeling and rocking

(POV WH the young kid) "You read all those books TODAY? War of the Worlds... Treasure Island... Mutiny on the Bounty... Hamlet... Wuthering Heights... Call of the Wild...Sherlock Holmes... Ivanhoe... Robin Hood... Les Miserables... Frankenstein? No Way! Oh I see! They're only COMICS!" "They are not! They're Classics Illustrated... I've got over 100 of them ...and some day I'll have the real books too!"

The noticeable thing about most of the areas we travel through is the great number of people with their inner resources atrophied. Seldom have they had to reach inward to grasp the thing that they wanted. Everything, from material requirements to ideas, is available ready-made. From mechanical gadgets in the shops to sensation on "the soaps," they can buy almost anything they crave. They can buy life itself from video movies and television - canned life. And even if they tried to reach inward for something that maybe they couldn't find manufactured, they would no longer find anything there. They've dried up. The vast expanses of the mind that could have been alive with creative activity are now no more than empty vaults that must, for comfort's sake, be filled with non-stop radio and television, and their conversation consists of streams of platitudes and cliches. And I don't know why. The professed intention of modern education claims just the opposite: to let children grow up in their own personal way into creative and interesting people. What has gone wrong?

A strange time warp we travel into today...
Shorten the school year - water down the courses - hire summer vacation camp supervisors for teachers... "Hey, how about the hockey fights last night!" - Intellectual pursuit?... "Don't be a nerd you geek!" - Quality?... "Don't be a weirdo!"...I'll be a millionaire jock... Join the mob... The terrible tyranny of the majority... "Let the other guy worry about it."... Pass the kid... get him outa here... just teach him enough to turn that crank... learning is dangerous... rocks the boat... stirs up minorities... unrest... thinking makes people unhappy - too many viewpoints... Make everyone equal!... gear the arts and sciences to the lowest common denominator - *popart* *popscience* *popgovernment* *popfood* *popnews* (Inquiring minds want to know [sic])... *popcorn*... put all your efforts into the discipline problems... forget the gifted - they'll eventually drift down and we'll meet in the middle of the road... program the desire to learn out of them... facts and trivia otta do it... re-write history to fit the "now" - the "in" - the "safe"... Books? What are they? Who has time!... wait for the condensed picture version... I'll watch it on TV... Muzak for the mind and senses... Spiritual fulfillment?... Send some money to Rex, Tammy and Jimmy... the local guy doesn't have any pizzazz - Jesus makes great TV commercials... Gimme immediate self-gratification - get it now - "charge it" - what the heck, we can always file bankruptcy and start all over - anyway, the government will bale us out or we can go on welfare... Famine and suffering over there?... forget it... they deserve it... keep that shell up... keep insured... stay supercool... blase... emotion coming on?... take a pill... dull it... watch it instead on the soaps... marriage ain't so hot?... check the contract... who needs commitment... who needs the hassle... "It's better for the kids this way."... keep it disposable... no mess... Nature is messy... tear it down... clean it up... put up a theme park... plastic trees... they don't shed... no raking... Fuel the economy with far off wars...

"...and Bradbury said about this book: 'I think that science fiction and fantasy offer the liveliest, freshest approaches to many of our problems today, and I always hope to write in this vivid and vigorous form, saying what I think about philosophy and sociology in our immediate future.'"

"As you can see this book was written 40 years ago about a society far into the future... an oppressive society where books are outlawed, where schools only indoctrinate and where the credo of 'happiness at any cost', has produced a violent society of despair and emptiness.
"So much for the far-fetched novel Fahrenheit 451... Space Opera stuff... it could never happen here...."

Life has an inner dynamism of its own which tends to grow, to be expressed, to be lived. The amount of destructiveness in a student is proportionate to the amount of which the expansiveness of his life has been curtailed. Destructiveness is the outcome of the unlived life. We see the result permeating our society - in our families and on our streets - in our schools and cities - on battlefields around the world.

We passed by through a mountainous region today - the going was rough - my companions were saddle sore and filled with the expectation of the coming weekend of play and "R & R". Since I too was not a little fatigued and just as anxious for a change in routine, I found myself at odds with the pack. While pausing on the divide in a pass between twin peaks, I channeled my frustration into the recounting of a favourite metaphor which seemed to fit the moment.

"The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance." - Socrates
Each of us has two volcanic vents through which we release our subterranean explosive magmatic energies. One crater spews only angry destructive forces while the other dome is a miracle of rare device releasing a fount of creativity. Some have never opened the latter - they belch only through the destructive caldera: fury, bitterness, hostility, rage, hurt, alienation, aggression... destruction! These disasters occur everywhere, bringing unhappiness, suffering and hurt to all. Even when the forces are not vented the suppressed earthquakes can still radiate shock waves in all directions. But if the plug in the creative vent can be popped, pressure is released. As this vent is widened, the destructive flow is atrophied. A volcano which can release its energies in creating a grand and glorious Fujiyama has little left to spout from any other parasitic cone.

(POV WH the kid) "Nope" "Come on Hillman. Have a drag." "Nah. Don't smoke." *** "Got some money for beer?" "Broke" "Ain't ya goin' to the bash?" "Can't" *** "You bought WHAT?" "What for?" "You're weird!" *** "Mystery Book Club?" "Science Fiction Book Club?" "RCA Record Club" "Columbia Record Club?" "Edgar Rice Burroughs Bibliophiles?" "Comic Books?" "Magazine Subscriptions?" "Elvis records?" ... "We can't afford all this. You're spending all your "chores money" and your savings. Now you want an ELECTRIC GUITAR. You hated piano. You quit that. You'll just do the same with the guitar. Well, ok ok... ask your grandma then."

(POV WH the kid) If Grandpa will give me one more board it'll be finished...I hammered all the nails in myself. It looks just like Daddy's warship in the war. Too bad Daddy won't give me some paint to paint it...I didn't mean to ruin the basement window...I thought the green paint would wipe off. I can't wait to ride in it. Yuck...dragged it right through a cow pie...Wow... it's going to go good. Go way Nipper! Now it slides good on the mud. I bet I can sail right across to where the cows are...Ahhh...It's full of water. Stupid old box.

Over the last year I have made countless evening journeys, about a 250 km round trip each time, through all kinds of weather, to university evening courses. There are many different routes possible, and although I have a favourite, I never really know when I start out just which combination of roads my Ford will choose. Nor have I ever made lesson plans on my other daily journeys over the last 23 years. This has bothered some people. I tend to see the holy teacher's daybook as a sunlight-absorbing cloud between the conception and execution of my creativity - intercepting some of the energy and glamour which otherwise would splash across my canvass. To the extent that a teacher is an artist, and according to Plato there should be no distinction, his inner eye has the native power, unatrophied, to hold the work he means to do. And in the places where he can't see, he has a trust in himself that he will see it, either in time for the occasion or later in the thick of the battle. I want to see in my mind, as I teach, the idea itself, rather than the page it is written on. I need to work from conception itself directly upon my students without interference from the image of its record on a page - to work in a way that is clear without conflict and without interception. It does not always clarify thoughts to write them down - often much of the meaning is left behind in a preparatory sketch. Some of my best lessons have been entirely improvised, created under fire, in the heat of action. I like the unpredictability and variation of flying by the seat of my pants.

Today I had planned to lead my travel companions through some interesting mazes - reservations were made and the tumblers were ready for me to pull the right levers. Ahead lay some stops I felt we were committed to make and my obvious indispensability set me awash in an aura of early morning smugness. On tap were hands-on experiences in computer programming, a reconnaissance tour through the Strathclair Train Station/Heritage Museum in preparation for a video documentary, a teacher-annotated viewing of the film Treasure Island to illustrate film grammar and techniques, a half-hour student stage adaptation of Shakespeare's As You Like It, future trends in computer data processing, and evening junior high prom ceremonies and celebrations. *** Gravel in the gears! *** A 9 a.m. call from Dr. Fogel's office - the home of the famous all-day $1 000 root canal - just one of the 100 things to love about Winnipeg. They had a 1 p.m. cancellation and would love to have me pay a visit if I could make it. Since I could hardly turn down such an fun-filled day I had no choice but to find a last-minute substitute and to come up with some hurried improvisations to salvage the day's activities and to meet all commitments - 'the show must go on!' The only substitute available, although very capable and experienced, was a teacher of an art/music/LA background, so I prepared the following itinerary:

Lead the class to the museum grounds and assign each student to make sketches of all sides of the museum, including the assortment of buggies, school vans, and sleighs in the lot. Inform them that this will ultimately lead to a cover illustration for our video documentary shooting script as well as for the opening credits of the video itself. Return to the classroom and ask the students to show you how they can convert these sketches to computer illustrations with the program Paint It.

View 30 minutes of the 1990 movie, Treasure Island starring Charlton Heston as Long John Silver. Pause along the way to discuss the film from an artist's point of view. Apply your knowledge of art techniques to the film making medium: perspective, lighting, framing, colour, texture, framing, angles, costumes, etc.

Meet at noon with the grade ten students we have trained to video tape tonight's prom and have them set up to tape this afternoon's live stage production of As You Like It. Your assistance in stage direction in this student-written/produced modern adaptation should be invaluable. We will view the tape later in class.

Share the knowledge you picked up this morning in assisting the Data Pro computer class with designing an office/home of the future - The Electronic Cottage. Read aloud my recently-written personal journal entry - a dream sequence describing a school of the future. Instruct the class to adapt as many of these ideas as possible to their Electronic Cottage assignment.
Feel free to let your imagination and creativity run amok in all classes.

"Pass the novacaine, Nurse."
"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten." 
- B. F. Skinner
When my riders eventually leave the convoy to strike out on their own, they will have to plan their own routes. A student leaving school is met with an endless banquet table festooned with a limitless and bewildering array of learning dishes. He must be able to pick and choose wisely as that selection is fundamental to what is actually learned. Experience, it is said, is the best teacher but this can only hold true for those who become the best students. Life is a persistent teacher - it will repeat a lesson over and over until it is learned. The result of all of this is that it is actually the student who becomes his own real teacher. Sadly, some students do not learn the lessons soon enough and they often stumble and fall all through life to meet miserable untimely ends.
I can teach the same lesson to a class and 20 different people will take away or remember quite different things from that lesson. As in life itself, all I can really do is to share ideas, experiences, explanations and points of view - the rest is up to my students - they must finish the process.

Regrettably, too many curriculum planners, teachers, and students feel that the role of education is to prove, fix, and perpetuate that which is already know as "fact" about the way things were rather than to evaluate the way things are and to prepare for what things will be or to discover new ways of thinking about this litany of "truths." As John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."

(POV WH future kid) South sea breezes... Sound of breakers and sea birds... Drifting clouds across the ceiling screen. Parrots and monkey holograms are nattering excitedly. The air cushion is lowering to the bedroom floor.
Ah darn! Time to get up already. We throw off the compforter which adjusted automatically last night for light weight, light texture, low heat to coincide with our Computer "South Seas Sunny" selection.
"Computer. Full Hygiene... Massage...Groom."
Sue-On, as usual, is looking after breakfast and wardrobe, "Computer. Serve breakfast A-3." "Computer. Prepare wardrobes W-S-15 and S-S-3."
I really need a hot cup of syn-coffee with bio-tailored longevity/ memory/ energy/protein supplements before I can effectively go through my morning preps.
"Computer. Screen BR-E-Full. School Memo over News Global Hilights.
"Computer. Load Wrist Computer Port 2. Transfer Lesson Aids LA-312 and Last Prep Creation."
"Computer. Send Morning Message Board to School Computer."
"Computer. Hologram South Seas Sunny Off. Hologram Karate Kata Pinan Nidan On. Slow Moves."
"Computer. Deliver WAG Vehicle Configuration 2/3/1."
"Comp Set Safety Course Route 354N. Activate Roof Satellite Nav/CD Map Systems."
"Comp Activate WAG Park Alarms Systems. Solar Recharge."
As usual the queue is shorter at portal 9 as it has been programmed for only teaching staff palm checks.
"Computer. On Wall...Ceiling...Floor...Work Station Screens. On Disk and Cube Interactors. On Hologram Interactors. Standby Virtual Reality Generator...Program 1600 Globe Theatre Macbeth Act II."
"Wrist Comp. Play NavNet School Messages."
"Wrist Comp. Phone. Find and Contact Number Via Least Expensive Service Link. Ed AV Data Bank. Brandon University. Brandon. Computer Retrieve Elizabethan Scores and Holograms v.3."
"Pocket Comp. Project School Budget Word Figure and Picture File #4 Onto Eyeglasses. Voice Revision. Delete Line 16. Recalc. Delete Photo 3-16. Zap To Division 38 Office."
"Computer. Custom Newspaper. Print 20 Hard Copies and Show Room 3A Main Screen. Today's Global Science News. Science Related Cartoons."
"Computer. Print To EyeScreen Week's Movie Reviews. Import Movie of the Week to Main 3D Interactive Hologram Screen Room 5C. Student Option... Full Surround Sound... or Mono Left Bank... Annotations Right Track."
"Pocket Comp. Print to EyeScreen. Audio to Ear Pods. Continue Novel. Add Background Music to Pods. Chopin.2. Volume Level 2.5."
Clock Radio... CBK Regina AM... CBC Morning News... The sun is in my eyes. Sue-On's running a Bath. The kids downstairs are watching cartoons while waiting for the big old yellow school bus... That Magpie's squawking again... Oh-Oh. Must be a south wind. It's blowing in summerfallow dust through the bedroom patio door. What was that crazy dream last night?
Ah darn! Time to get up already. I throw off the comforter which...

Change is avalanching down upon our heads, 
and most people are utterly unprepared to cope with it. - Alvin Toffler
(POV WH the farm kid) "Ah come on, Grandpa. The kids saw it last night - through the window and you can hear it through a speaker. Come on take me in to town, please. OK?" Jackie Gleason... Liberace... Terry and the Pirates... Count of Monte Cristo... wrestling... Darn... I can't see... too many people pushing me off the sidewalk. Darn mosquitoes... and now it's raining. "When can we get one Grandpa? Just 800 dollars and you even get a big antenna for the roof with it. I'll save my allowance."

(POV WH the school kid) "Come on Mr. Ferguson - tell us some more about the school you taught in last year - back in the States. What stuff have they got there that we don't have." "Well... they had a gym... and big playground... yeh more than just two swings... and a football field... the kids don't play tackle football all winter out in the snowbanks... and they had pads and turf and bleachers and cheerleaders. The students can buy their lunches and cokes right in the school. We had a secretary with a typewriter... in an office... by the library. The kids were brought to school in big school buses, not private cars like you have here... and they didn't have much snow in the winter so there weren't any horse-drawn school vans when the snowdrifts got too high. They even used the buses to take the kids on field trips. And you know that jelly duplicator I've got to use for your tests?... well back home they have a big machine that cranks out copies. No... really... it's all true... this is 1959 you know. Now about your final exam... you write it next Monday... here it is... there'll be 3 of these 10 questions on it... yeh, that's right... no trick... promise."

I enjoy the strange perspective of having been in the same school for over 35 years... the first 12 as a student. I came back to this school after a couple of years at Brandon College to teach 'on permit'...with most of the same staff whom had been my teachers a few years before. The changes I have seen occur in my school since mid-century are mind boggling - the facilities, the surrounding community, the values, the teaching styles, the technology employed, student expectations, curriculum... the list is seemingly endless. There have been such catastrophic changes that it seems that all of us are groping... the kids seem able to adapt quite readily, however, as long as the school charts a realistic and thought-out course. But this is where the problems too often arise... the immediate sphere in which the kids find themselves is too often caught up in some weird other-dimensional timewarp and the whole thing disintegrates, spewing out kids along the way - battered and crippled.

While we have made progress in every other field, it is considered to be a matter of great pride that over more than two thousand years we have made no progress at all in developing new thinking tools - Edward De Bono

Participation, not regimentation Insights, not classified data Self-actualization, not adjustment Integration, not fragmentation Creativity, not conformity Problems, not answers Struggle, not goals Change, not fixity Probes, not exams Making, not matching Pattern-recognition, not fact-gathering Imagination, not objective intellectualizing Dialogue, Discovery, and Diversity
We boarded the Titanic today. Whenever it is time to study the culture of the Western World during the Victorian/Edwardian eras I find it most expedient to take my companions on this trip. Life around and aboard this ultimate culmination of technology out of the industrial revolution/iron/steam age is a microcosm fully representative of that time. As we wandered the decks we experienced first hand the fashions, speech, customs, gossip, news, and marvels, as well as the morality, mores, hopes, fears and aspirations of that by-gone age - an endlessly fascinating laboratory for studies of human nature and technology of another time.

If a teacher stops observing, his effectiveness in the classroom becomes drastically reduced. But an experienced teacher does not always have to observe consciously nor think how it will be useful. Perhaps that would be true at the beginning and this is where the real advantage of having had the experience of developing self-reflective knowledge through journal writing shines through. But later, everything he sees goes into the great reserve of things he knows or has seen. I find this analogous to an iceberg. Only one-tenth of the 'ice mountain' is visible above the surface - nine-tenths of the true might and power of this floating behemoth lies below.

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
Rolling down the highway we're Strathclair bound
Daydreams and memories growing town by town
Elphinstone, Menzie and the stones by the Bend
Green Bluff and Marney and Salt Lake sands
We'll be dancin' and prancin' - spirits a-flyin'
No time for cussin' or fussin' and cryin'
Pick a little tune - a jig and a song
Families old an new gonna sing along
O Pioneer - Your song goes on
Echoing through the sky
O Pioneer - I'll sing your song
till the day I die
I see the phantoms and shadows on the far horizon
Stories of the Redman and herds of bison
Railroad, wagon, trader and miner
Lawman, outlaws and old moonshiners
Shaken out of my dreams by the tires a-whinin'
Just another sound of the old west dyin'
Can't live the past but I'll sing it in song
Kindle old times as we roll along

In the hurly burly of life on the road it is not always convenient or desirable to segregate our lessons into neat little packages of computer studies, language arts or social studies, so we often carefully select the fruits from these various trees and carry along the harvest in the same tote sack. We embarked upon such a harvest today as we ravaged the local museum on a research 'scavenger hunt.' Coincidentally most of the museum committee were in the building as they were in the midst of their annual pre-summer cleaning and reservations. This honest assemblage of hard-working seniors obligingly assisted my charges as they scoured the contents of the century-old, converted train station cum museum. Our hunt involved finding and documenting items representative of 55 carefully chosen categories (oldest, most unusual, ugliest, lightest, heaviest, most valuable, prime colours, measurement, invention which never made it ...which should have made it, etc.). After a full two hours we retreated to enter this data into data bases. This only served to whet the appetites of many of our historians who excitedly reported that they had stumbled upon a treasure chest back in the museum. This chest contained hundreds of file cards on which some industrious volunteer had typed the number, name and donor of each item in the museum. Already this group was planning how they could convert this file card information over to a computer data base format. While this team of specialists was conferring, the rest of us speculated on what would be the most intriguing present day items we would put into a museum 100 years from now.

I concluded our morning excursion by role-playing a bumbling, inept, misinformed museum curator of a Museum of 2091. Such a role did not require much of a character transformation on my part as I stumbled in with a box of old 1991 artifacts and attempted to explain to my audience the probable function of each:

Postage stamps = decorative body stickers Hubcap = soup drinking bowl Vic 20 Computer = finger exercise devices Two dollar bills = kindling papers for sacrificial fires Floppy diskettes = children's throwing toys Video tapes = decorative streamers ...and similar oddities...
Each member of my audience was encouraged to bring along more archaeological items for discussion on next day's journey.

Laughter is inner jogging.-Norman Cousins
We went jogging today. Every year many of my travel companions join up with officers of the local RCMP detachment to run for a few blocks around town. This annual fund raising event is eagerly awaited - not just as a change from daily routine but as a way of participating in a worthwhile humanitarian act. Most of us are well intentioned - we just need a rallying call or a little nudge or reminder once in a while.

In my jogging, as in life, I try to start off into the wind - into the wind for the first half of my run so that I may better gauge how far my stamina will take me on that day. The return journey, then, with the wind now a propelling friend, can be made with verve and gusto - I shall entrust the nurturing of this seed analogy to fertile mind of the reader.

The daily jogging ritual serves as both a physical and mental conditioner for my half-century-old organism. I prefer to run in the evenings or after a full day's work in the post-midnight hours. My mental state during morning runs is very much like a blank slate which I can polish and make shine and look good, but my evening mind takes the day's experience jumble jungle and creates the totally unexpected. Over the years I have had a long line of thought revelations and crystallizations join in to pace me - only to fall behind, lost in my dust wake. This has been so frustrating that I have taken to carrying a file card and pencil. My regimen involves a daily run of at least three miles on Highway 354 - pausing at half mile intervals to practice the moves of my latest karate kata. Whenever an idea for a new song, lesson, journal entry, or any other monumental snippet for living hits me, I pull out my HB and scribble on the fly - all-the-while dodging farm pickup trucks and flying dust, bugs and gravel. These unorthodox actions by an oddly-dressed, bearded musician have, I am sure, given me the reputation of being somewhat eccentric, certainly one better adapted for residing at a funny farm than at Maple Grove NW 24-16-22.

In my work, theory and practice are inseparable. Practice is theory in action. If theoretical notions and practice are incompatible, then the theory should be questioned ever as much as the practical. Theory must be open to change and to modification according to the shifting exigencies of the practical world. It is with this rationale that I have approached the official Manitoba Department of Education curriculum which I must use in my teaching. Many of my interpretations and implementations of this curriculum are provided elsewhere in this document. My stamp is especially evident in areas of computer and technology integration in English and geography courses. The curious thing about all these innovations, however, is that the theory behind them developed under the stars, late at night, alone, on a rutty, country gravel road.

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #12)
Slam the car door, Highway 3-54
Gonna take me from a week of 9 to 5
Love that highway sound - lonely Manitoba towns
Lights and truckers - weekend lovers flying by
O I can take it - think I'll make it Even tho it take a mighty long time
O I'll keep shakin' & fakin' & rakin' in the dollars & dimes
Gimli Carman Dauphin - Brandon Shilo Austin
Then on the road and home to Maple Grove
McCreary Minnedosa - Portage Wawanesa
Keep makin' records looking for gold
9 to 5 a day job - only in the way job Longin' for the weekend show
9 to 5 a day job - just a slavin pay job Dreaming 'bout another life I know

(POV WH school kid)"It's my turn! I'll do it." I got to clean the black board brushes on the machine down in the basement today. We'll move into bigger desks next year - the metal ones with "Globe" written on the side - they've got some neat initials and stuff carved into them. Hope they don't put me in front of Allan again - he copied my work all year. I'll miss looking up at the maps and the picture of the kid in the blue suit and that painting of the mountain with the cross on it... and all the grade six class pictures taken on the front steps of the school. Maybe Mrs. Glenn will write the numbers bigger on the board - Miss Armstrong makes the arithmetic questions too small to read. I'll be glad when we get to use the new book cupboard - I've read all of these - I've even read Chessmen of Mars three times. The best part was the rules for Martian Chess - Jetan. I've just about finished making another board with 100 black and orange squares and all the new warriors and princesses to do battle across its Martian deserts. Bonnie wants to play but she's still too little. Wonder if Earth Chess is like Jetan... don't know anyone who knows how to play it. Taught everyone in class how to play Jetan though... even Allan.

We returned to the Strathclair Museum today, breaking into specialist groups. Mission: To compile planning/research information for either a video voice-over and shooting script or for a feature article layout on a computer desktop publishing program. Our researchers were banded into five areas of expertise: Men at Work - Women at Work - People at Play - Kids - Communication and Transportation. One girl in the 'kids' group had the unusual experience of exploring, along with 20 contemporary anthropologists, the rooms in which her mother had lived as a very young girl. She explained to her associates that her grandfather had been station agent for the last 20 years this station had been in active service.

I never tire of sharing the museum experience with my companions. It gives me time to wander through old memories and to make some new ones. The school display set up in the old station telegraph office has to be the most meaningful to me... I guess because I spent 12 years surrounded by the objects displayed here. The old chalk brush cleaning apparatus which swept the felts clean as you turned the crank - gagging on the chalk dust... the Blue Boy looking totally alienated on this usurper wall... the mountain landscape painting presented by the WI in memory of three kids killed in a car crash in 1944... the oh-so-small wrought iron row desks complete with ink wells and that teacher's-nightmare - grafitti... the slate blackboards on which I had so much trouble seeing the arithmetic questions, until I got my first eyeglasses... tattered archaic chocolate bar company wall maps... glass-doored book cases full of literary gems which no one today would have any interest in reading... and the biggest treat of all - a picture of the grade one class of 1926, all posed on the front steps of the old school. Staring at me from the fourth row up was the unmistakable face of my daughter China-Li, oddly identified on the picture frame as being one Louise Campbell... ...my mother...

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
Westward bound the year was '78 John Campbell - Pioneer
Steamin' by train and rollin by wagon to Manitoba's wild frontier
His daddy built a house of sod just for the winter
Come summer built a house of stone
Cleared the virgin land and they did it by hand
Workin' achin' fingers to the bone
He met my Nannie in a country school house
Where they danced the night away
Bought a gold band and asked for the hand
Of pretty little Katy McKay
Green Bluff girl then moved into Maple Grove
Just a little south of town
Helping in the fields and cooking all the meals
And watching little babies run around
'20s brought good times, '30s took them back,
'40s called the second son away
Winter '55 took an old man's life
and a woman's will to live another day
But the house still stands to the memory of a man
Who settled this prairie land
Trees a-blowing in the wind still growing
Planted by a woman's loving hand.
Now I walk the same fields and the forests
But it's not as it once used to be And I realize
with tears in my eyes
Time fades their memory

What am I doing here? We have been on the dojo floor for three hours without a break - 80 aching, sweat-drenched bodies of ages ranging from six years to a "you'd think he'd know better and act his age and stay in his rocker on the front porch" 48. We have stretched, kicked, punched, blocked, leaped, run, rolled, and have driven our bodies to the limit. Now in a state of fatigue I realize that, as must my fellow karatekas, I have to dig a little deeper to pull out another spark of inner strength to keep going. Ahead lies two more hours - the most important two hours - in which we must drive our over-taxed bodies through kata and kumite. Three of my kin share this experience with me. Sons Ja-On and Robin are working at earning another stripe toward their Blue Belts, and my partner-in-life, Sue-On, is my partner in today's gauntlet run for this grading's top honour - a Brown Belt.

She has just returned after having disqualified herself - a week-long upset stomach let her down, forcing her to find a dark place to crawl into so that she could spew out this morning's light lunch. Rules state that if a contestant leaves the floor, s/he will be ineligible for grading that day. In such a weakened state, the temptation must have been overwhelming to stay on the sidelines - but she returns to my side - pale but back in the fight. *** Two more hours passed. *** The old guy got his belt.

It is a common belief, in our individualistic democracy, that submitting to a "master" or hierarchical discipline is a criminal abdication of the sovereign self. Horror stories about the Moonies, Jim Jones, Scientology, and television evangelists, have led us to conclude that all gurus are power-tripping con men, most religions dwell in some duping never-never land and all followers are cop-outs who let their personal power and judgement be taken from them. But one who has the courage to let his convictions be radically questioned, on the grounds that they might be part of his problems, can sometimes experience the thrill of seeing the world and oneself made new and seeing his old mind-set become laughingly irrelevant.

Karate has a long tradition as an art of self-defence, as a sport, and as a means of improving and maintaining health - but the underlying philosophy within all the oriental martial arts is Zen. Since a beginner in martial arts enters the place of training full of his own opinions and thoughts he must empty the mind to become a vehicle for new learning, to drink in knowledge, to become open-minded. This is where the power of Zen comes to the fore.

To the oriental, everything in life has its opposite, which unites in harmony to become the cosmos. A symbol of these two opposing forces flowing into one another in a continuous state of change are the yin and yang, the positive and negative aspect of the universe. Neither can exist without the other. These two apparent opposites are not permanent and irreconcilable but constantly change in a ceaseless rhythmic cycle. Understanding this interchange of yin and yang is perhaps the single most important aspect in learning kung fu and karate, becoming an effective educator (and developing curriculum) or living life to its fullest.

The oriental martial arts are intended to take practitioners past the violent antagonism of hand-to-hand combat to a radical transformation of their very being - to a unique and inescapable trinity of fighting, philosophy, and religion. Serious devotees have found that, by channelling their energies through the martial arts, mind, body, and spirit are united, and it is possible to become one with nature and the universe. The martial artist, instead of channelling mental and spiritual energy into meditation, takes a path paved with great hardship and demanding physical effort. In time, and through total dedication to the task at hand, a very different person begins to emerge - a person freed of self-doubts and inadequacy. Pessimistic failures can be transformed into optimistic successes. Yet the martial arts also enable one to achieve a passive mental state while remaining capable, at all times, of springing into action with a deadly array of fighting skills to tackle any situation. Along this 'great way' of learning, the devotee transcends physical combat to enter the realms of philosophy in searching out the meaning of life.



She was two years old when her mother pressed her into the arms of a fleeing neighbour woman who had wrangled a pass to Hong Kong. With her mother detained by the newly-empowered Communist Government in Canton, and her father in the far-away land of the gold mountain, the world suddenly became a terrifying and lonely place to this toddler. Even after her mother managed to join her in Hong Kong, it would be eight more confusing years until the family could be reunited in Canada. It was an alien, hostile land which greeted the little girl and her mother after the dayslong airplane journey: huge cars, bewildering mobs of 'go bays' who all looked and sounded alike - greasy, smelly foods - miles of endless highways stretching across a flat and barren countryside of ice and snow... a cold and a wind which hurt her face, her ears, her hands and which for some reason tied her stomach into knots... And an endless trip across this land to another new home - a house and restaurant in a place with an unpronounceable name: Newdale.
She had ranked above all the other girls in the Catholic School back in her warm Hong Kong but here she found herself pushed in with little six-year-old girls...and boys - everyone in the school stared, snickered, and talked that strange babble behind her back - and no one could understand anything she tried to say or do.

For the next seven years every waking moment outside of school hours would be spent working in the restaurant - The Paris Cafe (her grandfather had named it many years before). All the drama of her little world - family life, social life, homework, relaxation - and her indoctrination into this 'O so foreign' rural farm community - would play against a backdrop of high wooden booths, counters and stools, magazine and grocery displays, and a 'Specializing in Chinese and Canadian Dishes' kitchen. The work was hard and long - there was endless preparation of food, shelves to be stocked, orders to be served from 7 am to 11 pm, and a daily supply of water to be dragged from the town well.

She fell in love at 15 and ran away from home at 18, disowned by family, because the only way she could continue to see the boy was to marry him. They were deeply in love. She and her husband performed nightly in Brandon bars for enough years to each garner two university degrees and to become high school teachers. She travelled and performed across two continents, bore three glorious children, and excelled in cooking, gardening, crafts, karate, music, motherhood, and as a person. This little-smuggled-waif-turned-beautiful-woman is the most amazing person I have ever met. She is an inspiration and a source of wonder to all who have been touched by her aura. I have been touched. ....I married her....

What has this to do with my experience in teaching, learning and living?


(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
Tears dim my eyes Leaves drift to the ground
Cold winter rain Chills to the bone
Time lingers on But love has passed me by
All I have are dreams Of you and home

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
O China Lady Though you are far away
You're haunting me night and day
With your laughing eyes
O China Lady In every dream I see
A vision of you and me
Under China skies
When the moon shines Through the prairie sky
And the cold wind wails And calls your name
I'm on some foreign shore
By the ocean's roar
Long ago Far away
O China Lady I'm living in misery
Surrounded by memories
Of our last goodbye

(POV WH the grade one kid)STRATHCLAIR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GRADE ONE REPORT COMMENTS: Billie's occasional bad conduct is not satisfactory. "But Mom he's bigger than I am. He stole my lunch all year. He makes fun of me. He smothered my face in snowbanks every recess. I'm afraid to go out for recess. He pushes me all the time. He jumped on my back in the classroom and I fought back and the teacher caught us. He hit me with gravel stones and I finally threw one back... and he told the teacher on me."

We travelled to Maycomb County, Georgia of the 1930s today. There are many lessons to be learned on this journey: life in the 'dirty thirties,' the world through the eyes of a child, moral courage, decadence, and injustice and prejudice of many different types and on many different levels. The guidebook we took along was Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, the title of which suggests the main motif and metaphor threaded throughout the novel. This book always promotes discussion and gives me a chance to point out the many 'mockingbirds' around us - birds who harm no one yet are persecuted by those who are prone to performing deliberately evil and mean acts. It also gives us an opportunity to step into another person's shoes or skin to try to see things from that person's viewpoint. I feel that the lessons which come out of these experiences are some of the most worthwhile and lasting of any that I teach.

While pausing to view the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, I was struck by the irony of seeing Robert Duvall, in his screen debut, playing the part of the shy 'mockingbird' Boo Radley. Just as the child narrator of the film is not aware of the much more profound, and frightening, implications of the seemingly simple events she is narrating, so too are my companions unaware of the various screen personas Duvall would develop later on in his film career. Along the way he would add many different characterizations to that of the original shy reclusive misunderstood Boo: a gangster, a villain, a gung ho marine pilot, a crime fighter, a clergyman, a psycho, a jock, a leader, an insensitive bullying, father, and a well-adjusted, respected average/exceptional man. I see an interesting analogy between all of this and real life. I have seen struggling, at-odds young people pushed by our system into all of these characters - and more. Some we have served well... others have been dealt grave injustices.

A life-long friend of mine, now 50, was excessively gentle and shy as a child and was failed repeatedly in elementary school until it was decided in grade 5 that he could go no further. He loved reading, music, sports and people, in his own way, but he did not fit into the mold cast by the teachers of the day. He fell through the cracks. He kept feeding his innate curiosity at home through voracious reading, and he learned his social skills from the adult world in which he found himself embarrassingly dumped... but the whole social milieu belonging to his generation was closed to him. He never married... or dated. His father died and he lives alone now - with his mother. But he does own and operate a successful 1500 acre farm - by himself - and he maintains and services all the technologically complex farm equipment needed to run such an enterprise. He has a house full of the latest in electronic equipment and enjoys one of the largest video tape collections of Hollywood musicals in Canada. He failed our school system... we failed him... and he is still shy... and lonely....

I believe that the school must represent present life - life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in his home, in the neighborhood or on the playground. - Dewey

Today's whirlwind adventure started as we piled into 'Big 17' - the flagship of the yellow Birdtail River fleet. We steamed westward to our first port of call - Shoal Lake's Nesbitt Publishing offices. Here we saw a power in desktop publishing only hinted at by the computers we have been using. The combined desktop publishing power of the rows of big Macs with their oversize monitors and laser printers - the rich cousins of our family of Apple IIs - brought a reverent hush to our humbled throng. It was with heads bowed that we headed out into the heat of late morning to continue westward. An adrenalin rush revitalized my companions as we crossed the Saskatchewan border. The towering, almost foreboding, silhouette of the Rocanville Potash Mine complex lay on the horizon. Events from that point on unfolded in a blurring burst - starting when we found ourselves in miners' gear huddled in the cage which dropped us into a vast cavern almost a mile underground. This rush was soon eclipsed by the ultimate in thrill rides - travelling at reckless speed in an open diesel 'go truck' through a labyrinth of monster-mole tunnels - our miner's helmets grazing the rock ceilings as our battery lights strobed klieg-like through the abyssinian darkness. This twisting OZ ride, in the depths of subterrania cascaded on and on until a big lumbering yellow hulk dropped 40 fatigued bodies back at Auntie Em's school yard.

(POV WH the kid goes to camp) "Bye Mom!" Gee it's getting light already - 5 o'clock. This is neat. My first train ride - well, the first I can remember - then we get to fly all the way to Sea Island Air Cadet camp in a 'flying boxcar' - hope I don't get air sick again. There's the station agent waving - someday if I keep practicing, my morse code will be as fast as his. This is scary - I've never been farther away from home than Brandon. Captain Morris said I might get to be in the colour party to meet Princess Margaret... AND ... be an usher at the Blue Bomber/Lions game in Empire Stadium. Wonder if the Bomber guys remember autographing my football? This is a scary ride.

Educationists Connelly and Clandinin seem to agree that the classroom is "a home," or at least how a home should be... a group of people interacting and cooperating together. I see or feel little of this - certainly not the home atmosphere I am used to. The situation is too artificial and can never have the long-term commitment that a home possesses. I see more parallels with another way I life I am used to... life on the road with fellow road travellers. One comes under many more pressures and outside influences 'on the road'. True both home and road life involve a group of people interacting and cooperating together but despite the camaraderie which develops, the road family can never be KIN. It seems to be much harder to develop real kindness toward those who are not kin - blood ties - family.

My travel companions travel in a broad assortment of group configurations and vehicles - from one-on-one assemblages at road stops... all the way to the sum of all mankind racing through time and space on our spaceship earth. The teacher on these journeys is not exclusively a tour guide, but an active participant in the processes of interaction and inquiry.

The road is ever-changing - with time and place. The terrain and scenery provide limitless variety and curiosities and entertainment and enriching experiences. There is danger too - as there always is in the uncharted/unfamiliar.

Some of us are content to watch the unfolding panorama through the windshield, windows rolled up - air conditioner on - or - with the wind full in our faces - savouring the smells sounds sensations - or - to actually strike out on foot to become a partaker of first hand experiences.
We start learning as soon as we embark on the road - the safe and familiar close to home. But gradually as the journey moves out into more exotic locales we have to lean on each other more. As we gain our travel legs and confidence in our companions we become a little more daring and venture into more exotic locales.

All the rules of travel apply: planning, preparation for the unexpected, choice and gathering of equipment and supplies for the road, vehicle maintenance, mental preparation, satisfaction of physical needs, camaraderie, mutual support and understanding.

Each day opens new adventures and as long as mental and physical well-being, as well as natural curiosity and awareness are maintained, there is joy and excitement and challenge in the approaching of new horizons.

Many roads turn out to be dead ends, or too difficult for travel, and some even fall off in precipitous cliffs - so they are by-passed or abandoned, left forever or to be challenged at another time.

Teaching is never far from my mind... I can not think of any job which is more all-consuming. "I can use that news item next day... set the VCR timer for that show...it will fit in nicely with the section on Urban Studies... a free moment?... let's go through the satellite guide and circle the shows I have to tape this week." A lifetime of dedication to this pursuit, coupled with the voracious packrat mentality of an inveterate collector has resulted in there being very few bare walls in our house. Despite having cocooned our already large original family home in additions, we are still forced to devise novel ways of storing and displaying reference materials. Computers have been invaluable assistants in the organization and referencing of our countless movies, documentaries, old radio shows, music albums, computer programs, and books and magazines.
Much of today's day away from my travel companions is taken up by a search for science fiction movie scenes which I can use to give my time with my language arts devotees a bit of zip as another year on the road draws to a close. This process is very time consuming as it involves searching for the appropriate scenes and editing and dubbing onto another tape. This is followed by the transcribing of dialogue, analysis, and the creation of related student activities.
My experience in teaching is that it is often hit and miss with new hits and misses each time around - some courses have been sheer frustration because what worked last time with one group did not work the next time with another group. Most often though, when things do work there is an element of futuristic and science fiction themes present.

Those students who have read science fiction tend to be more interested in technology than most readers - and they are more vocal and vociferous than most. This is evidenced in the many fan groups, fanzines and conventions associated with the genre.

"The event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchantment. It was recommended by the novelty of the situations which it develops; and, however possible as a physical fact, affords a point of view to the imagination for the delineating of human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield." - Mary Shelley, Preface to Frankenstein

This suggests the formula for achieving the true essence of meaningful curriculum - to constantly question - to seek another point of view - to so stimulate our minds that they are stretched to either seeing humanity from an outside position, or at least in some way alternate. Through science fiction, we are given different facets of reality and we are trained to extrapolate not only A but B and C from current reality. I believe that if the majority of Canadians had been science fiction readers 50 years ago, we would not be in the ecological mess we are in now, since the growing problems might have been more readily seen by more people able to do more about it.

Science fiction is the play of and on reality - it is the thinking man's escape - and perhaps the most valid and simple reason for reading science fiction is that it can provide enjoyable escapism. As long as there is an unexplored corner of this universe there will be some form of science fiction to speculate on it - as long as there is youth there will be young minds speculating.
"It is the eye which makes the horizon." -Emerson
"Come on gang..." Across the tracks, across Highway 16, down a dusty tree-lined road - just a country gravel road but it used to be the main highway - Highway 4 which used to lead to the big, exciting city of Brandon. The road is smaller, the city seems smaller, and the new main highway - the usurper Yellowhead - angles a much shorter route to the sleepy Wheat City, ignoring the original road allowances and skirting the ailing prairie towns of Newdale, Basswood, and Minnedosa. We are coming to the end of another tour - five days left - and as we usually do this time of year, we get out and enjoy the incredible greenery of June. My companions really questioned my qualifications as tour guide this morning as we turned off the road, up a lane, and through an ornate gate to enter the Strathclair Cemetery. Having been raised on a steady diet of Stephen King and Freddie and Jason they have a much different feel for cemeteries than do I. I see the local burial ground as a resource - as one of the few places where we can actually find some evidence of the rich historical background of our prairie settlements. In fact, the other cemetery which we sometimes visit is all that remains of the original location of our town - The Bend - back before the young seductress CPR lured it four miles south. The morning air soon filled with excitement as young voices chorused finds of increasingly relevant information harvested from the fields of granite and marble. To give some purpose to this travel back through the generations, I had prepared activities in which they made rubbings and sketches, and compiled lists of family names, countries of birth, veterans, epitaphs, dates, epidemics, shapes, designs, life spans, occupations...the search seems to grow more elaborate each year.
The whole venture is really designed to be an integrated learning experience for my journey-mates. Besides the obvious social studies slant, we also gathered information for computer activities. Always though, the most interesting results come out of the creative writing assignments.

To me this day is a sort of annual pilgrimage to the resting places of my own lost loved ones - although I would never admit it to those around me. This morning, as I always do, I strolled around rediscovering distant relatives - but always coming back to immediate family. Even though I have always encouraged my fellow visitors to write about their experiences here in different voices, I have never ventured to try it myself. This morning I did. I couldn't do it beside my Dad's memory - too soon. But a nearby stone etched with the name Katherine Campbell and another, a monument to a World War II casualty, William Campbell... and some almost forgotten voice... seemed to give my pencil a life of its own:

(POV my Nanny) I come again to see and touch your name. I wonder if anyone stops to realize that next to your name on this memorial is your mother's heart. A heart broken so many years ago when you lost your life. When I look at your name I think back to all the times I wondered how scared and homesick you must have been in far off wartime England. And if and how it might have changed you - for you were the most happy-go-lucky kid in the world - hardly ever sad or unhappy - and until the day I die I will see you when you laughed at me whenever I was very mad at you... and then we laughed together.

But really I know the answer because I have often talked to your cousin Gordon who was with you so much of the time... and to your friend Mike Spack who was there... and I know you died suddenly, without suffering, as your plane lost power coming home and plummeted into a hillside - on the second last day of the war. Gordon told me how you stayed the same happy, sunshine boy you were when you first arrived in England - and how your warmth and friendliness and love for fun and pranks drew the guys to you. How when you died it struck everyone so hard - you of all people should never have been the one to die.

O God, how it hurts to write this but I must face it and put it to rest. I have told them how I loved them - loved them for being close and for being there when you died.... How lucky you were to have had them for friends... and how lucky they were to have had you. Ohhhh...But still I'd rather to have had you for a few short years and all the pain that goes with losing you than never to have had you at all.
Love... Mom

(POV WH the kidís first day of teaching) Can I do it? Sure, I'll just imitate my old teachers - not hard to do as I've only been out of school for two years. A couple years at Brandon College and here I am teaching on permit back at my old school... surrounded by my former teachers... under fire from a classroom bursting with 40 rowdies - kids who were in grade nine when I graduated from here.

OK. How would my role models deal with this...Morris... Hyndman... Mundell... Remple... Ferguson... Waddell... or... Young... Tyman... Purdue... Kidd... at the College? Guess I'll just toss them around and take out the best from each.

The guy who said that the best way to learn something is to teach it, sure knew what he was talking about.

I turned the navigation over to my companions today as I often try to do throughout our travels. The added responsibility of having to study the travel manuals, charts, and surroundings, as well as having to take on the role of spotlighted leader and decision-maker, is an experience I believe every student should share on a regular basis. The curious thing is that I can see in their actions what their image of a teacher appears to be... inculcated as they have climbed up the long ladder of successive leaders of learning. Their role playing is an embodiment of all the lessons to which they have been subjected by teachers over the years - for better and for worse. And I suspect that many of these attitudes and styles of behaviour will spill over into their everyday lives as they become learners, citizens, civic leaders, parents... all the many roles each of them shall take on in a lifetime.

(POV WH sister Bonnie) "You've got to come with us! They need teachers... a much bigger salary... no taxes... quality schools - most of the teachers have their Masters or PhD... a zillion fringe benefits... more holidays... travel... free education for the kids... adventure... ride a camel... watch the oil wells burn..."

The offer pitched to me by my sister Bonnie is tempting. After numerous all-expense paid trips to Houston to meet with Prince Abdul, she and husband Michael and family are about to leave for Saudi Arabia. Michael has been offered a prestigious job at the King's Hospital - practicing and teaching medicine and advanced surgery. They had almost made the move last summer but a spot of trouble to the north - in Kuwait and Iraq - put everything 'on hold.' Michael, who for years has operated around the clock at Calgary's Foothills Hospital and who has found himself taxed ever-deeper into the ground by our tax system, is looking forward to the change. An opportunity to spend more time with the family.

The move promises fair recompense, some long-overdue time with family, more realistic and humane work demands, and an opportunity to share his unsurpassed surgery techniques. As so often happens in life, events have come full cycle as he is currently teaching laser surgery to one of his former Medical School Teachers - coincidentally on official leave from Saudi.

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
Sun shining brightly Cold wind blowing free
Old mallard's winging His way from the north
Smokey air sweeping Through tired leaves weeping
Prairie life singing A song to the North
When the brown city air and cold sidewalk stares get me down
I reach for the days and old time ways of the farm
Memories so warm of the place I was born I recall
Harvest time and dandelion wine in the fall
Stubble fields burning And old windmills turning
Silhouettes framed by The sun's fall to earth
Dew crystallizing Harvest moon's rising
October night singing
A song to the North

We travelled through time and place today and managed to integrate elements of history, social studies, language arts, and technology while doing it. Old travel-buddy Dick Cavett teamed up with us and shared one of his HBO Remember When documentaries. A-behind-the-scenes look at famous inventions and inventors proved to be more entertaining than my companions had expected and, I believe, gave them a whole new perspective on technology. In looking back over the incredible advances man has made over the last 2000 years it was a source of amusement to learn that Ancient Roman scholars in the First Century AD declared that man's genius and technological creativity had gone as far as they could possibly go. The amazing thing about so many inventions was that they were often just refinements of things or ideas that had been around for a long time. Very often the original creator just did not see the potential in his creation. This has happened time and time again - resulting in some of the world's greatest scientific breakthroughs. From the current Japanese lead in VCRs, camcorders, CDs, and factory robot technologies all the way back to the discovery of fire and beyond.

The point I tried to make throughout this whole trip was the importance of multi-dimensional thinking - of seeing things from different perspectives - of not falling into a creative or thinking rut. Every great inventor seemed to approach problems in ways just a little off kilter from the way a 'normal' person would. This too is the stuff of which poets, writers, artists, comedians, and musicians are made. Off the wall. Eccentric. Zany. Crazy. "Did you hear/see that?" "He what?" "Gadzooks!"

This phenomenon does not seem limited to technological achievements since I see it happening constantly in education as teachers evolve and refine their curricula. I believe a teacher has to be open to change, and to pull ideas and techniques - materials and resources - from everywhere. The successful teacher knows what to keep and employ from his ever-burgeoning collection of booty, and what to move to the back burner for future reference. Goods from this eclectic collection may be re-cycled in ways which have little in common with their original intent - they show up in new guises and in all manner of imaginative ways - in whole - in part - or totally revamped and wed to the most unlikely partners. The superior, innovative teacher is an effective scout, matchmaker, marriage counselor, and divorce lawyer for such unions.

(POV WH Telecaster guitar) It's happening again...he's ignored me again - all this week. I'm back on this brick wall again and there he is - the centre of activity - playing with his other toys. He's got three computers fired up - two of them connected and he appears to be translating data from one to the other...and now he's hooking one of them up to the phone line...suppose I'm going to have to put up with even more or these interlopers. He's working on that new laptop...says he has a presentation to make at University next week... Enns...Enns... Enns... since that guy came into our lives, Will seems to be spending every waking moment with those stupid chiclet keyboards.

The whole family have gotten into the act - obsessed! Will's got Sue-On, Ja-On and Robin doing school work on the Apple and IBM, China-Li is loading her own programs on the Commodore, and the entire clan is fooling with that nefarious Nintendo.

Not enough to sit in front of those silly flirting computer eyes, but what's with the satellite TV, stereo radio, CD player, audio and video tape dubbing, and printer all going at once...and in the middle of all this, the hotshot's reading, making notes, eating... and exercising!

Give me the good old days...he'd read and memorize a bit, lift me from the case for a bit of music, and then grab a simple snack...toast or something...none of this new exotic garbage that they bring home every day. He used to talk about what was happening around home...now it's just about all that stuff he sees on those New York, Atlanta, LA and English TV broadcasts.

Will met up with some fellow travellers from neighbouring Saskatchewan today. We played a high school grad dance... curious seeing the ever-so-teacherish teachers doing what they had to do at the ceremonies... from the POV of Will and Sue-On on stage. Even stranger was the experience of watching the parents - it really drove home the significance of the generation gap. Despite the fact that the parents of this group of grads all had to have experienced the explosive, mind-expanding '60s, they all seemed very set in their ways. So many of the parents seem to be locked into a time warp of the early '50s. The kids on the other hand - a product of the new technological age - are becoming increasingly indoctrinated to recorded DJ-presented music at their dances. They expect the highly over-produced Top 40 or Heavy Metal which really can be only produced under the genius of a hot-shot producer in a hi-tech recording studio or live with multi tonnes of sound equipment. The demands on me then were rather great - I had to appease both camps - caught in the middle I compromised with a program of Rock 'n Roll oldies from a time period bridging both generations - performed with the help of four synthesizers.

Increasingly I feel that the role of the teacher is to act as a bridge between the generations. The job involves being in constant touch with the youth culture, but seen through a frame of reference of one from the adult world. An aware teacher also has the advantage? of seeing the whole milieu through the perspective of one who, perhaps more than any other, realizes that monumental changes are burgeoning in society, teaching, life-styles and technology - perhaps faster than most people can comprehend.



Students seem oblivious to much of the change because their points of reference only go back a few years - most of the marvels they see around them have evolved in their short histories and they take them for granted without comprehending the repercussions involved. My pre-schooler, China-Li, routinely operates powerful computers which only a few years ago would have cost millions of dollars and would have filled large warehouses. She uses her own video recorder to add to her personal tape collection of computer-generated animation chosen from any one of 150 television channels beamed down from 25,000 miles in space. She chooses her favourite children's songs or encyclopedia reference material from laser-read digital compact discs and then interacts with the medium electronically. She will embark on her journey through formal education next year in a classroom which uses none of these devices - in a curriculum which does not recognize the existence of such advances, let alone prepare her to cope. Many of our school boards, and the powers-that-be who decide such matters of direction and curriculum, have huddled their school charges together to sit complacently in the deceptively placid eye of the hurricane of change. We can tap and harness the power which swirls so rapidly around us - or we can wait for it to destroy us.

Education must be revamped to allow people to move easily in and out of education. At present, education is traditionally bunched at the beginning of a person's life. An alternative is to allow young people to interrupt their formal schooling for brief periods during their late teens in order to work, travel, or engage in other learning experiences. Later, they should resume their formal education.
"Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy." -Shakespeare
Although I have spent all 23 of my teaching years at Strathclair Collegiate, I have had many occasions to visit other schools around Canada, USA and England. The most successful ones seem to exude an atmosphere of warmth, respect, tolerance and friendliness. We have always worked at creating an air of friendliness. In fact, the principal under whom I served as a student for 12 years and then as a teacher for another 15 years, was guided by the motto, "Fair, Firm and Friendly." In semi-retirement now, he still has a prominent place of honour set aside to display the so-inscribed school bell which I presented to him on his acceptance of early retirement.

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
Come on and give the band a hand on the ole bandstand
They're singing all night for you
Guitar's ringing and the drummer girl's singing the blues
We'll pick a little fiddle and diddle with the ivories in harmony
We'll have a rompin' stompin' good-time jamboree
Forget your tax laws, in-laws, outlaws too
Even Grandma's jumpin' like new
Dancing and prancing - any ole dude'll do
Dancing outside, inside, upside-down
Look - her feet don't touch the ground
Struttin' double clutchin', and hitching up her gingham gown
The amp'll snapple, crackle pop when we start to rock
You'll feel your toes tapping down in your socks
Skippin' and trippin' and rocking around the clock
We'll keep you creepin' and peepin' - anything but sleepin'
Till the moonshine meets the sun
Then you'll drag it to your wagon and
the band's on the run again.

Some educators have used a 'ticktock' metaphor to describe the endless cycles of life, narrative fiction and curriculum. They see each 'tick' as a humble genesis and every 'tock' as a feeble apocalypse - lesson planning is seen as a cycle of downtime/uptime ticks and tocks - each set with a beginning and end.

My thinking is not so digital - nor as predictable. I prefer a more continuous analog approach - an approach more analogous to some other-world wave theory gone bonkers. I recognize in my planning a basic cyclical rhythm but within major wave rhythms are countless ripples and swells, peaks and troughs, ever-changing wave lengths, heights and intensities - even the very nature of the medium can change.

This life ocean harbours many types of waves - from tidal surges and toppling breakers, to quiet ripples. Many forces, most beyond our control, are at work to change the nature of these waves. Shock waves and tremours spin off racing tsunamis. Prevailing currents, storms, and winds of change all set up their own kinds of motion. Waves disrupted by undertows and shallow bottom, pile up until they become collapsing and destructive breakers. Many waves close to shore carry broken remnants of once proud solid-rock bluffs - hurling these particles to bring about even more shoreline changes.

The waves carry an endless array of anchored buoys, flotsam and jetsam, life and death... and a congeries of vessels -ocean liners, old trawlers, tramp steamers, supertankers, greasy tugs, sleek catamarans, surf boards and lowly barges. To stay on the surface it is important to learn to pick the right currents and waves and to ride them well. The ride can be long and exhilarating or short and wet. The navigator can harness and go with the force or sink and drown.

The teacher needs experience to ride these waves - the student needs a life jacket.

Sadly, some teachers seek out little placid tide pools, drop anchor and sit in tired, creaky-leaky dinghies while their young passengers look longingly... expectantly... out to open sea... They yearn for the thrill of the salt spray in their faces and the toss of the waves and a chance to skim across infinite waters to distant adventures - and to learn the skills to survive on this life sea. Many of these tide-poolers either will meet disaster when they do break out past the breakwaters, or will spend a lifetime as land lubbers - frustrated, angry and haunted with personal devils which constantly remind them of what they could have been.

One can study the theory behind seamanship - it can be mastered by most any hotshot yachtsman, but the experience of the old salt is invaluable when the going gets long or rough. He can read the tides, the stars, the wind...he can talk to life in the deep... he can create a course and navigate it... he can sail by the seat of his pants... knowledge recollected allows him to cope with each unpredictable crisis along his course. To the novice, the waves and cycles with which the old salt is so in tune, at first appear meaningless or incomprehensible but really they are just a part of life's cycle.

As in the oriental concept of yin and yang where the two complementary forces flow into one another, so does night become day, season follows season, death follows birth, birth follows death, and all apparent opposites constantly change in a ceaseless, unbroken, rhythmic cycle. So too does this rhythmic cycle apply to our education setting... to lessons...to curriculum... it blossoms through our entire existence ...it is life...

(POV TELECASTER GUITAR)It's been a good week...an 'off the wall' week... in more ways than one. Will has been preparing a seminar presentation for the University... and I'm involved... at last! His topic revolves around the importance of cycles and rhythm in the planning of lessons and curriculum. Since much of his work this year has involved the creation of metaphors and the probing of personal experience related through journals - and since I have played a prominent part in his journal writing, he stretched a bit and tried meld all three of these elements in his seminar introduction. Not entirely happy with the metaphors used by Connelly and Clandinin, he audaciously went off on a tangent and created an entire milieu drawing from the rich heritage and folklore of sea-faring tradition. All this he tried to squash into a journal entry...and here's the good part... Acknowledging that there has been some desire among colleagues to share journal jottings he decided to read the metaphor entry as an introduction to his presentation - but with a difference - for full dramatic effect and to maximize the idea of cycles and rhythm HE CALLED ON ME FOR HELP. Together we worked out a variety of cyclical chord changes, rhythms, and rises and fall of pitch and volume.

(POV Telecaster guitar) Will needed a little more help though... I found his behind-the-scenes margin notes on the narration script to be immensely more entertaining than his silly nautical references in his "Captain's Log"... "E-Flamenco taps/metronome... G-Rock Island Line - get steam... Stop... Modulate.... E-Blues Shuffle... Explode... Damp/dull... Tina shift... E7-Swamp it... Wham build... EFG AB CD E7 Tony Joe... E7-Go with it... Chooglin... Stop Drama into spot... Diddle D... A Fly with it... A Minor Mood shift... E minor... Melodramatic... Lighten up... O Well...Meanwhile... C Journeyman... 50s chord cycle... Stop... Pregnant... Cut."

I tried to get him to sing too... an Olivier he ain't... but he bowed out... something about sticking to the task at hand... so... I did all the work... (it was fun though)...

(POV WH the kid) Why won't it start...come onnnn! I stayed up all night cramming for this thing... going over and over old Departmental Exams for years back... think I ate a whole watermelon last night to keep awake... then the racket of that tractor and braying cow bugged me since the sun came up... now the car won't start... I'll be late... there goes grade XII... it all depends on these exams... it's past nine...they've started already... don't panic... I've gotta run it... over a mile and a half... oh oh! damn watermelon...

Stressful travel today for my travel mates - they are under fire - Final Examinations. Much of my day was spent wandering among them - spurring some on - encouraging, calming and trying to tranquilize others. Any non-supervisory time I could pick up was devoted to creating and checking the very things which are causing this week-long turmoil - exams!!!

An recent archaeological dig through my 'old college days' files (early '60s stratum) brought back a flood of memories from that era... not a lot remains with me in terms of lasting textbook-lab-lecture-notemaking artifacts or knowledge but curiously one thing which has survived the years is a little black notebook. This notebook was written by a lonely, green kid from the country... adrift on a sea of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Geology... waters sailed on because all the old salts who had advised him on his voyage had agreed that this was the only course to follow. The notebook made no reference to the leagues covered or journey which lay ahead. In this book, however, carefully scrawled in pen, was score upon score of movie titles - and under each title was the name of the stars, a date, a personal rating... and impressions. Coincidentally, I remember the plot and lessons and moral and mood associated with each of these films - the lessons learned from each of these vicarious experiences have shaped my perception of life.

(POV WH the kidís first day of teaching) You mean I'll be teaching science, geography, health, history, language, literature, business education and data processing, computer awareness, and phys ed - all in one day? What...no French?

I see small schools and their teachers offering so many more advantages than the lumbering, steamrolling behemoths which are wolfing them down. The very fact that we have limited students and maximum subject areas can promotes subject and society integration... and generalism - wide knowledge - an appreciation for a wide variety of interests - interests upon which they can specialize later in life.

Sometimes this causes the teacher in a 'small school' setting to feel 'spread too thin' but in many ways this is an advantage. Such a teacher is always on the edge... questioning... always looking... scavenging materials... looking for different ways of 'making do'... of improvising... questioning... inventing... integrating classes... integrating ideas... questioning the pat formulas decreed from 1181... challenging the 'experts'... questioning... involving students... involving parents... involving community... involving local expertise... involving! Small schools are facing extinction... it scares me... scares me as a teacher... and a father.

(POV Telecaster guitar) I just read this... and I know where he is coming from... I've been there too. We have played such a variety of gigs... sure, I've got my favourites but it's a real challenge to play some of the other musical styles we get into: stuff from every era over the last two centuries, and blues and folk and country and western and rock and pop and rock 'n roll and jazz and big band and... and... whew! Over the years it seems that we have played every type of venue imaginable: from bars to arenas to concert halls to English discos and Workingman's Clubs to barns to hangars to outdoor festivals to TV, radio and recording studios to... to... living rooms... whew! again. And those weird and wonderful special events: Barn dances in England, teen dances, military bases, American state fairs, receptions and picnics for Royalty, Governor General's Balls, U of M Grad Dances, CBC national shows, Playhouse/Pantages concerts, Indian Reserve outdoor mudbaths and PowWows, Legionnaire reunions, opening for touring celebrities, and ...and... OK! OK!

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #11)
We're a travellin' ramblin outlaw band
Kevie, me and Suzie, we travel the land
We kinda got our minds a-set on leavin' the West
This prairie land rebel band a-flyin' the nest
Took a 747 ride to heaven by jet
The closest that the most of us is ever gonna get
Heathrow luggage slow - we fuss and we fret
Sue, she's in the loo - she's trying to get her face wet
Cause we're outlaws - An outlaw ramblin' band
Outlaws - Outlaw ramblin band
Tea time cars in line on Westminster Bridge
It's scary for a prairie boy from Maple Grove Ridge
Ride the M-5 - still alive - we're steaming up north
Workin' for the workin' man to show our worth
We bring on Lonnie Donegan - they clap and they stomp
And we sing a little song about an ole Cajun swamp
We rant about Canada - we pick and we sing
They can't understand American - "What's he sayin'"
We're with the crowd - singin' loud - we're startin' to rock
When Housey Man up on the stand says, "I say chaps - stop"
It's dour hour holy hour - time to unwind
Bingo is the only thing they got on their minds
Thirty nights of flashing lights - the end of the grind
Heading down to London town for studio time
Suzy drums, Willy strums, in old Soho
Kevin just a-revin' up the piano
Yeh, we're a transported, imported, semi-deported, genuine, certified..
Outlaw Ramblin' Band.

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #12)
Get on board - We'll make you more
Than satisfied
Whistle blowing - Wheels a rolling
Come on and ride
Don't need no ticket - There ain't no wicket
There ain't no fee
Our magic potion - Is locomotion
And ridings free
Ride Ride Ride on through the night
Rolling on outa sight Rockin' Express speedin' through the west
Ride Ride Ride - On the Hillman Express
From prairie sidings - To those exciting
Bright city lights
The music's hummin - As we keep runnin'
On through the night
Don't need no baggage - We're gonna manage
To get it on - To every station - 'Cross the nation
Come ride along...

As rapport and trust develop within my classes the rule or maxim we always seem to approach but can never fully realize is:
"Every rule here can be broken except this one."
I find this situation analogous to the state predicted by Einstein as one approaches the speed of light. This goal can never be reached, but as it is approached so much of what we have always accepted is convoluted - our perceptions of time and space are challenged.

I have spent all 23 of my years "on the road" - interacting daily with hundreds of kids of all backgrounds - reacting to mood shifts - growing pains - ego trips - wallflowery - belligerence - insecurities - hangovers - mental and physical bruises from the night before - puppy love - dog hate - friendships - secrets - peeves - joy - exuberance - imagination - will to please - disruption - depression - shyness - sexual desire - frustration.... and countless kids who need someone to turn to as a confidante - anyone whom they regard as being 'kinda special' but not a frightening authority figure who will put them down one more time.

After visiting many schools larger than our own, I have developed a strong sense of appreciation for the small school setting. A teacher working in such a school knows every kid by name, as well as most of the parents and the home situation of most families. I have seen educators in large schools become so bogged down in red tape manipulation/paper shuffling/bureaucratic two-stepping/information dispensing that they become little more than high pressure executives in 'peer sucker' suits. The general who loses touch with the front lines...the trenches...loses touch with the battle. The small school educator still has a finger on the pulse of the student body.

All through the writing of this picaresque journal I have found my thoughts drifting over to another type of journal writing - journals which have played such an important part in my life over the years - the raw, honest, private, sometimes pleading, always touching writings which I encourage from my travel companions in their own journals. Few of these have I ever shared with anyone - I would never break the trust. I have a nagging feeling though, that it may be all too easy for the educator in the "fast lane" to lose touch with this human element. It is all too easy to see adversaries, disruptive problems, junk in the cogs of the system, than to see a child whom someone out there loves - or more tragically whom no one loves.

Would such an educator see the writer of the journal entry which follows (these words were carefully written by a student on a loose-leaf sheet which appeared out of nowhere on my desk), as an anti-social, lazy, irresponsible, stupid, sex-crazed, drunken, suicidal Indian slut? Would such a document ever be shared with a distant, disciplinarian, "by the book" the ruler of such an Arcticdom? We must keep our humanity, warmth and compassion and never let the pressures, or "importance" of our roles cause us to lose sight of unique microcosms entrusted to our care.

Eagle Woman
Writen Bye ************** (Eagle Woman)
She's the one who stands alone
She turn her back on the world and the people She use to love
She built a big wall around her and thats were she feels safe
She feels she can't trust anyone cause the people
she trusted hurt her or turned there back's on her.
She cries out in a voice that no one can hear only her.
People tell her they no what she's going through
but she knows that no one knows
Only she does, only she understands herself.
When she thinks about the passed, it tares her up, 
she tries to talk about it but she is scared it might happin agian 
and no one will be there to help her.
So she spends her days in fear and darkness
She is scared to take a step out into the real world 
so she stays behind the walls she built with her anger, hage and her hurts
She tells herself she'll never leave cause the passed will always be apart of her
She's tried to leave this world bye taking her life but she failed
She cries out to the Creator please take me 
away from this place but she knows that 
he put her here for a reason and she knows 
when her time is up he'll come and take her
Until that time she'll wait and try make her life better 
and take a step out form the wall of hate, anger and her hurts.
Keep standing on the mountain...
As she stands out on the mounain...watch the sunset
She ask herself how can she go on with out him bye her side, 
he was the one who helped her through her life, 
he showed that life is special, he made her smile and happy.
She feels so empty and hurt
People tell her to go on with her life but she cant 
because her love for him grows strong as each day passes bye
She wishes that he could come and take her saddness away
She knows that he's in a better place were 
he won't have to hurt or feel sad ever again.
She cries out from the mountain she stands on
Why did you have to take him so far for me
She cries take me so we can be together in your special place
But she knows when he wants her he'll come and get her 
and take her to his special place so they could be together
Until that time she waits

(Words & Music by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
Grand daddy told of times he saw men dying
Old women weeping, naked children crying
Blankets, trinkets for land and gold
Ain't nothing left but memories to hold... for the
Chickasaw Waccamaw Iroquois Sioux
Susquehanna Missisauga and the Kickapoo
Choctaw Chippewa Yakima Cree
Sissipahaw Witchita and brave Pawnee
Then we chopped down the trees and poisoned the breeze
Killed all the beasts and brought nature to her knees
Now rivers are dying to heavy to flow
Proud people crying, nowhere to go... for the
Cherokee Apache Mohave Mandan
Shawnee Comanche Miami Cheyenne
Apalache Muskogee Tutchone Navajo
Missouri Shoshone and proud Arapaho

With my mind so upon journal writing this year it was with great excitement I that I jumped into some entries I had stumbled upon from my Nannie's old diary of almost 50 years ago. The entry of January 10, 1943 was written the day her son, my Uncle Bill left for England to lead Lancaster bomber missions over Germany:

"This was Billie's last day with us. His leave was so short this time. He and Don spent the morning going around town talking to old friends. It's turned very cold - 40 below. Dad took us to the train in the cutter in the afternoon. Billie looked so handsome and grown up in his uniform. He shook hands with Don and Dad. I held my boy and we said goodbye again. His eyes. My little boy. My darling boy."

I was born the next day...
These simple, heart-wrenching words of a mother saying goodbye to her son drove home another side of journal keeping. The experiences I have been sharing and reliving from my own life and work have been generally happy and rewarding - periodically I find myself drawn moth-like to these home-made flickering glimmers of inspiration. Tonight's discovery was a revelation - it made me aware of just how deeply everyone can be affected by heartbreak and loss in life - at any age...and how powerful journals can be. How can we really reach our students until we develop some degree of awareness, empathy, compassion and understanding for their everyday problems. What better way of achieving this than through the epistolarian dialogue of student journals.

NAME: F/L Wm. G. CAMPBELL NO. 428 SQUADRON RCAF GRAND TOTAL FLYING HOURS: 1347 Hrs ...Crane... ... ...Link... ... ...Tiger Moth... ... ...Oxford... ... ...Anson... ... ...Wellington... ... ...LANCASTER... ... ... Apr.27/45 Lancaster - Pilot: Self Crew: 6 Duty: Seq C&L Apr.28/45 Lancaster - Pilot: Self Crew: 6 Duty: Seq Xcty F/A Apr.30/45 Lancaster - Pilot: Self Crew: 6 Duty:...
The medals arrived in time for the gala 'war is over and our boys are coming home' ...celebrations...


It may seem paradoxical, but one comes best to know one's real self, and to be able to introspect honestly, as a consequence of unselected, spontaneous disclosure of self to another person.
-Sidney M. Jourard
Paradoxically the practice of writing graduate course journals has forced me to think with more discipline, while at the same time having to think more imaginatively and multi-dimensionally. I have spewed out a stream of personal experiences which I have tried to relate to my philosophy of education, but in hindsight I can't help but feel that no matter how much these words may try to take on a persona of confident gems of wisdom, they are really nothing but questions - not necessarily doubts, but certainly questions. I have never allowed myself the luxury of becoming fully satisfied with anything I have accomplished in life - I question constantly. This is especially so in teaching. There is seldom only one right answer to the question - indeed, many people are put off by other people's answers... they must find their own truths... and to do so they must learn to ask the right questions. Few thoughts have passed through my head without inspection to see if they passed muster for further pursuance. The process seemed to take up every waking moment - if not writing, then observing or analyzing or imagining. I found myself writing on a tremendous number of different levels, through different voices, and melding past, present and future because I came to realize that this is the essence of curriculum. I gained new perspectives on curriculum, my teaching, students and even my own life - it has even given me the confidence to share my private thoughts and personal history, because I realize that these elements really are inseparable from my style and M.O. as a teacher. It has not been easy as I am an extremely private person, but it has been far easier than I could ever have imagined. When one has time to organize and crystallize his thoughts, the whole process becomes almost therapeutic... but the experience is really quite draining and one needs some excuse or reason to do this - no matter how pleasurable and rewarding it may be. There is the added encouragement of realizing that what is being recorded has some permanence - even in the midst of writing it, I found myself going back over passages already "in the can" - not for revision's sake but for enjoyment and satisfaction (and even surprise...Did I write that? When?...). This was enhanced not a little by the on-going margin dialogue with my mentor which seemed to take on a life all of its own.

I welcomed the mental stimulation and a chance to coach and quarterback the complex interplay of experience, thoughts, memories, emotions, personal philosophy, and practical expertise - all on the undulating playing field of curriculum and all under the game pressures of home, school and university. The over-riding realization which has made this experience worthwhile is that it has actually been read by someone who cares - and who has taken time to patiently crawl into my rambling mind to develop a rapport while all the while interjecting encouragement and insight - no "duckbilled" platitudes here. As a teacher I know how demanding and time-consuming this type of response can be - far easier to put a check mark after each paragraph and to sum it up at the end with, "That's nice." or "Where's your documentation?" or "I disagree so you are totally off base." My faith in the university education process is restored.

Is this the last chapter? I think not. I'll probably continue on with documenting my ramblings... after a period of R & R. I think I've caught the bug. Continued writing will doubtless strengthen my teaching but I envision future efforts taking on the form of a personal journal which I will leave to my kids - a part of their growing up from a POV they could only guess at after I am gone... I was there all the while. They will probably have no interest in reading this until they have their own offspring and the whole process takes on a renewed relevancy. I would give fortunes if I could share such thoughts put down by my loved-ones-gone. But when it is all done and dry who really would care what I write anyway but my descendants. There seems to be a special tie/link which blood provides - humans seem to have a hunger for knowing from whence they came ... and how. If I can provide some of the answers along the way and become a better teacher and person while doing so, I believe I shall have accomplished my given task.

This has been an experience I shall treasure and bringing it to a close is akin to losing a close and valued friend.

Joy Geen

William G. Hillman M. Ed. (1991)

by Bill Hillman
A dramatic reading for educators
accompanied with guitar and rhythm riffs.

Sadly, some navigators seek out little placid tide pools... 
...drop anchor...
...and sit in tired... creaky-leaky dinghies...
...while their young passengers look longingly...
...out to open sea...

They yearn for the thrill of the salt spray in their faces 
and the toss of the waves 
and a chance to skim across infinite waters to distant adventures 
-- and to learn the skills to survive on this life sea.

Many of these tide poolers will either meet disaster 
when they do break out past the breakwaters, 
or will spend a lifetime as land lubbers -- 
and haunted with personal devils 
which constantly remind them of what they could have been.

One can study the theory behind seamanship --
it can be mastered by most any hotshot yachtsman, 
but the experience of the old salt is invaluable 
when the going gets long... or rough.

He can read the tides...
...the stars...
...the wind... 
...he can talk to life in the deep...
...he can create a course and navigate it...
...he can sail by the seat of his pants... 
knowledge recollected allows him 
to cope with each unpredictable crisis along his course.

To the novice, 
the waves and cycles with which the old salt is so in tune, 
at first appear meaningless or incomprehensible 
but really they are just a part of life's cycle.

Just as in the oriental concept of yin and yang 
where two complementary forces flow into one another, 
so does night become day...
...season follows season...
...death follows birth...

William G. Hillman ~ M. Ed. (1991)


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