(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.
...TO THE FUTURE...
"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
COAT OF MANY
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
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.
BIG TRAIN FROM
(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!
LIFE IS A SONG
"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.
REELIN' IN SOHO
(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
WAR OF THE WORDS
(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 BODY SNATCHERS
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?
THIS WAY COMES
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.'"
TURN TURN TURN
"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
"So much for the far-fetched novel Fahrenheit
451... Space Opera stuff... it could never happen here...."
THE KETTLE BOILS
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
(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."
OF MICE AND
(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
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.
"Pass the novacaine, Nurse."
Feel free to let your imagination and creativity
run amok in all classes.
SHOP TILL YOU DROP
"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."
A DAY IN THE
(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"
"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
"Comp Set Safety Course Route 354N. Activate
Roof Satellite Nav/CD Map Systems."
"Comp Activate WAG Park Alarms Systems.
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
"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
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
and most people are utterly unprepared
to cope with it. - Alvin Toffler
THE SHOW OF SHOWS
(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
THE FOUNT OF
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
(Words & Music
by Bill Hillman) (From CD Album #10)
Rolling down the highway
we're Strathclair bound
Daydreams and memories
growing town by town
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
Echoing through the
O Pioneer - I'll sing
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
Lawman, outlaws and
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
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
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
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,
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
- 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...
DIGGIN' UP BONES
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
Green Bluff girl then
moved into Maple Grove
Just a little south
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
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
Trees a-blowing in
the wind still growing
Planted by a woman's
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
TAKE IT TO THE
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.
ZEN AND THE
ART OF LIFE MAINTENANCE
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
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.