Deaf Boy’s Signing Name Forbidden at School

Following this report, the Grand island Public Schools have allowed ‘Hunter’ to keep his name. As if they had authority otherwise. Nonetheless the issue exemplifies the invasiveness of burgeoning protection legalities on all people. The extraordinary constraints that we democratic nations are tying around our every action is a constraint around the development of society. Might not is be a more sensible

Reported in 1011Now.com. Hunter Spanjer says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it. “He’s deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy,” explained Hunter’s father, Brian Spanjer. Grand Island’s “Weapons in Schools” Board Policy 8470 forbids “any instrument…that looks like a weapon,” But a three year-old’s hands?

“Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous. This is not threatening in any way,” said Hunter’s grandmother Janet Logue. “It’s a symbol. It’s an actual sign, a registered sign, through S.E.E.,” Brian Spanjer said.

S.E.E. stands for Signing Exact English, Hunter’s sign language. Hunter’s name gesture is modified with crossed-fingers to show it is uniquely his own. “We are working with the parents to come to the best solution we can for the child,” said Jack Sheard, Grand Island Public Schools spokesperson. That’s just about all GIPS officials will say for now.

Meantime, Hunter’s parents say that by Monday, lawyers from the National Association of the Deaf are likely to weigh in for Hunter’s right to sign his own name.

Despite whatever rules and regulations may exist, some Grand Islanders we spoke with said they don’t think it’s right to make a three year-old change the way he says his name.

“It’s his name. It’s not like he’s going to bring a gun to school when he’s three years old,” commented Dana Schwieger.

“I find it very difficult to believe that the sign language that shows his name resembles a gun in any way would even enter a child’s mind,” Grand Island resident Fredda Bartenbach reflected.

But for now, that’s a discussion between the Spanjers and Grand Island Public Schools officials.

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Punishment Doesn’t Work

On 8th March 2018, the Australian national broadcaster (ABC) ran this story of a father punishing his son for bullying by making him run to school. I am actually appreciative that this dad took a video of him driving behind the child and posting it, so that we can learn from it.
It and the supportive responses for it, does show the failure of most of society to understand the idea of consequence. This failure is not only why our child raising has created bullies and addicts but why prisons are overflowing with recidivists. Below is my take on it.

In the ABC article, bully experts like Dr Hannah Thomas, a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Queensland, said “punitive strategies like making the boy run were an attempt to teach the child to be accountable for their actions, but they didn’t always work.”They use shame, humiliation and guilt to try to motivate change in future behaviour,” she said.”This generally never changes behaviour in the long-term. It gives the child very limited opportunity to learn and acquire new skills — i.e. ways to interact in more positive and social ways with their peers.”Dr Thomas said these kinds of strategies can also have flow-on effects.”Children who are humiliated or shamed can internalise negative feelings about themselves that hinder their healthy development,” she said.”Children misbehave as they learn and develop. They need parents to be supportive when they make mistakes and to take a practical role in teaching their children how to behave more respectfully.”
What I see is that it gets down to consequences. There are two things to know about consequences: Punishment is not a consequence of someone’s action; and all actions come with unintended consequences.
Punishment is an indirect consequence of an action, and in many cases, that ‘indirectness’ is confounded by a complexity of agendas and motivations, often to the extent that it is of no consequence at all. If anything, punishment is often a pathway to a whole complexity of unintended consequences, the least of which is that the punished get that they are responsible for other’s distress and that they can be a different type of person in the world.
In this case there was a direct consequence to the boy’s bullying, he was put off the bus. The boy would have understood the relationship.
A consequence of the complaint to the parent was that the parent went into bullying mode. It seems Dad doesn’t have a conversational relationship with his son, probably an authoritarian one. His son is learning that authoritarian method, the being a three year old for the whole of your life, that is, of course, it is signified by bullying anyone as a control mechanism, a fabulous way to teach the next generation how to be a bully.
The consequence of the bullying mode by this parent is the boy being forced to run to school.
I have no problem the boy running to school. Great thing!
However, attached to that running to school is a punishment, is a bad idea!
This is where we have to get better at thinking through about unintended consequences. If we have learnt anything by listening to each other about why we find ourselves poorly motivated around some things as adults, it gets back to the unintended consequences of, sometimes, the most trivial thing a parent has done that has been completely misunderstood by the child. The consequence of establishing for your 10 year old son that running is what you do for punishment, when you do something wrong, can be that, later on in life, you run a lot and you do nothing wrong (even though you are really an A-1 tyrant), OR you do nothing wrong (you’re a nice guy) and you don’t run (you are fat, have a chronic disease by your 40s). Ultimately this boy is on a path to being either a bully for life or a failure to take-off.

The real issue though is of parenting. Parents who are in conversation with children from the time they are in the womb, parents who are self reflective in that conversation and can acknowledge with children where they messed up as well as taking a firm and clear stand with their children, parents who are up to something bigger than themselves and their family, in life, have children who aren’t bullies and grow up to be contributors to society.

Stand for Discourse

While the great religions have been attractive to a certain type of person, mainly men, who see it as career, status, and power, the great religions have always fostered an idea bigger than that, and so we can also see that the great discourses and services to humanity have come out of religion.

The inability for many of us, religious or not, to reckon with the forces of culture – the normalisation of social behaviours that might exploit or disadvantage or even attempt to annihilate another group; and the failure to be able to provide access to everyone in the discourse, is at the heart of disenfranchisement and leaving so many people vulnerable to the ‘wolves’ of this world.

Nonetheless, there is a huge well-educated class of people who can foster discourse among ourselves in a vulnerability about our own experiences and beliefs, without fear or rancour. That is there for us to be, and when we can be that discourse among each other, then there is no one with desire for power, political or status, that will not be moved to be at least that their welfare is tied to openness and participation and equity.

A BOLD Presentation

March 8 – 12 2017 saw the inaugural BOLD Festival in Canberra, Australia. The BOLD Festival, celebrating the legacy of Dance in Australia, is the brain-child of Liz Lea, dancer, choreographer and event organiser.

As a new comer to the dance theatre scene, a ‘mature mover’ (over 50), and facilitator of dance and performance, I was honoured to present and perform at the BOLD Festival.

The invitation came about through the successful project, “The Forging of Men”, designed and performed with 6 rural men, under the directorship of career theatre-maker, Sue Hayes.

The presentation to The Bold Festival was in the form of a short Pecha Kucha (powerpoint slides presented within 5 minutes). Below is the text to go with the slides. To enjoy the presentation, please open the slides and arrange them beside the text below

Slide 1 Cover slide: This presentation is about my recent journey into dance.
Slide 2 From my years of health work I recognised that a healthy community requires robust empathetic leaders who are the enzymes for bringing that community into integrity and discourse.
Slide 3 ACTUALLY being fully alive, being fully human, is a function of wonder, inquiry, creativity, and performance / action.

Novelty, the surprised recognition of a distinction, is the source of wonder and a vital ingredient for brain development and learning.

Slide 4 Performance is that we are in action in the world and there are witnesses.

Performance is where we get to become adults, leaders, and dancers.

Performance is the wonderful, human thing about life.

Slide 5 The performing arts can be a fantastic access for ethics and leadership training by:

·      supporting the empathetic imagination of the live of others and;

·      the possibilities of self as leader

through the conditions for wonder, inquiry, creativity, and performance.

Slide 6 Over the past 7 years I have designed human sized board games, as a fun approach to movement training, and a way of seeing the world through the body.
Slide 7 2011 – My first dance project with Jess Jones on the Atherton Tablelands.

The project was an awakening for me to the possibilities for facilitating dance theatre work with untrained people.

DANscienCE 2013 was an inspiration – a motivation to develop my own skills as a mature aged dancer, and find that breakthrough into establishing a community dance group.

Slide 8 Mastery – the ability to recognise and perform as by the finest distinctions as a function of performance before increasingly discriminatory witnesses.

Taking any age you were and any skill (technical or creative), plotting novel and masterful experience over time might give some indication of your actual neural and physical ageing robustness.

Slide 9 I have been creating small dance programs for the middle to older aged person for a few years. From that came a vision and a model for an inclusive dance training program that I call rEvolve with connotations for dance as transformative in life.
Slide 10 In my rEvolve program I work with several characteristics of training and design to allow the most embodied expression of an idea. The team works by building through exercises by collaborative feedback until eventually, there’s the performance.
Slide 11 I recently began to feel it is time for me to take a stand for a male culture that is authentic and embodied. At stake is the flourishing of our communities and nations.
Slide 12 In 2015, I found three men who were interested in attending work in dance / physical theatre . We called ourselves ‘Men in Motion’

We won a grant to bring theatre-maker Sue Hayes weekly from Cairns to Atherton to building a performance about our male identity

After we had commenced the development of the work, a further two men turned up, and so a performance was developed, “The Forging of Men”.

Slide 13 The men were, mostly, inexperienced in theatre, dance or any type of performance which gave us a perfect conditions to trial a ‘proof of method’ of the rEvolve model.
Slide 14 There was a moment in the project when Sue Hayes turned to the men and said, “Okay men, tonight you are going to touch each other.”

The contact exercises essential to physical theatre is another potential boon to a transformed male culture.

Slide 15 As the project progressed, one of the men told me, “You’ve been a bit bossy lately. I’m not enjoying myself.” The group conversation that resolved that tension showed up in the performance in what the audience saw about the team work.
Slide 16 I’m now facilitating two groups of about 12 dancers in total:

·      the all-men group for the contribution to male culture that could continue to make; and

·      there’s now an all-in group.

FINE

 

2016 Conference for Global Transformation

This is a late review of the Conference for Global Transformation CGT that I attended May 20 – 22 2016. The CGT is a conference of the Wisdom Area of Landmark Worldwide. Landmark Worldwide is a transformative education business that uses an ontological approach. The following are my meager notes.

Landmark Worldwide CEO Harry Rosenberg raised the enquiry (paraphrasing), “In transforming the business of Landmark Worldwide to take the organisation forward , what is the clearing for an organisation as a democratic conversation”.

The CGT provides a State of the World analysis. This requires some measuring of certain characteristics to provide a scorecard. The measurements are taken of: Economic; Social/Political; and Environmental conditions. They have been taken since 2001 which is called the base year and that year all measures were given a score of 1:00. All years since have then been ranked against that. While many measures have improved since 2001, there has been a steady decline in Freedom of the Press, Political rights, civil liberties, and environmental performance while the biggest improvement has been in the under 5 year old mortality. Rather than dwell on the scores, the spokesperson for the State of the World committee talked to the issue of what measures might mean in regard to an ontological view of the world. Some of the enquiries raised include:

  • How can we tell we (Landmark Wisdom Area) is making a difference in the world?
  • What are the measures that might be impacted by transformation?
  • Are we measuring to make the world ‘wrong’, so we can fix it? What if we considered that the world works and it is complete, yet people can still be in expression and make a difference?
  • What is the ontological world i.e. what is the being that is the world?
  • What world am I interacting? Is it the whole world, with nothing and no-one left behind?
  • What do I include in my occurring of the world?
  • What do I measure, to count and count it all?
  • Is a world that can be seen in unprecedented clarity, a world that counts?

On ‘The Created Self’, presenters raised the possibility of feeling okay and unburdened around what is important to me.

On ‘Leadership as a Natural Expression’, a presentation from the new “Being a Leader” ontological training courses, Jeri Echeverria challenged to inquire how I am as a leader? She pointed to the need for a conversational domain and mastery of that domain, that is opening up a new world, new realms of possibility, new ways of seeing, hearing, perceiving. She encouraged to take risks to get beyond what I have, and for that to transform my relationship with failure.

On ‘Listening to Performance from a place of reflection on your own perspective’, we were encouraged to look at what we recognised as great performance. Offerings included:

  • It is technically proficient, even excellent, perfect;
  • Attractive, transports the audience, is captivating, moving;
  • Bountiful / abundant;
  • Generous;
  • Interactive, listening, engaging;
  • A relationship with beauty, awe, amazement that is distinct from performance.

Looking to an example of great performance in my own life, I am encouraged that reviewing that performance is transformative, giving me courage to step into the next unknown.

Of the inquiry, ‘How does a great performance arise?’ offerings included:

  • In inquiry;
  • in participation as an interdependent group;
  • in listening;
  • In visions to goals to choices (strategies);
  • in passion
  • in promises;
  • in preparedness and pursuit;
  • in reflection, feedback, measurement

Great performance requires a look at failure i.e what didn’t work. It was suggested that we could fail hard, fail fast, and move on as a way to great performance, an expectation of success rather than winning. Great performance can show up as a crazy quiet in action. ‘Doing’ (being) ourselves, could be great performance.

Of the inquiry, ‘What is the nature of great performance, it was suggested look at characteristicsm essential qualities, and basic or inherent features.

Of the inquiry, ‘What access do you see to great performance, as a comittment that shows up as a) talking about what I’m doing as who can contribute, network, directly, through alignement; and b) a focus on the team and the strategy; and c) reflective inquiry through measurement including what does the team see that needs measurement?

On ‘A Promise to the World’ Monica Aring challenged the conference to ‘wake up’, that we can ‘get off it’ every few minutes i.e get of making it either right or wrong. She indicated that there are traps in language, that a promise is not an identity, rather a way to be in play, to be attentive to looking good or an expert around the promise. A promise requires constant inquiry, and a shift from a me to we economy. It may be that we can be nervous around a promise, rather than just my role is my role.

On a personal inquiry, I asked myself, do I complain that I don’t have what it takes to make a shift in life to a bigger contribution and make it work. Am I often looking around to see what everyone els eis doing? Is there something in being that I say ‘no’ to an easier path. I recognised that I would like to develop a creative enterprise for access / participation across many Australian communities. Can I open up a relationship with abundance to cause this?