DadsNews   January, 2006   Volume 2,  Number 2 

Ken Mossman MFA, CPCC, PCC              518.580.0550

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In this issue:

  1. Greetings!
  2. Feature: Snowflakes and Shrunken Heads
  3. Quote of the Month
  4. Happenings...


Welcome to 2006!

Since we last met, I've had the good fortune of skiing a day at Sunshine Village just outside of Banff, Alberta, enjoying the holiday season, and growing another month with my family - extended and otherwise...  It's been lovely, bettersweet at times, and fodder for the creative idea-mill...

We shared my son's winter-break together and, of course, he's back at school.

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is "I've never let my schooling interfere with my education."  I think I'm beginning to grasp just what that means.

This month's feature, "Snowflakes and Shrunken Heads," is a tribute to what I imagine as the underlying spirit of  Samuel Clemens' quote...

Read on!



PS: As always, I'm grateful to you for spreading the DadsNews to friends and fathers the world over...  Thanks!

Snowflakes and Shrunken Heads 

I'm getting a second education.

No, I haven't gone back to school yet again. I'm watching, through the keen eye of a parental observer, the experience my son has as he walks his way through elementary school. I may be more skittish than most after all, even in my most enlightened moments, I witness my son's experience through a lens that is colored by the memory of my own school days.

I didn't enjoy school. It wasn't so much that I had other things to do, it's just that I remember spending long hours looking out windows, thinking (or perhaps wishing) that I had more important things to do or more important places to be. I have vivid recollections of gazing through the glass at Brookdale Avenue School in Verona, New Jersey, somehow just knowing that there was more to life than memorizing mathematical equations or learning how to dissect a sentence.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed art class and running around during gym period, so it wasn't all bad...

When I really stop to think, I find my early relationship to education rather amusing! I am, much to the chagrin and dismay of certain members of my family, a passionate lifelong learner. It's not unusual for me to be reading several books at one time. Occasionally, I even finish one.

"Maybe it was the influence..."

Somehow, in spite of my "schooling," to quote Mark Twain, I ended up with a boundless curiosity and an insatiable hunger to learn...

Here's the funny thing: I don't remember my education being as high pressure a situation as I perceive Cai's to be. Maybe it was the influence of Dick, Jane and Sally, to say nothing of Spot. Maybe it's just that my memory is fading. Maybe the expectations placed on seven-year-olds 40 years ago were different...

One way or another, my perception is that the amount of "knowledge" being pushed at my son and his peers far exceeds what was asked of us way back when.

There's something odd about what I see when I look at Cai's school situation. There's a drive toward conformity that I'm uncomfortable with. In fact, it kind of gives me the willies...

The week before holiday break, I planned my schedule such that I was able to make it to Cai's class holiday party. A hefty batch of Danielle's finest chocolate chip cookies in tow, I marched into the classroom after scanning the entire school lot in search of a parking space. By the time I crossed the classroom threshold, the kids were already involved in their holiday craft project. Each child had been given three small kits with instructions for creating little hanging ornaments.

The irony of a little Jewish boy making Christmas tree ornaments notwithstanding, what happened next is where the real story lies...

"Included in the kits were precise instructions"

I must also let you know, before I dive into the crux of the tale, that one of the challenges we've been having with Cai at school is following through with instructions and completing his work. Doing, in other words, what he is "supposed" to do.

The kids each had a penguin, a mitten, and a smiling snowflake project in front of them. Included in the kits were precise instructions and diagrams on how to make each individual ornament. All around us children - and their parents - were making cute little penguins or snowflakes or mittens. Cai, on the other hand, had his own ideas. Setting paste-on eyes, scarves and other assorted parts aside for later use, Cai went about creating his own personal objets d'art.

Beginning with the snowflake, Cai took off on a different route. Rather than using the different shapes that came with the kit, he decided to use his pencil and give the snowflake a strange, toothy mouth.

I'd be lying if I said I was disappointed in his creative departure from the norm.

After drawing a couple of lizard-like eyes on the snowflake's "face," Cai pulled out a blue ribbon that was fraying on one end. The ribbon was meant to be folded neatly and glued from behind to serve as a loop for hanging the ornament. Tugging on the frayed end, Cai separated the ribbon’s warp from the weft, leaving him with a handful of wavy blue hairs, which he joyously affixed to the snowflake's chin.

The end result of Cai’s creative detour was a wonderful sort of shrunken-head looking snowflake with a long blue beard.

"the penguin ended up as a four-eyed alien"

To make a long story short, the penguin ended up as a four-eyed alien, inverted for added effect. The snowman in the leftover parts from the other ornaments, became their own characters, each completely different and wacky and original in its own way...

Initially, when Cai began creating things other then what the kits were intended for, I had the thought to redirect him. After all, what would the other kids think about Cai's creations? What would the other parents in the room think about me?

After a millisecond of consideration, I let it all go...

"there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all teaching system"

The pressures to learn and fit in are tremendous, at least as I perceive them. I see the educational system slowly chipping away at my son's spirit, at his desire to express himself creatively, at the energetic core of what makes him the wild and fiery little man that he is. I also see a system that has the very noble agenda of really teaching our children. As fine as the intentions of the schools are, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all teaching system. There is a certain meter and pace that's designed to move most of the children through at a given rate. Naturally, compromises are made...

The goals of this particular system often seem at odds with the very nature of children - and they don't have much space for the effusive, crazy energy of little boys... especially if the little boy in question is, like his father, a strong-willed daydreamer.

We're not ready just yet for home-schooling or private school, even though they've come up in conversation as possible pathways...

Homework has had its stressful moments, and I'm sure there's more to come.  Danielle and I are learning to stretch and strengthen the muscles of our patience.  Cai is learning, along with the “three R's,” that not every situation in life is comfortable.  He's also learning a little bit about the fallibility of his parents. The current circumstances are calling on all of us to grow in many ways.

We left Cai's school holiday party with six or seven wonderful, fantastically different ornaments. It was a glorious, fun afternoon, and I got to spend it with my son.

We've all heard the cliche about making lemonade from the lemons life hands out.  I find hope in knowing that my son can make blue-haired shrunken heads from snowflakes while I look on, grinning…

Quote of the Month

"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."
B.F. Skinner

"No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure."
Emma Goldman

"A Better Way to Work"

"Making your passion your profession means finding what you really want to do, figuring out the way to make that profitable, and devising a plan to put things in motion."

Personally, I couldn't say it any better! 

A program of teaching, coaching and connecting with what really matters - from the inside out.  If  you're ready to give your working life a fresh, juicy start, then it just may be time to take a look at A Better Way to Work  ...

Send me a note or gimme a ring at 518.580.0550.


Third Monday Calls: Taking a Closer Look at Masculine/Feminine Energies

Monthly calls exploring the nature of Masculine and Feminine energies in our culture, our work, our relationships, our families, and ourselves...  Third Monday of every month from noon to 1 PM Eastern Time.

Visit With Debra Wilton-Kinney, Sam House, Mary Kuentz, and Ken Mossman.  Come over and have a look at the Third Way blog for more info...

Third Way Workshop:  March 31, April 1 and 2, 2006 

"Surfing the Masculine/Feminine Mobius Strip"

Discover how to work with these powerful energies to co-create your highest possibility.  During this powerful three-day journey, you will:

o Gain a deeper awareness of masculine and feminine energies within yourself and others.
o Learn to discern between masculine and feminine energies that serve you… or hold you back.
o Experience your own personal blend of aligned masculine and feminine energies, creating a third energy – a new spark of life force and creativity o Explore and experience archetypes and “shadows,” and learn to consciously harness their powerful gifts.
o Take home a conceptual framework, language, exercises and tools to apply this work in tangible ways—in your view of yourself, in your relationships, and at work.
o Be a vital part of groundbreaking work and a growing community… be a leader in the much-needed evolution of these energies in our world.

Contact Ken for more information on these and other Third Way programs.

Riding the Edge

Coming in April, 2006... Chamonix, two experienced leaders, one experienced guide, big mountains, snow, speed...  What has skiing got to do with leadership, anyway?

Curious?  Stay tuned...

Coaching News

It's a New Year.  Time to begin moving those ideas and visions toward action..?  Hmmmm...  I'm setting up sample coaching calls for February and March...  Ready for a 45-minute test drive?  Let's set it up!  On the house, of course!

Feedback for DadsNews - or a simple "howdy!" - is always welcome. Send me a note!

More cool stuff is available at the Cirrus Leadership website!

Next issue of DadsNews: Thursday, February 9, 2006.  Until then, follow Mark Twain!

DadsNews ©2006, Kenneth Mossman, MFA, CPCC, PCC,  Cirrus Leadership®
Use and distribution permitted and encouraged, providing attribution is... well, attributed!