Failure is Essential on the Path to Knowledge / The Sacred Bond

“To give service
to a single heart
by a single act
is better than a thousand
heads bowing in prayer.”
–  Mahatma Gandhi

Dr. Alford Blalock

     Dr. Alford Blalock

Alfred Blalock earned his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1922. Three years later he left Baltimore, considering himself something of a failure at age 26, for he had not achieved a residency in surgery (you guessed it, subjective grades were responsible!)

Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas

He did pioneering work on the nature and treatment of hemorrhagic and traumatic shock. He demonstrated that surgical shock resulted primarily from the loss of blood, and he encouraged the use of plasma or whole-blood transfusions as treatment following the onset of shock. This early work on shock is credited with saving the lives of many casualties during World War II.

He developed the Blalock-Taussig Shunt, a surgical procedure he developed together with surgical technician Vivien Thomas and pediatric cardiologist Helen Taussig to relieve the cyanosis from Tetralogy of Fallot. This operation ushered in the modern era of cardiac surgery.

Alfred blalock

Dr. Blalock, Vivien Thomas and Helen Taussig saved millions of lives.

Blalock and his team, who were working on shock at Vanderbilt, labored to create different physical conditions in dogs. In 1938, he conducted one experiment in which the left subclavian artery was joined (anastomosed) to the left pulmonary artery in an effort to produce pulmonary hypertension. The experiment failed and was put aside. Years later Blalock was to return to the idea.

In 1944 Blalock, with Vivien Thomas by his side, performed the first “blue baby” operation on Eileen Saxon, a 15-month-old baby. After the surgery, Blalock performed it on thousands of children, often with Thomas by his side. The new operation not only directly saved thousands of lives, it marked the start of the modern era of cardiac surgery, as it was the first successful surgery on the human heart of the modern medical era.

Something_the_Lord_MadeDuring his later years at Hopkins, Blalock continued his research on the heart and vascular surgery. With Edwards Park, he developed a bypass operation in 1944, and in 1948, with Rollins Hanlon, a cardiac surgeon, he created a technique for overcoming the transposition of the great blood vessels of the heart.

Helen Taussig

Helen Taussig founded the field of pediatric cardiology.

By the 1950’s, Blalock had performed over 1000 surgeries to correct congenital heart defects.

History is replete with what I see as beautiful examples of failure crafting, directing, enabling and molding the minds and attitudes of men, women and children into inspired and capable creators of life saving and labor saving and artistic manifestations.

Something the Lord Made is a 2004 film about Vivien Thomas and his complex partnership with Dr. Blalock. It was based on the award winning Washingtonian magazine article by Katie McCabe. I shared this beautiful film with my Philosophy students and I encourage you to view it.

“To be able
To look back on one’s life

In satisfaction,
Is to live twice.”
– Kahlil Gibran

Baby and

No. I know your hungry, but you must wait for the burger with fries!

My friends, we MUST fall down if we learn to walk, we must bump into things if we are to learn to pay attention, we must hit a sour note if we are to learn to sing. Failure is absolutely essential on the path to knowledge. But NOT in subjective, abstract, biased and artificially contrived ways. NOT in the ways our children are experiencing.

No record of failure need ever be kept except in the mind of the one who supposedly failed. And in that fragile vault, it will be held, naturally, only as long as it is necessary for survival, of an idea or an important lesson of life (without artificial contrivances and intolerable stress.) Anything beyond what is natural can become highly destructive, of intrinsic motivation, of the forward movement of society or of life itself.

IMG_1124 -b

Wyatt and Mary Alice in our production of  “Twelfth Night”.

But failure, in our society, is not a friend. It is not utilized as a NATURAL BY-PRODUCT of life and living. It is artificially contrived and employed in ridiculous and extremely harmful and deadly ways. And the school report card is a prime example.

“If you have ever rolled your eyes
when your child says
a teacher’s grade was unfair,
you might want to think again.
Your child might be right.”

Douglas Reeves, an expert on grading systems,
conducted an experiment with more than 10,000 educators
that he says proves just how subjective grades can be. read more

Here we have, in a report card, what can accurately be described as a weapon of war. And we hand it to educators who, “do not know what they do” to EXTRINSICALLY not intrinsically motivate fragile children. And the detrimental letters (grades) on these paper machine guns mow down the next generation with a lethality and accuracy of carpet bombs in war.

Receiving poor grades in school is associated with an increased risk of suicide at a young age, according to a new study from the medical university Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare. And numerous other studies confirm this finding.

Marie Anderson

Marie Anderson

Researchers found that teens with the lowest final average grades after year nine at age 16 (in a Swedish school) were three times more likely to commit suicide than students who graduated with the best or, at least, very high grades.

The findings reveal that suicide risk descended as grades rose. read more

“We have met the enemy
and he is us.”
– Walt Kelly

Report card grades are very effectively utilized to demoralize, discredit and terrorize children of all ages. These subjective indicators of abstract accomplishment cut a huge swathe through the ranks of our young citizens and are primarily responsible for the unbelievable drop out rates. Folks, children will not leave an environment where they are happy and successful. It kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? Come on. Wake up.

“The best way
To make your dreams

Come true
Is to
Wake up!”
– Paul Valery

Such a crude and technologically outdated system of feedback as a “report” card is also responsible for the total destruction of the self-esteem of many highly fragile children. So destructive as to cause the dissolution of the natural and beautiful bond between a child and its Mother.

Mary Alice shares with Gavin

Mary Alice shares with Gavin

This Sacred bond is the very breath of life God has given to every child. And it is essential to maintain this bond for human life to continue. How many soldiers have cried for their Mothers while dying on battlefields. Yes, it is Sacred and essential and very, very fragile.

There. I have pointed it out. Now we can all go back to ignoring the problem and patiently waiting for the next highly subjective and senseless paper meat cleaver of the human heart and spirit to be cleverly handed to our children. And then, do not wonder why your child resorts to drugs to dull the senses and alleviate the pain (it is called cause and effect). Our society is becoming disconnected from reality.  We are good at treating children by masking the symptoms and not finding out what the real causes of their problems are and addressing them.

“If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going,
You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else”
– Roger Taylor

I have such fond memories of my precious Mother, Marie, embracing me with such compassion, and such wisdom, when I shared with her my absolute disgust with old, worn-out, embittered coaches assigned to teach essential courses and abusing their power by assigning poor “grades” to such non-compliant rascals as me. I was unwilling to literally “Play Ball” and instead was passionate about music and being in the band.

He looks like a happy camper now.

He looks like a happy camper now.

I presented my so called “report card” decorated with numerous morally blood stained letters in the shape of an “F” to her (coach DNA). She laughed out loud (yes, she had a great sense of humor), tossed the ridiculous document into the trash can (where such destructive, ill-conceived and evil acts belong), hugged me, smiled and said in a loving and loud voice, “Well, It looks like your ready for College!” And was I ever! I was stunned. But, in retrospect, such failure really was a great preparation for success. I was highly motivated to prove my worth. But more importantly, I found the wind beneath my wings. It was warm, uplifting and wonderful and always smiling.

I went to see Dean Goleman at Ranger Jr. College the next day. It was exactly like I had died and gone to Heaven. I found real human beings with warm hearts that were actually beating. The teachers at Ranger, and the other universities I attended, were as compassionate and loving as I had ever imagined in my dreams. You see, God answers Prayer.

From the very depths of my heart and my Soul I say, “THANK YOU” to all the beautiful College and University teachers! We shall meet again in Heaven. And if I cannot find you there, I shall march into hell, report the mistake, and tightly embrace you, never letting go, as I escort you past the Gates of Heaven, so that you can be where you belong. Saviors deserve salvation.

I don't think he's awake yet. He looks like Dr. A before coffee!

I don’t think he’s awake yet. He looks like Dr. A before coffee!

So please. The next time your child does not succeed, stop long enough to congratulate them. They have again met the best teacher on the planet. Put your arm around him or her. Smile. Laugh about it (really loud). Tell a story about the funny things that happened to you on the way to failure which led you to success. Remind your child that no one, THANK GOD, is perfect. Perfection is found in fiction books and Sci Fi movies and Heaven. And in real life, perfectionism is a deadly and dangerous commodity.

It may surprise you, but my precious wife and I look for poor grades presented to us in applications we receive. We especially take note of poor citizenship grades. Ahhhh, Yes! Finally, at last, here is my kind of child, who combines high creativity with real, raw courage and true grit! Here is the kid with the strength of firm convictions and “the right stuff”.

“It’s the Soul
Afraid of dying
That never learns to live.”
– from The Rose

How to be happy, page one.

How to be happy, page one. A multitude of small delights constitutes happiness!

Sheltered under the wings of tolerance and understanding with a liberal dose of compassion, this child will grow up to save lives, spit into the eye of any obstacle and inspire his entire generation. This child will not allow his ambitions to be squelched and his self-esteem diminished. He, or she, needs to be more fully armed with self-confidence and ideas and then unleashed and guided, like a missile, in the direction of our overwhelming societal needs.

Yes, arm your children, guide them and then get out of the way. Do not stand between them and the target of their desire, which you have just introduced them to. We can only cure cancer with powerful minds deeply influenced by hearts overflowing with Love and the audacity to charge forward with a beautiful quality of courage. Defeating avaricious predators, like cancer, requires raw passion firmly coupled with compassion.

“World peace
can never be achieved
by those intimidated
out of inspiration.”

I don't think Japan will try to do anything else. The next generation is ready!

I don’t think Japan will try to do anything else. The next generation is ready!

By the way, there is new data showing consistent links between perfectionism and hopelessness. read more   Although perfectionism is recognized as a factor that is linked with suicide, the role of perfectionism as an amplifier of the risk of suicide has been underestimated (review by the American Psychological Association, – Flett, Hewitt, and Heisel.)

In fact, research confirms that the most successful people in any given field are less likely to be perfectionistic read more, because, “The anxiety about making mistakes gets in your way,” psychologist Thomas S. Greenspon told New York Magazine.

Cole and Jake

Cole and Jake in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Stage West Theater (filled with talented and truly inspiring and loving people).

In a Biology class
A teacher explained an experiment
She had done
That had to do with plants.
Whenever she watered them,
She would take TWO bottles,
YELL mean things at one,
And speak POSITIVELY to the other.
It turns out that the one watered with
NEGATIVE water died.
Then she reminded the class
That humans are around
75% WATER. read more
If negativity KILLS plants
What is it doing to
PEOPLE?
(Thank you my friend, Cole Fisher, for this information!
I plan to vote for you one day.)

Love quote

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The Unconditional Love of Greyfriars Bobby / Scarborough Renaissance Festival on Tues.

“Where is Love?
Does it fall from skies above?

Is it underneath the willow tree
that I’ve been dreaming of?
Where is she, who I close my eyes to see?

Will I ever know the sweet hello
That’s meant for only me?”

Greyfriars Bobby

         Greyfriars Bobby

These touching words,
From the sensitive performance of
Mark Lester
In the 1968 British musical drama film,
Oliver,
Reminds me of the quest
Each of us embarks upon
From the time of our birth.
Some of us find Love.
Others only just survive,
To die one day
In the sunless shadows
Of darkened dreams,
Living a lonely life,
To never find what all of us need,
Few discover
And
Fewer share.

The most poignant story of Love
That I have discovered of late,
Happened in Edinburgh, Scotland.
It does not involve just people.
It is a true story about a remarkable
Little Skye Terrier named Bobby,
Who became one of Scotland’s
Most beloved and celebrated.

This little animal friend died in 1872 and you can still find fresh flowers on his grave every day. His life and his uncommon devotion and love is remembered today with such things as his own magazine, websites, bronze memorials, a Disney movie and numerous items imprinted and engraved with his likeness.bobby 2

Now I had to ask myself, what could a small dog do to engender such love from so many people for so long after his life ended? Then I read the story that became one of the most touching of my life. Today, I long to travel to the grave of little “Greyfriars Bobby” to bring flowers of remembrance.

As the story goes, Greyfriars Bobby bin 1850 a gardener called John Gray, together with his wife Jess and son John, arrived in Edinburgh. Unable to find work as a gardener he avoided the workhouse by joining the Edinburgh Police Force as a night watchman.

To keep him company through the long winter nights John took on a partner, a diminutive Skye Terrier, his ‘watchdog’ called Bobby.  Together John and Bobby became a familiar sight trudging through the old cobbled streets of Edinburgh. Through thick and thin, winter and summer, they were faithful friends. The Love that blossomed is unbelievable!

The years on the streets appear to have taken their toll on John, as he was treated by the Police Surgeon for tuberculosis. John eventually died of the disease on the 15th February 1858 and was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard. His grave leveled by the hand of time, and unmarked by any stone, became scarcely discernible; but, although no human interest seemed to attach to it, the sacred spot was not wholly disregarded or forgotten.
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The kind folk of Edinburgh took good care of Bobby, but still he remained loyal to his master.  For fourteen years the dead man’s faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over the grave until his own death in 1872.
.
Movie about BobbyBobby touched the hearts of the local residents when he refused to leave his master’s grave, even in the worst weather conditions. The gardener and keeper of Greyfriars tried on many occasions to evict Bobby from the Kirkyard. In the end he gave up and provided a shelter for Bobby by placing sacking beneath two tablestones at the side of John Gray’s grave.
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Bobby’s fame spread throughout Edinburgh. It is reported that almost on a daily basis the crowds would gather at the bobby2 william dowentrance of the Kirkyard waiting for the one o’clock gun that would signal the appearance of Bobby leaving the grave for his midday meal. Bobby would follow William Dow, a local joiner and cabinet maker to the same Coffee House that he had frequented with his now dead master, where he was given a meal.
.
Sir William Chambers

Sir William Chambers

In 1867 a new bye-law was passed that required all dogs to be licensed in the city or they would be destroyed.  Sir William Chambers (The Lord Provost of Edinburgh) decided to pay Bobby’s license and presented him with a collar with a brass inscription “Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licensed”. This can be seen at the Museum of Edinburgh.

Baroness Angelia Georgina Burdett-Coutts, President of the Ladies Committee of the RSPCA, was so deeply moved by his story that she asked the City Council for permission to erect a granite fountain with a statue of Bobby.

grefriars-bobby-monumentThe American Lovers of Bobby erected a Red Granite stone to mark John Gray’s grave, the inscription reads “John Gray died 1858 – Auld Jock – Master of Grayfriars Bobby – Even in his ashes most beloved”.

GreyfriarsBobbyStatue

The statue of little Bobby has become one of most lasting icons of Edinburgh and his likeness is as well known as all the famous dignitaries whose monuments pepper the streets of Scotland’s capital.

Bobby’s headstone is a Red Granite stone erected by The Dog Aid Society of Scotland. The inscription reads, “Greyfriars Bobby – died 14th January 1872 – aged 16 years – Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all – Unveiled by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester CCVO – on the 13th May 1981”.

greyfriars-bobby 2

“Greyfriars Bobby” is undoubtedly the greatest love story of all time, proving once and for all that true love can last for all eternity – beyond this life and into the next.

William Brody sculptured Bobby’s statue from life, and it was unveiled in November 1873, opposite Greyfriars Kirkyard. And it is with that, that Scotland’s Capital city will always remember its most famous and faithful dog.

So please
Do not wonder why our
Students are found
Embracing,
Feeding and playing
With our precious adopted
Animal friends.
They are busy
With the real purpose of life – Giving and receiving
Unconditional Love –
Discovering that
It really does exist.
.
 My friends,12-9-20 TRIPS Dead Sea Scrolls - Main Event 001-c2
We make it possible
To experience the
Unconditional Love
Given so freely by our friends,
Who sometimes happen to be dogs
And other creatures of God.
What we do is heart-felt
In so many ways.
Through our Loving work,
Mary Alice & dog Trips Fall 2013 104Their lives are sustained
And our lives
Are made worth living.

May the Lord
Keep you and guide your life,
As you make so many people
And our animal friends
Healthy and joyful
Beyond all understanding.
The Love of God
Is always alive in your heart.
It is vibrant and glowing
Even in the darkest of nights,
Lighting the path
For others to see.

Travis poses with one of our counselors.

Travis poses with one of our counselors.

“You cannot do a kindness too soon,
for you never know
how soon it will be too late.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Come and join us for an interactive visit to King Henry VIII’s England! Student Day at Scarborough Renaissance Festival is exclusively for students and is this Tuesday, April 28, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

We are invited to enter the realm of England’s legendary King Henry VIII and experience the intellectual, cultural, and artistic splendor of the Renaissance first hand and will experience a full day of demonstrations, shows, and educational interactions. The Royal Court and villagers welcome, and in fact relish, discussions about daily life in the Renaissance.

We will meet at the school on TUESDAY morning at 8:00 a.m. to caravan to Waxahachie to enjoy the day at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. Please Do not be late. We will spend the entire day having fun. PICKUP will be at school at APPROXIMATELY 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. We may CALL you on our way back and let you know more precisely when to pick up your child(ren), but we MUST have a current telephone number that you will answer on Tuesday afternoon or Dr. A will act very sick.

Student ENTRY is $8.00. Adults: $15.00 Lunch is available at the Festival.

Festival Facts: Began in 1981. The Festival runs 8 consecutive weekends and Memorial Day Monday each spring. Scarborough Renaissance Festival is a Renaissance-themed festival based on the year 1533, during the reign of England’s King Henry VIII. Scarborough Festival is a 35 acre ‘village’ (larger than most area shopping malls) within a 167 acre site. The festival employs more than 2,000 performers, artisans, and staff.

Entertainment: 21 stages & 200 performances daily. 3 Full Combat Jousts take place each day. 150 volunteer members of the Scarborough Academy of Performing Arts make up the performing company that become the “characters” of Scarborough including our very own King Henry VIII and Queen Anne Boleyn. Daily Falconry demonstrations are conducted.

Shoppes & Artisan Demonstrations: 200 permanent shoppes feature unique handmade wares made by artisans from around the country. Artisans demonstrate ancient arts such as Glassblowing, Blacksmithing, Candlemaking, Printing on a Guttenberg Press, leather crafting, broom making, Armor making, Coin minting, & much more.

Hearty Food: More than 20 tons of the Festival’s famous Giant Turkey Legs are devoured annually. Hand made pastas, seafood, stir fry, steak-on-a-stick, Scott’s eggs, Italian Ice, etouffee, empanadas, fajitas, meatball sandwiches, baklava, quiche, pastries, and more than 60 other hearty foods make up the culinary adventure at Scarborough Renaissance Festival. Five Food Court Areas (kitchens) are located throughout the festival.

Students are allowed to dress in costumes. PARENTS / FRIENDS, etc. are always invited to participate.

IMPORTANT DATES
May 1 Tuition Due for 2015-16
April 28 Scarborough Renaissance Festival-Drama Competition is “Twelfth Night”.

We are very proud of our Anderson Scholars participating in the Shakespeare competition on Tuesday: Cole Fisher, Mary Alice Oliver (First Place Winner in the Junior High School Prose and Poetry Competition last year), Natalie Raulerson (First Place Winner in the High School Prose and Poetry Competition last year) and Diana Rodgers.

May 4 & 5 (Mon. & Tues.) Anderson School Theatrical Production “Twelfth Night” At Stage West Theater. Please join us. Call us at 817-448-8484 for information. The dress rehearsal performance is on Monday at 7:30 p.m. and the presentation on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door.

Directions From Fort Worth: On Loop 820 go south to I-35E. Go south to exit 399A. Exit and go west for 1.6 miles on FM 6

A . n . d . e . r . s. o.n

at night when he was let out from the lodging house that he had now been adopted in he made straight for Greyfriars - scrambled under the gates and found the grave of his master.

At night, when he was let out from the lodging house that he had now been adopted in, he made straight for Greyfriars – scrambled under the gates and found the grave of his master. He was discovered the next morning and evicted from the grounds, but almost as soon as he was out, he found another way back in and resumed his place with determination. This ritual was performed many times before the church elders finally gave up and permitted Bobby to maintain his vigil. Love, my friends, never dies.