Book Review: The Startales of Mother Goose by Mary Stewart Adams

If you love the stars and history, what a sweet little treasure you will find in The Star Tales of Mother Goose. This is a fun read, full of beautiful, playful illustrations and the beloved mother goose rhymes for the little ones. For adults, it is informative and engaging and re-ignites our childhood wonder of the stars. Stewart-Adams explains the history and meaning of each Mother Goose Rhyme for adults and brings it alive with stories.

For example, in the well known rhyme Humpty Dumpty, she explains how the king’s horses and king’s men are the four constellations of the four seasons and that Humpty Dumpty himself is the SUN! Summer solstice is the wall, “the moment when the sun stands still, highest above the celestial equator.” Then the sun falls back down again and Bootes, Hercules, and Perseus are the KIng’s men and Pegasus and Equeleus are the horses. In like fashion, she explains ten different rhymes and their starlore meanings.

She also guides the inexperienced in locating these stars with easy descriptions of how to find them and their constellations without any technical terms. Wonderful for parents and children to watch the night sky together with and dream or just for the young at heart. I highly recommend this book for parents of young ones or to give as a gift.

For more info or to buy the book, visit https://www.starlore.co/

Astrology of the 21-22 School Year

The birth chart of the school year could be said to be the first day of school, so here I have taken the start date for the first day of school for my locality as August 17, 2021 at 8:00am, Tomball, Texas CDT.

Quick Summary:  A positive year for communicating, thinking and learning with a theme of conserving or storing resources for the future and keeping one’s true identity and values foremost in one’s mind as one plans for the future. (See Interpretation Below)

Highlights of this Chart

  • Mercury is the ruler of the chart
  • Mercury and Mars conjunct Virgo on the ASC
  • Sun, Mercury, Venus and Saturn all in Rulership – a bit of a conference
  • Trines with the Nodes to Venus and Saturn
  • Moon & Mars in Accidental Dignity
  • Venus in Libra in the First House, but First House ruled by Mercury
  • Moon at 19 Sagittarius in the 4th House
  • 4 Retrograde outer planets: Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune

New Moon

7/10 Cancer
8/8 Leo
9/7 Virgo
10/6 Libra
11/4 Scorpio
12/4 Sagittarius
1/2/22 Capricorn
2/1/22 Aquarius
3/2/22 Pisces
4/1/22 Aries
4/30/22 Taurus
5/30/22 Gemini

Full Moon

7/24 Cap/Aquarius
8/22 Aquarius
9/20 Pisces
10/20 Aries
11/19 Taurus
12/19 Gemini
1/17/22 Cancer
2/16/22 Leo
3/18/22 Virgo
4/16/22 Libra
5/16/22 Scorpio
6/14/22 Sagittarius

Other Important Dates for the School Year

Uranus Rx – Aug. 20
Mercury Rx Sept 27-Oct. 18
Mars in Scorpio on Halloween
Pluto direct –  Oct. 6
Saturn direct – Oct. 11
Mercury direct and Jupiter direct  -Oct. 18
Eclipses –  Nov 8, Nov. 19, Total Solar Dec. 4
Mercury Rx  – Jan. 14-Feb.4
Venus Rx Dec. 19-Jan. 29
Jupiter in Pisces – Dec. 30
Uranus direct – Jan. 18, 2022
Chinese New Year – Feb. 1, 2022 – Begins Year of the Tiger
Pluto Rx – Apr. 29, 2022
Partial Solar Eclipse – Apr. 30, 2022
Mercury Rx May 10-June 3, 2022
Total Solar Eclipse – May 16, 2022
Summer Solstice – June 21, 2022

Interpreting the Symbolism

The 2021-22 school year has a positive outlook.  With many planets in air signs, it will be a productive year for learning, thinking, and communicating, which brings some hope for integrating all of that was learned by teachers and all that was not learned by students in schools since the pandemic. 

Mercury is the ruler of the chart at 10 Virgo, the symbol for which is a child molded in their parents’ aspirations. There may be pressure to live up to others’ expectations, and a need to go after what you want instead. With Mars conjunct we are given the “oomph” or grit to assert.  But, if we cannot accept our true identity, we may be in trouble as our true identity is exposed.  We are no longer able to hide or pretend because Mars at 11 Virgo’s symbol is a bride with her veil being snatched away.

Here we can imagine the image of the Norse God Thor, acting the part of Freya with a veil in order to trick his enemies.

Thor dressing as the bride, Goddess Freya to trick his enemies.

If you are the bride, accept the new realities and commit without pretense.  If you are the one doing the snatching away of the veil, there may be feelings of violation or a rude awakening to the reality but we need to accept the situation.

This school year may bring a theme of evaluating the changes that took place during pandemic and taking the best of the past going forward.  Venus is at 1 Libra, Lynda Hill describes the Sabian Symbol this degree:

This wonderful Symbol shows a time of new beginnings with an implementation of a brand new order. Often, this shows people being interested in attaining spiritual transformation and attainment. As you change and grow there’s a need to respect the value of what is waning, and to take the best qualities from the past with you into your future. This often shows being within reach of your ultimate potential. Some aspects of society are left behind for a higher, more evolved state. ” – from SabianSymbols.Com

Loose ends from previous experiments need to be tied up, and so it will be a year of trials, creativity, and problem solving. This requires good communication and a back and forth flow of test and revise, and test again until the fine tuning of right solutions emerge.   The ASC of this chart is 8 Virgo, an expressionist painter making futuristic drawings.   

So with Venus at 1 Libra and taking the best of the past and bringing it forwards into a new order, we can be creative and visionary in drawing up future plans, but we have the danger of being too idealistic as well.  We may be living in the mind too much or overemphasizing the future without considering reality of the present.  Venus at Libra 1 suggests new beginnings and bringing forward collective wisdom in service to the future.

Two trines exist between two planets in rulership to the north node, Venus in Libra, the MC/Nodes in Gemini, and Saturn in Aquarius. This could bring a creative synergy of ideals and values that align with  true purpose. 

The Lunar Node is on the midheaven of this chart at 7 Gemini.  This is the Sabian Symbol for aroused strikers surround a factory.   Social tensions have been high for quite some time, and that is not likely to abate.   We still have Uranus in Taurus which might suggest revolution (Uranus) in the realm of physical resources (Taurus).  Mercury and Venus near the horizon of this chart suggest embracing one’s true identity.  This is also inconjunct to Chiron, at the degree whose symbol is a bomb failing to explode.Note here, this need not be a literal bomb, but could rather a symbolic one and seems to suggest disasters averted rather than things exploding.

There is a back and forth between urgency and fanaticism on the one hand and the need for crowd control, and calm, stable leadership.  

The Moon at 19 Sagittarius gives the Sabian symbol of in winter people cutting ice from a frozen pond for summer use.  This brings to mind the image of planning ahead and conserving resources, which shows up in a few other symbols for this chart. Where can we be like wise Joseph as Pharoah in the Old Testament, storing grain for the drought?

Meanwhile Saturn at 9 Aquarius has the Sabian symbol for a person who had for a time become the embodiment of an ideal is made to realize they are not this ideal.  This repeats the theme of embracing one’s true identity, just as the symbol of the veil being snatched away.  Where can we recognize what is and what is not the ideal? How accurate are our assessments of these ideals?   Judging things by the level of popular support does not always equate to what is truly ideal or what is best.

The Sun is at 24 Leo is opposing Jupiter in Aquarius.  With the Sun in rulership here in the 12th house, we have an image of a large camel crossing a vast and forbidding desert.   We may have to carry the load for a long distance for others.  The warning here is to prepare for the journey, to collect reserves and resources, and avoid mirages. We may have to push ahead in difficult times, be self-sufficient, have mental stamina and exercise mental self-control on a journey through a desert.  This also rings true for the Chinese Astrology for this year – the Metal Ox, next year we move into the Year of the Tiger.  This axis shows the polarity of self (Leo) and the collective (Aquarius). There is also this idea of bringing something of value or great importance across an expanse of desert to someone in need of it, in other words, precious cargo that requires self-sacrifice.     

The Sabian symbol for 27 Aquarius is a tree felled and sawed to ensure a supply of wood for the winter. It is interesting to have so many repeated symbols for conserving and storing resources for future use.  Who is going to need the precious resources and how will we get it to them, who will make that journey or sacrifice to ensure it?

Chiron, Neptune, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto are all moving retrograde suggesting consolidation of ground previously covered in the social  movements and collective of the day.

Venus is in rulership in Libra and her location in the Taurean house of resources seems positive. At the same time we have Pluto in Capricorn requiring transformation.  How can we transform the idea of power based on material resources? Where are we merely creating more waste or peddling our knicknacks and where are we setting a standard for excellence in what we create that is in alignment with values for the future?  Since Venus inches near to the second house it is suggesting that we are not quite there yet.  Rather than focusing on our fears of what we don’t want, have we clearly defined what we value and what we do want? While our values may not all be the same, where can we find common ground and work together?  Here we need a solid sense of identity before entering commitments.  Chiron in Aries points us toward being examples of calm leadership.  Sharing our values and ideals may be one of the most important creative acts of service we can render because to fail to bring these out, or to hide under the veil is to fail to participate. That is like putting your head in the sand, thereby ensuring common ground will never be found.  A move forward begins with conversations that matter and self-assertion (Mars) and revealing our true nature. Having conversations about shared values and conserving physical resources will be relevant this year.

For more information on Sabian Symbols, please see Lynda Hill’s Sabian Symbols.

How to Learn the Most

I ran across this article from Brainpickings about letters that Albert Einstein wrote to his own children. He writes to his 11 year old son,

“That is the way to learn the most…when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

-Einstein, in a letter to his son

I got to thinking about the kind of learning that Einstein describes – the sense of losing time because you are so present and engaged in something you are interested in.  I love that Einstein also tells his son in the letter to play more piano and do carpentry, and that it is “even more important than school.”  (YES!)

It made me wonder, what would Einstein think of the virtual learning we are planning for students to endure this year? How many students in school regularly experience that same sensation of total engagement, of losing time while engaged in learning?    It may happen occasionally, but I doubt that most students miss normal school instruction.

How engaged will students be in online lessons this year?  What would Einstein think of 6 and 7 year olds learning how to read, write, and count by way of screens? What would he think of high schoolers logging in for a minimum of 180 minutes everyday without face-to-face interaction with their peers? Extending virtual instruction for students indefinitely everywhere as a mainstay form of schooling will have long and short term consequences on individual and collective levels.   There are so many issues to this, it can be difficult to grasp.  But I hope I can stir a points here.

First, when we are totally engaged and losing track of time as Einstein described, this is about relevance, interest, self-motivation and choice. Schools typically provide very little choice in learning.  Einstein knew, the best way to learn is not necessarily in school.  Yet, we can learn some things in school, and we can also learn some things on computers. Technology has its place, but a screen does nothing to engage us with the same completeness that real-life tasks do.   What if we embraced this challenge of school closure due to pandemic as an opportunity to learn through real tasks with verve and interest?   Things like playing music and doing practical tasks like carpentry have a real place in daily life for healthy people with curious minds.  Too much external, academic programming makes us lose touch with that sense of agency and autonomy to do purposeful activities with our hands.

Second, there is the idea that when schools are at their healthiest and best, they can provide a sense of community.  When schools are at their worst they provide a sense of alienation,  perpetuating societal indoctrination, propaganda, and racism.  Sometimes schools can be very sick places.

Due to the COVID-19 healthcare crisis, we have already been away from our schools for more than six months.   What have students missed the most?   Friends and the social contact with their community?  Playing at recess, or going to gym class, sports, or other activities?  For older kids, being captain of the team their senior year? Graduations, proms and other major events?  Students might also feel the loss of regularity and routine, the predictable structure that the school day provides.  Maybe the children also miss the independence, the ability to leave their homes, taking a step into the broader community away from their family?  Occasionally, students might miss being with an inspired teacher who can foster within a student a love for a subject, or the self-confidence to overcome obstacles.  The loss of interpersonal opportunities like these can’t really be measured. There may be many other things I failed to list about what students missed, but I doubt high quality instruction would make the top of their list because most never get to experience it.    I mean no disrespect to my teaching colleagues in this, but most instruction is not engaging.  Also, some children might be relieved they are NOT in school, More students may be relieved to NOT have to worry they will be shot while eating their lunch in the cafeteria.  The incidence of school shooting are down for the first time in a long while. Children today face extreme anxieties that adults today never had to worry about.   Sometimes our schools are very dangerous places.

Why did humans develop schools?  A school was meant to be a place where we provide a well-rounded offering of activities with the intent to enrich human experience, but that is definitely not always achieved. What opportunities, advantages and disadvantages does virtual learning offer us? How can we meet our needs for community? What good schools provide, virtual learning cannot easily provide the same way.  On the flip side, perhaps the hidden opportunity of not being in a school building is that we have more time to heal from the ills of our own society.  We have more time to reflect on what we want, and more time for the kind of learning Einstein talks about, if we are able to take advantage of it.   We will need to control our time better, however, and not be mindlessly controlled by our screens.   One need only recall the movie Wall-E to imagine how life in the future might be if we allow ourselves to be controlled by our screens and materialism.

We need to keep a distinction between “school” and “learning” and be more mindful of the potential negative effects of so much screen time on childhood.  Learning does not necessarily take place in schools, though it can.  Children are  not widgets or robots.   Requiring massive amounts of screen time as a vehicle for learning will have long term consequences which have yet to be fully understood, but there will be steep consequences on a societal level, as well as on mental and physical health levels. A bigger question might be, with the onset of Artificial Intelligence, at what point are we irreversibly putting computers above human beings as decision makers?

Some people are upset because they so desperately want kids back in a school building.  What is that really about?  Economics of childcare? Convenience for parents? Government control? The comfort of routine?  FOMO?

It is not the building that makes learning happen.    Learning can happen in a lot of ways.  The school building is just a shared space for community.  A community of people can be a sick community or it can be a vibrant community or something in between.  It can be online community or in person community or something in between.   We don’t have to be in a particular place to learn, but whether we are in a school building or on a screen, its of vital importance that we keep striving to make what happens in schools REAL, relevant, ACTIVE, ENGAGING and above all… HUMAN for students.

vir·tu·al
/ˈvərCH(o͞o)əl/

adjective

  • 1.almost or nearly as described, but not completely or according to strict definition:“the virtual absence of border controls”

learn·ing

/ˈlərniNG/

noun

  • 1.the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught:“these children experienced difficulties in learningsynonymsstudystudyingeducationschoolingtuition… more

What Teachers Need the Most in 2020

While I respect brain research and acknowledge its immense value, teachers need to  apply what we already know.

A human being is more than just a brain.

Humans develop in multiple ways: emotionally, physically, spiritually, cognitively, and artistically.    Students are more than their test scores. SEL (Social Emotional Learning) and mental health, which includes emotional + physical health, cannot be ignored.

We deserve to develop all sides of ourselves and teachers really help their students when they deliver instruction in a variety of ways,  not just one single mode.

Then there is the reality of 2020.

K-12 teachers are entering the virtual teaching sphere en masse.  In just a few more weeks this gets real.  Young children will be learning solely through a glowing screen when the new school year begins.

How well can we teach through multiple intelligences using a virtual platform?

From an Edutopia article on Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence:

Practices Supported by Research

Having an understanding of different teaching approaches from which we all can learn, as well as a toolbox with a variety of ways to present content to students, is valuable for increasing the accessibility of learning experiences for all students. To develop this toolbox, it is especially important to gather ongoing information about student strengths and challenges as well as their developing interests and activities they dislike. Providing different contexts for students and engaging a variety of their senses — for example, learning about fractions through musical notes, flower petals, and poetic meter — is supported by research. Specifically:

  • Providing students with multiple ways to access content improves learning (Hattie, 2011).
  • Providing students with multiple ways to demonstrate knowledge and skills increases engagement and learning, and provides teachers with more accurate understanding of students’ knowledge and skills (Darling-Hammond, 2010).
  • Instruction should be informed as much as possible by detailed knowledge about students’ specific strengths, needs, and areas for growth (Tomlinson, 2014).

As our insatiable curiosity about the learning process persists and studies continue to evolve, scientific research may emerge that further elaborates on multiple intelligences, learning styles, or perhaps another theory. To learn more about the scientific research on student learning, visit our Brain-Based Learning topic page.

Link to full article

In how many ways can we present our lesson material that touch on multiple intelligences while coming through a screen to first graders? How will I make the material come alive for a six to seven year old? How will I build the human relationships with my very young students in the virtual?

These are questions I am faced with as a first grade online teacher. Perhaps for a high school or college professor, it looks somewhat different.  But as a teacher of primary grades, I have deep concerns about the long-term impacts of what is unfolding as we shift away from live teachers sharing stories orally and through books to Youtube videos streaming into students’ homes.

More than ever, we need ways to protect the youngest students from too much screen time and connect with them on a real, emotional, human level. Last night I watched the video of a grieving father explain how his 12 year-old son committed suicide two days before when he broke his computer monitor for a second time.    I can’t help but feel we are sacrificing the lambs without knowing the potential consequences.

In 2050 this generation of first grade students will be hitting their prime working years.  They might be the first generation of children who will have learned how to read and write on a computer, with many hours less of touching a real pencil to paper or holding real books in their hands from the school library.

I want to explain that I am no luddite.  As a ten year old girl, I loved computers.  Later, as a first year teacher in the 1990’s I sponsored an “Internet Club” for my 6th graders and I was among the first in my district to publish a teacher webpage on the internet.  At the time my principal could not correctly pronounce the word, “internet.”  I have a keen interest in the potential of technology in education.

I want to see a healthy use of computers that respects the needs of human development of young children.  I just honestly think we as a society do not yet know what “healthy computer use” looks like for young people as evidenced by the expectations of the general public and decision-makers and devastating impacts like that of the father who lost his son to suicide.

The forced virtual schooling that is upon us may not be something we have control over and I am all in favor of focusing on the things we DO have control over.  Forced online schooling happened too quickly to manage well in the middle of a health crisis this spring.  What will be different this fall about forced virtual schooling now that the new school year is here?

What teachers do have control over is how we teach and how we build relationships with students and parents.    We can also advocate for our students’ needs when situations call for it.   I for one, will be trying as many innovative ways as I can to connect on a personal, human level, and to look for ways as many ways as possible to make my lessons physically active, imaginative,  and multi-sensory for my students.  At the same time that we are forced to embrace online teaching, we need to embrace what makes us human.  I will continue to reach for any reasonable tools that I find to connect with my students and I will share what I find with others in the field.  It’s back to school season, 2020-style.