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Summer 2015

The ABLE Approach
by Dave

In My Life
by Robb
Scott, Ed.D.


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The Importance of Friends in My Life

My wife was reminding me the other day of how fortunate I have been to have such good friends in my life. Over the past 15 years she has known me, she has had occasion to hear about and to meet a number of these individuals. In recent months and years, I have begun to develop new friendships with some of the people I work with locally in Hays and across the state of Kansas, including colleagues like Kevin Splichal, who completed his doctorate a couple of months ago and has taught me in the process a lot about persistence, follow-through, and qualitative research methodology. His work ethic and positive energy motivated me to complete a project this summer that had been on my mind for a couple of years.

It would be impossible to name every person who is important to me in this composition I have started today, but sometimes a list of names is the only appropriate format, and I hope to do that, too, one day. I have been lucky to run into a number of people with truly wonderful souls that shine through their eyes and the expressions on their faces and the words they speak. I am going to quote here a poem that my daughter wrote the other day and gave me on an index card to keep in my pocket - it is from a collection of special "tri-ku" poems she is innovating.

Triku #16 by H.G. Scott
When you laugh, colors burst out your mouth
And engulf and possess my defense
I open my life and let you into my world
A world that I'll b e g you to explore
Hoping you'll reach the ends
And want more

The other day, I was recalling in a conversation with my wife a camping and canoeing trip that I took on a river in the Ozarks with three of my closest long-time friends, Mark Wisness (whom I met at Grace Pearson Scholarship Hall at the start of my freshman year at the University of Kansas), Mike Keenan (whom I got to know at Great Bend High School during our senior year when both of us were involved in journalism with the famous Mr. Mohn), and Kirk Auston (whom I knew in high school but became close friends with through conversations as we transitioned to post-secondary settings at K.U. and even shared an apartment together during our sophomore year there).

Mark Wisness, Robb Scott, Bill Scott, at Easter 2013, in Manhattan, Kansas

Mark Wisness at the Scotts, Easter 2013

These people I have mentioned so far in my account here today are human beings with gentle kindred spirits that have caused something in my chest and my mind to reverberate and filled me with happiness with the sounds of their voices and, as mentioned in my daughter's poem, their contagious smiles and laughter.

I am reminded now of a talk that Dan Castelaz and I recorded using a cassette in the summer of 1988 shortly after we met each other at the Southern Illinois-Carbondale-Niigata branch campus in Nakajo, Japan, where we were both teachers at the very beginning of the English language program there when hundreds of Japanese recent high school graduates arrived to what had been up to then a quiet little fishing village about a 20 minute bicycle ride from the coast of the Sea of Japan (also known as the Yellow Sea by most of Japan's neighbors).

Anyway, what prompted Dan and me to tape ourselves that day was my nascent research into conversational logic (the topic of my master's project at K.U. from 1984) and my interest in seeing if natural discussions would follow flowcharts like the ones I had focused on in developing my logical conversation "method."

Dan Castelaz with two of his students after the big BAT RUN, in 2015, in Taiwan,where Dan teaches art!

Dan Castelaz, students, BAT RUN, Taiwan, 2015

Anyway, we turned on the tape player and started through a list of issues to discuss, including, as I recall, at least two topics: ranging from abortion to choosing ones favorite flavor of ice cream. Our ice cream conversation went on for a while, mostly I think we got caught up in whether vanilla (my choice at that time) really counted as a flavor or not. I have not seen or heard either of the copies of that recording in many years, but I do remember clearly how the conversation broke down when Dan said, "This conversation really isn't going anywhere," to which I responded, "well it isn't going anywhere very quickly," and things at that point degenerated into simple laughter.

During my second attempt to complete a doctoral degree, from 1992 to 1995 at Teachers College in New York City, I got to know a fellow student in the educational leadership program, Jack McLaughlin, and at one point he time-shared a small room at one end of my apartment with my dog, Ralph, who had been relegated to that space by dictate of my son Robbie, who was living with me during those years at the family apartments connected to Teachers College in upper Manhattan.

Anyway, Jack and his family lived in another apartment in the same building, but he needed space and time to focus on writing his dissertation, so he paid me something and came and went to Ralph's room whenever he could get away to spend time making progress in his research. It also became a kind of hangout for Jack and me, and we even today remember hanging "Wit" (our favorite beer at that time) in a plastic bag outside the window in the wintertime to keep them nice and cool.

It meant so much to me in the summer of 2011, when Jack seemed to suddenly appear on the K-State campus right along my path from the library over to my dissertation defense at Bluemont Hall, just like I was at his defense of his dissertation at Teachers College-Columbia University in 1996. The fact that he was dressed in red and blue shirt and tie (colors of K-State's rival K.U) just added a touch of that brilliant Irish humor Jack brings to everything he does, and it was so great to see him that day.

Dr. Jack McLaughlin visiting Linda Kenepaske and John Scott in NYC in early July, 2015

Dr. Jack McLaughlin with Linda Kenepaske
and John Scott in NYC, early July 2015

I think what I have done today, perhaps most inspired by the fact that it is August 2nd, which would have been the 57th birthday of my friend Kirk Auston (see related story at ), is a kind of introduction to a longer text I would like to keep working on, bringing in more memories and more names of the good friends I have had the good fortune to know in my life.

Kirk Auston joined our celebration of Meribel's graduation in 2014 at Manhattan, Kansas!

Kirk Auston leading a chorus of joyful laughter at Meribel's graduation, May 2014

I will not try to list them here today, but they will not be surprised to see their names as this text I have in mind develops; nor will any of them be too surprised that I have stopped with this accounting not even partly finished today.

I am reminded of a Beatles song, "In My Life," and a nice rendition of it from several years ago recorded by Johnny Cash.

Article by Robb Scott, Ed.D.

2015 ESL MiniConference Online

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