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edu180atl: peter cobb 1.13.12

Today I learned the meaning of the Greek word “triskaidekaphobia” – fear of the number 13.  Yes, it is Friday the 13th and it provided me with the chance to muse on the nature of superstitions.  And to do a little research.

An interesting thing about superstitions is that while most of us don’t really believe in them, we act as though we did.  We shy away from black cats walking in front of us.  We hop over cracks in the sidewalk – for fear of breaking our mother’s back.  I think?

Warding off bad luck is routine.  We knock on a piece of wood.  We cross our fingers.  We hold our breath when we pass a cemetery.

Fun is one thing; but superstitions and their antidotes can morph into something more.  We realize they represent a throwback to a time when reason didn’t prevail – and perhaps that is their ongoing attraction.

There is the superstition going around that according to the Mayan calendar the world is going to end this year.  I was in Mexico last week and learned the Mayans believed the year 2012 marked the end of an age – not the end of the world.

The sun will still rise.  We “enlighten” our students so that they will enlighten the world – rather as portals to hope and understanding.

The picture is a portal of the Mayan winter solstice “window” through which the dawn pours on December 22.  It will continue to this year and for many years to come.

Peter Cobb (@bikecobb) is an independent school consultant on school culture who prefers riding his bike to getting on an airplane. 

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Thanks, Peter. This is helpful reporting. Plus, I like the repeated use of “portal.” It is fun and valuable to think of people as portals of light and dawn, especially the young people with whom we work each day. As for a valuable book on Mayan culture, I recommend BREATH ON THE MIRROR by Dennis Tedlock. I read his translation of the Popol Vuh with him at SUNY Buffalo.

    January 15, 2012

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