Thoughts on Easter

I have no business writing a blog at the moment. I have a five-lesson “mini-unit” to complete for Tuesday and in about 40 minutes I’m going to my uncle’s for Easter dinner. However there is just something about holidays that get my religious juices flowing and so I wanted to write down something that is hopefully coherent rather than just having it bouncing around in my brain. When you are inspired to write or share something it is a shame not to.

Organized religion is failing in Western culture. People no longer take much pride in belonging to a church or greater group. Instead, at least in the West, we have combined our cultural value of individualism with a take-what-you-like spiritualism. I’ll take what works for me and you’ll take yours and we will be content. I don’t mean to disregard this trend or come off as judgmental for those who have found real fulfillment by this path but theres no other way to put this: I utterly reject it.

In the realm of the spiritual, going alone will never truly work. Finding something that no one except yourself will truly understand is at a root level somewhat selfish I feel. And here is my main point: why are we rejecting the best truth that exists in our world for something that we are fashioning from our own hands and mind?

I’m not saying that church is the answer. Many people have had a profoundly negative experience with church. I haven’t, but I respect where people are coming from. Many churches, many Christians do not get it right very often and some, unfortunately almost never do. But I think one important thing to take away from today is to step back and ignore what so many “Christians” have done and instead marvel at what Christ did. 

I won’t recount the story here but the greatest thing about Christianity is not that when you start following Jesus everything becomes perfect. It’s that the God of the universe is willing to meet you exactly where you are and provide what you really need and the very core level of who you are. What we celebrate on Easter demonstrates this perfectly. Are you tired of hearing about all the silly, crazy, spiteful, harsh, un-Christ-like things Christians do? I invite you to read what Jesus said and start changing the stereotype yourself. Going alone may provide brief respite but it will never change that deep clanging gong inside your soul. Only Jesus will. Other people can help along the journey.

Happy Easter. My church sang this song this morning and I thought it was phenomenal. You can listen to it here. I hope you get something positive from it. Blessings.

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Encouraging and Complicating…

I have had the opportunity to teach formally for an entire year (last year in the Czech Republic) and informally in a wide amount of places and contexts. Until last week however I had never observed an actual trained teacher teaching an actual high school class. A requirement of two of my classes this semester is to observe a total of 15 hours of classes and write a short paper about what I saw.

Though I have only had a couple months of official grad school education it was really interesting seeing theories and practices I have been learning about being used (and not) in the classroom. Most encouraging was seeing multiple teachers appearing to have the exact type of personality I have. Some of you who know me well probably have a good idea of what I’m talking about but for those who don’t I mean the following: Loud, witty, sarcastic and knowledgeable on their subject matter. It is somewhat affirming to see other people like me having also come to the conclusion that teaching was a good career choice.

The head teacher who arranged my observations did a great job giving me a wide variety of subject matter and levels within the entire department.  I watched a couple high level and AP level classes and also saw a few lower-level and remedial courses for students who struggle a bit more with academics. What I took away from this was that whether or not a teacher was particularly engaging, the “smarter”, “better” students were almost invariably attentive, quiet and paid attention. On the other hand the lower level students were invariably louder and disruptive regardless of what the teacher was doing. At best many just tuned out to whatever the class was doing (cellphones in class=total fail 99% of the time).

I realize my descriptions above are troublesome and might even come off as a bit judgmental. To be fair one class that was middle of the road that appeared to be extremely ADHD at the start of the period calmed down remarkably once the main activity (a debate) began. My main point is observing makes my goal of being an excellent teacher one day much more complicated. I’m learning all these great theories and practices that should result in the vast majority of students learning and excelling. My observations show that teaching some students is infinitely more difficult than any classroom discussion or book can relate. I don’t have any rock solid answers at this point except to note that observing actual classes was extremely worthwhile.