Life and Musings of Ed

Archive for February, 2016|Monthly archive page

Do Hard Things – In Education

In Uncategorized on 24 February 16 at 9:47 pm

During the current season, I will be focusing on two fronts with posts — Education and Sound Worship.  Digging through some old files, I found something I typed up as a study guide for a high school Sunday school class, based on a great book by the Harris twins.  I don’t think my study guide attachment, which is pulled pretty directly from the text, is complete, but before I dig in and both revise and complete it, I would love some feedback from fellow Christians.   Do you think this message resonates with most teens today?  I would be interested in your comments.

Do Hard Things_AllSaintsHSSundaySchool


Brokenness in Education – Part 2

In Uncategorized on 18 February 16 at 3:53 pm

A few days ago, I was lamenting the serious student struggles I have been seeing in my high school mathematics classes.  Students seem to be coming into the integrated math 3 course, very unprepared and I was suggesting that a core issue is related to an fundamental clash of world views, between my Christian perspective regarding education and the pervasive systemic view represented in public education after “religion” was supposedly removed [1962 — teacher led prayer].  Discussion and argument regarding, definitions of religion, what teachers can and cannot legally do in the classroom [teacher led prayers, proselytizing, …], what “religion”or what belief system has come to dominate public education,… could gone on indefinitely, but I wanted to go a different direction in this post.

Having a background in quality improvement, I tend to constantly be on the look out for systemic issues, and am fascinated when I see struggling or failing organizations populated by many truly hard working and well meaning individuals.  Such is the case in my current school.  I honestly enjoy and respect the mathematics faculty at my school. They work hard, have a pretty solid understanding of the subject material, legitimately care about students, etc. and  I think our principal genuinely cares deeply about the students.  So how can it be that such a large percentage of my students accept Mike Rowe’s statement [see previous post] and are so lost and confused about basic arithmetic or simple algebraic concepts as they enter a sophomore or junior level high school math class?   Why do I find it nearly impossible to fully embrace and uphold a classroom environment that is modeled after my “philosophy of education” statement [see previous post]?

I could discuss metrics placed on principals and school districts by state DPI folks, and note that many of these seem straight forward and good, while effectively being counter  productive to real learning as they are implemented.  I could discuss other cultural and socioeconomic factors which contribute to the malaise.  I could discuss the misguided attempts to force everyone to head to college, while neglecting solid vocational training in plumbing, carpentry, electrical and automotive trades, etc. I could discuss and ponder crazy individual student data and situations, such as a student who had 80’s and low 90’s as grades for 6-8th grade math classes, but then has not passed a regular math class in high school; getting by by doing “credit recovery” online,and finding themselves in a math 3 class for which they are completely unprepared and in which they are understandably distraught and frustrated.  However, I just want to reiterate what was intended as a key point in the previous post, because I do not think that point was clearly communicated.

The solution and “fix” for all that is broken in education should start with a traditional or orthodox Christian worldview as the foundation.  A path that ultimately brings Glory to God and recognizes every student as a unique individual, created in God’s image, with a purpose, and with gifts and potential for good that should be encouraged and developed, is what I will pursue.

Of course, this statement just raises a number of other questions.  What does this mean for public education, and can the course of this massive enterprise be corrected?  Or, would this force us to look to vouchers and the privatization of education as the solution?  Stay tuned – or comment and share your remedy – I think most seem to agreed that some remedy or fix is needed.


Brokenness in Education

In Christian Education, Life and living on 15 February 16 at 10:40 am

I am deeply troubled by my recent experiences teaching mathematics in a public high school.  Not only have the vast majority of students entering my classroom lost any wonder or desire to learn mathematics, they come in with a deep set disdain, even hatred of the subject and severely deficient proficiency.  Consider the following example from an integrated math 3 student [similar to algebra 2, for those used to a traditional high school course sequence].  The selected problems from a quiz follows the student’s opportunity to see examples in class and practice both by hand and with the assistance of a graphing calculator.  This is not an anomaly.


Couple this with general class response of “yeah, we agree”  to the following quote from Mike Rowe [Dirty Jobs], and the anecdotal evidence is already very troubling!


There is no shortage of laments regarding the state of public education, and in particular, mathematics education , in the US, nor is it difficult to find any number of suggestions for “fixing” the problem.  One might hear buzz focused on “data driven” education, and “brain based learning”, etc. etc. , for example.

From my perspective, there is a serious world view clash and I will be laying out proposals and offerings for anyone interested in Christian Ed.  My heart is torn daily when exposed to brokenness in so many of my students.  The Good News is that there is Good News [the Gospel] and a real solution to this brokenness.

To start my online and public thinking process, here is a short paper about my philosophy of education, which I wrote for one of my Master’s courses at Concordia University :

Philosophy of Education

I believe the purpose of education is to transform students into the image of Christ, to equip them for every good work, and encourage them to live such that they will glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  As a teacher, I facilitate the development of a Christian worldview, guide students toward Truth and knowledge of God’s creation, love and edify them through trials and struggle, encourage perseverance and the development of Godly character, uphold hope, and foster their understanding of God’s call and will for their life.  By pointing students to Christ, I help them to understand excellence and beauty, their intrinsic worth and value, and principles for a joyous and fulfilling life — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27  ESV).  

Because I believe that parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children, I seek to partner with parents, to involve them as much as possible, and acknowledge their right to choose the best educational setting for their child.  Because I believe we are created as relational beings, incorporating collaborative learning experiences, promoting teamwork and citizenship are critical in my classroom.  Because the great narrative of humankind, the patterns of sin and redemption, of evil and heroism, of love, passion, tragedy, destruction and discovery are recorded, shared and best expressed through language, the written word, mathematics, and the fine arts, these disciplines are critical components of education.  As citizens of the United States of America, I believe we share a common heritage, that students should fully understand philosophies and ideas which led to the founding of our country, should be able to read and comprehend founding documents, the constitution, the history of our country, and the great sacrifices that have been made to establish the freedoms we enjoy.  They will come to understand that such freedom requires a moral, responsible and educated populace. To best understand America, students must be able to compare and contrast all aspects of the history and culture of the United States with the rich cultural diversity and history of other nations.  Because I believe God’s creation is worthy of study and that we are called to be stewards of His creation, the study of science, mathematics, technology, the history of their development and their effective use are critical components of education.   Because I believe all students are created in God’s image, have special gifts and talents, and a purpose or “calling”, I will do everything in my power to ensure equity in my classroom, school, and community.

Finally, the effective impartation of knowledge and wisdom in my chosen discipline of mathematics and science demands my diligence in professional development.  I will continue to stay abreast of research regarding best practices and effective pedagogy, of current understanding of the brain and implications for learning, of new technologies and their effective use, and of current discoveries in mathematics as I seek to deliver a coherent curriculum which engages students multiple intelligence, and is accessible to a diverse community of learners. I will adhere to the simple principle that students must be given a rich exposure to, a variety of ways to engage with, ample opportunities to process, and some choice in expressing mastery of new skills and their ability to use newly gained knowledge.  I will do whatever it takes to ensure every student is able to demonstrate proficiency of a common core of research based, internationally bench-marked standards.


Sound Worship

In Music, Sound Worship on 13 February 16 at 1:43 pm

Launch Timeline

Since last summer (2015) I have been prodded by the Holy Spirit and have floated balloons about getting together with Christian musicians and worship leaders in my community to study, fellowship, create, play and ultimately give Glory to God and worship Him more effectively through music. There is a unifying aspect to the gift of music, as well as an  incredible ability for it to reach deep into our souls and touch us  intimately at emotional and spiritual levels often unreachable in other ways.  Exploring this with like minded people, as the Right Reverend Doc Loomis says, is one primary piece of a vision for pursuing the formation of the Sound Worship community group.  In delineating the vision a bit more,  I would add, active worship in spirit and in truth, teaching and disciplining, and spreading the wisdom this ecumenical group gains far and wide.

Much more regarding specific goals, strategies, and logistics will be forthcoming, but for now…a draft timeline to prepare for the launch [May 2016]:

  1. Feb. 21st: Core group of 4-12 musicians contacted, briefed, and tasked [appropriately based on gifts/aptitude/passion]  
  2. March 6th: Vision [written, ready to publish/broadcast], logo [designed], email list initiated [mail chimp? Google group? …consistent, shareable, expandable, “format” established], first venue for first gathering [secured, scheduled] , and outline for or “order of service” established — what will the meetings look like?
  3. March 20th: Invitations sent for first gathering
  4. March 27th: First event presentation and logistics — food, sound system, seating, meeting space set up — Online presence development with sharing of products — new songs, collaborative creative effort begun
  5. April 10th: Follow up invitations with full detail
  6. April 17th: Second event planning underway — leader and co-leader designated, location/space hunt underway
  7. Early May — @ consistent monthly day and time  Sound Worship Launched