Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Teddy Roosevelt

History is fun to teach.  As we look at events 100 years ago it is amazing how closely they parallel our own times (but taken a few steps further).  Teddy Roosevelt has so much to say about the strength of our nation.  His short essay Duty and Self Control is a good read for everyone.

He begins by reminding us that in the United States the people are sovereign - we are ultimately in charge.  To this end he explains

The man who is in danger of oppression from the sovereign can afford to think of his rights, first and foremost, but the man who is really sovereign, or the entity which is really sovereign, must think of its duties first. 

If "we the people" are sovereign then it is essential that we know our duties more than our rights. Knowing your duty used to be such a crucial part of education.  Honestly, as I read CM and she talked about duty I wasn't sure how to relate to that thought at first. Today it is almost laughable that you would teach something so "old fashioned".  As he explains though.  

The problem becomes apparent when "the people" are unwilling or unable to govern themselves. Roosevelt ends this essay reminding us 

Written over 100 years ago I think the sentiments might ring truer today. 

The other essay we read was The Square Deal which doesn't shirk from the topic of sectionalism (he was born before the Civil War).   Here are some of his thoughts from 1905

A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections. As soon as it becomes government by a class or by a section, it departs from the old American ideal. 
In the history of mankind many republics have risen, have flourished for a less or greater time, and then have fallen because their citizens lost the power of governing themselves and thereby of governing their state; and in no way has this loss of power been so often and so clearly shown as in the tendency to turn the government into a government primarily for the benefit of one class instead of a government for the benefit of the people a a whole. 
The outcome was equally fatal, whether the country fell into the hands of the wealthy oligarchy which exploited the poor or whether it fell under the domination of a turbulent mob which plundered the rich.   
The death knell of the Republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others.  
As much as I appreciate his political reflection, I think his encouragement to the average citizen is even more powerful.  While he was President he reminds people that

In case you are concerned that he isn't considering the key role of women he adds

He further discusses how this is on par with the work of lawgivers and soldiers - not second fiddle work.  He highlights these important roles soon after he pities the man with no burdens - because they have no chance for glory - they have no responsibility.  

What a different way to view the world.  What convicted me most was this thought

This is what I am praying for - strength and insight - to do my duty where I live.

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Stitches

Anne Lamott never bores.  Her use of imagery and language is wonderful to read even if it is sometimes hard to discern her theology.  Stitches is just such a book.  She means it in the healing of a wound and binding things together.  It is a thoughtful read.  One of those that puts words and stories to things you've felt but can't quite express.  Here are some of my favorite quotes.
I also learned that you didn't come to this earth as a perfectionist or a control freak. 
Are you sure about that?  My mentor mentioned this week that if we are created in the image of God, we are made to love - so fear, apathy and hate - are all learned behaviors.  I see perfectionism and control issues as rooted in fear, at least it is for me.

I thought this was a great explanation of what happens when a child's world falls apart.
It keeps them under control because if the parent is a mess, the children are doomed.  It's best for the child to think he or she is the problem.  Then there is toxic hope, which is better than no hope at all, that if the child can do better or need less, the parents will be fine.  
UGH!!  This makes my heart hurt. I think it is what so many of us have agreed to - do better, need less - then people will be okay, I will be okay, I will be loved.  It reminded me of one CM instructor who tells us that the adult is "the biggest brain" in the room and kids will follow your lead.  If the "biggest brain" can't handle it; then chaos and panic ensue.  "Little brains" have to cope and it is easier to blame themselves then dysfunctional adults. Lamott captures it well.

Although I think of her as a "free artist type" I was struck when she said
. . . order and discipline are important to meaning for me.  Discipline, I have learned, leads to freedom and there is meaning in freedom.  
I am still thinking that one over.  Is this why I don't feel free because my life is chaotic?  I am beginning to see how the following could be true:

Below is one definition of maturity. 

I still want it all to come together.  I always thought that maturity was when all your ducks were finally in a row.  As she points out 
Emerson wrote "People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them." 
This one speaks to a great fear that I have.  I want to learn to just live today and let go of tomorrow.

My youngest turns two in a couple of weeks.  It is making me a bit reflective and sad that I was so busy achieving nothing when my others were young.  I was always focusing on their long term future - where they were going - instead of enjoying them in the moment.  Likewise, for myself, I was trying to "do something" but it was all grasping at the wind.  I now delight in reading "Piggie and Elephant" again and again to the little one. I am learning to be a bit slower, kinder, gentler - but oh - to go back and be different from the beginning.  Hindsight is 20-20.

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Teaching to Change Lives

I picked Teaching to Change Lives up off of my shelf again this week after talking with a friend.  It harkens back to John Milton Gregory's The Seven Laws of Teaching (full text here) which is also safely resting on my shelf.  This book shows up in quite a few places.   It is used in Trivium Mastery as the basis of her system for analyzing student understanding.  Mystie Winckler did a whole series of posts on this book back in 2012.  I guess maybe I should go back and read the original again!

Teaching to Change Lives doesn't really dwell on The Seven Laws - it is more of a jumping off point than an analysis of Gregory's thoughts.  The author has been a Bible teacher at a theological school for 30+ years so he has walked this road for quite a while.  He speaks specifically to teaching the Bible.  All of his thoughts come from classroom teaching and many of them are aimed at older learners but I still found it helpful. His insights and stories did impact the way I taught this week. Here are are a few of my favorite thoughts: 
Let me challenge you with a statement in Luke 6, from the last part of verse 40: "Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." 
Ummm  . . . this is why homeschooling is so overwhelming some days.  
In the search for good teachers, I always look for FAT people - those who are Faithful, Available and Teachable. 
That sounds like a pretty good way to choose teachers.  I guess that's why I keep getting signed up for this gig.  I love that he doesn't include know it all, smart or even experienced.  If you are teachable God will equip you. 

I love this one - instead of shushing kids - lets embrace their enthusiasm and point it towards Jesus.  

I think the following categories are helpful as we think about improving our teaching: 
You'll discover that some of your values and habits need to be retained.
Some of them need to be refined.
And some of them need to be rejected outright.
But we're all in the same boat because we are all in process.  (italics his)
Here is another quote I didn't realize was from this book. I have been misquoting it to my children (I say tool or toy to my kids).  This version is much more powerful.
"My parents taught us that everything in our home was either an idol or a tool." 
That could change your whole life!
But there is no growth, there is no development, there is no learning . . . without tension. Tension is absolutely indispensable to the process.  
To be sure, too much tension leads to frustration, stress and anxiety.  But too little tension produces apathy.   
Ahh. . . so the fact that I am avoiding it is a bad sign - right?  What if I really did embrace the tension and allow it to play its proper role in developing my children/students and myself.
What you are is far more important than what you say or do.  God's method is always incarnational. 
This is why they become like their teacher.

Honestly, this is one of the potential perks of homeschooling.  Since you are the parent there is a good chance that - with enough patience and prayer - you might just get to see where the bomb goes off.

It is not a difficult read and it has lots of good thoughts about the teaching process and what a fully equipped student looks like.

See what others are reading at Ladydusk.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Wednesday with Words: Worship and Story

I know many adults who have been moved by The Jesus Storybook Bible because it helped them understand the whole story of Scripture - every story whispers His name. I think this is part of what James K.A. Smith is hoping we will understand about worship in You Are What you Love.  One of his main points is that the form of our worship should be telling the story of the Gospel every week and inviting us into longing for the kingdom - here and in the future. He puts it this way:

He explains that worship should lead us through the "narrative arc that rehearses the story of redemption in the very form of worship".   Every week there is the call to worship (God invites us), repentance and forgiveness, hearing the word, tasting and seeing how good is the Lord and then being sent out "restor(i)ed".   Obviously, many services don't include all of these parts and may not reflect THE story- creation, incarnation, recreation (the pre-renaissance version of the Gospel) - in its form. What does the form of your worship tell you about you and God? Does your worship have the potential to "re-story" your life?  Do you allow it to "re-story" you?  Smith has lots of insights into the role of form (how we do things) in forming us as a people.

As I was reading Smith's conversation about "restory-ing" it made me think of one of my favorite lines from Norms and Nobility.
Hicks definition of mythos is not about true or false - it is a "man's imaginative and, ultimately, spiritual effort to make the world intelligible; the logos sets forth his rational attempt to do the same." Although I like the rational and ordered, I am realizing story and imagination sustain us.  I think this is one reason Charlotte Mason was such an advocate of memorizing the parables - these stories speak to us again and again in different ways as we grow.  Past generations knew the Psalms so well for similar reasons - they speak hope into difficult circumstances again and again. Do the stories my children know provide maps when they are lost?  Are they able to sustain him?

This past week I taught Daniel chapter 1 to the first graders at church.  Daniel was steeped in the stories of the Babylonians but held fast to the one true God.  They even tried to rename him - but it didn't stick - God was his judge.  In the end, this is what I want for my children.  I want them to be innocent of evil, not naive.  I want God's story of redemption and grace to be such a part of who they are that all other stories are colored by this one true story.  I desire that they recognize the hunger that cultural stories reveal and speak God's life and truth into deep pain and deep needs. An apologetics or worldview class as a teenager (the logos and analytical approach) can equip you with an argument. Are we are missing the boat though? It seems that more often we need to be armed with a loving story of truth. I think this is why many moms cry while reading The Jesus Storybook - it is restorying them and revealing who He truly is.

Want to know about re-storying a people group?  Take a listen to this older podcast by Angelina Stanford.  What she shares is incredible and the end literally sent chills up my spine.

See what other stories people are learning from at Ladydusk.