Syrian Refugee Post #234,679,675,999

This is the 234,679,675,999 article/blog/note published about the Syrian refugees.

But whatevs.

Stop making excuses for why you’ve closed your heart to the cries of refugees. Just call it what it is: You can’t be bothered with other people’s needs.

Stop saying we should take care of our vets before we let in refugees when you’ve never cared about vets before.

Stop saying we have homeless people in America we need to house first when you have no intention of housing them. You’re not fooling anyone.

Stop saying you’re just using common sense. Common sense doesn’t let a handful of people’s actions condemn a whole nation.

Stop saying the highest good in life is protecting your family at all costs. Go read your Bible again. There are things far greater, and your family’s not your flesh and blood.

Stop taking the verse in Psalms about building a wall completely out of context by saying it’s relevant to the refugee crisis right now.

Stop saying we need to get back to Christian values. We never were a Christian nation: we staked our claim in America by thievery and unjustified murder. Let’s please not go back there. We’re finally evolving into something better.

Repeat after me, “I can’t be bothered with other people’s needs.”

“I can’t be bothered with other people’s needs.”

Good.

Now say it by yourself.

No, not in your head.

No, not in a whisper.

Say it out loud because it’s not just a political stance; it’s who you are.

 

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Teacher Apologies: Part 1

I bet you remember it, no matter how long ago it was since high school – those blessed end of quarter assemblies that got you out of (if you were lucky) your least favorite class. And I bet you remember some rendition of the following: “Will the following students please come to the stage to be recognized for All A or AB Honor roll: … please join me in congratulating these fine students for their hard work.  Keep up the good work; next quarter let’s try harder so we can get more students on the stage.”

We’ve all heard it, and we all know it’s a bunch of bull. The kids who walk up on that stage study an average of about 5 minutes before every test. When are we going to stop congratulating kids for being born with the gift of intellect and a good memory?  When are we going to stop shoving the lie down these kids’ throats that those who work the hardest make A’s?  We all know that’s not how it works.

I’m sorry we say that.

I have an itty bitty little child in my class who probably weighs about 70 pounds. He’s the hardest worker in his class. He has the neatest handwriting, the most thoughtful answers and puts more time and effort into his work than any other child. He’s almost always without fail the last to finish because everything needs to be perfect before he turns it in.

It’s been this child’s goal since the third grade to make the AB honor roll, and right now in my class he has a D…on a ten point grading scale.  When report cards come out next week he won’t be the kid who shrugs his shoulders. He’ll be the kid with the glistening cheeks and the tears dripping off his chin because he never measures up.

But I’ll be damned if I tell that kid to “try harder next time.” “Keep studying; you’ll get it.”  He won’t.

To that precious child of mine, you will probably never make the honor roll. So next to the big old 60 that shows up for English class on your report card, I’m just going to write the things you’re the best at.  And you have a lot of bests. And in all caps at the end I’ll put “GRADES DON’T MATTER.”

  

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Why We Stopped Liking Teachers

Why We Stopped Liking Teachers

1 – “Teaching is the hardest job there is.”  It’s not. You know that people in other careers work too, right? And actually, retail in the months of November and December are harder. And hell to the no for Black Friday.  No mouthy kid even compares to that.

2 – “We don’t really get summers off.”  No, actually, we do.  Teachers are 10 month employees, which means…we work ten months.  If you come in during the summer for (always optional) professional development or workshops, you get an extra check.

3 – “Can’t wait for (insert break here). I need to relax!”  We get weekends, plus all holidays, plus a week long fall break, plus a 2 week long Christmas break, a week long spring break, 2 months in the summer and random non-holiday-holidays.  The career people who just get Christmas Day off (if they’re lucky) scoff at your woosiness.

4 – “I have so many papers to grade, and they keep piling up.”  I’m pretty sure there’s a scientific law that says things don’t just disappear, so maybe if you started grading, the pile would shrink.

5 – “A teacher is never caught up.”  Then stop procrastinating and get to work.

6 – “We don’t have enough hours in the day to _________.” If you worked twice as much as you sat in the workroom and talked, you would find the time sufficient.

7 – “I’m tired of being evaluated for my teaching.”  I don’t know of any job where you don’t get a performance review.  And curves abound.  Depending on your demographic, you’re just judged against the average.  No one’s asking you to perform miracles, just to perform up to par.

8 – “Trust me, I’m not in it for the pay.”  Why am I expected after hearing that to laugh and commiserate with you? You’re admitting that you’re in a financial situation where 35k a year is enough to support you and your family, AND you get to do what you love. Isn’t that a great thing?

9 – “I hate common core.”  Common core is what you would teach naturally if it didn’t exist. “Cite evidence from the text…”  “Track how characters develop in a story…” “Learn to identify key details in a text.”  What is so difficult or robotic about that?  I have the freedom to choose ANY text or novel I want to teach. I just have to teach things like that, which a good teacher would naturally teach anyway.  So if you have problems with common core, then, idk, you can finish that sentence on your own.

Does public education have a lot of dumb, stupid things? Of course, but that’s not the intent of this post.

Get off Pinterest. Be efficient. Get things done immediately. Keep a well-organized to-do list. Minimize. Declutter your desk. Declutter your mind. Let things go.

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Thoreau, the most Christian non-Christian

It confuses me how often I find atheists and non-believers knowing more about the Bible than Christians.  It’s like some way, somehow they’re closer to understanding God than those of us who profess Him;  and I don’t get it. It’s kind of like looking at a flat map your whole life and thinking Russia is the farthest point from Alaska, and then looking at a globe and not being able to grasp the fact that they’re somehow ridiculously close.

Enter my beloved friend, Thoreau, a non-Christian man who sadly got Christianity generations before the Church did. And, well in the South, we still haven’t quite gotten in yet.

These are excerpts from his compilation titled “Sunday,”  circa 1850 –

_______________________________________

As we passed under the last bridge over the canal, the people coming out of church paused to look at us from above, and apparently, so strong is custom, indulged in some heathenish comparisons; but we were the truest observers of this sunny day.

I was once reproved by a minister who was driving a poor beast to some meeting-house horse-shed among the hills of New Hampshire, because I was bending my steps to a mountain-top on the Sabbath, instead of a church, when I would have gone farther than he to hear a true word spoken on that or any day.  He declared that I was “breaking the Lord’s fourth commandment,” and proceeded to enumerate, in a sepulchral tone, the disasters which had befallen him whenever he had done any ordinary work on the Sabbath.  The country is full of this superstition, so that when one enters a village, the church, not only really but from association, is the ugliest looking building in it, because it is the one in which human nature stoops the lowest and is most disgraced.

It is remarkable that, notwithstanding the universal favor with which the New Testament is outwardly received, and even the bigotry with which it is defended, there is no hospitality shown to, there is no appreciation of, the order of truth with which it deals.  I know of no book that has so few readers.  There is none so truly strange and heretical and unpopular.  To Christians it is foolishness and a stumbling block.  There are, indeed, severe things in it which no man should read aloud more than once. — “Seek first the kingdom of heaven.” — “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth.” — “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Think of this, Yankees! Think of repeating these things to a New England audience! Who, without cant, can read them aloud?  Who, without cant, can hear them, and not go out of the meeting-house?  They never were read.  They never were heard. Bribed with a little sunlight and a few prismatic tints, we bless our Maker, and stave off his wrath with hymns.

It is necessary not to be Christian to appreciate the beauty and significance of the life of Christ.

A man’s real faith is never contained in his creed.

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Why Young Teachers Quit

Now I know why we quit.  You always hear people say that teachers quit because of the excess paperwork or common core or standardized testing etc. But that’s not why this generation walks away from the profession.  All we know of being an educator is paperwork, common core and state testing.  It’s been drilled into our heads in college classrooms, and it’s what we’ve experienced during our internships.  We’re familiar with it.

That’s not why young teachers quit. We quit because we were taught you could change the world if you tried hard enough and wanted it with all your heart.

In college, we were forced to read (and watch) The Freedom Writers by Erin Gruwell.  The story tells of this amazing woman in extremely difficult circumstances who changed her students’ lives.  It made us cry. It impassioned us; we talked about it for days, and when we got into the classroom, by God, that’s what we were going to do.

And so we got into the classroom, and we tried those things…and they didn’t work. And we poured affection on those kids, and we pushed them to reach their potential…and they didn’t care. We showed them worlds of opportunities and opened doors for them…and they didn’t care. We looked into their eyes and said “No one else might believe in you, but I do, and I will NEVER give up on you.” And we didn’t. We kept our word…and they didn’t care.

And so we thought, well maybe I don’t care enough.  So we bought them tools for learning with money out of our own pockets, and in the afternoons we would find them crumpled up under the desks or in the trash…and they didn’t care. 

 

And sometimes those two things end in stalemate:  We don’t give up, and they don’t care.

And that’s okay.

I’m 24. In a few weeks I’ll sign a teaching contract for my third year, and I’ll keep teaching because I love my school and I love my kids. And I’ll keep pushing them and mentoring them and opening as many opportunities as I can because they matter, and I hope one day they’ll see that.

What our college professors and Erin Gruwell taught us was if you only care enough, you can change the world, but Erin Gruwell’s success wasn’t solely based on her passion. It was passion mixed with luck.  There are hundreds of teachers as competent and passionate about their kids as Erin, but she got the perfect, lucky 7 mix of them. 

We quit because we thought we could make a difference. And the reality is, to most of our kids, we don’t.  It’s emotionally draining.  Give us time to adjust to the real world; give us time to overcome our naivety, and stop pumping us with unrealistic dogma.

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PSA: The Bible Still Exists

We spend the majority of our lives living out bad theology, most of the time not even cognizant of the fact that we are completely off base.  How sad that the well-intentioned person can very well lead a misinformed and unproductive life.  Why? Because we don’t read the Bible anymore.  I am so thankful for Augustine and Calvin and Luther who have written volumes on the Scripture and for the modern men who have devoted their lives to its study.  But somewhere along the line in the new millennium – pun intentional, (puns always intentional for future reference) we lost the Bible.

We had an explosion of books coming off the presses about the Bible…about Christianity…about Christian counseling and songs, fashion, fads, culture, and books. lots of books.  Then topics that I am so over with started detonating –  tradition, and homosexuality and why generation whatever-the-letter-is-I’m-living-in is leaving the church and “Ten ways this couple lived out their faith.  (You’ll never believe number 7!).” And we abandoned this compilation of holy and inspired literature (The Bible, in case you had forgotten the name) in this explosion of “good.” 

How often in our churches do we conduct a Bible study from a book about the Bible or do our devotional reading from a book about the Bible.  We teach our kids about the Bible.  We pick a side of who’s our favorite preacher or song leader; we quote, post, tweet and retweet the wittiest sayings from popular preachers and music artists.  And before we know it, we’re listening to our favorite Christian radio station on the way to work in the mornings, going to a friend’s house and attending a Bible study about a book written by a Christian author; we’re listening to sermons about how to have a successful marriage and we’ve never even picked up the Word of God.  We’ve never consulted the Bible with how we should live or how we should raise our family. We’ve consulted our favorite, popular preacher and taken his advice. 

Have we forgotten the Bible exists?  The Bible is our only source for knowledge and truth.  Without it, we are lifeless. We are wanderers. We are life-wasters. We are fools.  I am thankful for godly men; for pastors, for authors, for song writers, but they are not Christ. and if we are not careful, they steal our attention with their enchanting qualities and their ability to connect.  

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Reliving An Embarrassing Middle School Moment

“LAURA!  Go in for Samantha!”

 

I heard from the far away end of the bench.

 

“Me?”

 

“YES. You’re in for Sam. Go! Hurry!”

 

Oh my goodness. This was it.  I was about to play in my first volleyball game at school.  And it was a big deal.  I was a 7th grader, and 7th graders didn’t usually get to play in games.  All of a sudden I couldn’t hear anything. I got my game face on and zoned out.  I ran onto the court.

 

Tweet tweet tweeeeeet

 

I pulled my stiff, white kneepads up and tightened my ponytail…

 

LAURA L-A-U-R-A!

 

…pushed up my headband, and checked to see if my still blister-causing shoes were tied.

 

Tweet tweet tweeeeeet! Tweeeeeet  L-A-U-R-AAAA  LAURA!

 

Slowly the world came back.

 

“What?”

 

“LAURA, YOU HAVE TO CHECK IN BEFORE YOU SUB FOR SOMEONE.”

 

Oh yeah, oops.  Good job, Laura. Let’s make a fool out of ourselves before the play even starts.

 

“14 for 10, go,” the ref said as he scribbled in his notebook.

 

I took my position in the back right corner of the court.  It was the opposing team’s turn to serve.

 

“Let’s go Warriors!” Our home crowd cheered as they beat on the bleacher seats and whistled.

 

Why is their server looking at me.  Please stop looking at me. 

 

Tweeeeet. The ref’s arm motioned for the serve. The gym grew silent.

 

All right, here we go.  Holy cow. Why does that ball looks like it’s coming right toward me.  Okay, I need you to curve.  Okay, you don’t want to curve?  I see how it is.  Okay Laura, you got this. Knees bent, hands together, thumbs parallel. Here it comes. Here it comes. 

 

I swung my arms up to meet the ball.  I made contact.  Or rather, the ball made contact with my face.

 

Whereas before the sounds had faded from my excitement, now it seemed like everyone in the crowd was wearing a microphone, and I could hear every single word.

 

“Awww, poor little girl!”

 

“Bless her heart. How embarrassing.”

 

“*Gasp* I hope her nose isn’t broken.”

 

“And that’s why you don’t play 7th graders, Coach.”

 

The words stung me so much I didn’t even feel the sting pulsating through my face.  My coach subbed me out.  I went back to my spot at the end of the bench and buried my head in my hands. It was the most embarrassing day of my young life. Since then I’ve learned that embarrassing things only stay embarrassing for a little while, and after that they just become funny memories.

 

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