Archive for May, 2008

30
May
08

Over the last month…

Ben’s black eye

You never thought you’d see her in a bow… (it’s from a gift, by the way.)

This is why bows are a bad idea.

Ben with his favorite thing, Picasso. I think Picasso had put a gash in his head about 2 hours previous to this picture. 

 

Ben grad-i-ated… sort of… he is just going to a new school next year. His teachers were incredible and we will miss them dearly.

This is the beauty of our life right now. There is always someone to hold your hand.

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27
May
08

time for a change

Over the past three years, I have been teaching eighth grade at a private (well-known) Christian school. While I have been so thankful to be afforded the opportunity to teach students in such a safe environment, I have become jaded by two things: private education and Christian education. Since those two things are the two things that my current workplace so highly center upon… I knew that as my opinions evolved about these two systems… that I was going to need to remove myself from the systems that I no longer believed in. 

Why could I not face teaching in a private school you ask? Well, honestly, I’m pretty sure it is probably me. It usually is. I have some to several conclusions about private education. (I am so sorry to possibly offend those who attended private schools… but here goes…) Well, we all know it is expensive, and therefore exclusive. In my experience, the product (that is… the education) is in my opinion, no greater than the product that each of us pay our taxes for (that is… public education.) And with the exclusivity, I will be honest… the real product is the grade (as in a number) and a limited experience in dealing with real-world life experiences. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that the private school system is (for me) no better than the public school system (and in many cases worse!)  For instance, materials. I have very little materials provided for me (and I am a science teacher.) I have asked… but to no avail. This may come as a surprise to many of you, but the school where I teach (where tuition is near $15,000) is years behind public schools in terms of technology and cutting edge teaching methods. (Davy as many of you know, teaches public school, so we compare notes often.) I get paid less than I made in Colorado, where teacher salaries were $15,000 less than Texas public teacher salaries. Where is all the money that the parents are pouring into their student’s tuition going? At the school where I am still contracted… I honestly do not know. It is unsettling to me because I do not know whether parents realize the great disparity that I feel exists between the public and private sector. My observation is that they pay their money to feel good… as if they are providing the best for their child… but often do not ever question the product they are buying. They trust that money can buy the best product… which I guess is true when it comes to things with face value… but can it buy character, street smarts, compassion, tolerance, hard work, or individuality? From what I have seen… the money paid into private school buys a grade. It may not be an A, but trust me the child will pass. I guess the parents pay money so that their child doesn’t slip through the cracks. But frankly, there are young people slipping through the cracks everyday… in every school. But do they recieve the opportunity to make it through on nickels and dimes? No, and I guess, as you can now clearly see… I just don’t believe it is right… so I am having to remove myself and place myself into the education that I do believe in. Public education is not perfect… but most public schools strive to educate their students well, no matter their socio-economic class or ethnic background. All students can learn. I really believe that… I have worked in public school systems before that inspired me to teach… and to teach well… and I have seen students succeed.

Christian education, in theory, is a beautiful thing. I mean if students were angels, or even followers of Jesus, it might work. But the fact is, that students are naughty little suckers. Frankly, all people are naughty little suckers. You can go from New York to Houston to LA and see that kids are pushing… constantly. It doesn’t matter where you go… granted, the offenses range from mild to major… but still the principle is there… kids will take whatever you give them and exploit it… unless they are guided properly and exposed to situations in which they realize they are not in control. So, all this goes to say that…in my opinion, Christian education has become a place in which people who define themselves as “Christians” can send their children to school to learn in a place where they will be sheltered, protected, nurtured in a way in which Jesus would advocate. They control the setting. (God forbid the setting be anything less than desirable!) This setting includes some children, but not all children… and these are the “clean” children. But, truth be told, Jesus would be inviting ALL children to come to school… and providing each of them with the same gift… love, knowledge, provision, hope, faith, and discipline. My students come to school unexposed to the fact that there is a world out there so vastly different than they are and not only that, but view it with disdain. You cannot call a school “Christian” and yet limit the enrollment to those who can afford it! This is a tragedy, a misrepresentation.  I’m not sure where Jesus said… let some of the children come to me… or let middle-upper class children come to me… or let all the self-righteous children come to me… but let me tell you those are the ones that think they are coming to Jesus. Truth be told, Jesus is where we least expect him… he is dining with sinners while the priests are in the temple sacrificing burnt offerings… so thank God (literally) that He has it all in His hands. And while I have had some incredible students in the last few years, the overall issues of lack of quality character are as present in this place as anywhere in the world. Human depravity is everywhere. My issue is brought to the surface by the fact that I believe that depravity is overlooked because “some people” think they have the keys to the kingdom. I’m pretty sure that there is not one human being on the face of the planet that has God figured out or who can judge the lives of others. I just get pissed when people do it. (I mean I have judged… and I probably am doing some judging right now… but let me tell you… ignorance is bliss to those who believe they have won the game already.) (There are some people actually tearing down the goalposts and guess what, the game is still on!) Honestly, I just can’t do it anymore… place myself in a situation in which I feel an unsettling in my soul.

I love students. I want to teach. I want to teach in a system I can feel ok about. I am teaching public school next year. Low income students. The flip side of the coin. Won’t be perfect. Will be difficult. I will see things I have never seen before. I will see depravity again. I will form new opinions. I will be challenged. I will teach the students. I will love the students.

20
May
08

This June…

Anna Maria Island, Florida

Davy and I are so excited to announce that the month of June will not be spent in the humidifier that is also known as Houston. We will be in Florida. (I am sure it will be humid there as well…) We are both teachers, not only because we are passionate about changing students lives, but also because we recieve a well-deserved break in the summer. I am so proud of Davy, because a couple of months ago he applied for a grant called FUND for Teachers. This is an incredible grant because it allows the grant writer (the teacher) to choose a project (destination) to complete simply because it would enrich their life, and therefore their teaching ability. I am not kidding… they want teachers who apply for this grant to dream big and choose to do something they have never been able to do in the past that will tie into their classroom. Selfishly, truth be told, we both wanted to spend the summer at the beach (or at least a good portion of the summer.) Davy teaches aquatic science (or marine biology) so he began to write a grant that incorporated his love for the ocean and marine life. That grant developed into a plan to volunteer at one of the largest marine reasearch centers in the country located in Sarasota, Florida. Davy finished the grant, handed it to me to edit, and a few months later we found out he was a grant recipient. We are so excited to be spending the month of June in Anna Maria Island, Florida.

 

13
May
08

My favorite photo

I have to post this photo because it is my favorite photo that I have taken of my two children together. It captures the essence of our two precious children and how they convey their individual personalities at this point in their life.

09
May
08

I am inspired…

There are those moments in life when things magically congeal in your heart and mind to make perfect sense. I am having one of those moments right now. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I am feeling fragile and sensitive, or if it is the song that I can hear in my heart that is harmonizing with the one my brain recognizes, or if it is the indigo in the sky or the green of the fluttering leaves, or the smiles in the faces of youth so hopeful, or the feeling that I am entering something new… but I am inspired.

My inspirations:

People (there are way too many to name…)

Music (Explosions in the Sky, Death Cab, Lupe Fiasco, Jason Mraz, Coldplay)

Books and Mags (National Geographic, Discover, and whatever my book of the week is…)

My running shoes (just looking at them inspires me)

Professional athletes (is this bad? Their grace and ability makes me dream…)

The sun (a glowing ball of energy that keeps our planet alive… what more can be said?)

Making mistakes (they always remind me what a fool I am… and strangely, I love coming back to my imperfections… they give me a need for salvation… without mistakes… God would not be God)

A crowd of faces (think of how much complexity lies in a crowd of 70 or 7,000 or a world of 7 billion; what are we all thinking? what are we all experiencing? what are we feeling?… to dwell on that is incredible and impossible…)

The universe (or the thought of what it is… we see only a sliver of creation…)

The natural world (plants, animals, even viruses… are amazing.)

I know some of these things seems strange… but I am writing out of inspiration. Thanks for listening and being patient with my ramblings…   

07
May
08

The God Particle

I love to ask questions. I am a science teacher. Often, I think scientists get a bad rap for asking all the questions that people aren’t willing to admit that they actually have. Being a person who believes in Jesus and the miracles that come with an all-powerful God, people often have questions for me about how I can teach science and rely on this faith that I cling to. Well, I can’t give you a detailed report about how science and faith are complementary at this moment… but hear me out. Scientists are searching. I am a scientist. I am searching. Different people are searching for the answers to different questions. Scientists just tend to get more down to business than the average person. So, I want to make sure you know, that all scientists have not resolved themselves to believing that God does not exist. (Now I’m not an idiot… that doesn’t necessarily translate to Christianity… but it translates to something.) Back to my original purpose for posting. Being a person who is passionate about asking questions and seeking truth, I just want to show you that others are passionate about the same. This is news in the science world at the moment. I always try to stay current on scientific thought/discoveries because it is so incredible what we (scientists) are learning about the universe and the origins of the universe. It is amazing to me, that there is a group of scientists out there searching for the answer to the origins of the universe. These scientists have built the apparatus above… called the Large Hadron Particle Collider. I may lose some of you now… that is ok. But these physicists are searching for what they call the “God Particle.” It’s like the glue that holds everything (as in, the universe) together. Of course, the scientists themselves despise the fact that this is what the particle is called by the media, but I find it pleasantly refreshing. I love that these men and women are seeking truth… and I love that in the article recently written on “The God Particle,” that they all acknowledge that on some they level they expect not to discover the answer. But basically, what they are going to do is (in a shortened and layman’s terms version) bash particles (hadrons) together to see if matter can actually be created by accelerating particles to speeds that surpass the speed of light. Possible? I’m not sure… they haven’t tried… they are still building the ginormous apparatus above. We’ll see… but it is important to realize that we all have questions and even the best are still human. We are limited. We are imperfect. We are searching. If anyone wants to discuss the role of faith and science… just give me a shout… I love this stuff.

And here is the link to one of the articles: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/03/god-particle/achenbach-text/1

I hope that on this blog I can occasionally redeem the relationships between all things created by God, and for Him.