Archive for the 'The important stuff in life' Category

“Where there’s a will there’s a won’t.” — Ambrose Bierce

November 19, 2009

I came across this quote and felt that it accurately depicts a great many of my students right now.  It’s sad.  I don’t want my students to be demotivated.  Teachers have told me my teaching hasn’t changed much since the first few weeks and say I continue to do a great job, so I’m left a little puzzled as to why my students are becoming less and less willing to answer questions during discussion.

I come back to the idea that maybe it’s not all me.  If you take any group of students there will be a few that refuse to do anything.  They simply won’t.  You can give students seven or eight different interventions.  You can force them to have pencil in hand.  You can modify their standards so they need to achieve ludicrously little.  Some will still not budge.

I can be stoned in academic and educational/political circles for saying this.  Many chant “all students can learn” and act as if saying the words will bleach away the dirty stains of student apathy.  All students can learn.  It does not mean all will attempt to.  I think the government is starting to understand this and education will be changing soon.

A solution I’ve been thinking about is to let high school be an option.  Why not offer technical schools or vocational training starting right after middle school?  I haven’t thought through all the repercussions, but this is what many European schools and Asian schools do.


Generation Me and Christ

August 27, 2009

I’m gearing up for my first year of teaching.  Part of this is anticipating what my students are going to be like.  It got me thinking about how Christ fills the larger needs of our generation so well.  Here are a few thoughts I hope are encouraging.

Romans 8:28 is a reassuring truth that generation me needs. In the book Generation Me, Twenge notes that this generation is more likely to think that circumstances are driving each person’s lives.  Many believe that they may have little effect on the outcomes of their efforts.  Most speak of luck as a major determinant to success.  Twenge says this is a pessemistic view and should be reversed, but I wouldn’t agree.  I know that resting in Jesus is a good thing.  The truth that God works all things for good should be a pleasing thought to those who feel like their life is out of their control.  And, quite frankly, our lives are not in our control.  We do not gain more days of blessing by being good- we gain blessing by being God’s children through Jesus.  There could be so much relief to depression and anxiety through giving Jesus our burdens.

Generation me is increasingly more aware of the deceitfulness of riches and worldly things. They have witnessed a near-depression brought about by financial irresponsibility.  They are starting to evaluate their inflated expectations for education, careers, salaries, and ability to buy large and expensive things because many are graduating and finding the job market too competitive and saturated.  (This may become even worse with the sudden flood of people going back to school in response to the market crisis.  Let’s see what happens in 3 years or so when they graduate with even more debt.)  This generation is heading toward, if not already in, disillusionment.

Jesus asked what good it was if a person gain the whole world yet lose his soul (Mark 8:36)- an assertion I have yet to see someone disagree with.  He also said the deceitfulness of riches choke out a Christian and make them unfruitful (Matthew 13:8).  There is an avenue for our generation to come to Christ agreeing with the need to emphasize the Spirit, and I would also say they may be less likely to let the world choke them out once they believe in Jesus.  Wealth and things will always be a problem.  I’m saying that the understanding that wealth, power, and things will not give satisfaction has become clearer to this generation than others.


November 30, 2008

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3 Dollar Challenge: A Reflection

April 7, 2008

Four weeks ago I started the three dollar challenge.  The challenge is now over.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Limiting food to twenty bucks a week is a shock at first.  You definitely feel the hunger, but you quickly get used to planning meals better and find ways to get more food for less.
  • Challenges like this are easier when you have people to do it with- for encouragement and for sharing resources.
  • Making meals from scratch equals saving money and lots of leftovers for lunches.
  • Aldi’s helps a lot- especially for coffee.  This venue may not have everything, but you really do save a ton of money shopping there.
  • Coffee is best made at home.  Although not as rich and tasty, you can’t afford to spend $1.50 for a small cup often.
  • Rice and beans are delicious, and off-brand macaroni and cheese is both cheap and quick.
  • It’s harder to keep vegetables and fruit in your diet.  I splurged and bought orange juice so I could say I’m getting something fruit-ish.
  • Cheaper foods are infested with trans fat and high frutcose corn syrup.
  • Even after following directions meticulously, it is impossible to prepare black beans by soaking or boiling them.  Buy them canned.
  • I’m lucky I had extra money as padding.  If there were a point where my car broke down, or I had some other extraneous expenses, I would be struggling.

I have mixed feelings now that the challenge is over.  I’m sad that I won’t have that extra motivation from the challenge to reduce my spending, but I’m pumped to eat some Chipotle and Chinese.  I think I’ll continue to buy groceries one week at a time, and I might even try to stay below the $20 mark each time I go.

That’s all, I guess.  I’d encourage anyone to try this, even for a week.  It woke me up to how I use my money, and forced me to live well within my means.

Three Dollar Challenge

March 6, 2008

Listen up.  This is a serious post.

A couple months ago I read Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.  He mentions something that’s stuck with me since reading: the three dollar challenge.  Miller says that him and a group of friends challenged each other to limit “consumer spending” down to about 3 dollars a day- the statistical extra dough that people at poverty level have to spend.

 I checked it out at the Department of Health and Human Services:

 If you’re single, the poverty line is $10,400 a year.  Assuming you have a steady (but crappily paid) job, that means you get about $866 a month.  Say rent is about $500, utilites included.  Then car insurance at $150.  $120 bucks for gas to drive, or maybe 160$ for insurance.  There’s always extra expenses and taxes above this, and I’m not saying these numbers are representative, but this is just to show that having only $100 to spend during a month is not absurd.  And we know that people in poverty are below this line.

So I’m thinkin Ima do it starting Sunday.  I’m going to withdraw a $20 bill each week and not allow myself to spend more than that, excepting rent, car expenses, etc. for a month. I want to try this to gain a small glimpse into low income, and also so I can use some of the money I save to donate.

 So why am I posting?  You should join me!  If you’re interested, it would be cool to know you’re doing it also, so let me know.