Thinking Out Loud

September 1, 2012

How Game Addiction is Ruining Boys

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June 26, 2010

Education: An Often Forgotten Social Justice Mandate

Shane Claiborne guested yesterday at the CNN Religion blog.  It was a great article and well-written.    I’m torn between just linking it (knowing many of you won’t click) and reprinting the whole thing (knowing it’s quite long.)    I guess I’ll have to do my best with the following excerpt.

Historically, churches founded colleges and universities and made it possible for kids to attend.   Recently Evangelicals have rediscovered social justice and we’re working on the poverty problem on several fronts, but education isn’t currently at the forefront.   I’ll let Shane tell it, but please consider reading the whole piece.  His story takes place at Edison High School in the poorest part of Philadelphia…

Out of about 500 kids graduating in that class at Edison, around 40 will go to a four-year college and about 50 will join the military. That struck me. More kids in the graduating class will go into the military than will go to college.

I also learned that Edison High School holds another tragic record – the most graduates to be killed in the Vietnam War of any high school in America (54 kids), no coincidence that it is located in North Philly rather than the suburbs. Heaven forbid Edison end up holding the record for Iraq casualties as well.

It was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said,

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

And as we see a bankrupt school system we can truly feel the blowback of the bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is that bumper sticker hope that a day will come when the schools will have all the money they need and the military have to hold a bake sale. It’s time for our kids to dream of another future than wars and rumors of wars.

I am reminded of a returning veteran from the Iraq War who told me of how financial difficulties compelled him to join the army. And then my young vet friend said, “We may not have a draft in America, but we have an economic draft… kids like me are joining the military because they see no other future.” And they are dying as they try to build that future. He ended up becoming a conscientious objector and being discharged.

In my neighborhood, military recruitment is very clever and selective – recruiters go door to door with military brochures that say: “They told you to go to college, they just didn’t tell you how… Join the Army.”

It occurs to me that those of us who are Christians and other people of conscience working to end war and violence (and build an “Army of None” as we like to say) have a tremendous burden of responsibility on our shoulders. We must create other ways for kids to go to college than military and ROTC scholarships.

continue reading…

September 5, 2009

Moving on to the Next Chapter in Life

Filed under: family, parenting — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:01 am

Yesterday we drove our firstborn to his university to pick up his student card.   Tomorrow we’ll officially move him there.   It’s only about 40 minutes from our home; there will be daily e-mails, I’m sure; and he’ll be coming home most weekends.   Heck, if he had his full license he could commute daily, but the residence experience will be good for him, even if we can only afford it in first year.

It’s an experience I regret not having.  Growing up in Toronto and attending the University of Toronto may have seemed like a good and economical decision at the time, but I think much of  college and university learning takes place outside the classroom.    Besides, he’s been away for ten weeks this summer, so it’s not like it will be as big a deal to him as it will be to me.

There.  I said it.   I’m having a hard time adjusting to the fact we’re moving on to another chapter in life.   He leaves with our hopes and dreams fully invested in who he is and who he is becoming.    But also my fears and concerns as to where the next few months will take him.

Mixing with people of different faiths and holding to different philosophies.   Dealing with the temptations that always accompany college dorm life.   Having to handle a myriad of things on his own that we’ve always handled for him.   The whole spectre of the H1N1 virus and its impact on students in dormitories.   The security of his personal possessions, food, textbooks.   Having to drive 40 minutes there and 40 minutes back each Friday to pick him up, and then the same on Sunday to return him to the campus.    (If you’ve done this before, here’s where you jump in with your comments…)

University LibraryBut it’s also exciting for him to be going to the next level.   As he waited nearly an hour for his student card to be processed, I wandered the campus going from building to building, just as I did a lifetime ago in each of the 100-plus buildings that make up the University of Toronto campus.   Each floor, each stairwell yielding classrooms, offices and common rooms built mainly for  expanding the horizons of the next generation.

His campus is much smaller, about a dozen-plus buildings that he should be able to master in the first week.    It’s on the northern border of a medium sized city in a rather remote section that should be free of the distractions I encountered on a campus situated squarely in the heart of downtown Toronto.    It will also be easier to get to know both faculty and students in that setting.    It’s also a state-of-the-art high-tech facility, or at least, so we’ve been led to believe.

Where will all this lead?   We don’t know.   He’s not even sure which particular branch of engineering he wants to major in.    (For those of you who know me personally, think about it…my offspring in an engineering program!)   But standing still isn’t a healthy option, so onward we go.

I miss him already.

May 11, 2009

Homeschoolers Boycotting Sunday School

homeschool fishFor seven months, Mrs. W. and I (but mostly her) were forced to become homeschoolers during a period when Kid One wasn’t quite fitting into the public school near our home.    Despite the short period in which we did this, we became immediate friends with other people in the homeschool movement, and I would say we can somewhat understand their motivation.

So if you’re a homeschooler, let me say that I get it when it comes to not wanting your children to be under the influence — for six hours each weekday — of people who do not share your core values, some of whom may be 180-degrees opposed to your core values.

What I don’t get is not wanting to put your kids in the Sunday School program — some now call it small groups for kids program — of your home church.   Not wanting anyone else to teach your kids anything. If your home church is that lax when it comes to recruiting teachers, or if you are that concerned that any given teacher in your church’s children’s program could espouse some really wacky doctrine — or worse, admit that he or she watches sports on Sundays — then maybe you should find another church.

To everyone else, if these comments seem a bit extreme, they’re not.   Apparently, in one particular church that was under discussion this week, the homeschool crowd — which makes up the vast majority of those in the ‘people with kids’ category at this church — has decided that absolutely nobody else is going to teach their kids anything about the Bible.

In other words, it’s not just people in the public school system who aren’t good enough to teach their kids, it’s also people in their home church.

I am so glad that my parents didn’t feel that way.   I think of the people who taught me on Sunday mornings, the people who ran the Christian Service Brigade program for boys on Wednesday nights, the people who were my counselors and instructors at Church camp, and I say, “Thank you; thank you; thank you!   Thank you for sharing your Christian life and testimony and love of God’s word with me when I was 5, 8, 11, 14 and all the ages inbetween.  And thank you to my parents for not being so protective as to consider that perhaps these people weren’t good enough to share in the task of my Christian education.”

I also think of Donna B., the woman who taught Kid One at the Baptist Church that became our spiritual refuge for a couple of years.   He really flourished spiritually under her teaching, reinforced of course, by what we were doing in the home.

What message does it send to kids when the only people who have it right when it comes to rightly dividing the Word of truth are Mommy and Daddy?   And what about the maturity that comes with being introduced to people who, while they share the 7-12 core doctrines that define a Christ-follower, may have different opinions about matters which everyone considers peripheral?

Where does all this end?   Are these kids allowed to visit in others’ homes?   When they go to the grocery store, are they allowed to converse with the woman at the checkout?    My goodness; are they even allowed to answer the phone?

I’m sorry, homeschoolers, but when you start trashing the Sunday School teachers at your own church, you’ve just crossed the line from being passionate, conservative Christian parents to being downright cultish.

Hour-later Update:  Apparently we visited some of this topic before, on November 5th, 2008.   You can read that post here.

January 9, 2009

What’s Your PQ – Persistence Quotent?

Filed under: character, Christianity, education, parenting — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:03 pm

mark-batterson-profile-110D.C. Pastor of National Community Church (NCC) and author of In A Pit With A Lion on a Snowy Day, and Wild Goose Chase, Mark Batterson (pictured) blogs at Evotional (tag line: Spirit Fuel) and posted the following this morning:

I came across a fascinating study this week. Can’t stop thinking about it. Priscilla Blinco did a study involving Japanese and American first graders. She gave them a very difficult puzzle to solve. The American children lasted, on average, 9.47 minutes. The Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes or 40% longer.

Any one want to guess who has higher scores on standardized math tests?

Fascinating study with interesting implication. The argument is that we might give IQ more credit than it deserves. Persistence quotient might be a better predictor of success! How long are you willing to try something before giving up? Successful people, in every arena, aren’t just smarter. They try harder and try longer.

By the way, just got an email from an NCCer that has been trying to get a job with U.S. State Department for 12 years! Every application had been denied, that is, until a couple weeks ago. They were interviewing 1200 applicants for 24 positions. This NCCer was the second person selected.

Listen, that is good old-fashioned persistence. Don’t take no for an answer! Try, Try again. It’s not over till the fat lady sings. I don’t care what aphorism you quote. It’s all about persistence. Keep trying! Then try some more!

December 29, 2008

7 Canadian Students Suspended for Not Participating in Anti-Christian Classes

Filed under: Christianity, current events, ethics, family, parenting — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:06 pm

quebec-flagSeven Christian students in Quebec [Canada] have been handed suspensions in the last few days – and could face expulsions – for refusing to participate in a new mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course that, according to a critic, is a “superficial mishmash of trendy theoretical platitudes” with the goal of convincing children that “all religions – including pagan animism and cults – are equally ‘true.'”

Missed this December 20th item on World Net Daily, as well as the original National Post story, but thanks to the blog Defending…Contending was able to find out about what is taking place in the province next door to us.

You can read the entire World Net story here.

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Graphic:  The provincial flag of the province of Quebec, which some Quebecers, much to the consternation of other Canadians, refer to as “Quebec Nation.”

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