40 Days of Rejection Therapy

Getting over short-term failure is key to finding long-term success. It’s on this premise that my friend Caleb Meakins is doing 40 things that will inevitably end in failure and rejection this year.

Find Caleb’s story of 40 Days of Rejection Therapy at My40Days.co.uk, and on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter with @My40Days

If you can see failure through this lens – that failure is not final, it’s just another learning opportunity – I think your failures will scare you less, and you will have more confidence and more daring.

Education Pays

For all the naysayers who speak against the value of further education, it appears that having post-secondary actually does pay off. See this graphic.
For me, education is more than just the money you can make with your degree (I did study English and Social Sciences, after all), and I also find I have more options at my fingertips because of my degree.

Teach and Create

A friend of mine shared this lesson idea with me, and I think it’s just fantastic, especially if you have students in your class who are inclined to doubt the value of a having a high school education/diploma…

In my friend’s class (which is in a NYC public high school), she showed her students the following chart, which indicates the median weekly earnings as well as unemployment rates in the U.S. in 2012, broken down by education degrees earned:

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She discussed and interpreted the chart with her students and asked them to identify patterns.  Then, she had her students create a monthly budget based on the average income of an individual who has less than a high school diploma.  They used this chart to create their budgets:

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Needless to say, the kids quickly saw something wrong with this picture.  “This isn’t enough money to live on!” many began to exclaim…

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The 7 Powerful Idea Shifts In Learning Today

Classroom Aid

by Terry Heick, TeachThought.com : Shift_Learning: The 7 Most Powerful Idea Shifts In Learning Today

digital learning

So we’re taking a stand here. This is all incredibly subjective, but so are the VH1 Top 100 Hair Bands Videos and those are fun, am I right?

So subjective it is. Let’s make a list. A list of ideas that are truly transformational. Not just trends or buzz, but substance with the potential for lasting change–and stuff that’s available not tomorrow, but today.

Utopian visions of learning are tempting, if for no other reason than they absolve us of accountability to create itright now, leading to nebulous romanticizing about how powerful learning could be if we just did more of X and Y.

But therein lies the rub: Tomorrow’s learning is already available, and below are 7 of the most compelling and powerful trends, concepts, and resources that represent its promise.

The Challenge…

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Book Review: Hearing God, by Dallas Willard

Hearing God: Developing A Conversational Relationship With God

Dallas Willard

Publisher: Intervarsity Press

Hearing God

Communication: the buzzword for healthy relationships. If faith is a personal relationship with God, why is communication with him such a mystery? This updated and expanded book seeks to clarify what it means to hear God and addressing many misunderstandings of this fundamental piece of the life of faith. This is a comprehensive, level-headed, and challenging book on divine guidance.

While believers around the world soundly establish communication towards God, Willard seeks to illuminate the missing piece: communication from God; that is, hearing and understanding what God has to say about us. With marvellous insight, Willard challenges the reader cognitively and calls forth reflection. Using plain language yet brilliant analogies in everything from quantum mechanics to human anatomy, revealing the indications and implications of God’s interaction with us.

The book’s second interest is answering whether it is more dangerous to risk trying to hear God or not trying to hear God at all. Willard is adamant about the importance as well as the reality of Christians being able to hear from God personally.

Ultimately, Willard’s point is that the Christian person needs to be able to hear God, or they will forever be paddling in the shallow end of the spiritual life. Willard restores the individual relationship with God amongst the other pillars of a healthy spiritual walk – community, Bible reading, and so on – so that people do not become dependent on imperfect human advice for every little thing.

More than ever, Christians are seeking ‘God’s will’ for their life. As a result, many groups devise seminars, strategies, and steps to do this. Willard’s thesis revolves around developing a relationship with God in all kinds of ways, the Bible being one. This updated and expanded version includes six Lectio Divina exercises to guide readers into hearing God through reflective reading of Scripture – while readers also train themselves to hear the ways in which God communicates. At the end of each chapter are reflection questions that may help the reader further unpack meaning for his or her own life.

Reflections: The Power of Abiding

Flickr photo “Solitude” by MindsEye_PJ

“That they might be with him” – Mark 3:14

In the beginning, the story goes, God spoke a cosmos into being, calling it out of chaos, drawing it with His words. Lifting a finger was needless with such omnipotence. Ironically, rest undergirded the most energetic endeavour in the universe.

Jesus’ incarnation unlocked the possibility of the divine experiencing physical weariness, but He knew how to abide in rest (a loyal, constant, and perseverant residence or frequent resort) as He had been abiding with His Father since the beginning. Out of this consistent residence with Father God, Jesus drew everything He needed in every circumstance.

With empathy at the core of God’s immanence, Jesus draws others into close relationship with him and teaches them all they are willing to hear. One of His most central teachings is abiding. Over and over again, Jesus tells the importance of abiding and models it with His lifestyle.

Rest undergirded the most energetic endeavour in the universe.

Mark 3:13-19 narrates the calling of Jesus’ twelve apostles, stating that Jesus wanted them, called them, and appointed them. To do what? First, to be with Him. The original commission of the twelve disciples, like the original commission of Israel, and the original commission of humankind, is to be with God, to do life with Him involved.

Second, Jesus gives His disciples authority – supernatural power. Power to preach, to heal sicknesses, and to cast out evil spirits. They receive the power to restore. They are likely eager to get out and start putting things right. After all, the church has been involved in justice from its inception. Yet rather than turning them loose, Jesus immediately pulls them into a house, bringing them back to their first appointment – to be with him.

With God dwelling in you, you are powerful. Make no mistake about it: unseen power is at work. The real question is what kind of power you are exercising. That depends whether you are becoming like God. If you abide in God, you will become like him. Without staying close to God, you cannot become like him and will inflict damage as His representative. Your first mission is to abide. The success of the second mission, and every subsequent challenge, depends on it.

Published in Converge Magazine, Vancouver, Canada.

Your Straw Man’s House Won’t Stand

The Internet may be the most powerful democratic force in the world. Theoretically, every user has an equal voice. There are still a few problems, of course. Every once in a while a user  encounters a seriously problematic idea. Send in the trolls.

A tweet I read by Lauren Dubinsky (wife of Max Andrew Dubinsky, whose hyper-creative multimedia is worth checking out) this morning said:

@laurendubinsky I have yet to meet a homeless person that doesn’t praise God for what little they have.

Two replies followed thus:

@GabrielGadfly @laurendubinsky I wonder if homeless atheists feel uncomfortable receiving aid from faith-based support centers.
@GodlessAtheist @gabrielgadfly Many of the religious groups force their religion on them in return for food. Also much of the support is state funded.

In the first reply, Gabriel Gadfly (surely his birth name) poses what seems like an honest question. Do homeless atheists, in general, feel uncomfortable receiving aid from faith-based support centers? We will get to his question in a moment.

Meanwhile, both Lauren and Godless Atheist have made claims.

Lauren’s claim is based on her personal experience on the ground. Personal experience is good, but can be misleading. It’s easy for me to have an experience that is counter to the norm. But if Lauren’s sample group was large enough, we’d say her claim is statistically safe. So, Lauren, you’re off the hook for now.

Godless Atheist’s claims are:

1) many religious groups force their religion on them in return for food

2) much of the support is state funded

You, the reader, have a choice. You can believe these at face value, or you can question them.

If these claims were made in an academic setting, these arguments wouldn’t fly because they completely lack evidence, are unspecific, and are logical fallacies. They aim to persuade through rhetoric rather than evidence.

We are not in an academic setting here, but that doesn’t mean we throw out our brains. It’s simple to see when someone is making a broad claim to change someone’s mind, but doesn’t have a sufficient basis to do so.

At best, Godless Atheist’s claims contain several logical fallacies found on this beautiful illustrated chart: 1) Appeal to Ignorance, 2) Appeal to Popular Belief, 3) Division (or Spotlight), and 4) Sweeping Generalization.

At worst, Godless Atheist saw an opportunity to stir up angry debate. For now, we will give him or her the benefit of the doubt, and deal with why this claim they’ve made is such a problem.

1) Appeal to Ignorance: In both claim 1 and claim 2, Godless Atheist has not given any evidence for, but has not received any evidence that points the other way. Their own ignorance plies our own ignorance until one of us becomes better informed.

2) Begging The Question/Red Herring: Because it’s a common thing for states to fund humanitarian work, it’s not a stretch to make, or believe, claim 2. But what is the author’s intent with this comment? Are they trying to undermine the work that religious groups do because funding comes from the government? This would be like saying the work of teachers doesn’t matter because the government funds schools.

3) Sweeping Generalization/Composition: Claim 1 applies the characteristics of one or a few of these “religious groups” on all of the religious groups. This is unfair. It’s equivalent to calling all American citizens pro-war, because of their government’s position and their military prowess. (This links with guilt by association)

4) Generalization: Use of the word “many” and “most”: these are vague and generalizing, and can steer evidence very poorly, in the same was as using superlatives like never or always.

5) Appeal to Emotion (Fear): Use of the term “force their religion”. A vague term to begin with, no definition, examples, or evidence has been given. Has Godless Atheist observed an instance of this which they can cite? Forcing religion, in this situation, seems to me to be a general statement expressing potential discomfort from encountered ideas that are foreign to a person. And this happens every single day.

6) Division/Generalization: If a religious group exists that does proselytize to needy people before they give them anything, that group would not be representative of the majority. It is completely unfair and untrue for Godless Atheist to use words like “most” in their claim.

 

So, let’s get back to Gabriel, who has been waiting patiently to have his question answered. If Gabriel is in earnest, can we find the answer to his question? Yes, we can!  We will need to ask the only people qualified to answer: homeless atheists themselves.

But I’m pretty sure that if we do ask them (and there may be none, or very few, or very many), that they’re likely not going to all give us the same answer. I’d say it’s safe to assume that some will say yes, some will say no, and some will give a conditional answer.

But to further the discussion, why don’t pose a corollary? Do religious people feel uncomfortable receiving aid from non-religious organizations? Do religious people feel uncomfortable buying groceries from an atheist supermarket cashier or receiving tax breaks from secular governments? Sometimes it helps frame the nature of a question to think about its reverse.

If Gabriel’s question is not in earnest, it might instead be an incendiary comment meant to stir up debate on a completely unrelated topic, for example, whether religious groups oppress others.I chose to take some time out of my morning to respond to this discussion at the risk of feeding a troll, because I believe we can all do our part to make the Internet a place where good ideas are valued and fallacies aren’t simply let off the hook.

Reading Responses: The ISAAC Method

How many times have you been asked to “respond to” something you have to read, whether in school, at work, or in some other scenario? I found at the beginning of the school year that I was expecting my students to be able to respond thoughtfully and deeply to articles that I thought would be naturally thought-provoking (and they likely were, but I wasn’t able to properly evaluate whether my students were thinking about the ideas on the reflective level I was aiming for.) I realized I may need to teach critical analysis more overtly. I designed the following checklist for reading responses. We practice this 2-3 times a week in our high school Planning and English classes.

I made it clear that the student does not need to complete every single item on the checklist, but that they should include at least one item from each section. I evaluate their responses by marking when I see each of the I, S, An, Ad, and C sections, and respond with a comment or two to their writing.

If you’d like to try this in your own class, you are welcome to try this method. Let me know if you have success or suggestions for improvement.

INTRODUCE
☐Provide context for the big idea of this passage.
☐Introduce significant topics, themes, settings, and characters.

SUMMARIZE
☐Concisely summarize or restate the main points. Don’t restate large sections of the article; keep it brief.

ANALYZE
☐Interpret literary devices or poetic devices (metaphor, symbol, personification, allusion, hyperbole, simile).
☐Reflect on the topics, themes, settings, and actions mentioned.
☐State what you believe the author’s intent for writing is.

ADD
☐Make connections between the text and yourself, between the text and the world, or between the text and another text.
☐Respond with your own questions about the text.
☐Pose a question of your own.

CONCLUDE
☐Give an overall recap of the big idea.

An Illustrated Guide to Educ Hashtags on Twitter

A beautifully designed guide to education hashtags on Twitter.

Twitter has taken the Education world by storm, but how to track all that’s going on? Here’s a beautifully laid-out guide to some of the best and brightest Twitter hashtags that will point educators and students to resources and tips.