Human spirit in the classroom

Human spirit in the classroom

A mother’s work is never done. The same could be said of a teacher. In this environment of budget cuts and layoffs, teachers often are called upon to be teacher, nurse, counselor, parent, custodian, judge/jury and cafeteria worker.

Minolta DSCEntering a new school year, some parents and caregivers may not realize the combined frustrations and desires in the heart of their child’s teachers. As you read, maybe ideas will spark of how your human spirit can reach out to your child’s teachers this year.

School policy and curriculum govern the position of classroom teacher.

My friend Roshaun, who works in a school district of almost 700,000 students, says: I have been teaching for over 14 years and the job has changed so much. The position is more political. High-stakes testing has replaced real, genuine learning.

Each year we teachers are faced with the newest fad in education and told to implement it perfectly–and our job performance will be measured by that. Huh? My thoughts exactly. This has made my job very difficult and less enjoyable.

The job involves so much more than compliance with standards.

With his focus firmly rooted in content and skills to prepare his students for success, Roshaun still engages their human spirit:

 classroom empathy 826952_43122329I try to create an atmosphere of empathy and care. I spend a few minutes each day to create ‘teachable moments’ about how we treat one another and how our words and actions affect others. In other words, I’m teaching them the principle of how to treat your neighbor as yourself.

Watch this video about rituals of human connection in a classroom setting.

Pay attention to how you feel. See the way teachers partner with you to develop the human spirit in addition to promoting intellectual development.

Tweetable:

  • Entering a new school year, parents may not realize the combined frustrations and desires in the heart of their child’s teacher. Click to Tweet
  • Teachers focus on content and skills to prepare kids for success but they still engage their human spirit. Click to Tweet

 

When children ask, “How do you know God is there?”

When children ask, “How do you know God is there?”

My interviews reveal that after, “Who is God?” the next most common question kids ask concerns how we know God is there. They ask, “Why can’t I see God?” “How do we know who God is if we can’t see him?” “Where is he and how can you prove it?”

Below is a possible response to that question in a child’s vocabulary.

Observe the results.

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God is invisible. Gravity, oxygen, electricity, and love are also invisible. You know God is there the same way you know that any invisible thing is there: you observe the results of its presence. It’s like feeling the wind on your cheek. You can’t see the wind itself, but you can see its effects. It’s similar with electricity: unplug your refrigerator, full of food, come back in a week and open the door. You will smell what happens when invisible electricity is cut off!

Read firsthand reports.

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Even if you are not able to observe results for yourself, you can test the presence of an invisible substance from reports of others who have firsthand knowledge. You can determine if they’re credible, like astronauts who have been to places where there is no oxygen. Those astronauts report that they were unable to breathe on the moon, yet they can breathe on Earth because of oxygen’s invisible presence.

Apply these tests yourself.

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Apply these tests to prove to yourself that God is really there: First, observe for yourself the results of his presence. Perhaps you can think of a time when you were challenged by a big obstacle and you knew you needed someone to help you. God was willing to be that someone. You prayed to God and you did not feel alone. You observed that God was guiding you through the obstacles by supporting you. Second, test whether God is really there by reading and listening to reports of people who have firsthand knowledge of God.

With these two ideas, an adult can provide for a child’s spiritual needs with increased confidence.

Tweetable:

Finally, two concrete ways to help your child answer for herself, “How do I know God is there if I can’t see God? Click to Tweet

A description of God that does no harm

A description of God that does no harm

How do we introduce God in our conversations with young children? How do we do that in a way that informs, yet leaves the door open to explore and journey and be curious as they grow up?

Here is a description of God that may prove useful, written in a child’s vocabulary.

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This view is acknowledged in every area of the world from sub-Saharan Africa and tribes in the South Pacific to urban centers in Europe, farms in the Americas, and Middle Eastern deserts.

It is not the view of a particular religion, yet is found in the majority of world religions. It is mainstream.

Who is God?

God is a being. God does not have a body. God is invisible. People are beings too—human beings. God is a being who is greater than human beings. You can’t see God but you know He* is there.  God has always been there.

God is love. All love comes from God.

God knows everything. He knows what will happen in the future. God knows what you are thinking. God knows all the facts about any subject you can imagine.

God is everywhere at once. He is not limited by time or space.

God does only what is right, good and just.

God has no beginning and he has no end.

God is pure. There is nothing evil about God.

God has unlimited power and authority.

God never changes. He is the same today as God has always been.

God is one-of-a-kind.

God makes himself known by displaying these qualities so that any child can recognize them. The human mind cannot understand God completely. God exceeds our brain’s capacity. But you can understand a lot about God.

*God is spirit, but I use the male pronoun because it is what I encounter most often when people talk about God.You may substitute the female pronoun if you wish.

 Tweetables:

  • God exceeds our brain’s capacity but we can understand a lot about God. Click to Tweet
  • God makes himself known by displaying qualities in the world that any child can recognize. Click to Tweet
Passion for science sets his soul on fire

Passion for science sets his soul on fire

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When your child is a budding scientist, you scrub home experiments off your walls and ceiling. Your hard-earned money goes toward chemistry sets.

In addition to milk and eggs, your grocery cart contains oddball ingredients destined to bubble and overflow onto your bathroom floor.

You are scrambling to help them satisfy a deep passion for learning and unending curiosity.

Glen was one such child.

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Fortunately his parents nurtured his scientific bent. The son of a deeply religious US Navy captain, Glen and his family were church members. Glen leaned toward science as a young man and went on to study nuclear physics at the university.

Science captivated his mind and soul.

“The nuclei were responding to our questions, speaking our mathematical language, completely understandable, telling us the nature of their binding forces,” he said. “It was as if they were saying to me, ‘Finally, someone has asked us. We have waited so many eons.'”

Glen recalled being “so spiritually elated after a day at the lab that I would go outdoors and just run as fast and as long as I could, in exultation and gratitude.”

Both mind and soul factored into an important career choice.

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Years later, unwilling to aid in weapons development, Glen abandoned nuclear physics and moved into a teaching career, with Ethics as his area of specialization. He did not abandon his passion for intellectual study through observation and experimentation: “My way of thinking is incurably curious and integrative. I can’t teach Ethics without attention to numerous related disciplines.”

Children are going to experience the divine in different ways. Passionate scientific inquiry is one of them.

“be passionate in your work and in your searchings.” — ivan pavlov

 

Tweetables:

  • Be passionate in your work and in your searchings –Ivan Pavlov Click to Tweet
  • Children experience the divine in different ways; passionate scientific inquiry is one. Click to Tweet