The following from Richard Rohr's daily meditation so closely mirrors my own journey and thoughts that I'm choosing to share it in its entirety...
Before I made my living talking about God, thinking about God, writing about God, I was a person struggling to have a relationship with God. I had been given a god to believe in, some mixture of what my parents believed, what my preachers taught over the years, and what my imagination made of the parts of the Bible I read. In my early twenties, I often had more doubt than faith—doubt in what I’d learned, doubt in what those teachings implied for my life and for the world. I was frustrated; how is a God whose name is Love appropriated to justify violence, hatred, and enmity around the world? Over and over again, I was struck by how religion--which means to bind together--gave humankind license to hurt others, to put people out, to leave people behind. . . .
In its truest sense, religion should reconnect human beings—bind them again—to the creation, to one another, to the Divine, to Love. Rituals, song, prayer, preaching, reflection, dancing, meditation—all of these religious practices are intended to bind us together in love and restrain us from harming one another. Religion should reconnect us to the ground of our being, to the source of our existence. . . . Religion should help us see how our biases about color, gender, sexuality, and class cause deep hurt to both body and soul.
Unfortunately, religion is too often weaponized. Wars are waged in the name of religion. People are enslaved and terrorized in the name of religion. Wealth has been amassed on the backs of the poor in the name of religion. I’m a Christian pastor, and these are things my tribe has done, all in the name of Jesus. Jews were exterminated, in the name of a poor, brown, Jewish baby who was at one time homeless and at another a refugee.
If humankind is to thrive, we need to let go of any religion that wounds and kills. Some of what we believe about God is actually about us; at times we create God in our own image. In other words, some of us imagine God as punitive, angry, and vengeful because these are aspects of ourselves that make us feel powerful and protected, rather than vulnerable. But we need to exercise a spiritual imagination free of fear and shed the constraints of unhealthy religion. Hate-filled religion needs an exorcism!
In the interest of exorcising hate, I find myself preaching and teaching folks to see through the eyes of Love, to believe with all their heart in Love. I invite them to worship Love, to pray to Love, to be part of Love.
Jacqui Lewis, Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness that Can Heal the World (Harmony: 2021), 129–130, 193–194.
Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again... F. P. Jones
At the end of our lives we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by: I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in... Mother Teresa
The greatest enemy of Christianity may be people who say they believe in Jesus but who are no longer astonished and amazed... Mike Yaconelli
I have a great diet. You're allowed to eat anything you want, but you must eat it with naked fat people... Ed Bluestone
The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still... A.W. Tozer
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once... Jennifer Unlimited
The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it... Franklin P. Jones
We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality... Albert Einstein
You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself... Sam Levenson
Friday 19 March
Dear global education leader,
Since the world shut over a year ago there has been a justified focus on the toll of school closures and remote learning, especially for low-income families and students. Students with no devices or proper space to study, or inadequate or absent WiFi have struggled to learn. Grief and loss have engulfed families and communities while soaring unemployment has ratcheted up stress in hundreds of millions of homes around the world. Students have been falling behindacademically and struggling emotionally.
But the pandemic has also helped and empowered some. Kids who were bullied at school, found refuge at home, away from their predators. Teachers dramatically improved their digital teaching skills while students discovered a world of online learning resources which will be forever available to them, from Kahoot! and Khan Academy to digital study tools like Quizlet. Parents turned up in droves for virtual parent-teacher meetings, a welcome change for educators (who need engaged parents) and parents (who really can’t leave work at 3:30pm on any given Tuesday).
Many students have thrived when able to learn at their own pace, watching a video three or four times if needed, or signing off once they understand the concept. Parents have noticed their kids gaining independence and more self-direction. “We found that our pupils who might struggle in class to understand things have often done well", said Jon Hutchinson, a teacher at Reach Academy in Feltham, during an online event.
The impact of this annus horribilis may be more profound than more tech, more personalization, more self-paced learning, and more independence. Some schools have seen the futility of arranging by grades and not ability, many are rethinking assessments, and all have been reminded of the importance of social and emotional learning—and not just as a tool to fuel academic learning. Small-group instruction is front and center, from learning pods in the West to teachers in Uganda, traveling from village to village to teach small groups outside rather than in classrooms packed with 70 students. Cajon Valley Union School District started the year with hybrid learning. According to superintendent David Miyashiro, when the kindergarteners arrived in person, for the first time ever, there were no tears. They had met their classmates and teachers online, which made the transition—a notably difficult one—much easier.
We cannot be blind to the needs this year has created, or the gaps that have widened. But to rehash a wildly-overused phrase, we also cannot let this crisis go to waste. New research from Brookings based on a survey of 25,000 parents in 10 countries showed that many of them want a “new” kind of education for their children, with majorities demanding a better balance of academic and social and emotional learning. Maybe it’s time to start listening to them.
Host, The Learnit Podcast
I subscribe to a number of digests to keep up with edtech, leadership, and general education issues - one that I look forward to each week is a brief summary of current global education issues provided by learnit.world. I found this week's article from @jwestanderson to be particularly relevant and am sharing in it's entirety....
Friday 15 January
Dear global education leader,
Back when life was normal, my daughters occasionally came home with “golden moments”, lovely, small, star-infused certificates kids got for upholding their school’s values (treat others as you wish to be treated; do your best to be your best, for example). They loved getting these golden moments, as did we (#proudannoyingparents).
But this week I saw a (long) Twitter thread that challenged my thinking on rewards. It came from Rachel Tomlinson, head of Barrowford primary school in Lancashire, in the north of England. She posted it during the first lockdown and reposted it this week, with UK schools in their second phase of home learning. The original post came after seeing a lot of schools move their celebration assemblies online to call out “stars of the week”, putting children’s work in halls of fame, or critiquing the quality of work with red, green and yellow stamps.
Rachel is all in favor of praise and encouragement, and knows that schools are trying to do their best to motivate kids. But Barrowford has been sanction-free for 11 years and reward-free for 10. Covid-19 and its lockdowns have highlighted for her why ditching rewards was right, since equity is a key school value at Barrowford.
To be clear: reward-free does not mean recognition-free. “Actually, it means the opposite,” she tweets. “It means we value achievement for the effort it has taken at that stage in the process.” Schools can equalize some equity issues—all kids are in the classroom, with the same teacher, and the same materials. But they cannot when every child is at home, and there is no classroom to equalize but rather every student facing different challenges, contexts, materials and support.
Rachel’s tweets say it better, but here’s a short summary of the contrasts she sees (written with her permission):
Imagine that your parents are key workers and you are going to school every day. You can’t concentrate on learning because you are worried about them getting ill. You don’t share your worry - they are so busy! But you are struggling to concentrate and your teacher is cross. Imagine you are caring for younger siblings, or an adult, and you wish you had time for learning but you don't. Imagine you are trying to learn on your dad’s mobile phone, which he needs for work, and you have to share with four siblings. Imagine a family member died and you are wrecked with grief and can't learn, or that your mum cries a lot because she’s breaking under the stress and you need help with maths but you can’t ask because she’s crying. Imagine you try your hardest to do those 10 math problems but you just can't. Imagine you have multiple devices and your parents are home and have time to give, and completing 10 math questions is pretty easy. Who gets star of the week?
Here’s the best part of this story: When Rachel and her team were considering getting rid of rewards about a decade ago, they asked the kids what they thought. “We know you like them…” the students said, meaning the teachers, and administration liked them. But they didn’t. They suspected it was just taking turns, and if a child got recognition, it was because it was their “turn.” What did the students want, the teachers asked? Someone whose opinion they valued to see it, recognize it and celebrate it.
“Life isn’t a pinterest board—it’s far more complex and colourful and unpredictable and exciting than that!” she tweets. “We need to unite and not divide our communities right now. And, actually, always.”