Tag Archives: reading

Reading, learning all the time: All the time reading, learning.

 During the past week, my focus has waivered.  I started off on Sunday facing a medical emergency with my pet, Possum (really my 4-year-old Havanese).

 

For the first time, I had to take a pet to a vet and leave him not knowing what would happen. Luckily, 48 hours later, he came home—exhausted.  Today, you would never know he had been so sick.

 

This experience has made me think about how much unconditional love we experience with our pets and I cannot miss the lesson that gives me about God’s unconditional love for us.  There is no better example of unconditional love of a pet and for a pet.  Why, then, do we even question God’s unconditional love for us?

 

The more I read, the more I learn.  I was on line reading all I could on Sunday trying to understand the problems Possum was having.  This equipped me with the best words to share with the vet on the phone.

 

I learned a lot and I am reminded that we all have much to learn about God, too.  I ended Sunday studying the lectionary to prepare for the lectionary discussion on Monday.  Always reading and always learning even though the verses are familiar.

 

This week the reading from James seemed to echo words I read in the late 1980s while working to establish a dyslexia program at Wentworth Military Academy.

 

During that time period, I was fortunate to be guided by alumnus and co-workers to learn more about the business leadership structures.  As the 1990s passed, I also learned about educational leadership. The common denominator was the concept of democratic leadership.

 

No, this is not a political issue; this is a leadership style.  Reading James 3:13-4:10, I discovered that even James, Jesus’ brother, shared the same principles of leadership:

 

True Wisdom Comes from God

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.[a]

Drawing Close to God

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers![b] Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.[c] And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”[d]

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

 

If all leaders, in all phases of our culture, used these principles, one might only wonder at the changes it would bring to our world.

 

For years, my reading was limited to professional materials and curriculum demands of the Course of Study. Yes, I was reading all the time in an effort to continue learning all that I could.

 

But my learning was to streamlined, that I was in a tunnel.  Since stepping away from the pulpit, I have broadened my reading.  I am also broadening my learning through the reading.

 

Just like God expects us to read scripture (as well as John Wesley does), we also need to see how it is applied in the real world.  Joining the lectionary group has broadened my learning by sharing and listening to others ideas.

 

Reading is how we learn things that interest us, to entertain us, and to educate us.  With the base of knowledge and ideas and skills that we develop, we still need human interaction to take that information into our real world.

 

My reading during these past two months have included following the KC Star’s opinion pages—stepping beyond the front page news; and I have picked up books again.

 

I am reading and listening to the ideas and experiences of others.  I am reading and learning to think beyond my own immediate life experiences. The reading leads to learning. The learning leads to reading.

 

Even the fiction reading I have jumped into has shared themes that I find in scripture.  I learn how these themes affect our lives and continually intertwine with the themes in scripture.

 

Whatever denomination to which we chose to align ourselves, the scriptures continue to drive our lives forward. John Wesley knew this.  The theological instructors know this.  The believers who read scriptures know this.  Why, then do we continue to ignore reading scriptures?

 

Reading a historical fiction novel about the Biblical figure Sarah is teaching me to think about Sarah differently.  It triggers a desire to learn more about the ancient cultures that are woven together in the book.  It makes me want to read the Biblical story again, along with study notes and analysis.

 

At the same time, the novel brings up the same principles of leadership in James and in the business and education materials concerning democratic leadership I had read 30 years ago.

 

Read to learn, but also learn to read.  We have a huge responsibility to make sure that we are doing that for ourselves, but also that we are imparting that skill to the following generations.

 

Dear God,

Thank you for the words so many have written

Creating the scripture through which you speak.

Thank you for the words authors continue to write

Creating books to share ideas in new ways.

Thank you for the ability, the gifts your provide

Creating the learning we gain from reading.

Guide us through the words, but also through the power of the Holy Spirit.  –Amen

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Filed under Education, Religion

Read the news carefully

Reading this morning’s KC Star on-line, two articles had paragraphs that need careful reading. Both caught my attention by the words that could easily be skipped yet need careful reading.

First, in the news article, “Where’s Gov. Greitens? Not with Trump this visit” (March 15, 2018, p.4), about one third the way down, after explaining that Greitens did not greet President Trump in St. Louis like he did on the other two Missouri stops, came two paragraphs:

“Trump instead was welcomed by Attorney General Josh Hawley, the state’s top law enforcement official and the Republican front runner to challenge U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill in the fall.”

This paragraph is a simple statement of the situation as a news report is designed to be, with the exception of one word “instead.”

That word becomes loaded with meaning when a news report last week stated that Trump asked certain state Republicans not be included—names not included.

In that previous news report, the comment was included that Hawley had not been invited to greet the president. The paragraph in today’s article implies that Hawley was invited to greet the President.

Hmmm. I would like a clarification, at least of when Hawley was included in the meet and greet.

The article continues with the next paragraph that is a quote from Trump:

“The state of Missouri was very good to me, I’ll tell you,” Trump said during a visit to Boeing. “And Josh, I think, is doing a fantastic job. I can tell you that. Just met him at the plane.”

Close reading of the President’s quote causes more concern for me as a reader.

First, the President said the state of Missouri was very good to me. The historic records can prove just how good when looking at the election results.

By going to the Secretary of State’s official website for the general election results of November 8, 2016 the results are posted:

Republican Trump/Pence took 56.772% or 1,594,511 votes

Democrat Clinton/Kaine took 38.135% or 1,071,068 votes

Libertarian Johnson/Weld took 3.466% or 97,359 votes

Additionally there were 45,667 votes cast for a total of 2,808,605 votes cast.

Yes, by the numbers, Missouri was good to Trump during the election.

But on with the President’s quote:

“And Josh, I think, is doing a fantastic job. I can tell you that. Just met him at the plane.”

Those short sentences are worth reflection. Look at the sentences in reverse order.

Trump just met him at the plane. Just? At? How much knowledge can one gain in that moment of meeting.

The middle sentence, “I can tell you that”, is clear enough as Trump is being quoted. But, look again at that first brief statement:

“And Josh, I think, is doing a fantastic job.” Even Trump’s own statement creates questions. He just met him. He thinks Hawley is doing a good job. But the qualifier ‘fantastic’ is Trump’s descriptor for what he thinks is the job Hawley is doing.

Where are the facts? Two small paragraphs in the first third of a news article is loaded with implicating statements. The reader has a responsibility to reflect on these words.

Journalism is reporting the news based on various elements such as timeliness, significance, proximity, prominence (i.e. name recognition) and human interest (as identified at http://www.pbs.org/now/classroom/lessonplan-05.html).

The active reader needs to be aware of these elements and to consider them as filters as to how a story is reported. Knowing this, the two paragraphs in this article are just part of the story, but need careful reflection by Missourians.

The second KC Star March 15, article to read carefully is in the Opinion section, “GOP’s Hawley launches campaign we don’t need” by Melinda Henneberger. Remember, this is an opinion or editorial.

Henneberger has an opinion, but she does develop that opinion with facts concerning candidate education and historical quotes. Yet, buried in the middle of the article is a paragraph for careful reading and reflection:

“Yet both there [out East] and here in the Midwest, where I grew up, blue and red bubbles are harder to penetrate because any news we don’t want to hear, we increasingly choose not to hear.”

Regardless of one’s political preference, referred to as ‘blue and red bubbles’, the message in Henneberger’s editorial is that we, the people, are making the conscious decision of what to hear or not to hear.

In casual conversations, opinions are voiced easily. The concern is how solid is one’s opinion based on facts, not hear say.

Read carefully.

Look for concrete support in an article.

Look beyond the headline grabbing attention.

Look at what is not being said.

Read carefully.

Do not just scan the headlines.

Take time to read the full story whether in print or on-line.

If you have questions, ask or look for answers.

Hennenberger’s article is an opinion, but read it carefully. Make the choice to know the facts. Do not choose to you do not want to hear.

The KC Star’s front page includes the teaser headline, but choose to ‘hear’ the story and turn to page 4. The headline develops into more than a story on Greitens non-appearance, but also a story about an election and the President’s knowledge.

Then choose to read on. Read others’ opinions and reflect.

Choose to read carefully.

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Filed under History & Government, journalism

READ! For crying out loud, READ!

Yes, I am on a rampage.  I grew up reading.  My school was rural and small.  I only had about 13 in my class, but I read.  I read almost every book that sat on the shelves in my classrooms of Bellflower Elementary.  I read what was available.

This morning I started looking up information online and I realized that I miss reading.  And I read.  I miss reading novels.  I miss reading magazines.  I miss reading for fun.

After becoming an adult, reading became more focused on need than fun.  Reading filled a purpose more than it did down time.  But reading provided me the skill that was so necessary to manage the complexities of adulthood.

Now, the skill of reading is becoming lost.  Or maybe not.  As I was on line this morning, I realized I was reading.  I was using my learning skills that started me reading and searching for information.  I used a different format–the world wide web, but I am reading.

The epiphany then caused my mind to leapfrog (a term I use to explain how ADHD causes my brain to jump from one thing to the next) to my concern about how kids today do not know how to read.

Of course our schools are showing students how to identify the characters in the alphabet and how they make words and how to read them out. But I see major ommissions that we are not doing in our schools–and remember, I am a retired teacher.

As students in the 1960s one of the skills taught was how to use a textbook.  How to use a dictionary.  How to ask questions that taught us how to move from one word to the next to the encyclopedia–yes, that set of about 26 books that all families thought they had to own.

I have taught school.  I know that our curriculums are so focused on making sure the students are “learning” according to the scores on all kinds of standardized testing.  But, and this is huge, but are our students able to use the knowledge successfully on their own–can they study independently.

During my teaching at Wentworth Military Academy, a private company was allowed to come in and provide individualized training on how to read, how to speed read, how to improve study skills.  Unfortunately my long term memory has lost the name of this company from Massachusetts, but I remember the lessons.

Then during the 1990’s I was fortunate to join forces with the Orton Dyslexia Society, now known as the International Dyslexia Association today.  I attended the national conferences and was trained in the Orton-Gillingham methods for learning language.

I can assure you that very few teachers today are pressured to teach the study skills that takes the basics of reading and pushes students to the level of becoming effective, successful self learners.

What happened this week?  I worked with a very small group of rural American elementary students.  Every time I step into a small group of kids, I am saddened how poor the skills for learning are evident.  We must teach the kids to read, and with that comes teaching them how to study–how to learn.

Yes, there are methods to use that work.  But instead of focusing on successful scores on standardized tests, focus on the skills.  The end result will be successful adults who can adapt in the ever-changing world.

READ!  Read anything, everything whether in the form of a handheld book or whether it is on line.  Read.  Think.  Study.  Ask questions.  Think and then read some more.

In today’s world the immediate availability of all forms of texts is at our fingertips.  Access it.  Read it.  Ask questions.  Think and then read some more.  Teachers, stop and teach how to read.  Teach how to study.

And new teachers, if you have insecurity about how to do it–read.  Ask the experienced teachers that students seem to love what they do.  Remember your own learning expeirences in your favorite classroom and analyze it.  I lay odds that the teacher there was demonstrating how to learn.

READ!  And then read some more.  It is critical to the well-being of our global community in virtually every facet of our lives.  READ!

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Filed under Education, WMA

Suzanne Collins: Reading Revivalist

Having just finished reading Book One, The Hunger Games (HG), I cannot contain myself any longer.  Thank you to Suzanne Collins for writing a book that reaches out to younger readers and even to myself.

This is my third reading and I am using it in my alternative ed classroom.  Often reading is an impossible task, but right now HG is working.  Even I have struggled to find reading which holds my attention from one book to the second to the third!

HG leaves my heart racing, my emotions in a swirl, and a deep-seeded sadness.  Why?  The timeless storyline of star-crossed lovers is just one reason.  Then there is the eternal battle between good and bad.  How can the reader deny the sense of agitation in the midst of the battle!  And the music created by the mockingjay!  Of course, it is silent reading so there is no true music, but in my mind there certainly is.

In fact, putting the full realm of my feelings into words is difficult–especially since most say I am so wordy.  Yet, this trilogy has sent me into an entirely new world of the future, but also of the ancient world filled with gladiators.

I find myself struggling with the political conflict presented, too.  Not only am I a language teacher and trained journalist, but I like history, esp. American history and politics.  These books create an echo in my head that shouts an alarm.  Why do people have to be so power crazy?  Why does HG leave me with a sense of doom?  Is it because of the power struggles we witness in government?

There are so many things that go running through my heart–err, I mean head–while reading these books that I closed HG tonight almost drained, yet oddly pumped up by adrenalin.  I have a sense or urgency to open Book Two and I know I cannot do it at this moment.

Suzanne Collins is reviving reading at a level that even young people clear up to adults and even seasoned, near retirement teachers cannot put the book down.  Thank you, Ms. Collins.  I just really regret that I will have to put the books away after this semester.  Maybe in August I can begin the journey again.

And just for the record, the trilogy fits into a school semester.  I find so many literary elements, so many themes, so many characterizations, so much conflict in the story line, so many twists, settings that identify regions of the US and a style which lends to literary analysis.

This is a book that offers much for concrete readers, but possible is even more valuable for the higher order thinkers.  The series lends itself to developing curriculum which focuses on rigor and relevance.  The alternative ed arena proves it and reading can be revived!

Again, thank you, Ms. Collins.  Thank you, Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Cinna, and all the others who bring the story alive.  Thank you.  I cannot wait until I can return to your world and share it with my students.

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Filed under Education