February 21st, 2011

in the soup

Monday, Monday

The start of another busy week is upon us. Bleah.

The camera I bought last year to take to Philmont has been going haywire, and would cost more to fix than to replace, so I went shopping for a new camera last week. Couldn't find one with an optical viewfinder, which is a pain. I finally bought a cheap Casio; if I don't like it, I can afford to donate it to the Scout auction or something. The first few pictures I took were awful, until I turned on the anti-shake feature. The pictures now are pretty good.

In other news, I've been suffering from sleep deprivation for a while now. I've been running so hard for so long that I'm physically beat down. My mind is tired and I'm grumpy, too, which goes with the physical weariness. I really need to take more naps and have more fun (of a less strenuous nature). But the deadlines just keep comin'. This weekend is a youth retreat down at Ransburg. On the horizon is a nine-week series of dinner discussions with younger men. Just beyond that, there's the beginning of Lent, income taxes to be done, and four days of national meetings in Nashville.

Oh, well. Only the dead have nothing to do.

On teachers and teaching

I have always said that the trouble with most "Gifted and Talented" classes in public schools is that they are not taught by gifted and talented people. In my experience, most G&T programs are led by those teachers with the most seniority who can thereby wash their hands of the struggling students (i.e., those who are not fun to teach). By the same token, those who set the standards and conditions for students (and teachers) to meet are rarely those who have ever taught -- or been successful at teaching -- those standards, under those conditions. This applies as much to leaders of teachers' organizations as to politicians and bureaucrats.

The first requirement for creating educated persons is that we should seek out educated persons to teach. This disqualifies many public school majors, who as a group display the lowest GPAs of any undergraduate field. Hey, I've known professors leading Teacher Education programs who were basically illiterate outside their narrow fields of specialization. (Some of the best educated persons I've ever known were some working class women in my inner city parish in the 1980s, many of whom didn't finish high school, but who remembered everything they ever learned, read the newspaper every day, worked at all kinds of jobs, raised their kids, voted in every election, and went to church every Sunday.)

The second requirement for creating educated persons is that we choose from among the ranks of those successfully educated only those who are capable of creating and sustaining the right sort of teacher-student relationship. Teaching is not about techniques or technology. It is primarily a relational thing where a person capable of explaining something and a person in need of explanations come together and the desire to understand is fostered, so that the attempt to explain reaches its desired end.

There are great teachers out there, from whom one learns fly-fishing, or knot-tying, or how to buy a new suit. And there are great teachers from whom one acquires a philosophy, a religion, or the building blocks of a happy marriage. There are even great teachers who can show you how to dissect a frog and give you a glimmer of why that might eventually benefit you. Most of the great teachers we remember weren't in a classroom, though some were. And then there are the legions of drones who discovered that playing the school game will get you a regular paycheck.
speed limit

Ego! Opto redire! Ad Phillipimontum!

The deadline for 2012 Philmont reservations is this week, and I've been fretting over it, big-time.

My attempts to identify a crew or crew leader besides Crew 119 or me have all failed. It looked like I was going to have to make reservations for just one crew for our scheduled date in July, 2012. This would mean a possibly tight fit for our flourishing Venturing Crew, since we might have more than twelve persons who would want to go. On the other hand, it might be impossible for us to field two crews.

Sunday, I asked some of our Crew adults about their interest in Philmont. At least three of the women on that hike were interested. Add in at least three men and at least eight youth that I know of, and we'd already be up to 14 persons. That's the minimum size for two crews. Then tonight, I talked with a friend from a nearby UM church who is interested in starting a Venturing Crew there. His daughter turns 14 in June. Whatever happens in terms of launching a Crew at their church, Yes, he and his daughter want to go to Philmont next year. Perhaps a few more from that church or surrounding UM churches might want to go. We could take a maximum of 24 persons (no more than eight of which would be adults).

So, okay, I'm going to reserve two 2012 Philmont crews for NAUMS this week, using our Crew as an organizational base. Then, we'll seek to fill out those crews with other youth and adults in the area. I'm trusting that it is the will of God that we make this opportunity available, and that he won't let us fail so long as we glorify him and don't lose our nerve.

When the NAUMS Board meets in March, I will tell them of our progress. I will also tell them, we need to get cracking to identify possible crew leaders for the 2014 crews. Now. I leave office in July, 2012, and if we don't have them in place at that time, my successor as President will be at a great disadvantage in keeping this program going.