Sunday, October 26, 2008

30-Step Program

Having 30 evening classes (about 50 minutes of teaching time) to cover the content of a 180-class textbook has been a productive challenge. The kids are burned out from a regular school day; they are here because they have to be; it's not like, y'know, real school; and if you warm the desk a minimum number of times, you pass.

Among the ways I've chosen to stuff eight great tomatoes in the itty bitty can is to use Bible stories, often acted out with the kids' help, to engage their imagination and attention. I'm sure everyone who teaches Christianity to kids does this. I learned oodles of Bible stories as a child myself. The thing is, I didn't learn how to connect them to one another thematically, and to see how they interrelate to create a Biblical Catholic worldview...which they do. In our class, with time being worth about $7/gallon, we can't learn a story without extracting lessons from it on the spot, but usually lack time to treat more than one or two points.

For example, in the Healing of the Paralytic there are these ideas the kids can grasp:

Intercession, both physical & spiritual;

The relationship between faith and works;

The relationship between spiritual and physical illness;

The power to forgive sin;

Jesus' way of asking questions instead of just handing out information;

Pride vs. humility.

All these ideas, once learned, will apply to to other lessons. However, the chapter of any given week may only need one of the above points, which works against spending, say, 15 minutes to develop a fuller sense of the story. The teacher's manual has both Bible and Catechism references for each chapter which are valuable, but mostly for a 180-day academic year. I'm thinking that there may be a way to teach the required content better over 30 classes by mining selected stories one at a time, and applying those lessons to the subject matter in the book.

At this point it's just an idea.

My Fabulous Wife

I was at Mass today, beside My Fabulous Wife, and after communion was reflecting on my many blessings, especially My Fabulous Wife, and how much more I love her now than I did 20 or so years ago when we wed.

Don't you just find cars endlessly interesting? Of course you do. (I am not digressing!) And what could be more fascinating than learning that the process of seating a new engine's compression rings may shed some light on marriage, which is even more interesting than cars? (any single men out there, I promise you this is true)

Let's examine this bit concerning the all-important break-in period for a new engine:

"The first few hundred miles of a new engine's life have a major impact on how strong that engine will be, and how long it will last. The main purpose of break-in is to seal the compression rings to the cylinder walls. We are talking about the physical mating of the engine's piston rings to their corresponding cylinder walls. That is, we want to wear the new components against one another until a compatible seal between the two is achieved. This process will ensure longevity."

See how easily this paragraph can be edited:

"The first few years of a new marriage have a major impact on how strong that marriage will be, and how long it will last. The main purpose of break-in is to seal the husband to the wife. We are talking about the physical & spiritual mating of the man and the woman. That is, we want to wear the new spouses against one another until a compatible seal between the two is achieved. This process will ensure longevity."

Notice the process of wearing against one another is not a bad or disagreeable thing- it's good and necessary. It's the process by which the two parts, at first being mutually unfamiliar, become 'compatible' and 'sealed.' They each rub the rough spots off of the other for a good and long-lasting fit. If break-in is done properly, there will be virtually no more wear on these parts for the life of the engine. Also note that this compatibility is not interchangeable with other piston rings and cylinder walls. It's unique to each pair of components.

And that's been a key to our happy marriage, I think: our rough spots (most were mine) were rubbed off pretty quickly. Rather, we let our rough spots get rubbed off pretty quickly. And the husband & wife having been compatibly sealed, our marriage burbles contentedly like a smallblock V8, with virtually no wear and tear.