Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Testing Is So "Testing"

EWU Campus 1963

In 1962 Victor Goertzel, a physiologist specializing in psychotherapy, and Mildred George Goertzel, director of a school for emotionally disturbed children wrote, “Cradles of Eminence: A Provocative Study of the Childhoods of over 400 Famous Twentieth-Century Men and Women.”  In the book they relate andidotes from many highly productive people like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Winston Churchill.  These prominent people of the Twentieth Century liked teachers who supplied materials for various projects about which the students were passionate.  When it was time for testing, what was learned by memorization of various facts and statistics in their preparation for testing, caused them to loose focus, creativity, and their passion.

Einstein is quoted as saying, “Why should I memorize something I can so easily get from a book.”  Now it would be said, “that I can so easily look up on the Internet.”

All this is to ask-- is there an answer to the right balance for testing and for learning? Educators, parents, and students rely on tests to determine how students are progressing in their educational pursuits.  But if these tests are detrimental in the long run should they be relied upon to determine success in school?

It has been reported that the United States is falling behind in our ranking in relation to other countries.  This standing has been disputed. In an article by Marion Brady, veteran educator who has long argued that public education needs a paradigm shift, he writes:

An illustration: As I write, my wife is in the kitchen. She calls me for lunch. The small television suspended under the kitchen cabinets is tuned to CNN, and Time cover girl Michelle Rhee is being interviewed.
“On international tests,” she says, “the U.S. ranks 27th from the top.”
Michelle Rhee, three-year teacher, education reactionary, mainstream media star, fired authoritarian head of a school system being investigated for cheating on standardized tests, is given a national platform to misinform. She doesn’t explain that, at the insistence of policymakers, and unlike other countries, America tests every kid — the mentally disabled, the sick, the hungry, the homeless, the transient, the troubled, those for whom English is a second language. That done, the scores are lumped together. She doesn’t even hint that when the scores of the disadvantaged aren’t counted, American students are at the top. If Michelle Rhee doesn’t know that, she shouldn’t be on CNN. If she knows it but fails to point it out, she shouldn’t be on CNN.”

So what is the truth?  In my own experience I don’t recall testing being such a big deal. I attended public schools in Alexandria, VA.  My aunt and uncle, college professors in Wisconsin, believed that my siblings and I had an inferior education. But of the five children in my family we all attended these schools through high school for my older brother, my younger sister, and me, and through Jr. High for my two younger brothers.  All five of us are college graduates. 

The only testing I recall was when I was in 10th grade and then again when I was a senior. I don’t recollect being prepared for these tests.  The tests I took in Virginia were the ACT and the SAT. When I decided to attend college in Washington State I was required to take their CEE or the Washington Pre- College Test.  Again I do not remember any preparation for the test.

When our son was applying for academic and music scholarships for college we sent him to a class to teach him how to take the SAT.  He believes the class was of no help in raising his scores.

In some cases these tests add to stress for teachers and students in the public schools.  In certain schools each month, 18 or more students will move in, or the same number, will move out of the school. It is unlikely that the new students will be in the same place on the test.  Another problem is using computers for the tests.  There are not enough computers.  Worse yet, some students don’t know how to use computers, and also may not speak English. 

So the conversation will continue.  I’m still impressed with Marva Collin’s Socratic teaching technique.  She started with no books.  Her students were children who lived in a ghetto.  All learned and became productive members of society.  Maybe we just need good teachers and not bother with the tests!  What do you think?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Red And Yellow Black And White

I don’t remember for sure, but I think that I learned all the Sunday school songs I’m familiar with at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, VA.  One of the songs I wish every child could learn is “Jesus Loves The Little Children.”  The words are:

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

Jesus died for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus died for all the children
Of the world.

Jesus rose for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus rose for all the children
Of the world.

The video above says red and yellow, black and white.  Later brown was added. I would say the red stands for American Indians, yellow for Asian, black for African, Middle Eastern, Mexican, South American,or South Pacifica, and white for European. How would you define race by skin color?  The whole point is that Jesus loves children no matter what color they are.

We have had a firestorm of difficult race relations in the United States recently.  In California and Arizona there is the problem of high school Mexican citizens wanting to celebrate their Mexican holidays at school and becoming angry if high school American citizens wear American flag T-shirts to school on those days.  We have had looting and burning in Missouri and Maryland because of black men who were killed by police in questionable circumstances.  The most tragic situations are the black on black crime in Chicago, Cleveland, and other cities.  Worse still are the radicalized Muslims who want to kill Jews and anybody who does not submit to Sharia law.

Christians need to spread the word that God loves all of us.  He is our Creator.  He wants us to love each other.  But the only way that will happen is if we are brothers and sisters in the Lord.  I Peter 2: 9  "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSIONso that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;"   In a mysterious way Christians become the same race no matter what the skin color!

Because of what has been given to us, those who know Jesus are called to a higher standard.  The hope is that those without Christ will turn to Him through our good works and the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Bible tells us that God’s judgment is coming onto the earth and onto the people who do not believe.  We must have compassion on the unbelievers before it is too late.

Of all the hurting people in the world Christians have the best chance of getting rid of all bitterness in our losses, and to forgive those who have betrayed us. Here is a book recommendation which may help. Click here.

 Love is the only answer. Christians show our love by spreading the Gospel and making disciples.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Books, Movies, And Jesus

Many people say that you should read the book first before you see the movie. This is because the book has more details and you can enjoy the wonderful, rich writing. (My Aunt Emily thought Reader’s Digest Condensed books were a travesty.) By reading the book before you see the movie it makes it easier to follow what is happening during the show. 

So because of this advice I have not seen these movies. I’m not done reading and understanding the Bible yet:

  • Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie “Passion of the Christ”
  • Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s 2013 mini series called “The Bible”
  • The 2014 Downey and Burnett’s “Son Of God”
  • Their “A.D. The Bible Continues” episodes  
  • Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus” movie 

(It is interesting to me that Gibson, Downey, Burnett, and O'Reilly are Catholic.  Does this cause the movies to be slanted?)

Mostly I skipped these productions because we don’t have cable.  But maybe the most important reason I didn’t watch these movies was because I feared that I would be disappointed.

Back in the day, I watched “The Ten Commandments.” The acting was great, the photography brilliant, and the production spectacular.  But do I remember it?  No.  What I do remember are the Sunday school songs we learned and the Bible stories we were told in Sunday school when I was a child. And now, as an adult, through studying the Bible in groups, I’m learning more and more about who God is and what He is like. I would really have trouble learning these things by watching a movie.

Movies about the Bible are good though. Maybe they will spark an interest, and cause some, who are not studying the Bible, to pick it up and read it, or sign up for a Bible study.  There are many non-denominational studies like Bible Study Fellowship, Precepts Bible study, and Community Bible study to attend.  Even better some people may go to a Bible teaching church and get involved in a Bible study there.  However, God can use anything to teach us about Himself, even movies.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


With the National Day of Prayer coming up next week on May 7, I began thinking about the prayers I’ve prayed over the years for our country.  I’ve prayed that all of our leaders would turn to God.  I’ve prayed for wisdom for voters.  I’ve prayed for our country to stand for godly values in the world.  I’ve sought God for revival of the people of the United States of America. It is hard to see how my prayers have made a difference, but God assures us in His word that He saves up our prayers.  I have hope that my prayers are not wasted.

 For prayers closer to home it is easier to see results.  But most of the time God surprises me.  Here are some unexpected answers to ordinary everyday prayers.

  • My mom prayed for a friend for my sister.  When God sent a friend my mom said,  “I didn’t mean him!”
  • I asked God for a new winter coat and He got me a job!
  • I’ve been praying that the men of our church would have a zeal for the house of the Lord.  Suddenly Chris and another man in our church started to rebuild the sound system.  They have killed themselves off working 12 to 14 hours days.  I told the Lord I didn’t mean that—I thought that the men should lead small groups for Bible study
  • I prayed that God would give us wisdom for what to do about the batteries in our Prius.  Suddenly, on a snowy day on my way home from Bible study, I had an accident and totaled the car.  OOPS!
  • I prayed that God would make me into a prayer warrior.  It was through Moms in Prayer that I learned to pray of one accord. I ended up leading a group!
  • I prayed that the Lord would make our church fruitful for children’s ministry.  Chris  ordered new banners for AWANA and we ended up with 25 new kids on Wednesday night.  I meant for God to send children on Sunday for Sunday school!
  • I prayed that God would prosper our pastor and his wife and they ended up going into a bbq business.
  • My most recent prayer was for God to raise up a Moms in Prayer group for my two granddaughter's elementary school.  Now we are moving to their area so I guess God is telling me to start a group myself!

There were many other answers that I thought were strange but it all boils down to this:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey....
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things....
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise....
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God....
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things....
I got nothing that I asked for -
But everything that I had hoped for,
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.
                            Anonymous confederate soldier, US civil war

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Florence Etta Slightam--Pioneer

Aunty with Princess. Copyright Chris Brown

My friend, Marilyn, lost her precious pug dog, Jerry Wu, last month.   He was a very warm, kind, gentle dog who greeted everyone he came across with a kiss or a tail wag.  All who met him will miss him.

Another pug dog who was very loved was my great aunt’s dog, Princess.  Aunty was quite along in years when she received her from the neighbors down the hill. When Princess was born she must have been from an S litter as she was named Sauerkraut.  Aunty changed her name. 
Jay with Aunty and Princess

I didn’t know Aunty well.  She was my mom’s mom’s sister. Anyway, my older brother, Jay knew her better than I did.  He lived with Grandma and Grandpa when he was in college.  Aunty and Great Uncle Beanie lived up the hill in unpainted houses with no electricity or plumbing. Each day they would come down the hill to work in the acre flower and vegetable garden my grandparents grew right below their house.  They would stay for the noon meal and then take leftovers up to their houses.  But on Sunday nights they would stay longer while Grandma and Grandpa watched Lawrence Welk, a TV musical variety show.  Aunty did not approve of the show.  Jay did not like the show, so they would sit in the kitchen and talk.

 Years later what remained of the houses.

Jay told me that Aunty was quite fond of Israel.  She had lived through World War II and had seen Israel become a nation in 1948.  She believed that the Jews were God’s people but for some reason believed that they were Christians.  Jay would correct Aunty but she never gave up on her belief.

Aunty never married.  As I understand the only thing she ever said about it was,” If you can’t have the one you want then don’t take any of them,” or something like that.

Aunty was younger than Uncle Beanie and Grandma. After they had passed on she lived some time in Western Washington with her nephew’s family who she had brought up after his father, one of her other brothers, had died.  Later, she insisted on returning to the house she owned in Spokane.  I would drive across town from where I lived and take her to the grocery store. 

She had dementia I believe.  One time her neighbor called me and told me that Aunty had accused her of painting her bathtub purple.  I called my Aunt Jeanne, who was on my father’s side of the family, and asked her what to do.  She said I should take her to the doctor.  Aunt Jeanne, with her hair pinned up in pin curls, went with me. The doctor said that Aunty probably had a stroke.

A short time later she fell and broke her hip when a great nephew and his wife were visiting.  She died a while after that.

Aunty did not have a very kind way of speaking to some people.  She wouldn’t be crossed by anybody.   My Aunt Evelyn didn’t get along with her, as she was one who shouldn’t be crossed either.  After Aunty’s funeral a big gust of wind came up, the curtains blew up, and a door slammed.  Aunt Evelyn chalked it up to Aunty exiting in a huff.

Aunt Evelyn admired Aunty’s wild roses she grew. She cut a slip from her plant.  So we had a little remembrance.
Grave stone at Fairmount in Spokane, WA

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Our Future Joyous Hope

Nan and our daughter Heather at Heather's college graduation

I John 3:2 “Beloved, Now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”

I miss my friend Nan.  She passed away last year.  One time we were talking about I John 3:2 and she opened up my eyes to this verse.  I was overjoyed when she helped me to realize that I will be like Jesus some day. I get discouraged at times. It seems to me that I daily struggle with lack of compassion. (Yes, I did take my 12-year-old son to get a haircut right after he had two teeth pulled.  Yes, I did make my daughter drive to run errands a few days after she had some wisdom teeth removed.)  I struggle with impatience and self-centeredness.  I’m not a very accomplished listener.   So this verse in I John gives me hope.  Some day I will be like Jesus—that is perfect!  All I have to do now is trust and obey, with God’s help. 

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

The pain of fibromyalgia, as well as compassionate friends, Nan included, has made me a little more sympathetic toward others who suffer. So I confess my sins to God and apologize to others hopefully.  I trust God to make me perfect. God will complete my transformation when I am with Him!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

He Who Has An Ear Let Him Hear What The Spirit Says To The Churches

I watched “The Good Wife” on TV last Sunday night.  I was not surprised when one of the characters said that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.  Apparently their writers are just going along with the liberal line and not checking out the truth.  I weep for all those who continue in sin, do not turn from it, don’t know, or will not acknowledge the truth:

In Matthew 15: Jesus said:
19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”

Fornications means:
1. illicit sexual intercourse
a. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
b. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; MK. 10:11

The majority of the world knows that homosexuality is wrong.  Here is a blog which tells us that if anyone boycotts states where there is a freedom of religion law, they would also have to boycott most of the nations in the world. Click here to read. 

The trials for Christians who know the truth continue.  Here is a you tube telling the story of the florist in Washington State who is being sued out of business for telling some dear customers that homosexual marriage is not something that she can condone because of her Christian beliefs. Click here to watch.

If the writers for “The Good Wife” had studied what the Bible said, they may or may not have discovered this truth.  But there are many who call themselves “Christians” who twist scripture to make it say what they want it to say.  Only those who have received Jesus as their Lord and Savior will have their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit.  God will reveal the truth through prayer and study. In Revelation, the last book of the Bible,  Jesus says to the churches—“He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

  We must keep studying the Word of God so that we can grow spiritually,  know God, and what He commands. John 14:
21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."