Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting What They Deserve

From It's Like Herding Cats - A pastor's life

One of the pieces of information I've picked up in my recent foray into public education is the disturbing realization that some of the same ills that plague the church are also found in the halls of education. For example, I have found that they "we never did it that way before" cult lives within education as well. And it is just as unwelcome and just as harmful to the goal of education as it is in the church.

We were discussing classroom assessments (tests, projects, quizzes, etc.) in class on Saturday. Our teacher, who works with kids in Panama City who are having difficulty learning to read, was telling us about one kid, we'll call him Charles, whose mother is a gang member. Charles doesn't come to school all the time, and has trouble staying motivated. So the teacher and Charles have worked out a system for assisting Charles. If he comes to school and stays engaged, he gets a coke. Sounds simple.

Well, the only coke machine is in the teacher's lounge and when Charles went there last Friday, a teacher shooed him out despite his insistence that his teacher told him to go there. When confronted, the teacher said "we never let children into the lounge." Didn't matter that Charles' attendance had tripled. Didn't matter that another teacher sent him. WE NEVER DID THAT BEFORE!

Later in the same class, the teacher was sharing how she handled homework with a group of kids like hers. She uses homework to see what the kids are learning - to help her help them. The district wants her to count homework in their grades. But because the kids don't come every day, and don't do their homework sometimes even when they come, the resulting zeros would doom any chance they have of passing the class. So the teacher simply uses what they do to see how to adjust her teaching, and then uses the tests to determine their grade.

A woman in my class who is a long time substitute teacher (and who I'm glad my kids never had) was irate with that idea. "But you are breaking the RULES. If the kids can't be troubled to do the homework, what are you teaching them?"

Our teacher said, "We had a test over the chapter Friday, and everyone made a "B" or better and Charles made a 92. It was cokes for everybody."

Then she said, "You have to decide whether you really want this kids to learn, or you would rather them fail as long as they did it YOUR WAY."

It got real quiet.

And I wondered... How many Christians would rather see someone go to hell rather than experience the love of God through Christ Jesus in Salvation simply because "We never did it that way before"?

How many of us secretly root for people who are far from God and caught in sin - to stay there, because by doing so they confirm what we believe about them?

I am sick of it. Sick of people who are graceless zombies. Sick of folks who take some perverse pleasure in pointing out other people's failures. Sick of it.

If you can't love your brother who you can see, how will you love the Father who you can't see?

Listen, if we all -you, me - got what we DESERVE - we'd be toast.

If you can't embrace grace - then at least get out of the way.

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