A Vision for Teaching Children

FeaturedA Vision for Teaching Children

Originally published 2/24/2014, updated 10/1/2020

To instill a lifelong love of learning.

By encouraging curiosity, question-asking and interruptions.

By setting up fences and borders for the learning experience
wide enough they are never seen.

Because gentle guidance keeps them approximately in the center
of their thousand-mile-wide educational experience.

With the use of goals and results as a way to measure success
not of the student, and not of the teacher
but of the approach used to teach
and for the purpose of celebrating successes.

Without focusing on results, and instead focusing on the person
so their curious nature is not crushed
and their intellectual boundaries are not artificially limited
through the drive to achieve arbitrary results
to satisfy a pointless numerical goal
that has nothing to do with actual intelligence or learning.

Understanding that the result of a fully engaged student
who has been taught to love learning
who has been allowed to ask unrelated questions
who has never heard, “you are special” nor “you are ignorant”
despite being both
and who has been guided without visible boundaries

Will be a person who will produce amazing results
who will never stop learning
who will never know any intellectual limits
who will be able to create anything
and will never cease to amaze the world.

Photo by Belinda Fewings

Science vs. Politics

Science vs. Politics

The difference between Science and Scientists

I ran across the following paragraph while reading a current (May 2020) study. To say it’s frustrating given the current locked-down-environment would be an understatement.

It is essential to note that the mechanisms of person-to-person transmission in the community have not been fully determined. Controversy remains over the role of transmission through fine-particle aerosols. Transmission by indirect contact requires transfer of viable virus from respiratory mucosa onto hands and other surfaces, survival on those surfaces, and successful inoculation into the respiratory mucosa of another person. All of these components of the transmission route have not been studied extensively. The impact of environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, on influenza transmission is also uncertain. These uncertainties over basic transmission modes and mechanisms hinder the optimization of control measures.

above emphases mine
CDC – Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal – Volume 26, Number 5—May 2020
Xiao J, Shiu E, Gao H, Wong JY, Fong MW, Ryu S, et al. Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(5):967-975. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2605.190994

Flimsy uncertainties abound regarding the science of over-reaching political orders regarding COVID-19, yet the proclamations from political power holders such as Kansas Governor Laura Kelly are sturdy in their insistence upon compliance. Without providing a solid reason or proof politicians say, with foolish certainty, “You must do this or that.”

Politics, not science, is in play right now because it’s an election year and because there are powers, human and spiritual, who hate freedom, and life, and love, all the while seeking to dominate and subjugate and grasp after more power.

Politicians are recruiting an army of followers who will shame and report their neighbors for non-compliance. The primary recruiting tool is fear. Fear that you will get sick and possibly die. But also fear that you, a good person, will accidentally harm or even kill someone else – maybe someone’s grandma, or wife or friend. Fear is a powerful motivator and this army is very effective and well armed with sound bites and catch phrases.

Science is like God – in its purest form it is absolute truth. It is this way because God invented science – it is the study of His creation, it is a study of Him. (Romans 1:20) True science will admit when it doesn’t know something – when a topic has not been studied fully. Science will not speculate. Scientists will speculate, but not science. A scientist in his pursuit of truth will experiment, speculate and ask questions. These questions, once answered, will settle into the body of knowledge called science. However, since fallible humans are the source of these discoveries, we must always make room in our philosophy and world view for skepticism and then revision when presented with more complete information. Refusing to do so is a hubris of the worst sort since it holds out a known lie as the truth.

Truth can’t be bought and therefore science can’t be bought. It’s not for sale because no one holds ownership of truth. Scientists can be bought because they are merely seekers of truth and fallible humans and subject to corruption just like all of us. We would hope that scientists as bearers of truth in the very name of their profession, and presumed seekers of the truth in practice would rise above this. Experience, however, tells us otherwise. The confusion between science and a scientist is so rampant that we end up accepting an opinion or a guess or an outright agenda-aligned-lie as truth. When this happens enough times, we become numb to its effect and it is harder to discern the difference between a scientist and science.

And so politicians, armed with political power who seek to expand (or at the very least maintain), will find scientists who agree (or can be found to agree) with whatever idea or agenda or movement will accomplish this goal. And because we see the word “science” within “scientist” (or some other proxy such as Doctor) we assume we are hearing from a Truth Bearer when in fact we are simply hearing from a human who is providing their version of the truth which is not the same thing as the truth.

We should venerate skepticism and teach children how to prove their beliefs rigorously. Instead we see feelings and emotions being the north star of education and self determinism. A skeptical approach to accepting life-altering information is a firewall for our minds. Filter out fear, let truth in, reject domination and dictatorial control while allowing life decision altering information through. If nothing else, a skeptical point of view is valuable because it holds those accountable who would seek to erode our freedom while installing themselves into a place of micro-managerial control in our lives.

Since science is truth and God’s word, aka The Bible, is truth, it would seem the best method for creating and installing a biological/spiritual/mental/human firewall in our minds would be the reading and memorizing of Bible verses.

May I suggest starting with the book of Proverbs, then move on to John.

Proverbs One (NIV)

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

The Other Hand

The Other Hand

At a magic show, we are willingly fooled – we are willing participants in a deception designed to entertain.

Sleight of hand, misdirection, and prattle is used to distract while the magician is arranging the reveal. Usually this takes longer than the setup actually takes, but it’s good theater and makes for a good show. If you’ve ever experienced this you know just how amazing it can be.

Right now a good number in our country are willing participants in a deception designed to fundamentally modify the way Americans, for generations to come, will be allowed to live their lives. I won’t go into the why of this – that’s a huge discussion. For now, it’s enough to simply try to awaken you to the fact that it’s occurring and that you are an audience member whether or not you want to be.

As we begin transitioning into the third month of hearing the same story from both media as well as politicians, I would challenge you to begin looking at “the other hand.” The worst of all of this is that while a magic show is designed to entertain, this show is designed to ensure compliance. There are powers at work in this situation that are sinister and devoid of any true compassion.

Please start looking away from where you’re told to be looking and look for the trick, the arranging – please think for yourself.
Look at the other hand.

 

 

 

Photo by Julius Drost

Daddy

By Tim Gallagher
12/13/2019

Time goes past, it is fleet of foot – fast to the past
And yesterday is yesteryear – last night I was a baby
When did I love you, lose you, see you, find you at last
Daddy, I was only three when I saw you and mommy
And now you’re gone and I’m here, by myself, lonely

And now I’m the father, and I have my own who say “daddy”
But I miss you, and want to tell you again I love you
But time goes past, it is fleet of foot and gone, sadly
Time is so cruel, it doesn’t care, you’d think it would
But it’s gone, where are you? it took you away from me

I realize it’s my turn now. I’m the one they call daddy
All of life has a minor chord running through a sad song
Tunneling under – undermining my resolve to be strong
I dry my eyes, but on the inside there’s a graveyard
Stand up straight, dedicated to a brand-new brave-start

I’m an imposter – cowardly bones covered with sinful skin
One day soon it will be my turn – will one of my own
Have their turn at the pen? to put words to the pain again
To the hurt that burns within, the yearning, the loss,
God help me, the hole that grows bigger each year

Daddy, I was only three when I met you and mommy
That’s what I remember, that’s my first memory
I’ll meet you soon and we’ll both be with Jesus
Finally grown up – together we will understand, finally
Why life had to hurt and what true love is, eternally

Time Machine

by Tim Gallagher, 10/24/2018

If I could build a time machine, I would go back in time
Over and over, to spend more time with you – you are sublime
Time is cruel, the cruelest for stealing you away from me
And me away from you, you know it’s true – time is mean

Maybe I don’t need a time machine, maybe what I want is a rewind
Not a do-over, but a do-again, because, darling, let me remind
I love you, I do, I will, I would, I hope to a whole bunch more
But we don’t get either, so let’s value today, tomorrow, before

Before I… before you… well, let’s not talk about that yet
Because it chokes me up. We have our memories, don’t forget
But the best is yet to come. It has to be, because we love each other
So grab your paintbrush and meet me at the canvas we get to cover

With colors bold and bright and as brave as our love and blueprinted by God above
Let’s paint a picture with our words, brushes and love, with no push, with no shove
Because I’m for you, because you’re for me, because together us are for our “we”
We’re on display, for all to see, like it or not, so let’s shine and let’s be

Brilliant and pointing the way toward the One who showed us what love is
By giving up His life and laying it down unreservedly for His beloveds
So, Lydia today is the day, tomorrow is the day, until the day I die
I promise to be the best man I know how to be – raindrops in my sky

Above all, I’m glad for what you were, what you are and what we are together
For richer or poorer, houseless or housed, Sicker or better, through all kinds of weather
We are madly, irrevocably, no u-turns allowed, steak-dinner rich, sugar candy sweet
Ridiculously, meticulously, unambiguslously, serendipitously, completely in love

Immutable Database Schema

Immutable Database Schema

I’m adding functionality to a mature web application and need to add a field to a database table.  I started mentally walking the path of the change and what all it touches and the required testing and review that would ensue and it’s mildly daunting.

Then a voice in my head said, “immutability.”

The field I would add is not necessarily a record field – it’s not data, it’s relationship.  Is “relationship” data?

Instead of adding a field and reviewing and refactoring everywhere the model is used, I can simply add a relationship table, create a model and use it when needed.

Slightly more code, way less review.  But I don’t know if it’s a good approach, or if anyone else has tried this, so I’m documenting this online and asking for feedback.

Do you have an opinion about this?

PHP Exceptions and Namespaces

I’m way too late to the PHP namespace conversation. Initially I just didn’t see the benefit of namespaces, but now I’ve seen the light.  The other issue was the production environment at work didn’t support  namespaces – I own that problem too.  Basically for way too long it was a big fail fest.

But now angel choirs are singing and I’ve seen the light.  I preface this post with these details in case you already know what I’m about to write about.

I just spent 20 minutes trying to figure out why the same pattern of code worked in one place but not another.  I’m trying to validate date strings in form submissions and had some code like this:

function validateDate()
{
	try
	{
		$dt = new \DateTime( $fieldValue );
	}
	catch( Exception $e )
	{
		return false;
	}

	return true;
}

The error I was seeing was an uncaught exception for an invalid date format.  That’s exactly what I was trying to prevent!

It took me way too long to realize that I needed to namespace the Exception class.

The solution is either to

use Exception;

at the top of my class file or to rewrite the function.

function validateDate()
{
	try
	{
		$dt = new \DateTime( $fieldValue );
	}
	catch( \Exception $e )
	{
		return false;
	}

	return true;
}

 

TLDR: Make sure you namespace the class names in your catch blocks otherwise it’s ignored and the exception is not caught.

Last Train Out

I’m in the last seat, on the last car
On the last train out, from the middle of here
I’ve left my bundle of worries, there at the station
On the platform, beside my little black heart

The conductor comes by, and tells the passengers
“You’d better have your tickets out and ready
Or we’ll throw you right off this here train.”
So I pat, paw, and dig around, and then… panic

I’m in the last seat, on the last car
I’m gonna get thrown off, I won’t get far
Right as I get up to go and hide, a Tall Stranger
Appears beside me, “Here you go, friend.”

I’m in the last seat, on the last car
Clutching my ticket, holding it tight.
I’m looking at a man, who gave up his
Gave it to me, and I don’t understand

When all of a sudden, just as he’s grabbed
Like a bolt, I know the truth, the awful truth
He had but one ticket, and gave it to me
And I realize this, as he’s taken away.

I get up to follow, everything is blurred
I hear the conductor say, “Just throw him off!”
So they threw the Stranger off my train
And I watched him bounce and roll, and roll

I kept watching as we clacked out of sight
And before I lost view, his body stopped
Still, and silent, and I knew exactly the price
The Tall Stranger had paid, back there on the tracks.

Dreaming Dream Dreamers

(a Christmas poem)

It takes a fight to push back against the internal night
And a sacrifice to smile and stay in the fight
When hope lives near the raggedy edge of despairs
Leave the day’s failures behind and put my foot to the stairs

Step forward and up, with a deep breath; take score:
Four children and wife… Put my hand to the door
A push and I’m in where the air is ablaze and alight
Quick, shut the door to keep out the black night

Each one is a dreamer, each one is alive
Every single wonderful person inside
And they are all simply lovely, these people of mine
Each one is enthralling, like expensive fine wine

And each dreaming dream dreamer has their head in a cloud
With their thoughts and ideas, and it makes me feel proud
Kids! Kids! Kids!!! I must start by kissing your mother!
Her lips are fantastic… I must smooch! I must smother!

Goodness! Now that that’s over and done,
Let me hear of your day and all you’ve become
Tell me all that you’ve learned and the ideas you’ve had
I bet they’re all good – not a single one bad

Because all of you dreaming dream dreamers must know
I love you more now than I could possibly show.

IMG_3995

Locked in a Closet With Club-Wielding Bullies

Have you ever been locked in a closet with a group of bullies who are beating on you?

Welcome to my life.

Hopefully this will never be a literal truth, but we all have our closets and we all have our bullies.

This is what truth, art, poetry and childhood all fight against.


Bullies beat you down and tell you you are worthless.
Truth says all are valuable – made in the image of God.

Bullies destroy, pillage and hate beauty.
Art transcends time and culture, finding – celebrating! – beauty in all of life.

Bullies hurl insults and curses.
Poetry heals. Poetry soothes and inspires transcendence.

Bullies berate and belittle. Bullies believe buffoonery is better than blessings.
Childhood has all the promise of a full life ahead without the dullness that time can bring.


So here is the challenge – approach each day with truth on our lips, art in our fingers, poetry in our hearts and childhood in our minds.

I’ll leave you with a poem I wrote 15 years ago.

Sunshine Smile

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m losing my mind
Said the girl with the sunshine smile
Except, maybe you just don’t understand my kind
Always losing, sometimes finding, only to lose again

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve lost my heart
Said the boy looking at the sunshine girl
If I really have lost it, I wouldn’t actually mind
But I need to know if you know where I could find

Silently nodded silently hoped …
Golden curls knowingly bounced, hopeful
Eyes glinted, hinted at the secret hidden
Within their depths only diving could reveal

“I’ve decided to run away, run to the north woods”
Said the boy to the girl with the sunshine hair
“I was wondering if you’d like to… if you could…”
“Well, if you’d like to come along … for good”

Big rain drops formed at the corners of her sky
Blue eyes, silent thunder crashed, on her earthen
Red lips, brilliant lighting flashed from her soul
As her mouth silently formed a single word, “Yes”

03-06-2000