Couldn’t Make It Up 2

Today, I set a reporting task to one of my classes. I explained exactly how I wanted them to lay it out, then I repeated the instructions to make sure they were clear. I then asked if there were any questions on the assignment. No one responded, so I told them to get on with it. About five minutes later a hand went up and the student asked if she could do it – well, exactly as I had described how to do it. There are times when I serious wonder if some of my students aren’t just memes waiting to happen.



Bible, Book, Reading, Religion, Christian, Study, Text

This book today is a mystery

Known by all too few;

Gone are the days when it could be assumed

That its contents people knew.

Noah perchance, with his two by two

And the original rainbow theme;

Might spark recognition for some out there,

But they still won’t know – what it does mean.

The names of Elijah or Obadiah, will be met with empty stares.

They will claim it has nothing to do with them. 

Has nothing to do with their cares.

And so I walk the lonely road,

As theology I dare to teach.

And I pray every day – that by God’s grace

At least some of them – I will reach.



A Week in Verse

A time to worship, reflect, and pray
The meeting that seemed to last all day
A writing day which contrasting, speeding by and not lasting
An exam or two – here or there
Revision sessions for a few that cared
Papers returned, for comments making
Some treats to enjoy, like home baking


The poem above is in response to Inspiration Call’s 7 Days, 7 Lines prompt, which read: Write a poem where each line/sentence is about each day of last week.  From Sunday church, Monday staff meetings, Tuesday’s “day off,” and more; the week of a teacher unfolds.


Inspiration Call

At the Chalkface

Classroom, Old, One-Room, School


Thirty years before the chalkface

Wearily I stand

Korczak, Vygotsky, and Dweck as well

Feature in my lesson – planned


Yet for all the experience and the prep

Notes will still make their rounds

Doodles filling pages blank

And whispers start when I turn around


But I am patient, and I understand

Longevity in teaching has taught me such

I know that learning will in the end be had

If I use a firm but gentle touch




Weekend Writing Prompt #133 – Longevity




Tired of “Reasons”

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Source: YouTube

It is the bane of most every teacher’s existence – “the reason.” There is by definition “a reason” for homework to be missing, for an exercise book to be left at home, or for the necessary equipment not to be at hand.

Our modern society has added to the old tried and true, “My dog ate it” excuses, however.  More and more, we are faced with “I left it at my dad’s house over the weekend,” or “My printer was out of ink.”

When I was in the forces, I had one NCO who regularly reflected that “excuses are like noses, everyone has one and they all smell.” Well, maybe that is a bit harsh, but “reasons” nonetheless are frustrating as they delay marking, and often the learning of others, especially if the assignment informed the content of the upcoming lesson.

Okay, everyone can have the unfortunate mishaps, or misplace a book, etc., and I am actually rather tolerant of such things, but there are those moments when you just have to hate it.

There was recently a poetry challenge to construct a poem with the title: “Tired of  . . . [?].”

Here is my take:


Tired of “Reasons”


I am tired of reasons,

explanations, rationale.


Of hungry dogs, distant dads,

of printer glitches, and falling hail.


Nocturnal crises, pens with no ink,

all justifiable – pleas sure to not fail.


Many sincere, some true with some strain,

and yet others not much than fairy tale.


So there we have, the covers for x-box bourne delay,

“When will you have?” – “Well Sir, not today.”




If You Are Interested in Language, Check This Out

I have never re-posted a blog before, but with my love of words and the way in which they are used, I found this review/post really interesting. In fact, it has been a long while since a book review made me think “Hey, I really want to read that.”

Add to this the fact that I have followed the Aksharbet blog since it began at the start of Gelda’s Fulbright teaching exchange placement.  I have always found her insightful and honest about the teaching process. For anyone interested in cross-cultural education in general, or on the challenges and successes of teaching English outside of American or British schools, I highly recommend her blog.

With that as an introduction, here is Sushmita Gelda (Aksharbet)’s Yes, You Can End a Sentence with a Preposition

Part memoir, part linguistic escapade, Kory Stamper’s Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries (2017) is a must-read for anyone who is interested in exploring the stories behind the quirks of the English language. A lexicographer at Merriam-Webster, Stamper takes readers behind-the-scenes of the editorial process and the history of the dictionary industry. Her […]

via Yes, You Can End a Sentence with a Preposition — Aksharbet


Why I Teach


There are many reasons why people become teachers. For some it is the desire to “make a difference” in the world. For others the motivation is a care and concern for young people.  And for yet others, it is the importance of their subjects, and the concern that knowledge of it endures.  We can add to this a small minority that didn’t know what else to do with their degree. [As an aside, I remember overhearing a conversation between two final year university students on their futures.  One of them said he would do teacher training, “while he worked out what he really wanted to do.”]

Why stay a teacher? Now here is a more interesting concept.  Some – but not all – of the world changers become disillusioned and leave.  Some “kid’s are our futures” types, equally withdraw after seeing the realities of the classroom.  And “preservation of knowledge” advocates become frustrated when their beloved topics fall on disinterested ears.  But the majority persevere. Why, because they come to embrace all of the above, and become educators.

Our little victories drive us onwards. That moment when little Johnny “gets it.”  The realization that these young people are indeed people, and they are developing into wonderful human beings.

I have been an educator for nearly three decades.  I may have started out as a “my subject matters” type, but I have grown!  I really care about the students I teach.  I feel for their hurts, and I really find joy in their triumphs.   I see them as full individuals, not just as recipients of my subject. As a case in point, I love watching the programme on the last day of the year, when those about to leave us make their speeches, share their recollections, and share their talents in music or drama.  I can look then, and take pride that I in some small part helped shape these awesome people.

That is why I teach.  I may not have changed the world, but I have touched the lives that have touched mine.


The Challenge of Challenge


It is once again the beginning of a new academic year.  For the 23rd year, I have a new batch of students, some eager, others apprehensive. It has been a very long time since I was in their place, and knowing what I know now I would take more risks in my own learning if I were in their place.

It is because of this that I strive to open my subject up to them.  They are after all, not just the future (generally), but the future of theology and religious studies.  If I cannot capture their imaginations with the wonders of the divine, then the trend of society as a whole (increased secularisation) will continue.

So what shall I do?  Try gimmicks? No!  Challenge them? Yes.  I need to not give watered down baby food.  I need to see these young people as entrants of my trade and profession.  I need them to own the subject.

Many educators make the mistake of feeling “they” own the subjects that they teach. They treat their learners like empty vessels ready for them (the teachers) to fill with their vast resources of knowledge.  Okay, we are educated people, and have a wealth of experience and knowledge.  This does not mean our students have nothing to offer, however.  They bring with them insights, and perspectives that can help each of us to gain from.

Here is where challenge comes in.  Everyone believes something.  The art is to tease out the reasons for such beliefs, to build on the foundations, and to expand the horizons.  My department head and I were recently uplifted by the comments of one of our administrators. It seems that he had been at the exams venue at the close of last years’ tests.  He asked one of our students how it had gone.  The response was one of confidence.  When asked why so confident, it was explained that the student felt more challenged by the expectations of our department than that of the examining agency.  We had called on our students to become our fellow theologians, not just “apprentices.”

So as educators what can we do?  Nurture and challenge!  As people of faith what can we learn? Be true to our calling, and not water down the truth.  As preachers, pastors, and religious teachers how do we proceed?  The answer was once phrased this way, “sermonettes make Christianettes.”  Or more simply, lift your congregation up, don’t dumb it down.