Photo Flick Nr. 34

This Photo Flick takes us to Flensburg and to the Museumsberg. We were at the museum complex a couple weeks ago, where one of the main exhibits that took place was the topic of Borders- in connection with the German-Danish border of 1920. And while the 100th anniversary series will appear in the Files later on this fall, I couldn’t help but look at the children’s art exhibits that dealt with borders- not just between Germany and Denmark, but also borders based on race, ethnicity, religion, social and economic backgrounds and even personalities. Borders don’t have to include the destruction of crossings and the like, as what happened to Germany at the end of World War II and during the Cold War period that followed and divided Germany up for 45 years, as we saw in the article on the Dömitz Railroad Bridge over the Elbe. Yet borders have include two classes of people and how they should be treated accordingly.

This painting, found at Museumsberg shows the problem of borders when one minority is degraded to second or third class in favor of the superior white race. It shows the mistreatment of a black person as he is violently submitted by police. This was done in connection with the current protests in the US, where Black Lives Matter has been at the absolute forefront, especially in light of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th. While racism has been systemic and systematic in the United States since the end of Civil War in 1865, it is only now that everything is at the forefront and the quest for equality has not been stressed as much as it is right now. The question is whether the US government will act to restore equality. That will have to wait until November 3rd, yet even if that happens, we may have another Civil War on our hands, given the sharp divisions the US has, going beyond the political and racial aspects.

This painting was one of many that were done by elementary school students of German and Danish backgrounds in Flensburg and neighboring Harrislee, as the schools came together to exhibit their paintings, most of which dealt with current events affecting Germany, Europe, the USA and the rest of the world. They included issues, such as racism, democracy, Trump and of course, the topic of borders- all done in German, English and Danish. They were an eye-opener to the tourists, especially those, like yours truly, who have worked with this topic in the classroom and in this column. It’s good that children get exposed to current events so they can understand the world and interpret the situation from their perspectives. By watching the news every day, listening to stories from their parents and other elders and even talking about critical topics, children will get an insight into the problems affecting us and can tackle them- developing them to their liking and to benefit others.

ACTIVITY: IN MY WORLD,……

One of the activities that should be taught in the classroom is to have children and students create a painting/drawing and/or write a story about how the world should look like from their perspectives. Starting with the sentence “In my world,…..” allow your children/students to create a world to their liking, to be presented in front of class. They should explain how the world should be created, what is allowed or banned and how people should treat their world.

An example of how a world should be created can be something like this:

In my world, we would have a green environment. All buildings must be operated with renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) and have greens on roofs. There would be only e-cars and lots of forests and lakes. Only people who are environmentally conscious would live there, etc.

This can be used in not only Ethics and Social Studies, but also in foreign language class or any classes where civics is taught. By allowing the student to be created, you will be amazed to see what a world should look like from the eyes of the one who presents it and it would create an interesting conversation in the classroom and eventually at the dinner table if the child presents his/her own world. Who knows, if your school has a wide array of topics in conjunction with this, you could have a display like the one in Flensburg.

But even if not, similar activities like the activity or in this Photo Flick will enhance the child’s creativity and expose them to the environment and society that will get them to think, using the following important question: “What can I do better to help myself and others around me?

By answering that question and finding solutions that help, we will be on our way to making things happen, while at the same time, eliminate the barriers that keep us from achieving these goals.

This is something that I hope to see happen with our problems of racism and borders between two people of different backgrounds. We have seen this go on for almost two centuries and given the multitude of problems we have, this is one where we must work to eliminate as they will need us as much as we need them and their knowledge for support.

Why History Mustn’t Be Forgotten But Talked About

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“History is History. It’s the Future we should worry about.”  That was a comment one of my students in English class mentioned last year as we talked about the events involving World War II. In a way if the younger generations were not living or haven’t experienced the past of their forefathers, it would be easy to say it’s time to move on and worry about the present.

However, History is History and our history can reshape the future we should worry about- more than ever before.  Germany has had its share of history, which makes it one of the most unique countries to use as reference. It survived two World Wars, 45 years of division with the Wall (or should I say Walls) and with that two different political systems. It went through three revolutions (1848, 1953 and 1989), the third of which resulted in German Reunification and all this time, it went through series of transformation in terms of architecture and infrastructure. It was the forerunner of the Autobahn, it developed the first city underwater canal system, it developed and expanded shipping canals to connect all bodies of water. It even built the finest historic bridges- many of which are still intact despite withstanding war and wear.  It produced the finest writers, like Schiller and Goethe and the best musicians we still listen to, like Bach, Beethoven, Haydn and Mendelsohn. All of these accomplishments but also trials and tribulations were remembered- through the preservation of historic places and the creation of monuments, statues and memorials. Even the Stolperstein- small bricks with memorials of those who perished in the Holocaust, can be seen on German streets today.

Can you imagine pieces of history, like the concentration camps, remnants of the Berlin Wall and the border that used to divide Germany into West and East, statues of controversial figures and the like disappearing from memory?  Many Germans have attempted to try that but the wounds are too deep and the scars still fresh, even though World War II ended 75 years ago and Germany was reunited as a whole 30 years ago. We will never be able to erase history, no matter how we try and do that.

Yet it is happening in the United States right now. Statues of prominent figures who were controversial have fallen, brand names with black people as slogans are being retired, memorials dedicated to the war that had divided the nation are being destroyed. All to protect the black population because they are being considered second class. The paranoia that has come out of the death of George Floyd, who was wrongfully killed by four Minneapolis Police Officers on 25 May, 2020, has brought the issue of racism right up to the forefront. At the same time, the paranoia is destroying the very history that we were taught in schools- how the United States grew up with free states and slave states, that blacks were kidnapped in Africa and shipped to the southern states for use on farms, how they were mistreated. We had a Civil War that put an end to slavery and to a short-lived Confederacy. Still despite being free, the blacks were still being persecuted through segregation and racial profiling. Even the Civil Rights Movement by Martin Luther King didn’t solve the problems of the racial divide. Systemic and systematic racism has been a wound that is bleeding in the United States for centuries. Even when we finally come together to talk about this topic, even in the most uncomfortable way, the scars will never disappear even when the wounds are healed.

It’s July 4th, 2020 and it’s time to think about

The American Question: Who Are We? What have We Done For This Country and The Entire World? How Can We Learn As Americans For The Future?

Based on the German Question that was raised after the end of World War II, we should be raising this question and looking back at our history, not just looking at what we accomplished but looking back at, coping with and lastly, understanding the dark sides. We have had as many dark moments as there are controversial books written about them. The Tulsa Massacre of 1921 is one of those dark events that we never talk about in classroom but is considered a defining moment in the history of racism in the United States. We have controversial figures that also became greats in their times. Some owned slaves but still shaped our country to what it is. Others rounded up Native Americans and put them on reservations and tried assimilating them. We all are guilty of our transgressions but to run away from them and not talk about them is the same as murdering people and then fleeing the country. It’s time we start talking about the most painful parts of the past and come to terms with it. It’s time we teach our generations the real history of our countries and get them to understand why they happened and how we reacted. It’s time to open up to other cultures, whom we’ve persecuted and discriminated for so long and find out who they are and why they suffered all along.

We need to discover all aspects of history and not just the few we preach about in class. History should be a requirement during all of the time in school and history teachers should be well-trained to talk about the hardest of topics, critically, objectively and simplistically, so that we all understand and can think about them. Statues and memorials should be back in their places but talked about in detail- not destroyed or desecrated. We need the Stolpersteins on America’s streets- sidewalk memorials for those whose lives were wrongfully taken- this applies to not only victims of repression and discrimination, but also social tragedies including the school shootings. Books banned from the libraries should be read again so that we all need to understand the history of our country as a whole. And lastly, extremist media- especially those from the far right, should be taken off the air once and for all. In the past four years, there have been too many prominent racists who have stoked hate and division for our country and have degraded all of America’s minorities as well as the country’s neighbors. It’s time to send the likes of Rush Limbaugh and members of One American News Network, Fox News and all of the Trump family packing. In this country, there’s no place for hatred, racism and all kinds of division that has brought the country to the brink of another civil war. Instead of just judging people based on the color of the skin, their socio-economic background and the like, we should be sitting down and talking about the history our country and our identity.

The American Question- Who We Really Are?

And hence, returning to that quote the student said: “History is History. It’s the Future We’re Talking About.”  It’s one that can be interpreted as letting go of the past and looking ahead. Yet with all the problems facing us, we need history more than ever so that we can learn from our past mistakes and use them to shape our future. So in this case, history is history. It’s the history we need to embrace now more than ever before so we can tackle the issues that are important for future generations. It’s one that goes beyond the upcoming elections on November 3rd that will bring change to the country- hopefully for the better. It’s one that will shape our country for years to come.

Enjoy the 4th to my fellow Americans at home and abroad.

 

Yours,

Jason Smith

 

Fl Fi USA

 

In School in Germany: Lessons in Small Groups

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Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

When I write this post, our country is in the midst of reopening our schools and businesses. We had been on lockdown since mid-March of this year due to the spread of the Corona Virus and its potential of infecting hundreds of thousands and killing thousands without any notice. In retrospects, this virus is nastier than the Spanish Flu, which happened over a century ago, lasted two years and featured three waves- the second of the three was considered the worst. The reasons are the symptoms that are sometimes unrecognizeable and the high rate of person-to-person infection. Handshakes, breathing, coughing and just simply close contact could lead to a Corona infection.

As we continue to return to a normalcy that the majority of us wanted but it’s being considered the normalcy that may have set off the spread of the virus, we are seeing some of the restrictions that may become the new permanent norm, even if a vaccine is created beforehand. For some, it may be a blessing as we take a few steps back and consume less, while at the same time, have fewer people at an event than before.. Look at the schools for example. While children are asked to wear masks and refrain from activities that require physical contact and close quarters, class groups are being cut in half, from an average of 23-32 students in a group to as low as eight and no more than 12. Teachers and parents are wondering why some students cannot sit with their friends in groups to meet and study. Educators are wondering if this is efficiency where a large group can bring forth effective teaching in the classrooms while creating a jam-packed schedule to ensure that students are able to fulfill the requirements given to them.

Speaking from personal experience as a teacher of English, having small groups would be more than beneficial. When I started teaching English at a Volkshochschule (Institute for Continuing Education) in 2001, I had a pair of English classes, where students could come in and speak English for 90 minutes, choosing topics that they wish to talk about. Almost all of the sessions we had produced a lot of meaningful conversations where students learned from each other and from the teacher. As many as 8-10 participants were in class. While I dealt with one pole of the spectrum, the other pole was when I taught groups of 25-30 students at a pair of high schools in Thuringia and one university in Bavaria. From these two extremes, I can only say positive things about small group teaching.

 

Some advantages of small group teaching include:

    • More intensive work- This doesn’t mean working through all the points in one topic as fast as possible. It has to do with working on each point in detail so that people better understand the topic.
    • More individual contact- Even in times of mandatory distancing to avoid getting infected with the virus, individuals can receive more attention and help with problem areas than in large groups. This can be done with the teacher or through small group activities.
    • More interaction- It is a foregone conclusion that when you have smaller groups, students will have a better chance at learning and interacting in class, regardless of the style of teaching used in class. With large groups, teachers are restricted to mostly frontal-style instruction which will takeaway the students ability to join in the classroom discussions.
    • More fruitful learning- Through a combination of frontal teaching, individual work and group work, students have an opportunity to learn more and exchange with others, while the teacher has better opportunities to explain concepts better and in detail.
    • More attention in class- Through small groups, the number of distractions decrease substantially. At the same time, it allows the teacher some flexibility to introduce techniques to maintain the attention span of the students. After an average of 30 minutes, the attention span decreases rapidly and with that, a sharp increase in the number of distractions. Therefore teachers need to be aware of this and vary their techniques to encourage better learning.
    • More flexibility and creativity in teaching- As mentioned under interaction, the more varieties of teaching you carry out, the more flexible you are and the more likely the students will enjoy your classes than if you only have frontal style teaching and in large groups. Even lectures in university halls in front of hundreds of students tend to become boring after a certain time.
    • More efficiency– If you wish to finish the topic as quickly as possible, then this would be another reason for having classes in small groups. However it depends on the content of the topic.
    • Less chances of getting sick- This is one of my key points here. When you have large groups, the chances are more likely to get sick than you do with small groups. This has to do with the fact that with larger groups, there may be more people bringing a virus to spread to others. In small groups, the chances of that happening are close to zero. That is unless we have a large-scale pandemic as the Covid-19 here. From my personal experiences, I’ve been sick eight times when teaching in large groups. In small groups, the number has been zero- all within the past decade.

 

 

With the extensive use of home office combined with the computer being one of the key cornerstones of every household, small group teaching can also encourage learning and doing individual work at home. What is required is a teacher being the facilitator and helping the students out when needed. Homework is made available either by the teacher when in school, through an online platform or through a special online mechanism. The student does the work and the teacher can review it either in class or by sending back the work via e-mail. I’ve worked with this mechanism during the lockdown at my school and my daughter has received classwork and other forms of instruction through an online platform at her high school. If one takes the time to learn how the system work and tries it out, online learning combined with small group teaching opens a lot of doors to learning for all.

While costs and issues with a lack of personnel are a universal problem, these are short term problems that can be solved by getting used to the system. Having dealt with small group teaching for the second month now, I can only say that small group teaching is more effective, healthier and more beneficial than having large scale lectures and classes with 25+ students. While students can see their friends at any time and anywhere and lectures can be held online, it is a foregone conclusion that a school with a classroom size of 20+ students will become a thing of the past.

If we want to be serious about containing the spread of Covid-19 and preventing future viruses from dictating our society, we will have to change the ways we conduct ourselves. While we have a lot to do to make it happen, we must start small and let things grow and go into place. While small group teaching is a start, it is one of many that will put the pieces together in a puzzle that will promote less in life instead of more. When we do that, we will have a more efficient and enjoyable lifestyle to have.

My two cents on this topic.

FlFi10

Corona Virus: The Response, The Solution. An Interview and Speech with Bill Gates

photo of person using magnifying glass while holding a glass slide
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

For each pandemic, there is also a silverlining. Be it the development of medicine. Be it the measures that are in place to protect people from being infected. Be it the people who are helping the infected- doctors, nurses, researchers and others in the field of medicine.  Be it the people who have done a lot of work in this field but have for the large part been ignored.

People like Bill and Melinda Gates.

Together with Paul Allen, Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975. Ten years later, Gates introduced a Windows program for personal computers. Both of which were in connection with Mr. Gates’ experience with developing software in the 1970s which would eventually define how we use personal computers today.  Gates is one of the richest people in the world.  Together with Melinda, they established the Gates Foundation, which focuses on public policy and public health. They have been known as one of the most generous philanthropists of all time.

Over the past decade, Gates has provided information and warnings about the potential of a new virus forming that will be equal to the Spanish Flu of over a century ago. From 1918 to 1921 the flu infected as many as 500 million globally and killed a tenth of that population.  The causes of the flu stemmed from World War I.  With the Corona Virus, that is being followed more closely as there are talks of the virus coming in waves, the second one being the deadlier form than the first. Yet the causes of the virus has been wide spread. Some have pointed to a mishap in one of the labs. Others (even the majority) have claimed that the environmental degradation caused by development of cities and agriculture, combined with climate change, may have triggered the first of several deadly virus that could kill off the global population en masse.  In either case, governments have not paid attention to the dangers……

until now.

To better understand the missing warning signs and how we can respond now to Co-Vid 19 and even to other viruses that will succeed Corona, I’ve presented a pair of TED Talks on this topic, as addressed by Bill Gates.  The first one talks about the virus we were not even close of being prepared. It was a TED Talk done in March 2015:

 

The second one is a 50+ minute interview on the possible responses to the current virus, including how The Gates Foundation is responding to the virus.  One needs to keep in mind that Corona is the first of many viruses that will affect global society in many ways- one even more drammatic than the other.

A separate article that follows (you can click here to read) looks at the lessons we can learn from the Corona Virus from his point of view. Please takes all of these points by heart for we are now living in the new norm, where instead of nuclear weapons and guns, the health of our state- both involving the human body (physio and psycho) as well as the environment will become our top concern, and for generations to come.

 

FlFi10

Less is More. But is Most the Least?

two people riding on jet ski
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

Most of us probably know the functions of comparative and superlative adjectives in English. Especially with the use of more and most as they generally support adjectives with three or more syllables plus other adjectives with endings of -ed (passive), -ful, -ive and a few other exceptions.

But there are some who don’t know about how more and most function outside the primary role of comparing two or more entities. Therefore, we will look at the different functions of the two.

 

More:

More is used to compare two entities and determine which one is better than the other. However, as we see in the table, More has other functions as well. For instance……

Use of More

 

Most:

Most is used as the superlative form of the adjective, finding out which object or person is the greatest of three or more subjects. However, most has other functions as well, as we see in the table below:

Most as function

 

Few/Small vs Less

When looking at the opposites, we have two different words to look at. For most cases where we look at objects from a quantitative purposes, we would use few and small. They also include the comparative form, each of which require the use of „-er“

Small and few

Little:

While few is very obvious because we’re talking about the numbers, many people have problems making the difference between small and little. Small is used either as an adjective or an adverb and describes the size and amount of something. Little has both grammatical functions, plus it can be used as a pronoun and determiner, yet little has two key differences:

  1. Little can be used to express some emotion or sometimes an idea of smallness
  2. Little is always used to describe something that is intangible, having no number, figure or amount.

Some examples to support the argument:

  1. There’s a beautiful little cottage next to the lake.
  2. Happy Birthday to our funny little man, known as my brother.
  3. We’ll have to use what little we have in our savings account to buy food.
  4. There’s very little water in that Reservoir.

 

Less

When we use less, we can see that there are multiple meanings and functions that should be taken account. While less means something to a smaller extent per se, its differences can be broken down into the following:

less

 

Least

In the sense of superlative, we have the same words but different meanings and functions. For small and few, the meaning is basically the same, which is looking at the small amount or size of an object, people, or other things. The endings is with –est.

 

Examples:

We have the smallest/ fewest number of salmonella cases than our neighboring community.

The town has the fewest people visiting the market square this week.

I was given the smallest meal I’ve ever seen: A plate with a mini-sandwich and only three potato wedges!

Becky was the smallest person on the basketball team (Note: You can also use shortest).

 

When looking at the superlative for little, namely least, here we have a different set of functions and meanings to pay attention to.

Least

In German, all of these in the box above have one meaning: wenigstens. 😉

Now that we know how the comparative and superlative words work in the sense of grammar and context, we’re going to look at the activities which you can click here to access.

 

Flensburg Sunset

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The Teacher: Past, Present and Future

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This pic is dedicated to all the teachers out there, who have been in the profession for decades and are about to pack it in and enjoy their retirement, as well as those who are in the profession. It definitely speaks for itself, especially if the teacher has made a tremendous impact on the lives of many, by sharing stories, experiences and the know-how to others, who will surely carry on where the other leaves off. All with one goal in mind: Making a difference in the lives of others.

This goes well beyond what is depicted here. To the person who shared this pic, thank you.

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The Creative Creator Creatively Creates a Creation- A Look at Derivations in English

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Derivations is the process of converting one grammatical aspect into another, by changing the suffix of the word given. As a general rule, we start with the root word, mainly a verb or a noun. By adding an ending, you change the grammatical function of the word. To a certain extent, the meaning of the word is altered as well.

Looking at the title of this article, we see that the root word create can be altered at least five times. The root word is the verb. Creator is the personal noun. Creation is the processional noun. Creative is the adjective and by adding an –ly at the end of that word, it’s an adverb.

Derivation 1

 

Our focus is on three of the most important aspects of derivation: verb, noun and adjective form for each conversion has its own set of rules. Have a look at the tables below:

Derivation 3

Derivation 2

Derivation 4

The nouns vary for there are four different forms, including one between personal and processional nouns, as seen in the acitivites per link here.

 

Activity 1: Conversion  There are three different tables. Look at each word in the table and find its grammatical equivalent. An example in each table is given.

 

Adjective Verb
Adaptable

 

Analytical

 

Critical

 

Innovative

 

Inspired

 

Proven

 

Viable

 

Destructive

 

Demonstrative

 

Cooperative

 

Adapt

Communicate

 

Innovate

 

Rely

 

Determine

 

Create

 

Demonstrate

 

Do

 

Sensitize

 

Believe

 

Deny

Verb Noun
Implement

Organize

 

Produce

 

Inquire

 

Develop

 

Plan

 

Justify

 

Orientate

 

Hire

 

Operate

 

Fail

 

Implementation

 

Introduction

 

Attachment

 

Performance

 

Identification

 

Identification

 

Termination

 

Judgement

 

Suspension

 

Proceedure

 

Analysis

 

Noun Adjective
Department

 

Friendliness

 

Necessity

 

Attachment

 

Essence

 

Religion

 

Decision

 

Nativity

 

Congress

 

Presentation

 

Assertion

Departmental

Able

 

Responsible

 

Analytical

 

Beneficial

 

Creative

 

Capable

 

National

 

Presidential

 

Executive

 

Sexual

 

 

Activity 2: Fill-in/ Multiple Choice  Choose the right word to complete each sentence

  1. I cannot trust my colleague. He is (unreliable/ unrely).
  2. Her behavior is too (destruction/ destructive).
  3. The students had a chance to (criticize/ critical) the examiners over their score.
  4. The presenter was very (communicative/communication) to his audience.
  5. The (elimination/ eliminative) of the department will cost the company 30 jobs.
  6. The railroad (state/ station) is on the left side of the street.
  7. An (analysis/ analyse) from the doctor revealed that you have a tumor.
  8. Using hate speech in school is grounds for (dismiss/ dismissal). Note: Grounds for dismissal is the same is being fired/canned/terminated from your job)
  9. The person, who rolled the truck into the garage, said it was (accident/ accidental).
  10. The car is a (valued/valuable) asset to this family.

 

Activity 3: Now for an even bigger challenge- Using the root word in parenthesis, complete the sentence using either the verb, adjective or noun form.  The topic is how to prepare for a test in class.

  1. _______________ is the key when you have a big test coming up. (prepare)
  2. It is important to __________ notes and pay _____________ to the teacher in class. (take/ attend).
  3. Sometimes it helps to have a _______________ outline so that better understand the _____________ of the topic. (structure/ complex)
  4. Sometimes, attending a ______________ will help you with questions that are hard but _________________ to answer (tutor/do)
  5. But you must be _________________ and clear in addressing these ____________ questions. (communicate/complicate)
  6. It is sometimes ____________________and _________________ to start studying two months before the test. (use/ help).
  7. Having ____________ partners in a study group will make studying for a test even more fun. (rely)
  8. Having good study habits, such as good ______________ skills, thorough notes and some nmemonics will help in your _______________ as a person later on. (organize/develop).
  9. The night before the test, it is ______________ not to drink caffeine nor alcohol and to get a ___________ amount of sleep. (advise/ manage).
  10. On the day of the test, be _____________ and think positive. After the test, you can __________! (confide/party).

 

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Easter Genre: The Beggar’s Greatest Wish

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Before saying farewell to Easter, we have a genre piece that is worth a read and something to consider. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the booklet written by Alyce Bergey entitled The Beggar’s Greatest Wish. The book was written with one theme in mind: The greatest wish of one person.

Before going to the plot, ask yourselves this question:

If there was one wish that you had that you wanted badly, what would that be?

 

Everyone has one greatest wish, no matter the circumstances.  Some who are crippled wish to walk again. Others suffering from poverty and other forms of adversity want to be rich. Those who fail constantly want to succeed just one. Yet most of us want peace after suffering from years of conflict, both home and away.

For the main character, Barthimaeus, an old man living in a one-room hut outside Jericho, he wanted to see, for he was blind and was a beggar wanting to find a place in the world, but was rejected by many. Day in and day out, he begged on the street and got next to nothing from the public. Every day he was ignored, spat upon, degraded and taken pity. Yet later in the story, his luck started to change beginning with him receiving a single coin and then culminating to his encounter with Jesus Christ, as He and his followers were walking down the streets of Jericho. He found the beggar and after learning what his wish was, his life changed for the very best.

Based on the story of Luke 18:37-45, the theme of the story was believing in miracles and how they can come true through faith and fate. Faith has to do in the belief that if one works hard and prays for the most important thing in life, it will come true. Fate has to do with encountering the unknown and having that wish granted. It can be through the encounter with the Lord or another person. It also has to do with certain events that puts the events in order of sequence that eventually culminates into one’s wish being granted.  Expected or unexpected, each of us have a special wish based on our trials and tribulations which eventually come true through our own actions and belief. If we didn’t have them, we would allow our world to unfold in front of our eyes that would not be to our best advantage.

When Jesus died for our sins, He left us the belief that miracles can happen if we have the faith and courage to make it happen- if we pray and also do our service. It goes beyond the fishermen story when Jesus came from Heaven to give them fish to feed themselves and their families. It goes beyond Job’s struggles when he lost everything to famine and drought and he got that back. It even goes beyond our own personal wishes in real life- mine has to do with putting an end to global warming and polluting the oceans.  While this book was written for children but has an explanation for parents, the theme is the same. It’s more of a question of what we have for our wish and what we can do to make it come true.

To close off this genre special, here are a pair of videos that was based on this story. I hope you enjoy and have a chance to read the story to your children:

 

flefi spring

The Characteristics of a Great Teacher

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What is a great teacher? What makes a teacher great? What is typical of a great teacher? If there was a secret ingredient to being great, it would be great to know about it. Yet if we knew, and we would try and follow it like textbooks, life would be boring, both in the classroom as well as on the street. Perfectionism would bring out the worst from those who strive for it and those who rebel against it. Life as a teacher would be portrayed as inflexible, intolerant and inhumane.

What is a great teacher? Can we follow the footsteps of those who had once ruled the hallways and classrooms of our school? Or read about their lives as we stumble across them on the sidewalks through monuments and Stolpersteine? Or reminisce about the teachers of our time growing up, over a beer or wine at a class reunion? Some say that our teachers set great examples and play a role in our development, but only a few remain close friends for life.

What makes a teacher great? It’s about what you learned from the teachers you had in school; from those who were close and helped you succeed. It’s about learning from your own personal experiences, remembering the stories told to you while growing up, embracing in your own faith, and developing your passion for the job. Molding it together and being prepared to share them with others.

What is typical of a great teacher? It can be best described as follows:

A great teacher enters the classroom like it’s a concert at Carnegie Hall……

……..and comes away with a standing ovation at the end of class.

A great teacher shows competence in his subject and confidence in his class….

…..and never falters to those who think they are better than he.

A great teacher is communicative, humorous and open-minded….

…..and the same goes to the students if it applied correctly in class.

A great teacher always listens to the needs of others……

…..and finds ways to cater to them.

A great teacher devotes his time and effort in his subject with a passion…..

…..so that the students can do the same when learning it.

A great teacher teaches the students what is good and what is bad in life…..

……and follows these examples, both on and off campus.

A great teacher is a great storyteller……

…..and uses it to teach the students the morals in life.

A great teacher always embraces in new things for the classroom……..

……and is never afraid to part ways with the old.

A great teacher is flexible and spontaneous……..

……and never follows the rules like a textbook.

A great teacher never holds back on his opinions and truths…..

……and is not afraid of the opinions and truths from his students.

A great teacher is always creative and tries new experiement….

…..as long as he and his students profit from them.

A great teacher always makes mistakes in class……

…..and should not be afraid to admit being human.

A great teacher is also a great mentor….

….being the guiding light for those who need it.

A great teacher is always there if the student needs help……

…..whether it’s big or small, in school or outside,

….a  great teacher will always be your friend for life.

And when you have a chance to meet your great teacher- your mentor, friend and all- many years down the road, always remember what he taught you and why he got you to where you are today. After all, what he passed down to you, it’s your job to pass it down to your children of the next generation.

That is what defines a teacher a great teacher. 🙂

 

Author’s note: I had some great teachers growing up in Minnesota, but this one goes out to one who was an elementary school teacher and close friend of the family. I had her for the last two years before entering middle school and we became great friends afterwards. Many people knew her for the characteristics that I’ve pointed out here and it was through these key points where people like me took them and made use of them, both as teachers as well as parents and beyond. In her memory, this one’s for you with many thousands of thanks! 🙂 ❤ 

 

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The America I Grew up In- A Comedy by Jeff Allen

Here’s a fun but yet sobering reminder of our childhood that we had- the best times where we could take the chances and experiment, risk getting hurt but learning the lessons the hard way. The childhood of today has risks but in the sense of fear of taking these falls, the risks and trying new stuff.

The America I Grew Up in is a comedy gig by Jeff Allen, who compares his childhood to what is seen today. Can you list what he and his friends did for childhood examples? Then compare them to what you (as a child growing up) did. What was the same? What was different? What would you like to do what this comedian did? What would you do differently, had you had a chance to turn back the clock for one day?

Try that wherever you go, but not before watching this rather funny clip. 🙂

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