Archive for May 2018

3 Cheers for Education

May 17, 2018

Three Cheers for Education
by Dr. Steven J. Callis

It is that time of year when educators are challenged with the task of maintaining order and the learning process among students whose minds are already focused on summer vacation.  The double shot of spring fever and the rapidly-approaching final day of school are much akin to a sugar high in children; fidgety antsy, and excited.

Reflecting on my high school days brings to mind the annual junior-senior prism ball game.  Similar to dodgeball, but played with three balls, this event occurred within the final two weeks of the school year, consumed two class periods, and took place in the school gym.  Over the years it had grown to a fun, but highly competitive, athletic event pitting the junior class against the senior class.  Those choosing not to play sat in the stands and in the balcony rooting for their team.

Technically, this was not a sanctioned event.  Administrators did not promote it or encourage it, but they did allow it to take place without penalty.  Therefore, skipping classes for the game was harmless and without consequence – – unless you were a student in Mrs. Crow’s typing class.

It was my junior year, and I distinctly heard her announce to the students that anyone skipping her class for the prism ball game would receive the grade of “F” for the entire grading period.  Our argument that the punishment did not fit the crime fell on deaf ears.  Our reasoning that she could not penalize what the administration refused to reprimand fell empty at her feet.  Surely, we thought, she will not fail the entire class!

From a student’s perspective, the junior-senior prism ball game was to some degree a rite of passage.  At the time, our school included grades 7-12, so we waited five years for our turn to play in the big year-end event; and of course, the junior class was bound and determined to defeat the seniors.

One other huge consideration is that we understood this to be our final opportunity to play in this annual rivalry.  A new comprehensive high school was under construction, and our senior year would be lived out in a school four times the size of our current school.  Most seniors were unhappy that we could not graduate from what had been “our school” since 7th grade.  And we were correct: there were no prism ball games at the new school.

Prophetically, we made the predictable youthful decision and skipped typing class.  Mrs. Crow followed through with her threat, but somehow it did not impact our final grade for the year.    Whether she was protesting the event or she was so very committed to teaching, I must admit appreciation for what I learned in her course, it having proved significantly beneficial over the years of my studies and career.

Today I applaud our students – especially this year’s high school and college graduating classes – along with our teachers, staff, and administrators for their commitment to education and the development of our young men and women.  I still have my graduation cap; I think I will take it outside and toss it in the air for ol’ time’s sake!

 

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Regrettable Words: Spoken and Unspoken

May 10, 2018

Regrettable Words: Some Spoken, Some Suppressed
by Dr. Steven J. Callis

Have you ever uttered a statement, only to immediately regret that it passed your lips?  My email provider includes a feature that allows 30 seconds to “undo” a sent message.  Oh, that we had such a feature in the human body, but we all have learned the difficult lesson that something spoken cannot be unsaid.

Myron Augsburger wrote, “Words spoken prematurely cause extended damage.  Harsh words wound; critical words destroy.  Once words are spoken they cannot be recalled and we cannot be free from the responsibility of having made the statement.”

An unfortunate illness among young children is Hoof and Mouth disease.  In later years, that malady becomes “hoof IN mouth” disease.  The idea of putting a foot in one’s mouth actually did originate in the 1870’s and the deadly virus among cattle that was called “Hoof-and-Mouth.”  A fancier term for the slip of the tongue is faux pas, a tactless statement made in a social situation.

In a less innocent scenario, one may be guilty of hurling a cruel insult or criticism towards another person.  Often the critic may feel some amount of remorse later, but the damage is already done.  No amount of regret, and no act of restitution, will enable the victim to unhear what was said –genuine repentance is a huge step in healing the relationship, nonetheless.

While the words cannot be unsaid, there is still the possibility of making it right with the other person.  On the other hand, there is no recourse for words that have been suppressed for too long.  Garth Brooks sings the question, “If tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I loved her?” How will they know if we do not demonstrate our love and verbalize it, as well?

The Bee Gees released a song as a single in 1968 titled, “Words.”  The lyrics include this line: “It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away.”  The gist of the song is that words can make a person happy or make a person sad.  I would contend, however, that words unspoken can do neither.

You and I are responsible for the words we speak, and for the words we suppress.  Using the adage to look before you leap, let us add that one should think before speaking.  The apostle James wrote in a letter recorded in the Bible’s New Testament, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”  We must speak words that bear meaning and purpose, because words flow from the abundance of our heart.  And if we are truly thinking about our words and their purpose, we will not suppress those expressions that our loved ones need to hear.