Thursday, January 10, 2008

Class is in Session, I am not

I am excited about this new term. I thoroughly enjoy teaching and I really enjoy making money doing something that I love.

I never quite feel adequately ready for a lecture though. But I've learned that the more "prepared" I am--the more I'm likely to rush and I don't listen to the dynamics and the needs of the particular students. So I find that if I have an outline and a few fall back plans--but I let myself flounder for the specifics--I'm much more likely to tune into the students needs.

Tonight I was sufficiently unprepared, but I just couldn't find the click. I went through each back up plan and I made sure to try and sense when they were ready for a break. I broke them into small groups to present different viewpoints on what we were discussing. We had group discussion after group discussion--but I just didn't have that click.

I'm not sure what was missing. I am impressed with these students, but I feel like the class is going to go in a different direction this term. I'm excited for it.

The history class went a little differently than expected. There were only 4 people in the class, and one person was absent. When the three guys showed up, the first two told me that they had to leave right away. That left me and RJ. Good old RJ. He was in it for the long haul. (His name is not RJ.)

We talked all about the early American Indians and the French Settlers and the Spanish and Portuguese Settlers. We talked about the Roanoke Colony. We talked from 6 to 8:30pm. Then it dawned on me that he wasn't going to retain anything more and that I was torturing this boy. So I sent him home early and I went and watched the game!

During the course of our many conversations, I introduced him to different Anishnaabe stories about the beginning of the world and we talked about the similarities between their traditions and Christianity. That opened up questions about dinosaurs and the Bible. I wanted to leave him with the idea that it is okay to believe in and embrace the wonders of the world of science while holding onto your faith in God. I talked to him about the idea that carbon dating is a science that relies on the idea that the world has evolved or aged at the same rate during it's entire life. And this is simply something that we have no way of proving. Therefore we have no conclusive way of knowing how old the earth is. Of course we talked about the idea of 7 creative periods. And I talked about the idea that the difference between Adam and other possible homo sapiens before him is that God breathed his Spirit into him. The creation of man was the moment that the spirit and the body united. And we know the spirit to be the child of God. I tried to be as general and scientific about it as possible. I wanted to him to feel good about continuing to study science, while appealing to his clear need to reconcile it with his faith.

I want to elaborate on the carbon dating thing. I tried to explain to him clearly--but I think this is a clearer way and I want to write it down for future reference. You have a picture of a person at 2 months old and at 12 months old. This person is now an adult. You measure the rate at which they are aging now and use that rate of aging to determine the difference in age between the person at 2 months old and 12 months old. This would age the human considerably. An adult changes very little over 10 months--so with that measurement--you'd have to assume that the person aged by hundreds of years from 2 months to 12 months old.

This is how carbon dating works. It presumes that it is accurate to assume that the earth--unlike every other living organism on the planet--has aged at the same rate for it's entire existence. Now why would the earth be different from everyone else? It wouldn't be. Is it possible for us to know the rate at which the earth has aged? Not that I know of.

But then again, I'm not a scientist. I'm just a person who likes for things to make sense.

Tomorrow I teach another Ethics class. It's gonna be great!


MissHeather said...

I love learning about things like carbon dating. Man, sometimes I miss college because I love learning! I wish I was there so we could talk for hours!!!! :o) I'm jealous of RJ and his one-on-one time with you. :o)

Crystal said...

that was a lovely, thought-provoking blog and I would get into how carbon-dating works, but it would seem contrary to what you wrote and I gotta tell ya, girl, I felt like what you were saying is true... why be contrary if I think you are right.

Love you- and I asked because I may be staying in DC tomorrow to catch a 5 am flight so I can get my car. Bah.

I would call, but my phone is being hormonal. It will not make calls, it wont let me answer and! I cant get out of voicemail if I check my messages. Maybe it has been out-dated )HAH!

Hannah S said...

wow. So I got most of that. Well doing a one-on-one isn't so bad. My husband taught a class last semester that had 7 people enrolled (which is the least amount to keep the class) and about 4 showed up regularly. But by the end of the semester only 1 girl came every class period. She got the ultimate tutoring experience. Needless to say, many of those 6 other students failed the course. BUT he got paid! so he was happy.