Tag Archives: Teaching

You Are Time

Imagine you know you’re part of an army but you don’t know who your allies are. You know you’ve got enemies, but you don’t exactly know who they are. For all you know, they’re invisible. They’re often smarter than you, and they’re masters of trickery. It’s dark, you’re tired, and you know your side is losing. You start to wonder if resistance is futile. Eventually it really starts to seem that way. Then something drastically changes. Defeat seems inevitable until a new ally suddenly appears. He fights valiantly and he teaches you his ways. He heals your allies and defeats innumerable enemies.

Then, once again, something changes. He warns that it is only a matter of time before his death, but your victory. He is captured, tortured, and killed, and you are forced to fall back, but miraculously, just days later, he is alive and your enemies vanquished. He was right, and he celebrates your victory with you because now that enemy you faced is conquered for good. He eventually says that he has to go, but he will send his spirit so he can always love you and guide you and help you, and he keeps his promise.

Centuries go by until it seems that the whole world knows him, or appears to know of him. He is glorified in acts of heroism that mirror his own. He is honored in acts of love and goodness. Fantastic works of af art are created by those who love him still. You find, nonetheless, that things inevitably change. Slowly but surely, in many places he is forgotten; in many places is made into a laughing stock; even his very name is dishonored, thrown into the mire of language with unutterable words.

And you ask, “what does it matter? What is a name?” A name is how you are known. You are known by your name as a writer or a thinker or a worker or a finder, or something else that makes you who you are. He is a hero, still here, still living, and his very identity is used as a curse. His name has weight; it is precious.

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Kids And Stories

Last week my year with the fourth grade CCD kids ended. On Sunday I’ll be finished with the high school Freshmen. I think the break will be nice. This was my first time teaching younger kids, and next year I want to have a better idea of how to manage things, so I’ll take a couple of days, or maybe a week or so this spring or summer to figure out a good plan. I’ll be teaching the fourth graders again next year, and I’ll also be teaching fifth grade, so I might have some of the same kids. I’ve decided to move on to tenth grade, too, partly because my cousin will be in tenth grade, and I think I’m his confirmation sponsor. Honestly, I forget if that’s what we’ve all decided.

A couple of days ago a little boy and his friends across the street saw me coming home from my CCD lesson, so I went over to say “Hi.” I don’t know how it came to it, but we ended up talking about an imaginary world my friends and I invented when we were in middle school. We didn’t have time to “go there” on Wednesday, but I promised them I’d come back over as soon as I could and we’d build a fairy house so the fairies could take us there. So today I spent about an hour playing in an imaginary world that I haven’t visited in nearly ten years.

It was an odd experience because their idea of Mythic Island is not what my idea of Mythic Island was. Granted, my friends and I had six years on these kids when we came up with the idea, but it’s like I’m blind there now. It’s sort of disorienting. It’s not that my imagination’s going. I can proudly say that I have more imagination than most people can handle. I guess maybe part of the issue is that when we were there, there was a wolf demon to contend with. Part of it, too, is that these kids don’t understand that co-mingling stories is a bad idea, and they want to bring Star Wars into it. The writer in me cringes at the thought.

Anyway, all that aside, we had fun. We ran around, found some dragon eggs, and I told them some stuff about magic I made up off the top of my head. The weather should be nice this weekend, so they’ll probably want to play some more. I’m hoping this doesn’t become an every-day thing, though, because I’m going to get nothing done. At the same time, having to come up with stories and ideas for these kids on the fly might prove to be helpful in coming up with stuff for my Mythology.

Speaking of which, This past week, I finished one story, and am getting a lot done on another one. The one I’m working on now is pretty dark, but certainly not as dark as the next one I’m going to do. I’m realizing that several of my stories are darker than I had originally thought they were going to be. It seems like a lot of mythology is like that. Still, I’m going to try and find ways to get some happier stuff in there, and some of my darker stories do have happy, or somewhat happy endings.

The kid who I was playing with earlier and his mom actually watched my bird while my family and I were in Florida last month. His mom is friends with my mom, and she told my mom earlier that her son keeps asking her for “bear stories” every night, and it drives her crazy because she feels like she’s not very creative. Stories have always come fairly easily to me. Sometimes I get a little stuck, but something always comes along. I’m not sure what it is.

Life would be so boring without stories. When I was a kid I wanted to be anywhere but the real world. I feel differently about that now. The worlds of my favorite stories are a lot scarier than the real world. Harry Potter has to deal with Voldemort almost constantly. Frodo has to deal with the Ring of Power and the Eye of Sauron constantly. The Jedi have to deal with the power of the Empire and then the First Order, and the overwhelming power of the Dark Side.

Granted, we probably have some pretty freaky stuff going on in our world that we don’t even know about, not to mention the spiritual warfare that’s often hard to see. The thing about those other stories though, is they don’t have God in them–not just a god, but the God. They don’t have the God-who-is-Love who’s got our back no matter what; who’s willing to go as far as to die for all of us. I’ve thought about that a lot as a writer. Every time I start to think I’d rather be anywhere else but the real world because something bad happened or I might have more control, or something, I realize, “Yeah, but in that other world I wouldn’t have God.”

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Day 3

I’ve had an interesting day so far. It technically started before the sun came up. I couldn’t sleep last night, so I lay in bed and made up a weird story for an hour and a half or so. It wasn’t bad for bored-at-two-in-the-morning. I remember a lot of it, but I don’t think I’ll bother writing it down. I think it’ll be my secret insomnia story.

I got up around 10:15 because I was supposed to come up with the lesson plan for today’s CCD class yesterday, which doesn’t take long, but I forgot, so I needed to have time to do that plus eat lunch. That all got done and the lesson itself went swimmingly, although I think I occasionally get a little too complicated for my nine-year-old students. When I was a kid I hated CCD. It wasn’t taught well. I just want them to know Jesus. I definitely didn’t know him when I was a kid.

After my lesson I came home and assessed my mosaic. My dad and I got a lot done last night, and I realized I just need to glue one more design piece down before starting on the background, which is going to be all black tiles. It was cool to realize that I now know how to complete the puzzle. We ended up talking a bit about mosaics in class today because, surprisingly, most of the kids didn’t know what they were. One of the kids asked me what mine looks like. I told him it currently looks like a mess.

I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do mosaic things, though, because I had to get upstairs before Kathy came over. She was super nice and cool and kind of reminded me of our family friend who lives in Florida. What she told me was so reassuring. I, Katie Curtis, can become a consecrated virgin. I still have a lot of thinking to do, but I’m pretty sure this is exactly what I want, and there’s nothing getting in my way that I can see. She said the next thing I should do is read a document on this vocation that’s provided online and meet with the director of vocations in Boston.

The most helpful thing she said, though was that, while I’m working through all of this, I can say that I’m dating Jesus. It sounds weird, but I’ve been wanting to be able to say that for a long time. I’ve loved him for a long time in a way that has felt more than friendship, and I haven’t known what to call it. It was just this weird in-between thing. I think I’m right. Everything is telling me that I’m right. It’s kind of ridiculous. Right now I’m listening to very weird music that I’m not sure I even really like, and I haven’t got anything done on my Mythology today, but I don’t even care. I’m in a stupidly good mood.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Give Him A Chance

It’s getting cooler around here. The fall colors are slowly coming out. I’m savoring the last few weeks of warmth in the air while I can. Usually, come November, it gets too cold for me to wander around outside much. Today I took a wander and my friend’s mom and his dog were outside. For whatever reason, his dog practically worships me. I don’t get it. She’s old, and has very bad arthritis, and apparently I’m one of the very few people she’ll even get up for. I feel bad. I suspect she’s coming to the end of her rope.

I hadn’t intended to, but I ended up talking to his mom for quite a while. I’m teaching three CCD classes this year, and she suggested I consider teaching as a career option. Truthfully, I’m better at it than I thought I’d be. This is my third year doing it. One of my classes is fourth grade. I’m realizing it’s hard to translate a lot of what Jesus taught into kid language, but the experience is teaching me stuff, too. I could be a teacher. I’d prefer to teach high school, though. The thing is, becoming a CCD teacher was initially a spur-of-the-moment decision, and then I discovered that I’m fairly good at it. I would have to get certified as a teacher, and I just don’t know what’s involved. I don’t want to go back to school–at least not yet.

After I left there I called my grandmother just to talk. When we hung up, I headed for home. Before all this, though, my mom and I had taken one of our neighbors out to lunch. Without saying too much, she has some serious mental health problems, and isn’t exactly well liked. She’s a perfectly lovely person, but she’s very strange. She was telling us about some of her problems and I said, “I don’t mean to be pushy, but you could try praying about some of this stuff. I know from experience that God is a very powerful friend.” After I hung up with my grandmother this conversation came back to me. I thought, “I just wish people would give you a chance, God.”

That gave me two ideas. I don’t know a lot about “safe spaces” and the problems and arguments they may or may not cause, but the point is, they’re supposed to be “all inclusive.” Everyone is supposed to be welcome, at least from what I understand, and that led me to wonder if, for one thing, Catholics are welcome in those spaces and, for another, if God is welcome. The other thing I thought of is an analogy. I do think of God as a very powerful friend. He’s like a very influential friend who has a lot of power, but likes to do things behind the scenes. People kind of know who he is, but they’ve made up all kinds of gossip about him and his friends, so they don’t invite him to their parties, even if his friends are invited. I just want people to give my friend a chance to show them that he’s not the freakozoid that people say he is. Really he’s a very nice, creative, helpful, loving person.

Kind Of Like Eating Vegetables

I’m discovering that I have to approach a lot of things kind of like eating vegetables, even if they’re things I want to do. There’s a part of me that sincerely just wants to do nothing, and I mean NOTHING. There’s a part of me that just wants to lie in bed all day and think about random stuff without worrying about anything. I guess everyone’s probably got that part of them.

I’ve finally got back into a consistent writing routine. I write a minimum of half an hour every day whether I want to or not. There are some days where I feel like a literary genius, and there are days where I feel utterly uninspired. I do it because I want to finish my book and see what happens, but I also do it because I need structure in my life, and because it’s good for me. I’ve also been a lot better about reading the Bible, and I approach it in a similar way. I started a reading plan that splits the whole Bible up into daily reading assignments. I’m actually ahead of where I’m supposed to be because I read a minimum of one assigned reading every day whether I want to or not.

Honestly, things have been going pretty darn well lately. I’ve been writing more (either blogging or working on my novel), I’ve been reading more, and I’ve been praying more. The best thing that’s happened recently, though is that last night, my friend and a couple of her friends came over so the four of us could plan a prayer/service group that’s going to meet once per week. We already have several things planned, and I think this is going to go really well. We even have a meeting tomorrow with a social worker who’s connected to a homeless shelter to talk about one of our ideas.

I’m really loving teaching religious ed at my church this year, too. There’s a girl in my class who really actually seems to be interested and genuinely wants to have a serious spiritual life. She asks good questions and really tries hard to come up with good answers to our discussion questions. Our last class was about the importance of going to mass, and what the Eucharist actually means. I like going to church, but of course, there are days that I just don’t want to.

What I’m coming to realize is that I have to approach everything, even things I like doing, like eating vegetables sometimes. Sometimes I think a part of me just wants to be isolated and hide, partly because a lot of the things I like doing also take me outside of my comfort zone. I’m also coming to realize that a part of me doesn’t think I’m going to succeed at this stuff, so I have to force myself to do it.

My prayer group is already forcing me to do things that I’m not sure I know how to do or that I’m not sure I’m good at, but they’re also a really supportive bunch of girls. I’m feeling really optimistic about this. For the longest time I’ve been trying to find a community to belong to. I’ve been trying even just to find Christian friends. Periodically, I’ve given up and resigned myself to the fact that this might never happen. Might. I’ve been called an insufferable optimist, but I’m also a realist. The fact of the matter is that I was looking in the wrong places. I’ve known the friend I started this group with for several years, and I’ve known she was Christian for quite a long time. It just never occurred to me to suggest this to her. When I first met her, she didn’t seem that into the whole spirituality thing, and after a while she switched churches. I think that did it for her because now she’s really involved with her church and volunteers all the time. I like to think maybe God was getting us both ready, but that’s partly because I think I was probably just being dumb for a while. Maybe it’s both. Anyway, I’m really looking forward to some of the stuff we’re going to do, and hopefully it doesn’t have to be like eating vegetables.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Truth Is A Paradox

I think it has become culturally unacceptable to say that one particular philosophy or belief system is true. It’s hard when you, in fact, believe in absolute truth. Even believing in absolute truth, to some people, is offensive. Some people construe disagreement as imposition (i.e they feel that you are trying to impose your beliefs on them). Then there are the people who feel they absolutely have to impose their truth on everyone at all costs.

We all have our truths, and each of us believes that our truth is absolute truth. Truth is paradoxical because it is both fluid and rigid. People who once believed something can eventually come to believe drastically different things are necessarily true. Some people go through their entire lives without feeling like anything is necessarily true. Some truths change with history. Even when we feel strongly about our truth, our perspective can change, and often does.

It’s hard to know what to do when, on the one hand, we feel that it’s important to talk about our truth, and on the other hand, we don’t want to offend anyone. It’s hard to accept that, no matter what I do, someone will be offended. Even on a less drastic level, it’s hard to express how important my truth is when people simply don’t believe the same things I do. How am I supposed to explain how important it is to you unless you already know what I’m talking about? If you don’t believe my truth, you’ll never understand why it’s important. I can’t tell you that my truth is the most important because you believe your truth (or freedom to have no truth) is the most important.

The most important thing is to be respectful and creative. There is a difference between imposing your truth and teaching your truth. There are people who are searching, and they will seek you out. It’s also important to give your perspective when it is not represented, but only if it, as well as the views of everyone else, will be respectfully considered. If you cannot or will not allow your truth to be questioned, then stay away from places where different truths are allowed to coexist and at times, do battle.

I believe in one absolute truth. I would love nothing more than for you to believe in my truth, too, but if you don’t that’s okay. I still want to be your friend. I will still talk philosophy with you. I will still talk truth with you. I will still beat you at old video games.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Why Kids Hate Religious Education

I’ve been teaching CCD (Christian Child Development) for the past 2 months or so. The kids have a class about once every three weeks, and it’s been difficult to get them engaged and get them to like me. You might say that it doesn’t matter if they like me; it only matters if they’re absorbing the information. That tends to be the philosophy of a lot of teachers, at least from my experience, but it doesn’t work.

I had sucky math teachers in high school, which is the biggest reason that I suck at math. They all assumed that we were instinctively good at it, and they taught that way. They looked down on the students who clearly were not getting it, and it made me hate them and hate math. The exception was my trigonometry teacher. I took trig in my senior year of high school even though I didn’t have to because I thought it would look good on my college resume if I did well. It happened to be the one of the best high school classes I ever took. Our teacher liked us, and we liked him, even though some of us really struggled with math. We all ended up doing so well that he didn’t give us a final. He often taught things other than math as well. He taught us self worth, perseverance, kindness, and in some ways, love. Sometimes we would spend half a class not talking about math in any way what so ever, but it helped. It all helped.

So how does this apply to religious education? From my experience, the administration at our church looks down on teenagers. They act like 14 is the new 8, which is actually really bad, since at 14, a lot of people want to be thought of as adults. Because of this, the kids act out, or don’t engage at all. One of my co conspirators–err, teachers, acts exactly like many of my high school math teachers, from what I’ve heard. She says she teaches with rules. She will be taking none of their unruly shenanigans, and because of this, her classes tend to be very well behaved. They get through all of the material, and everything is hunky dory.

And you know what? Maybe it works. Maybe her students are engaged, and maybe they do grow in their love of Christ, but from my experience, this kind of teaching doesn’t work. Again, this is super subjective because I’m going off of my own experience. However, the point is, that I don’t teach that way. I let my students get distracted. I engage in their conversations, I use naughty language in class, and I let them know that we are equal and this is, or at least should be, a fun, safe place. I want to get to know my students, and I want them to get to know me. I want them to know that I think of them as people, not just as kids. I let them talk about their talents, and I talk about mine. I constantly remind them that all this is about is love. I want them to get to know love–of neighbor and self; of so called enemies, and of God.

Another problem I’ve run into is that some teachers assume that everyone at least believes in some idea of God. They don’t acknowledge the skeptical ones at all, and the fact of the matter is, that not everyone in CCD believes. Almost no one wants to be there. On the first day I had my students go around and say why they were there. Maybe peer pressure had something to do with it, but the unanimous answer was “my parents are making me.” I let them know that I get it. That was my answer to. I let them know that being skeptical is okay, and that I’m going to try and persuade them otherwise, but I’m never going to tell them that they have to believe anything. Faith is between them and God.

I decided to teach CCD in the hope that I could be helpful. If I can convince one kid that God is real and that Jesus loves them, I will be a happy camper. If I can’t, I want them to know that that’s fine, too.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Plans For Teaching Songwriting

I started writing my plans for teaching a songwriting class today. My teacher hasn’t officially given me the “ok, we’re going to do this,” but I plan on pestering him. He’s given one of the other teachers who works at the studio the ok to start a sort of “side project” that’s backed by the studio, and he said that if Kue takes care of it, he will give him the space and whatever that he needs. I figure if I just take control of this project he might let me do it no problem. I just need to figure out how to get the word out there. I figured putting my initial idea on my blog is one way. Once I have a more definite plan he’ll probably let me put it on the studio’s blog. http://alphaoms.com/blog/

If we decide that we’re definitely doing this, Ken will shoot out an email to all the current clients of the studio. We’ll also have to figure out other ways of spreading the word to peeps who currently don’t go to the studio.

I have a few different ideas of how I’m actually going to teach the class. I want to teach it in two different sections, “basic” and “advanced.” The “basic” class will be for people who have little or no experience with music. The other class will be for people who can play music but maybe have never written any original material. That way the groups could stay smaller and everyone will be on the same-ish page. I will also be able to start in different places for the two groups, which will be good. I may or may not bother with music theory in either group because it’s kind of boring, but I’ve found it helpful and depending on where people are at I might teach a little bit in the “advanced” group. I will definitely work on singing more with the “basic” group since it’s more likely that their voices will be their only instruments.

I’m thinking these two classes will be geared towards the general populous, but we were also thinking about doing something for stay-at-home parents, seniors or other more specific groups. I would prefer to do the less specific classes, but one idea I had was to do a program once a week for X number of weeks and have that be the all inclusive one, and then the “old people” classes could be a once a week thing.

Toying

It’s Wednesday. I got up early partly so I could get some homework done, but partly so I could write something on my blog and read a little. I discovered William’s blog after I got an email telling me that he had read my blog. Of course we ended up talking about God, since that’s kind of all I do nowadays, or so it seems. I was kind of laughing last night because I go to a Christian school and yet I can’t seem to make Christian friends. I’m sure God has a hand in that. Many things that He does in my life are ironic. It is impossible to refute that God has a good sense of humor. Just ask the platypus.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a pastor. On Monday night I stayed up a little later than I should have and did a little more research into what that entails. Well, it sounds like a heck of a lot of work. I think I’m up to it, though. It sounds like pastors do a lot of counseling and things like that. I actually kind of laughed when I read that because when I was a sophomore in high school, I had thought about becoming a counselor, but I really didn’t feel like going through all the work of getting a psych degree. I’m sure going through Seminary is no cake-walk, but at least I won’t have to deal with neuroscience (most likely). That’s actually why I decided not to be a psych major (at least part of the reason). I think very abstractly, so science and math tend to confuse me (although I did pretty well with Chemistry in high school). I guess that’s why things like Theology and Philosophy interest me so much. Not to mention the fact that I just like to argue sometimes.

What’s odd is that I can totally see myself as a pastor, but at the same time I so totally can not. One thing that’s holding me back from totally loving the idea is that it seems like being really nice is a kind of prerequisite. Maybe I’m generalizing, but my thinking is that maybe I’m just not nice enough. That’s not to say that I think I’m a mean person. I’m awfully mellow, but I’m also kind of obnoxious in that I will tell you exactly what is on my mind. I’m not exactly subtle sometimes. In some situations I can tend to talk without thinking. This just seems like something I would need to be more careful of if I became a pastor.

Another problem that I’m a little more worried about is that I’m a little unorthodox in my beliefs. I’m sure there are like-minded people out there, but they might be a little harder to find than the average protestant Christian. The other thing is that I think there are certain people in my largely Catholic family who wouldn’t exactly love the idea. Trust me, if I could be ordained in the Catholic Church I’d go for it, but since I can’t I’d have to go somewhere else. I’m thinking I’d go to a nondenominational church. That seems like safe-ish territory.

Of course I say I’m only toying with the idea and then I go off on a tangent. If anyone has any advice or insight, please leave comments! That would be super helpful! Thanks in advance!

New Ideas On The Radar

I’ve never really paid too much attention to statistics. I don’t like math in the fist place, and I’m a bit competitive, so when I see that the odds are against me for whatever reason, I decide to pick a fight with them.

I was doing some homework a couple days ago—or at least I was supposed to be doing homework, and I decided to look up the percentage of pastors who are women in various churches. I was actually surprised to find that a few different sites said only 10%. The reason I looked this up was because I’ve been trying to figure out what in the world I would like to do with my life.

I’m currently majoring in English at a Christian school, and quite honestly, I don’t entirely know what I want to do with it. I started working on a business idea with a couple cousins this past summer, that had to do with music and writing, and it seemed like a good idea, but college got in the way and we lost momentum. Now thinking about it, it seems the idea has lost a bit of appeal. Hopefully this winter we’ll pick up some momentum again over break, but we have a bit of a road block to overcome in the meantime. I may know how to fix the problem, but I don’t currently have time to experiment too much.

A few weeks ago my mother mentioned that one of her friends had said that she honestly thought I should be a pastor. At the time I laughed and dismissed the idea, but thinking about it, it might actually be a fitting role for me. I love people, I love being “on stage” so to speak, and I sincerely want to spread God’s message of love and redemption. In a way, I already have a little experience doing this. I write my own worship music, and I perform it at open mics. People generally like my stuff, and I’d like to think I’m at least subtly getting the message across.

Another reason I think I might want to do this is because of my friends. I have many friends who haven’t been saved, and I don’t entirely know how to sort of “get the point across” to them. For whatever reason I feel like it’s sort of my “job” to help them to get to know the Lord. I’m a bit afraid of doing it obnoxiously, though, so I’ve been trying to “lead by example,” if you will. Over the past couple years, my faith has grown exponentially (granted it was only really born a couple years ago), but I’m not sure that my friends see it. I guess I try to be subtle about it. I don’t want it to be this whole other “thing.” It’s just part of who I am.

The interesting thing is that I hadn’t even considered pastoring as an option until the other night. It hadn’t even been anywhere on my radar, but the more I think about it, the more appealing it seems. I’m still not entirely sure what to think, because the idea is a bit intimidating, but I also like it a fair amount more than any of my other career ideas so far. It may go nowhere, but we’ll see. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if this is what I end up doing.