Archive for October, 2014

Teaching Math Without God at the Center

by Joleen Steffen, Secondary Math Teacher

“How does it feel to be in the classroom again?” is a question I have been asked countless times these past two months. My answer often includes comments about the energy the students bring to the class, the piles of papers to grade, or the new technology that teaching has embraced since the last time I was a classroom teacher.

Yet, as I ponder the question, what is exciting to me is the same thing that drew me to teaching in the first place: The opportunity to be able to help someone else appreciate the wonder of God’s creation of math.

I suppose I could teach the subject without mentioning God. I have taught in public schools and have had to do just that. But teaching math without God at the center would be showing the students that mathematical ideas work, but never being able to explain why they work. So, as I showed them the idea of order through performing addition and division and other operations, or the method to solving an equation, or the patterns displayed when you multiply or divide or square or cube, or the patterns of the trigonometric ratios, you could say man invented these ideas or that math itself is the cause for its own amazing attention to the order of things.

Teaching math without God at the center would mean that the numerous patterns that exist in the mathematical world, would just be a curious happenstance. So, the patterns established by the Fibonacci sequence that show up in nature, or the ways the digits in the multiples of 9 always add to multiples of 9, or how the numbers in Pascal’s Triangle display not only powers of 2 but also combinations and the coefficients of the binomial expansion theorem, would only be able to be taught as wondrous inventions of…nothing.

Without God at the center, relationships like whole minus part equals part, or how percents can be expressed as fractions which can be expressed as decimals, and how equations lead to lines, parabolas and circles, would be explained as facts that just happen to lead to one another. The relationships of how math concepts relate to other areas of life, such as occurrences in nature, like pi and the parabolic path of falling objects, and in music, like with tempo and rhythm, and in science, like with the balance of elements in chemical compounds, and in medicine, with heart rate and bone density, would be communicated with the idea that math is behind all of life, but no way to explain how that came about.

But teaching mathematics in its fullness addresses those unanswered questions. Math is a creation of God, and as such proclaims His order, His design, and His faithfulness. As Creator, He designed the relationships math has to all of life, from art and medicine to the planets and the entire universe. Math is not simply a wonder of number relationships, it is a reflection of relationship of the triune God.   As theologian and educator Rousas J. Rushdoony declared, “Mathematics is not the means of denying the idea of God’s pre-established world in order to play god and create our own cosmos, but rather is a means whereby we can think God’s thoughts after Him.”


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If Looks Could Kill

by Sarah Matlock, HCA Secondary Science Teacher

babySeveral years ago, Doug and I were visiting some family in Las Vegas, Nevada. Upon arrival, we stopped at a gas station for a fill-up. As I walked inside the store to pay, I held the door for a young mother and her child. As she walked by, I smiled at her. However, to my surprise, she gave me a look that would put even the scariest of Robert Di Nerodeniro faces to shame. Needless to say, I feared for my life and quickly averted direct-eye contact, tucked my tail and slowly backed away. I am pretty sure I almost died that day. Despite that close encounter, I was filled with gratitude for my friendly hometown where smiling at strangers is common and trust is broken, not earned. A smile is a truly unique action because it has the unprecedented ability to increase our health, and positively impact the very world around us.

smileyIt’s all in a smile. Since the 1980’s behavioral scientists have been studying the effects of smiling on the body and the mood. In 1984, an article published in the journal Science showed that when people imitate specific emotional expressions, their bodies produce psychological changes that actually reflect that emotion! In other words, smiles, whether forced or genuine, can essentially pump the body full of those good-feeling endorphins. This in-turn, can lower blood-pressure, relieve stress and anxiety, and promote happiness. On the contrary, frowning or scowling can have negative effects on a person’s mood, even if it is faked! So, the next time you feel sad, angry, lonely – or any other feeling that is simply not happy – try smiling. Make the choice to reflect happiness and the brain will easily follow suit.

A smile can save a life. A study was recently published in the journal Psychological Science that illustrated the power of a smile. This study revealed that smiling at strangers eases loneliness and feelings of ostracism. However, when a person is ignored or excluded, even by simply being overlooked, they feel worse about themselves and experience an over-all sour mood. I experienced this first-hand. While shopping at our local grocery store, I smiled at an elderly man who was disheveled and most likely homeless. He was so taken aback joyby my acknowledgement that he thanked me profusely – just because I smiled. (Don’t worry, I didn’t tell him that I only smiled because he terrified me and that was my natural reaction to an uncomfortable situation.) This experience taught me a valuable lesson in the importance of acknowledgement; people need to be seen. A small gesture can mean the world of difference in a single moment for that one person.

The Bible uses the word joy approximately 214 times. It is therefore no surprise that the simple act of smiling can bring joy to the world, as well as a sense of peace to oneself. Galatians 5:22 and part of 23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” and in verse 25 says, “since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit”. The very act of smiling serves to reflect the Holy Spirit living within us. So, at the end of the day, whether you do if for your own, personal health, or to acknowledge the existence of others, or to reflect the love and peace in Christ, just don’t forget to smile.

kidsmiling Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” These versus allow us to see the very nature of God

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The Courage to Ask

by Rhonda Howeth, Pre-K Teacher

Okay, I admit it. I am a “work junkie.” I’m not talking about being a workaholic. I like to know how things work. Shows like “Food Factory,” “How It Works,” and just about anything on HGTV or DIY Network are for people like me. I like to know what all is involved in a task, the nuts and bolts.

Recently, I am sure that if you had your TV on for any length of time, you have noticed all the political ads. While my husband seems to comment on every ad, whether he has seen it once or a dozen times, I can’t help but wonder what the people are like who do the voice-overs. What would it be like to have a conversation with him or her? Would that actor have a judgmental tone in his/her voice? Now that I am older, I don’t mind exploring deeper to try to find out more about the things I don’t know about. In order to do this, I ask questions. The questions may be asked to another person or posted as a question on my computer. However, it hasn’t always been this way.

Several years ago, while taking a class to further my education, I came across “Truth Signs.” These “signs” were sayings that could be posted in our classroom or emphasized by the teacher. One of the “Truth Signs” was:

“It’s intelligent to ask for help. No one need do it all alone.”

So many times, our students get caught in the trap of thinking that they should understand everything that the teacher teaches and therefore the student won’t ask questions. Questions for understanding, clarification, or even questions for more information about a topic helps your child know more. (I must add that it helps if the student is truly listening and not just goofing around and not listening to the teacher explaining an assignment). I recently gave a short survey to a variety of students and asked them if they are ever afraid to ask questions during class. Most of the students said that they were afraid to ask for help. The reason they wouldn’t ask for help wasn’t because they were afraid of their teacher, but because they were afraid the other students might think that they were dumb or stupid.

At Heritage Christian Academy, you are not alone and your child is not alone. We are all in this together. All of us are coming together to help the children at our school to become godly men and women that love God and love others. We want our students to ask for help! They don’t have to do it all alone. Encourage your child to be intelligent and ask for help! He or she doesn’t have to go it alone”

Incidentally, after election time is over and you are getting discouraged at all the commercialism of Christmas, you can go to the Mary Collins Agency to listen to your favorite political ad voice-over actor.

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Devotional Time with Jesus

by Miriam Balderson, HCA History Teacher

I would like to introduce you to my new favorite devotional, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. This diminutive book excels in presenting devotions with complimentary Bible verses for each day of the year. Ms. Young has chosen a first person point of view which allows her to assume the persona of Jesus. While this approach is viewed as “off-putting” by some readers, I find her approach quite comforting because a third party is not telling me what I need to do, or haven’t done, or ought to do.

This devotional provides a one or two paragraph encouragement with two or three supplementary Bible verses. When you are able to look at the verses, you will find that many of them are favorites probably already marked in your Bible! The selected verses mirror the thoughts presented for that day.

It is apparent that Young is blessed with a great insight into human nature for I have surprisingly found that her writing meets my desire for time with Jesus. The Lord calls us to trust him in all circumstances and in all things to be thankful. These themes permeate the devotional giving me a daily reminder that he loves me and is in control of my life.

One particular devotion I recall prompted me to rest in the Lord and listen to his voice. Setting aside this small amount of time to “do nothing” is actually a time to allow the Lord to strengthen and renew us for the trials and triumphs ahead. Once I get off of life’s treadmill of busy-ness to be still in his presence I am rewarded with time with the living God. His desire is to minister to me and he does when I yield to his call.

In mentioning that I use the devotional to open class, a parent exuberantly produced his phone and revealed that “Jesus Calling” was down loaded for easy access during passive moments throughout the day!

If you are looking for an efficient yet powerful way to bring the Lord more fully into your day, please pick up “Jesus Calling.” You will never want to hang up. Your outlook will be changed. You will find peace in his presence.

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