MonthApril 2020

Survey Shows that Christians are Less Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

If there’s anything I’ve learned from reading and watching The Walking Dead it’s that the Zombie Apocalypse is filled with life-and-death moral decisions.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created conditions in which hospitals have had to make difficult decisions–life-and-death, moral decisions–about who gets a ventilator and who does not.

There are two ways to go in this.

Either you give them to the patients in the most need at the moment, or you give them to patients most likely to recover.   If you go the first route, more people will die, if you take the second path, you are denying treatment to people who need it.

A recent Pew Research Center discovered that religious people tend to say we should give the life-giving treatment to the people who need it most.  And the less religious folks lean toward the more utilitarian–give it to those most likely to recover.

Pew survey shows that Christians are less likely to survive the zombie apocalypse. Click To Tweet

When zombies lurch through our streets, the life-and-death, moral decisions increase–it’s like you need to make one every 20 minutes or so.

Zombie narratives are about these moral dilemmas.  Actually, they are about the difficulty and the necessity of making a practical decision–no matter how hard it is, and it’s usually agonizing.

The research by the Pew Research Center shows us that religious people will not necessarily take the practical path.  With the increase in the number of deadly decisions that need to be made during the zombie infestation, consistently taking the non-utilitarian route will result in the death of more people.

Would anything be gained by the less practical approach?  More people would likely die, but society would be built on the idea that those who are sick or old would receive the care that they need.   That foundation is worth considering.

Teaching in the Pandemic (3)

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

We’ve just completed the first week of school in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It went very well.  I think that the majority of students were ready for it and are happy to be connected to the school again. That’s my first observation.

A Few Observations

  1. I’m putting in just as much time I would have during normal school.   In order to have effective online schooling one needs to communicate with students and their parents.  Every Friday, we post the general outline of the objectives and activities for each of our classes.  This is very helpful for both parents and students, but it takes time to create it.  Most of my communication with individual students during normal operations would be a quick conversation before or after class.  Now I have to compose an email or a message.  Then there is the production of learning materials–I’m making videos and creating documents that would not be necessary if we were in the presence of each other.  A lot of this work is important, even when there isn’t a pandemic–now it’s essential.
  2. Students are, by and large, happy to be at school.  They’ve told me so.  They like having something to do besides watch TV, play video games and argue with their siblings.  The felt like they wanted to be “doing something productive.”  They like the connection to, not just friends, but acquaintances and even teachers.  I don’t think they necessarily appreciated what they have at school, despite the homework.
  3. We’ve shifted from content to competencies.   This is the direction that the government has been moving education so it might accelerate some teachers’ shift to the new paradigm. You can’t lecture very well in this mode of teaching; you can’t expect students to sit passively and learn content for a test, if for no other reason than the test is no longer secure.  In this learning environment, students can be more active, doing the work of learning, while the teachers provide feedback on their work and create resources for the next steps in developing essential competencies.  Active students learn more than passive students.
  4. Speaking of competencies.  Students are having to become more competent at producing, revising, communicating and collaborating in digital environments.  It’s amazing what kids have had to learn out of necessity.   Many of these skills will be necessary for future learning and careers.
  5. Students are learning more self-discipline.  At least, if they aren’t learning it, the effects will be significant.  I can tell when a student has arrived into the digital classroom, but once they are there, I can’t tell very well if they are engaged, or even if they are in the room.  I can assign work and tell them I expect them to be working on this for the next 30 minutes, but I can’t tell that they are.  If they need to knuckle down, it’s just their knuckles.  It’s up to them. Until now, many have been reliant on others to do that work.  I think this is great. Some have told me that this is hard–to be self-disciplined.
  6. From where I am sitting, student learning has not been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic at all.

 

Teaching in the Time of Pandemic (2)

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

I don’t think I’ve ever had a more relaxing spring break than this year.  We didn’t go anywhere, or do anything.  We left the house once a week trips to the grocery store. That’s it.  Consequently, it was the longest spring break I’ve ever experienced.  By the end, I was so relaxed.

Then came the week just past.

Teachers got the marching orders.  We got schedules for classes and the list of expectations.  We went to work researching, planning and creating resources.

I loved what I was doing.  One of my favourite things about being a teacher is linking content to students to skills, in other words, I like planning.  And then trying to figure out how to optimize the technology to do it.  So I happily dug into the work.

By Friday, I could barely stand.  My back was seized up from my hips to my neck.

I hadn’t really paid any attention to my body–my mind was completely engaged, and it expected the body to do it’s bit; it just couldn’t keep up.

Reflecting on it, it was a combination of stress and too much sitting at the computer.

But I have sat at the computer for days without these effects.  Just two weeks ago, my gaming buddies and I met online for our bi-annual Game Weekend LAN Party.  It was supposed to be in Seattle, but we cancelled of course–so we worked out a four-day schedule of gaming, and went at it.  By the end of it all, my back was the same as when we started–it was like jelly.

So I figure it’s not just sitting.  It must also be the stress.

And when I teach in “real life” there is some stress as well, but then I walk and stand all day long.  All last week, I just sat.

It would have been a good idea to get away from the computer this weekend, but that wasn’t possible.  So I sat in front of the computer for two more days.  I got up every once and a while and I think that helped.  I’ve been stretching some.  So it’s not as bad as it was.

Here I am, sitting at the computer, awaiting my first virtual class.

If you have any suggestions as to how to get the back loosened up, and then keep it that way.  Let me know.

 

Teaching and the Pandemic (1)

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

It’s six in the morning, and I’ve been working at the computer for the last two hours.  Covid-19 has changed our lives.  Even for those who aren’t sick, or don’t know anyone who is.  Some of this change is very difficult–people’s jobs and businesses are at risk.

My life is not changed so drastically.  But I wanted to write about how the coronavirus changed my teaching, and that story started this week.

Spring Break was extended a week in order to give teachers time to plan for remote teaching and learning.  It wasn’t until Monday morning, in the swirls of ever-changing edicts from the Ministry of Education, that we received our marching orders.

Our principal said that we are not going to turn into a school where isolated students perform fill-in-the-blank tasks to earn a grade; we will remain Abbotsford Christian School, we will just do that differently.  This means “engaging hearts, nurturing minds and shaping God’s world.”

So now we have to figure out how to do that with our students.  We need to have full class instruction, meaningful one-to-one conversations, and small group discussions.  We need to create opportunities for them to do as well as think.  This involves teachers learning new technologies with enough proficiency that we can teach students how to use them.

It involves a lot of clear communication with both parents and students.  Today I will send out an email to the students, and their parents, in each of my four classes, informing them of the plan for next week.  To write that letter, I need to know exactly what I am doing and how I am doing it.  A tall order.  I worked till 10 last night and woke up at 4 this morning to finish these letters.

Now that I know what I am doing, I will create the resources.  For me, this will be making instructional videos, documents, and assignments.  Thankfully, these don’t need to be done until Monday.  So that’s the plan for the weekend.

In the middle of all this, I received an email from a student who had turned in an assignment that was 3 weeks overdue.  They said, “I handed in my assignment yesterday and I was wondering why my mark still indicates it’s missing.”

I would have been able to get all this work done without getting up so early, but today is grocery day.  I used to go to the grocery store almost daily.  Now we don’t even go every week.  Shopping also now includes parents who are isolating themselves in their homes. Two weeks ago, this took half the day.

The rest of this school year will be a lot different than we expected–for me, it will mean a lot of time in front of the computer.  For my students too, I expect.  I am excited by this challenge.  And I am confident that, although my student’s social lives might take a bit of a beating, their education, and I use that term in a broad sense,  will not.

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