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Showing posts from May, 2014

being a better teacher

I spend a lot of time learning. As a result, I also spend quite a bit of time teaching what I am learning. It is a natural cycle, I believe. As one who teaches in many different settings (casual, formal, sacred and secular), I am frequently thinking about what is called a teaching philosophy. This is a statement which sets forth one's basic values, priorities, and methods for helping people to encounter, embrace, and hopefully embody something new. Most of my teaching philosophy operates at an unconscious level as I make choices based on my goals in a teaching/learning situation, but I regularly pause to consider questions such as which method will be most effective and what material do I present and what do I leave out. 

This week I came across a quote from biblical scholar Walter Brueggeman and it made me stop and think back on my experience to see if it was true. Good writing makes one do that. It also made me take another look at my teaching philosophy to see if I reflect the…

dance lesson

Dean and I have been taking swing dance lessons for a few years now. I must admit that I have a love/hate relationship with dancing. I like the physical activity, I like learning the moves, I like hanging out with Dean and meeting interesting people, and I love watching skilled people dance. Here are the parts I am not so fond of. First, taking dance lessons means dancing with a different person every 5 minutes or so; this is a bit socially awkward for an introvert, but I can deal with it. The second and biggest downside for me is that much of the time I feel like I just don't know what I am doing. Very often the leader I am dancing with will start a move or give me a signal and I will miss it. I won't know what to do next and I end up at odds with him, out of sync or facing the wrong direction. Honestly, much of the time I feel like a bad follower. This particular session our teachers focused on showing us how to be better followers. An exercise we did one evening was to try…

agree to disagree

I live in a pretty charged city. Opinions on hockey, politics, religion, and food are strong in Montreal. Last night the Canadiens (our city's hockey team) won a spot in the NHL semi-finals and Dean and I went downtown to witness the ensuing celebration; if you live here, you just know the fans are going to take to the streets and make a scene. Sure enough, the sidewalks were filled with fans wearing their bleu blanc rouge jerseys. People were driving around, hanging out of their windows, waving flags and cheering. People ran down the streets high-fiving every person they met (yep, I gave a few high fives myself). The noise was pretty deafening in certain parts of Ste-Catherine street where cars were honking and people were yelling in celebration of their team's hard-won victory.

The police and riot squads were out in full force, making sure that the traffic kept moving and nothing got out of hand. One Hummer, festooned in Canadiens flags, also sported a Boston Bruins dummy t…


I am at the stage in my doctoral studies where I am waiting to hear back from my supervisors before I embark on the next big writing phase. It's a sort of limbo; one thing is completed and I am waiting for the next thing to start. Hard to know what to do in limbo sometimes. In this period of waiting to hear from my supervisors, there is a lot of work I could be doing such as reading books and articles which pertain to my research, preparing an article or two for publication, setting up a research trip, and creating a syllabus for the course I am teaching next year (to name just a few projects). And yet, I find it hard to get motivated to do any of these important tasks. I would rather sit outside with the cat, read some fiction, research real estate, or even do laundry and wash dishes. Why is that? Am I just a procrastinator? Perhaps. But I also know that what I do during in-between times like this reveals something about my overall mental and spiritual state.

We actually spend q…