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Ramblings On Teaching November 29, 2006

Posted by fajita in Family Science.

Teaching could be considered to be the art and science of knowledge and skill transfer. It is really an interesting thing to consider that knowledge or an ability could expand from one person to another. I am of the belief that the relationship between the student and the teacher is the best (or worst) means by which this transfer happens.

 This is not to say a teacher with natural relationship skills can skate by or that a teacher with challenged relational skills can’t teach anyone. No, what i am saying is that the teacher’s teaching strategy is himself or herself. The teacher’s use of self is going to be the most real thing the students ever get.

Sure, technology is important and I believe becoming an essential part of the teaching process, but the reason that there is no replacement for a good teacher is that the internet does not care about students. The internet cannot connect with students on an emotional level. Yes, there are certain emotions various sites or programs that can be run on the internet can touch, but evoking an emotion and connecting emotionally in a relationship are apples and oranges. The internet will not remember that emotion, a good teacher will.

Technology cannot invest in a student. Only teacher’s can do that. Technology is a tool, a relationship is a generative and developing process of social integration that contains the kind of depth that can generate security, confidence, and trust.

One way in which the teacher uses himself or herself best is by de-centering a little from the roel of container fo all knowledge. Yes, the teacher needs to sort of be the expert on the subject, but he or she does not need to be uthoritarian with that status. In fact sheeding the status without shedding the knowledge or skill is critical for good teaching. When the teacher enters the learning process as not only a teacher, but a teacher who still has something to learn, then the student can feel confident that we are doing this thing, this learning thing, together. It resolves some feeligs of knowledge and skill isolation and inferiority.

Granted, some course content lends itself to expert and novice roles, but much or it does not. And even in those cases when it does, the kind of comfort a good teacher can give to a student through connection is crucial.

Teachers who have found their teaching voice know that they can speak it fluently and are eager to develop it in depth and breadth. And when the teacher speaks in his or her own voice, it is more likely that the students will make sense of it. However, when the teacher is trying to speak in someone else’s voice, something is lost in translation.

Any teachers or students out there want to chime in?


A Call For The End Of Feminism November 26, 2006

Posted by fajita in Family Science, Philosophy/Religion.

A Call For The End of Feminism


It’s time. Feminism has had a good run of it and has made its mark on history. Nice work; applause all around. But the time has come when the term has simply run its course. Anymore and it runs the risk overplaying its hand, if it has not done so already. So, this essay is a call for the end of feminism. The rationale for such a call, especially at this time, takes into consideration the historical and contemporary context of feminism and the prospects of the future as context as well.


Feminism was started by women. Although this fact might shock many, the term itself, feminism, indicates a gendered leaning to the thinking associated with the term. Of course there is nothing wrong with a leaning or even a biasT that is not the problem with feminism. The problem is that even though it began by women, about women, and for women, the scope of the movement has transcended itself and is so pervasive beyond gender that the need to hold on to the label seems almost laughable.


Feminism has found such success throughout so many of the sciences and has mainstreamed so well with the philosophical shift from modernism to postmodernism that the name itself betrays the essence of what it is. Feminism is a movement to include more than just men in whatever conversation is going on. That is terrific. Women have been second class forever and need not be anymore. However, in order to keep the term feminism relevant, it requires women to be subservient to men. What I mean by that (as I am ducking and dodging some pretty terrific rhetoric) is that once women have enough power that they no longer are a power minority, then the term feminism is no longer inclusive. To be a power minority and a feminist is fine, but once enough power or most power is assumed, then it is tyrrancical. It is in turn exclusive in out-grouping men. The philosophy and theories might not be exclusive, but the term itself is. It is hopelessly gendered. Gender-bias plus power creates the exact opposite effect that feminism was intended to create in the first place.  


Furthermore, there are many men who would and already do in many ways live by and employ the beliefs espoused by feminism, but would not be caught dead being called a feminist. Why? Maybe it’s homophobia and maybe it’s misogyny, fine, there’s a few men who fall into those categories. But I think most men are more practical than that. They are not women. Period. End of discussion. How can a man be a feminist? The very fact such a question can be asked and would have to take a super long time to answer for the average man means that the term is poorly suited toward inclusion. A movement meant to include people should not have a label that immediately appears to exclude half of the people who exist.


Feminism is a victim of its own success. It makes so much sense and serves more people better than many other philosophies and theories that its limiting name needs an overhaul. I think it deserves its place in history and should always be referred to historically as feminism. But I think that a new name should come in and help to accelerate the advancement of the ideas, values, and principles that already exist under the name feminism. Perhaps one day people will say something like this: “de-centering theory, with its roots in feminism, actively deconstructs centers of power toward the end of a better global good…” or something like that.


OK, I have more to say, but I think that the point is clear. The theories and philosophies are good, but the name is a relic.


What do you think?

Great Christmas Gift Ideas November 25, 2006

Posted by fajita in General.

The average household in America will spend nearly $800 on Christmas gifts this year. Now, I know that readers of my blog are not influenced by the rampant consumerism the rest of America and much of the industrialized world is, but I do know that you will buy or make presents for the people you love.

At the same time, there are millions of people who would love to have a goat for Christmas because they need the milk. Christmas means nothing to millions of people in terms of gifts because poverty is so pervasive. So, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make the effort to use some of your $800 Christmas allotment toward the end of helping people who have nothing.

Here are some great Christmas gift ideas for various price ranges:

For $14 you could buy a wheel chair.

For $32 you could buy educational support for one child.

For $75 you could buy a goat.

And for you super thrifty shoppers who like to get real bang for the buck, there is this:

For $25 you can get $300 worth of necessities for a child.

If you got a lot of extra cash, click here for donkey, here for pig, or here for oxen and plow.

AND, if you are a MONEY IS NO OBJECT kind of person, buy a school or health clinic.

“Adopted Children Badly Informed” – BBC November 24, 2006

Posted by fajita in Adoption.
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Click here to read the BBC article.

Is Thanksgiving A Religious Holiday? November 23, 2006

Posted by fajita in General.
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I think we all know Thanksgiving to be an American holiday. It is also perhaps one of our purist holidays as well. Although it serves as the launching pad for the consumer-obsessed Christmas holiday, Thanksgiving itself is not overly commercial.

But is it religious in nature? Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and even Valentine’s Day have their origins in Christianity. Chanukah and Ramadan are religious as well. Kwanzaa is not itself born of a certain religion, however, faith is one of its main principles. One would argue if there is no faith there is no Kwanzaa.

Non religiouis holidays like Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day clearly have their roots in American nationalism, patriotism, and so forth. We could throw Labor Day in ther as well. MLK Day is unique in that it is a civil rights holidays, but the very figure of the holiday was a pastor. So, MLK Day is and is not religious.

But what about Thanksgiving? We know it is American, but is it religious?

Congregation of One November 19, 2006

Posted by fajita in Christianity, Philosophy/Religion.

Jeff Arnett studies what is called emerging adulthood, the age group from 18-25 who are mostly single and getting educated in college. Arnett’s study on emerging adult and religious beliefs is interesting, but not exactly shocking.

In short, emerging adults are not likely to swallow whole their parent’s religion. Furthermore, their is a sort of religious integration (syncretism) going on with this crew. They might be Christian, but that doesn’t keep some of them from believing in reincarnation and other eastern religious beliefs. They are not likely to have a strong or any allegiance worth noting to denominations and institutions (Mormons are going to be an exception here).

Interestingly enough, though, even though their religious practice on a corporate level is low, they do maintain that they are in some ways connected and still religious. So, they have not lost their religion so much as they have set it aside, perhaps in order to accomplish some other tasks – graduating from college and getting married.

Arnett’s study shows a big difference between married and non-married emerging adults. When the tasks of college graduation and marriage (having kids might be thrown in there) are accomplished, then religion seems to reappear from the back burner. However, it’s not the old time religion they are returning to, but rather a more losely affiliated and individualized religion. In fact, their personal religious faith and their corporate religious participation may be very different and at the same time pose no sense of dissonance. In a sense, they are a congregation of one.

Let this inform ministers and parents alike. There are powerful factors acting on the religious faith of adolescents who are moving into adulthood – and it’s not necesssarily that they are going to Hell in a handbasket. They are accomplishing some tasks required by our society. At the same time, the coherence of their faith is strained in many regards.

It could be that these emerigng churches who seem to do well with ambiguity and exploration might be a good home for these emerging adults. Comments?

American Politics: An exersice in nots November 19, 2006

Posted by fajita in politics.

The Republicans got a beating a couple weeks ago. The Democrats took over congress. Americans voted against Bush, I think that it is clear. As happy as Democrats are with the election results, they are in real trouble now.

Why? Well, I think they had more power when they had no power. Huh? The only energy they have is “not Bush.” That can get you an election, but only one. When they had no power, they could gripe relentlessly about it and no one cares if they don’t get anything done because they have no power.

Well, now that they have power they had better produce something. Thing is, it is no real accomplishment to prove that you are not Bush. If Dems are a one trick pony and that trick is the not Bush trick, they are going to have a real hard 2 years as a pointless majority.

I hope the Democrats come up with something so attractive that the people who voted for them will be glad they did. They have already gotten all of the “not Bush” mileage they can get. From this point out, they need to have some actual ideas. What they risk is generalized voter discontent. If the voters see notihng from dems, they won’t stick with them.

The temptation for dems is going to be to go back to what dems have done in the past. Voters didn’t for for what Democrats have done in the past, they voted for “not Bush.” The dems must be innovative, creative, and intriguing. If they are not, if they are viewed as the old democrats, they will lose big in 2008 because Bush is gone no matter what. They’ve 2 years to work wonders. If they haven’t fixed anything in 2 years, they’re done. 2 years is no a long time to fix anything.

Well, that is probably all I am going to say about politics for the next two years.

Late cocoon stage November 17, 2006

Posted by fajita in family, Family Science.

The transition to doctoral studies has been more challenging than I first believed it would be. As of yet, I do not believe that real me has been allowed to come out. What I mean by that is that I have been surviving and scoping the territory.

It takes a lot of energy to make a transition. It takes a lot more energy to make a transition with a family with young children. There are housing issues, schooling issues, the making of new friends, finding a decent grocery store, auto mechanic, and where is the free wi-fi (Panera and Breuggers)? So, with these and a million other changes, survival is the name of the game.

Secondly, I have to be comfortable with my surroundings in order for the very best of me to emerge. This has always been the case. The faster I can “own” my area the faster the very best of me will be allowed to walk that turf. If I cannot get my grip, then I function, but do not take the kind of necessary risks that are needed. I go into safe mode. Safe mode never works. Why? It’s not genuine or authentic. It gets me by, but over the long haul, it’s no good. It’s not creative, innovative, or intuitive.

The best of me takes risks, fails forward, creates, and is pretty darn funny. The best of me is not all too concerned about impressing anyone because that will happen or it won’t. The self-protective me is in many ways the opposite of my true me.

So, I hereby declare that it is time for me to be unleashed upon my new environment. I have been here long enough and I need to give this place a taste of who I really am.

Now, if I can just find a way to bust out of this cocoon.

Religion is not immunity November 15, 2006

Posted by fajita in Philosophy/Religion.

When religious people are so cock sure their religion makes them immune from, well, just about anything, they set themselves up for personal disappointment and public disgrace. Furthermore, they set up a situation of spiritual perfectionism whereby dishonesty becomes a necessary ingredient in order to perpetuate the notion of spiritual immunity. When a kind of spiritual immunity is communicated or asserted, then the discrediting that goes on when someone screws up (Haggard) is huge. When religion is oversold, it is always bad – eventually.

As a Christian, I really need to watch out for this. Why? The history of my religion has some dark spots. I have some dark spots. For all of the good Christianity has done over the years, the advancements in literacy, education, health – there is no need to to oversell. In fact, there is no need to sell anything. Just be.

Many Christian groups progamatize and institutionalize certain promises into consumables toward the end of immunity against depression, poverty, stress, weight loss, discontent, immunity to sin, thisthatandtheotherthing. Yes, healthy religious and spiritual life can bring a lot of good things, but are these things what Christianity is all about?

What about self-transcedance? What about self-confrontation? What about sacrifice? What about the discipline of finding the pathways of joy through giving oneself away? What about humility?

Religion is not about immnuity. It is not about being the strongest. It is not about being the best. It is not about market share and beating out the other religions.

Stewardship: Finding My Butt With Both Hands November 13, 2006

Posted by fajita in General.

My father was known to say, “You couldn’t find you butt with both hands.” It was his description of someone (me) who was having a hard time figuring out what was going on in his context.

I am in doctoral studies – first semester. The speed of education at the doctoral level is lightning. I feel like I have been playing catch up for 2.5 months. At the same time, I love it.

I read a blog of a colleague of mine which mentioned that a PhD is a steward of his or her discipline. It gave me a thoughtful pause. There is a sense of responsibility in stewardship that goes beyond mere survival. In a sense, my field is counting on me to do well. Why? Because the field, even if in a small sense, is in my hands.  

Now, to you. What are you a steward of? What is counting on you to do well? Job? Family? Church? Clients?

Thinking about being a steward of something other than possessions and money is wonderful way to conceptualize responsibility. It requires effort, humility, and innovation. I can’t afford not to find my butt with both hands.