Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)
TITLE: Don't Slap the Ooblek
By Margaret Gass
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“I don’t care.” Those words, or some variation of them, appeared in over half of the papers she held in her hand. Her students seemed angry that they were being asked to consider what the Bible said about anything, including needing salvation, these days. “No one can tell us how to think.” Jennifer thought about how different these responses would have been just a year ago. What’s different, Lord?
On the way home, Jennifer thought about how much things had changed in the twenty-six years she had been teaching. She thought back to her own time in school, when she, as an un-churched young girl had read the “Golden Rule” on the walls of her classrooms, and sung “Father Abraham” and “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” in music class. Jennifer had attended public schools all her life, but she had never questioned that some things were right and some things were wrong. In fact, her confusion about Abraham and why the children were being sent had led to a ten-minute Bible lesson by the music teacher!
Jennifer smiled as she remembered some of the Bible lessons she had taught in church and in classes for home schooled children. At the time, her son Henry was just three. “Are we gonna blow something up, Mommy, or are we just gonna make a mess?” Valid questions, she knew, since Jennifer had made volcanoes in the kitchen sink and silly putty in the classroom! As she pulled into the driveway, Jennifer remembered one more “mess” she had made…Ooblek.
Ooblek was a mixture of cornstarch and water that had both the characteristics of a solid and a liquid. She had placed the Ooblek in a large casserole dish and asked the students to describe it, including how it might feel. Could they make any predictions? All of the kids thought it would be soft and squishy. Jennifer had then quickly slapped the mixture in the dish, making a loud sound…but no dent in the Ooblek. Her hand had remained clean. Her students were amazed. She then showed them that she could put her fingers slowly into the Ooblek and stir it around. When she remover her hand, she needed a paper towel. Oohs and aahs had filled the room, followed by shouts of, “Let me try!” Before letting them, Jennifer had asked, “What made the difference?” and waited for a response. “The approach,” Marie said.
The approach. In the brief drive home from school, the Lord had answered Jennifer’s questions. As a teacher, she knew that the students who seemed tough on the outside were hiding hurts on the inside. As a Christian, she knew that God had spoken of men hardening their hearts. She had seen the effects of Postmodern thoughts on her kids. But it took her experience as a Mom wanting to make learning fun to remind her to let Him teach. Thank you, Lord, for this reminder. These are your kids. You are in control. Show me how to approach this class tomorrow. I want the right approach.
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