The day after my brother -in-law John’s funeral in Leamington, Ontario we toured the hospice where he had spent the last days of his life. What a beautiful place! Spacious light-filled rooms with private patios, fireplaces, desks and every amenity a resident or their family might need. A grand piano to bring music into the building, a sunny garden room, a play area for children, a diningroom and kitchen where staff provided snacks and made to order meals to residents and their families, a library, and a special room for loved ones to rest or sleep or gather to talk. The morning we were there a group of women was busy creating the handmade quilts they stitch for every person who spends time at the hospice.
There was lots of beautiful art on the walls but I was particularly drawn to a display of work by middle school students. They had studied Canada’s famous Group of Seven artists and then created their own paintings in that style to display in the hospice to cheer those who came there. A plaque on the wall explained their project and its name In The Footsteps of Tom Thompson. Thompson was the founder of the Group of Seven art collective.
I love children’s art and the work at the hospice was especially meaningful because I knew how much my brother-in-law John had enjoyed art too.
Stopping By Woods
Through the Eyes of a Child
Oh To Be A Kid At the Fringe Festival
One of the first pieces of advice I always give the student teachers I mentor is that when their students enter the classroom they try to give each one a smile, a hello and make a comment or personal connection with them.
With my Advanced Composition class in Hong Kong
Now there is scientific evidence this is effective. A new study shows that when teachers routinely greet students and say their name, make eye contact, provide a high five, handshake or thumbs up and/or give a few words of encouragement it sets a more positive tone for the day, increases student engagement and reduces the amount of disruptive behavior. In an article by Youki Terada she notes the study showed that when students feel welcome in their classroom they put more energy and effort into learning.
With our waiter at a restaurant in Lisbon
I’m wondering if this would have implications in other areas. If I’m friendly and smile at a waiter in a restaurant will I get better service? If I smile at people at the gym and say good morning will it improve the quality of their workout? If I make a personal comment to someone in the church library when I volunteer there will it make them more likely to return for more books? If I say hello to the person beside me on the bus or in the bus shack will they have a better day? If I smile and greet people who serve me in businesses will they give me better service and feel better about their jobs?
Isn’t it great that everyone can easily smile and greet people in a friendly way and there is scientific evidence it will make a difference?
What is Your Body Saying?
What is the difference between indoctrination and teaching? Some recent posts by my friend and fellow blogger The Meanderer has me pondering that question particularly in the realm of religious education. I received a comprehensive religious education in church, at home, and in the private religious post secondary university where I was a student. Was I being indoctrinated or taught?
The church I attended as a child
It seems to me the key difference between indoctrination and teaching is that when you are teaching someone you are providing them with an opportunity to explore ideas, information, beliefs and knowledge and you are allowing them to ask questions, have different opinions, argue and come to their own conclusions. But when you are indoctrinating someone you are simply supplying them with the ideas, information, beliefs and knowledge in a didactic way and they are not allowed to question, or argue or demand evidence.
I think I had some experiences in my religious education that were a form of indoctrination, but generally in my home and church and in particular at the faith-based university I attended, we were taught and not indoctrinated. I also realize that others who had the same religious educational experiences I did might view them very differently in retrospect, even people in my own family.
My friend The Meanderer suggests that parents who provide for religious educational experiences for their children may be engaging in a form of abuse. I would contend that while indoctrination is abusive, teaching is not, and that religious teaching does in fact have the potential to be a positive influence in someone’s life.
Tolerating Other Christians
Is It Wrong to Die For Your Faith?
Not My Kind of God