And the Truth Will Set You Free

It’s the first week of September, and that means I am thinking about “Back to School“.

I can’t help it. I went back to school for 17 years as a student and 31 years as a teacher.

Here are three thoughts about education and all of those students and teachers who are going back to school with a mixture of excitement and trepidation this fall.

  • Remember way back in April (it seems like 346 years ago) when parents realized they were going to have to homeschool their children for the rest of the school year? Gratitude for classroom teachers was at an all-time high. Ahhhh…the good old days!
  • One of the questions I was sometimes asked about teaching was how much students have changed over the years of my long tenure.

    My response was usually this: students didn’t change all that much. Parents? They changed.

    One of the biggest changes I saw during my time as a teacher was in parenting styles. Parents began to believe that if their children won accolades at school, it was a feather in the parents’ caps.

    Conversely, they felt threatened if their children failed in some way. If they cheated on a test, for example, or didn’t hand in assignments, as if it was a personal failure on the parents’ part.

    The children became an extension of the parents’ ego.

    Students, therefore, were not allowed to make mistakes in a low-key, forgiving environment, a monumental loss.

  • “Truth is eternal. Knowledge is changeable. It is disastrous to confuse them.” – Madeleine L’Engle

    As a science teacher, I felt it was especially important to illustrate the differences between truth and knowledge.

    It is actually a cornerstone of the scientific method.

    A truth is something that will never change, something we know for sure.

    Matter is made up of atoms, gravity is the force of attraction between two objects with mass, organisms change over time in response to stimuli from their environment. These are truths.

    Our knowledge about how these truths work, however, has changed a lot over the years.

    At one point, for example, we believed atoms were smooth and round, indivisible like little billiard balls. Then J.J. Thompson discovered electrons, and we never thought of atoms in the same way again.

    Next, Ernest Rutherford and Neils Bohr posited that atoms are like our solar system, with tiny electrons, analogous to planets, orbiting the nucleus, which was like our sun.

    Finally, in 1926 Erwin Schroedinger and others devised the quantum model of the atom, which we still use today, where the strict demarcation between matter and energy apparently disappears.

    Our knowledge about atoms has evolved, but the truth has not changed.

    It’s important to know the difference. In science and in other areas of our lives too.

    Truth is powerful, fundamental.

    We should search relentlessly for the truth, then follow where it leads.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. – John 8:32

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85 comments

  1. I never thought about the difference between knowledge and truth. Makes total sense to make a sharp distinction between the two.
    Thanks for pointing that out and for posting the video clip. Hilarious, Laurie! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your observation about parents is spot-on. For years, my kids successes and failures fueled my self esteem. It took a lot of introspection to change this. I think I’m most of the way there. I can be proud of my children and myself whether they succeed or fail. I also think much of this gets wrapped up in the parents’ mental health. For me, many of these thought improved as I successfully treated my anxiety and OCD.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Truth and knowledge…you know, I’ve never thought about it this way, but…yeah. Another thing that caught my eye – students haven’t changed but parents have. Oh indeedy yes they have.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Being a scientist myself, of course I loved this post! Very interesting thoughts about how parents have changed over the years. I can definitely see that based on how parents were when I was a kid and how parents are now. There were also no helicopter parents when I was growing up but it’s scary how prominent they are now.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree that most teachers are WAY, WAY underpaid. It makes me a bit crazy when, for instance, people complain that the information about Covid-19 keeps changing, therefor the “scientists don’t know what they are doing”. Knowledge should change as more information is learned. Maybe some of the parents need to return to school along with their kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I listen to both sides of the argument of kids returning to in-seat learning versus online learning. If I had a child I’d only opt for online learning. But I’m also hearing sound bytes from parents who say “I can’t do it all – work from home and manage my kid’s(s’) schoolwork at the same time.” They say they are opting for private schools as they are afraid their kids will not have the knowledge to get into colleges/university when that time comes. I think some of them are not opting for that reason, but instead they worry about their own careers instead. I wonder how the kids perceive that – kids are smarter than parents give them credit for. The kids today are a heck of a lot more savvy than we were back in the day thanks to smartphones/the internet. Kids and raising them isn’t always convenient. I guess if I wanted to keep my career/job, I’d hire a nanny or a tutor or look into learning pods of which are also quickly becoming an option.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do too, Linda. I think it is important to have that face-to-face interaction but I also think there will be problems with COVID spreading through the schools. Schools here are having sports (including football) too. That just seems reckless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think COVID will run rampant before the month ends to be honest. I don’t understand doing a hybrid school attendance either – if you’re going to have in-seat learning a few days and risk COVID on those days, then might as well go on site all week. Here they opened schools with huge white tents all around the schoolyard properly. The front of each tent was left open, the rest enclosed, but we had a cold, torrential rain the first day and then we’ve had four days of unusually cold weather. I put on the heat today when the house was 71 and I couldn’t get warm. The Governor just allowed school sports (football too) a week ago – up to then it was forbidden. I think that is reckless too – no matter how much the kids try not to make contact with one another, they will be tackling one another in this very physical sport. I think if people could just step back for this year … maybe through to the Spring, it could help.
        Our Governor said yesterday our stats are spiking and we WILL step back if it continues. It was more of a warning than a statement.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am afraid you are right, Linda. A federal judge (a Trump appointee) has just ruled our governor’s measures to combat the virus unconstitutional. It’s crazy! Almost like they WANT to create turmoil and chaos. There are about 15 school districts in our county. They all opened on the week before Labor Day, most of them sending back students to the classrooms. 2 of them have closed already – switched to virtual schooling – due to COVID cases. They are allowing all school sports, which is a recipe for disaster.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s crazy – they keep appealing the rulings in favor of our Governor’s strict orders – same as yours. They have closed Michigan State University due to COVID cases and two high schools as well. We had two Trump rallies in the last five days – one with Trump and the other with his son/girlfriend and Kid Rock yesterday. Last night’s rally, just like last week, was full of people with no masks. We now await cases from that event. They just allowed the high school sports and one football team is out due to COVID. I can’t see them bringing back Big Ten football in 2020 either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree with you Laurie – the stupidity of it, yet people are so ecstatic over the return of Big 10 football as to MSU and UM – that’s all that’s been on the news. I have never understood the importance we attach to sports either and wondered if it was just me as I grew up in a household where no sports were watched so I’ve never been interested or followed any sports.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. As a coach I would make a case that kids have changed as well over the years. There is less respect for authority. While my current coaching position doesn’t see too many issues when I helped years ago at my old high school I saw it. Kids trying to tell coaches what workouts they were doing that day, making their own calls about if an “injury” meant they couldn’t run, etc. I was appalled as when I was a high school athlete we wouldn’t have thought twice about doing or saying some of the things I encountered. Then again maybe it has to do with changes in parenting style with more parents preferring to befriend their child instead of parent them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Those kids at your old high school sound pretty brazen! I didn’t get much of that kind of attitude as a classroom teacher, thank goodness! It’s kind of like a chicken/egg dilemma. Was it the parents or kids whose behavior changed first?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Laurie, I like your explanation of truth and knowledge. I think sometimes in our current world, the truth isn’t explored enough before basing it along, which confuses what knowledge we really have of something. Made my mind have something to think about with your post. πŸ™‚ Happy Thursday

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Funny about the teachers treated as pro athletes! Their salaries should definitely be switched–or at least not be SO disparate. I usually started school in September, too, until high school. That’s a good distinction between truth and knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laurie, that’s a powerful statement about how parents have changed over the years. It must be difficult for teachers these days to deal with parents who take everything their kids do (or don’t do) so personally. I kinda look at it as a matter of focus … do I care more about how I come across as a mom, or what my children learn that will benefit them in the long run? I hope it’s the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this. You are so right how the parents have changed. & the students? They adapt & roll with things so easily.
    I saw a thing that said that when this started, people were all about praising teachers & demanding they needed more money & all the benefits – but now, they’re like, we’ll let them be guinea pigs during this pandemic. Kinda true

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Laurie, I think I could read a whole SERIES of posts on your observations of how parents have changed over the years. I think teachers with several decades of experience have a particularly fascinating pool of observations & experiences (I can say this as the daughter of a veteran public school teacher)–and I think parents with kids still in school have a lot to learn from posts like this. We need to hear it on repeat. Because we are conditioned–for whatever reason/s. (And I often wonder as to the cause/s)… When I heard a stat that 56% of kids between 18-26 were living with their parents, I almost tripped over my own feet. And then, rebalanced, said to myself, Of course they are. Of *course.*

    Liked by 1 person

    • I recently read that stat too. When my kids were that age, they knew that home was a place they could always come back to…for a limited time. Not indefinitely. Of course, my “perpetual student” middle child was in grad school until past that age range, he was still self-sufficient. Now he’s a professor!

      Like

  13. I cannot WAIT to share that YouTube vid with my coworkers at middle school (maybe they’ve already seen it, but I sure hadn’t). And you utter pearls of wisdom in this post, both about parents and about truth as distinct from knowledge. Remember back when people didn’t do “parenting” and just “had kids?” I really wonder sometimes if kids are better off with the former . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed the video, Jan. I loved it! πŸ™‚ I remember if I was in trouble at school, I was also in trouble at home. Now if kids are in trouble at school, many times teachers and/or administrators must justify their actions to the parents. I think kids were better off with the former.

      Like

  14. I work with toddlers at a Montessori school and we have been open since the beginning of July. We did our summer program and as of a few days ago we are doing our regular school year on campus. We serve children from infant to eighth grade. Our class sizes are smaller and we have a lot of outdoor space. We are being very cautious and super clean. We are going above what the EEC says we are supposed to be doing. I feel safe as a teacher. I think we all need to be able to trust one another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My youngest grandson goes to a Montessori kindergarten in Colorado. His school is doing a wonderful job delivering instruction for students. They have several options for instruction this year. He is doing all virtual for the first semester. I hope you have a safe and wonderful year!

      Like

  15. Wow! What you said about your parents is scary yet so accurate especially this: “The children became an extension of the parents’ ego.” Wow! Reading this reminded me of my days as a substitute teacher. So glad I’m not in the classroom during COVID. I would quit and that’s the truth! I agree with Shonda Rhimes. Teachers need to be paid top dollar. How is it that an actor makes more money than a teacher?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know you were a substitute teacher, Yvonne! I am SO glad I did not have to go back to the classroom this year. Teachers deserve our appreciation and respect, especially this year. And more money!

      Like

  16. Very insightful!! I find it fascinating how the more we learn about COVID, the more close-minded some people have become. Some have become even more scared, while others have felt some relief. Another reason to turn off social media and rely on the facts (in other words, the truth) rather than everyone’s opinions LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Its interesting how a pandemic brings about such paradoxes Laurie. But such paradoxes encourage discourse which brings knowledge which leads to truth & paradoxically discourse reveals truth giving knowledge!
    Yes, man’s truth & knowledge can be very different from God’s truth & knowledge.
    A thought provoking post πŸ˜€
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great reflections, Laurie. I too have experienced a change in parents over my teaching career. Parents seem much more intertwined in their kids’ lives. I wonder how this may change in the years to come.
    I appreciate your distinction between truth and knowledge. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. OH so good! Love the video and your insight on truth verses knowledge. I love your teacher heart too! I was a prek teacher for several years before homeschooling my own children from kinder through their graduations. And you are so right, once a teacher always a teacher ❀

    so glad i found you through crystalstorms.me link up!

    mariel
    marieldavenpiort.com

    Liked by 1 person

      • I thought you mentioned that in a blog post one time as you mentioned the pronunciation of “Lancaster” – I will keep your son in my thoughts. I’ve not heard much about Lancaster today like I did yesterday. More about the wildfires which took precedence over anything else, even the Breonna Taylor settlement.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Yeah, I too often think kids don’t change but our perceptions of children/family sure do. My kids were feeling pretty bad about their grandparents comments on all their video game playing and how it was going to ruin their lives and I assured them that when I was a kid my grandparents complained about all my TV watching and how that was going to rot my brain and ruin my life. Yet my kids still run around outside, play with friends, and act just like I remember acting with all of my friends at their ages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right, Jill. Our perceptions of family life sure do change as we age. Good for you for reassuring your kids. I am sure they will grow up just fine, video games or no.

      Like

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