Teachers in Osceola County, Florida schools were encouraged to complete an “Understanding Poverty” book and seminar. The central theme is that teachers need to understand where their students come from, accommodate them where they are at, and design the curriculum and assessment in such a way as to increase performance. Many traditional teaching techniques are self-defeating when we are dealing with students who are in poverty. The impoverished have a needs hierarchy that values basic necessities and immediate outcomes. Yet a teacher from the middle class tends to be more forward looking and seeks to impose the same standards and worldview on his students. This causes problems in connecting with students who will become increasingly frustrated and see the school curriculum as irrelevant and even oppressive to their need for social interaction and immediate gratification.
It is an oversimplification to say that kids can’t learn is because they are poor. But on the simplest level, this is the thesis of the seminar. It is reinforced by appealing to sociological theory. And I do not doubt that there are many good points of truth here. The problem with this idea is two things. First, students in poverty can learn to be forward looking. Second, the American standard for what is “poverty level” is not poverty at all compared to most of the world throughout history.
The writer of Understanding Poverty points out that poverty has just as much to do with income as an ability to allocate intangible resources, such as relationships, time, talents, etc. I wholeheartedly agree that poverty is as much of a spirit as it is a financial reality. I do not agree that teachers ought to accommodate a spirit of poverty. Every student can learn and make the most of their time. The fact that they often do not should not be reinforced with our accommodations. While it may look like we are doing them a service, we are actually training them to think that adult life is a time with few responsibilities that have hard consequences.
What we ought to be teaching students is that even if they do not have the opportunity to master the reading, writing, math and science curricula, they need to work in class, complete assignments on time and come to each class on time each day ready to work. “Eighty percent of success is showing up” does not mean they will automatically become 4.0 students and qualify for scholarships at the college of their choice. But it does mean that they will be trained with the necessary skills to either hold a steady job or succeed in some type of higher education. In today’s fallen culture, it will mean they will be in positions of leadership somewhere.
In a few years, the reality will become more apparent to many of these students. If car payments are not made bad credit and possible repossession will occur. If they do not show up for work on time, they will not keep their jobs for long and will not advance in their position and salary. If utility bills are not paid, they will have the added stress of the possibility of losing their water, heat and lights until they can make a payment.
For several months of my life, I have had opportunities to work closely with high school and college students in Ukraine, Russia, Venezuela and Peru. These were countries that had fallen at one time into a slavish oppressive society. One of the greatest problems to overcome in former communist nations is not an oppressive government, but rather a socialistic mentality of the people that expects the government to do everything. Dependence can lead to a slave mentality. The irony of this is that even in these countries, educational standards are much higher than in the United States. The United States of America is the most affluent nation in the world. We have many social programs in place that purport to provide assistance, food, education and housing to our poor. The average welfare recipient in our country has more material wealth than the middle class in many other nations. Our “poor” are materially rich. Many have cars, multi-room apartments, computers, disposable income for entertainment and food. Our “poor” are poor mainly in spirit rather than in material goods.
Bluntly put, our current system rewards the poor for a lack of initiative and industry. This indoctrination begins in school with a free education, thousands of dollars of free tuition per year and many more in resources that are wasted by educators who believe that if we only had more money, we could attract better teachers. More resources will supposedly solve the problem. The sad truth is that more money is being spent on public education than ever before. American teachers, although still underpaid, still make more than in any other nation at any time in the history of the world.
We could point to the breakdown of the family unit, but other nations that have the same divorce rate as America and a lower economic prosperity do better with their schools. The reason for educational decline among the lower income is not poverty. In my years as a teacher among lower income students, I have come across many theories on how achievement can be raised. These are the same theories I heard in the 1980s when I was an education major in college. After several years of some thought, I have reached a conclusion.
In the words of Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
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Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
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Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.
The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.
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