Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Flipped Classroom

I have been researching the flipped classroom for Education 540. I found a great hands on kind of website that gives tons of direction on how to flip the classroom, and create FIZZ video lectures, which are basically a one take video using small whiteboards.

I wanted to try my hand at creating a one take video as part of my research so I  asked my instructor if I could do my CULMINATING RESPONSE TO COURSE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS assignment in video, instead of essay format. She approved the idea so here it is!

For more step by step instructions I highly recommend you browse to Dr. Lodge McCammon's Friday Institute site: http://www.fi.ncsu.edu/project/fizz/pd


Born to Learn: Class Reunion - YouTube . (2011). YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Retrieved July 24, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4D4DXLhqplU

Crouch, A. (2008). Culture making: Recovering our creative calling. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books.

Goheen, M. W., & Bartholomew, C. G. (2008). Living at the crossroads: an introduction to Christian worldview. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.

Littky, D. (2012). Passion-Based High School vs. High School Boredom: Choose. THE DAILY RIFF - Be Smarter. About Education. Retrieved July 24, 2012, from http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/whats-best-for-kids-one-student-at-a-time-619.php

McCammon, L. (n.d.). Friday Institute for Educational Innovation - FIZZ.Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Retrieved July 15, 2012, from http://www.fi.ncsu.edu/project/fizz/pd

Robinson, K. (2006). Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on TED.com. TED: Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved July 24, 2012, from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

Robinson, K. (2011). Sir Ken Robinson - Educating the Heart and Mind - YouTube . YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. . Retrieved July 24, 2012, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1A4OGiVK30

Van Brummelen, H. W. (2002).Steppingstones to curriculum: a biblical path (2nd ed.). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Purposeful Design Publications.

Walsh, B. J., & Middleton, J. R. (1984).The transforming vision: shaping a Christian world view. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On The Road

At the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
During the summer break our family was blessed to take a road trip. On this trip we took in such sites as Peyto Lake, Columbia Ice Fields, Qu’Appelle Valley, Mount Rushmore, Grand Tetons, and the many sights of Yellowstone Park. Despite the fact that it was a blessing, at times it did strain the relationship between me and my daughter and wife. You see the ladies in my life like to travel differently than I do. I’m all about the destination. If Mount Rushmore is the destination, then I would prefer to drive straight there and not get distracted by the Reptile Gardens my daughter Taylor wants to see (you should never let snakes distract you), or the cozy restaurant Yvonne wants to stop at (nor your stomach). Sometimes it seemed that we had very little time left for the destination because we had spent so much time just getting there.

Now without casting judgement on either way to approach travel, as I’m sure it is just a matter of having more time (I’m going to love eternity), our different approaches made me think about spiritual matters. If you are a Christian then your destination is to live for the LORD and ultimately to live with Him in eternity. But how often don’t we get sidetracked by the cares of this world and thus get distracted by matters far less important? Sometimes it seems that we are so busy with the temporal concerns of life, that we have no time for the eternal matters of prayer, the reading of scripture, or corporate worship. We get distracted by unimportant activities like television, but have little time to pay a visit to someone who could really use some encouragement. Or we lead such a busy life that by the time Sunday comes around we don’t have the mental energy to totally engage in the worship services. 

I'm pretty sure that this is a universal problem that all people experience. Actually, I’m wrong. Once there was a man who lived with an undivided focus on the destination. He knew what he had to do, and with single mindedness he avoided all temptations to get distracted, either from the devil (snake) in the wilderness, his friend Peter on the way to Caesarea Philippi, or even from himself in the Garden of Gethsemane. Because he did not let himself get himself off track, none who put their trust in Him have to worry about missing the destination, even if we get distracted regularly.

So if you get distracted from the destination don’t despair. It has already been secured for you. Pick yourself up, turn once again to Him, and remember it doesn’t depend on your performance but on the performance of your Saviour Jesus Christ who has already obtained the destination for you. We all have a lot to be thankful for. And that’s what will help us make baby steps in the right direction. But that’s okay because we are already there and we have our LORD holding us up and steadying us along the way.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tale of Two Candidates

During the recent election campaign I discussed the issue of voting for the Christian Heritage Party (CHP) or for a mainstream party such as the Conservative Party. In two polls I conducted, one on Wonderquests, and the other on my student blog, most opted for a Christian running for the Conservative Party rather than a CHP candidate. There is an interesting footnote to this discussion and to the poll results. In this last election there were two candidates who are members of the Canadian Reformed Church, the same denomination I am a member of. Mike Schouten, who, years ago, was in my social studies class, ran for the CHP in the South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale riding. In Elmwood-Transcona riding, Laurence Toet, who I knew when I lived in Carman Manitoba in the late 1970s, ran and won the seat as a Conservative candidate. The easy analysis would be to say that my polls accurately reflect that, with Canada’s present system, getting elected as a Christian requires working within a mainstream party. But this kind of analysis leaves out important points.

First of all, while Laurence Toet is the first Canadian Reformed Member of Parliament, don’t look for him to be able to bring in sweeping social conservative values – like an end to same sex marriage or abortion on demand. He represents all of his constituents, not just the Christians. Also, he will have to toe the party line, as he was elected as a Conservative and on a Stephen Harper ticket. No doubt Laurence knew this before he was elected and probably sees a distinction between the role of government and the role of the church, as I discussed in my blog post on April 26 on the role of government.

On the other hand, the fact that Mike Schouten in South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale and the CHP in general did not win a seat does not mean that it was pointless to run. Candidates from smaller parties like the CHP do not really expect to win, although they need to be ready to serve as you cannot always predict the voters’ mood. Look at the many NDP candidates who found this out in Quebec. The CHP uses an election campaign as an opportunity to discuss important social conservative values and, as such, keep these issues on the table. It also gives many Christians the chance to cast their vote for a party that supports their values, enabling them to protest the status quo. Politics may be viewed as the art of the possible by many, but not all Christians see it that way and it is important for them to be able to participate in the process as well.

Regardless of what you believe about the connection between faith and politics, we can all appreciate that Christians like Mike and Laurence are willing to run, and I for one wish Laurence well as he seeks to fulfil his new role.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Conservative Majority

On Monday, May 2, Canadians went to the polls and exercised their democratic right to vote. While the Conservative majority is not a huge surprise, this election will still go down in history as significant. The demise of the Bloc Quebecois, including its leader Gilles Duceppe, and the crushing defeat of Michael Ignatieff were not predicted by any of the pundits. Neither was the enormous success of Jack Layton and the NDP, especially in Quebec.

In the 1990's, Jean Chr├ętien was able to win three back to back majorities because of the division of the right wing vote, first between the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservatives, and later between the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives. Since the right wing parties have been able to combine into the Conservative Party, they have managed to first stave off a Liberal majority, and then win two back to back minorities. In the latest election we have come full circle with the left of center vote being divided allowing the Conservatives a majority. It will be difficult to defeat the Tories as long as the left of center is split. Are we moving to a two party system comparable to the United States? Time will tell.

Another interesting angle to the election results is the success of the NDP, especially in Quebec. The 42 NDP seats outside of Quebec is a significant victory too, but only because it's more than the Liberals total of 34 seats. Ed Broadbent was able to win over forty two seats with the NDP in the 1988 election, and that was without any seats in Quebec, so Jack Layton’s numbers outside of Quebec are not without precedent.

While it would be easy to give Jack Layton all the credit for the destruction of the Bloc Quebecois, one has to ask why Quebec is moving towards federalism at a time in history when Stephen Harper is Prime Minister. They might not want to vote for him, but they do not seem to have a problem being in a nation that he is leading.

With his new majority government, and a majority of Quebec MPs being NDP, Stephen Harper should move quickly put to health care reform on the agenda. It's time for Canadians to be able to opt out of the public system and go to a private clinic in Canada, instead of having to endure long wait times or travel to a clinic in the USA. With Quebec already being the province with the most private clinics, it would be difficult for Jack Layton to argue forcefully against a two-tiered system. It is time for the public system to endure some competition. Harper should strike while the iron is hot.

Regardless of what is on the political agenda, I think most Canadians are happy that the next election is at least four years away and that we should have a stable government after more than 7 years of minority governments.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How Now Shall We Vote?

Do you think that society could be transformed if we only had the right government? My last blog touched on the difference between neo-Kuperian doctrine, and the Two-Kingdom doctrine that many Lutherans and Reformed Christians hold to. Basically the Two-Kingdom doctrine holds that while God rules over everything in this world, he does not rule over everything through his church. Therefore, we cannot force non-Christians to live up to the same standards as Christians. Neo-Kuperians believe that Lordship of Christ needs to be manifest in every area of life, including politics, in order to transform the culture.

But how does this debate apply to the current election campaign going on in Canada? Christians need to decide whether to vote for the Christian Heritage Party (CHP) or for one of the mainline parties. The decision becomes even more complicated when the candidate from a mainland party is a confessing Christian. If we decide to vote for the Conservatives are we sacrificing our principles and giving in to pragmatism? If you accept the Two-Kingdom approach you would be reluctant to use politics and earthly government to promote the Christian faith as you would see that as the churches role. Does that mean that a vote for the CHP would be more in line with a neo-Kuyperian view? Not necessarily, since a perusal of the CHP platform illustrates that they have many policy ideas that even many non-Christians would find workable. In addition the CHP purposely has no connection to any particular denomination and that implies that its goal is to promote good government and leave the preaching of the gospel to the church.

Another question to consider in this debate is whether it is advisable or even possible to try to impose Christian ethics to civil life. If most of the citizens of a country are not Christian, will we ever be able to elect a government which operates on Christian principles, and if we do, would it be able to impose its ethical standards on the citizens of the country? Moral improvement will only happen if it is worked from the bottom up, rather than imposed from above, unless above is heaven itself. The kind of moral improvement that God desires, is a reaction of thankfulness for salvation through our Saviour, Jesus the Christ, and is worked in through the Holy Spirit, not through good government, but through His Church.

Regardless how we vote we need to remember that earthly government is necessary because of sin, in the same way that we have locks on our doors because of sin. Being a locksmith is an acceptable job for a Christian, and we can even glorify God by doing it well, but it would be difficult to transform society by doing it, and in eternity we will have no use for it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Role of the Church in Society

If, as Abraham Kuyper pointed out, every square inch of this world belongs to Christ, does it follow that the church should be involved in every sphere of life? This is an especially important question as Christians in Canada consider who to vote for in the upcoming Federal election on May 2, 2011. I believe the answer is both “no” and “yes”.

I believe the answer is “no” because the church as an organization has been mandated by God to focus on the Great Commission found in Matthew 28. History has shown that when the church, as an organization, starts to focus on areas such as politics, culture, and education it does so at the expense of its God given mandate. This view, of limiting the church to ecclesiastical matters, is expressed well in the Martin Luther’s doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, which was also espoused by John Calvin.

Some Reformed Christians who disagree with the Two Kingdom approach, such as neo-Kuyperians, espouse that Christians ought to work hard to make the world a more God honouring place. For a good discussion of the debate between the Two Kingdom doctrine and the ideas of the neo-Kuyperians see Kevin deYoung’s blog, DeYoung, Restless and Reformed. Personally, I think that the differences between these two views is a false dilemma, and that they are not that far apart. I agree with the neo-Kuyperians that the church ought to say “yes” to involvement in all areas of life, but not under the authority of a consistory or even classis or synod. Individual Christians should band together with other Christians, or even non-Christians, to transform society.

Nevertheless, the Church as an organization has been mandated by Christ to focus on the announcement of the gospel as Dr. Michael Horton, from Westminster Theological Seminary, points out in the video below.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Responsible Government

Since Stephen Harper and the Conservatives lost a vote of non-confidence on Friday March 25, Canadians will be going to the polls on May 2, 2011. In Canada the executive branch of government must have the approval of the legislative branch of government in order to stay in power. This is known as Responsible Government, and its development in British North America (BNA) is an interesting story.

It started when Britain took control of Quebec away from France in the Seven Years War. Soon after that time Britain was having difficulties with its American colonies to the south concerning taxes, and so used the Quebec Act to secure the loyalty of the residents of Quebec. In the Quebec Act, the French were not given democracy, but were given language and religious freedom. But then after the American Revolution, many of those who had remained loyal to Great Britain during the Revolutionary War moved to Quebec. The Loyalists posed a problem for the British authorities since they spoke English, were not Catholic, and were used to the democracy they had enjoyed in the American colonies. So in the Constitutional Act of 1791 the British divided Quebec into two colonies, Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec), and provided each colony with an elected assembly.

It would appear that democracy had arrived in BNA but that was not the case. Britain believed that the American colonies had rebelled because they had had too much freedom, and thus did not want to make the same mistake in BNA. At the same time they needed to placate the Loyalists who were used to the elected assemblies of the 13 American colonies. So Britain provided elected assemblies in the Canadas, but in essence all real power was in the hands of the governor and his appointed councils who were unelected officials, and could veto any law proposed by the elected assembly. Thus the Constitutional Act of 1791 gave the appearance of democracy but real power was in the hands of a small group of people. In Upper Canada this group became known as the Family Compact, because of the intermarriage of its members. A similar group in Lower Canada was known as the Chateau Clique.

By the 1830s many colonists in both Upper and Lower Canada were frustrated that the Family Compact and the Chateau Clique held all the power. While most colonists did not approve of rebellion some radicals in both Canadas did openly rebel in 1837. These rebellions were easily put down but did cause the British government to take notice, so in 1838 they sent Lord Durham, who had fought for liberal reforms in Britain, to Canada to head an inquiry. He concluded that the rebellions, at least in Upper Canada, were the result of too much power in the hands of the Family Compact and not enough in the hand of the colonists. He proposed that Responsible Government, already practiced in Britain be introduced in Canada.

In order to understand how Responsible Government works one needs to first understand the different branches of government. In the evolution of government in Britain, power came to be divided into three branches, the executive branch which does the day to day ruling, the legislative branch which passes laws and holds the purse strings and the judicial branch which enforces the laws. Historically, the King was the executive branch and with his appointed advisers would rule the country. Parliament was the legislative branch and was called upon to pass laws and okay taxes. In the 18th century the Prime Minister, who was a Member of Parliament began to take on many of the responsibilities of the King. He would choose his cabinet members from the Parliament as well. So it came to be that the executive branch became responsible to the legislative branch, and had to have its confidence, in order to stay in power.

Durham’s recommendation took a decade to come to pass, but ever since then the executive branch of government is selected from those who have a seat in the legislative branch and as such must have its confidence. On Friday, March 25, Stephen Harper lost that confidence. While most of us feel an election at this time is unnecessary, I’m sure that we appreciate that we are not ruled by an oligarchy like the Family Compact.