Archive for August 2008

So, every Thursday possible our pastor allowed me to teach the children (ages 4-12) for an hour and fifteen minutes. For anyone who has studied age-groups or worked with kids with such a wide variety of ages, this task does not look easy. But, I’m not posting to brag about the “great feats” that I attempted this summer. I’m simply describing what we did.

First, we did games. Children of all ages love active games (duh!); with such a large group of varied ages, I could pick three or four games a night and target them to either the younger or older kids. The little kids loved simple racing games. The older kids loved games that required either brains or brawn… or both. Game-time lasted about a half-hour, after which we all went to get a well-deserved drink.

Second, we had a prayer time. This, while not being as exciting, is essential; it lets the kids know I care about them, and it brings them closer to God. Hopefully, they are more comfortable telling God about their troubles (and thanking Him for all the good things He gives them).

Third, we sang songs. While I think children should know the longer, older hymns, I think fun teaching songs are also essential. We want them to think well of singing. “Father Abraham” was a favorite, as was “I’ve Got Good News,” “I’m in the Lord’s Army,” “I’m Inright, Outright, Upright, Downright Happy All the Time,” and “Read Your Bible, Pray Every Day.” We are usually pretty tired after singing…

…so, Fourth, we had a little puppet skit. My puppet, Jerry, is rather obnoxious, and he claims to never listen to the teacher or hear any of the Bible lesson. Furthermore, he is rude, illogical, and wild. The kids love him. Since Jerry never listened to the previous week’s lesson (getting him a stern reprimand from the teacher), we always had to review it for him. What a sneaky head-fake, but it worked!

Fifth, after more singing and teaching a Bible verse, I would teach. At my school, Bob Jones University, the ministerial teachers have a saying that goes something like “It is a sin for a teacher or preacher to be boring.” This is said tongue-in-cheek, of course, since the Bible doesn’t condemn any particular style of teaching (but rather the message itself), but I think a good principle of politeness does come into play. It is very unloving to be a boring teacher, not to mention selfish and rude, since the children are forced to not only come and listen but also sit still!

I don’t know whether I way boring or not, but the kids seemed to love the lessons. The reason? I dressed up each night, role-playing a different character. On the different nights, I was a brash buccaneer (Captain Wetworth), a super spy (Dr. Marlow), an adventurous Australian (Dr. Downunder), a clichéd cosmonaut (Captain Nebulae), and a dashing swordsman (Señor Cutter). Each character had his own accent, accessories, and personality; some of the kids seemed to not even know it was me!

All in all, the Thursday-night teaching was a success, though not by my own doing. God has a wonderful way of taking my poor efforts and making them brilliant. I will miss my kids and try to take the lessons I’ve learned from teaching them to school with me… to begin teaching the other group of children at school.

Introduction

Do you remember, way back in grade-school, when you were taught how to find the prime factors of a number? It was the biggest pain… especially since you knew that your teacher already knew the factors of that number, and that any work you did was not for anyone’s benefit. Let us face the cold, hard facts: factoring 27 into 1, 3, 3, 3 did not put food on anyone’s table, did not help a soldier compute the trajectory of a mortar rocket, and it certainly did not make your day any better (if, on the other hand, it did brighten your day, please email me; I am also a counselor. 😛 )

Perhaps now, so many years later, you have been demanded to program an algorithm to factor a number. I can hear your groans; once again, accomplishing this will not save the world. However, writing such an algorithm is not beyond the astute programmer. Actually, it can be quite fun. Let us walk step-by-step through this such daunting task.

(SIDE NOTE: All code on this page is in pseudo-code. Therefore, most schools will allow you to read this article without infringing on cheating policies.) Read on »

As a youngin’, I often get tired of hearing older people whine about the “good old days,” when even your enemies went out of their way to be nice to you, when you could get seven pounds of chocolate for a penny, and when your kids could play outside by themselves, even in the middle of the road or in the county jailhouse, without any danger of being bothered. It’s probably some rite of passage that youth have to go through. Probably, when I’m older, I’ll bother my kids about the “good old days,” when gas was only $4.00 a gallon.

I do not yet wish to join the small subset of elderly folk who only think backwards. However, there is one area of life that seems to have changed for the worse: gaming. Well, not the games, per se. It is the gamers who are at fault. See, it used to be in the (*sigh*) good old days that a game would be full of mind-bending puzzles coupled with a great story-line. Almost every non-arcade game had puzzles in it, and they required intellect, skill, and the ability to see things from different angles. Most importantly, they required imagination. In those days, one couldn’t necessarily see the old chest and its multi-faceted lock… a green-and-black monitor just couldn’t dish out enough resolution. But, in the mind, one could see it clearly, and one could come up with a viable solution to unlock the chest. Yes, sometimes it took hours or days. But that was the fun of it! These days, most games seem to be quick and easy. Diablo, Battlefield 1942, World of WarCraft… the “puzzles” in these games take, at most, a few hours to accomplish. True, they have other time-wasting perks, but the element of hard-thought is gone.

Not in shame I admit that I miss the old days. Give me Mystery House, Quest for Glory, Space Quest… I’ll give you every graphics-pumping no-brainer game we have today.

edits-
-Changed “lame-story-lined” to “no-brainer” as pointed out by Ed.