I must agree with Sommerville that news does indeed make us dumb! Our class has proven the fact with the many examples that we have shown from our recent news. I have really enjoyed read Sommerville’s book. He confirms my (not fully formed) thoughts on the news. I do not watch the news and I do not read papers. Any news I take in is from the internet, word-of-mouth, and information gathering to confirm any news I’ve heard from questionable sources.

I am by no means an excellent researcher, but I try to search out the truth when I hear a piece of news. It is a daunting task. There is so much information on the internet that it is difficult to sort through it and find the gems of truth.

It is also difficult to see the big picture in light of historicity. I believe Sommerville desires us be informed through other sources and to put our knowledge into historical context. Sommerville states, “My recommenation is that news be put in its place, perhaps on a monthly schedule but in more substantial amounts, and that it be read after we’ve read more substantial fare, if there’s time.” (1999, p. 142)

You can see from the above quote that he desires us to do other intellectual activities that naturally cause us to learn in a whole and productive way. “Now the news industry and its intellectual proponents will naturally respond, ‘But look how ill-informed the younger generation is already. Are you seriously proposing that they need less news?’ Yes.” (Sommerville, 1999, p. 149)

I believe our ability to find abundant examples of bad news this week shows us that he is correct. We need to focus not on this moment, but rather this decade or century.

Sommerville, S. J. (1999). How the news makes us dumb: The death of wisdom in an information society. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.

In Online but off-topic, Paulus (2009) completed a study of the conversations that occur in groups, specifically during online learning, that are not strictly on-topic. These off-topic discussions were ones that included the logistics of completing tasks. They are still relevant to the learning environment, but are not discoursing on the subject matter.

She found that certain actions help to create a close group. These include grounding (group members finding common ground between themselves) and immediacy (behaviors that reduce distance between the members). More specifically, the grounding strategies used by the participants in her study, “included indicating responsiveness, taking responsibility and maintaining relationships.” (Paulus, 2009, p.242)

These ideas are well backed by other research and included in our Student Guide. Some online techniques that I would like to try to use are sending weekly updates on group projects (maybe even in video format) and sending friendly e-mails to get to know my peers better. I believe I need to continue to interact in a way that shows I value and depend on my peers by showing warmth, empathy, and my true personality. I can do this through typing out a prayer for the requests posted, being sympathetic when someone is struggling and asking questions before taking offense.

I would love to also get together with my classmates and make use of that offline scaffolding technique. I live about 3 hours away, but I might be able to drive down if my schedule permits on the chosen day. I would love to meet face to face. I am not good at putting faces and posts together and would do much better meeting people in person.

Paulus, T.. (2009). Online but off-topic: negotiating common ground in small learning groups. Instructional Science, 37(3), 227-245.  Retrieved February 8, 2011, from ProQuest Education Journals. (Document ID: 1894674491).

White, K.W., & Baker, J.B. (Eds.) (2003). The student guide to successful online learning: A handbook of tips, strategies and techniques. Allyn & Bacon, Publishers.

My dear hubby bought me a great book recently. It is called Praying in Color: Drawing A New Path to God. It was written by Sybil MacBeth. There is also a Kids’ Edition. She talks about how she has difficulty focusing during prayer and how she discovered that this was effective for her. Then she writes about why and how it works. She has little tips throughout as well. The kids’ edition is a short, quick version of the original book.

I am generally overwhelmed by “deep” books at first. I much prefer the light reading of fiction. I am not sure why, but I generally have to take time before I decide to read something that makes me think. Chris bought both books for me and the kids. The longer one was intimidating, so I started with the kids’ edition. I read a few short chapters but then I started getting excited about the concept and switched. The kids’ edition broke the ice for me.

I would highly recommend these books if you are like either the author or me. I have a terrible time focusing. My mind, my hands, my body all want to move and move on. Thought after thought flood my mind when I try to pray. This way of praying is great for me because it’s just doodling! You don’t even have to think words, much less write or say them. You just focus on the person or whatever it is you are praying for and let your hand run wild. I do this same thing all the time when I am on the phone. I doodle all the time!

You can pray whatever kind of prayer you want. She even goes over how to use this method for lectio divina. I have prayed for myself, but I have also interceded for others, tried a little lectio divina and done a combination. The doodles are just that and don’t have to be prefect. They aren’t supposed to be. However, if you are like me, you will think your prayers are the most beautiful works of art you’ve seen when you are done with them.

Here is a prayer for my daughter. She is having some difficulty with school again. I think the troubles are both because she does have her own will, but also because she seems to be having self-esteem issues and other things that stem from that. I know that with God’s guidance she will pull through her difficulties, but she has really been on my heart and mind lately. I’ve also been reading another book lately that talks about saying blessings over people, so that is why I changed delicate to strong on the leaf. This particular prayer is more polished than most are, but it was just right that day!

My Strong Flower

Oh! And in case you wondered, the supplies I use are a Moleskine Pocket Sketchbook (I am currently using a Moleskine Cahier Plain Notebook because Chris had one when I started, but I will switch when that runs out. The marker goes through the tiniest bit, but won’t on the Sketchbook.) I use Sharpie Ultra-Fine-Point Permanent Markers. I bought the pack that is linked at Wal-Mart for 15 or 20 dollars. It was a bit spendy, but for this purpose, well worth top-notch supplies.

I hope this post will encourage someone to get the book and try this method of prayer out. I have been really enjoying it the last couple of weeks.

I am reading a new book right now. The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian, is about how praying for your husband can change the way you see him and increase your love for him. I am not very far into the book yet, but I have already seen a big difference. I am not on the verge of divorce or anything near that, but there is a lot of truth in what she is saying.

The last couple of days I’ve seen myself do things I wouldn’t normally do because I feel closer to Chris through praying for him. I’ve been more loving to him and I even folded the laundry today (unfortunately, that is a rare occurrence). I would suggest that any wife read this book, but especially if you are going through some rough times. I plan on passing my copy onto others so that they can benefit from it too.

Stormie Omartian has many books that begin “the power of a praying”. My hubby has The Power of a Praying Husband. I don’t think he has ever read it and with his masters program keeping him busy, he probably won’t anytime soon. But that’s okay. I am going to be praying for him because I want to and not because I want him to pray for me. He probably already prays for me more than I pray for him. Really, the point of it for me is to become a better wife to him. I am sorely lacking in the wife department most of the time. I want to improve and I prayer always helps improve me.

Little Man CryingI’ve been reading a couple of books that I have received free from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). The first one was Lessons I Learned in the Dark by Jennifer Rothschild (which I have posted about before here and here) and I just started The Upside of Down by Joseph M. Stowell. The free book this month is Hope Again by Charles Swindoll.* The books are free for the asking, but you can donate if you wish to. Donations are always a good idea. 🙂

The books all share a common theme of having hope when all seems dark. I suppose that makes sense considering the purpose of the BGEA. I am enjoying the books I am reading regardless of their similarities. (more…)

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