Friday, August 08, 2014

The Distraction

I spent alot of time in my classroom by myself after school got out in May finishing up some work. It's amazing how quiet it was....and boring. Students can be a distraction but they are THE SCHOOL. The following, from February 2, 2006, is about how things get in the way in class.

You probably haven't heard of Darnell, a sophomore at Westbury Christian and new to our school this year. He is one of the most polite young men I know with a tremendous attitude. I appreciate that Darnell chooses to sit in the front of my room which has open seating. One day as my students were taking a quiz, I noticed Darnell's writing utensil and I asked for a look. It was a pen with a miniature Etch-A-Sketch built in! You remember the Etch-A-Sketch; a red plastic square toy with knobs that you could draw pictures with! Produced by the Ohio Art Company, it has remained virtually unchanged since first coming off the assembly line in 1960. Using vertical and horizontal bars with tracers attached, many kids learned to draw on the aluminum dust coating the interior. Darnell's pen was functional- I was impressed! At Christmas, shopping with my niece, Meagan, I mentioned Darnell's pen. The next day was Christmas Eve. One package for Uncle Steve was from my lovely niece and her brother, Ben. Remembering my comment, Meagan and Ben bought me a cousin to the Etch-A-Sketch pen, an Operation pen! Did you ever play Operation? Introduced by Milton Bradley in 1965, Operation required a child to remove organs from Cavity Sam with tweezers. If the extraction was not clean, a buzzer sounded! I'm sure a number of potential surgeons were discouraged by Operation failure as children. Returning to school after the holidays, I brought my new pen to class. My eighth graders loved it! There was arguing over taking turns. Several asked if they could play with it at home. The pen is functional but that's not why it's popular. It's no fun if you do it correctly. The enjoyment comes when you mess up and the horn goes off. Unfortunately, it became a distraction. Every buzzer was met with the obligatory middle school giggle. It had to go.

Life mirrors the relationship between my Operation pen and my eighth graders: it is so easy to get distracted! The distractions get sophisticated and the stakes higher as grown ups but it's not much different than when we were little. What we want to do gets in the way of what we need to do. The distractions aren't necessarily bad but simply less important things. Jesus had friends who lived in Bethany, a village near Jerusalem. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were siblings and aside from Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we have scant knowledge of their lives. In Luke 10, Jesus and his followers were invited to dine at Martha's residence. Verse 40 tells us that "Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." Martha complained to the Savior that SHE was doing all the work while her sister was hanging around Jesus, hanging on his every word. Jesus gently chastised Martha (who had to be the older sister!) and let her know her sister was availing herself of something more important than cooking. What Martha was working on was good. What Mary was involved in was a higher priority. I'm more like Martha than Mary. I scurry around trying to accomplish worthwhile things but I wonder if it comes at the expense of more valuable responsibilities. I go in so many directions at the same time that I forget they are all supposed to lead me to the same place. My apartment is symbolic of my methodology. When I clean, I boomerang from kitchen to bedroom to bathroom to living room. I am erratic because I have little FOCUS. It takes me much longer than it should because I don't stay on one task. Jesus told Martha that she was distracted by MANY things but only ONE was necessary. He said what Mary chose that day was the better option. Jesus did not say what Martha was doing was bad; it just wasn't best. Jesus taught a valuable lesson that day. We add by subtracting. The old proverb say too many cooks spoil the broth. I bet the soup was excellent that night! The Operation pen has a sad footnote. The electronic tweezers became disconnected from the power source somewhere outside of my classroom. The pen still writes but it is silenced forever. There is justice in there somewhere!

Applicable quote of the day:
"A distracted existence leads us to no goal."

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Jon said...

does he play basketball??

Karen said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I like your posts - will be stopping by yours regularly. I see that you are going to China this summer - My husband does mission work in China, as well - just took his 3rd trip over in April. I hope to read more about your trip.