Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Chasing 545

I was grading semester tests about three o'clock this afternoon when I heard a knock. Walking over and peering through the window in the door, I saw Mitchell who looked like he had just come from basketball practice. Without him saying a word, I knew what he wanted. He wanted to know if I was done grading his final and those of his classmates in my third period Gospels class. But that's not what he really wanted, either- he wanted to know if he made 100%. But in reality, I don't think that's what he wanted to know, either. My guess, although he didn't come out and put it into words, is that he wanted to know if he made a perfect score which is different than a 100%. It means you have zero mistakes on a 545 point test. Every mistake costs, even leaving out the word and on the Lord's Prayer. I have kids only miss two or three points but never a perfect score on the exam which covers the birth of John to the choosing of the twelve apostles with True-False, listings, fill in the blank, definitions, short answer, memory verses, and four essays. It sounds daunting but I would guess 25-30% of the kids make A's- but just an A isn't perfect. And I surmise that is what Mitchell was chasing.

Actually, I thought Natalia might have as good a chance as Mitchell. Both of them are the only sophomores in a junior class and have been tantalizingly close to perfect in our daily quizzes, memory verses, ten tests, and in class writing assignments. But Natalia mixed up William Tyndale (burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English) and Clarence Jordan (author of Cotton Patch Gospel) so her quest ended on page 2 even though she made a 100. And Mitchell, he got close- VERY CLOSE! He made 544/545, only missing a T-F question about Jesus cleansing the temple. He has another chance five months from today, on Monday, May 16th, 10:30 AM when he takes the second semester Gospel exams. Five months to prepare!

I'll tell Mitchell when I see him in the morning. I think he'll be disappointed to have been so close but he will be happy with his mark. He's attentive to his grades but not obsessive. I have some students who would be ecstatic just to pass the final, let alone come near to perfection. I like that it matters to Mitchell. Most of us set the bar too low in our self-expectations and settle for mediocrity in areas that really are important. After Christmas, we will struggle in Mitchell's class with the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount which some think sets impossible standards. And Jesus preaching in Matthew 5:48 to, 'be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect' will be a tough concept for the kids to deal with but we will. Perfect- are you kidding? We all blow it! AMEN- we do. But do me a favor. Don't tell Mitchell.

Applicable quote of the day # 1:Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. 
Vince Lombardi

Applicable quote of the day # 2:
They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds. 
Wilt Chamberlain

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

No comments: