Monthly Archives: August 2015

Prayer in Public Schools: It is as It Should Be

Lately, many Christians have come to feel they are being persecuted and denied their religious rights, specifically the right to pray in public schools. They believe there is a direct correlation between not allowing prayer in public schools and the problems that plague America. Maybe they are right about the impact of prayer on America’s issues, but they are misinformed to believe our nation’s problems are due to the lack of prayer in public schools. The truth is that school children have always been allowed to pray in public schools, but their prayers cannot be coerced, guided or influenced by public school employees. Restrictions on religious expression in schools apply to the adults, not the children and therein lies the rub.

It is hard to argue against prayer as an American right to religious expression for anyone. The fact that so many people in this nation’s 239 year history have fled and continue to flee to America to escape persecution for their religious beliefs, validates that religious expression lies at the core of America. Therefore, given this nation’s founding principles of equality and religious freedom, there is no logical reason not to allow prayer in public schools for everyone. To deny free and unobstructed prayer in public schools to anyone is to dishonor America’s heritage as a haven free from religious persecution.

The school prayer issue has become a derisive sore spot for many people as well as for their communities. The issue has become a symbol of the growing perception of the downward spiral of our country; it has become another divisive wedge that threatens to rip the nation apart. But, in a nation that embraces diversity and equality, why do we allow such a sore spot to fester and tear us apart? What could be more unifying than simply permitting unrestricted prayer in public schools for everyone, adults and students alike? Isn’t that what everyone wants?

America is one of the few places in the world where people can worship as they choose without fear of religious persecution or physical retribution for their beliefs. Religious freedom is as much American as apple pie. So is prayer in school. Consequently, prayer in school should not be debatable; prayer is a fundamental right of all American citizens regardless of their religious beliefs. In America, religious expression is an open invitation to everyone regardless of where they work, what tongue they speak or what religion they embrace. Therefore, a logical solution to the prayer in public schools issue is to open prayer to everyone.

Why should there be any restrictions on prayer in public schools? Prayer does not need to be restricted; all that is needed is a plan to make it fair and accessible to everyone. However, if we are to allow unrestricted prayer in public schools and make prayer available to everyone, we must exercise caution and have a plan that honors the religious diversity of the communities in which schools exist. The plan must be free of prejudice, bias and disenfranchisement of anyone’s religious beliefs or rights. For example, the chart below provides a logical diversified plan for prayer in public schools that provides fairness and accessibility to all.

Weekly School Prayer Schedule:

Day The following religions will lead school prayer on the day assigned: Open School with Prayer over the Intercom Start Each Class with Prayer Prayer at Lunch Prayer at School Activities
Monday Christianity Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tuesday Judaism Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wednesday Islam Yes Yes Yes Yes
Thursday Other Religions Buddhism Hinduism Muslim Baha’i
Friday Other Religions Unitarian Universalist Wiccan/Pagan/Druid New Age Scientology
Saturday Nonreligious/Secular No No No No

This chart illustrates what prayer in public schools might look like without the restrictions that are currently in place in our public schools. Is this what Americans want? Is this what Christians want? Would such a plan work? Probably not. When it comes to their religion, most people struggle to see beyond their own nose. Most people, including Christians, would balk at any plan or situation that held their children as a captive audience to philosophies and beliefs they do not support, and that is exactly why prayer exists as it does in today’s public schools. Current restrictions on prayer in public schools have nothing to do with a conspiracy to take God and prayer from schools. The religious limitations placed on adults in public schools are a safeguard to protect children from adult religious influences that may be in conflict with the religious teachings and values taught in the home and church. For parents, for Christians, to insist prayer be allowed in schools without restrictions is dangerous to the very values the Christian community or any other religious community wishes to instill in their children.

It is difficult for many Christians to understand that the right to pray in public schools does not only extend to Christians. Not only have Christians fought and died for freedom and religious rights in America, but many non-Christian families have sacrificed for this nation as well. They have just as much right to pray and shout their religious convictions from the school rooftop as Christians. So, doesn’t it stand to reason that rather than turn public schools into a religious battleground or marketplace for the souls of a captive audience, our children, that we as a society impose some restrictions on the role of religion in public schools?

What is so wrong with prayer being in the hands of the students as it is now? No law in America has ever silenced student initiated or student led prayer in public schools. Public school children are free to pray as they wish, talk to their peers about their God, and even hold hands during lunch and pray as a group. They have never been denied their right to personal religious expression through prayer or even witnessing to other students. The law only prevents adults from initiating and leading religious expression in public schools. The only limitation on prayer in public schools is undue influence by an adult.

I am a Christian, and I for one do not want any adult in school or otherwise influencing the religious beliefs of my grandchildren other than their mama and daddy and their church. As Christians, we should teach our children how to pray at home and in church, so that when they get to the school house they are comfortable praying if and when they choose without adult coercion, influence or guidance. As a former high school principal, one of the most powerful testaments to faith I ever witnessed was students holding hands and bowing their heads in prayer in the school cafeteria. They didn’t need an adult to call them together to pray. They didn’t need an adult to say, “Bow your heads, let’s pray.” They were led by their faith, a faith that was instilled in them at home and in church, and that is how it should be.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 29, 2015

Seven Apps that Will Improve Your Life!

There seems to be an app for everything these days. There are game apps, apps to waste your time, utility apps to pay your bills, movie and television apps to keep you entertained, and apps that can provide the latest weather forecast or give you directions to the new supermarket that just opened. I have heard there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 million apps available for app enthusiasts. That is absolutely mind boggling. How can that many apps possibly be needed much less used? t believe it is humanly impossible to turn on that many apps in a lifetime much less actually use them, but I know some friends and relatives who are doing their best to prove me wrong.

Of course, apps are not all bad. There are some that are very practical and useful. When used wisely and properly, apps can actually enhance our life experience. However, the key is practicality. Do we really need all the apps that are floating around in cyberspace? No, what we really need is more practical apps and less gamey, cutesy, waste-of-time applications that serve little purpose other than to separate us from our money. For example, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting, but I have yet to see an app that addresses or provides a solution for such issues as the looming death of interactive human conversation caused by the human nose attached 24/7 to a cell phone screen, texting while driving or the lack of cleanliness of fast food restaurant and gas/convenience store restrooms. I honestly believe practical apps that address such issues would be welcomed by everyone. People have suffered too long without help with such perplexing problems, so if I was an app programmer or if I knew someone who was, the first thing I would create or ask to be created would be the following seven apps:

  1. Talk to Me:

Problem: Everywhere you look people have their eyes glued to the screen of their iPhone, android or tablet. Even when visiting friends or family there is always someone with their device in hand browsing the web, texting, twitting or playing games. Since everyone has their eyes glued to the electronic device in their hands, family gatherings, parties and social visits have deteriorated into awkward silence. The art of social and family conversation is dying in our society. What can we do?

Solution: The Talk to Me app is the answer! Talk to Me is an app that will rejuvenate interest in person to person conversations and save parties, family visits, and other social gatherings from the abyss of electronic rudeness and silence.

How It Works: There is nothing for the user to do. Talk to Me is a standalone app that would come on all iPhone, androids, and tablets. It automatically activates when a second party voice is detected in the room. When activated, the device screen flashes a warning telling the user the device screen will go black in thirty seconds. Once the screen shuts down, the screen will remain black for at least thirty minutes of no use or lack of live conversation in the room. In other words, the device screen will not light up when other people are present and engaged in conversation. The theory is that without the distraction of electronic devices people will engage in conversations rather than engaging their thumbs.

  1. Poo Detector:

Problem: (1) You are traveling on vacation, and you stop at a gas station or fast food restaurant to go to the restroom. When you enter the restroom, you are overwhelmed by the disgusting smell of excrement. Why wasn’t there a toxic environment sign posted on the door? (2) The family has just piled into the car for a trip to the movies, but by the smell, someone must have stepped in dog poo. Who? (3) There is an awful odor in the house. You have cleaned the cat’s litter box and checked behind the sofa for any surprises Rover may have left, but you cannot find anything. Company will be arriving shortly, so what do you do?

Solution: The Poo Detector app is the answer! Poo Detector is an app that pinpoints disgusting odors as well as alerts the user to toxic stench that should be avoided.

How It Works: Use Poo Detector to . . . . (1) Open the gas station or convenience store restroom door far enough to extend the app into the restroom. If the restroom smells disgusting, an alarm will sound and a voice will warn, “TOXIC! TOXIC! DO NOT ENTER! WARNING DO NOT ENTER! TOXIC AREA! If the restroom is safe to enter, the app will play, “Welcome to My World;” (2) Who stepped in the poo? Wave Poo Detector over each person in the car. Poo Detector will announce, “CARGO CONTAMINATED! PLEASE REMOVE!” when the guilty party is located [Works not only with poo, but there is a body odor setting as well]. (3) To find where that disgusting odor in your house is originating, turn Poo Detector on and simply walk around the room and watch the odor meter. The meter will read from COLD to WARM to HOT to YOU FOUND IT the closer you get to the source of the poo odor.

  1. Out of Context:

Problem: Facebook participants are always looking for good quotes that illustrate their personal, religious, and political views. However, it is not always easy to find quotes that meet their needs, so what can they do?

Solution: The Out of Context app is the answer! This app is a quote generator for use with Facebook. Since there is often little regard for the contextual meaning of quotes used on Facebook, Out of Context is the perfect app for the mindless Facebook user. It simply generates meaningless random quotes based on the user’s category choice.

How It Works: You are logged into Facebook, and you decide you want to share your political or religious philosophy and opinions with your Facebook friends. That is easy enough to do, but you also want to use a quote that will make you look like you know what you are talking about. That is when you pull out the Out of Context app, choose either the politics or religion category (There are 15 other categories to choose from as well.) and push the generate button. The perfect quote appears on your screen. Being random, the quote may not be in the context you intended, but you are on Facebook, so the odds of anyone noticing are slim and none. Enjoy your notoriety!

  1. Text Detector:

Problem: Texting and driving continues to be a major problem, especially among teenagers and the 20 to 35 crowd. What can you do to make sure your loved one does not text and drive?

Solution: The Text Detector app is the answer! This app is designed to incapacitate the vehicle in which the texting is taking place.

How It Works: There is nothing for the user to do. Like Talk to Me, Text Detector would be designed as a standalone app that comes installed on all iPhones, androids and tablets. It automatically activates when a driver of a vehicle uses one of these devices to text while driving. The app is activated the moment the car engine is started. If the driver of the vehicle tries to text while the vehicle is moving, the screen of the device will flash a warning, and an electronic signal will be sent immediately to the vehicle’s onboard computer to shut down. When the vehicle shuts down, it will maintain power long enough for it to be maneuvered safely off the main road. The vehicle will not restart until after a thirty minute delay, which gives the companion app, Text Now and Pay Later, time to do its job.

  1. Text Now and Pay Later: [Works in conjunction with Text Detector]

Problem: This app answers the question, “What can I do to get texting drivers off the road?”

Solution: Text Now and Pay Later is an app designed to notify authorities when the driver of a vehicle texts while driving.

How It Works: There is nothing for the user to do. Like Talk to Me and Text Detector, Text Now and Pay Later is a standalone app that comes installed on all iPhones, androids and tablets. It is designed to work with Text Detector. It automatically activates when a driver of a vehicle starts texting in a moving vehicle. When activated, the device sends vehicle registration information to law enforcement agencies. The registration information is then processed and a traffic violation fine is issued electronically to the owner of the vehicle. As the application title says, you can Text Now and Pay Later.

  1. Movie Zapper:

Problem: Inconsiderate people using cell phones to text and check email in movie theaters during the movie. What can be done about this rude, disrespectful, distracting and annoying problem?

Solution: Movie Zapper is the answer! The app is designed to inconspicuously Zapp annoying phone users in movie theaters [Note: the app Zapps the device not the user].

How It Works: You have paid over sixty dollars for tickets, popcorn and drinks to take your wife and two kids to the movie. You are enjoying the movie, when the screen light of a phone flashes on a couple of rows in front of you. You can’t believe how crude and rude some people are, but you don’t sweat it since you activated Movie Zapper on your phone prior to the start of the movie. When a cell phone screen lights up anywhere in the theater, Movie Zapper sends an electronic signal to the offending device and its screen immediately goes black. The only down side is the muffled obscenities of the foiled user as he/she stuffs the device angrily back into their pocket or purse. There are few things sweeter than knowing you just Zapped some jerk using a cell phone in a movie theater. Movie Zapper is the best friend a movie goer can have! It works in the background on your electronic device as a light sensor. It screens the theater for electronic devices with lighted screens. When a device screen anywhere in the theater lights up and some inconsiderate slob begins texting or checking email during the movie, Movie Zapper plunges their device into blackness.   Another caveat is that the person you Zapped will never know who Zapped him unless you are unable to keep a straight face. Another great use for Movie Zapper is that it can also be used during business meetings or social gatherings where you want people to pay attention to people rather than the electronic device in their hands.

  1. Readlock:

Problem: Children and teens would rather play on their iPhone, android or tablet than read. What can parents do to promote reading?

Solution: The answer is Readlock! The app would deny access to all device functions until the user unlocks it by reading for a designated time period into the device’s built in microphone, to the parent or in silent mode for a designated period of time. The designated reading time is set by the parents.

How It Works: Readlock is parent activated. When parents activate Readlock on their child’s electronic device, the child cannot gain access to the device until the child reads to the device for a certain amount of time. The reading time required to unlock the device is set by the parents at intervals of 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and one hour. To gain access to the device, the child must read into the device’s built in microphone for the number of minutes set by the parents. What the child reads is up to the child – books, poems, magazines, etc. Once the required reading time is met, the device will allow access to all its functions. The app uses voice recognition, so there is little chance anyone except the child or the child’s parents can unlock the device. The voice recognition feature will also effectively prevent the child from trying to circumvent the process by laying the device in front of a television or radio. If parents want their children to read more, Readlock is the answer. It is a simple premise – No read, No device! Of course, parents could always take old fashion measures and take electronic devices away from their children until they read, do their homework, do their chores or join in a family conversation, but for too many parents that would require an additional app called Parentballs that is still under development and not yet ready for mainstream America.

These seven practical apps would definitely make a positive difference in our lives.  I believe the market is wide open for such practical applications of technology.  I, for one, would be first in line to purchase each and every one of these apps. Now, if I could find a BS Detector app for politicians; oh, I’m sorry, there is one – when they open their mouths.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 23, 2015

50 + 1 Reasons I Love Mississippi

  1. Church On Sunday;
  2. Good Gossip;
  3. “Yes sir and yes ma’am” are still spoken regularly by both kids and adults;
  4. Fishing with a cane pole;
  5. Fried Chicken;
  6. Sweet Tea – the perfect drink for any occasion;
  7. Fried Catfish – the perfect food for any meal;
  8. Grits, eggs, and bacon – the perfect breakfast;
  9. People still call the evening meal SUPPER;
  10. People still wave or nod when passing on foot or by car whether they know you or not;
  11. The best fast food can be found at gas stations;
  12. The Blues – the root of all American music;
  13. Mosquitoes! Mississippians are not fat they they’re just swollen from mosquito bites;
  14. Mississippians will give you the shirt off their backs if you are in need;
  15. Life moves slow. We talk slow and live slow, but we ain’t slow. We just act that way to keep everybody from wanting to move and live here;
  16. Redbugs, mosquitoes, horseflies, and ticks EQUALS picking blackberries, swimming in the creek, playing in the barn, and running barefoot through the woods;
  17. Everyone knows your business! You might as well accept it and move on;
  18. Going Barefoot – calluses were our first shoes;
  19. Small towns;
  20. The Natchez Trace;
  21. Mississippians do not talk different – it’s the rest of the world with the accent;
  22. Kermit the Frog;
  23. Miss Piggy;
  24. Only two seasons – winter and summer;
  25. Teddy Bears;
  26. Boiled Peanuts;
  27. No socks 11 months out of the year;
  28. Sweat – beats snow any day;
  29. Elvis!
  30. Eudora Welty;
  31. Football;
  32. Cornbread and turnip greens with hot sauce;
  33. Homemade chicken and dumplings;
  34. Red beans and rice with fried catfish;
  35. Homemade lye soap;
  36. Pickup trucks;
  37. Sweet smelling Southern ladies;
  38. Cousins named Booger and Cottontop;
  39. Mama’s cathead biscuits with redeye gravy;
  40. Real country music;
  41. Bluegrass Music;
  42. B. B. King;
  43. Bacon, scrambled egg and tomato sandwich;
  44. The arts and crafts;
  45. Drivers still pull to the side of the road to allow a funeral to pass;
  46. Hearing “How’s your mama and them;”
  47. Hearing “Bless his heart” or “Bless you and your mama’s heart;”
  48. Porch swings and a fly swatter;
  49. A watermelon cooling in the creek;
  50. God and family are the center of everything;
  51. She is part of me – the red clay on my knees, the dirt between my toes, the fire ant bite on my ankle, the mosquito whelp on the back of my neck, the copper tan on my shirtless back, blackberry seeds in my teeth, the grass blade whistle held tight between my thumbs, the chicken roosting in my ear, the grime of a new plowed field behind my ears, fighting Indians in the woods behind the house, playing baseball in the pasture, cow pattie wars, chasing outlaws with a Red-Ryder bb gun, fishing with grandmaw, sharing a plug of tobacco with grandpaw, eating creek cooled watermelon sprinkled with salt, skinny dipping at the gravel pit, riding to town in the back of daddy’s pickup, mama boiling peanuts, granny’s squirrel dumplings, cornbread crumbled in my milk, getting the hell scared out of me on Sunday morning, learning about God’s love Sunday evening, RA and GA classes Wednesday evening, prayer meeting Wednesday night, holding hands in the church back pew, mayonnaise sandwiches, eating maypop seeds, sipping and back-washing a Coke to make it last longer, visiting red-headed and black-headed granny, watching movies at the drive-in with mama and daddy in the front seat and the kids in the backseat; three pairs of shoes – no shoes, canvas tennis shoes, and Sunday go-to-meeting shoes, finding arrowheads, being poor but living life rich, and watching lightening bugs outside my window before I fell asleep at night.

I thank God every day I was born an American, a Southerner, and a Mississippian. Say what you like about our country, life doesn’t get much better than that!

JL

©Jack Linton, August 16, 2015

Under the Dome: CBS’s Thinly Disguised Look at the Republican Party

I intended to watch the recent Republican debate, but instead I watched Under the Dome, a science fiction television show about a town trapped under a mysterious dome. From what I have read and heard about the debate though, I didn’t miss much since it served little purpose other than to confirm what most people knew or at least suspected about the Republican Party – the GOP is a fragmented mess. Of course, the Democratic Party with controversy constantly swirling around Hillary Clinton and the Party not knowing how to take Bernie Sanders at this point is not much better off. Things may change for both parties over the next few months, but for now I would give the edge to the Democrats in the next presidential election. Unless the Republican Party gets firmly behind a candidate soon, come convention time it may be too late. As of now, the chances of a Republican being sworn into office in 2017 are about as good as the chances for the science fiction television show, Under the Dome, becoming reality – slim and none.

Speaking of Under the Dome, if you watch the show, you have no doubt noticed the show’s parallels to the current state of affairs in our country, especially in regards to the Republican Party. It is really uncanny! In the television show, a giant bubble or dome has dropped out of the sky over the town of Chester’s Mill, thereby isolating the town from the rest of the world. In the real world, apparently a giant dome also dropped over the Republican Party a few years back, which effectively isolated it from the rest of the world, especially the people the Party claims to serve. Like the people of Chester’s Mill, the Republican Party is suffocating in a world of floating ideologies and in-fighting. Of course, as is the case in Chester’s Mill, the level of incompetence in leadership is at the heart of the pugilism.

There is no clear leadership in Chester’s Mill or the Republican Party although Chester’s Mill and the GOP are both swamped with “wanna be’s.” Due to inability to make decisions, weak leadership skills, or character flaws that often border on the absurd, front runners for leadership positions in both Chester’s Mill and the Republican Party can never quite get it together and take control due to their often acidic, corrosive leadership styles. This does not mean the Democrats don’t suffer from some of the same issues, but at least with them it seems to be confined to two or three knuckleheads and not necessarily the whole Party. However, the most striking parallel between Under the Dome and the Republican Party is that the people in Chester’s Mill and the Republican Party have been duped into believing their leaders care more about them than they actually do. In TV land’s Chester’s Mill and the Republican Party, the people are simply pawns to be manipulated at the will of an alien presence.

The idea of an alien presence within the Republican Party is where some might argue the parallels end, but this point may actually be the strongest of the parallels. In Chester’s Mill there is the ever present alien nemesis lurking in the background thwarting whoever attempts to step forward as a true leader and savior of the town. The Republicans, on the other hand, also have an evil alien nemesis making life difficult for them – themselves. The present day Republican Party may be one of the most self-destructive parties in history. They work with no one; apparently not even within their own ranks! They do not understand that compromise for the sake of the people is not all bad, but on that point there is room under the dome for Democrats as well. “My way or the highway” attitudes are stifling both political parties and suffocating the country. In American politics today, “people over party” is an alien concept.

Of course, there are those who will take exception to want I am saying, but when was the last time you actually heard a politician, Democrat or Republican, lay out a plan of action to move our nation forward rather than point fingers of blame. Okay, I get it! The socialist ideas of the Democrats are driving our country into the ground, and the rhetoric of Republican anarchists is tearing our country apart! Points to both sides! Now, which Party is going to take the lead and provide a legitimate platform to show the people what they plan to do about America’s problems? Or, will both parties continue to throw insults and blame at each other and try to win the presidency with a salty tongue? My best bet is that both Democrats and Republicans will continue to operate from under their respective domes.

JL

©Jack Linton, August 11, 2015

The Monk in Santoni Oxfords and the Ten Commandments for Educators

Many years ago I made a pilgrimage to Woodall Mountain, Mississippi. I had heard stories of a wise monk draped in the cloak of Southern evangelism preaching from the mountain’s summit. According to the stories, during the summer months of June, July, and August, a monk, who spoke with gentleness and wisdom intertwined with intoxicated tidbits of misplaced hell, fire and brimstone, held counsel with despondent teachers. If you were willing to endure the blistering heat of the Mississippi summer to sit at his feet and listen, the story tellers were adamant that you would be blessed with a life-altering miracle. As a struggling second year teacher, I desperately needed a miracle, so I journeyed to Iuka. Mississippi and located the mountain.

I drove my 1979 Ford Fairmont up the steep rocky incline to the summit where I found an aging observation tower standing in a gravel circle. Not far from the tower there was a bench where a solitary figure reclined gazing out over the hardwoods and pines that were interrupted here and there by patches of farmland colored in various shades of green and brown. When I approached the bench, the man turned to me and motioned to a place on the grass at his feet. He looked very much like the Buddhist monks I had seen on television and in National Geographic magazine. His bald head signified his commitment to the Holy Life and his yellow robe, drenched in sweat from the merciless sun, represented his devotion to virtue; however, that was where the similarities to the television and magazine monks ended. The pressed black slacks under his robe made visible when he crossed his legs, his highly polished Santoni Oxfords, and the diamond and emerald rings that adorned the fingers of both hands spoke volumes about the Americanization of his commitments.

Once I was seated on the prickly sun parched grass, the monk began to speak. As he spoke, the sun sucked sweat bubbles from his bald head where they sparkled and sizzled for a brief moment before flowing in great droplets down the back of his neck, down the sides of his cheeks and down his forehead into his eyes. Watching him continuously wipe the sweat from his eyes, I remember thinking, I bet he wishes he hadn’t shaved his eyebrows. It didn’t take long before we were both scarlet faced and boiling in our sweat, but not once did his words falter. He spoke to me for three hours. His words flowed seamlessly from the wise and simple counsel of the bhikknu to the nostril-flaring indignation of the Southern evangelist and played as true as any infomercial I had ever heard. When finished speaking, he slowly licked his cracking sunburned lips as he studied me.  “You are not buying any of that bulls#%$ are you?” he asked.

Thinking I had somehow offended him, I apologized profusely, but he raised an open hand to silence me. He reached inside his yellow robe and pulled out a rolled piece of goat skin and handed it to me. I remember recoiling from the rancid smell of the goat skin and thinking why would this monk offer me a very sharp cheese wrapped in goat skin. I untied the thin cord, and the goat skin unfurled over my hand. There was no cheese, but the rotted-feet-stench of Limburger cheese radiated from the 14 inch by 24 inch skin.

“I believe the list on the scroll will be more to your liking,” the monk said, his face also distorted by the foul odor.   With his hands clasped prayerfully to either side of his nose, he bowed respectfully and hurriedly walked away disappearing between two young water oaks that led to a trail down the mountain.

The ten decrees hand printed on the goat skin were more to my liking. The simple commandments, especially written for educators, were perfect for my needs.  I always thought it was uncanny, even a little unsettling, that the monk happened to have a scroll inside his robe tailored to my specific needs. How did he know I was a teacher?  He never asked, nor did I volunteer the information.  But, that is like dwelling on spilled milk; it doesn’t really matter how he knew.  All that matters is that he shared the commandments with me and ultimately saved my teaching career.

Until now, I have never shared the commandments in their entirety with anyone, but the time has come to share. Maybe, there is an educator somewhere who needs a nudge or even a huge eye opening kick in the rear like I did. Maybe, there is an educator somewhere who is looking for a “silver bullet” or their own savior monk to right their ship. Or, maybe, there is someone who simply needs another list. Whatever the reason or the need, I believe the commandments are a difference maker; they were for me.

The Ten Commandments for Educators

  1. Thou shall slow down and take a deep breath before you react;
  2. Thou shall give audience to your “gut feelings.” If it doesn’t feel right or your gut feeling says “no,” don’t ignore the feeling. Take a step back, take a look from a different angle and call a friend;
  3. Thou shall not turn away from common sense;
  4. Thou shall not tear down a fence unless you know why it was built;
  5. Thou shall ask before any decision, “Is this what is best for children?”
  6. Thou shall not let pride or an omniscient point-of-view stand between you and knowledge.  No one may be as smart as you or know half as much as you do, but it does no harm to listen;
  7. Thou shall not be reluctant to offer second chances least you be denied yourself. If you cannot give a child a second chance, don’t ask or expect one for yourself;
  8. Thou shall stand blessed before children. When you stand in front of a classroom of students, act like you want to be there;
  9. Thou shall not take yourself so seriously. Education is a serious business, but don’t take yourself too seriously. The art of play is the key to learning;
  10. Thou shall work with the precision, the skill, the focus and the mastery of the surgeon.  As an educator you perform brain surgery every day; for Heaven’s sake GET IT RIGHT!

I kept these commandments with me everywhere I traveled as a teacher, and a year never passed that I did not take time to review them and do my best to apply them as a professional as well as in my personal life. The commandments are not a magical “silver bullet,” but they they are reminders of what it means to be a professional and the responsibilities and commitments that go along with being a professional. I have not been back to Woodall Mountain, but I like to believe the monk is still there every summer counseling young teachers and even veteran teachers when they are not too proud and smart to listen. To that monk in the Santoni Oxfords, I offer a heartfelt THANK YOU! You made a difference, and I will forever be grateful.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 31, 2015