Thursday, November 21, 2013

You're not gonna fool me on capitals either

"a country away"
Genesis 36:6

One of my least favorite things happened while I was teaching my kids a few weeks ago.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's both infuriating and disconcerting.

It was on my daughter's work.  Geography.  She had a map of part of Europe, and she was to label countries and cities and bodies of water.  Which she did admirably.

And I know European geography pretty well, so I was able to grade most of it just by looking it over, but I did need the Answer Key for a few parts of it.  And that's when I noticed. 

Denmark.  It was huge.  And.... what's it doing over there?  Yeah, that's not Denmark, that's Norway.  Mislabeled on the Answer Key. 

It happened a few years ago, too.  Different curriculum company, different subject.  Math.  I was grading my son's math homework, which for a long time, in the early years, I could do without an Answer Key.  But as they got older, if I were in a hurry, I'd use it.  Or I'd double check myself if I was distracted that day.  And I started to see errors.  Several.  Whole groups of problems, with incorrect answers.

Are you kidding me??  The answers are wrong?  I don't have time to be doing every problem with them, to take every test and read every chapter.  If there's one thing a teacher ought to be able to count on, it's the infallibility of the Answer Key! 

Well I contacted the company, and found out they were aware of the problem.  They sent out fixed pages for me, and I was able to use those for the rest of that year.  And that was fine.  I guess accidents happen, right?

But it took away my confidence.  Ever since then, I find myself doubting.  I'll be working a problem with one of my kids, and if we have trouble, and we're not getting the same answer as the Key, I generally assume it's our fault.  We're doing something wrong.  And we re-work the problem.  But if it happens again, I immediately doubt the Answer Key. 

Now, 99% of the time, it's still my fault.  My kids and I make far more mistakes than textbook writers do.  And yet I wonder. 

There are a couple of lessons for me in this.  Number One, I need to trust myself on the things that I know that I know.  I know where Denmark is.  I know how big it is.  And if I find myself looking at a map that has it up where Norway should be, I'm right to doubt that map. 

Number Two, I'm reminded of the joy of trusting Him.  There truly is nothing on earth that we can trust the way we can trust Him.  Completely and wholly.  He's the only thing we can count on.  I forget that sometimes.  Or I remember it, but forget to appreciate it.  I just take it for granted.

I'm grateful for the reminder, whether from math or geography.  Or history.  Or economics, or family matters or politics.  Trusting Him is a life-changing lesson every day.

~ "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord...
his heart is steadfast,
trusting in the Lord.
His heart is established;
he will not be afraid" ~
Psalm 112:1,7,8

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