Thoughts on peace

A couple of weeks ago, children in our Peace Experiments program passed out cookies one Sunday morning, and asked people the following question:

“What do you think people would need a dose of for lasting world peace?”

Here are some of the answers they got:

— tolerance
— friends
— justice
— cookies
— food
— quiet
— freedom
— happiness
— family
— love


“Why I love this place”

Aliana Miller, a member of the Senior High Youth Group (SHYG), spoke in the services this past Sunday about why she loves UUCPA:

I love this place for the memories it holds for me. I have come to this church since I was two months old. I sang my first Christmas here. When I was one and a half, I met my best friend here, a person I am still best friends with today. I’ve had birthday parties, made friends, learned from teachers. Looking back, this place was a large part of my childhood. Some of my best memories are of this church.

I love this place for the people. The friends I mentioned have come and gone, but today, many of the best are still here. They are people I’ve known from childhood, and people who have only just become part of this. They are all a part of my life. From this church, I’ve had so many teachers, and learned things I hope I’ll never forget. Everyone I’ve known has changed who I am, I think, for the better- from the Sunday school volunteers to the people I say hi to in the courtyard.

I have learned so much — things I believe no other church would think to teach me. (From Sunday school, I’ve learned about becoming a person I can be proud of.) I have learned about countless other religions and one of the things I love most about Unitarian Universalism — that there is not one true way, but your true way. The church is still helping me find it, with everything it does. What this church offers that I’ve taken — Coming of Age, SHYG — has been very important to helping me find me. Without it, I would be a different person. This church has given me rallies and programs and volunteering. This church has given me something to believe in, and a way to do something about it.

I love this place, I love this church. When I can, I want to become an official member of it. I want to make sure what has meant so much to me in everything never disappears — so I do what I can, donating what I can, volunteering if I can. I want to make sure that what this place will stay what it has been for others, what it is for me — I want to make sure it is the same for those to come. I love this place — I want to make sure others can love it too.

Copyright (c) 2014 Aliana Miller. Used by permission.


The Secrets of Happy Families

I listened to a fascinating segment on NPR this morning on “The Secrets of Happy Families.” Author and parent Bruce Feiler shared ideas from his experiences about child-rearing and creating healthy family dynamics. Some of his “secrets” are: 1) Let your kids pick their punishments; 2) Don’t worry about family dinner; 3) Tell stories about family history and your life to your kids.

What parenting strategies work for your family? What ideas or practices do you wish you had know much earlier? Please share your experiences in the comments section below or by clicking the “Leave a reply” link!


Transcript of a class

Joe and I have been talking about ways to document what goes on inside Sunday school classrooms. Joe is doing his Ph.D. in education right now, and one thing he has been doing lately is videotaping experienced teachers. Eventually he plans to produce video teaching tools to help new teachers learn how to teach.

This past Sunday, Joe hitched up an audio recorder to me while I was teaching our middle school group (“Purple class”) about Quakerism, in preparation for a field trip to a Quaker meeting that same morning. I decided to transcribe that audio recording to help me reflect on my teaching — what do I do well, where could I improve? The transcript appears below.

In the transcript, I recorded names of specific young people in the class where I could identify their voices (of course I have used pseudonyms), and one thing I noticed is that of the dozen or so kids in the class that day, most of my direct verbal interaction was with the same half dozen kids. I can hear the other kids talking in the background, but they don’t directly respond to my questions. Thus, one thing that I would like to improve is the number of young people with whom I have direct verbal interactions. (In the transcript below, my words are in italics.)

The transcript is long, but if you read through it, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Obviously, a transcript like this does not convey tone of voice and body language, which means you’re missing some of the most important stuff that went on (and that’s why Joe is making videos of teachers). Nevertheless: What do you think I did well? Where could I have improved? Leave your answers to these questions in the comments below.