Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Saturday, August 27, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

It has been revealed, although I don’t think it was really a secret, that some countries pay their athletes for winning Olympic medals. Actually, play for pay is not unusual. Don’t professional athletes all get pay for their play? And most Olympians anymore are professionals. I’m not surprised at paying for medals. A medal is just a symbol that you got a high grade. When I was in school, I got paid for high grades.

I went to a progressive public school in Indianapolis. It was a school in a poor white neighborhood, so we were considered fair game for education professors who wanted to try out hare-brained schemes for learning. We were white, so we were the “normal” kids for experiment, the ones for which text books were written, and we were poor, so if the new theories were stupid and we didn’t learn anything, nobody cared. Our teachers were often the writers of text books.

“Progressive” meant no grades. Grades were “old fashioned.” Report cards were just notes from teachers: “John is not the worst student I’ve ever had.” Like that.

Then, in the first semester of 5th grade, we moved to Oakland City. My classmates were very welcoming to the new kid, but they always looked a bit askance when I told them that I knew the authors of our text books, since they often came to my former school to teach.

Oakland City was old-fashioned; they gave grades. Three different unit grades plus a final, semester grade. Four grades per course per semester. Five courses. Twenty different grades. A through F. I had never heard of such a thing.

Uncle Ted, my mother’s oldest brother, who had no children, offered to pay me a dime for each A and a nickel for each B I earned. He had no idea he would die in poverty because of me. I was going to be rich! I could earn $2.00 per semester just by getting good grades. And I was not about to settle for nickels. Just a little more work and I got twice the pay. Who would not be motivated by a deal like that?

We spend our whole lives working for pay. Why not do this with kids in school? Get them used to working harder for more reward. The same with church members. Pay them more for the dirty jobs, like being nice to nasty people and forgiving the unforgivable. That idea breaks down, though, when you think about paying them enough to go to committee meetings. No church has that kind of money.


I tweet as yooper1721, because when I started, I thought you were supposed to have a “handle,” like CB radio, instead of a name. I was a Yooper, resident of MI’s UP [Upper Peninsula], and my phone ended in 1721, so…

Here I come to save the day! No, not Mighty Mouse. Yuri Strelnikov, the boy genius of Katie McFarland Kennedy’s delightful Learning to Swear in America. Buy it or borrow it, but read this book! [What do you mean, you’re not old enough to remember Mighty Mouse?]

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