Monday, June 11, 2007

Focus on the Meaning

One of the things I really love about my job is the constant parallels I draw between it and my spiritual life. I love the way the truth and story of God is woven into every bit of our lives, if we will only open our eyes wide enough to see. I'm sure that those of you who are parents experience this constantly in raising your children. My students are like my children (even though they are all older than me!) and this is where I see God.

I coach people into relearning how to read. To most of you, this probably seems like a foreign concept, once you can read that's the end of the story. Actually, though, many adults struggle with reading and it is not as easy and efficient as it should be for them. God designed our brains in such a way that reading is a process learned much like riding a bike and very much on a subconscious level. It is an extremely complex process that our schools have attempted to make an explicit rather than implicit process. So as a result I have conducted over 200 consultations with adults at our company and only found five who could in no way benefit from our program.

One of our main objectives is to turn the focus of reading on the meaning. When my students read out loud, they often worry about how they sound. Many of them speak a language other than English as their first language and have spent a lot of time worrying about pronunciation. Others have been made to feel ashamed for the way they read. Whatever their personal journey may be, they come to me with a lot of baggage in both the reading and educational departments.

My job is to help them realize that reading is about communicating with the author, and to get comfortable making mistakes. So many times a day I attempt to communicate to them how important the meaning is...that when they read, that's the only thing they should think about. They cycle over a it several times...and then read it for me. I can always tell when they are focusing on how it sounds. It will often sound good, but lacks the natural rhythm and comfort of their speech. So then once again, I remind them to focus on the meaning. I remind them that even if it sounds good, they must focus on the meaning in order to achieve the desired result.

You see, I can't believe how much this is like our Christian life. We worry and focus on the external. We spend time in abundance making sure our outer life and speech looks good. But it's only when we're focusing on the meaning, on God, that our lives and hearts really change. When we invite Him in to clean up the mess at the core of the problem--that's where and when the real change takes place. The lasting change. The permanent change. That's when the things we're doing spring from a connection with God and not a concern for outer appearances. But outer appearances will serve us for a time, just like a good sounding read will serve my students. They will serve us and lie to us and convince us that we're ok the way it is. We get distracted thinking that if everything looks okay on the outside, it must be okay. But it's not. And God knows it. Just like I can tell straight away when my students have been distracted by something else, so does God know the condition of our hearts and the motives behind our actions. So why do we even try to hide?

PS If anyone wants any more information about how to make sure your child is an excellent reader, feel free to ask.


The Secret Life of Kat said...

You're on a roll. Great post, Amy.

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