Archive | February, 2017

Siren’s Song

19 Feb

Homer, in the Odyssey, tells of the Sirens who, through their music and voice, lured mariners to crash on the rocky coast of their island. I have had such an encounter.

*           *          *

It began with a simple Twitter message:

“Are you a Christian and a believer of God?”

We exchanged Twitter messages about God and religion.

Her profile indicated that she worked for an international aid agency.  Occasionally she would disappear.  When she returned two or three days later, the rationale was no Internet wherever in the world she was.

We talked about A Call to Mercy: Hearts to Love, Hands to Serve by Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.  Then she asked:

“Do you believe in charity?”

To which I spoke about the West Ohio Food Bank, Read for L.I.F.E., WGTE, the Toledo Museum of Art, BGSU, UT, and the Stratford Festival.

Our conversations continued for about three weeks.  She then mentioned that she had to go out of the country for the international aid society. On the day prior to her return, I get a message; she’s been mugged and has spent the day in the hospital.  The bandits escaped with her credit cards and all her money.

“Can you send me $600 to get home?”

However, things just didn’t add up:

  • Her purse was stolen but she still had plane tickets and cell phone.
  • She didn’t want to involve the international agency that she worked for because of the protocols involved.
  • She didn’t want to involve the Department of State or the embassy because nothing happens within the country without a bribe.
  • She said she had received either some “raw gold” or 300 acres in country for her assistance. (Isn’t this an ethical problem?)
  • Even though she travels regularly, there didn’t seem to be any contingency plans should an emergency arise:
    • Funds to be wired
    • Traveler’s checks to be replaced
    • Credit cards reissued
    • Friends … family
    • Employer assistance
    • Embassy aid for travelers in distress

Why did everything rest on an Internet acquaintance with whom she had communicated for three weeks?  It just didn’t smell right.

I sent emails to the international aid agency both in-country, and at its headquarters and can report that I heard nothing from the in-country office but the international headquarters had no knowledge of these events.

I also contacted via email the embassy and was advised that they had attempted to contract her without success.  I passed along the embassy’s phone number and email address to her.

I drafted an outline of the events and submitted those to the Sheriff’s Office, who noted that this was a typical scam to get money, and the FBI.

*          *          *

Perhaps I suspected this from the beginning.  I called her a Siren.  I told her I wasn’t about to be wrecked on the rocky coast after hearing her voice and song.  I can see how easy it would be to succumb to this enchantment.

Little Ninjas

7 Feb

It was a simple beginning.  It was the Christmas program at 1 Amazing Place.  My four-year-old grandson had practiced his songs.  The teachers said that he was in good voice throughout the practices.  Sadly, the teachers neglected to tell him that the auditorium would be filled with loving parents on the night of the performance.  He had a big smile as he entered the auditorium but then the tears began to well up in his eyes as he saw the audience.  He stayed with the other four-year-olds as he fought the tears.  I’m not sure how much singing was accomplished, but ample praise was heaped on his shoulders for simply surviving the program.


Perhaps my grandson needed a self-confidence booster.


Little Ninjas seemed like an answer.  The program concentrated on

  • Focus
  • Teamwork
  • Control
  • Discipline
  • Memory
  • Balance
  • Fitness
  • Coordination

My grandson enrolled in the program.  He loved it.


It was wonderful to watch his development.


Master Paxton is an excellent teacher who possesses the patience of Job.


When it was time for Christmas program the following year there were no tears.


Last week he graduated from Little Ninjas and is now enrolled in the beginning adult class.


Frankly, I hope he stays with it.  This could indeed become a lifetime activity and much more beneficial than the team sports pushed throughout elementary and secondary education today or the activities taught in physical education classes.

References (2016, May 17). Findlay Martial Arts Academy. Retrieved from Facebook:

Szkudlarek, K. (2014). Sawyer – Karate.

Szkudlarek, K. (2015). Sawyer – Karate.

Szkudlarek, K. (2016). Sawyer – Karate.

Szkudlarek, K. (2017). Sawyer – Karate.


1 Feb

Teaching has been, and continues to be, a journey.

There were the practical exercises that followed the introduction of new material throughout elementary school.  There were the experiments from 7th and 8th grade science through General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.  There were the math problems, proofs, and the dreaded story problems from junior high math to Algebra I and II, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Solid Geometry.  The English classes had worksheets on parts of speech and sentences to diagram and essays to write and the over-analysis of poetry and literature until the life had been beaten out of them. There were hours in front of the typewriter in keyboarding.  However, the subjects that interested me the most were built upon lectures by the teacher.

College did not change this.  The lectures simply became more intense.  I particularly recall my secondary social studies methods professor lecturing about engaging activities but seldom proffering any suggestions to further the concept.

Consequently much of my teaching career I mirrored my role models.  I lectured.  I was the sage on the stage. I believed every learner was an auditory learner.  I had them write essays.  I focused on rote memorization.  I expected the students to regurgitate the information from my lectures.  There was no engagement. I truly feel sorry for those students who had to listen to me drone on about some historical fact.

Law school did not change my perspective.  Oh, the professors used the Socratic method to get us to “think like attorneys” which is the actual goal of law school instead of actually teaching the law.  The examinations were a bit more practical since the goal was to respond extemporaneously as if a client presented this problem in the office.

With regard to teaching, there was desire to do things differently.  It really came together when I began teaching online and earning my Certified Online Instructor (COI) designation from LERN.

The Internet provides access to an array of resources in a variety of formats that accommodate all learning styles. I wanted to become the guide at the side.

  • I began identifying topics consistent with the course objectives and allowing students to find material addressing those topics that was meaningful to them — text, audio, YouTube, etc.
  • I also stressed that they were as much of a teacher as was I. It was a journey for both of us; I should probably be recognized as the most ignorant person in the room.
  • Therefore, instead of seeking THE answer we focused on understanding and applying the material. Oh, it helped that my teaching assignments were legal and ethical in nature.
  • Consequently, evaluations presented real world scenarios that required a recommended course of action with justification and could be in any modality with which the student was comfortable:
    • Papers
    • PowerPoint
    • Presentations (audio and/or video)
    • Panels

The practical application of this material has been beneficial to acquiring useful knowledge about the law and ethics.  (I have carried this philosophy over to the math students that I tutor for Read for L.I.F.E.)  However, instead of simply becoming a guide at the side, I’ve become a fellow traveler on the road to knowledge.