Sunday, 31 July 2011

New Wine Day 1

New Wine Day 1

We arrived safely, nourished by Burger King at MichaelWood Services. The site was a bit scary when we got here: the village hosts had had quite a stressful time organising everyone and I think that was replicated across the site according to the compliments Mark Bailey paid them at the evening talk.

Sign-ups for the children's groups was no problem and it looks like all thee will have an exciting week ahead. The adults' program looks equally as entertaining, although I've not yet had the time to look at it properly.

Unpacking went smoothly apart from one slight problem with a flat battery in our caravan that was swiftly fixed by our caravan provider.

After dropping the car, I walked past a small child in floods of tears who had lost her campsite. Ten minutes of trawling around the various Purple zones later, we eventually found her tent. The showground is so packed this year, it's quite easy to lose your way.

The evening talk by Mark Bailey was really good, urging us to regain our passion and excitement. He called for those who wanted to respond to that to come to the front and nearly everyone did (I was among them - how could you not respond to that?) There were one or two nuances in the talk that I found slightly worrying, but I'm going to come back to them later in the week.

Right now my family is all asleep, and I'm going to join them.


Studio worship or live worship?


I love the music at New Wine. It's inspirational, timely and helps me worship. But I love it live.

A few years ago, New Wine would produce a live album from live recordings from different sessions. The sound quality wasn't as good as that heard on the studio albums but they were more real.

I've got both. The live ones I still listen to; the studio ones not so much.

I can appreciate the ease for the musicians and sound engineers of producing a studio album. However while they may be a better finished quality - Hands Up! I prefer the live ones.

If you thought the English were good at queuing

...then you haven't met English Christians.


The queue for Rock Solid was amazing tonight. As parents new to bringing their children to the event struggled to understand what was going on, a really quite stunning thing happened. A queue formed that snaked back and forth, past itself.

The area could, at first glance, have been taken as just a crowd of people. But no, it was a queue.

It must have been 500 yards long.

What was perhaps slightly sad was that the queue was only for families who hadn't registered yet - most people whose children had already registered and had they info slips with them could have walked straight in...

A pleasant view


We've arrived!

There are always advantages to every site at New Wine. This year, on Silver 4, it's The View.

Looking down on the Somerset countryside past a vast sea of tents and caravans is strangely pleasant.

As to the walk down to the venues - that could be another story...

Friday, 29 July 2011

Reflections on what the Archbishop said last year at New Wine CSW #nwcsw11

In preparation for this year's New Wine Conference, I've been looking at my notes from last year's main speaker: the Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi.

I find it a helpful process to reflect on the new that may be coming by looking at the old that has been.

The Archbishop spoke very powerfully from the first few chapters of Joshua. It's that time in Israel's history when they're finally claiming the land that God promised them. Some of God's first words to Joshua are "Be courageous and be strong; don't be terrified." Wise words indeed, especially considering the Israelites were entering a land of 'giants' who forged stronger weapons and built bigger walls than anything they had previously experienced.

Henry Orombi spoke as the Archbishop of 10 million Ugandan Christians in a country of 33 million - that's nearly a third of his country who belong to the church. Itt's been a long time since the UK could claim that 1 in 3 people belonged to the Church of England. Joshua's story has many parallels with those of us in the UK church. In many ways we are a weak minority who has lost any claim on the land. Much of the success and shame of the Church of England (which sometimes feel like they occur in equal measure) has all happened in the past. Many must view us as lingering lifelessly in hollow halls - lesser sons of greater sires.

But that's not what the Archbishop said. The story of Joshua is the story of triumph against overwhelming odds - success by trusting in God. The walls of Jericho did not fall through strength of arms, but by silent walking obedience and a blast of trumpets on the thirteenth journey. We must do the same - not to give up when our congregations are dwindling or be terrified by injustice. We must find the space and time to listen to God and discern the journey he is taking us on, no matter how unlikely it may seem. And on the journey, just as He urged Joshua, we must be courageous and strong.

On his final day, something the Archbishop said really hit home to me. He urged those of us in the Anglican church to stay within the Anglican church. You could argue cynically that as Archbishop he would say that. The Church of England often seems riven by debate over difficult issues - women bishops, homosexuality to name two. It must be tempting just to leave and say to ourselves "No - I believe this way about this issue - I will debate it no longer and form my own church." But the thing is, church is family - families fall out with each other, they argue, they disagree, but they are still family. It would be a shame if we ran away from the church because we were afraid of the debate.

Maybe that's one of the ways we are called to be courageous and be strong: to approach debate about difficult issues bravely and not to be terrified about the consequences of losing (or indeed winning) an argument.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A blog for New Wine (or more specifically #nwcsw11) #newwine

New Wine (Central and South West) - hence #nwcsw11 - is upon us.

A week at Bath and West Showground with thousands of other Christians. This is the space where I will be posting my reflections of the week.

My first reflection is: I hope packing isn't too stressful.

My second: I hope it doesn't rain.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The unconsciously incompetent


What happens when you build something on shaky foundations? It falls down.

Knowledge is a bit like that. Concept is built on prior concept giving rise to skills that can be practised and applied.

I was reminded about this in a maths lecture today at Edge Hill University on the subject of 'errors and misconceptions'. We were challenged to draw a picture or diagram of errors and misconceptions and how they relate to each other. I tried to draw a picture of a house standing on shaky foundations with each stone representing a concept - some of which were solid, some broken and some completely absent. Whatever your picture might be, the fact is that as maths teachers we can easily see the errors, but it's a bit more difficult to identiy the misconceptions.

An error could be a simple calculation mistake arising from being hasty or not checking the answer. Or it could point to an underlying misconception - a broken foundation - which could lead to many repeated errors.

I remember speaking with a friend when, both in our twenties, I realised he could not subtract even small numbers accurately. He would always be one out. For example 24-9 would be 16. This was because when counting back, he would always start by counting the initial number as 1, rather than 0 - if only he'd been shown number lines at primary school! I'm not quite sure how he got through 'A' levels and a degree - but he did. Anyway, after that conversation his misconception was fixed - the foundation was more sturdy than before.

So as teachers how can we correct misconceptions?

Firstly we need to avoid causing misconceptions ourselves. Have you ever heard a teacher say: "Five take away seven: you can't do that!" or ""Fives into three can't go!"? Have you ever said that yourself? O have you ever drawn triangles, squares or rectangles with all their bases horizontal and parallel with the bottom of the page? The lecturer today called this being 'unconciously incompetent' - a condition we should try to avoid. We need to be deliberate and precise in our language, using words that will enable future concepts to be easily built on what we have taught. In his report of 2008, Williams wrote: "It is often suggested that 'mathematics itself is a language' but it must not be overlooked that only by constructive dialogue in the medium of the English language in the classroom can logic and reasoning be fully developed". So Mathematics teachers need also to be masters of english so that they don't unintentionally teach misconceptions.

Secondly spot the misconception. If an the same error is repeatedly occuring in a student's work, that's a glaring clue. However some misconceptions are harder to find and one-to-one conversations with children - that 'holy grail' of 'Quality First Teaching' which all teachers aspire to where they can spend some time in purposeful dialogue with each child in their care at least once a week.

Thirdly use concrete examples, or models and images. Misconceptions are often because students don't get the abstract form of maths. They need to have to take it back to concrete examples - counters, teddy bears, things, whatever, or at at least use powerful models and images such as the number line. It's amazing how many uses teachers can find for chocolate when illustrating some mathematically...

I'd love to have examples of others experiences of errors and misconceptions - please comment below.

Photo: Broken Brick by Ternus on Flickr