Good Reason for Rest

As a mathematics teacher I faced the challenge of inspiring mathematics appreciation in students who didn't think they would ever use it. One year, I was teaching basic arithmetic to a class of high school sophomores. We were falling behind schedule because my students still could not pass a basic computation and measurement test. Until they could add and subtract decimals and fractions, and measure the width of their desk, they could not move on to high school topics and graduate from high school. . They had recently taken and failed two tests on these subjects. Even the strongest students continued to struggle. I fervently searched for some new way to ignite mathematical interest in my students. I had tried every feasible idea from my college teaching textbooks and other teachers I worked with. My hope waned. I crawled into bed in despair, feeling useless. I went to sleep entertaining the idea that maybe I should give up trying and just find something they could actually learn. The idea of giving up saddened me because it wasn't my nature. . In the early hours of the next morning, however, I awoke with a new idea. My classroom would become "painting companies" of four students each; the students would pretend to be professional painters, measure the classroom, research how much paint was needed to paint it, and submit a realistic bid to me for the job. This was a grown-up scenario and my students took right to it. . The lesson was a success. For three days, students were out of their seats measuring, working together to understand and check their computations. Though their goal was to create a realistic bid, the outcome was that they all became proficient in computation, measurement, and problem-solving. It was an entire chapter of information in three days, and every student passed the next test. . The idea for this lesson came only after I decided not to think about it any more. For the first time in weeks, I went to sleep assured I couldn't come up with a new idea for my students. . Sleeping on it is actually a problem-solving method that the great mathematics educator, George Polya, documented. He may have intuitively realized that sleep clears the mental slate to make room for God's ideas. . In the entire Creation Story, God schedules evening before morning. Genesis 1, verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31 state that "there was evening and there was morning…" God set the pattern for rest preceding work for our benefit. Sleep gives God the opportunity to whisper into our ears while our brains are uncluttered. Continuing to work on something without taking a break induces burnout and stifles creativity. . When we spin our wheels trying to find a solution to a problem, we need to remember to stop and let God present a new idea—one that works really well.