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Tuesday, March 31 2015

My son's school recently considered installing a classroom set of computers in response to parent's desire to incorporate technology in the classroom.  I do have concerns with the idea of a mobile set of computers available for use in the classrooms, but my concerns are not with using the computers in this way.  I absolutely think that computers should be utilized in the classrooms, but not just as an occasional project.  This would constitute a partial deployment of technology, and would essentially shift the burden of leveraging technology to the teachers rather than the administration.  I can envision a scenario in which the computers are rarely used which would be presented as proof that the need did not really exist.  Or, a few teachers will get excited and use them heavily which would make them unavailable for other classrooms.  I could also imagine that the administration might ration the time on the computers to allow for more students to use them, which would eliminate the student's ability to effectively use them for ongoing research and problem solving.  Bottom line, this represents only token acknowledgement of the issue and seems designed only to placate those who are frustrated by the refusal of the school administration to incorporate technology.  Is this better that what we have now?  Yes.  It is just not enough.

I would like to see technology integrated into the curriculum and

education process of our school so that our kids will learn how to thrive in the context of their lives. 

I would rather see technology integrated into the curriculum and education process so that our kids learn how to thrive in the context of their lives.   I don’t think we need courses on how to use computers.  Instead, I would rather see us provide instruction on ways to solve problems using a wide variety of tools and methods, which includes technology.  It seems rather short sighted to me to think that we can teach relevant problem solving techniques while we shut off technology as a viable tool.  Technology does not have to be, and should not be, the focus of the education process.  The world into which our kids are heading as they leave our homes is a place where people need to know how to use technology to their advantage in order to maximize potential.   Where should our kids learn these skills?  Am I, as a parent, forced to watch my son use a library to research and then hand write a paper and then teach him how he could have done the project more efficiently using technology?  This seems to make a bigger deal of technology in it’s absence.

When my oldest son started high school at a different school, they were just beginning a one-to-one notebook program.  He learned to organize his work and take notes on a computer and there was a concerted effort on the part of the teachers and administration to incorporate technology into the classroom.  He learned to effectively use his computer to research and prepare for debate tournaments as well as his regular classes.  I really don’t think that the school could have supported the debate program without the technology.  Of course there were issues and the administration had to learn to deal with the many challenges that come with the technology.  Some teachers embraced the opportunity while others did not.  But even in classrooms where the teachers did not integrate technology into their teaching methods, the students were still able to take notes and prepare assignments using their computers.  Over time, the program matured into a supporting part of school life as opposed to a focus.  This trial and error process worked because there was a strong commitment from the administration to incorporate technology.  Without this firm resolve, the program would have been scrapped after a few setbacks.  The school was a pioneer in this area as there were not very many models for them to use.  Now, we have the advantage of numerous schools who have tackled this issue before and we can avoid a great many false steps. 

Questions about life skill development:

  • How do we teach our kids to value privacy in a world where they live their lives in public view?
  • How do we incorporate our Christian witness into our online personas?
  • How do we learn to exercise restraint from viewing content available on the internet?
  • How do we balance our virtual time with our physical time with our friends?

Questions to explore:

  • How do we leverage Social Media in the educational process?
  • How can communication be enhanced using personal technology?
    • Parent/Teacher
    • Student/Teacher
    • Teacher/Teacher


  • We have traditionally banned personal technology when we could have been helping kids learn how to manage it.
  • If given an option, most teachers will not incorporate technology into their classroom because it is not something that they fully understand.
  • Teacher education and encouragement would have to be a part of a successful integration project.
  • If the administration is not convinced that the integration of technology is essential, it will fail.

Benefits of acting now:

  • The emergence of Tablets and ChromeBooks dramatically lowers the financial barrier to entry of technology in the school. 
  • We are able to observe many successful models of incorporating technology into the classroom.
  • There are significant benefits to this approach even if kids are only in it for their senior year.
Posted by: Rob Overton AT 07:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, September 05 2011

Herb Weaver might just have been the most influential man that you have never heard about.  His influence has been felt by many thousands of people all throughout the world although he rarely left Texas.  Herb's influence was due to his passionate, if not fanatical, investment in the character of boys and young men.  He invested the entirety of who he was into the practical training training of leaders who would themselves influence large numbers of people. 

Herb was not easy to listen to.  His speaking style was slow and halting and it always seemed to me like it would take him forever to make his point.  But he understood how important it was to equip leaders with the essential skills and knowledge that they would need in order to mold the hearts and minds of people.  He taught me that what a person knows is meaningless unless they make the information meaningful and applicable to their audience.  When I was in high school and a part of his RA Staff, he taught me to always incorporate "spiritual applications" into whatever I was teaching.  He forced me to think about how building a proper campfire equated to building a proper life.  This really became second nature to me and there are things that I say and do after all these years that I can trace directly back to his teaching.

His primary ministry was through a program called Royal Ambassadors which is a missions centric ministry to boys in many Southern Baptist churches.  RA's, as it is known, has a motto which I can still quote by memory.  To me, it sums up the life and character of Herb.

"As a Royal Ambassador, I will do my best to be come a well informed, responsible follower of Jesus Christ.  To have a Christ-like concern for all people. To learn how the message of Christ is carried around the world.  To work with others in sharing Christ.  And to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body."

Herb was as selfless and humble a man as I have ever known.  He lived his faith out in the open and in a way that was challenging.  I am thankful to God for allowing me to have him as a mentor and a friend.  I had the huge gift from God a few months ago when I ran into Herb at the UBA offices after I finished teaching a class.  We sat and talked for quite a while and I had the chance to tell him how grateful I was for all of his support and teaching as a young man.  He brushed it off as was his way, but it was a huge blessing to me to tell him how important his work had been all these years. 

Posted by: Rob Overton AT 08:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 27 2011

A.M. Overton

In 1932, My grandfather, A.M. Overton, was a pastor of a church in Mississippi with a wife and three small children. His wife was pregnant with their fourth child but when it came time for delivery, there were complications and both she and the baby died. During the funeral service, the preacher officiating the service noticed my grandfather writing something on a piece of paper. After the service the minister asked him about it, and he handed him the paper with a poem he had just written which he titled, “He Maketh No Mistake”.

"He Maketh No Mistake"
My Father’s way may twist and turn
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I’m glad to know,
He maketh no mistake.

My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I’ll trust my Lord to lead,
For He doth know the way.

Tho’ night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break,
I’ll pin my faith, my all, in Him,
He maketh no mistake.

There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight’s far too dim,
But come what may,
I’ll simply trust and leave it all to Him.

For by and by the mist will lift,
And plain it all He’ll make,
Through all the way, tho’ dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
- A.M. Overton, 1932

A.M. Overton and FamilyBackground Info(Written by my father, Dr. Bob Overton, in response to an inquiry by a researcher named Wiley Fulton)

Thanks for your interest in my dad, A.M. Overton. I am glad to give you some information about him.  

He grew up in Toone, TN, the son of a farmer. He graduated from Union University in Jackson, TN, where he was a debate partner with J.D. Grey. He told the story that when they left college, J.D. said, "I am going to be president of the SBC," to which Dad replied, "I will probably be so far out in the boondocks that I won't hear about it." While a college student, I visited Dr. Grey at the FBC of New Orleans. He treated me royally and spoke most fondly of Dad. He also gave me some information about the poem. I knew something of the story but not as much as he told, which I will repeat to you.

First, Dad was pastor of the FBC of Baldwyn, MS, a small town in northeast Mississippi. While there his wife died in childbirth, the baby also dying. He was left with three children, two girls and a boy, ages about 8-12. During the funeral service, the pastor preaching the sermon noticed that Dad was writing. After the service he asked about it, and Dad gave him the words that are now familiar to many people around the world, "He Maketh No Mistake."

Shortly afterwards, he married a lady from Baldwyn and then became the pastor of the Fulton Baptist Church [now FBC], about forty miles from Baldwyn. Fulton is a county seat town just a few miles west of the Alabama state line, about fifty miles south of the Tennessee state line. He pastored that church until his death of colon cancer in 1952, at the age of 52. I was the oldest of four children born to that marriage in Fulton, followed by two daughters and another son. His preaching ministry was that of expository preacher. He almost always preached through books of the Bible, one on Sunday morning, another on Sunday night, and another on Wednesday night. [Sometimes I think that both Sunday sermons were from the same book.]

His activities were many. He began a radio program around 1945, a Saturday morning "Radio Bible Class." This grew into a network of several stations in several states nearby; then later he added some large "clear channel" stations in Texas and Mexico that covered a large part of the nation. He once received a letter of H.S. Ironside of Moody Church, Chicago, very well-known at that time, commending him for his good work. It was during that time that I played the piano as introduction and conclusion to his programs, traveling with him every Saturday to Tupelo, MS, where the broadcast originated, and once a month for a whole afternoon while he recorded four or five messages for use in the larger stations further away. I had no idea at the time that those experiences were making an enormous impact on me. When I arrived at Mississippi College, by his arrangement, shortly after his death, having just surrendered to preach, it dawned on me after two or three years there that I was miles ahead of my fellow ministerial students in knowledge of the Bible. The reason, of course, was that I had been under my father's strong Bible preaching three times every week all my life through high school, plus the untold numbers of radio messages. I must admit that I wasn't really "trying" to learn the Bible all that time, but much of it rubbed off on me anyway. A tribute, of course, to the grace of the Lord to me.

You will appreciate this little side note, especially given your name. He received mail from all over the country in response to his radio programs. He never, ever asked for money, but it came unsolicited and was the entire financial provision for the programs. His address was simply, A.M. Overton, Fulton, MS. He once received a letter addressed to A.M. Fulton, Overton, MS. Somehow, he got it! By the way, the Lord's provision of finances for the radio ministry was a story in itself. Countless times he came to the absolute last day that bills had to be paid, without sufficient funds to pay them, but the last mail delivery on the last day would always have the needed amount, often almost to the dollar!

As far back as I can remember, Dad published a monthly paper called "The Clarion" which went to hundreds of homes all those years. The radio ministry expanded the reach of it and it was sent to most of the states plus a few foreign countries. He published numerous gospel tracts on various subjects and these were sent all over the world. He published several books of the radio sermons and also, as you thought, a book of poems. But the book of poems was not promoted and never went very far. "He Maketh No Mistake" was in that book, entitled "Chimes of Dawn."

Perhaps a crowning achievement of his life was the beginning of a school for preachers which was housed in the church in Fulton. He was Dean and Teacher, and some pastor friends of his composed the teaching faculty. This lasted only a few years because it ended at his death, but for those years there were 20-30 students every semester. In our house we had two upstairs bedrooms and four of the students would live there, eating their meals at our table. I don't know how my mother managed this, but it just seemed like the way life was supposed to be for us kids. Table conversations were most interesting. Again, part of my legacy. These were the years I was in upper elementary school through high school, so mid-40s to early 50s.

His life was cut short, or so it seemed to us, by colon cancer that began in 1951. He had surgery at the Baptist Hospital in Memphis, TN, and later returned to the pulpit for a while, but after a few months the cancer resumed it relentless march through his body. He suffered much pain for several months before his death in July of 1952.  Looking back, it's hard to see how he could accomplish so much in so short a period of time. He was a tireless worker who never really took any time off. The church built for him a garage with adjoining office in the back yard of our house, which he enjoyed for many years. Part of his radio ministry became the sale of religious books which he stocked in that office. So I grew up with a ready-made "library" of Christian devotional books and Christian fiction for teenagers. Another part of my legacy.

Surely you have recognized by now that I have enjoyed writing these lines to you. I have never had occasion to do this before, so I thank you for the inquiry that set it into motion, and for my son's internet search concerning the poem that precipitated your inquiry. Apparently you are something of a "history buff" so maybe you have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane just half as much as I have.

Perhaps you would like to know that I was a Baptist pastor for 47 years, the last church being the Rice Temple Baptist Church in Houston, TX, where I served for 31 years. I began teaching for Southwestern Seminary's Houston campus in 1983 as an ad junct professor, then retired from the church and began work fulltime with the seminary in 2001. I greatly enjoy my work as Dean and Professor because it is an opportunity to make an investment in the lives of men and women who will be serving the Lord all over the world for many years. I continue to preach regularly, serving as Interim Pastor for churches most of the time.

Posted by: Rob Overton AT 10:44 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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