Last month, a colleague detailed for me how a surprise edict had come down from administration to his department that outlined a new procedure his department was to follow. “Bart, no one saw this coming. It gives us much more work, without any increase in resources. We don’t even know what problem we are supposed to be solving. You know, it makes me feel like I must be an incompetent teacher who doesn’t know much about what I’m doing.” This colleague is a recognized leader in his field who has traveled the nation giving seminars on his subject area!
Do you see yourself anywhere in this scenario? Which part? I, unfortunately, have been on each side at one time or another. In this blog, I am going to Daniel Pink’s book Drive, and Richard Rohr’s The Divine Dance, to identify some underlying principles I believe are in play here that may provide us some guidance.
Whether intentional or not, your school is constantly making theological statements. If God comes alive during chapel and Bible, and is basically ignored in other subject matter, what theological message are we conveying? Are the theological statements that come from your school consistent and complementary, or are they working at cross-purposes?
The question is not whether a school makes statements about God and humanity; it is about the nature and accuracy of those statements. There is power in the combination of a well-articulated mission statement; a clear, common understanding of the biblical Big Story; and a framework for proactively integrating a biblical worldview throughout the entire curriculum and life of the school.
You are likely familiar with the story of two bricklayers working on a large building. When each was asked what he was doing, one replied, “Just laying bricks.” The other said, “I am building a cathedral!” For leaders in Christian education, much of our work seems a lot like the first bricklayer’s. We may tend to focus on the means to the end, not the end itself.
It’s a matter of perspective, at least in part. Let me argue, however, that cathedral building is not simply a matter of how we perceive our work or its purpose. Often it is a matter of doing the proactive and intentional hard work of focusing on the end result, on our mission, on our reason for being.
We need your input: CSI is here to help your entire school community to comprehensively learn and live out the biblical “big story” in self-conscious and authentic ways. But we need your help.
You can help by providing your input regarding developing a framework for biblical worldview integration that is:
- Self-conscious and proactive: intentionally planned curriculum embedded with Christian worldview.
- Comprehensive: consistent with and connected to your school’s entire curriculum.
- Authentic: flows directly from the essential objectives of each unit of instruction.
One of the schools leading the effort to make biblical worldview integration a flourishing practice among students and faculty is San Jose (California) Christian School. SJCS Throughlines “help students develop a clear picture of what it means to be an authentic Christian learner in all aspects of their lives. Arranged under three separate headings, they are qualities we desire students to develop, and….provide meaning and intentionality to the entire curriculum” (SJCS curriculum document).
In both Genesis and Galatians (and many others biblical texts), our calling as humans is emphasized as one of being a blessing to the nations: of reflecting back to creation the image of God and joining with him in redeeming this world to its original state of “very goodness.” This is the common vocational calling of all believers. Let me reiterate, there is no higher calling for the Christian school than to raise up students to be effective in our common vocational calling.
It’s summer. Last year’s books are put away and the halls are quiet. What better time to reflect on the past school year and contemplate the future by doing a quick check-up on our readiness to fulfill our calling?
If in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), then is it true that Christ can be revealed through those same treasures of wisdom and knowledge?
Of course! Do we not as Christian educators deal daily with those same treasures, whether in kindergarten or AP calculus? So how are we doing when it comes to revealing Christ within these treasures? It is obviously true that teachers will reveal Christ to those we teach only if we ourselves are looking for him.
But how? Here I am suggesting two ways among many.
If we want to excel in teaching, our teaching needs to match the spiritual reality that is ours in Jesus Christ. In Christ we have been graced, loved, forgiven, guided, blessed, and comforted. We live in a story where creation is being restored, people are being forgiven, the future is good. Out of that reality, we teach. (Although different in content and scope, I derived this opening paragraph from an article in the Banner (April 17, 2015) entitled “The Grace of Giving” by David Vroege, pastor of All Nations CRC in Halifax, Nova Scotia.)
Passionate teaching is a spiritual activity. In fact, passionate teachers often relate how Spirit-led original thoughts come to them during the very act of teaching! In this writing, I reflect on the spiritual realities of being graced, loved, forgiven, blessed, and comforted.
Reflections on a Recent Visit to Palestine and Israel
It is March 1, 2017. A breezy chill greets us as we step off the bus in the Israeli settlement next to Daher’s Vineyard, just southwest of Bethlehem, Palestine. We walk down a two-track through the expansive Judah mountains, framed by deep and terraced walls on each side of our path. Beautiful, and depressing.
We are in Bethlehem to visit those we refer to as “living stones” (from 1 Peter 2:5): Christians in this tortured “holy” land who are proactively standing up to poverty, brokenness, and injustice in holy ways. As we approach a compound on the top of a windy hill, the welcome sign reads, “We Refuse to Be Enemies.”
When a candidate for a position on our leadership team recently asked, “How do we know that we’re not going back to the old way?”, referring to a difficult time in our school’s past, my colleagues were surprised when I answered, “We’re going to Oregon!”
Recently I have been intrigued with the Lewis and Clark expedition to Oregon. I’ve learned that it took 18 months to navigate the more than 2,000 miles from St. Louis to Portland. It was a long, difficult journey, but what was learned during that time was incredibly valuable.