Wednesday, July 30, 2008
In the Editor’s Note by Derek J. Keenan
No work of any teacher in any classroom is a small thing. P. 4
First Things First: What Makes Christian Schooling Distinctive? D. Bruce Lockerbie says the following:
God has no need for Christian schools, unless they are intentionally different from the mass of other formal institutions also calling themselves schools. In particular, God has no need for quasi-sanctified “Christian schools” that imitate every aspect of public schooling – State-ordained curriculum, state-certified teachers and administrators, “Spirit Week,” athletic franchises whose importance dwarfs academics, marching bands, booster clubs, fund-raising sales, homecoming court, senior prom, and so on – with only a weekly chapel service and a minimum of Bible instruction sprinkled on top. p. 5
What, then, are the priorities for Christian schooling? What makes Christian schooling distinctive?
I can give my answer to these questions in three words: wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Or, in three phrases: Biblical worldview, Biblical epistemology, and Biblical integration. Or, in this one word: truth. p. 5
Therefore, believing in the great I AM – the God who is – authentic Christian schooling also believes that wisdom originates in God and with God and from God. p. 6
The boldest distinctive of Christian schooling, therefore ought to be in declaring that it is in the business of extolling the wisdom of God as its highest priority. Through the careful study of the text of the Scriptures and through the Godly example of mature and maturing Christian believers, a Christian school creates an ethos in which its highest aim is not merely having students who earn stratospheric SAT scores or admission to elite universities but ultimately helping its students acquire and live by the wisdom of God.
But God also invites us to master and enjoy the full panoply [a full set of armor] of human knowledge. Every topic, every curiosity – from astronomy to zoology – is available for us to discover, observe, examine, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. Nothing is inhibited, nothing is shut off from our asking, and nothing is taboo. The cultural mandate of Genesis 1 and 2 summons us to take control of God’s creation, even as we respect its wonders and awesome beauty. So the Christian school, if it is authentic, honors God by the rigor of its academic curriculum in the quest for human knowledge. p. 6
. . . we are summoned to acquire a Biblical perspective on learning and teaching. In other words, we need a carefully developed and articulated worldview, a carefully developed and articulated epistemology (the science of knowing), and a carefully developed and articulated integration of the broken pieces of life into a coherent whole. For those who administer and teach in a Christian school, the common denominator for these three elements must be Biblical authority. p. 6
My personal expression of a Biblical worldview is from the foot of the Cross and the door of the empty tomb. For me, to look out and see the world from the vantage point at the foot of the Cross and the door of the empty tomb means seeing the full picture of human experience: guilt and grace, loss and gain. For from this point of view, I see first the chaos and corruption of a fallen world, but I also see beyond the tragedy of death and destruction to the glory of redemption and victory. p. 7
A Biblical worldview is the philosophical end for which Abraham Kuyper’s stunning declaration is the premise: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!” p. 7
Michelle Lundgren in her article, A Dangerous Complacency quotes George Knight:
If any activity in the Christian school comes to the place where it holds the center stage instead of Christ, we may be sure . . . that we have lost our Christian perspective. p. 9
In The Significance of Education, Milton V. Uecker writes:
Christian schooling is more than excellence plus Bible. It is schooling centered in Jesus, whereby the curriculum is transfused with truth and Biblical values that are in conflict with the world. The significant end is its unique product – students who do not fit the world’s mold. p. 16
Samson B. K. Makhado’s article, The Need for a Radical Christian School Critique in Our Educational Practice makes the following comments:
Quoting Dr. Ken Smitherman: Christian schooling is not about running or hiding from the world – rather, it is about embracing and pursuing the mind of Christ. It is about pursuing the real understanding of what it means to be salt and light, about transformation by the renewing of the mind. It is about the development of fruitful bearers of the image of Christ . . . .
It is about preparing young people for the kingdom of heaven and the marketplace of ideas. It is about preparing young people to carry out the work of our Heavenly Father, partnering with Him in His great plan, rather than being content with hunkering down in a sheltered spiritual environment and simply attempting to ward off the attacks of those who relish the demise of Godly thought, influence, and leadership.
If Christ’s call is so clear, what went wrong in Christian schooling movements? Why are we not where we are supposed to be? p. 17
In the article, Do I Belong in the Christian School? Karen Winter gives us much to consider:
Our nation is truly at a crossroad. What we do in the next 5 years could affect the next 50 to 100 years of American history. (Ron Luce in Battle Cry for a Generation: The Fight to Save America’s Youth). Luce notes that according to research, once a child turns 20 years old, “the odds of reaching that individual for Christ are nearly 10 to 1.” The Barna Research Group has used the data it has collected to draw an even more alarming conclusion: what children believe by the age of 13 is what they will die believing. p. 22
There is no greater privilege or honor than serving in Christian education. It’s not for the fainthearted but for the steadfast, visionary Christian educator who will help determine our nation’s future. p. 23
Ralph Bullard wrote in Is It Worth It?:
Noah Webster wrote, “The education of youth [is] an employment of more consequence than making laws or preaching the gospel, because it lays the foundation on which both law and gospel rest for success” (n.d.). Daniel Webster wrote, “If we work on marble, it will perish; if on brass, time will efface it; if we rear up temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds and imbue them with principles, with the just fear of God and the love of our fellow men, we engrave on those tablets something that will brighten to all eternity” (n.d.). p. 24
In the article, Spiritual Formation in an Age of Entitlement, Daniel J. Egeler about the culture and the impact it has on our children:
Why do our Christian kids want to grow up to be like our cynical and ungodly music, athletic, or even business celebrities rather than like the Godly janitor, educator, or neighborhood pastor? The reason is that we live in a celebrity culture that values comfort, wealth, and image. p. 26
Dan Kindlon is quoted as saying, “We need to teach them how to develop skills such as frustration tolerance, and more generally, how to cope with stress. Unfortunately, there is no magic in this. The only way a child can accomplish this is by actually experiencing frustration and stress, which is painful for him or her, and for us as parents, to watch. p. 27
One of the key arenas in which children today can learn to persevere and not to accept the option of quitting is athletics. Unfortunately, our culture has focused solely on winning and the self-glorification that comes from being number one rather than on the character traits that can be learned from competing valiantly. My second son is a wrestler, and he began to compete in a number of top-flight wrestling tournaments. For the first two-thirds of the season, he did not win a match, and he was being pinned consistently in the first period. As a dad, I helped him set some realistic goals; he was competing against nationally ranked wrestlers. His first goal was just to make it through a match without getting pinned. This goal wasn’t very glamorous-he ended up spending six grueling minutes fighting while on his back. I celebrated the first match in which he did not score a point and was beaten badly but did not get pinned. I celebrated and honored my son because he learned to persevere, and that lesson was far more important than what he could have learned from winning. The sport of wrestling was one of the few avenues I had to teach my son the importance of learning to persevere. p. 27
Growing one’s gratitude has a radical and transformational effect on character, because gratitude is one of God’s primary vehicles for inducing other Christian qualities. p. 28
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Thursday, July 24, 2008
The Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development publishes a magazine titled, Educational Leadership. The October 2007 issue (Vol. 65 No. 2) has an excellent article, The Perils and Promises of Praise. Let me share a portion of the article written by Carol S. Dweck.
Thus, we found that praise for intelligence tended to put students in a fixed mind-set (intelligence is fixed, and you have it), whereas praise for effort tended to put them in a growth mind-set (you’re developing these skills because you’re working hard).
We then offered students a chance to work on either a challenging task that they could learn from or an easy one that ensured error-free performance. Most of those praised for intelligence wanted the easy task, whereas most of those praised for effort wanted the challenging task and the opportunity to learn.
Next, the students worked on some challenging problems. As a group, students who had been praised for their intelligence lost their confidence in their ability and their enjoyment of the task as soon as they began to struggle with the problem. If success meant they were smart, then struggling meant they were not. The whole point of intelligence praise is to boost confidence and motivation, but both were gone in a flash. Only the effort-praised kids remained, on the whole, confident and eager.
When the problems were made somewhat easier again, students praised for intelligence did poorly, having lost their confidence and motivation. As a group, they did worse than they had done initially on these same types of problems. The students praised for effort showed excellent performance and continued to improve.
Finally, when asked to report their scores (anonymously), almost 40 percent of the intelligence-praised students lied. Apparently, their egos were so wrapped up in their performance that they couldn’t admit mistakes. Only 10 percent of the effort-praised students saw fit to falsify their results.
Praising students for their intelligence, then, hands them, not motivation and resilience but a fixed mind-set with all its vulnerability. In contrast, effort or “process” praise (praise for engagement, perseverance, strategies, improvement, and the like) fosters hardy motivation. It tells students what they’ve done to be successful and what they need to do to be successful again in the future.
Process praise sounds like this:
- You really studied for your English test, and your improvement shows it. You read the material over several times, outlined it, and tested yourself on it. That really worked!
- I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it.
- It was a long, hard assignment, but you stuck to it and got it done. You stayed at your desk, kept up your concentration, kept working. That’s great!
- I like that you took on that challenging project for your science class. It will take a lot of work-doing the research, designing the machine, buying the parts, and building it. You’re going to learn a lot of great things.
. . . 7th grade because this is a time of great vulnerability. School often gets more difficult in 7th grade, grading becomes more stringent, and the environment becomes more impersonal. Many students take stock of themselves and their intellectual abilities at this time and decide whether they want to be involved with school.
They learned that the brain is like a muscle-the more they exercise it, the stronger it becomes. They learned that every time they try hard and learn something new, their brain forms new connections that, over time, make them smarter. They learned that intellectual development is not the natural unfolding of intelligence, but rather the formation of new connections brought about through effort and learning.
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Monday, July 21, 2008
Remember, the best leaders are those who understand that their power flows through them, not from them. p. 3
. . . give praise immediately, make it specific, and finally, encourage people to keep up the good work. p. 5
. . . praise progress . . . p. 7
The more attention you pay to a behavior, the more it will be repeated. Accentuating the positive and redirecting the negative are the best tools for increasing productivity. p. 9
You get from people what you expect. p. 10
People are motivated to do things that provide them with feedback on results. Feedback is important to people. p. 15
No one can make you feel interior with your permission Eleanor Roosevelt p. 16
The belief that I control my own self-esteem permits me to listen to and hear their feedback in a nondefensive way – looking to see if there is something I can learn. p. 17
Get your ego out of the way and move on p. 22
The minute you decide to be part of a team, you’re going to lose some things and gain others. p. 23
When you stop learning, you stop growing. p. 30
What you resist, persists. Until you deal with your feelings, you will be stuck with them. p. 37
If you don’t take time out to think, strategize, and prioritize, you will work a whole lot harder, without enjoying the benefits of a job smartly done. p. 39
Anything worth doing does not have to be done perfectly – at first. p. 44
Managers should recognize that good performance – both their own and their people’s – is a journey, not an announced destination. Everyone learns by doing. It takes time and practice to achieve specific goals. p. 45
My teaching example parallels the three parts of an effective review system: performance planning when goals and objectives are set, day-to-day coaching when ongoing feedback is given, and performance evaluation when overall performance is determined.
In business, communicating performance objectives – giving people the final exam questions ahead of time – is the perfect way to ensure that everyone is working from the same sheet of music and headed in the right direction. Once goals are clear, leaders should wander around and “teach people the answers” so when they take the final exam, they will get A’s. After all, that’s what life is all about! p. 49
Character is following through on decisions. p. 80
A lot of people love to make announcements-yet it’s commitments, not announcements, that really matter. Commitment involves making sure that what you intend to do or what you announce you will do actually gets done. p. 81
Vision is a lot more than putting a plaque on the wall. A real vision is lived, not framed. p. 94
All good performance starts with clear goals. p. 96
An important way to motivate your people is to make sure they know where they are going. p. 97
When you ask people about the best leader they ever had, one quality is always mentioned: they are good listeners. p. 103
Observing successful people over the years, I’ve noticed that they don’t let disappointments stop them. When one door closes, they look for another to open. p. 105
To learn from the past is good, but to live there is a waste. To plan for the future is good, but to live there is a waste. You are happiest and most productive in life when you are living in the present. p. 121
. . . called people live by the philosophy that everything is on loan. They contend that we come into this world with nothing, and we leave with nothing. p. 125
Choose work you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. p. 132
You want to get rid of the behavior, not the person. p. 137
It’s surprising how much you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit. Abraham Lincoln p. 150
. . . ego really stands foe “edging God out.” p. 183
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Friday, July 18, 2008
Years later I had the opportunity to visit the Radio Bible Class ministry offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and see Dr. DeHaan's study. What impressed me the most was not his great library but a single plaque that seemed to radiate truth from his bookshelf. In large black letters, it read, PERHAPS TODAY. p. 10
No man will be anxious for Christ to come while he has everything he wants here below, and is quite satisfied with it . . . You must set loose. . . the world, or you cannot sincerely say to Jesus, "Come," and that is the very spirit of an earnest worker. Charles Spurgeon p. 19
The imminent return of our Lord is the great Bible argument for a pure, unselfish, devoted, unworldly, active life of service. R.A. Torrey p. 25
When it comes to Christ's return, there are two kinds of Christians: those who wait passively, and those who wait actively. p. 25
The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him the more intensely missionary we become. Henry Martyn p. 26
As we earnestly seek God for revival, we must not forsake the essential tasks of the church; preaching the truth, evangelism, and a vital interest in and support for missions. Erroll Hulse p. 27
We need to hold the present with a slack hand, so as to be ready to fold our tents and take to the road if God will. Alexander MacLaren p. 27
If we are faithful to God in little things, we shall gain experience and strength that will be helpful to us in the more serious trails of life. Hudson Taylor p. 110
Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers. Author Unknown p. 111
Dr. George W. Truett, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, tells of a prominent, unbelieving doctor in that city who regularly attended one of the church's Sunday morning services with his Christian wife. On this particular Sunday they were seated in the front row of the balcony. During the invitation the pastor grimaced as he saw a 12-year-old, mentally retarded girl go to the doctor and begin talking to him. Dr. Truett groaned, believing that this little girl - known to be an outspoken witness for Christ - would probably turn the doctor off. But a brief one stanza later, the doctor, who had been the object of many prayers, came forward to receive Christ.
As they were leaving the church that Sunday, the pastor asked the physician what it was that caused him to come forward. The doctor said, "It was what little Mille said to me. You see, she has been my patient her entire life. From birth we knew that she would be mentally retarded, but I have grown to love her and she, me. After your sermon she was so concerned for my soul, she came over and said to me, "Doctor, do you want to go to heaven with us?" I replied, "No!" Then she sadly responded, "Then you will have to go to hell." Suddenly I realized she was right. If I did not receive Jesus I would be eternally lost. I owe my conversion to Mille's gentle frankness."
Mille could never teach a Sunday school class, preach a sermon, or even give her testimony in public. But she was a bold witness for her Lord and did not hesitate to urge all she knew to accept the Savior. pp. 111-113
In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out - it is the sign of the love of God. Oswald Chambers p. 118
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