Have you ever said, “I don’t like change.” I know I have. Probably every time we have had to move. Or every time someone we loved has had to move. Both of which seem to happen a lot. But my aversion to change is somewhat selective.
For instance, I do love the change of seasons. Last weekend as I traveled from Georgia through Kentucky to Indiana, the change of seasons became more and more obvious with each mile northward. Here in Georgia we are still enjoying 80 degree days, but a couple hundred miles north, the cooler weather announced the arrival of fall, as did the golden, red, and orange hues of the leaves on the trees lining the interstate. Beautiful!
Seriously, what would life be without change? What would we be like without change? Change is inevitable. Sometimes change is thrust upon us. Sometimes we choose it ourselves. Sometimes we strive for it. Sometimes we do our utmost to avoid it.
How about when we think of education? Especially Christian education? Len and I have tossed around the term “transformational education” quite a bit this year as we’ve traveled and shared with our ministry partners. But what does that really mean? I want to be sure that Inigo Montoya (i.e. The Princess Bride) can’t say to me, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
I know there exists something called transformative learning theory, referring primarily to adult learning, to a sort of paradigm shift that happens as someone has new experiences, critically reflects on those experiences and changes their frame of reference or perspective in some way. That’s a pretty simplistic version of a much-debated and complex theory. But obviously, transformation means change. So applying that to education…learning leads to change…or it should, right?
In Christian education…whether that is in homeschool, a Christian school, a Sunday school class or a small group…it appears that transformational education is learning that leads students, and teachers (because we are still learners), to adopt a thoroughly Biblical worldview as the frame of reference though which all of life is filtered and which affects our every action, thought, desire, and relationship. Christian thinking. Christian living.
So how do we do this? Beyond, or maybe in spite of, curriculum choice and methodology, how do we inspire and encourage true Biblical transformation in those students God has entrusted to us? Len and I certainly don’t have all the answers. But we are both studying and thinking and reading and reflecting on our years in educational endeavors to get a better handle on it. Len, of course, is pursuing his masters in education. That’s a little more formal pursuit of answers than my own reading.
Right now I am re-reading an old classic, Teaching to Change Lives, by Howard Hendricks. In it, the author describes seven”laws” pertaining to teaching…the law of the teacher, the law of education, the law of activity, the law of communication, the law of the heart, the law of encouragement, and the law of readiness. Much of the book is likely familiar territory to experienced teachers. For me, it’s a needed reminder, from chapter one on, that I can only teach from who I am and what I know. And if I myself am not continuing to learn and to grow and to be transformed by my own relationship with Jesus Christ, seeing such transformation in my students will be impossible.
How do you pursue a vision of transformational education? What does that look like in your home or your classroom? How do you know when it’s actually happening? How do you make room for it in the midst of lesson plans and curriculum and testing and discipline and just getting through a day at school? And what are you doing to continue transformation in your own life as a teacher? I would love to know.