What if [Christian] education is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires? What if we began by appreciating how education not only gets into our head but also (and more fundamentally) grabs us by the gut – what the New Testament refers to as kardia, “the heart”? What if [Christian] education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions – our visions of the ‘good life’ – and not merely about the dissemination of data and information as inputs to our thinking? What if the primary work of [Christian] education was the transforming of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect?
–James Smith, Desiring the Kingdom
What if…? This is the question we are looking to answer every day at New Covenant School, and in the fourth annual Deeper Learning institute in North Andover, MA, June 25-29, 2018. We invite Christian teachers to develop their craft and renew the passion they felt when God called them to this profession.
Much of the curriculum in Christian schools is textbook driven, useful for learning facts and practicing skills, but inadequate to ignite a love for God’s world, a desire to know Him through it, and a passion to be engaged in the story of the “Great Adventure.”
Many of the instructional practices used in Christian schools have the goal of imparting information rather than transforming lives. Even our highest achieving students fail to be truly engaged, but rather buy into the idol of seeking good grades to get into the “best” schools and the false promise of the “Good Life” as defined by American culture.
The emphasis on grades leads to assessment practices that serve as rewards or punishments for performance rather than feedback to help them learn and grow. Students feel school is driven by grades, done “to them,” rather than the expectation they will be the leaders of their own learning.
Christian character is often more about compliance and conformity than the formation of the character of Christ. As Dallas Willard says, “You don’t get in trouble for not having the character of Christ, but you do if you don’t obey the laws.”
At the center of Deeper Learning is the invitation to become engaged in God’s Story, equipped to play our unique role, and empowered to apply our knowledge and skills to produce real work that meets real needs of real people.
We will share what we have learned and explore further together what curriculum, instruction, assessment and character look like when the goal is for all of us, teachers and students, to have a heart-generated, imagination-inspired desire to be engaged with God in restoring a broken world.