Segment Three Reflection

Segment Three Reflection

Nicholas Wolterstorff, The world for which we educate.
I really like this statement, "Christian education is to equip and energize our students for a certain way of being in the world, not just a way of thinking... not one of your standard American ways of being."

In what ways might giving students access to a range of symbol systems or literacies also be thought of as attuning them to and empowering them for the demands of justice?
I think that anything we do to help our students see the world from another perspective is excellent teaching.

Edmund W. Gordon with Carol Bonilla-Bowman, Equity and social justice in educational achievement.
I wonder this in the context of 2010: are we undermining even the modest goals of becoming middle class by our societal trend of degrading the achievements of the middle class? What good is schooling to a student if it leads to jobs that the politicians accuse of being filled with lazy and overpaid people? In my context this is less of a problem because there is an appeal to Christ who expects us each to draw nearer to Him and not avoid improving as we do that.

John Rawls. Rawls’ theory is founded on two principles. The first states that,
Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all”
the second holds that:
social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they both (a) are to the greatest benefit to the least advantaged, consistent with the just savings principle, and (b) attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality and opportunity.
How well do you think Rawls’ view comports with a biblical perspective on justice?
I think that it gets close. I think that the only part missing is some individual choice. I think that one of the hardest things for Christians to deal with is that Jesus loves everyone. Jesus gives his love to people who will spend their whole lives in luxury and to those who will live on less than a dollar a day. This often does not seem fair to either group, nor any of the groups in between. So I think that part (a) stick out as a non-equality. Everyone, no matter their position, deserves the best education.

What difference should the biblical concept of “will” make to the goals and practices of a Christian teacher?

I think it allows us to understand that each student make s a choice to follow us or not. Since we know this is part of who they are we can and should prepare for it and not be surprised by it.

What opportunities and constraints do you see in your own environment in terms of meeting these goals?

I do not think that the tests can measure what we are teaching anymore. Our goals go so far into creativity and discernment and other muddy messy areas where there is no right answer but discussion and thoughtful response. I think this is the real tragedy of the tests, they do not measure anything important.

David Tyack & Larry Cuban, Policy cycles and institutional trends. In Tinkering to Utopia, 40-59

Schools will never arrive because before some schools have ever gotten the memo about reform others are out front doing the next thing. A second problem for schools is that they are one of the main drivers of society and culture. There will always be a fight over their control and direction because of this. That means that as the political wind blows so will the goals of schooling, making for new target all the time.

Brian Walsh & Sylvia Keesmaat, Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, 216-219.
"And if their imagination is shaped by the life of that community, its literature, poetry, music and art -- and most foundationally, its subversive narrative of a kingdom that turns the value of the empire on their heads -- then that liberated imagination will, we pray, engender a liberated child." (page 217).

You are all teachers. How would you answer the question of why you are “playing the educational game of schooling?”

I teach to bring the type of education engender in the quote above to the learners around me each day. This type of education is offered nearly nowhere else. It is an education I cannot offer to my children in every area, so I call on other teachers, in a school with those goals, to influence my children in areas outside my expertise. I call on them as well because they beautifully grow the community my children grow up in.

In their conclusion, Walsh and Keesmaat acknowledge that schooling will continue; what in their critique of current practice and their convictions about the proper goals of education can you take on board in your own professional setting? What would you reject?

I take the goal of making kingdom builders and creative thinkers. I take the goal of guiding creativity instead of producing workers. I love what they had to say beyond this: there is a point at which I cannot do all this myself because I simply do not know enough. My children will have to hear this from others who are trying to make them into the creative people God would have them be.

Eric Schaps, Victor Battistich, & Daniel Solomon, Community in school as key to student growth: Findings from the Child Development Project. Articulate the philosophical commitments underlying the project, summarize the research findings, and reflect on the implications for your own school setting. Consider in particular the significance of academic achievement as a measure of success in the context of other goals that schools should have as prime socializing institutions.
The underlying philosophies of community education emphasized in this article are:
  1. Respectful, supportive relationships among students, teachers,and parents.
  2. Frequent opportunities to help and collaborate with others.
  3. Frequent opportunities for autonomy and influence.
  4. Emphasis on common purposes and ideals.
They obviously consider academic achievement important but it is not fundamental to what they are doing. They think that if you teach content in the context of these philosophies then the content will be learned better and students will achieve other more lasting benefits from the education. They also backed this up with research and following students for many years afterwards. I think ideas one and four are essential for a Christian school, in fact I am not sure you can have one without those benefits. In the end each Christian school should at some level have Jesus and a common ideal. Any school that is chosen by parents and teachers (and in most cases sacrificed for) will have a good shot at good relationship between these elements. Two and three are much less common, but are an endeared species other places in education. These are choices that a school has to make. In our school we have a one to one laptop program because of the ability to collaborate and individually and creatively respond to learning.