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How to Build a Student in 3 Easy Steps


In preparation for the summer’s Circe conference I have been contemplating judgment. It has reminded me how important it is that we live by the right metaphors. In recent years the government has tried to improve education by implementing Outcome-Based Education. This seems logically sound to our scientific minds. We need to know where we are going if we are going to get there, right? What could possibly go wrong? What has gone wrong is that we have factored out humanity and the consequences have been devastating.

The Bible addresses this. What if, in order to be a better Christian, we decided first what a better Christian looked like and then set goals based on this hoped-for outcome. We might decide a better Christian is a self-sacrificing person who follows the rules and doesn’t sin. Perhaps this person even lays down his life for others like Christ. Now all we have to do is plug in some objectives: Do this, not that; and voila, we have a Christian. Only we don’t; what we have is a Pharisee.

I Corinthians 13 puts it this way:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

How utterly frustrating! We have met all of our objectives and it profits us nothing. We cannot build a Christian using objectives and we cannot build a human being using them either. I have come to think that “objectives” have their rightful place in a metaphor of building but we cannot build people. People aren’t built they are grown. It will do us no good to try and put together a peony in the same way we put together a model airplane. We can build a flower arrangement but we can’t build a flower.

I have been thinking about this quite a bit as I prepare for the conference. If objectives are often useless or even dangerous when applied to people, what tools does that leave the teacher or parent or pastor? I am still pondering that. The tools that I have come up with so far are Love, Meditation, and Habit. I have to admit that the ideas I have come up with are greatly influenced by my reading of Charlotte Mason. I am sure you can think of others. Perhaps we can talk of each of these in more depth in the coming months and I look forward to some great discussions at the conference!

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