The 2015 Association of Christian School International’s NEXUS | Live conference was the best-ever of the 5 which I have attended from 2011-2015. If you would like to read my summary of “EFFECTIVE,” held at First Evangelical Free Church in Lincoln, Nebraska on Thursday-Friday, October 15-16, 2015, please read on. . . .
ACSI NEXUS | Live Christian School Conference
First Evangelical Free Church
Thursday-Friday, October 15-16, 2015
Summary Notes of and Editorializing by Dr. Bob Stouffer, Principal, Oskaloosa Christian School
Field Representative, Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)
Rod Zach, Nebraska ACSI State Representative
Rod welcomed everyone to the conference and offered instructions regarding hospitality and conference details.
Change. Change has always been with us. From the beginning, change. Creation. We stand and choose. What needs to change? What needs to remain steadfast? We are bombarded by information. Truth become fuzzy. How do we respond? We are people of the light. How do we respond to change? Is change our enemy or friend? Do we embrace technologies which are becoming second nature to our children? How do we help students use and not abuse these educational tools? How can we help our students become ambassadors of the Gospel?
“A Pilgrimage to Servanthood: Wearing the Mantle of Humilty”
By Dan Egeler, President, Association of Christian Schools International
Dr. Egeler welcomed schools from all over the world.
Philemon 1:6 reads, “. . .and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
We pray that our partnership in the Gospel will be effective for you.
We are stronger together — for the sake of Christian schooling around the world.
My session is entitled “A Pilgrimage of Servanthood: Wearing the Mantle of Humility.”
I want to tell you a modern parable of the monkey and the fish. A monkey was flitting throughout the forest. He noticed a fish in the stream. The fish was struggling to swim upstream, because a swell was preventing his passage. A branch dangled over the fish. The monkey walked onto the branch and snatched the fish out of the stream. The monkey lay the fish down on the ground. The fish was content to have been saved from the swell. He lay down for a sleep from which he never awakened. The moral of that parable? What was right for the monkey was not right for the fish. In fact, what was wrong for the fish did much damage.
We are pilgrims or nomads. Nomads are loners. Pilgrims support each other around their common goal. Pilgrims are humble. Humility is a virtue which is recognized throughout all denominations and even in other cultures. With Jesus, through the example of the towel, and His death on the cross, humility and honor intertwined. Christ humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross. We either wear the robe of leadership or the towel of servanthood. Humility unites us; pride divides us.
I’d like to link to my two past talks of NEXUS | LIVE.
I have spoken to you about hospitality, gratitude, truth telling, and promise keeping.
Learning is three-dimensional. Education focuses on the HEAD and the HANDS. We learn, and we do. The teacher and students connect interpersonally. The HEART dimension is an important part of the three dimensions of learning. Love makes the difference. The heart is the catalyst for the head and hands to be effective.
The work of the Holy Spirit pours out love and grace on the heart of a Christian school educator. How do we hone the right heart of a Christian school educator?
There are five dimensions:
Openness is the ability to welcome people into your presence and make them feel safe — extending love to those we don’t know and who are hard to love. Hospitality is rooted in the word, hospital. Connecting strangers for the sake of healing. Welcoming people into our presence — just as they are and just as we are. Jesus did this. He brought physical and spiritual healing to others. How are we “open”? We suspend judgment. We have a tolerance for ambiguity. We think “grey.” We don’t form an opinion until we have heard all of the relevant facts. When we don’t understand a behavior, we intuitively assign a negative motive to it. This is Negative Attribution Theory. But we should withhold judgment. We must not judge people by mere appearances. We often don’t even realize we are assigning negative attributes to behaviors of people with unknown motives. Openness should not be misconstrued as pursuing spiritual relevance. We must still communicate the truth in love.
Acceptance is the ability to communicate value, worth, and esteem to another person. We are created in the image of God. Each person has dignity. All day long, we are helping others to a point of dignity. We should conduct all of our dealings with others through acceptance. We never speak to “mere mortals.” Each person is immortal. Each has an eternal destiny. There are no neutral contexts of life. We are either nudging people toward glory in heaven or allowing their destinies to be horrific punishments in hell. The Old Testament focuses on blessing and valuing and respecting others. What hinders acceptance? Poor communication, ethnocentrism, narrow category width.
Trust is the ability to build confidence in a relationship. Trust takes time. Instant trust rarely exists. Trust comes in small, incremental steps over time. Trust emphasizes testing and resolution. Trust involves clarifying misunderstanding, admitting sin, and asking for forgiveness. We must recognize that we are seeking the same outcomes when disagreement occurs. You’ve got to be willing to listen to the other person’s perspective. Conflict provides opportunities to build trust. Our ACSI Director in Africa was educated under a tree, and he has a Ph.D. today. He was chosen as a witch doctor as a child, but God tagged him as a Christian, and he became a prominent leader in the Christian school movement and Gospel in Africa. One of his sons was murdered. He struggled over anger and bitterness. That is when he learned to forgive. Trust was embedded in his family. He trusted his father-in-law; his father-in-law betrayed him; on his death bed, the father-in-law asked for his son-in-law’s forgiveness; he forgave. Trust pursues relationship. Do we want to be “right,” or do we want the “relationship”?
Learning is the ability to glean information about, from, and with other people. We learn alongside our colleagues AND OUR STUDENTS. We accomplish more learning through synergy. Together, we create glorious music. This is the photograph of a poor and primitive village in Africa. Agronomists visited these people. Ph.D.s in agronomy learned FROM these primitive villages. We too often assume that poor people have nothing to bring to the learning. The Ph.D.s “had nothing to teach them.” Wear the mantle of humility to learn.
Understanding is seeing through others’ eyes. All viewpoints are worthy of consideration. We too often measure perspectives on the basis of how closely the viewpoints match our own. We can acquire new perspectives. Don’t overlook the wonders of God’s perspectives through other people. I return to our ACSI Africa Representative. He was going through a difficult time. We were in a Florida hotel lobby. He reached out to hold my hand while we walked through the lobby. This was the symbol of ultimate trust and connection. It was uncomfortable for me, but I held his hand.
I want to wrap-up by telling a story. I was a soccer coach and administrator in Quito, Ecuador. One of my players was one of the most rebellious students of the school. I remember the try-outs. Raymond couldn’t finish the wind sprints. He crawled across the line. I knew that kid wanted to and needed to make the team. On a van ride to a game, Raymond sat next to me. He stayed awake on the return trip. The others slept. I talked to him about his inappropriate behaviors. I asked what was going on in his life. He cracked-open his heart. He told me about his pain and bitterness directed at his father. Raymond made it all of the way through school. He went to the university. His father came to my office with an invitation to see Raymond at Christmastime. A vision had come to Raymond. He had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior! Raymond told me his father had prayed for him and shown him unconditional love as a child, but Raymond was angry with his father. That child was created in the image of God. Don’t forget that. There are no neutral human contacts in life.
“Motivating Students to Take Charge of Their Own Success”
By Cynthia Tobias, author of THE WAY THEY LEARN (published by Focus on the Family)
I still remember my excitement about the very first year of teaching. But the kids didn’t think like me. Why not? How could I get THEM to be excited about who they were and what they were learning. My own learning about learning styles revolutionized my teaching. I could help students discover the sources of their joys and frustrations.
How do you work? How do you thrive? How do you help students understand how they work and thrive?
Students must know their strengths. Prove that their strengths will make their learning work. Figure out what students need to succeed.
Solid, empirical research indicates STRENGTHS associated with good learning.
Student desks are uncomfortable. The brain can only absorb what the seat can endure. We ask students to sit for such long periods of time. We should adjust the furniture and seating arrangements to allow for better concentration. My identical twins are exact opposites. Robert had a classmate, Sam, who would not sit still in class. I assessed his learning style. He was fixated on the temperature of the learning areas. We bought a battery-operated fan, and Sam made 80% improvement! Sam was hot! As soon as he wasn’t hot, he achieved! He was on the cusp of being held back a grade! Students can sit on exercise balls, and they’re totally on-task. Sometimes, it’s the time of day that inhibits concentration; scheduling should meet the needs of morning students and morning teachers (and vice-versa). (There are two kinds of people: morning people and people who want to kill morning people!) Timing the learning at peak hours can make a huge difference on student learning. Do what works for concentration. The physical environment can make a difference.
Research indicates auditory learners learn best by hearing THEMSELVES. You have to hear your voice “discussing” the new learning. If the teacher prevents the discussing, that learner cannot move on. Allow time for out loud discussions about new learning. Visual learners are easily distracted by minor flaws. The visual learner has pictures in his/her mind; you hope, as a teacher, that the picture you are communicating is the picture the learner is envisioning. Visual learners are highly distracted by visuals! Ask students why they are distracted, and account for those variables. Don’t give too many instructions too quickly in sequence without pausing, because visual learners who are attempting to envision the steps need time to digest each unique instruction. The kinesthetic learner is “born to move.” The learner cannot sit still. If you hold a kinesthetic learner down, s/he will think about moving! It’s not practical to hold someone absolutely still, except in an MRI! Exercise balls work for kinesthetic learners; they can listen, concentrate, and remember better. Kinesthetic learners press the elevator button even when the button has been pushed and the light is on! Kinesthetic learners want to do something while you’re teaching.
Give students something to think about, talk about, and do; if you can cover those three bases, you will exponentially increase their learning. This works. Design learning for how learners are designed. Don’t teach everyone the same.
We don’t become another style of learning in our lives. Fifty percent of people are oriented to details. The other 50% are equally intelligent and capable, but they are not analytic; they are global thinkers. How do analytical, detail-oriented teachers reach global students? Detail-oriented students get caught-up in the details. Global students get caught-up in the big picture. A detail person and global person go to the same movie; the detail person can remember specific information, and the global person can remember the big ideas. When the student doesn’t match the teacher or the school, we can erroneously identify that student as not capable.
Help every student learn. Pay attention. Communicate ways that you can make students confident and successful. That’s not nearly as hard as it sounds. You don’t have to teach a thousand ways. Learn what helps each student learn best. Each person was placed in your classroom by God. It’s not a mistake. Every student has potential. The God we serve can truly help us understand how each of our students learn.
Shannon Bomar, ACSI Director of Professional Development
Each of you are now receiving a single [Lego] building brick to remind you that each of you has the opportunity to build a building. But you can’t build the building with your brick alone; you need the other bricks. Build something as a group, take a photograph, and send the photograph to us through the NEXUS app.
We watched a 3-minute video in preparation for Jon Bergmann’s session on flipped classrooms (nice modeling of the strategies which would be presented).
“Taking the Flipped Classroom to the Next Level”
By Jon Bergmann, pioneer of Flipped Learning
I want to refer back to ideas I presented during NEXUS | Live last year, emphasizing information from Dr. Bob Marzano’s study of 2 million teachers. The study queried teachers about the methodologies they use.
58% of teachers lecture at school, 36% attempt to deepen content.
We have way too much “sit ‘n git,” and we need more interactive learning.
We send kids home with the hard stuff. Think of Bloom’s Taxonomy. We spend too much time in the classrooms with lower cognitive learning activities and then send them home with difficult higher order activities.
We need to flip Bloom’s Taxonomy on its head. Ask students to digest lower-order content at home, with harder concepts addressed interactively at school.
We need to spend our class time in the middle of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
What should you do in your class time?
Re-think class time.
Increase class time for interaction with the teacher and with other students.
Classrooms need to be more active, engaging places. Flipped classrooms get the teacher out of the front of the classroom.
Aaron Sams and I have written 5 books — flipping English, Elementary, math, science, and social studies classrooms
Top 20 Things to Do with Class Time Now That You’re Flipping the Classroom
#20 MORE GUIDED PRACTICE. You already do that? Now you can do it more!
#19 PEER TUTORING. Kids are helping each other. We teachers are “experts” who have greater difficulty getting into the learning space, when students can better enter each others’ learning space.
#18 SMALL GROUP WORK. More time is available. When I flipped my classroom, I was able to do 50% more experiments. You don’t have to feel compelled to do classroom activities ALL of the time. Time must be spent on activities AND PROCESS. Have a proper balance of activity time and process time, with you available as an expert.
#17 STATION MODEL
#16 INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS. These notebooks accompany the videos, so there’s an interactive quality to the “homework.” I collect data on student viewing of the videos; I track quiz scores.
#15 MASTERY ORGANIZATION. Different kids are on different pages of mastery. Learning should be the constant, not the time. Just because students learn more slowly doesn’t make them “dumb.”
#14 FLIPPING INSTRUCTIONS. The video includes the instructions for the assignment.
#13 RECORDING EACH OTHERS’ ASSIGNMENTS. Students explain their work.
#12 SIMULATIONS. These videos are available all over the Internet, free or at a nominal cost. Kids learn in different ways. I frankly don’t care how they learn; I care that they learn.
#11 MANIPULATIVES. You will have more time in classrooms for students to do this!
#10 RETHINKING THE TIMING OF HOMEWORK CHECKS. Before flipping, the teacher spent 15 minutes on previous night’s homework; after flipping, less time is spent on homework and more time on practicing new content.
#9 STATION MODEL. There are research, writing, and project stations in a social studies classroom. The class is more of a workshop.
#8 FLIP THE WRITING WORKSHOP. Teacher audio accompanies a digital image of the student writing. All of the students are watching/listening to the teacher’s video.
#7 CHOICE BOARDS. Give kids choices. Give kids choices about how they learn. Choices can be organized according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. There is power in giving students choice. Not too many choices. Some choice is good. Students need to glean content and then apply the content through activities.
#6 CHOICE DAYS AND ACTIVITIES DAYS
#5 EXPLORE-FLIP-APPLY. A video starts with a question for the sake of exploration. Students explore. At the point when students want help, the teacher introduces a video of direct instruction. (cyclesoflearning.com)
#4 STAGES. Stage 1: Learn to perform a task. Stage 2: Students execute the task and collect data. Stage 3: Students analyze the data and construct formulae.
#3 “IN FLIP.” A third grade teacher plays an instructional video for half the class, and he works directly with the other half, reducing the teacher-student ratio. The kids who need help the most get the most help. Students get more individual time with students. Parents can view the videos online.
#2 VIDEO STORY PROBLEMS. How much money is being lost due to a dripping faucet?
#1 STUDENT-CREATED CONTENT. Students make the videos (mathtrain.com). When kids make videos, they understand the content well.
I want to close with a controversial thought. The world has changed. Every kid has a powerful computing machine in his/her hands. If you could be replaced by a YouTube video, you should be. I believe in the value of teachers, but, if all we’re doing is content dumping, there are videos for that. Our value comes through the interactions we have with students in the classrooms. Let’s quit fighting these powerful tools and infiltrate with these tools. The way we deliver education must change.
“Walk a Mile in Students’ Shoes: Differentiating Between Low Motivation, Curriculum Casualties, and Learning Disabilities”
By Kristin Barbour, Executive Director, National Institute for Learning Development (NILD)
We are a community of educators. We are connected by our heavenly Father through Christ. God is present in the company of the righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own. Christ’s righteousness shines through us.
Understand the characteristics of an individual who struggles with learning. What would it feel like to walk in a student’s shoes? Science has been studying the brain for over 20 years with learning in-mind.
We must have a positive perspective of each student, including the unmotivated and distracted and misbehaving and transient and underprivileged student.
What are the learning processes? Any student can be vulnerable as a learner at any of these stages.
How do we receive information through our 5 senses?
We attach sense and meaning to the input at this stage. We are processing the information. We pay attention to sensory experiences.
A product verifies the understanding.
The ability to understand and attach meaning to what we see
Many children struggle with visual discrimination, an essential skill for reading and mathematics.
Here is the letter m. If we discriminate incorrectly, it becomes an n. Upside down, it’s a u. A b can become a d or a p or a q. An n can become a u.
We are adult readers. Be ready for a comprehension quiz. [The letters were flipped incorrectly, and the adult readers had great difficulty on the quiz. She made people on the stage read aloud, individually, even though it was so difficult to read.] This is what the printed page looks like to the student with visual discrimination problems. Numbers, letters, and words become easily confused.
Letter of the week is an effective strategy, linking tangible items to the letter.
Students must also be able to see the object from the background. Which is more important? Students must have the ability to focus on THE most important information.
You’re going to see an image on the screen. Write down the first image. And how quickly can you shift to the second image? A little girls’ face. An old hag. What does this look like in the classroom? Workbook formats can be incredibly overwhelming for some students; they’re beautiful, but it’s sensory overload. Students have difficulty shifting from one image to another, because they cannot recognize what is most important. A child can lose his place or skip lines in reading. Students know what to pay attention to on maps, charts, and graphs.
Be careful about how your room is organized. Keep your walls and room free of clutter. Use colors consistently for a certain type of information, i.e., blue always for mathematics homework. Use bulletin boards to vary foregrounds and backgrounds for emphasis of important information.
Visual memory is the ability to recall a sequence. I’m going to show a slide with a row of images. Hold onto the sequence. The next set of slides will include numbers, and put them in the right sequence. 2-5-1-6-3-4. [I did it!] Good learners talk about their thinking. Good learners name. Good learners rehearse. Good learners hook the meaningless to meaning. Students struggle with sight words, because the words don’t follow a pattern. Students struggle with the actual formation of letters when they are writing. Spelling does not improve over time without direct intervention; spelling can be taught.
In today’s push for rigorous education, we put pencils and worksheets in front of students who should be playing instead of completing worksheets. Research indicates that student who engage in imaginative play develop more robust cognitive skills than those who complete worksheets. Imaginative play is not a “waste of time.”
Visual motor integration is a perceptual motor skill which is the most inhibiting in the classroom. This is the ability to coordinate what is seen with a motor response. On your papers, sign your full name in your best cursive handwriting. Now, if you’re right-handed, put your pen in your left hand, move your left foot counter-clockwise, and write your name in cursive; do the opposite if you are left-handed. Where was your focus while you were completing this activity? On your leg. Pencil pressure. Spacing. Can you imagine the level of concentration and lack of product coming from a student who struggles EVERY TIME with a writing assignment which is so easy for their peers? What does it look like? Difficulty copying or taking notes. Difficulty using manipulatives. What can we do? Dot-to-dot with straight easy connections. Allow students to doodle their notes, rather than write their notes; change the modality of transcription. Graph paper can give visual background boundaries for better perception.
Auditory memory is a challenge for students with disabilities. Here is a series: “Professor. Lawyer. Baker. Doctor. Judge. Write all but the fourth word.” Doctor was missing. Let’s go to math. Here’s a new series. “5-8-2-3-5-9. Write in reverse order.” How’d we do? It’s hard. What’s your strategy? Remember sequence, and see if you could make it work. Try to memorize in pairs. Give strategies for thinking, and allow students to think about the strategies of their peers. Students have to use auditory memory a lot in classrooms. Students have difficulty retrieving the words; this is dysnomia. Students with these difficulties can’t follow oral directions. Use rhythm and movement. Learning states and capitals can be used with the states on the left hand and the capitals on the right hand. “Bonus points” can be used: I’m going to give you a series of simple math problems. Don’t write these answers down. Do the math in your head. You can visualize in your head. You build auditory memory in your students when you take them though such mathematical operations.
Not all apples on the tree ripen at the same time.
Our role? Proverbs 1:1-5 (ESV).
I hope you have a new insight into students who have difficulty learning.
“The Top Survival Skill for Teachers: Critical Thinking Using the Web”
By Alan November, author of WHO OWNS THE LEARNING? PREPARING STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS IN THE DIGITAL AGE
I am presenting on technology. I hate technology. I’m convinced good teaching beats good technology every day.
Off we go. . . .
I want to show you some technology tools kids can use today.
If you asked kids if they know how to use Google, everyone kid will say yes. I’ll show you some searches kids have done, and then I’m going to show you how I would use Google more effectively.
I also want to look at how students contribute to high-quality content to the Internet.
We must be balanced with our use of technology. There’s a lot of “right.” But there’s a lot of “wrong.”
Here’s an unfortunate search. It’s critical for teachers to know what can go wrong. Students look only at the first page of a search.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Why do results show up? Google’s algorithm assigns the most terms when the search terms agree in the web address.
This third hit reveals a website which is awful. Looks okay on its face. A sister website is owned by a white supremacist group. We need to teach students how to be web-literate. It is increasingly the dominant mode of information searches. Textbooks are passe. Professors have website. Teachers are using content on the Internet.
What could teachers be teaching?
You can use advanced Google features in searches.
link:www.martinlutherking.org site:edu link: www.stormfront.org limits the search ONLY to universities. You can’t indicate “only at universities” in the Google search. “Link,” followed by a web address, goes to the website and Storm Front.
All of this commentary comes from a university.
Cross-referencing helps narrow the search to credible sources. Students should be Advanced Google search functions.
Prior to the Internet, possible resources were print and pre-selected. Teachers and librarians no longer have such control. Kids can go anywhere in the world, technologically.
Guide has a guide to show the outcomes of my searches.
Students have not been taught to use the Dewey Decimal System of the Internet. I’m concerned that students are using the Internet every day, and they are being manipulated, because they don’t understand the structure.
EasyWhoIs.com is a specialized search tool, showing who owns the website. We need to know who is controlling the information we are accessing.
Kids know the authors of books, but they don’t know the authors of the Internet sites.
WayBackMachine is an Internet archive of the information which is regularly backed up. You enter a web address. You see the date of genesis. You can see the history of the website, including hotspots with associated news stories on the calendar for all of the years of existence. You don’t know the same things about books. Once you know the tools of the Internet, you have much more information available to you than does a print resource. It’s amazing what you can do on the Internet, once you know how. If you don’t know how, it’s a phenomenally dangerous thing.
I have some very interesting people in my doctoral class. Two of my students are professors at West Point. West Point was the first university to give laptops to their students. West Point knows how to teach students to use the Internet.
I ask students to show me an assignment given by a teacher. Students will use the name of the assignment as the search words. The Google algorithm brings resources closest to you. That is a terrible search at West Point. The search must be global, not local. Students are not allowed to use Internet sources which lack credibility; the military academy teaches students how to find credible resources. Google can’t read. It doesn’t know anything from your search.
In elementary schools, we should teach students about standard references. Wikopedia is not a credible resource. We should teach country codes when doing searches. Iran is IR. Use the site command. site:ir I’m no longer in Maryland. Now, I’m actually in Iran. When you start showing this to kids, they love learning. They want to know your “tricks.”
The Iranians called the “Iranian Hostage Crisis” the “Conquest of the American Spy Den.”
Teach grit. Teach kids not to give up during their searches. Do we blame them, or should we blame ourselves for not teaching the steps of not giving up.
If I want high-quality information, I search AC, IR, and conquest of the American Spy Den, and there’s no crossover with “The Iranian Hostage Crisis.”
The most powerful search tool in all of K-12 education is WolframAlpha, which reorganizes the Internet information for you. What is more nutritious: a hamburger or hot dog? You get graphs and charts. Click on “sources” at the bottom. The charts were generated, on the fly, just for me. WolframAlpha looks at your query, and you get serious academic stuff. WolframAlpha looked at several thousand papers and generated charts in less than half-a-second!
Do you want to block this, or do you want to teach kids how to use it? It’s the most amazing “cheating” tool invented.
I enter a challenging math formula, and I get the parabola and the steps in solving the equation! Kids can check their homework themselves, and they never get behind?! WolframAlpha can answer just about 100% of all questions.
At the end of the day, I can take about 3 minutes to complete my homework!
It’s a moral question: Should we block these tools? OR should we redesign our assignments, so they can’t look up the answers. That’s the real answer. WolframAlpha is the equivalent of the printing press.
The teacher becomes more important with these kinds of tools.
Watch the TED Talk of Conrad Wolfram and Stephen Wolfram, who are behind this website.
I talked to Stephen Wolfram. I think some teachers want this site blocked, because kids won’t use the site well. I asked him what he thought. Teachers should increase the difficulty of the problems. The problems we are giving kids are left-over from the time when we didn’t have these resources. The power of the problems must increase.
I enjoy watching teachers resist. I’m patient. I know they’ll come around. You want to resist. Resist.
Here’s a search. What’s the perfect bunt in a baseball game in a particular situation?
Our problems must be “well-structured problems.”
A lot of problems in life are not “well-structured.” Problems in life are messy. Teachers should be writing messy problems, not well-structured problems.
“Solve” means every student gets the same answer.
“Involve” means every student must provide a creative response to the problem. This is “The West Point Trick.”
Teachers underestimate the abilities of the kid, but the problem with opening this up to kids is they will come up with problems which the teachers don’t know how to solve! Teachers should know every answer!!
The most powerful classroom is where students design the problems.
Let me wrap-up. The Internet is not going away. Cell phones are going to get more powerful. Massive amounts of information are being loaded on the WolframAlpha engine. Do you want kids to develop the problems which you might not be able to answer? It’s a blast time to be alive as a teacher!
“Effective or Defective? Equipping Students for Life-Long Vision”
By Bill Brown, Senior Fellow, Worldview and Culture Colson Center
Former President of Bryan College in Tennessee and Cedarville University in Ohio
I have the privilege of wrapping today up. You’ve got a lot of things to think about. You have a lot of things you can do. All of this converges in the context of Christian education.
The Bible opens with humanity in close fellowship with God. The Bible closes with humanity in close fellowship of God. Drama lies in-between. We find ourselves there. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus established the beachhead for restoring all that had been lost in The Fall.
Several years ago, I was speaking for ACSI in Istanbul, Turkey. Muslim students were coming to Christ at Christian Schools! Every school which is watching today must determine their mission. We don’t want our mission statements to get in the way of God, do we?!
How is God using you in your Christian school? You are a part of a great movement of God.
Today, almost 80,000 people are coming to Christ. They woke up this morning without Christ. Over 10,000 of them are Muslims. Bigger is not better. Better is better. God is on the move. And you are part of that.
Are we effective or defective?
How do we know? Grades? Enrollment? Behavior referrals? These are important measures, but God calls us to be different in ways that matter. If you’re different in ways that don’t matter, you’re just weird!
How do we measure our effectiveness?
We measure effectiveness 5, 10, and 15 years later. Are our students still walking with Christ? Do they believe they are prepared for the world in which they live? How could the school have been better?
Students are receiving intellectual capital which they will invest for a lifetime.
Students are looking for people they want to be like.
Staying effective is a moving target. Culture re-boots itself about every 5 years. It used to be every 20-25 years. Vocabulary changes. How do you keep up? We tend to educate our schools for world as it is. [We should be educating students for the world which will be.]
We educate children, and we don’t even know them.
AXIS has a free cultural translator to find out what’s happening in the culture. It’s worth doing that. Your junior high and high school students will be amazed that you know more about the culture than they.
Distinguish between “agenda” and “vision.” Agendas are short-sighted activities to accomplish near-sighted goals. Visions are expansive plans to achieve ambitious aspirations.
At Bryan College, we put together a great long-range plan. It was remarkable, because we kept referring to it, and things started changing in positive ways. In the middle of the plan, about half of the campus was destroyed by a fire. We inserted mobile units at tuition of $20,000 per year. But enrollment went up 20%. We were galvanized by the 20-year plan, which we accomplished in 7 years! God did great things.
Take 37 seconds to tell the mission statement of your school.
That’s your DNA. Who are you — for whom — and why?
In 24 seconds, what is the vision for your school?
At some point, write the vision FOR EACH STUDENT. See where I’m going with this?
If God has such a great vision for each of us, why don’t we have a vision for each student in our school?
Your mission is here. You vision is here. In the middle is the strategic map.
Vision statements are so important.
Sony (1950): Become the company most known for changing the quality of Japanese products.
Honda (1970): We will destroy Yamaha!
Save the Children: Every child attains the right to survival, development, protection, and participation
Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I Have a Dream!”
Visions can be disturbing.
Islamic State: “Clinging to faith in Allah, conquering Christianity, and owning the world.”
John Lennon: Imagine there’s no heaven. . . .
Imagine. Vision is imagining a better future.
We must discover God’s vision for our schools.
An agenda is to cook supper. A vision is to eradicate hunger and poverty.
An agenda is to buy the right shoes. A vision is to eliminate disease through sound footwear.
An agenda is to be doctrinally correct. A vision is to nurture students who understand biblical truth in all spheres of life.
Without a vision, we go from one agenda to the next.
“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” (Steve Jobs)
The Nazis bombed London relentlessly. Churchill never left the city. While the British were being bombed, he was planning the invasion of Germany! Alcoholism and suicide declined dramatically during the Blitzkrieg. People were tuning into the radio to hear Winston Churchill’s vision for England.
How do we inculcate vision with our students?
Just because you know the Bible doesn’t mean you have a biblical worldview. We need an education which is broad and deep.
Oswald Chambers: My strong advice to you is to soak, soak, soak in philosophy and psychology until you know more of these subjects than every you need consciously to think. . . .”
Are we informing or transforming in Christian schools? God gave us His Word to inform AND TRANSFORM!
We must equip our students.
Are we filling a bucket or lighting a fire? Lighting a fire in them, not under them?!
Students must understand what they believe and what others believe, and they must be able to preach the Gospel with respect and gentleness.
One day in our Dayton, Ohio church, I was the Christian on stage with a Jewish Rabbi, Buddhist, and Muslim. Each of us were describing what we believed. I got to describe the vision of Christianity, including heaven! What an education that was for us all!
We get bombarded by alternate worldviews. How are we preparing our students to make a difference in that culture, as men and women of Christ?
Know God. Know God’s Word. Know God’s world. Be known by Him.
Being a Christian is not about following the rules. You can follow the rules and not know Christ. Do your students know grace? Not just teaching about grace. Have they experienced grace? Have they experienced it from you and your school?
Do your students understand the Word of God? Have we equipped them to deal with questions from the world?
Here are questions I have been asked:
Doesn’t science prove that God doesn’t need to exist?
Why doesn’t He let his presence become more real?
Why evil in the world?
Why is biblical truth superior?
Why did Bible heroes have lots of wives? Why can’t we?
Why are Christians so close-minded and mean-spirited?
How come Christians dislike each other?
Why do churches spend so much money on nice buildings but not on poverty?
Why do other religions think they are right and Christianity is wrong?
It’s not a matter of clever answers or solutions, but there are biblical resolutions from a biblical worldview, and all of you, as mentors, need to be diving into this, so you can equip our students. We’re making navigators.
We must exegete the Word AND GOD’S WORLD. Enslave yourself to everyone you meet, and build a bridge to Jesus for each man and woman. The answer is Jesus Christ, who alone satisfies our deepest desires.
The issue is not unanswered questions. The issue is unquestioned answers.
We press on. Should we circle the wagons? This is no time to withdraw. This is the most exciting time to be a Christian. That’s why what you do is so important. Safe does not exist anymore. Take ahold of that which Christ took hold of. PRESS ON. Passionately pursue Christ. Your students should see you passionately pursuing Christ.
We must act. [See p. 60 of the conference booklet.]
Develop your mission. Does it fit what you’re doing? Does everyone know the Mission Statement.
Develop your vision. Do you have a bold vision for the future? Does everyone know the Vision Statement? Be brave! Survey your parents and students and alumni. What do they want from your school? Are you fulfilling your mission? Are you stretching toward the vision?
Change will happen. You can’t stop change. But you can intentionally influence the change.
Your walk with Christ is crucial. You cannot give away what you do not have. Some of you are having intense struggles right now. You haven’t told anyone. Sin. Depression. Anxiety. Doubt. Even doubt about faith. Pornography. Unresolved issues. Do not let Satan get a foothold. Please. It’s your responsibility to respond. God expects it, and your students deserve it. Your students are looking for people they want to be like.
Helen Keller said the only thing worse than being blind is to be sighted but have no vision.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. : We face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I have a dream today.
What is your dream TODAY? What is your vision TODAY?
I was invited to a school. I went to the faculty prayer meeting of the Christian school. Everyone was jammed in the room, many of them weeping. I listened how they knew and understood their kids. I walked out and asked how often they did this. Every day. Wherever you are in your own spiritual walk, for the sake of these schoolchildren, and for your sake, be open to God and how he can use you in the Kingdom.
If people ask you what you do for a living, tell them, “I deal with precious commodities every day.”
John Storey, Vice-President, ACSI
When a student is fully taught, he will be like his teacher.
Young people have changed. Our culture is changing. We must adapt within the sphere of truth.
“Head, Hands, Heart: Three-Dimensional Education”
By Dr. Vernard Gant, Former Vice-President of Urban Schools, ACSI
A great day to all of you here and around the world! It is such a pleasure to have the opportunity to share with you. Let’s look at Christian education in an expansive light.
Jesus said, in John 8:12, that He is the light of the world. His followers would not walk in darkness, and they would be the light of life. In Matthew 5:14, he described his followers as light on the hill that shines to glorify our Father in heaven.
If we, as Christians, are the light, does that apply to Christian education? Is our education the educational light of the world? Education shining and encroaching on the darkness?! Can we take Christian education and expand it from a defensive posture — protecting children from the darkness — to an offensive posture of spreading light into the dark world? [OF COURSE!]
I travel extensively. I hear the angst of educators discussing educational reforms around the country. We seem to have no great solutions. Are Christian schools the solution?! Why you?! Why these Christian schoolchildren?!
We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a special (peculiar) people — that you might show God’s most marvelous light! I know that’s why those children and you have been chosen! He has given us the opportunity to show the power that has been entrusted to Him and continues to honor Him!
To a very large degree, we may be under-performing, in this regard. I have sat at tables with people of power, people who are seeking “world-class education” for students. The world’s “best line” for world-class education should be our “base line.” God wants us to provide “Kingdom class” education. Don’t stoop to “world class”!
What is education today? It’s three-dimensional.
The world believes in two-dimensional education. Content is the first dimension. We pour content into students’ minds. Dimension 1 is instruction/content. With the hands, we apply that content in Dimension 2.
Dimension 3 is the heart. In Christian education, we take all three dimensions — which are God-infused — so students have been uniquely educated in God’s truth. God’s truth of the world is interwoven with the truth of God’s Word.
Worldly content devoid of the Word’s content will inevitably lead to erroneous conclusions.
You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Truth liberates. Truth sanctifies the people of God. God’s Word is truth. By such, you and I must become students of the Word. We must have a steady, daily diet of the Word. Content and knowledge without the truth of God’s Word does not do the work of sanctification. We must not stand before schoolchildren as spiritually malnourished leaders, for those children will know that. Filter the content of learning through the filter of biblical truth.
We are also empowered by God’s Spirit! Not by power, nor by might, but by God’s Spirit do we take this content — this truth — the truth of our lives — showing the anointment of the Spirit on our teaching. As the Father sent Jesus, we have the same anointing. We have the power of the Holy Spirit upon us! Content, professional development, and pedagogy can make us influential, but God doesn’t want us to be INFLUENTIAL. The Spirit of God on our content, professional development, and pedagogy in Kingdom education will result in our being IMPACTFUL!
We let an educational light so shine to impact the world and roll back the darkness!
We sometimes come up short. We make the mistake of whittling down to what is humanly explainable. We give up on certain children, because we think God can only work with “certain” children. The world is not impressed. Christian schools cannot just admit only students who are highly educable. [Public schools admit students of ALL abilities.] We serve the God of Elijah!
We think we should only have children who don’t need grace! Wouldn’t it be nice to have schoolchildren who do not sin?! There are no situations beyond the reach of God’s power. We have been empowered by God’s Spirit.
We have been equipped with God’s love. The love of God has been poured out — shed abroad — in our hearts. Take the stuff of the curriculum — which is “Christian” — written words on pages. These words on pages are powerless to bring life. In the beginning, we had the Word — His law — in writing — but it was powerless to impart life. The law does not impart life. When the Word became flesh in Jesus, and we beheld his glory, full of grace and truth, the Word imparted life! You deliver content through your conduct. YOU are God’s curriculum. You are the living curriculum as Christian school educators. You, as God’s curriculum, dwelling among the children with grace and truth, impart truth that is written on the hearts of the children. Such is the power to transform! The teaching is full of grace and truth. Teaching without grace is condemning; teaching without truth, is condoning.
That is the power of Christian education. Such is “Kingdom class.” There are no conditions beyond the scope of learning.
I had the opportunity to meet with the U.S. Vice-President’s Chief of Staff. He was chiding Christian educators in the room. He claimed that Christian educators “cheat.” He said we were very selective in the children we serve. We are “playing a card game, he said, pulling out all of the aces, kings, queens — bragging about how good our hand is.” He called that cheating. I told him we pick up the deck of cards, take out the cards he didn’t want — the lame, the crippled, the blind come — and we infuse truth, the power of Christ — and the twos and threes have been transformed into kings and queens. We call that a miracle! People will say, “The Lord — He is God. The Lord — He is God. The Lord — He is God! AMEN!”
Dr. Dan Egeler
Over 75% of the schools which ACSI serves are outside the United States. Now, we are going to speak to a Christian school in Guatemala City, Guatemala. God has used ACSI to bless schools for 26 years in Guatemala.
ACSI Director for Latin America
These teachers behind me are a sampling of Latin America educators we are serving in our region. This is the largest block of people speaking the same language, and you are a part of that. We believe Christian schools have the potential to change the future of Latin America. It’s not just about academics. Every student, under the influence of a Christian school teacher, has the opportunity to change our countries. We can do it! We believe Christian schools can make a difference. Jimmy Morales is a graduate of a Christian school; he is about to become President of Guatemala! These kinds of professional development are cherished in Latin America. In Brazil, the ACSI convention takes place on a holiday, and more than 1,000 teachers gather on that holiday! The conference is not boring to them. It is worth it! Teachers make all kinds of sacrifices; they will travel up to 14 hours in a bus to attend a professional development event. Teachers stay late at school to take part in webinars. It is worth it! How many of you believe similarly? It is worth it!
Right now, we are living in an incredibly strategic time of history. We have a pent-up demand with emerging leaders to lead their people groups throughout the world. ACSI has 18 global offices in the world. We don’t have the resources to address those opportunities. We need to identify, equip, and empower leaders for the Christian school movement. Education is the key issue to change society. Christian school children’s lives are being developed under the power of Christ. Our children take the love of the Lord to other people. Monthly financial support will impact the leaders, who will impact others. It’s is God work, God’s Kingdom. As we have been blessed, we have an opportunity to be a blessing. God is using Christian schooling to accomplish His purposes through a spiritual tsunami, and everyone of you is a part of it. I give personally, because I know these leaders. These men and women are making incredible sacrifices. We have an opportunity this morning to give. At this time, I call all of the volunteers to take the offering for our international Christian schools.
“Fueling Learning: Sparking Curiosity in the 21st Century”
By Dr. Kevin Washburn, Director, Clerestory Learning
Learning is movement. And movement requires fuel. Curiosity and fuel can accomplish great learning.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” (Albert Einstein)
Curiosity fuels learning!
Think about energy, movement, and momentum. What is the relationship among those three concepts? Energy enables movement. Movement sparks momentum.
Learning is movement. In the brain, that’s literally true. Any physical step toward a goal involves an active neuro-network of the brain. Movement requires energy. So what is the energy source of learning? I would say it’s curiosity.
We are at a time when our influence as educators is critically important. But we have a great challenge. Susan Engel has said that CHILDREN are curious, but STUDENTS are not. Between 40-60% of high school students are chronically disengaged at school. It’s not as though they suddenly become chronically disengaged in high school. As kids mature, the numbers of questions of students drop dramatically. [Do we, as educators, contribute to that drop?] By fifth grade, curiosity episodes are few and far between. Why does this matter in 21st Century classrooms?
Business owners are looking for curious employees. We need to be equipping students to be self-guided, curious learners.
Engagement does not equal curiosity. Curiosity prompts learning. If children are curious, but students are not, we face a major challenge. How can we nurture a classroom atmosphere of curiosity?
Curiosity flourishes in cultures of freedom. Flexibility characterizes these classrooms.
Curiosity is contagious and caught through conversations among students and teachers. Teachers should be looking for teachable moments.
Fear must be eliminated. Scolding inhibits curiosity. How an adult responds to students either nurtures or inhibits curiosity. We are teaching children. We are not teaching curriculum.
What strategies can we use to foster more curiosity in our classrooms?
Model curiosity in your own life. Describe your own fascinations, and you’ll do a commercial for curiosity.
Keep engaging students with questions which lead to higher order thinking. The curiosity of our students is AT LEAST as important as the curriculum. “Covering curriculum” is one of the greatest enemies of curiosity and learning. Think like Rod Serling, who had the incredible ability in “The Twilight Zone” to pique curiosity through questions. Raise questions in students’ minds. Why? and How? questions generate more interest than Who? and What? questions. Questions represent curiosity.
QUESTION AND SUPPORT, RATHER DIRECTING AND EXPLAINING
Teachers tend to fall into explanation mode. When a student shows curiosity, start asking questions. Questioning, more than directing and explaining, encourages more robust learning. Questions spark curiosity and literal brain activity. Dopamine enhances the learning, and recall is better. If the question is too simple, keep asking more questions until you get to more meaningful questions. If the question seems without meaning, contextualize it. If the question is too general, make it more specific. If the question is too narrow, broaden it. If the questions is too broad, narrow it.
BE CAUTIOUS WITH CAUTIONS.
Again, there should be some measure of freedom. The learning must not be governed by rules. Don’t try to make your classroom “fail-proof.” Children need to learn resilience. Resilience is learned through set-backs. A student’s achievement is probably attributed to intelligence; the other 50% is related to curiosity and resilience. Support students in their failures.
STAY ALERT FOR CURIOSITY MOMENTS.
Again, don’t jump into explanation mode. Discovery is more important and effective than having something explained to us.
Tell stories related to content. Leave the stories at good “commercial break moments.” Allow students to ask questions. Bring in elements of mystery. Create anticipatory sets. Ask the students, “What do you think this mystery has to do with today’s lesson?” Engage students in thinking which constructs understanding — through curiosity.
INTRODUCE CONCEPTUAL CONFLICTS.
How can paradoxes exist? Raise questions. Allow students to generate and record their own questions. As soon as you’ve got them asking questions, you’ve got them! A culture of questioning is a vineyard of learning.
Moses had a life-changing moment at the burning bush. Why wasn’t the bush burning up? Curiosity drove Moses into the presence of God. We have an insatiable curiosity, because God created us to be curious. Moses knew God better because of his curiosity about the burning bush. Curiosity deserves an excellent reputation. Be creative yourself. Nurture your students to be curious influencers of society. It’s only then that we can fulfill our mission as schools.
By Eric Metaxas, author of the recent biography, DIETRICH BONHOEFFER
I get to speak to Christian educators all around the world. It’s a humbling and thrilling thing. The first thing I want to say is what you are doing is making a huge difference, and you are not half as aware of your influence as I am.
I went to Yale University. People think that’s the greatest education. It is NOT the greatest education. It fails utterly. The big questions of life are answered by Christ-centered schools, which is true education. The secular world is afraid of the big questions. People don’t think life has meaning. Do you understand how bleak that is? We are made in the image of the God of the universe. That is at the heart of Christian education. That should take your breath away. We can’t begin to comprehend who God is. It’s unfathomable that we get to be a part of God’s purposes for life and for our lives. To liberal secular humanists, there is no God behind the randomness of life. The concept of meaning itself is meaningless. Meaning is a construct to perpetuate the species.
Christian educators say a loving God created us in our image, and He has a plan to bless us with a hope, a plan, and a future. You are doing something so different than education everywhere else. You are a fish swimming in the aquarium, and you’re not even aware of your profound influence. Your work changes things. The difference you are making is beyond belief. I want to affirm you in that. People outside Christian schools are not getting what you are giving. In life, you struggle. Good marriages are hard; bad marriages are harder. Good parenting is hard; bad parenting is harder and damaging.
You are transmitting meaning connected to the God who brought us into this world and wants to have a relationship with us.
I want to talk for my remaining moments about heroes.
In the past, we weren’t afraid of heroes. Every culture has heroes. We transmit who is good through the choice of our heroes. We teach about what is good and who is good through heroes. We need to teach kids about heroes and what they did. We need hope, because life is hard. God gives us examples of people who encourage us. It’s about Jesus, who was a person, one who came to live among us. He lived among people, who, then, lived among people, who, then, lived among people. . . .
Each of us is called to be a hero to those around us. We are called to transmit the life of a Christian to others. People in your circle are looking to you. You will either lead people closer to or further away from God. Draw them to Jesus by being like Jesus. Each of us is potentially a hero to those around us. God calls us to live lives which reflect His glory, so others want to be like us. We are each called to be heroes.
In education, we have to transmit the stories of the heroic. Whoever wrote Hebrews inspired others in Chapter 11 with heroes of the faith.
In our generation, we are uncomfortable with heroes. We reduce the great hero George Washington as a racist slave owner. The stories of heroes and heroines are not told any more.
I write biographies as stories of heroes. Wilberforce was a hero. We forget how many Christians were abolitionists. The fight against slavery came from Christian churches.
We have ceased as a culture to be able to affirm heroism. We have lost our cultural confidence. We have been taught that America is no better than any other country — not an exceptional country. We’ve lost our confidence in what is right and wrong.
In Afghanistan, boys are given to exceptional soldiers as sexual toys. That is evil. Yet our military personnel have been told that Americans are not supposed to intervene, since this is “their culture.” It’s evil!
William Wilberforce believe missionaries should be sent to India. He was told to keep his religion to himself. Wilberforce fought hard against the evil of India through missionaries. If at Wilberforce’s time a prominent man in India died, his widow was burned alive on his funeral pyre; Wilberforce saw the evil; it wasn’t just “their culture.” His religion applied, because each of these women was created in the image of God. Christianity would change things, educating people about the dignity of every person. We have a culture, too — a culture which hangs the people who rape boys and burn women! We’ve got to be able to say to our military that they must keep a boy from being raped by an Afghani soldier.
What we believe matters. We need to know these stories of heroes. Wilberforce said — humbly and boldly — that he had to abolish the slave trade, send missionaries to India, and stand against other instances of evil in the world. We are called to be an influence in the world.
Another hero about whom I have written extensively was Deitrich Bonhoeffer. He stood up to the Nazis. He knew he was going to die eventually. He wanted to do something about evil. Not to act is to act. He acted against Nazi Germany. We will be judged by a just God. We need to tell the stories of these heroes.
The Lord wants to use these examples as encouragement. I can’t tell you how many people tell me that my stories are “changing their lives.” I didn’t change their lives. My books don’t change their lives. Bonhoeffer’s story changes their lives.
Susanna Wesley was “just a housewife.” She was the 25th of 25 children. That is unbelievable. She married a pastor. They had 19 children. 10 survived. 2 of those children were John and Charles Wesley. Susanna taught her children out of the Scriptures. Susanna taught John and Charles Wesley out of the Scriptures. Without the sermons and the hymns, others would not have come to Christ. George Whitefield would probably have not been George Whitefield. Susanna was an extraordinary human being, mother, and teacher. Do you think she would have believed her sons would have had such a profound effect on the world?
Do you realize that you have said things which have already affected young people to go a certain way?
Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball because of his Christianity. Robinson gathered the strength to perform this historical act because of his faith in Jesus Christ!
Did you know that Rosa Parks was chosen to protest during the American Civil RIghts Movement because of her character and faith as a Christian woman? Why are we not telling our young people about these heroes?! We are afraid of offending someone. Say it the right way, and you will not offend someone. God doesn’t give blessing to ourselves alone. He blesses us to be a blessing. The Messiah was not meant only for the Jews. Jesus came for the whole world!
The stories of heroes bless people. The world sees Billie Jean King and Oprah Winfrey as heroines. We Christians understand that greatness doesn’t belong to a gender or a race; greatness is revealed by God. This is a missing piece in our culture.
Young people are hungry to know how to live. Have they heard the stories of these great men and women? Hannah Moore will inspire innumerable young women to impact the culture for Christ. However God calls us, we need examples of people who will show us how to live or Christ.
Look at what God is doing through heroes. There are so many stories which need to be hold.
I’m writing a book about America right now. Nathan Hale’s story must be told. He deserves to be lionized as a great American hero. Many people have never even heard of Nathan Hale. He gave his life for his country. People in an anti-heroic culture don’t get it. Tell the stories, and change the lives of young people.
I finally want to say that we, as believers, must understand that what we believe is true, such that our faith is emboldened, so we tell others this truth. The culture says we have a crazy idea. It’s God’s idea! You’ve got to share it. What we believe is a gift from God only as a gift we must give to others. I want to applaud you for sharing what you share and living out your lives in front of kids, and you are impacting them. God bless you!
ACSI is modifying professional development in response to the input of members. Starting in 2016, 2-day regional gatherings will feature live speakers at 20+ locations across the nation. For instance, Jay McTighe will present a live workshop on assessment.
“Why Our Students Are Leaving the Church and What You Can Do About It As a Teacher”
By Dave Kinnaman, President of the Barna Group and author of YOU LOST ME
I started with the Barna Group as a 21-year-old out of college. My children attend Christian schools.
How many more days of church will we have? Such may be a question being asked by young people today.
Look at the spiritual journeys of this generation. The Barna Group has studied this generation for 10 years through over 10,000 interviews.
What are the barriers for this generation experiencing their faith?
The church is viewed as overprotective.
The church is viewed as repressive.
The church is viewed as anti-science.
The church is viewed as exclusive.
The church is viewed as doubtless.
The church is viewed as shallow.
We’re ministering to a culture mindset which is challenging. It’s much harder to be a Christian. We’re viewed as irrelevant extremists.
There are three different spiritual journeys from our research — for those who are walking away from the faith.
4 in 10 are spiritual nomads. These people say they are still Christians, but they’re not involved in the institutional church.
1 in 10 are prodigals. They are no longer Christians. They have de-converted. That’s a powerful spiritual conversation of identity.
3 in 10 are exiles lost between culture and church. Faith doesn’t fit with them. They ask how? and why? and what? Christian schools have a real opportunity to help exiles understand life through a biblical worldview.
The faithfuls are 2 in 10 and faithful no matter what.
Let’s take a right-turn. Let’s set a context. We live in a complicated, accelerated culture. It’s challenging to educate children in this era of technology, science, celebrities, marriage changes, economic challenges, sexuality, work, career, diversity, etc.
What does the Bible say about a young woman selling her eggs to a fertility clinic? This is the question of a spiritual exile.
1 in 3 Millennials fact-check sermons. Young people question authority and authenticity.
A teenager spends 7 hours a day with media, a significant shift in culture. This is the digital generation.
The best human inventions are now in our pockets. There are now more smartphones than toilets in the world!
In the digital age, we are hyperlinked, pop culture is influencing religion, we are craving meaning, grazing for information, etc.
Young people are narcissists who believe they will all be famous, and we laugh at them, but who raised them?!
We’re heading toward a Digital Babylon.
With our work for the American Bible Society, Americans are categorized in 1 of 4 ways, in terms of their views of Scripture:
Reading the Bible 4+ times a week
Hostile to the Scriptures
Generations respond differently to the Bible. There have been significant shifts from engaged to skeptical.
We just got new data. Ninety-one percent (91%) of Americans believe the best way to find ourselves is to look within ourselves! 74% of Christians believe that! That is wrong thinking. That is a bad worldview. We can become more than who we are through Christ.
What if we were to teach Ecclesiastes as a curriculum of meaninglessness of everything other than God?
No one is better by looking within ourselves.
Jerusalem had faith in the center, the pace was slower, there was self-control, and life was characterized by simplicity. Now, faith is in the margins, pluralistic, the pace is accelerated, etc.
It’s really cool for us at this time, actually. We have incredible opportunities to minister to the world in which we live. How can we do that?
Christian school students are more likely to wrestle with their faith, more likely to engage with their church, want more from their church, less likely to say their career is irrelevant to their faith. These are great indicators of the positive effects of Christian education.
Christian education is a way of life — a way of thinking about our counter-cultural experience.
We must seek meaningful relationships, cultural discernment, leadership development, vocational discipleship, and first-hand experiences with Jesus. These are not formulas or steps. These are different experiences for students. Our students are experiencing institutions differently. Students are very skeptical about people and institutions.
There are cool ways we can impact these students through vocational discipleship.
We have found 3 categories of callings:
Half of Millennials are interested in entrepreneurial careers; a third are interested in creative ventures; and half are interested in science careers.
In our vocational discipleship efforts, we have a great opportunity to awaken the aptitudes of our students. All of us have a calling. Our calling as entrepreneurs is abundance; for science, order; for creatives, beauty. Adam and Eve were called to seek abundance, order, and beauty. Let’s help them understand these concepts.
Be a learner yourself!
Emphasize purity from culture. Daniel was salt and light in Babylon, and he was in the culture, influencing it.
Allow students space for doubt and brokenness.
Teach wise living.
Focus on cultivating discernment. This generation is consuming media, but they must live differently in relationship to media.
Educate WITH young people.
Teach a rich theology of sexuality, work, and influence.
Show how the Bible intersects with vocation and changes us as people.
We must model discipleship in our own lives.
Pray like exiles! It isn’t on us to do the work. God is faithful to do the work in our culture. Christianity is not extremist or irrelevant.
We have incredible opportunities to come alongside this generation. It’s not easy to see the frustrating data about people. But we are a part of the spirit of the age, so we must work hard to be counter-cultural.
In my closing moments, I want to talk about the history of basketball. Naismith invented basketball in a cold weather environment. Peach baskets were used. That’s why it’s called basketball, not netball. The baskets used to have bottoms for 10 years. It never occurred to people to cut the bottoms out of peach baskets!
It takes us awhile to catch up to new possibilities, doesn’t it?
It’s hard to mess with traditions.
My questions for Christian education are “What traditions are we keeping that need to be changed? Do we care more about our traditions or our children? How can we educate a generation of counter-cultural Christians?”
As we close, we should thank our volunteers all over the world. NEXUS | LIVE could not take place without those volunteers.
Surveys are coming to you. Look for them. We’re engaged in relentless reflective practices, as we look forward to 2016. We need your input. We are doing a meta-analysis of best practices with adult learning.
As we close, let’s consider the theme, STRONGER TOGETHER.
Jesus prayed in John 17:4 for those who would believe through His disciples’ messages. That’s us! We must be one in complete unity. Then, the world will know that the Father sent Jesus. Stronger together in unity is at the heart of God, and the world will know that Jesus came.
We need to lay down our individual flags and pick up the cross, so that the world would know that the Father sent Jesus!
These kids want to be Daniels in their communities. Are the staff praying for all of your students every day? Africans are praying for the unity of American Christian schools. We are stronger together, so the world will know that we are one, and the Father sent Jesus as a witness!