Beginning with the end in mind

Most of us, in approaching our calling/work, would agree that we subscribe to a “work hard, pray hard” philosophy. My question is however, “Are we ‘working smart’?” Are we keeping the end in mind as we work with children and youth? Are we coordinating our efforts and keeping in mind the spiritual developmental levels of our children and youth? Have we clarified what we stand for in Christian education and what we exist to produce?

After reflecting on twenty-five years of work with various organizations, George Barna makes the case in his book, “Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions,” that the most effective ministries to youth have a clear philosophy and an “18 year plan” for working with those in their care. Before I lose some of you who wish to say that spiritual growth of children is “simply the work of the Spirit”, I want to share the distinction Barna makes between transformation and change. He acknowledges that “transformation is Spirit driven, while change is program driven. Transformation is facilitated but unpredictable, and change is caused and inevitable under the right conditions and stimuli. The most effective churches recognize that the goal is to facilitate transformation, yet understand that they cannot engineer it…only God brings about lasting transformation in a person’s life.”

Christian schools and church education began with the idea that we could have a significant impact on the life of a child. In the past several years, some schools have put together documents that reflect what their vision for their graduates looks like. Examples include: the high schools connected with the Society for Christian Schools in British Columbia (SCSBC), Rehoboth Christian School in Gallup, New Mexico, and Holland Christian Schools all have put together these type of statements. These documents are available for viewing in the Member Community Center for member schools – click on this link or go to MCC discussion forum. If you are not a member of Christian Schools International and would like to access the Center, please contact CSI for more information.

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2 Comments

Filed under book, distinctively Christian, mission measurement, student outcomes

2 responses to “Beginning with the end in mind

  1. I like Dan’s questions: Are we ‘working smart’? Are we keeping the end in mind as we work with children and youth?

    At Christian Academy in Japan, we’re using student objectives (aka schoolwide learning outcomes) to describe our vision for our graduates. And we’re excited about using our student objectives to measure the achievement of our mission. Our goal is for each student objective to have an achievement rating of 90% of 5th-12th graders at or above standard, scores being taken from rubric-scored classroom assessments.

    To achieve our goal, we’re using the MOSAIC framework, which links our mission and student objectives to our curriculum:
    * Mission
    * Objectives
    * Standards
    * Assessments
    * Instructional strategies
    * Children

    (M)ission: Christian Academy in Japan, a school for the children of evangelical missionaries in Japan, equips students to impact the world for Christ.

    (O)bjectives: Student objectives define our school mission in terms of measurable student learning. An example of a student objective is, “Communicate through writing, speaking, reading, listening, graphs and charts, and the arts.”

    (S)tandards define what students must achieve within a given subject in order to achieve the student objectives (and consequently the mission). If your student objective is, “Communicate through writing, speaking, reading, listening, graphs and charts, and the arts,” one of your English standards might be, “Create clear, purposeful texts.”

    (A)ssessments are ways students show their achievement of the standards (and consequently the student objectives and mission). Assessments include writing, projects, presentations, labs, and discussion.

    (I)nstructional strategies are ways teachers prepare students for assessments. For example, when students are preparing to write their 1500-word essays on a global issue, they could repeatedly discuss their research and ideas in small groups before writing their rough drafts.

    (C)hildren: In class, teachers teach children (not course content). They help children prepare for assessments so they can demonstrate achievement of the standards, and consequently the students objectives and mission.

    To see CAJ’s student objectives, please go to
    http://caj.or.jp/whoweare/studentobjectives.html

  2. Paula Quiroga

    I agree that it is important for Christian teachers to keep the end in mind as they work with students. I think we must remember that although we never get to see the final product, our work in helping our students develop is important. For the Christian teacher working in a Christian school, it may be easier to help the students with both their academic and spiritual development than for the Christian teacher working in a public school. However, although we may never see a change within our students, it does not mean that our work did not provide one step along the way in helping our students become who they will be later in life.

    I do not think that spiritual growth in children is “simply the work of the Spirit.” As George Barna says, it is our job to “facilitate transformation” while understanding that we cannot engineer it and only God can bring about lasting transformation. Christian teachers in Christian schools can indeed provide appropriate models and do their best to make faith mean something to their students, but we must recognize that we are limited. As teachers, we can do our best to encourage spiritual development in our students, but in the end it is God that has the power to truly change lives.

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