Bob Moore, principal at John Calvin Christian School in Guelph, Ontario offers this blog post about the kinds of student outcomes we seek in Christian education. Thanks, Bob for sharing!
“…the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17.)
Have you ever driven up to a hospital entrance and noticed a doctor or a nurse standing on the sidewalk having a smoke? Or what goes through your mind when you hear of a lawyer who has just been convicted of a crime? Doesn’t it puzzle you when someone takes up an activity that is directly contrary to what he or she knows to be right?
In our more truthful moments, we all must confess that, from time to time, our heart or hands or feet follow a path that we know to be wrong. Our actions contradict our knowledge.
For too long in our culture, probably since the Greeks shaped our concept of education, we have made a practice of divorcing our heads from our hearts and hands and feet. When we say we are educated, we mean that we have captured a fact in our mind, e.g. smoking is harmful, but our definition of education doesn’t require that it affect our actions. Someone taking a test for a G1 driver’s licence may know every answer on the test, get a perfect score, and then drive down Waterloo Avenue like Paul Tracy at the Toronto Grand Prix!
There is a serious shortage of ethics in our society. It seems like every week, there is a new report about highly educated politicians or business leaders who are involved in shady or illegal activities. Much of the front page was covered this summer with stories about Conrad Black and his associates who were allegedly lining their own pockets at the expense of their shareholders and employees. When the topic wasn’t Conrad Black, it was the RCMP and the abuse of their pension fund. Even 20 years ago, these stories were not common. We thought of white-collar crime as a rare event, or something that was only typical in some poorly educated place like Nigeria or Haiti. As an aside, the strength of a country’s economy is directly tied to the practice of ethics in its business dealings. If we don’t solve the shortage of ethics in Canadian business and government, the handwriting is on the wall for the economic health and stability of our country.
Of course, Christians are affected by this same problem. For years, we have admired church members who have astounding grasps of Biblical knowledge, regardless of how they treated their family members. We have applauded children who can give all the right answers, but who then abuse their younger siblings.
This year at John Calvin Christian School, we have taken on the ambitious project of turning around thousands of years of educational tradition. Our year’s theme is “from head to heart to hands and feet,” and our theme verse is James 3:17: “…the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. “ Though our worldly culture defines education as, and rewards students for, adding to their store of facts, we want to define education as, and reward our students for, letting the facts be understood and applied in the context of our faith in Jesus Christ.
We want to convince the students that having the head knowledge is not the end of the course; rather it is only the beginning! We want to encourage the students, and provide opportunities for them to let that knowledge change their hearts, and guide and direct their hands and feet! It isn’t enough to know about Jesus; we want our students to know Jesus, and to respond to Him personally, by making choices about how to use their time and talents in ways that will please Him. It isn’t enough to know the right answer; we want our students to live the right way, in justice and mercy.
The Bible talks about two kinds of wisdom in James, chapter 3. One kind of wisdom is all too prevalent in Canada today; “such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:15,16.) At John Calvin Christian School, it will be our goal this year to pursue “…the wisdom that comes from heaven [which] is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17.)