Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tensions in Education
As an educator and a product of the American educational system, I have an interest in what we are doing, where we are going, and what we are trying to accomplish. Looking on the web at various universities and graduate programs, I read about strategic visions and again run up against the "education as product" issue. Granted, we have to make our goals clear, they must be clear to us, but the goals I am seeing sound more like production than development of people.
Along a parallel line in my mind, I am asking questions about how Christians should be and are "doing" education. We have so many Christian colleges and universities with varying degrees of academic excellence and spiritual discipline. The more I think about these things, questions bubble up:
Can an institution be "Christian"? This troubles me because it labels the product, e.g. a "Christian education." What is it that precisely makes it Christian? What do Christians do differently? (Let's talk about this later, but I suspect that it has more to do with required chapel, curfews, dress codes and media regulations than education.)
Where is excellence in Christian education? Where is excellence in our faith? What does excellence have to do, if anything, with how we teach or train young people. (Not our Christian young people, but any young people.)
As Christians we are called to love one another and our enemies. Where does that fit with excellence? If we are developing young minds, are love and striving for excellence mutually compatible?
If our goal is to be among the faithful, how do we find the balance in the educational world? We serve Love and we serve Truth. Those are not exclusive one of the other. But how does it mesh with competition and perfectionism?
These are a few of the ideas that surface when I meditate on what we as educators are striving to accomplish. Any thoughts are welcome.