Because life is a series of edits

Posts Tagged ‘education’

The Dance of Education

In Thought on September 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Dance-diagram Perhaps you have indeed pondered this age-old question:

"What if the hokey-pokey really is what it's all about?"

If life is the referent, maybe; but if we're talking education, I (Craig) would suggest a different descriptive dance step: the "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back." Let me explain.

A week ago, Megan, the girls and I were sitting at home having dinner when, out of the blue (or more accurately, out of her Bible class earlier that day), our 12-year-old oldest daughter asked a question: "Dad, how do we know – really know – Jesus and the Bible are true when other prophets and their books make similar claims?"

I'd waited 12 years for this question. While we'd touched on the topic in past conversations, I'd been the one who brought it up. Now, my daughter – my oldest – was intrigued on her own by the hugest of epistemological questions, and she and I (along with her three younger sisters listening at the dinner table) had the entire evening to dance the night away discussing.

And we danced. We talked about the cultural shift from what once was an ancient mindset that accepted deontological reality to the modernist mentality that anything true must be able to be proven. Not being satisfied with this premise and its false dichotomy between science and belief, we continued onward to postmodernism's sounds-too-good-to-be-true promise that, in the absence of really being able to know anything, whatever works for you is, by pragmatic default, right and real.

We then talked about the difference between facts and truth. I pulled out my Case for Christ DVD and together we watched several chapters on the geographical, archaeological, and transmissional evidence for the Bible. The girls asked questions about how we know what we know, and we talked about what evidence can and cannot mean (i.e. facts do not prove that God is true, but if the facts are accurate, what claims do they make that may be true?).

We were two hours in and having a blast – the girls were making great observations and asking really good questions, and I was thrilled to play Socrates in helping them sort out the pieces and slowly put part of the puzzle together. As an educator, this is "the jazz"; as a father, this is the call.

Unfortunately, bedtime was upon us, so we wound things down with enthusiasm, thanks, hugs, and promises to talk more. Then four girls tried to use two bathrooms with little consideration for each other. Twenty minutes later, there were tears (them), yelling (me), frustration (us), and that was that; the awe and inspiration surrounding everything we had just discussed was gone. Warm and fuzzy feelings from learning with and from one another? Replaced with hurt, anger, and hands thrown up in the air.

The good news? Once again the Bible had shown itself true by accurately explaining the facts of our hearts – that they were deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; indeed, who could understand them? (Jeremiah 17:9) None of us did, that's for sure.

Then I remembered: two steps forward, one step back. So goes the dance of education.

Deuteronomy 6:7 speaks to our parental responsibility to teach our children, but often we miss the how when we focus too much on the what, where, and when: "You shall teach them (God's words) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." The definition of "diligently"? According to Merriam-Webster: "In a manner involving great or constant activity; with great effort or determination." According to my experience: "With a whole heapin' lot of commitment, effort, and work."

Lest I leave you with a lack of resolution, let me finish the story. Thankfully, over the course of the next few days, we resolved things and got back on the education dance floor by way of the Passages Exhibition at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art this past Saturday. While our visit at times felt like another "two steps forward, one step back" experience because of the crowd (one could argue that every 65-and-over adult Sunday School class in Oklahoma was there), we persevered and enjoyed two hours learning about God's preservation of the Bible over time. It was a good currciulum tie-in to our talk the week before…and a needed shared experience for our family as well.

Two steps forward, one step back – welcome to the dance of education. Let's boogie.

Some Regrets…No Doubts

In Calling, Family, Friends, Marriage, Oklahoma City, Places, Places & Spaces, Young Ones on August 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm

On Friday, the girls and I got home from school around 2 p.m., as Veritas is only in session on Fridays until 12:30. My normal "Daddy's home" routine is to greet Megan (usually with a hug), greet the dogs (also usually with a hug), and then head upstairs, change clothes, and collapse on the bed for a period of time in direct proportion to what kind of day/week it's been.

As we just finished our first week – a very good but exhausting one – my time on the bed went a little longer than normal. After 45 minutes of repeatedly falling asleep but then being awakened by one of four daughters, I gave up the idea of a nap and came downstairs. The girls wanted to watch something, but I was not in the mood for Phineas & Ferb; thus, we pulled up Chariots of Fire on Netflix and enjoyed.

There's a scene toward the end of the film in which Erid Liddell can only watch the finals of the race he was favored to win (the 100-yard dash) because his Sabbath conviction stood in the way of participating in the qualifying heats the previous Sunday. As Liddell is sitting in the stands waiting for the race to begin, a friend leans over to him and asks if he has any regrets. Liddell's response: "Some regrets…no doubts."

I resonated with Liddell's sentiment. Moving to Oklahoma has hardly been an awful thing and I have no doubts we are supposed to be here. But I'd be lying if I said there weren't some regrets that I've been processing and feeling this summer.

I suppose the first source of grief is just the loss of time and money that goes with any major transition. In thinking back through all the hours invested praying and wrestling with the pros and cons, asking questions and communicating decisions, selling a house and buying a house, packing, loading, moving, unloading, and unpacking, and paying for it all, I regret the toll our move required and the burden it placed on our family. A look at my minimal reading list or our bank account confirms that it's been a tough seven months.

Second, I regret distancing the relationships we had in St. Louis (as well as the ones previously distanced in Colorado Springs before we moved from there). We've always been fortunate to have surrounded ourselves with good people, but that fact is not always comforting when you have to leave them behind. I miss those I used to work with, went to church with, laughed with, argued with, and just loved being with. These are wounds that I don't anticipate healing completely.

Third, I miss the simplicity of "just being a teacher" and being able to focus exclusively on the science and art of teaching. I first felt this reality in May, when I finished teaching and started my new role as Head of School ten days later (moving in between), but being around kids this past week really made me miss the classroom and the discussions I got to have with students all day long.

Fourth, I miss the Midwest and the common sense spirit of keeping your head down and your nose to the grindstone because, well, that's what people do in the Midwest. Granted, the Southwest is perhaps not that different, but while I never thought I'd miss the weather in St. Louis, after living through the hottest summer on record in Oklahoma, I confess I miss that as well.

Finally, I regret the potential risks I've exposed my family (and others) to in leaving a well-established, well-respected, and well-funded school in an amazing brand new building run by seasoned leaders who know what they're doing in order to be a first-time Head of School in a fledgling education movement that rents limited space every week in two churches just to have a place to meet three days a week. I won't say the pressure's overwhelming yet, but there is pressure, and I feel it on a variety of levels.

Some regrets, yes. Plenty of them. But no doubts. None at all. I'll write about why in my next post.