I recently spent two days reading through a very interesting book published by The Association of Christian Schools International , ACSI, titled MINDSHIFT: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education. I always find these types of books challenging because they cause me to stop and think about the essentials of biblically based education. I was immediately intrigued by several questions that were asked in the introduction to the book.
- What is distinctive about Christian education?
- What should teaching and learning look like in contemporary society?
- What knowledge and skills do today’s students need to be salt and light … in an increasingly secular society?
- What should Christian schools look like?
- How can Christian schools be relevant and nimble in a competitive marketplace?
These are definitely questions that need to asked and answered. One of the first points I gleaned from my reading was the need to develop common language. This has been a big concern of mine for quite some time. However, the real issue is not developing common language but identifying common meaning for the language we use. For example, the word “tolerance” is common language used by many people and groups. It is a commonly used term. Yet, the meaning of the word is vastly different when used by different people.
Because of this need, I want to share with you what I mean when I use the term “MindShift”. When I went to the dictionary, I found the term defined as a change in focus and perception. Another definition read, a shift in your mindset caused by creating something out of a fine balance between insights and innovation. With these definitions in my mind, I started studying the various “MindShifts” that the book sets forth that Christians need to make as related to Christian education.
I want to state right up front that each area caused me to carefully consider what changes need to take place in my thinking. I made a ton of notes and wrote down many questions as I read through the book. With the changes that are sweeping through society, failure will be inevitable if we are not willing to make changes in some of our perceptions and points of focus.
However, I found myself looking back as much as I was looking forward. I started to see that there is definitely a need for a major MINDSHIFT in how we educate future generations. As I wrestled with several of the concepts that were presented, I was reminded of something the wisest man in history once wrote.
That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun…I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:9, 14 (NKJV)
We must be careful to realize that there really isn’t anything new under the sun. Permit me to share a couple of examples with you. A real challenge that we will face in the future is the advancement of technology and its impact on education. In MindShift the reader is challenged to get ready for 5G. There is no doubt about it — 5G is coming to the internet and it will impact our lives.
This, however, isn’t something new. One of my assigned readings in my graduate studies was Alvin Toffler’s Psychology of the Future. This essay was written in 1974. At the time, I was writing my papers on an old “selectric typewriter”. Toffler was challenging educators that they had to have a view of the future that included computers if they were going to give students a good education. I have seen a lot of advancements in technology over my 50+ years in teaching. These changes drastically changed every aspect of how I taught and students learned.
I am thankful that I don’t have to deal with ditto machines, overhead transparencies and PageMaker (one of the first presentation software programs I used). I am looking forward to what 5G might do to enhance my work. The need to embrace these challenges is important but it isn’t new.
Ideas presented by futurists like Rex Miller in MindShift or Alvin Toffler in Psychology of the Future always challenge me. In fact, Toffler’s essay opens with a statement that radically impacted my philosophy of education. He wrote,
All education springs from some image of the future. If the image of the future held by society is grossly inaccurate, its educational system will betray its youth.
This made me realize that all education must spring from a biblical image of the future. Such an image must include the eternal perspective. So, we must be prepared for 5G. But, as we prepare for it, we must do so with eternity in mind. Otherwise, we will betray our students because everything will be taught from a temporal perspective.Another important issue that was addressed in MindShift was that of diversity. Every single person has worth and value because he/she is an image bearer of God. Value is not based on ethnicity, gender, intellectual or physical abilities, or any other similar things. Once again, I suggest that this isn’t a “new” problem. During Jesus’ ministry He broke all the diversity barriers of His day. He was “caught” talking with a Samaritan woman. He rebuked His disciples for trying to push children away. He ate with sinners and prostitutes. Jesus was the model diversity director. In fact, Paul described Jesus as the only One who could do exceedingly above what we can think or imagine. The reason why Paul understood this is because what Jesus did on the cross was considered impossible. He reconciled the Jew and the Gentile, the rich and the poor, the free man and the slave — that’s diversity!
I was very fortunate growing up. From age 14, I had the privilege of being one of only two white people working on an all-black migrant farm near my home. I worked every summer pulling sweet corn and cutting cabbage on a 500 acre farm. Diversity was not an issue because we all had to get the job done. The cabbage had to be cut and packed in crates and the tractor trailer truck loaded by the end of the day. We were co-workers who were focused on a common task. We valued each other because of who we were and what we had to do — not by what color skin we had.
So what is my point for writing this week’s post? It is to say that we do need a MindShift! However, the most important change of focus must go beyond the matters that were presented in this well-written book. If we are going to be able to accurately answer the 5 questions mentioned above, the MindShift that is needed is the one that Paul wrote about in his letters to various churches.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
…fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… Philippians 2:2-5 (NKJV)
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2 (NKJV)
When we experience this type of MindShift, we will be empowered to think, teach and act from a biblical worldview. In turn, our students will see authentic Christian education lived out before their very eyes.