When God tests us, He teaches us. God's tests are not merely sporadic divine inquiries about whether we've been paying attention in Church. When God tests us, we become strong like Job or weak like Judas. When God tests us, He does not merely draw out what is already present. He forms us. God's tests are never boring. There's even something interesting about a long, boring weekend when it is acknowledged to be a trial.
In a different post, I explored the importance of metaphor and the idea that the metaphors we carry in our hearts change the way we experience life. In this post, I would like to explore some of the common, but dangerous, metaphors that form the way we understand school, teaching, and education.
Avoid these metaphors at all costs.
Metaphor to avoid # 1: A school is a business [The "Consumer" Metaphor]
Few vocations offer as much closure with as little completion as does schooling. Teachers, students, and administrators are forever bumping up against conclusions: the end of the lesson, the week, the unit, the quarter, the semester, the academic year, high school, the bachelor’s degree, then the master’s or doctorate—all observed with due ceremony, ranging from the ritual recitation of “Have a good weekend!”, to the gathering of an all-school assembly, to the donning of academic regalia for a university convocation.
In When Athens Met Jerusalem, John Mark Reynolds distills the challenge Christianity faced at the birth of Christendom, and notes the similarity to today’s environment. Now as then, Christians live in a time of great fluidity, and human beings (especially in the West) are floundering in the wake of modernism’s death and postmodernism’s lack of shape. Reynolds writes that we must follow the first Christians’ example to rediscover and reinvigorate a beautiful picture of the kingdom.
Whenever a discussion of time arises in the classroom, I often show students Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son and say, “This is time.”
Saturn was the Roman name of Cronus, the Titan who personified time and, fearing one of his children would destroy him, consumed them directly after they were born.
Contrary to public opinion, teachers amenable to classical education do exist in typical public schools. Local and state rules, accreditation, and teacher credentialing all act against those allies’ ability to provide their students with a classical education experience.
As a former malcontent who graduated from a classical Christian school, many of my favorite students to teach have also been malcontents. When I was a junior in high school, I scorned study, loathed reading, preferred violent films, mocked diligence and would regularly sneak off at lunch to smoke cigarettes with friends who shared the same prejudices. I wouldn’t swear I was cool in high school, but I was desperate to deal in the currency of cool most commonly accepted by classical Christian students: friendship with the world.