Over the course of the next few weeks, we want to go back and re-address some of the first blog posts that we published when we started our Christian Education and Worldview Blog. That was close to two years ago now . . . and we have many additional readers added to our list since then.
The following posts, although written a few years ago, are still valuable as we look at the five major issues facing Christian schools today. These issues will, in our opinion, continue to face Christian schools in varying degrees in the future. Mr. Rick Lukianuk, the President and Chief Administrator here at HCA, has shared his thoughts on these issues, based on years of Christian school administration and a keen insight into outside forces on Christian education.
These five issues, which we will be readdressing over the next few days, are of such importance that we want our readers to aware of what we see facing Christian schools both now and in the future.
Written by Mr. Rick Lukianuk
Let me begin by noting that I tell parents and educators that I do not know what our children will need to know in 10 years, never mind 25 years. In fact, I tell parents that if someone does try to convince them they have such foreknowledge, they are lying…or deranged. The current pace of technological and cultural change, coupled with new research, increased access to information and increased media saturation is at never before seen growth rates; and increasing geometrically. However, the scope, rate and scale of change is therefore one of the issues that will require the attention of Christian school leadership over the next 10 plus years.
I have broken down my thoughts into 5 major categories and will briefly address the challenges and opportunities I see in each category. I will separate these out into five different posts, focusing on one category per post.
The danger of technological growth
The explosion of technological change, coupled with the integration and growth of the internet has created a new paradigm of knowledge itself. After reading David Weinberger’s new book ‘Too Big To Know,” I was profoundly disturbed by his very thoughtful and well researched analysis leading to the this conclusion:
The internet is in the process of becoming a virtual living organism of “knowledge” that will
sooner or later redefine knowledge as that which the internet has proclaimed is true.
That, of course, is the antithesis of the biblical view that God is sovereign, immutable and the source of Absolute Truth. This also coincides with the view of the best selling “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” which reduces the human brain function to a series of programmed responses that can be manipulated by society, advertisers, governments etc., rather than a unique creation of a loving God.
Growing at an astounding pace
There is also the issue of the pace at which technology is changing. We barely grasp the capabilities of one form of technology before another, faster, more mobile platform is introduced. Do you even remember a time before email or smart phones, internet or social media? Our children cannot conceive of a world without mobile telecommunications, entertainment on demand, instantaneous information, minute by minute updates and infinite, unlimited information available day or night, all on-demand.
Recent studies show that our children answer questions from different parts of their brains than we do.
They are actually learning differently.
Not since the printing press, or perhaps the development of written language itself has education been so changed.
“Disrupting” the norms
In his book, “Disrupting Class,” Clayton Christensen notes that the tablet/laptop is a “disruptive innovation” that is changing the entire market structure (“disrupt” in this case meaning to radically change an industry). Much like transistors disrupted and changed the vacuum tube market (that tiny company called Sony developed the mass market transistor) and desktops changed the mainframe market, the tablet/laptop has the same disruptive tendencies. He has applied the economic formulas developed from past examples to the public school market and has determined that the technological revolution will completely disrupt and forever change education in the near future.
The class lecture and the large group application of pedagogical principles will be eclipsed by the
individual learning plan for each student based on their learning style and monitored by a classroom teacher.
Opportunities for Christian School
The opportunity for Christian schools lies in their adherence to biblical principles, thereby giving our students a steady foundation, with centuries of accumulated wisdom and knowledge on which to build. This needs to be coupled with a total focus on continued learning. The staff must continuously be learning (through professional development, passion about their subject matter and incentives to growth) and the students must be trained to be lifelong learners. The same questions, procedures, methodologies and pedagogies we use to better understand and use the latest technology must be discussed and taught to them to allow them the same toolbox as their world changes.
Students must be taught to understand and embrace worldly, cultural change, while clinging to the unchanging, all sovereign God.
An additional opportunity in the disruptive market model lies in the flexibility of the Christian school.
Without unions, labor agreements or salary schedules, innovation is easier to implement and curriculum can more quickly be changed. In addition, Christian schools could take the lead in providing services for differentiated learners; a great learning experience for the school. Christian schools are also uniquely equipped to focus on individual Calling. It is in our DNA to look at individual students and find their strengths, abilities, learning styles and passions. This in turn will allow them to make wise, successful choices regarding college, profession and spouses. If we can continue and enhance this concept we will, over time, create a significant value distinction vis a vis other school systems.
Who We Are in the Christian School Community:
Heritage Christian Academy is a Pre-K through 12th grade Christian school with campuses in both Olathe and Overland Park, Kansas. We realize that there are many good options in Olathe/Overland Park for Christian school education. But, as the above post articulates, we also believe that we understand the issues that are facing Christian schools today.
You can find our full school website at www.hcakc.org.