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Building for the Future (2)

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Building for the Future (2)

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So, third, where are we headed? We must still teach basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, but we must teach process skills, rather than product. For example, Max Wertheimer, in his book Productive Thinking has illustrated what he calls the fundamental issue regarding teaching mathematical thinking and problem-solving. He asked children to perform arithmetic operations like:

He reported clearcut results with some bright students, others were puzzled that such an easy problem was given, or were bored; but they had no difficulty with the answer. These students realized that there really was no work to be done: the repeated addition in the numerator is equivalent to multiplying by 5, which is undone by the division in the denominator. His surprise, however, was that a number of good arithmetic students were entirely blind, and started at once the laborious task of adding the terms in the numerator and then dividing the sum by 5. These students had learned their lessons: they could perform algorithms without error, yet they missed the analytical thinking of the lesson altogether. We must teach basic concepts, principles, analytical skills, critical thinking; teach students to adapt to change, because their’s will be a vastly changing world. Let’s make a major effort to integrate math/science/social studies into a technology context. Know and be able to use your computers.

Where are we headed? It’s time to put more emphasis on economics. In our changing world, the value of economics becomes more of a pressing need. Twenty-seven states now require completion of an economics course for high school graduation. With the extent of consumer choices available to them, it is no wonder that many young people are digging themselves into financial holes before they are old enough to vote. We need more economics education in our schools.

Where are we headed? We are engulfed in competition. Nations compete. Schools compete. Even families seem to compete. To some extent, this might be healthy. Yet, recent studies have pointed to the idea that cooperative learning situations yield highly significant results. Situations were created where special benefits were given to students if they encouraged others in their group to solve a certain problem. Competition seems to produce better results between individuals involved in a simple task, when it is not interrelated with other work. By contrast, results showed that cooperation succeeded in more complex areas. Competition has tended to promote, in the eyes of some, a spirit of distrust and hostility toward others. Cooperation has been said to promote teamwork and harmony. Cooperation can take advantage of the skills and strengths of each person involved, and also improve the knowledge of everyone. Are you using your better students as your classroom aides? Most teachers find out that a student who helps others, helps himself too, by redefining skills in his own mind. Helping the growth of others can give greater meaning and purpose to education, as well as satisfaction. Cooperation can bring trust and companionship among classmates and staff. Working together can help students view other students as friends rather than enemies. Cooperation encourages a person to be sensitive to the needs of others. We have too often stood alone, thinking to be at the top of the crowd, while others suffered. Your teachers, your office personnel need more helpers than bosses. Let’s become more other-person centered, rather than building egos. Let’s communicate and build friendships. Aren’t your students often more interested in whether they did better than their classmates, rather than in how well they did the work? Let’s break down pressure and tension. Let’s de-emphasize competition among ourselves, our students, and our schools and help one another to best bring out the God-given talents of each.

Still, there is work to be done, both individually and collectively. Our lives leave a trail of unfinished tasks: Unwritten articles for our Journal, uncorrected papers, unread books, unopened mail, unvisited friends. At times, we desperately need relief. A teacher’s work is never finished, nor is a student’s, a minister’s, or anyone else’s that I know. Children grow in numbers and in age and require more of our family time. Greater experience in our profession seems to bring more assignments, as many of us know. Our problem goes deeper than a shortage of time; it becomes a problem of priorities. Hard work doesn’t hurt us. To get totally involved in a task can be very tiring, but also it can be filled with a sense of accomplishment. Frustrations produce anxiety as we review a day, month, or year of unfinished tasks. We often wonder whether we have accomplished all the important things, or have been hindered by the unimportant. Let us not allow the urgent to crowd out the important. Let us do only as the duty of every day requires, letting the duty of the day be done in the day which is given (Ezra 3:46). This is often the tension: The urgent versus the important. Let us not become slaves to the moment. Spread the important things over a longer period of time.


Let us prayerfully wait for God’s instructions and for the strength to follow them.


Let us use Jesus’ example that “in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed (Mark 1:35). Let us prayerfully wait for God’s instructions and for the strength to follow them. This means a day-by-day dependency. It is not without reason that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Setting a steady pace with a sense of direction enabled Jesus to do every task that God wanted Him to do. Through prayerful meditation, let us gain the same perspective. Let us flee the sin of self-sufficiency and independence. Rather, let us “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). How much of our daily tasks are done in our own strength rather than in prayerful dependence? God will not give any task too great to be undertaken if it is done in the right way. Someone has said that a minute in planning saves three minutes in execution. Let us not be slaves of the urgent so that we do not have time to plan for the important things that God would have us to do. A quiet time of prayer at the beginning of the day refocuses our thinking and rededicates us to the work set before us. We must prioritize tasks. Draw up your larger plans before you start smaller activities. Set aside time in your office or classroom when you have promised yourself not to be bothered. Don’t over-commit yourselves. Most of you are teachers first of all, aside from your family duties. When you are asked to make an additional time-commitment, weigh it carefully, lest you overcommit yourselves. Jesus did not heal all the persons that could have been healed, yet He did finish the work which God gave Him to do. The calming alternative to frustration is the knowledge that you are doing what God wants you to do. This feeling can be gained in personal, quiet time in meditation. Only then, it seems, can we leave the other unfinished tasks with a sense of satisfaction. We are to be stewards of our time. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” We are also to be stewards of our thoughts. Therefore, “let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord.” We are to be stewards of our actions. Therefore, may our delight be in the law of the Lord, to meditate on it both day and night.

Where are we headed? The strength for the future lies in the Lord’s blessing of the heart and mind of the individual instructor. I have indicated that we can and must share, help each other, and work together. Therefore, we have a resource bank. Use it. Therefore we have a list of resource people. Use them. Don’t be afraid of each other, but help each other. That’s what we are here for! The important person is the individual instructor. You are of utmost importance. Yes, we need buildings and equipment; yes, we need effective leadership from our Boards and our front offices. But ultimately, you the teacher, make the difference by the grace of God. You have to keep up with a vastly changing system. You and I can’t teach the same curriculum of the 1940’s in the 1990’s. Therefore, pray and work, realizing that, except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.

This is why whom we hire in our schools is so important. Instructors must fit the mold we are trying to shape. The supply of newly graduating teaching candidates is expected to satisfy about 60% of the demand in the next five years. It will become more and more difficult to find religiously conservative, dedicated instructors. It is encouraging to hear that some of our young people are going into education, not for the money, but for the dedication and commitment to the cause we seek. We must communicate hope, academic success, emotional support, and spiritual direction. We flounder in a world starved for absolute values. Let us lay the best possible foundation for meaningful lives for our students. The Lord of our past and present blessings is our only hope for the future, since the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. “Hitherto hath the Lord helped.” May this continue into the future.

Where are we headed? I believe that what we teach regarding values in our schools is as important, if not more so, than any academics we teach. Let’s not assume that our students automatically practice our traditional values. I think you and I have to be teaching, perhaps more than we do, things like: What is the biblical attitude toward work which I must apply to my schoolwork? Things must be talked about like “work must be done as to the Lord, with industry, not slothful in your business, but fervent in spirit.” Or, “labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endures to life eternal, for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” Whatever our hand finds to do, do it with our might. If a man doesn’t want to work, neither should he eat.


We flounder in a world starved for absolute values. Let us lay the best possible foundation for meaningful lives for our students.


Or, take the value of serving one another: Scripture suggests that he that would be greatest among us, should be as one that serves. Are we encouraging our students to hold the door open for someone else, to pick up the book that a classmate dropped? Are we holding up the goal of giving time, willingly tithe money or our lives for the Lord’s service rather than getting that which is our desire by nature? Do students leave our schools with the impression that they would want their children to receive the education, love, care, and support which they have just received? Are we really working on teaching dependability, reliability, promptness?

Do we teach courtesy? A story is told how the lack of courtesy kept one man from being an ambassador for the United States. President William McKinley was considering the appointment of an ambassador to a foreign country. There were two candidates, their qualifications almost equal. An incident which occurred years previously led McKinley not to choose one of the men. It seems that when McKinley was in the House of Representatives, he boarded a streetcar and took a vacant seat. Soon a washerwoman entered, carrying a heavy basket. She stood near the seat of the man whom McKinley knew; he shuffled his newspaper so as not to see her. McKinley saw the situation and offered his seat to her, so the woman could rest. The candidate never knew that this little act of selfishness deprived him of the crowning honor of his lifetime. Courtesy is found in speaking and doing; it is found in loving families and in schools which are truly Christian.

We have to be more involved in teaching biblical principles and their applications to daily life. When you teach science, do you refer to Psalm 8, “When I consider Thy heavens, … the moon and stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man….” What am I, that Thou takest knowledge of me? We must teach the seriousness of life and death, but not just in Bible class.

The world in general has the attitude that the Israelites had in the history of the golden calf, where we read that the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. We must teach a more profound importance to life. We must set the goal of doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God. We must teach that we must give an account of every idle word spoken, also in the hallways of our schools. We are engaged in value training; training lives of character; training foundations to live and die by.


We are engaged in value training.


R. Ten Elshof is administrator of Plymouth Christian High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 november 1989

The Banner of Truth | 30 Pagina's

Building for the Future (2)

Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 november 1989

The Banner of Truth | 30 Pagina's

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