When I was an academic dean I would tell my faculty,
“We have to be nimble.”
Educational foundations are shifting under our feet.
Knowledge acquisition is overcome by information overload.
Teachers jettison the classroom for other jobs: they are told to be testers not teachers.
Leaders of schools must be anticipatory rather than reactionary.
Outcomes now include evaluation of students post-graduation in the job market.
In light of our ever-changing educational climate, I have emphasized that teaching the tools of lifelong learning is my focus as a Christian educator.
Expanding on the idea of tools, Scriptural examples of education focus on a Spirit-directed (Acts 13:1-3; 16:6-10), blended model:
(1) face-to-face interaction during the discipleship process (Acts 18:1-11; Rom 15:22-24),
(2) an available company of visiting leader-teachers (Acts 19:21-22; Titus 3:12-14),
(3) a collaborative, interdependent cohort of learners (Rom 16:1-16; Col 4:10-17),
(4) with epistolary (distance) communication to enhance further learning (1 Co 16:21; Gal 6:11),
(5) providing exhortation-encouragement educational feedback (2 Co 13:1-14; 1 Thess 1:2-10),
(6) using the cultural tools available for travel and teaching (Acts 18:18-23; 19:8-10),
(7) contextualizing teaching-learning for an audience (Acts 16:1-5; 1 Cor 9:19-23),
(8) curricula passed on, a standard of knowledge (1 Co 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6),
(9) innovative, creative, interrelational learning (Acts 14:8-18; 15:22-35; 1 Cor 3:1-9), and
(10) all within a climate of discovery scholarship (Acts 17:11; 18:24-28).
Being nimble does not preclude being stable.
During one of my faculty in-services I encouraged our mindset:
- Institutional Commitment Focused on guiding principles, vision, and mission: who we are says what we do
- Intellectual Character Focused on academic rigor—knowledge transforms teacher then student
- Instructional Clarity Focused on methodological variety for creative communication
- Integrational Content Focused on interdisciplinarity of coursework through a biblical mindset
- Intentional Conduct Focused on classroom planning of institutional objective for each teaching hour
Christian educational institutions must stand on a firm philosophy of teaching while adjusting to the ever-changing horizon of 21st century learning.
It seems the 1st century has already set the standard for being nimble.
Dr. Mark Eckel nimbly teaches, writes, and speaks on educational issues.