From a Biblical Worldview Blog
Having children in college has increased the number of road trips I enjoy each month. Between move-ins, family weekends, birthday visits and of course home football games, my wife and I have made numerous trips this fall to Lee University (Cleveland, Tenn.) and Clemson University (Clemson, S.C.). I am pleased and proud to report that both of my college kids are doing well and feel that they were well-prepared by Charlotte Christian for college life - academically, socially, and spiritually.
As we have logged many hours on I-85, I have discovered the wonders of QT or QuickTrip. These large gas stations have an expansive store with a myriad of food items, and importantly clean bathrooms. One item that QT carries is Dr. Pepper Twizzlers. Yes, you read that correctly - Dr. Pepper Twizzlers – a combination of a great soft drink and an already amazing candy. Sometimes things come together that are unexpected, and the result can be tremendous.
In the early development of Christian education in our country, many people unfortunately believed that faith and reason were exclusive of one another. Like Dr. Pepper and Twizzlers, many wrongly believed that faith and reason could not be combined or even co-exist. For far too long, Christian education suffered from this false premise and created below average schools when it came to academic measurements. Christian schools were great at evangelizing and mentoring students, but we did not prepare them for the next level of education or more importantly for the culture’s intellectual arena.
Charlotte Christian believes that faith and reason do co-exist, and we strive to model this on a daily basis. We believe that anything God calls us to, including education, should be done with excellence. We want our students to wrestle with God’s word both through the lenses of faith and reason.
In Isaiah chapter 1, verse 18 we read, “’Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel you will be devoured by the sword.’” The prophet Isaiah is speaking to his fellow Israelites during a difficult time in their country’s history. He speaks on behalf of the Lord and asks them to reason together or in today’s vernacular - stop and think about it. This is the gospel message succinctly stated in one verse, consider God’s plan for us past, present, and future. Notice it is the Lord that calls on us to think. He does not say follow blindly but rather use the mind that He has blessed you with.
In the Gospels, Jesus never gives His followers a simple list of do’s and don’ts. Sometimes, like me, I assume you wish that Jesus did that very thing - just tell me what to do and how to do it. Rather, Jesus told stories and utilized the parables to force the disciples, and now us, to think. Jesus wants us to draw conclusions after pondering the meaning of His message while placing His words into context with the Old Testament as well as the culture that surrounds us. Jesus consistently asked rhetorical questions to those around Him in order to force them to deal with His teachings on an intellectual plane.
Christian education should borrow from both the example in Isaiah and Jesus’ earthly ministry. We must wrestle through the Truth. I want our faculty member to follow the example of Jesus and ask our students rhetorical questions that force them to consider all angles of a particular topic or dilemma. The risk is that things can become messy. Look at the disciples, they were often wrong or misguided. The reward is the blessings of God’s plan. The disciples worked through their faith, and God used them in a mighty way.
At Charlotte Christian, I want our school to be one that takes on the risk of mixing faith and reason, and then watch God reward us in ways that are currently unimaginable.
Head of School
on Monday November 10 at 07:26AM
Leadership is one of the buzzwords in education as well as our culture. Our country is starving for genuine leaders. It would be the rare open house at an independent school in which the school administration did not speak to developing students into leaders. We all know that who leads matters, whether it is in government, education, churches, and even families. As goes the leader so goes the country, school, community, and children. Schools will offer leadership classes, trips, and seminars; however, we must ask what is truly effective in growing leaders?
Dr. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College in Massachusetts, recently completed the largest leadership study of its kind. Over the course of 10 years he interviewed more than 500 leaders while collecting data on their lives and careers. His list of interviewees including 250 CEOs (20% of them from Fortune 100 companies), former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, dozens of cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, heads of federal bureaus and agencies representing all White House administrations from President Johnson to Obama. Also profiled were more than 100 leaders from the world’s largest nonprofit organizations including the American Red Cross as well as Harvard and Stanford Universities. Dr. Lindsay’s research can be found in his compelling book, View from the Top.
As a parent and school leader, I was intrigued to learn the recipe for leadership. Certainly there was a list of things that I in my family or we at Charlotte Christian could do to assure that one of our students would be included in the next study. The reality is that no list or recipe exists, and of course we can never forget the role of God’s providence in determining our nation’s leaders. Romans 13:1 reminds us that, “… For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
However, there are interesting data points from the research that are worth noting:
- 59% of the leaders came from a middle class home
- 41% of the leaders were varsity athletes in high school, and 23% played a sport in college
- 58% of the leaders participated in student government in either high school or college
- Many of the leaders were Eagle Scouts (an exact percentage was not given in the book)
- Nearly two-thirds of the leaders attended undergraduate institutions that are not considered elite institutions (97% did graduate from college)
What can we conclude from this research? I believe it is the concept of balance. It is important for students to participate in activities outside of their academic pursuits. Athletics teach valuable lessons about teamwork, authority, and discipline. Fine arts cultivate a student’s creativity and ability to work with others. Student government provides leadership training even when dealing with the mundane tasks of a homecoming dance.
At Charlotte Christian we want to create a culture that presents our students with balance. We desire that they are challenged by a rigorous academic program, but we also want students to have the opportunity and time to participate in and enjoy co-curricular opportunities at school and out of school, like scouting and church activities. We also want everyone in our community to recognize that the college admissions list is important, but it is not the most important way to measure a school. At Charlotte Christian we aim to teach the whole child and help them achieve balance in their lives.
Head of School
on Wednesday July 30
“We need to help students feel comfortable with failure.”
I recently had the opportunity, along with 35 Christian school leaders from around the country, to spend a day at the Harvard School of Business. After touring the beautiful campus we spent time in the relatively new Harvard Innovation Lab. This is a fascinating place where undergrads and graduate students come together to try new concepts and wrestle through business ideas. The technology and collaborative space was inspiring and thought-provoking, but the quote above is what had me thinking after we departed.
One of my colleagues asked the executive director of the Innovation Lab what was one of his biggest challenges and he responded with, “we need to help students feel comfortable with failure.” It makes sense if you ponder it long enough - students who make it to Harvard typically have not struggled a lot on their academic journey. Yet this leader of a program at one of our nation’s most prestigious institutions alluded that we do not teach failure well.
I loved P.E. in middle and high school, mainly because we mostly played a lot of dodge ball. Since then schools have banned the game from P.E. classes and recess. We no longer keep score when the youngest of athletes compete, and of course everyone receives a trophy at the end. Changes are also evident in the academic realm. When I brought a bad grade home, my parents asked what I could have done differently and encouraged me to try harder next time. Of course, this is only if I showed them the grade, otherwise they waited months for the next report card. Today, parents check grades daily and poor grades are disputed with the teacher, not by the student but by the parent.
Relationships with my peers were formed on the playground or in the neighborhood where survival of the fittest ruled and parents rarely intervened (usually only if blood was drawn). Today, we organize play-dates and everything is sterilized.
My childhood was not perfect, and certainly some of these experiences caused damage. My childhood however was not free of failure. In those instances when I did fail, I learned the valuable lesson of dusting myself off and getting back up and trying again. I believe this is what is missing in our children’s lives today. We are so concerned about protecting them and nurturing them, that we do not allow them to fail. If they do fail, we give them excuses - it is the teacher’s fault, the coach does not know what he is doing, or the director does not see your talent.
Paul Tough in his wonderful book, How Children Succeed, explains that often grit is the missing trait in our children. His research shows that the young people who have experienced failure and the wonderful and difficult journey of trying again (with parental assistance), are the leaders of the future.
Charlotte Christian needs to be a place that students develop grit. Failure is an option because often the best lessons are learned there. Life is filled with disappointment - sometimes we do not make the team or win the election or are chosen for the award. Sometimes we lose, but what matters is what happens internally after those disappointments. We need to allow our children to experience this valuable lesson and as parents we need to slow down in always smoothing the waters too early before lessons can be learned.
Peter, the rock on whom Jesus built the church, was a man of grit. He failed in a public way several times, but God used those failures for His purposes and plans. I want to be at a school that develops Peters, so God the Father can use our alumni to be the rocks of the church in the future.
Head of School
on Tuesday May 20
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