Saturday, February 27, 2010

Parallel Pursuits

Ken Carter has an excellent post here about the downsides of single-mindedness and the advantages of “living in more than one world.” He says:

Living in more than one world allows us to meet a variety of people who enrich our lives. It prevents us from obsession with any one thing. We discover opportunities for development and learning in parallel pursuits than can then shape our professional leadership. We may discover that we are contributing to the world in ways that may not be possible in our employment… If we live in more than one world, we are better able to withstand the inevitable setbacks and disappointments that occur in our lives.


“I lack nothing…my cup overflows.” (Ps. 23:1,5)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pay Attention to How Students Learn

Is it a fair assumption that all students are proficient with technology and need to be taught with technology? Some might feel we do a disservice to students in assuming that they all want or prefer classes that are heavily oriented toward technology. Consider this call to action:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Character with Competence Education

Hiebert, Al. (2005). Character with Competence Education: The Bible College Movement in Canada. Stienbach, MB: Association of Canadian Bible Colleges.

Commissioned by the former Association of Canadian Bible Colleges (this organization has since merged with Christian Higher Education in Canada and is now known as CHEC), Dr. Al Hiebert has produced Character With Competence Education as an attempt to describe the nature, motivations and recent trends among Canadian Bible colleges. It is the author’s desire to have an impact on Canadian society by broadening the knowledge of what is actually happening in Canada’s evangelical community and improve the perceptions and understandings of Bible college education among Canada’s intelligentsia (p. 51).

It is Hiebert’s contention that Canadian Bible college education provides character and spiritual development in addition to academic formation – hence the title of the book. According to the author, this holistic approach to human development fills a gap seemingly abandoned by the universities in the past generation or two.

Probably the greatest strength of this book is that is contains a snapshot of historical and contemporary efforts in the development and administration of Christian higher education in Canada. For those with a limited understanding or history in this field, Hiebert’s book is sure to become required reading. This book fulfils the author’s purpose by providing the reader an overview of the efforts undertaken by many Christian educators who have strived to develop and justify Bible college education among the evangelical and secular education community in Canada. Thus Character with Competence Education serves as a platform for the next generation of educational administration leaders.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Something More, Yet Something Safe

Word and Power Several years ago, I became aware of Doug Banister’s book, The Word and Power Church (Zondervan, 1999), which is an attempt to bridge the perceived divide that exists between Evangelicals and Pentecostals. As Banister sees it, one side champions the Word, the other the Spirit. The question he explores is “Are the Word and Spirit really in conflict or doesn’t the Lord’s ideal include both sound biblical teaching and the power of God to be experienced?”

Banister’s journey started as a man of The Word. He was a confirmed cessationist concerning the spiritual gifts. However, a nagging problem was growing. As he puts it, his church was beginning to feel more like a classroom than a sanctuary and people only seemed to know God propositionally rather than personally. He knew something was missing and he longed for more.

After reading a copy of John L. Sherrill’s They Speak With Other Tongues and re-examining 1 Corinthians 12-14, Banister concluded that cessationism couldn’t be true. Shaken in his faith yet drawn to pursuing a more tangible experience of God, he spent a night fasting and seeking God. He recalls his prayer: “I’m tired of knowing you from a distance. I want to know you intimately, personally. I don’t just want to know about you, I want to know you” (p. 18). Suddenly, he felt his soul begin to worship God with a torrent of words in a language he had never learned. He was praying in tongues!

Now Banister is an advocate of finding the radical middle way between Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism. In fact, he believes that God is currently blending the strengths of these traditions across North America. These churches, says Banister, are “Word and Power” churches (p. 21). He has observed reticence in some who are exploring the power of the Spirit for the first time. “Our guests are drawn to the power,” he says, “but afraid of it too. When the power is matched with the Word, they feel safe” (p. 39).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Developing Student’s Social and Emotional Competencies

University of Melbourne’s Professor Michael Bernard believes that teaching students about social and emotional skills is just as important as teaching them literacy and mathematics.

Professor Bernard further believes that social and emotional wellbeing should be included in federal and provincial curriculum. He argued that ‘if these skills are delayed it puts children at a disadvantage and makes teaching and learning virtually impossible’.

According to Professor Bernard, anger, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem, stress and underachievement in school are all symptoms of a student having poor or minimal social or emotional skills. Developing these skills, Bernard says, “It is important, if not more important, as literacy and [mathematics] because without social and emotional skills, students aren’t going to be as literate or [mathematically competent] as they could be.”

Bernard has identified five blockers to social and emotional skill along with the five foundations that build better relationships and well-being:

Bernard's 5 Competencies

What’s up with the attitude?

The study of attitudes (what evaluations do people hold) and persuasion (how do they change their evaluations) is a core topic in social psychology.

So how are attitudes formed and why are they so difficult to change?

Attitudes are defined as learned, comprehensive evaluations of a person, object, place, or issue that influence thought and action. Because people are influenced by the situation, general attitudes are not always good predictors of specific behaviour. Attitudes that are well remembered and central to our self concept, however, are more likely to lead to behaviour, and measures of general attitudes do predict patterns of behaviour over time.

Two characteristics shape these kinds of attitudes: commitment and embeddedness. They may help teachers understand why certain students act the way they do.

Strong attitudes


Bible Colleges: What Differentiating Minds Want to Know

Almost 25 years ago, economist Howard Bowen (d. 1989) concluded that the benefits of a college education were not significantly differentiated by institutional type. In other words, he asserted that simply attending any college mattered much more than which particular college a person attended. He also stressed that society and individuals benefited from higher education far more in terms of non-monetary issues such as emotional development, citizenship, and equality rather than in career or financial returns.

While I would agree with the latter portion of Bowen’s points on the benefits of higher education, I would contend that Christian institutions – and the students whom they graduate – can and must be noticeably distinguished from their secular counterparts. A healthy Christian higher education is one arm of God’s restorative and redemptive activity that shapes fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ, not just “responsible citizens” or human depositories of knowledge, facts, and workplace skills.

As Guretzki puts it, “Bible colleges embody a commitment to learning and understanding the word of God – the Bible – as central to discovering what it means to be an obedient and thoughtful disciple of Christ in the world.” But what benefit does a Bible college education hold over simply attending church services, Bible studies, or discipleship training schools? The answer is that Bible colleges are actual colleges. Students in these schools study the Bible from an academic and confessional perspective; engaging in scholarly and devotional exercises that help refine their critical thinking skills while also developing a holistic Christian worldview based on an integrated knowledge of the Bible, theology and history along with other general and professional studies.

Students who attend a Christian college can also expect to find smaller class sizes which afford plenty of opportunity for dialogue and access to their teachers. As a result, students often grow closer to their classmates and frequently consider their teachers as mentors. Moreover, the Bible college environment holds tremendous opportunities for its staff and faculty to serve God with distinctive teaching and pastoral gifts. Knight captures the essence of this perspective with noticeably missional language:

Since the function of Christian education is one of reconciliation and restoring the balanced image of God in students, education must be seen primarily as a redemptive act. And if education is viewed in that manner, then the role of the teacher is ministerial and pastoral in the sense that the teacher is an agent of reconciliation. (2006, 210-211)

Some time ago I met with a young man who was coming to the Bible college where I taught to prepare for a future role in pastoral ministry. As he shared some recent family stresses that were affecting his school work, we were able to talk candidly, pray, and even share some tears together (cf. 2 Tim. 1:4). I can’t help but reflect on these experiences and think, “What beats this?!” Both for instructors and students, the path through Christian higher education provides distinctive opportunities to learn transferable life skills along with life-changing biblical convictions in an environment of pastoral care.


“Making the Case, Counting the Cost: The Value of a Christian College Education.” Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, June 24, 2004.,parentCatID.130/rc_detail.asp, accessed October 18, 2007.

“Howard Bowen.” Encyclopedia of Education, The Gale Group, Inc, 2002., accessed October 18, 2007.

Guretzki, David. “The Difference?”, accessed October 19, 2007.

Knight, George. R. Philosophy and Education: An Introduction in Christian Perspective. Berrian Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2006.

Teaching with Technology

An excerpt from Zhu & Kaplan, “Teaching with Technology”, in McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, Houghton Mifflin Co Boston, MA, 2002

From a systems approach, teaching with technology involves four major components: the students, the instructor, course content, and technology tools (See Figure below). An examination of each component raises a set of issues that we need to consider in order to make technology integration as successful as possible. For example, content can be examined in terms of learning outcomes and the discipline being taught. Instructors can think of their own experience with technology, the amount of time they have for planning and teaching, and their view of their role in the teaching and learning process. We need to think carefully about our students, their exposure and access to technology as well as their preferred learning styles. Finally, we can turn to the technology itself and analyze it according to its functions. This approach to teaching and learning with technology assumes that the four component parts are integrated and that changes in one part will require adjustments to the other three in order to achieve the same goals.

Teaching with technology

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Value a Leader Adds

In his book The Spirit of Leadership, author Myles Munroe comments on the relationship between self-esteem and leadership:

Again, self-esteem is your awareness of your value to your environment...Our disposition toward ourselves and the world comes from our self estimation. Our self estimation, in turn, comes from our awareness of our value to our world. This is where we get our sense of significance and contribution in life...You must come to the point where you are convinced and convicted that you and your gift are necessary. True leaders believe that they are needed by their generation and the world. (pp. 133-134).

What are you absolutely convinced you add to your environment? What value are you certain you bring to the current change efforts you are involved in? I have often turned to the matrix below to understand what is required by leaders to bring about successful change:

This figure was presented in a chapter titled "A Framework for Thinking About Systems Change" by Timothy P. Knoster, Richard A. Villa, and Jacqueline S. Thousand in the book Restructuring for Caring and Effective Education: Piecing the Puzzle Together. It provides a helpful way to troubleshoot what is missing from the current learning and leadership efforts we find ourselves in. By adding the missing component, we add value to our environment.