As an academic leader who is committed to the formation of the next generation of students, it’s important that I understand effective strategies.
One important strategy when working with students is found in Bloom’s Taxonomy. This well-known model takes a student from remembering content to creating content. In other words, everyday teachers attempt to guide students from consuming knowledge to contributing this knowledge to others in practical ways.
An important goal of cultivating contributors isn’t that they remember academic content, rather that students learn to contribute to society in meaningful ways using what they have been taught. This is the outcome of an impactful education. This model should go beyond the academic classroom into youth groups, families, summer camps, and any experience desiring to reach and mold students.
As we take this concept deeper let’s examine it from a Christian perspective. We are raising children within a cultural framework that is doing everything in its power to cultivate consumers. According to research done by CBS, in the 1980’s American corporations spent $100 million on marketing to our children. This year corporations will spend in excess of $17 billion in an attempt to capture the minds of American youth.
In future posts I will further develop the consequences of this, but for now, let’s just agree that there are devastating consequences when hearts are formed within the consumption narrative. It leads to self-serving behaviors, self-esteem issues, and the idolatry of self. So don’t you want to shape your students or children within the framework of a different narrative? I believe the Contribute narrative is what we all want for our kids, we just need the correct tools to begin the shift.
Moving from remembering strategies to creating strategies is an important step when working with this generation of students. Here are three practical contribution strategies that we should use for this generation.
Strategy #1: We must cultivate opportunities for students to act out their knowledge in the world. We should be creating cultures that equip and empower students to be ‘doers’ in the world they live in.
Strategy #2: We must create opportunities for students to practically apply their knowledge in the world. Similar to the first point, but practical application stresses one’s ability to think analytically about something. An example of this would be providing a student with a problem and forcing them to solve it in a real-life setting.
Strategy #3: We must foster opportunities for students to fail at something. Educators and schools have done a poor job celebrating failure. Churches have done a poor job discussing failure as a part of the Christian experience or even within faith development. I would argue the whole concept of grit can be connected to the fruit of the spirit found in Galatians. It is a common known fact that we develop as people through our failures and mistakes.
At Oklahoma Christian Academy we created a Contribution Challenge for 7th - 12th-grade students, and it’s built on these three strategies. Put simply, here is how the challenge connects to each strategy.
Strategy #1: The challenge creates a developed framework for students to do something that impacts the world they inhabit. They have four choices on how they will be ‘doers.’
Strategy #2: By making them look, examine, and understand global issues we are empowering them to navigate a broken world with a redemptive lens. We are using the 17 Global Goals because it gives them 17 problems to examine and see how they may connect to something.
Strategy #3: We created a rubric for the Contribution Challenge that we will use to judge each final product. We have intentionally created an aspect of the rubric that will encourage and reward failure. We hope that each child will push themselves to a point of failure and the rubric will look at how they reacted to the failure. How do they respond, overcome, and adapt their project at the failure point? We do not value failure in the educational experience and we found this to be a creative way to honor failure as a critical step in the learning process.
With all this said, what is Christian education? I have come to believe that:
Christian education is the process in which educators guide students from knowing God, to creating a relationship with God, to contributing for God, which leads to the redemptive application of normative academic standards.
As educators, parents, and ministers we must move our children from knowledge to action. We must create cultures and frameworks that empower our children to bear His image in the communities they live in. Let us work together to continue creating cultures that cultivate the next generation of contributors!
Feel free to start listening to the Contribute Podcast, sponsored by OCA! You can find it in the podcast store under Contribute, or follow one of these links:
Contribute Podcast (iTunes Store)
Contribute Podcast (Podbean)
Let us hear your contributor story. Periodically, we enjoy offering contributor spotlights and would love to spotlight you or someone you know. Who is making a difference? What children do you know contributing to society in big ways? Let us know through the contact page, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.