This is the final forum in our summer reading schedule. There is a lot of reading time remaining during July and August so it is not too late to read one of the recommended books. You can review the previous forums as a means of selecting a book that might of interest to you. Once read, consider adding your thoughts to the forum as well.
Cornelius Plantinga, in his book Engaging God's World, challenges the reader to consider the mission and outcomes of Christian Higher Education. His discussion of the mission and outcomes is applicable to K-12 schools as well. If he were writing a mission, based upon Plantinga, for a K-12 school what might it be? What are some of the specific outcomes that he likewise encouraged the reader to consider?
Plantinga writes about the Christian as a citizen in the Kingdom of God. "A prime citizen", he says, "passionately loves God and longs for His kingdom to come." This Christian views vocation as a means to expand God's kingdom. Education is an avenue toward a vocation that hurries this kingdom. The point of education, he expands, is to equip students for the "great reformation project" underway and under God's direction. The mission of a K-12 school, then, from Plantinga's point of view might be:
"to equip students from a biblical worldview to act as prime citizens in the kingdom of of God, actively participating in a local church, taking critical interest and well-informed action in the community and current government, and pursuing those vocations that influence the culture toward the glory of God."
Specific outcomes might look like the ability to think critically and study independently, participation in community development programs and local policy-making, care for environment, evangelism and love for studying God's word.
Plantinga encourages Christians to work to use their vocation to bring about the Kingdom of God. That is our focus, and that should be the core of our mission, whether we are talking about elementary, higher education, or other vocation. He emphasizes outcomes that have to do with combining our biblical perspectives to the knowledge and other practical issues in the world around us. We must work to sharpen critical thinking skills and other skills that enable students to deal with the world through a biblical worldview. The goal is not that the subject matter and skills they learn are solely Bible knowledge and biblical hermeneutics, but that they will be able to develop other knowledge and skills in light of the biblical worldview and in light of biblical truth. There is no other more solid basis or reason for developing good virtues or dispositions than the Bible. God has laid out clear principles that direct the way we live and the habits we form. These also are part of the outcomes that Plantinga encourages us to develop, and what better time to start than elementary school (or even sooner)? Every part of our life should reflect the goal to serve the kingdom of God, with our actions, learning, and dispositions; in this way, we fulfill our purpose to glorify God.
Mission: to equip students to contribute to Gods restoration of all things that have been corrupted by evil. This will be accomplished through teaching students to rightly understand and satisfy their divine longing and pursue their place and calling in Gods coming kingdom.
If Plantinga were writing a mission for a Christian K-12 School, I believe it would sound similar to the statement made in the bottom of the first paragraph on preface page xiv, that is, "...a solidly built Christian college will rise from its faith in Jesus Christ and then explore the height and depth, the length and breadth of what it means to build on this faith- not just for four years at college,but also for a lifetime of learning and work within the kingdom of God."
For a K-12 school that might sound like, "(school name) as a solidly built Christian K-12 school will lay Christ as a foundation for all they do, and building off of this foundation rise to discover what it means to build on faith, to prepare students to love learning their whole lives and to joyfully work in and for the kingdom of God."