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Displaying all posts tagged "Virtue".
FAST Project Underway: Working to Transform the Classroom
June 24, 2015 | Jeanna Boase
FAST Project Underway: Working to Transform the Classroom
What comes to mind when you remember your high school science class? Were you one of those fortunate students whose biology teacher opened the door to a fascinating new world of living things? Did your physics professor introduce you to a universe of ideas you’d never imagined? Perhaps more unusual – did you feel like you left the science classroom a better person? Here at TCF, we’re persuaded that we have the opportunity to pursue personal and spiritual growth everywhere – even in the classroom. So we’ve partnered with the Kuyers Institute to develop a resource to help teachers and learners alike grow as disciples of Christ. This week, an outstanding team of teachers is meeting in South Haven to design lesson plans and activities that don’t change what gets taught, but how it’s taught. The intersection of faith and science – so often charged with controversy and threatening questions – proves to be a fruitful arena for instilling virtues like empathy and truth-telling and stewardship. As our teachers design hands-on resources, they’re testing them in their classrooms, and we’re discovering in real-time just how effective they can be. One of our teachers recently commented: I have always encountered groups of students that are challenging - both in terms of ability and lack of motivation.  These are often the students that have been told (directly or indirectly) that they aren't good at school, and by high school they've pretty much bought into that message.  This year is no different in that sense, but it has been radically different in terms of the classroom morale and general disposition.   I think significant credit can be given to my change of perspective, giving a theme like empathy priority in a discipline like chemistry.  There is a bit of push back sometimes—students just want "the facts" so they can move on—but there have been several glimmering moments along with a slow changing of the tide, indicating that they are starting to see the big picture. We’re grateful to teachers like this one, who willingly share their expertise and energy to develop this groundbreaking project. And we’re grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for underwriting this effort to transform the classroom into a place where students can grow both intellectually and spiritually!
Trust Falls and Fails: Practices of Faithfulness and Truthfulness
April 9, 2014 | Lori Wilson
Trust Falls and Fails: Practices of Faithfulness and Truthfulness
Friend of TCF Darrin Compagner recently preached about the Christian practices that help us to build healthy and faithful communities. He’s agreed to share some of his thoughts in the form of a four-part blog series, focusing especially on Christine Pohl’s book “Living Into Community.” Each week, we’ll also suggest one practice for you to try out – a Christian discipline that can help you, too, become the kind of person who can disagree well. For Week 3: Think about a commitment you've made that you may be struggling to keep. Maybe it's a small project at the office, or a tea party with your daughter - whatever it is, take some time this week to follow through.   Christian community begins in grateful response to the grace and gifts of God. This grateful response, then, takes shape in practices of faithfulness and truthfulness. Or at least, that's how it's supposed to work. In practice, we often find it difficult to speak truth, to make and keep promises, to give one another our trust, and to be worthy of trust. Perhaps you've been in a setting where a group attempts a trust fall exercise. The idea is simple enough, to develop and build trust through a simple exercise of falling back and being caught. A Youtube video helpfully and comically, if painfully, chronicles a number of ways such exercises can go wrong.  For many of us, we know of and have experienced similar moments in Christian community. Someone attempts to build trust by telling the truth, only to speak wounding words. Another person gives us a promise that they will surely show up for an event, but fails to follow through. Each opportunity for telling truth and demonstrating faithfulness is a little exercise in building a trusting community. But it's also an opportunity to undermine that very trust. And there are other things that can undermine communal trust and truth. Culturally, we are often shaped towards anti-faithfulness by having unlimited options. We stay in consumer mode in ways that make steady communal relationships impossible. We feel jaded towards truth and faithfulness because we are subjected to such a steady stream of untruthfulness and broken promises in carefully crafted ad campaigns and politicians seeking re-election. In an often dishonest and unpredictable world, truth-telling and faithfulness don't come naturally to us.  What Scripture emphasizes above all is the truth and faithfulness of God. God does not keep all his options open, but binds himself via promises. He did so to Abraham, and a longish section of Genesis traces the various trust falls and fails as Abraham haltingly grows in faith. But finally, as Hebrews 6 summarizes, Abraham "waited patiently" and "received what was promised." In Christ, we have God's faithfulness given in the flesh, our faithful high priest, who is for us an "anchor for the soul." So a people, anchored in Christ, living in the midst of an unsteady, commitment-averse culture, can be steady enough to make and keep promises, big and small. Apart from this the work of Christian community is consistently undermined, like building a sand-castle within reach of the waves.  As with practices of Gratitude, Christian communities can call one another to practice Truthfulness and Faithfulness in counter-cultural ways. Sometimes it is little promises made and kept, like signing up to help with a clean-up day and, wonderfully, showing up to do so. Sometimes it is naming difficulties early and clearly, and eschewing the posturing and constant image-maintenance expected in a consumer culture. Such acts build trusting and trustworthy communities, and they make the faithfulness and truthfulness of God, too, credible.
Frustration, Disappointment, and Deciding to Trust
January 16, 2014 | Lori Wilson
Frustration, Disappointment, and Deciding to Trust
The Adam Quest, recently released by Tim Stafford, has shown itself to be both a source of conflict and an opportunity for transformation. One of its featured interviewees, TCF fellow Todd Wood, blogged yesterday about his response to the book, including his disappointment over what he feels is a misrepresentation of himself and of his young earth creationist perspective. Wood’s frustration with this project—the book was initiated and supported by TCF—leads him to question his ongoing collaboration with our efforts to facilitate dialogue about divisive issues. We’ve been grateful for his willingness to enter into conversations, hosted by TCF, with scientists who openly support an evolutionary theory of creation. We also understand, however, that any attempt at such dialogue is fraught with fear and defensiveness, and that motives on all sides are apt to be questioned. Which is why this post is such a beautiful picture of God’s in-breaking kingdom. Wood doesn’t shy away from the pain and fear that characterizes much of this difficult work. But in the midst of his frustration and disappointment, he embodies the persistence and hope without which we can’t possibly participate in God’s work of peace and reconciliation. If you read one piece online today, it should be Wood's post.  
Evangelicalism and Higher Education: New Topic at RespectfulConversation.net
November 6, 2013 | Lori Wilson
Evangelicalism and Higher Education: New Topic at RespectfulConversation.net
Around TCF, we devote quite a lot of attention to the ways in which we can develop an “unanxious presence.” By this we mean simply the ability to live faithfully, trusting in God’s goodness and redemption. This does not mean that we ignore our worries or stifle our fears—but that we entrust these to God in such a way that we can live in freedom and peace in their very midst. This theme surfaces repeatedly in RespectfulConversation.net’s topic for November: “Evangelicalism and Higher Education.” Professors, administrators, and church leaders write about ways in which they are working to sort out a healthy relationship between robust evangelical faith and the challenges of rigorous academic pursuit. In the comments section of Sarah Ruden’s post, she describes the capacity of Christian students to resist the temptation of academic hubris, instead humbly acknowledging their human limitations: [A] great strength in Evangelical institutions seems to be a student attitude along the lines of “I'm just a person, but God is God; so it doesn't shatter me to admit when I'm wrong or need help.” As these students acknowledge their dependence on God, they are freed up to take risks and admit their mistakes—their egos aren’t tied up in the obligation to get everything right. Ruden explains that in her experience at secular institutions, her students are less likely to exhibit this sort of “unanxious presence,” as they lack the robust foundation provided by a vibrant—and humble—faith. On the administrative side, John Hawthorne provides a striking example of “unanxiousness” as well. Whereas the questions and challenges of young students can often be perceived as threats, he chooses to interpret these instead as gifts to the institution: Christian universities need postmodern students because they will help us address the central questions these students have. This is not to provide them with easy answers but to enable them to engage the questions with the complexity the world sees. This means that Christian universities will have to wrestle with all of the difficult questions the broader society is wrestling with, maybe even wrestling harder and earlier than the rest of culture. In a sense, Hawthorne explains, evangelical schools are equipped with the resources to lead our society in working through difficult cultural issues. And he suggests that among the key assets are students themselves: thoughtful, honest, and question-asking young people who can encourage their institutions to fearlessly engage academic and cultural challenges. It takes remarkable “unanxiousness” on the part of an administrator to invite students into such a role! As we at TCF work to foster a sense of “unanxious presence,” we are grateful for these brothers and sisters who willingly engage difficult issues with humility and grace. Their embodied “unanxious presence” transforms potential conflicts into striking opportunities for the church and academy to pursue the Truth together.
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