Sadly, one of the most enjoyable, meaningful and challenging learning opportunities I had did not take place in a classroom. It took place in my backyard, during summer break, when I finally responded in the positive, to enough prodding from my wife and begging from my then three young girls to build the girls a playhouse. Never have I had so much fun working through the challenges of reviewing and choosing plans, locating, pricing and purchasing materials, and then painstakingly interpreting the plans, turning them through cuts, curses (a few!), corrections, and collaboration (the girls helped with many steps along the way) into a thing of beauty.
Despite feeling overwhelmed prior to and during the process, in hindsight, it was an amazing time of my life, especially when I was able to see the joy my girls experienced both during and after the work.
I had never thought that building a playhouse for my daughters would be an activity laden with so much significance! I could only think about one step at a time, slowly and painfully processing each step, ensuring that I measured twice and cut once…I could only try to avoid allowing negative self-talk to play in the brain when mistakes were made—and they were made! I could only refrain from speaking even worse things when injuries happened—and they did happen.
Now, however, I realize that it was such a joyful, meaningful time because I was actually reflecting God’s image in the creative process. I was engaged in real work that met a real need for a real audience, and I was given a glimpse perhaps of what God felt at creation when he stood back and said, “It is good!”
But I mentioned before, that this was a sad thing, and here’s why: I’m afraid that a disproportionate amount of the work I’ve done as a student or—even worse—assigned as a teacher did not bring joy. A lot of the work was just done for the sake of being done, for filling in a checklist or for preparing one for a test filled with asinine trivia. Sigh. However, the key is to learn from shortcomings and change. So, is change happening now?
Change is Everywhere
Yes! I am very excited to see, hear, and feel the excitement amongst students and staff at ACS as we really work really hard to design and implement learning opportunities that engage, nurture and shape our image-bearing students. I love how our students, instead of memorizing trivia about Confederation, actually participate in their own scenario that requires delegates to compromise for the greater good. I love how instead of merely visiting a museum and filling in blanks on a test, our students create their own museum, expertly sharing what they have learned. I love how instead of simply making a paper snowman during a winter unit (and they look cute on the walls), our students collect warm winter clothing for inner city students, knowing that they are making a difference in God’s world!
When things like this happen—and they are happening—our students are blessed by the opportunity to look at even their school work and say, “It is good!”