Concordia Chicago

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Blanchard, K., & Bowles, S. (1997). Gung Ho!
New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.

Burden, P., & Byrd, D. (2013). Methods for effective teaching: meeting the needs of all students. Boston: Pearson.

Kruse, K. (2012, July 16). Forbes Leadership. Retrieved from Stephen Covey: 10 quotes that can change your life.

other STF links

iWhy: Why I Became a Lutheran School Educator (Feature)

Eight Ways to Use Your Student Athletes as Positive Role Models (AMDnet)

Like, Raise the Bar Yourself (ETnet)

Not a Faith Graduation (PEN)

In the late 1980s or early 1990s, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore used the following slogan to recruit students, “We prepare children for tomorrow and eternity!” It was a great marketing slogan for Christian education, and I was jealous that the Lutheran schools had not thought of it first. Around the same time, many Lutheran schools used slogans that included the theme of training the whole child: body, soul, and mind. If we fast-forward to 2017, the slogan found on the website of the Baltimore Archdiocese reads “Catholic schools: now more than ever.” And a quick perusal of websites for Lutheran schools finds slogans such as “We are preparing the generation the world has been waiting for,” “A school for tomorrow’s Christian leaders,” and “It is our joy to develop your child’s strengths while teaching all skills necessary for a successful tomorrow.” The change is subtle, but it is still there.

The real challenge is found in providing a school that is centered in Jesus, focused on students, and confident enough to boast of the things that make it truly different!The observed changes are neither good nor bad, but they do prompt the question, “Why were the changes needed?” Administrators for many Christian schools would list issues like changing demographics, the need to fill seats and provide revenue, desire to reach as many children as possible, changing attitudes and expectations of parents as consumers, and the demand from school boards to be fiscally sound. Each of these reasons is real and needs to be addressed. However, the real challenge is found in addressing each of these issues and still providing a school that is centered in Jesus, focused on students, and confident enough to boast of the things that make it truly different!

mathIn some ways, the challenge was easier prior to 2002. That was the year the bill referred to as No Child Left Behind was signed into law, and the world of education became accountable in a very different way. To be accountable there must be standards, and these standards must be measured. Once measured, the information must be translated into data, which can be studied and compared. Ultimately, the data provides the insight necessary to make appropriate educational decisions. Unfortunately, as the process continued, data became synonymous with numbers. Numbers are clean, they avoid the bias of individuals, and they provide solid benchmarks by which to evaluate progress.

Our society, including the parents who pay tuition at our schools, has become enamored with data.Our society, including the parents who pay tuition at our schools, has become enamored with data. One finds preferred outcomes in the form of numbers. Data can be measured and compared to another column. Data can quickly and cleanly help identify which is better and more effective. Many believe this kind of thinking increases productivity. However, this same kind of thinking can also get in the way of meaningful progress.

In the book Gung Ho, the authors use a character, Andy, to teach a plant executive how to increase productivity. Andy said the first step toward improvement was to work like a squirrel. In doing so, squirrels fulfill God’s plan for the forest (Blanchard & Bowles, 1997). When one thinks about the frantic behavior of squirrels, it is hard to see how God’s plan is completed through these actions. Yet, it is a squirrel who carefully moves and plants the acorns. The process replenishes and even expands the future forest, and, in doing so, provides meaningful service as it completes a portion of God’s plan for the forest. The point was to show that when each worker knew his effort was valued and made a difference for others, he was more inclined to work harder and produce a better product. The plant executive was excited, but challenged the premise that every job would make the world a better place. Andy agreed and replied, “Of course you do. We’ve all been trained to see work as units. Units started, units polished, units finished, units sold, or units whatever.” Effort and energy is focused on parts, and the vision of the whole is lost.

In Christian education the important factors can hardly be illustrated by numbers. In education, there are all kinds of units to observe, measure, and record. However, in education data is not always as clean and precise as numbers. And in Christian education the important factors can hardly be illustrated by numbers.

For many, educational research and statistics may not produce the fondest memories. Yet, the conversations and debates regarding quantitative and or qualitative research provide interesting opportunities for Christian educators. While there is need for quantitative data, there is also a need for qualitative data. It is hard to talk about children and spiritual development under an umbrella of numbers. One can, however, organize qualitative data that reflects the affective growth and development of students within our schools.

What does it mean to deal with students’ attitudes, values, and emotions? How do we plan for this domain in a lesson, and how do we measure results?In some ways, Lutheran school slogans of the 1980s were exactly right. The concept of educating the whole child—mind, body, and spirit—was spot-on with the concept of teaching to the three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Understandably, schools spend most of the time dealing with cognitive issues. And teachers are highly aware of Bloom’s taxonomy— verbs that can be measured in objectives—and higher order thinking skills. The psychomotor domain is reasonably straightforward and understood within the curriculum. The affective domain, however, is a bit more elusive. What does it mean to deal with students’ attitudes, values, and emotions? More importantly, how do we plan for this domain in a lesson, and how do we measure results?

While most teachers are well-equipped to use Bloom’s Taxonomy for the cognitive domain, they are unaware that a similar taxonomy exists for the affective domain and psychomotor domain. Working from lowest level objectives to highest level objectives, the categories for the affective domain are: receiving, responding, valuing, organization, and characterization. Figure 1 provides a summary of key elements found in the taxonomy of the affective domain (Burden & Byrd, 2013).

Table 1: Key elements for taxonomy for affective domain

 

LEVEL

DEFINITION

VERBS

5. Characterization

The student has developed behaviors which consistently integrate his or her values.

avoid, display, exhibit, internalize, manage, resist, resolve

4. Organization

The student is expected to classify and organize likes and preferences based on developing value system.

balance, compare, decide, define, formulate, select, systematize

3. Valuing

The student displays a preference or high degree of certainty and conviction.

act, argue, convince, debate, display, express, prefer

2. Responding

The student will comply with given directions.

comply, discuss, follow, obey, participate, practice, volunteer

1. Receiving

The student is expected to listen and be attentive.

be aware, attend, hear, listen, look, notice

It seems apparent to this writer that there is a need for a sixth level. Is this the perfect list for a Christian school? No. It seems apparent to this writer that there is a need for a sixth level. The level would be named Advocating and verbs used in measuring achievement could include defend, explain, support, protect, and advance.

An opportunity also exists to create a parallel taxonomy derived from Scripture. No doubt, there are many themes and approaches that would be acceptable. For this illustration, ideas are provided under the theme of fruit. The taxonomy could begin with John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you… that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”

To help define the term fruit, Galatians 5:22-23 is a strong option. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forebearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

To explain what these different fruits may look like,
the following are provided as examples:

God’s Word gives us the necessary benchmarks to assess our students and the progress of our school. This list of passages from Scripture may seem excessive, but the point is clear! God’s Word gives us the necessary benchmarks to assess our students and the progress of our school. How we choose to organize that data to tell the story is up to us. But the data should be clear and the story should be compelling. The question is, “Will you tell the story?” If yes, when and how will you tell the story?

At this point, one needs the wisdom of Solomon and the courage of Daniel. To tell the story well, one has to determine which goals and which values must be shared. But, to do that, one needs to know the difference between goals and values. Blanchard differentiates the two by claiming that goals are set while values are lived. And goals change, but values are rocks you can count on (Blanchard & Bowles, 1997). Given that test scores, scholarships earned, university acceptances, enrollment numbers, athletic accomplishments, and special awards received change annually, they are goals. Scripture and Jesus on the other hand do not change and fall into the values column.

The story we tell is really about Jesus… a story about relationships with friends, teachers, community, family, and Jesus. It is about the attitudes, values, and beliefs that shape those relationships. One may use an inductive or deductive approach to telling the story so long as the main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing (Kruse, 2012). With Blanchard’s definition of value, Jesus is the only thing that does not change. Therefore, He is the Main Thing. The story we tell is really about Jesus and what He does in and through the students. It is a story that includes test scores and achievements. More importantly, it is a story about relationships with friends, teachers, community, family, and Jesus. It is about the attitudes, values, and beliefs that shape those relationships. These are the stories that touch hearts and affect others. Some will argue that our data-driven society is not interested in the touchy-feely stories. That is not a problem if we are prepared. We are armed and ready if we have gathered and carefully organized the data available in the affective domain. And when we give our 30-second elevator speech people will be so excited they will want to stay for the ride down so they can hear more.

Robert Malzahn is Faculty Emeritus at Concordia University Texas. Bob graduated from Concordia Teachers College, Seward, Nebraska, and served Lutheran school ministries for 43 years. Most recently, Bob and his wife, Ellen, have served as mentors for faculty and administration in Mhluzi, South Africa.

Scripture quoted is New International Version (NIV) ® copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Photos © iStock/Lordn, Shironosov, Lisa F. Young, Nicole S. Young.