October 2022 News
What is Redemptive Education?
By Amy E. Imbody
President, Center for Redemptive Education
What is Redemptive Education? And why would education need to be “redeemed”?
According to philosopher Alvin Plantinga, “All has been created good . . . but all has been corrupted by evil, including not only culture but also the natural world. So all – the whole cosmos – must be redeemed by Jesus Christ the Lord."
Therefore, education – as well as everything else in the world – while essentially good in its genesis (Beginning), has suffered a traumatic corruption (Broken) and desperately needs Christ’s redemption (Baptized, Blessed, Becoming) in every facet and layer of its being.
Believers in Christ who are called to be educators ought, by definition, to be Redemptive Educators, as Donovan Graham explains in Teaching Redemptively: Bringing Grace and Truth Into Your Classroom.
As Graham and several other Christian educators have taught, Redemption implies a restoration of right relationship with God and His whole creation--including people and including right relationship even with ourselves. Redemptive Education develops from an earnest pursuit of teaching that is truly redemptive – in the classroom, in the homeschool, in the lunchroom, in the principal’s office, on the playground, in the youth group, in the faculty lounge, in the conference hall.
Graham notes that teaching redemptively requires a relentless quest to live the educational life in fearless fidelity to both truth and grace, in accordance with God’s “norms” as discovered in His word.
Described as being inextricably interwoven – as in a “kiss” – real truth and real grace operate together to demonstrate Christ’s character (Psalms 85:10, NASB).
A learning community characterized by Christ’s truth and grace will be one in which teachers tell parents the truth about their child’s progress (or lack of it) with clarity, forthrightness, gentleness, and tact; where children are invited to give teachers authentic feedback on that day’s learning activities; where principals share with teachers the dilemma regarding curriculum and seek their ideas; where teachers do not merely punish beloved miscreants (although discipline may be necessary and helpful) but prayerfully lead them to take action that brings forgiveness and restores relationship; where parents patiently partner with the teacher who does not get along with their child.
Redemptive Education is biblical, relational, integral and experiential, in the hope of bringing some measure of shalom to the life of a home, a school, or a learning community.
At the Center for Redemptive Education, we are attempting to align ourselves with God’s norms as seen in His Word and in His world. In the many years during which Redemptive Education has been developing, we have pursued fidelity to God’s design as we understand it
Scent of Water
The Scent of Water Learning Community day begins with everyone gathered, up in the barn loft or out on the green. Students, teachers, parents, friends sing “For the Beauty of the Earth” and together recite “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty! ALL that is in the heavens and the earth is Thine!” (1 Chronicles 29:11) Several students lead us in prayer, then they’re off with their teachers and classmates to explore the woods or the fields or the creek or the garden.
Alex expertly identifies a sassafras: three different kinds of leaves on one tree! Ben shows me the tiny watermelon he harvested yesterday. “I’m going to try planting the seeds in it and see if it grows another one!” A classmate nearby digs exactly six inches down in the well-prepared raised bed to plant her choice of spring bulbs. Other 2nd and 3rd graders are doing botanical sketches in their nature journals, labeling parts of plant specimens, illustrating roots and stems to scale, reproducing the colors of flowers with care.
Under the shade of the maple tree, middle school students plan their roles in the upcoming “trial” of Galileo as they begin a study of the Scientific Revolution. They revved up their research and rhetorical skills for last week’s Reformation Disputation (conducted down by the creek) in which Martin Luther, Queen Elizabeth, King Henry VIII, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Machiavelli and others made their arguments “pro” or “con” the Protestant Reformation.
And who is that cradling a chicken in his arms? It’s one of our Ride-On Ranch 5th graders, teaching the little kids clustered around him about the care and feeding of farm poultry! They’ve already discovered the tricks of the mischievous goats, while a residence horse helped demonstrate “hoof” for the unit featuring “Feet and Fins.”
From the singing of original lyrics to the building of a model of the inner ear, to the application of a Biblical worldview to works of art and literature, to the writing of a persuasive essay, the Scent of Water students don’t just learn about these things: they DO the actual work of composers, biologists, analysts and authors.
But perhaps the most notable quality on the Scent of Water campus is joy! Our students, from K-8th grade, are busy and happy in their quest to discover and celebrate God’s design in all of their learning. Our teachers cultivate energetic initiative. They model a “can do” growth mindset, and a cheerful honoring of God, His Word and His world.
We love these children. Whatever their past experience, whatever their self-perceptions, whatever their aspirations, we endeavor to help children thrive as they pursue and fulfill their God-given design.
“For there is hope for a tree,
"When it is cut down, that it will sprout again,
"And its shoots will not fail.
"Though its roots grow old in the ground
"And its stump dies in the dry soil,
"At the scent of water it will flourish
"And put forth sprigs like a plant."
Boots & Roots
What are our youngest adventurers exploring this fall?
Everything that scampers!
Stories, songs, scripture, crafts and “pretends” are all focused on the small creatures that use their little feet to scurry through grass, leaves, gardens and woods as they hunt for food, dodge predators, make their homes and live out God’s design for them.
Boots & Rootsers on every campus are singing “This is My Father’s World” as they, too, scamper through meadows, parks, forests and creeks with their big boots on. These four and five year old children delight in discovering how God provides exactly what is needed for squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and other “scamperers” in His world.
Daily treks incorporate nature study, physical exercise, literacy, numeracy, collaborative projects and Bible truths--such as Genesis 1:30, in which God states, “And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground – everything that has life!” (NLT).
Our valiant B&R teachers lead their cohorts of 6-8 children rain or shine. After all, there’s no such thing as bad weather. We just pull on our waterproof gear and go out to investigate the puddles, the mud kitchen, the full stream – and anything that might be scampering about nearby.