The New School
by Lee Campbell, EdD
The old school of education involved learning facts and figures, an even older school involved the trivium of rhetoric, logic and grammar. All of these are critical to the development of a lifetime learner; however, the twenty-first century presents its own challenges. This generation is perhaps only the second in history that we must prepare for jobs that do not yet exist, for a pace of change never before even fathomed, and for an attrition rate of whole industries and job categories never before seen. This means we must do all the “old school” things like character development in new ways while simultaneously preparing students with core abilities that will transcend any one job.
It’s much like a famous short story I read as a teenager. The story is called Profession and it’s by a great humanistic/atheistic (sadly) author, Isaac Asimov. In this story, 99% of all people are prepared for a single career. When that career skill becomes outdated, they are no longer needed, yet a small group are prepared beyond a set of “disposable” technical skills. We can call this liberal arts education or classical education, but the central concept is the same—learning to think and adapt, developing core abilities beyond simple (or even complex) knowledges sets.
So, what does this involve? First, ethics, or honor, as expressed in our new honor codes in lower school, middle school and upper school. This will be woven through the fabric of our program and undergirded by the absolute truth of God’s Word, which in turn points us to the need for a savior and a moral, ethical life. Ethics is a core concern in a society that has lost its way and forgotten its moral lawgiver. Ethics, honor or character, will sustain a career much more that any ability. Employers want people they can trust, and employees want leaders they can trust. TCS is committed to making our honor code work. We are committed to teaching ethics and character. We are committed to helping those who struggle in this area so they may become, and remain, successful.
Second, it involves stewardship, simple stewardship. We see an increasing emphasis on caring for our planet, even to the point that some posit it as an ethical issue. Who wants someone in their home or workplace that does not take care of their surroundings? Who would loan anything to an irresponsible person? Why would a person waste the gifts, skills and talents they are given by God? How would a boss look favorably on such actions? TCS is committed to teaching stewardship—creating stewardship opportunities on campus and beyond. Successful alumni and filmmaker Steven Kendrick once told me that cleaning the school was part of the foundation of his success and character.
Third, is service. Service learning and community service should be near to the heart of us all. It’s ethical and biblical. It’s a matter of community stewardship. TCS is working to make progress in this area. We are no longer connected to the primary community ministry in which our students serve, but we are seeking such an opportunity. I want to partner with you to choose it carefully. It should be local so that our students can meet the people they help. It should be consistent or ongoing so we can have a multi-year partnership. It should be safe and age appropriate for students in middle and high school. It should be well organized to avoid wasted time and frustration in our busy world. Please call or email me your ideas.
Fourth, is a biblical reason for our existence. We are a Christian school. It’s what we do. It’s what God has called us to do. I am here to teach, love, and serve students. You are sacrificing to make your child’s life better by sending them to TCS. This brings us back to Isaac Asimov’s story. Our students desperately need the 4C’s of twenty-first century education. The skills of communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration are the essential skills that the 1% got in Asimov’s story. He published the story in 1957. Now race forward to 2019, and I dream of reaching each student with love, accountability and those critical 4C skills. These skills, along with character, will transcend any one job and be the thing that differentiates them as valuable team players in all job situations.
Honor or ethics, stewardship, service to others, and twenty-first century learning are all great things. Yet, there is one thing greater. A thing that unifies them all. That thing is faith. You have faith right now as defined by the Bible, you are hopeful, sure about things to come in your student’s life. That is faith. Ultimately, faith is believing in what you cannot see, but have great evidence for, Jesus the Christ, the savior of all who believe.
Imagine a school where all these things work together for the ultimate good of each student. Imagine helping students build the core values and skills that will lead to a life of more service and less regret. Imagine tomorrow’s Cumberland School, a school that equips the whole child to face a challenging and uncertain future. That is your Cumberland School. That is what we are pursuing.