Andrew (our son) today asked me whether I had watched the KSU students. Somehow he had looked at Chris Brogan’s post about the video which follows. In this video, a group of students in a cultural anthropology class talk about the connection between living and how education is done in classrooms.
Here’s what is hard for me about this video: I understand completely.
I was involved in higher education from 1976 when I started as a student at Wheaton (IL) College until 2000 when I left the University of Saint Francis to start working in a church. Twenty-four years. Six schools, from a 435 student Bible College to the 50,000 students at UT-Austin (actually, that particular move went the other direction, from huge to tiny). Student to Associate Vice President. And throughout that process I had this nagging in the back of my head: does this really matter?
Formal education does help, of course. There are some things that I learned. Mostly I learned ways to think, some of which help. I learned how to help people think. I learned something about relationship. And I learned that making structures relevant and significant is really really hard.
Now, here’s the hard part. I am part of church right now. As I watch this video, which starts with handwriting on the wall of a classroom, I think of handwriting on the wall which happens in the Bible, writing which comes from God telling a king that his kingdom will disappear that night. And I think about writing on the walls of church buildings where people say, “How does this matter?”
People are staying away from church in droves. According to some research, if there are 100 kids in the class in this video, 97 of them find church irrelevant, judgmental, hypocritical. And I don’t always blame them.
Structures tend to alienate people, particularly people who don’t exactly fit into the structure. And these students, who have been taught that they are unique, are finding that academic structure and religious structure don’t fit them because they are unique.
So if learning matters, if God matters, if learning about God and talking with God matter, What do we need to understand about how people are?
Of course, there is an interesting story here. I’m off my RSS feeds for the week, so I would have missed this video. However, Andrew saw it at Chris’s blog. Andrew told me. I listen to my 20-year-old college-student son when he points me to stuff that makes him think. And so my internet friend captured my son’s interest and that connects back to me. Then common thread?
Regardless of the medium, people matter. Educational structures are a pain, but you and I both know the couple of teachers who captured us. Religious structures and excesses make us cringe, but we do on occasion say, “but if that person is what Jesus is like, maybe I might be interested.”
We have generations of people who are incredibly insightful about what isn’t working. Some of them are actually interested in what might work.
So, who’s going to listen to them? And then talk with them?
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