Transformational Icons

Transformational Icons

Thursday, 13 October 2016  | Jacqui - Director of Teaching, Learning and Innovation
Over these last school holidays, I had the privilege of attending the Christian Schools Canada Conference in the stunning Canadian town of Banff. When I was not being distracted by the beautiful scenery and local wildlife, I had the opportunity to meet with and hear from many Christian school leaders from across North America. It quickly became evident that there is a great sense of camaraderie and shared language between our school movements.

While there was lots to glean from the work being done in Canadian Christian schools, it was interesting to hear the enthusiasm of many around MECS’ Transformational Education book. Our ‘little green book,’ as it is affectionately called, has found its way into the hands of many educators throughout Canada. They were generous in their praise of the book, and are thankful for the simple but comprehensive articulation of Christian education. For MECS, the 16 facets covered make up our teaching and learning framework, and we often draw from these areas in our planning.

Earlier in the year, we began by looking in more detail at the icons that relate to each of the facets. We began by looking at the first four. In this editorial, I will focus on the next four: Scripturally Infused, Formation – Head, Heart, Hand, Overarching Story, and Relational Community.

Scripturally Infused
The Bible is central to what we do here at MECS. It is the story of the Kingdom of God and points us to Jesus Christ. It is foundational in shaping our faith and life in God’s world. We believe it is important that teachers and students have a growing knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures. It should ‘infuse’ all aspects of teaching and learning at MECS. This is not limited to devotions and Scripture classes, but is weaved throughout our curriculum, teaching and classroom practices, assessment, camps… the list is endless.

The icon for Scripturally Infused includes an image of a book representing the Bible with the dove signifying the illuminating role of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not a textbook, but God’s revelation in Christ expressed in human words. It is the story of salvation and has a message for everybody.

Formation – Head, Heart, Hand
You may often hear the phrase that learning at MECS is holistic. We articulate this best with the focus on ‘Head, Heart and Hand.’ Ideally, learning aims to instruct the mind, shape the heart, and equip the hand. It is about the formation of the whole person into someone with Godly wisdom and character. Our approaches to education play a critical role in shaping the hearts and minds of young people, and at MECS we take this responsibility very seriously.

Personally, the icon for Formation – Head, Heart, Hand is my favourite. At first glance, it appears to be a slightly odd-shaped person with the image of a heart. On closer inspection, the body of the person is a hand (albeit a finger short).
Overarching Story
We all live out of stories. At MECS, we recognise three stories that influence our beliefs and practices. Firstly, there is God’s story of redemption and renewal through Jesus. Secondly, there is ‘our story’, the story of MECS and our heritage. Lastly, there is ‘my story,’ the unique story of each student and staff member. ‘God’s story’ is the overarching narrative that informs and shapes all of our practices at MECS. We often summarise it as the story of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Renewal, and we seek to teach all of our subjects and topics in the context of this story.

The icon for Overarching Story depicts the world and the universe in the hand of God. You may even find the Sunday School classic “He’s got the whole world in His hands” start to play in your mind. Dutch Reformer Abraham Kuyper is renowned for saying: “there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

Relational Community
One of the most commented strengths of MECS is the relational community. Graduating students often remark that they appreciate the strong relationships developed with teachers throughout their educational journey. Scholars have come to the conclusion that learning happens best in communities of trust. We value and invest in partnerships throughout the MECS community, including students, parents, teachers and administrators. These relationships are characterised by trust and mutual service.

The icon for Relational Community depicts people holding hands and standing in a circle. This theme is beautifully articulated in the poem of the students that accompanies this chapter in the book. It finishes with “together we are... all needed, all created by the one true God.”

In my next editorial, I will explore the next four icons: Meaningful Structures, Active Learning, Teachers in Teams, and an Integral Approach. A reminder that if you would like your own copy of Transformational Education, they are available from the school office for $20.

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