Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Cross Trumps Everything

As educators, we deal with the flow of ideas, events and forces through history which have shaped our world and which continue to have relevance and human interest today.   As Christian educators, we look upon the crucifixion of Christ as the single, most cherished and important event of all of history.  It is the one event that impacts our lives today, and addresses the human condition far more profoundly than anything else.
Paul, the apostle, grasps the extraordinary weight of it in his writings. Paul was the educated, sophisticated former Jewish Rabbi and Sanhedrin ruler.  He was the man who was blessed with superior intelligence and a strong motivation to excel. Without a doubt Paul was one of the most dominant personalities of the New Testament era and he became one of the most renowned leaders in the church.  He was a church planter extraordinaire, founding more churches than any other apostle.  He had traveled countless miles in missionary journeys into uncharted territory. He overcame more setbacks and hardship than any other apostle and had phenomenal spiritual experiences and spiritual power on his life.  Today’s church would laud Paul as the great superstar of the Christian faith. 
Yet Paul’s attitude would be, “No red carpet for me!”   Instead, he emphatically states that the only thing he found worth bragging about was “the cross of Jesus Christ!”  He said, “If I will do any bragging at all, it will be in the cross of Jesus Christ!”  Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  (Galatians 6:14)  Paul got it.  He understood the enormity of it.
Current philosophical arguments tend to ask such questions as: “How can a God of love allow so much suffering in the world?” “How can God allow the injustice that exists throughout our society and in other societies around the world?” “Why is there so much inequity in the distribution of the world’s wealth?” “How can you say that other faith traditions aren’t as valid as the Christian faith?” Here’s the answer, plain and simple: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
"The great Creator became my Saviour . . ." Absolutely amazing!  Nothing else needs to be said.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Who Knew?


            Much alarm has been expressed in response to the Wynne Government’s newly released sex-education curriculum, particularly within the Christian/conservative community. Those of us who have lived much of our lives within the education sector, however, have not been taken by surprise.  We
saw it coming.

            Ever since early in the 20th century, when John Dewey and his contemporaries began to adopt humanistic ideals as the underpinnings of educational philosophy, the downhill slide morally and ethically has been continuous.  In fact, the mid-century Christian school movement in Canada was given impetus by a recognition among Christian leaders that “progressive” educational philosophy was seriously at odds with a biblical worldview.

            So, we have known for some time that the educational community was rife with anti-God ideology and sentiment. Yet, sadly, through a process of gradualism, today’s Christian leaders have been largely indoctrinated to believe that our children and youth are not really at risk in such an environment. Even in response to this latest perverse curriculum, many are poised to take a laissez-faire approach.

            The apostle, James, asks a pointed question, taken a little out of context here, but relating to the present discussion:  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3: 11, 12)

            To those who choose to be misled by the rhetoric of the government and popular media, don’t be surprised when things go terribly bad. (Example…We just received an application from a Grade 11 student whose school just introduced gender-neutral washrooms!) Looks like we're already there! As things worsen--and don't be surprised if they do--if you need to talk, we welcome you into the conversation.

            Thankfully, the Christian school is still a place where we make no apologies for warning students about the toxicity of the currents of popular culture, and where the purity of the Living Water is given priority.   

Monday, 15 December 2014

An Uncommon Privilege

         We are thankful that here at Peoples Christian Academy we are afforded, what is today, the rare opportunity of giving unreserved focus to the greatest event in human history, the birth of the Saviour of the world. As a private Christian school, we have the immense privilege of magnifying Christ both at Christmas time and throughout the school year. 

         Christ is the embodiment of the incomparable message of salvation, the message of hope “for all people.” So we are committed to making Him known as, daily, through our curriculum and teaching/learning practices, we lift up Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)  Our Mission Statement reflects that conviction – “Peoples Christian Academy is committed to preparing the whole person to reach the whole world for Christ.”

         It is our hope that Christ’s presence will fill your life and your home during this special season and throughout 2015!

Monday, 20 October 2014

"The Real World"

Last week I had the privilege of welcoming a family of three to the PCA community. It was a huge decision for them to enroll their three daughters in a Christian School, but they were seeing the major disconnect between the Christian home and the anti-Christian public school system and felt that, as responsible parents, they had no choice. One of the hurdles they had battled was the accusation from their peers that they were at risk of sheltering their children from the “real world.”

On November 25th, 2011 I posted a blog defending the “greenhouse effect.”  Here are just some of the then noted aspects of the “real world” from which I make no apologies for protecting my child:
·         An environment where he/she could be bullied and physically threatened by peers, with no real recourse of remedy?
·         An undisciplined atmosphere where authority figures (teachers) are commonly sworn at?
·         Educational viewpoints which consistently challenge traditional Christian values? 
·         A system which aggressively promotes a re-definition of family? 

I asked the parents, who are biblically literate people, if they could imagine God saying to the Israelites, under Moses, to “go and occupy Canaan, keep my statutes in everything but … let the Canaanites educate your children.”

Dave J. Koetje, President of Christian Schools International, writes this: “In a world of scraped elbows, wrong turns, and bruised self-concepts, our children need the security of a place where parent and teacher values are aligned.  . . . .Our children need a place where they can reach out to an adult and know that the Christ who is continuously shaping that adult is the same Christ who is at work molding the child.”

That's how to deal with "the real world."

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Hard Work -- Still A Core Value in the Education of Youth

            The global Organization for Economic and Cultural Development (OECD) this week released the latest results of its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – a triennial survey of the academic performance of 15- year-olds in the areas of reading, mathematics and science. The PISA rankings have become a closely watched indicator of how successful the educational policies and practices of a particular nation are. Politicians and business leaders ascribe considerable weight to the PISA results.

            Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s deputy director for education and skills, was interviewed by the Globe and Mail and asked certain questions about what the PISA results reveal. Here are a couple of things worth noting.

1)        Schleicher stated that students in high-performing countries consistently say that achievement is primarily a product of hard work. For a small, independent school like PCA, this is affirming. We may not be able to compete with the mega dollars spent by the public system on facilities and resources, yet, hard work is a core value in our overall programming.  
            CNN reported on students from China, the nation that led the world in performance in mathematics: "In China and Shanghai, you have nine out of ten students telling you, 'It depends on me. If I invest the effort, my teachers are going to help me to be successful'." The same can be said by all of our PCA students. Those who are unwilling to apply themselves cannot expect to score well at PCA. While we give each student every opportunity to succeed, the highest success comes through hard work.

2)        Another observation that Schleicher makes is that it is the quality of teaching, not class size, which most strongly affects student performance.  While we have relatively small classes at PCA, we are more concerned with staffing those classes with the most qualified, energetic and committed teachers. We are thankful to God for the professional and spiritual depth of our current instructional team.

            Schleicher, in his comments, said that the best-performing countries may have high student-teacher ratios but they are careful to adequately pay teachers, ensuring that they attract the highest calibre educators. This is a critical question for PCA.  Three years ago I sat with a young innovative teacher who shared with me that, as a young parent, it was becoming increasingly difficult to bear the cost of teaching for a less than livable wage. We must find ways to increase revenues. To do this, we have to broaden our donor base while increasing our student population.

            This is an immense tension – maintaining academic excellence while keeping our tuition rates reachable for the average family.  For this reason we have come to our stakeholders for two years in a row now with our Firm Foundation appeal.  

            Give us the ability to position high-calibre teachers in our classrooms and we will continue to ensure that PCA student achievement rivals national and international norms.