Low and Slow

I am a smoker. It is something I started last summer, but have had to curtail as the weather has gotten cold and wet. I have thought about smoking in the garage, but I can’t find a way to keep the smell from wafting into the house. Now I am coaching track, so finding time to smoke is pretty limited for the next couple of months. I have to carve out 12+ hours to really do it right. You just can’t hurry a good smoke if you want to enjoy the flavor as it engulfs a slab of ribs, chicken, turkey, lamb, and jalapenos.

Part of my love of smoking meats and vegetables is a reaction to the “microwaveable” world that surrounds us. We set aside taste and flavor if we can have our food hot and fast. Whole conversations are reduced to hashtags and 140 characters. A student told me the other day that they didn’t have time to read emails, and wondered if I could text them instructions. Texting slang is beginning to work its way into to students’ essays. We can’t even wait a couple of seconds for a website to load. While I am not advocating that we do away with all speed and efficiency, I am wondering if we have considered the impact this is having on us and our children.

Education is fumbling with how to respond to our microwavable society. Children have to wrestle with ideas and images that research tells us their brains are not ready to handle. Puberty starts earlier now for both girls and boys. Schools have fallen in line. A year of math can now be done in a semester. Programs like Running Start enable a student to earn college credits before he or she gets their driver’s license. Standardized testing benchmarks pressure students to get the right answers, even if they find they don’t have time to understand the significance of what they “learned.” The results are pretty telling as we read of increased levels of anxiety and depression in younger and younger children. Something needs to change, more than just moving the start time of the school day.

A few years ago, the junior and senior high staff began conversations about developing healthy student learners. This year we implemented the idea of giving students some control of their learning with Phenomenal Fridays. As previous blogs stated, it has been a worthwhile experiment. We’re now looking at changing the daily schedule to allow students time to let what happens in the classroom, hallways, and sports events truly flavor their learning. We want to leverage the ecosystem for Christian formation as something that engulfs the students and prepares them to contemplate questions like, “You say you are a Christian, so what does that mean when…?”

It all goes back to the last line of our Mission Statement: To be a dynamic and transforming influence for the glory of God. For this to occur, we need to give them a picture of what it really means, and it has to be something more than being a stressed-out adult. Let the kids be kids. It is such a short and precious time of their lives that they will never recapture. Jesus knew this when he called the children to him and pointed out that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. We can’t let them race through this important time of their lives. Consider keeping it low and slow so that their lights can shine as well-prepared and healthy members of the ecosystem God has developed for them.

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