Marching Off the Map – Part 1
The truth is, our modern school system simply isn’t as effective as it could be. Students are disengaged and disinterested in learning. How can we as leaders, educators, pastors, and communicators better influence the generation we are trying to lead?
Welcome to the first episode of our Marching Off the Map series. For the next five weeks, Pastor Gene and I will be breaking down this insightful book written by Tim Elmore. We have found this book to be a much-needed roadmap for 21st-century educators, parents, coaches, and youth leaders. We would encourage all of our listeners to pick up a copy! You can order one here.
In Chapter 2, Elmore writes about three societies that anthropologist Margaret Mead describes in her works.
1. The Post-Figurative Society
Mead described this era as one that lasted for many centuries. Adults had already determined how life would be for their children, often deciding who they would marry, where they would work, what they would do and even how their children would continue the customs within their society. This perpetuated the customs of the past resulting in very little change or innovation.
Careers were largely agriculturally based with many people farming crops or livestock. The critical element that differentiated you within this society was physical strength so the youth were heavily relied upon.
2. The Co-Figurative Society
This society was created during the Renaissance, otherwise known as the Age of Enlightenment. As a whole, society began to question its traditions, customs, and way of life. Reason ruled the day as opposed to physical strength. This levelled the playing field between the young and old.
Parents and their children were involved in making the decision of who the child would marry, where they would live, and what their career would be. Everyone had to adjust to change and new innovations, communications, and traditions.
The Renaissance birthed the Industrial Revolution during which new inventions were created to improve efficiency. Science and industry began to control society and access to machinery is what set people apart.
3. The Pre-Figurative Society
The Pre-Figurative Society is what Mead suggests we are living in now. Change is happening so rapidly that adults have almost nothing to offer the next generation in terms of how to deal with new realities. The youth often understand the changes sooner than most adults; they adapt to new technology and innovations far before we do. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for adults to lead the young and can cause leaders to feel irrelevant.
The critical element that differentiates individuals in our society is our minds. That’s how most of us make our living and get things done. Mead wrote in her book People and Places: A Book for Young Readers, “In the modern world we have invented ways of speeding up invention, and people’s lives change so fast that a person is born into one kind of world, grows up in another, and by the time his children are growing up, lives in still a different world.”
Our Schooling System
In my opinion, we need a new system for educating our students. The evidence for this need is everywhere yet we as a society are too slow in making those changes.
Horace Mann developed the school system we base our current system off of, however, he did so in the 1830’s! His design was meant to prepare children for their factory careers. For example, the stereotypical school bell that we have all listened to at some point was first created to mimic a bell meant for shift work in a factory. While there is nothing inherently wrong with a bell, it is a good illustration to show how archaic our education system presently is. Maybe we could look at redesigning the system to better prepare our students for today’s world?
6 Radical Ideas for Redesign
At the end of the second chapter, Elmore suggests six radical ideas for redesigning the system:
- Experience instead of test scores.
- Homework during the day rather than at night.
- Open book tests.
- Use of images to help retention.
- Creativity over compliance.
- Teachers in the role of interpreter rather than informer.
These ideas allow us to think differently, to alter our methods by focusing on our results. What if we started with a clean slate and asked ourselves, “If Horace Mann was alive today, what would he do to revamp the current failing school system?”
This is not just an educational issue but a problem we have in churches as well. We are in the education and communication business and our message is the most important one that the world needs to hear.
The message never changes but the methods must be constantly evolving. It may be uncomfortable but it is a necessity in order to keep moving the church forward. Why? Because for every generation, we know that the church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.
If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.
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