“We only get one chance to prepare our students for a future that none of us can possibly predict. What are we going to do with that one chance?
Recently, I had a conversation with the parents of one of our students. The father said something that left me thinking. He said that the work we do here at BAICA was very important because we “build human beings”. I was shaken by the immense responsibility the word “build” meant to me. This caused me to analyze our mission in the light of the word “build” and the characteristics of the generation of children we work with.The word build has several interesting meanings. When related to education, it becomes a powerful tool from which to evaluate the work we do as educators in the ever changing 21st century.
Build: To make (something) by putting together parts or materials
At BAICA we introduce ourselves as “an educational community committed to provide a comprehensive, high quality, global education which instills a biblical worldview”. We understand that education is not just limited to the cognitive aspect of a child. One of the main characteristics of Christian education has been the commitment of educating the whole child. This means that as we work with children we are focusing on the social-emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual aspects of their development. Today, more than ever, there is a great demand for people who demonstrate emotional intelligence, talent, collaboration, creativity and problem solving. All considered valuable skills in the world we live in today. These skills are nurtured beyond the academic competencies taught in classrooms. It is in developing the whole child that these skills come together to form the abilities needed in the 21st century.
Build: to develop or form (something) gradually
BAICA’s mission statement seeks “to promote understanding and acceptance of cultural diversity, a pursuit of lifelong learning, a passion for personal excellence”. I believe we can all agree that these are objectives that develop gradually. It is in the classrooms that teachers can help children develop social and personal competencies such as the capacity to embrace the viewpoints of others with an attitude of acceptance without losing their cultural identity. Children can learn empathy and express true concern for others as they learn that they are responsible agents of change. We seek to help children be aware of their roots but, at the same time, have a global mind. They can be given opportunities to acquire knowledge about others which will broaden their own horizons, leading to a distinct passion for learning.
Build: to increase the amount of (something)
BAICA’s mission ends with these words “and the potential to become active citizens of the world”. Our responsibility is providing children with a solid academic foundation in addition to increasing their awareness of the role they play as citizens of a fast paced, changing world. In her book Not for Profit, Martha Nussbaum (2010) states that education has been affected by global market demands in which staying competitive is the most important thing. This has caused many schools to leave out the need to develop the whole child. Nussbaum argues that “students must learn to recognize humanity wherever they encounter it…learn enough about the difference to recognize common aims, aspirations and values…”. It is in this blend of strong academics, empathy for others, development of healthy emotions that children will grow to become adults who impact their life stations wherever they go.
As an educator none of these meanings are foreign to me. I have spent the past 24 years of my life working with children and adults. I have had the opportunity to grow in my profession and become a witness of the many changes which have affected education. The 21st century brought many changes with it, influenced by technology , globalization and economic demands especially in the area of education. The advances in technology and the incorporation of “digital natives” into our classrooms have caused educational leaders around the world to analyze, evaluate and apply new methods to reach the new generation of children.
We now look at education through a different lens. And, as we continue to innovate and stay updated, we are challenged with the great responsibility of “building” our students. We are now working with children who are ahead of most of their teachers in the use of technology and use a thinking process denominated global perspective (big picture thinking). Children who know how to problem solve real world issues in real time. Whenever I have a chance, I tell our students that they are “people of impact”. I truly believe that if we, parents and educators, are able to focus on the whole child… we will be building innovative, creative and both academically and emotionally strong adults who will use their potential to leave a legacy of excellence in the 21st century.
“Build.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/build>.
Nussbaum, M. (2010). Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Covey, S. (2008). The Leader in Me. New York: Free Press.