Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    The Joy of Learning?

    I’ve mentioned before that every Wednesday night I have a small group (composed mostly of seniors) that meets at my house. With this particular group, we’ve met for the past three years. And each year, there seems to be increased levels of stress associated with the daily tasks of adolescence. A majority of my senior high youth sleep only several hours a night, spending tons of time on homework and AP classes (not to mention the extra-curricular activities that are needed to be accepted into the “top” schools). Their stress levels are out of this world. It’s clear that only so many activities and responsibilities can be crammed into one day.

    So, I wasn’t too surprised yesterday when the NY Times came out with
    this article. The title of the article, “Less Homework, More Yoga, From A Principal Who Hates Stress,” says it all. Paul Richards takes initiative in lowering the stress levels of his students. He mandates home-work free weekends and yoga classes for all seniors. Furthermore, Richards formed a stress reduction committee and stopped publishing the honor roll in the local newspaper as a means of reducing competition, stress, and cheating among students.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if our local school board took similar actions? And, what is the role of all of this in youth ministry? What is the relationship between education and ministry? Education and competition? Not to mention self care and spirituality?



    Calvin said...

    Great questions in your final paragraph. I think education is extremely important. I'm a youth pastor, currently in seminary, and wouldn't be surprised if I work on a PhD or ThD one day. So, I'm all about education. But there are ways to do education that are no stressful. I think we, as youth pastors, need to help our students understand that, and help them understand that although education is very important, God may be less interested in As than that they do the work, do it well, and honor him in their doing of it.

    Jacob said...

    Thanks, Calvin. I definitely agree with your observations. There is incredible pressure to get an A. I often wonder if kids memorize answers instead of truly learning the information. I also appreciate your insight on the need to honor God while being in school. If being in school is seen as a "vocation," how is one's vocation lived out through God?

    Calvin said...

    I myself sometimes memorize things just to get a good grade on the exam. It's part of the "game" of Academics. I think the problem in High School is we've got too extremes. One group of students doesn't realize its a game and thinks life is about getting good grades, getting into a good school, etc. On the other hand we have a second group that couldn't care less about doing well in school.

    I think that seeing academics as a vocation is extremely important. With that in mind one needs to approach it as one would any other vocation - that is, we do this for God's glory. We bring God glory by loving Him, and loving others. So that's the approach that I'd probably want to take with helping students as they grow up and most likely embark on a journey of at least four more years (a bachelor's degree, though statistically it is taking five years to get one these days) of education.

    Brian said...

    Unfortunately, it would seem that most of the educational system is preparing our youth for an eventual adulthood of overwork and hectic schedules which they will in turn pass on to their own children. I applaud the actions of this principal. He's doing what he can at school. In the church, we can turn to the contemplative practices as a way to teach youth to slow down and rest in the presence of God.