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Friday, January 16, 2015

Nothing Is Better Than A Well-Framed Question

Contextualization is a way of bringing more meaning to "pieces" of life than the pieces have by themselves. [Click here.]

When Christian teachers contextualize, they help students see how any topic or activity relates to the larger context of a biblical world-and-life view. This larger context provides a unified view of everything, and justifies the very concept of a "universe." [That's what people used to study at the university, before the secularization of higher education. At one time, theology was the "Queen of the Sciences." Imagine that!]

Workers [including students], contextualize their work when they put it into the larger context of a biblical worldview. Through this, we are able to bring more meaning to the "pieces" of our jobs than they can possibly have in themselves. Remember: we don't find meaning in our work, be bring meaning to our work.  

When it comes to contextualizing, nothing is better than a well-framed question. Posing good questions is more powerful than making statements. Jesus often taught by asking questions. Great questions are ones that cause people to reflect deeply, and to personalize their answers.  The best questions are those we ask ourselves!

With this in mind, I'll share some thoughts about questions for contextualization.  

First, understand that 99.8% of all questions that relate anything to the "bigger picture" of a biblical worldview fall within five categories: 1. Questions relating things to God. 2. Questions relating things to Creation. 3. Questions relating things to Humanity. 4. Questions relating things to Moral Order. 5. Questions relating things to Purpose. All contextualization questions flow from this deep pool.

When it comes to seeing our work in the context of God, we might ask:

What does God think about this activity?

What joy (or pain) does God receive through this activity?

How does God speak to people through this activity? What might He want to say to others through what I do, and how I do it?

Where was God when _________ happened [something went wrong]? How did God reveal Himself when this thing occurred? Was He saying something?

How does the centrality of Christ relate to this activity? How is He honored by it? (Dishonored?)

What qualifies this activity to be called "the work of God?"

Try some of these questions. Better yet, shape some questions for yourself!

Next week: questions for contextualizing Creation and Humanity.

Students are workers--without pay. They can bring extraordinary meaning to their math work when they view it in the context of something much larger than math itself. Wise students don't find meaning in their schoolwork, they bring meaning to it. (Effective teachers facilitate this.) Boeing engineers can do the same, bringing meaning to their work by putting it into the context of God's "bigger picture." So can bankers, bus drivers and bakers. This kind of contextualization was integral to education at early Harvard and Yale (prior to the secularization of American schools), and provided a pattern for generations to come. But it has since disappeared, even among Christian schools, at all levels. See the research by Dr. David Scott here.  

Take the on-line course "Increase Meaning: A Wholistic Approach To Christian Education."  


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