Friday, January 29, 2016

Building On A Solid Foundation

Pejorative comments are driven by emotion. Every day I hear students say outlandish statements, filled with half truths and intent on inflicting emotional pain. Why do students relegate to such base tactics? Often it is an emotional response, designed to elevate themselves in a relativistic and survivalist culture.

At its heart, fundamentalism is a return to basic tenants, a a grounding on a foundation of original ideas. It is an intentional distancing from an emotional response to a temporary situation. Fads come and go, but a bedrock of beliefs weathers any storm.

I believe this is true both in my approach to education and my personal religious beliefs. As a fundamentalist Baptist, I heartily agree with the original five fundamental tenants from the Doctrinal Deliverance of 1910:
Notice there is nothing mentioned about sexual preference, alcohol consumption, entertainment or any number of stances that Fundamentalists are commonly accused of posessing. Those who hurl the epithet "fundamentalist" as if it were a vulgar designation are sadly ill informed or viciously twisting words. Instead, Fundamentalism is the rooting of beliefs and actions upon an unchanging foundation of doctrine despite cultural whims or passions.

But a similar pattern has emerged in education. With every new research comes another "better" way for students to learn. We craft increasingly more elaborate methods to entertain and teach students. Teachers frequently update how they plan, assess, and monitor the molding of minds, wills and emotions. And yet we stand with slack jaws, dumbfounded as to how Finland can produce better test results while only focusing on the basics in almost half the instruction time.

It's time we stop the childish mud slinging and verbal sparring. I agree that many who claim to be fundamentalists have championed causes and acted in ways that are grossly inappropriate. But that is no reason to decry those who ardently adhere to a foundational belief system. Only by going back to building on the basics, can we make sense of the emotional clambering, in both our nation's religious circles and educational community.