15 Feb What Do They Really Need to Know?
by Dr. Katherine Koonce, Head of School
The question of “What do students need to know?” is a question that remains on the table for discussion for lots of reasons. Possibly the most practical reason for seeking this answer is that there simply isn’t enough time in the school year to teach all there is to know. Most mainstream textbooks would take about 15 months to teach in their entirety when clearly the teacher has only about 9 months in a school year. But more to the point, there are concepts that you and I were taught as children that are obsolete now. The technology landscape, which has redefined so much of how we live and think, is changing more and more rapidly all the time. Students have access to an over-abundance of information from myriad sources; they are exposed to rapid changes in technology, and they are expected to be innovative and collaborate with each other and make some sort of contribution. That’s a tall order.
So, we are back to the question “What do students need to know?” and we have yet to actually answer it. Because this is a question whose answer constantly changes to a certain degree, we need to recognize that it will always be on the table for discussion. Perhaps a better question is “What do students really need to know?”. That answer doesn’t change – hasn’t for thousands of years. Among the myriad things students really need to know is that there is such a thing as Truth – Truth that is true regardless of how we feel about it, how convenient it is for us, or what the world thinks about it. This Truth is not subject to circumstance. Students really need to know that no matter how complicated the world gets, God is the one steady and never-changing presence. Students really need to know that they will never be good enough, smart enough, accomplished enough, or reputed enough to satisfy their deepest desires because those desires are not rooted in this world but in the next. Students really need to know that our culture will never outgrow its need for God.
So as educators at a school that strives to exist at the intersection of 21st-century learning and timeless Truth, we have to keep asking both questions. And what’s more, we pray for discernment as we seek answers because we know that it is in the seeking that we find the heart of God.