Look anywhere in education today. The words innovate and innovation are displayed everywhere. For some, innovation in education is a fashionable trend. For others, innovation ensures students are prepared for jobs in a world of work where science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) are dominant. For Mount Paran Christian School, we have taken a different approach to innovation, STEAM, and education as a whole.
THE TRIED AND TRUE
Mount Paran Christian School does not do anything because it is today’s latest fad. We seek to employ that which is tried and true, along with new perspectives, as we examine life through the broad lens of a Christian liberal arts education. The liberal arts have always employed mathematics and science as integral components of an education that develops well-rounded students who will flourish in whatever world they engage in and in whatever age they exist. We see this as timeless education.
As such, innovation is examined, taught, and pursued as the practice of finding solutions to the problems faced in the world and as a means of thinking and learning that will transform hearts, minds, institutions, and culture. If the point of innovation is to make better, we seek to think differently, to act differently, and to learn in such a manner as to transform – to make all of life better for the glory of God. We believe innovation rests on a deep understanding of the created order, acquired through a robust commitment to the liberal arts. This perspective on innovation, therefore reaches further than just STEM, into the arts (STEAM), the humanities, world language, and into every area that is studied by our students and taught by our faculty.
NEW APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Innovation is not simply something that happens by chance. We do not simply innovate nor change for the sake of change. Tradition and history are important. The “tried and true” have worked in education and in schools for thousands of years for a reason. We honor tradition and seek to continue past practices that prepare our students for a rapidly-changing world, but we do so while also honoring new and varied approaches to learning. Why don’t most of us don’t drive an Edsel or Model T.? Because new and innovative approaches to car building have shown us that we can drive faster, more efficient, environmentally friendly, attractive vehicles today.
If history has shown us anything, it is that as we grow, we must adapt to the world around us. Consequently, we welcome creative thinking and exploration. We welcome innovation. We believe innovation needs to be a state of mind for our students. Therefore, we seek to educate learners who will be agents of positive change – not for the sake of change itself, but to improve upon that which they have been called to steward. Similarly, we seek to enable faculty to foster within themselves this same spirit of continuous improvement.
AN IMPETUS FOR INNOVATION
At MPCS, student-led learning is encouraged, as meaningful experiential learning fosters a greater understanding of subject matter. The depths to which MPCS will support innovative learning is powerfully exemplified with cross-disciplinary collaborations such as the third-grade Science-Spanish butterfly project; hands-on projects, including the lower school-supported MPCS Blue Bird Trail and the Daffodil Project; and powerful experiences like the middle school participation in the Black History Bowl.
The impetus for innovation in education is that we have been called to bring glory, honor, and praise to the name of the Lord Most High. As we learn, as we explore, as we create, as we innovate, we do so because we have been called as people by our Creator, made in his image to emulate him and demonstrate to the world the greatness of our God. Innovation enables us to better do so as we reach out to a world looking for answers (The Answer) to the questions that have mystified us for thousands of years.
Dr. Timothy Wiens serves as the Head of School at Mount Paran Christian School. Dr. Wiens earned his B.A. and M.Ed. from Bethel University, an M.B.A. from the University of Oxford, and a doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Saint Mary's University.
This blog was adapted from an article that originally appeared in the summer 2021 issue of Wingspan Magazine.
Click here to learn more about Mount Paran Christian School's philosophy of innovation.