The Transformation Solution

I was interested to see an announcement from the Canadian government that they were initiating a transformation contest.[1] Applicants are to submit a practical proposal to transform society by creating a significant positive change.  Perhaps TeachBeyond should enter. Grants are available…it is the government after all.

If I were to enter this competition, my project would address what we can do in the classroom to see children transformed. There are three different aspects to the biblical view of this transformation, and all of them are a work of grace, unleashing the power of God to bring about change in people.  Perhaps this is the biggest difference between my proposal and others submitted by well-meaning people trying to change the world without God.

The first and most important of these aspects involves a transformation of the heart. When we receive Christ, we become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are born again to become children of God. We receive the Holy Spirit. We pass from death to life. At the heart of this proposal is the goal of revealing Christ to the children in word and action, initiating a life-giving relationship.

While the theme of transformation is a common one in the bible, the word only appears twice in the New International Version. Second Corinthians 3:18 speaks of being transformed into the image of Christ. This refers to a transformation of character, where we become more and more Christ-like. Character development is woven throughout the fabric of life in a transformational classroom.

The third aspect of personal transformation is mentioned in Romans 12:2, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…”[2] It seems that we cannot continue to experience the transformed life that we have in Christ without a renewal of the mind. This is right up the alley of Christian education. As teachers, we are charged with the responsibility of teaching children about the world.  What we want for our students is that they see every aspect of life clearly from God’s perspective.  The easy answer on how to do this is simply to teach students the whole truth. Since God is the Creator and Redeemer, the whole truth will always include God. This is what is at the heart of the idea of a Biblically integrated curriculum. What we teach and how we teach it results in a transformation of the mind that connects students to reality by showing them God’s perspective. In order for this type of transformation to happen, two things must be present in the process: knowledge and commitment. 

Knowledge is learned at three levels for it to impact student lives. The information level teaches the facts about the subject that students need to know. The understanding level contains concepts or principles that students can explain. They don’t just remember it, they “get it.” The application level is where students are able to use what they have learned.

These skills work together to help ensure that knowledge affects positive change in a student’s life. They also give students the tools they need to live in the world; discerning true from false and right from wrong, and not conforming to the values, attitudes and behaviors of the culture around them.

Commitment is more complex. The importance of commitment is that while we may be successful in teaching students the knowledge they need, they still have to “buy into it” if transformation is to take place. There are three stages that a student passes through as they make what you are teaching a part of their lives. At first, it is simply an idea, coming to them with all the other information that floods their lives every day. As they gain understanding of the validity and importance of that idea, it becomes a belief. Sometimes the process of developing a belief is a long one, with lots of discussions and arguments with others and with themselves.  Conviction is the highest level of buy in. Transformation occurs when the students reach the stage where they begin to incorporate a belief into their decision-making and act on what they believe. Our convictions give us a place to stand in the world and define who we are. This is true whether the topic is common denominators, climate change or the existence of God.

This type of transformational education leads students to the place where they have a new nature, a positive character change, and a new way of thinking; where truth affects all knowledge and where conviction makes what they learn a permanent part of their lives.

I’m not sure the Canadian government will accept my proposal, but I can’t think of a better way to transform society.

Bob Adams
Teacher Education Services
TeachBeyond Global

[1] “2020 Transformation Competition.” Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
[2] Romans 12:2, taken from The Holy Bible. New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Photo Credits: Student via; Black swallowtail (caterpillar) by Spinus Nature Photography, CC BY-SA 3.0; Black swallowtail (butterfly) by Spinus Nature Photography, CC BY-SA 3.0; Building Process via Microsoft Clipart.