I don’t want to miss the moon

We are living in an era of increasing measurement in education.  Most educators can appreciate the need to collect accurate data in relation to student learning and to communicate that information with care and sensitivity to both students and parents.  Most educators can also appreciate the need for schools and school systems to make decisions that are data informed, especially if that data is rich and varied and multiple voices are heard in interpreting it.  In the conversations I have with colleagues, what educators struggle with the most with regard to educational measurement is that the data rarely captures the “more” of education.  By the “more” I mean what we do besides socialization and certification of achievement.  You see teachers rarely go into education because of their dedication to these two purposes.  They most often become teachers because they understand that education is about learning AND identity or ontology – that education spaces are places of engagement, spaces where we as teachers help children develop images and understandings of the world and themselves, spaces where children and adults learn together how to interact with the world and others in life-giving ways, spaces where persons are called into being.  Teachers are almost unanimous in their belief that the “more” cannot be measured in quantifiable numbers very easily, and equally convinced that the “more” should not be measured – because then it would cease to be the more!  Wonder would end, mystery would die.

This summer our family spent a few weeks at our lake house.  It is not very often that we get more than one week of time there, and three weeks was a definite luxury.  Our house is oriented towards the lake and the view is beautiful.  It changes as water views do, but it is also very consistent.  As we were driving home one evening after dinner, the moon was shining brilliantly and I turned to my husband and told him that I really missed the moon when we were at the lake.  He looked at me like I was a little crazy (which isn’t unusual) and was surprised to discover that because of the orientation of our house and the way the moon rises and falls, we never get to see it.  I “proved” this to him when we got home.  It is fun to sometimes be right.

I keep thinking about this experience in relationship to education and measurement.  Our assessment tools may keep us looking at the same view in the same way.  We might be tricked into thinking that this is all there is to see.  We might be forgetting about the moon.  We might start to forget the “more”.  And this would be a great loss.

The Foundational Power of Abiding

“That they might be with him” – Mark 3:14

In the beginning, the story goes, God spoke a cosmos into being, calling it out of chaos, drawing it with His words. Lifting a finger was needless with such omnipotence. Ironically, rest undergirded the most energetic endeavour in the universe.

Incarnation made it possible for the divine to experience physical weariness, but Jesus knew how to abide in rest (a loyal, constant, and perseverant residence or frequent resort) as He had been abiding with His Father since the beginning. Out of this consistent residence with Father God, Jesus drew everything He needed in every circumstance.

With empathy at the core of God’s incarnational project, Jesus draws others into close relationship with him and teaches them all they are willing to hear. One of His most central teachings is abiding. Over and over again, Jesus tells the importance of abiding and models it with His lifestyle.

Mark 3:13-19 narrates the calling of Jesus’ twelve apostles, stating that He wanted them, that He called them, and that He appointed them. Their appointment? First, to be with Him. The original commission of the twelve disciples, like the original commission of Israel, like the original commission of humankind, was to be with God.

Second, Jesus gives all His disciples authority – supernatural power. Power to teach, to heal sickness, and to drive out evil spirits; they receive the power to restore. Much like new teachers, they must be eager to get out into the systems of the world and start putting things right. Indeed, the church has been involved in works of justice from its inception. Yet, rather than turning them loose, notice that Jesus immediately brings them back to their first appointment – to be with him, by going with them into a house. Once again, he underscores a foundation of abiding for all outflow of works.

With God dwelling in me, I am powerful. I have authority over entities in the physical and spiritual realms. Make no mistake about it: unseen power is at work. So, the pertinent question is: what kind of power will I exercise? It depends whether I am becoming like God. If I abide in God, I will become like him (John 15). Without staying close to God, I cannot become like him and will consequently inflict damage as His supposed representative.

Thus, my first mission is to abide. The success of every subsequent mission utterly depends on it.

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