Millennials and Universities: Seek Reproof, Not “Safe Spaces”

Proverbs 3:12 “Whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects his son in whom he delights.”

In our verse this week from the book of Proverbs, the word “reprove” means “to bring conviction by exposing an area in your thinking that needs to change.” It is crucial for one’s development from a child to a functioning adult. Outside of your family, the one institution where reproof is a foundation is our universities.

Biblical reproof is not about changing how you act. It is about renewing how you think. For your behavior to change, you first must renew your mind. To do this, you must become adept at recognizing the lies that American culture throws at you daily and replace them with God’s truth. Our universities were originally designed specifically for that. Even today, Harvard (founded in 1636 to train Christian ministers) still displays all around campus its founding shield “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae” – “Truth for Christ and the Church.” On the shield are three books, with the top two face up and the book on the bottom face down. This message? There are limits to secular reasoning. We need for God’s reproof to show us what is true.

The word “university” means “unity in diversity”. The goal at our universities should be to allow diverse discussion and debate to promote correct thinking by exposing error and highlighting truth and wisdom.

Today’s millennial generation is paying the price for our universities’ abandonment of the biblical principle of reproof. Julian Shoemaker, a student at UCM who is working towards his bachelor’s degree in Education, gives his assessment after experiencing this lack of reproof in today’s education system.

“Today in my Middle School Educational Curriculum and Assessment course at the University of Central Missouri we talked about how teachers gather authentic data to assess student learning. Authentic assessment data is the key for teachers in knowing where individual classes are regarding concrete learning, comprehension, depth of knowledge, and meeting objectives.

Most people can remember their teachers asking a question and waiting too long for one student to raise their hand to answer. The problem teachers face is they only get one students’ assessment on their learning rather than the whole class. The goal for teachers is to have an “Every Pupil Response” during the class time to get authentic classroom feedback on concrete learning and understanding. This “Every Pupil Response” is achieved by having every student voice their answer or opinion in class in a measurable way.

Students are more likely to participate in classroom activities and answer questions when they can submit their answers anonymously. Online programs like Kahoot! and Quizlet are great supplements teachers use to create a “safe space” and get an “Every Pupil Response”. Sounds great, right? Actually, no.

Using online programs to allow students to answer anonymously creates a “safe space” to achieve an “Every Pupil Response” in class because it takes away the fear of embarrassment for getting an incorrect answer. What teachers do not see is that students become careless about their answers and giving good effort in class. If there are no consequences to answering incorrectly, why should students give their best effort? It would be much easier to give the bare minimum and still get points.

These anonymous forums promote irresponsibility and passivity in students, with no opportunities to have your opinions challenged. Students are immune to the consequences of error and never have to face correction. They are “safe” from reproof, which is exactly what they need. Creating a “safe space” for students to give their answers must not eliminate the consequences of making a mistake, but reinforce the idea that failure is a great coach. As in weightlifting, muscle tissue is torn so it can grow back stronger.

The same professor teaching about using anonymous assessing said that while she was a principal, she had to fire a teacher because of habitual tardiness. How ironic! The class was shocked hearing this story. Why? Because being tardy is a basal mistake that should have been resolved from a young age. Reproof at a young age would have saved that teacher from losing his or her job later in life. Teachers must lead students learn from their faulty thinking so that when they are on their own, they have the skills to recognize and avoid mistakes that carry greater consequences. tolerating a system that avoids basic decision-making consequences infantizes students to become passive and unconfrontational people which are not good qualities in an employee, a spouse, a parent, or a friend.” Julian says it well.

The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #433

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