Transformational Education

Transformational Education

Dr. Stan DeKoven

Founder and Director, International Training and Education Network and President, Vision International University

I ran across this definition of transformational education, and thought it was helpful. Transformational Education is defined as an educational program, which maintains academic excellence while emphasizing strong practical activation of the Word to Kingdom life and practice.

This style of education is centered on a Hebraic model of education rather than a traditional Greek model.  It goes far beyond the prevailing mindset in which there has been a tragic divorce (separation) between teachers and students.  Teaching has been redefined as what the teacher SAYS rather than what the student learns.

The current model of Christian education we could call a “banking model” of education – knowledge is “deposited” into students – almost as if their heads were opened up and knowledge poured in – or like music and movies get downloaded from the Internet onto a computer.  In this model of education students are passive.  Their job is to learn whatever the teacher tells them so they can pass exams.

The Student/teacher relationship is not really essential.  In this model the teacher’s primary responsibility is to cover the material and convey the necessary information.  The student’s responsibility is to memorize the information and regurgitate it for the exam. Thus, though the emphasis is primarily for contrasting purposes, the two models look like this:

Greek model Hebrew model
Focused on knowledge/content Focused on relationship
Greek teachers tried to shape students’ minds Hebrew teachers tried to shape students’ hearts
Greek students were to LEARN what the teachers KNEW Hebrew students/disciple were to BECOME what their teacher WAS
Aims at the body and mind Goes for the heart and soul
Goal to obtain knowledge through cognitive input Goal to shape the character and inclinations of the disciple (Knowledge is acquired as a by-product)
Dependent on teacher’s knowledge and tools (curriculum) Dependent on the teacher’s love for his students

There is NO precedent in Scripture for teaching the mind just for the sake of academia, to fill the mind with facts, or to get a credential!  Teaching is for the purpose of seeing the student “transformed after the image of the God who made him.”  Every thought is to be brought captive to Christ – the mind of Christ is what we are to model and teach.  Much of this is seen in Paul’s admonition to Timothy to keep to the goal of instruction…love, from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith, or transformation from the inside out. (1 Tim 1:5)

Thus, for a system of education to be transformational it must be intensely personal, familistic, and relationship driven – a system that trains us to “think God’s thoughts after Him”.

Summary of Transformational Education:

  • Learning that is characterized by transformation in the life of each student,
  • Teachers who exist to serve the student and they accept their primary responsibility before God to cause their students to learn.  (If the student is not learning/changing then the teacher is not truly teaching the student.),
  • Mentorship (truth is communicated in the context of modeling and relationship),
  • Decentralized classes — courses are taught within the context of strong apostolic covering (fathering) and local church family life.
  • Students are expected, and required, to personally activate the truth in the context of their lives and ministries (“doing” vs. “memorizing”).

The Platform for Transformational Education

Five “C’s” 1 form the platform from which Christian transformational (holistic) education is accomplished:

  • Christ

All teaching will be centered in Christ – seeking to bring students into a Christ like life and thinking.  To accomplish this goal, the teacher must them self be in a right relationship with the Lord Jesus.  The teacher and his teaching must flow out of a walk with God and out of a relationship with Jesus.

  • Community

Learning will be carried out and proven in the context of community life (relationship).  The student’s personal relationship with Jesus will be expressed and worked out in the daily life of his various communities: his family, his church community, the teams he is a part of, and the broader community of the world.

  • Character

Building strong character will be the goal of all training. (Not just impartation of knowledge.)  The indwelling life of Christ expressed and worked out in community will develop godly character.

  • Calling

Will be observed, developed, and proven within the community.

  • Competency

Competency in a particular area of life and ministry is developed and nurtured in the environment of a loving community.

  1. Adapted from the Connexcions Model developed by Dr. Malcolm Weber, Developer of Leadership College of Vision International University…now the Universities adopted philosophy.

Description of Transformational Teachers and Students

In all education, there is an interaction between student and teacher, with a transference of knowledge and hopefully wisdom between the two. Thus;

            Transformational Teachers Must:

  1. Have successful experience within the field in which they are teaching.
  2. Build a mentoring relationship with students (Through personal interaction and exemplary living).
  3. Communicate all material with a purpose of transformation in the life of every student.
  4. Give student assignments that will cause the learner to interact with the material and personalize the concepts – learning will be seen as doing. (It is not about memorization of material).

Transformational Students Must:

1. Demonstrate personal passion and ability previous to enrollment.  (i.e. personal involvement in cell leadership, church planting, discipling, evangelism.)  They have demonstrated “fruit” bearing and the passion to move into new levels of greater (“more fruit”) production.

2. Be in relationship with apostolic leadership and committed to the vision of the leadership.

3. Be actively involved in Christian Community (local church) so that they can be tried and proven in the fire of relationship.

4. Be applying what they are learning to personal life and ministry. (Doing what they are learning.)

5. Must be striving to become a catalyst for transformation within their sphere of influence (spiritually, culturally, etc.).

Concluding Thoughts:

Within a missional community, such as the International Church, the need to equip God’s people for effective live and eventual leadership, during the time they are with the International church is a challenge. The focus of training should be on transformation…of character, theology, purpose and vision.

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