Monday 31 August 2020

An ICS Update from Ron Kuipers

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

—Isaiah 43: 17-18

Recently I had the privilege of attending the “celebration of learning” at the Christian Teacher Academy, a one week summer session for educators and school leaders who desire to further their understanding and development of project based learning. I got to hear teachers describe the exciting projects they are planning for their students in the coming school year: a music teacher spoke of her attempt to overcome the challenges that remote learning poses to music teaching by having her students compose and record an original song online; a geometry teacher spoke about connecting students with local businesses to help design containers for commercial products; a geography teacher spoke about her plans to have her students upcycle a discarded item.

The aforementioned geography teacher went on to describe how her project not only helps students understand geography, but also helps them better understand themselves as God’s image bearers. Just as God is busy redeeming creation by making all things new, so can we, with biblical imagination, confront and address the ecological problems we have created. Scripture can help us see our unwanted items with new eyes, to see new possibility precisely in those places where we are tempted to see only trash. This is indeed beautiful work.

We hear daily on the news about the safety concerns of teachers, students, and parents getting ready to return to school. While we should not minimize these concerns, I admit it was refreshing and energizing for me to hear these teachers talk about their plans to do more than simply cope during the upcoming school year. As we at ICS also move into a new school year in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to hear these teachers talk about the coming year with hope and expectation.

This year, as ICS continues to deliver its courses remotely, we can take inspiration from these brave and faithful teachers. There is much to be hopeful and excited about. This year, we have students joining our digital classroom from all over the globe: Australia, South Africa, Korea, Indonesia, Seattle, and Edmonton, to name just a few places. While this reality presents logistical challenges, given the different time zones involved, it has also confirmed our intuition that remote access learning removes a major barrier to ICS’s educational programs: the need to physically relocate to Toronto. Now our challenge is to recreate a learning environment that allows these students to thrive and grow in their faith and their understanding of God’s world.

As we move into the unknown of a very new school year, pray for the success of our efforts to create spiritual and intellectual community in our digital classrooms. We remain grateful for your continued support as we, following our maker and redeemer, make a way in the wilderness and a river in the desert.

Be well, friends! 

Ronald A. Kuipers