Letting Go & Letting Soar
By Sandra Selling
About Class Discussions:
We believe that eyes of faith look at students and see not just where they are now, but where God is taking them.
We believe that one primary purpose of high school education should be to teach students to think. In achieving this, a time arrives when we must provide nurture and support while letting go. In letting go, we allow students the space to reach their own conclusions, to discover and fully realize that their beliefs are their own, not their parents', not their pastor’s, not their friends'. Our hearts may clutch if they begin to veer off course, but it is God who has given them wings, and we believe it is God who will give them, as the song says, the "wind beneath their wings" to ultimately soar. If we never grant our children the opportunity to take flight on their own, they will never develop or learn their strength and may enter their first storm with atrophied muscles, unable to overcome.
For this reason, we let older students consider new ideas and refrain from trying to control the conclusions they reach about them. Instead, we furnish teens with tools to evaluate those ideas and then let them evaluate. We encourage and inspire them to seek truth and then trust that they will do so — expect that they will do so. And yes, just as important, if a thinking process is faulty, if evidence is questionable, if conclusions are reached while considering only half the facts, our role is to bring in light, not to let students stumble in the dark.
However, in the end, we must permit them room to search and to choose. We must trust God's work in their hearts. Until they choose, they are living our convictions, not theirs. Until they develop the ability to reach sound conclusions on their own when encountering arguments that challenge their faith, they are always in danger of being led astray.
Sometimes the hardest lesson students must learn is that not every question has a neat, tidy answer, at least not one that is ours to understand. We also find there are times to play "devil's advocate." The dynamic of every group is different. Sometimes, in a group of like-minded teachers and students, short shrift is given to opposing viewpoints. The first time a student considers a highly persuasive counter-argument to his beliefs should not be when he is in a college classroom without support, possibly surrounded by antagonism or ridicule, and potentially miles away from home and family. So sometimes we will raise the opposing viewpoint and ask students to consider its merit and its strengths, as well as its weaknesses. The truth will stand up under a hard examination.
We do not always rush in with the "right" answers. We do not do students' thinking for them. The day they will be on their own is fast approaching, and so we run beside them, letting them analyze and reach conclusions, allowing them to consider the implications and consequences of those conclusions. Nudging them a bit toward the lift of the rising wind only when necessary, we provide them the opportunity to spread their wings and to discover they can soar on their own.