Friday, January 22, 2016

Works in Progress

Among a variety of other tasks this weekend, I'm finalizing my next unit for Humanities class.  I wrote about this unit almost a year ago, and was happy with it at the time.  I'm still happy with it, and intend to keep it this year, but coming back to it after a year's distance has helped me to see some holes that were not so obvious a year ago.

I recognized that the unit needed a stronger, more explicit tie back to the theme of justice.  Looking back on last year as a whole, this unit felt a bit out of place.  This has meant some tweaking and readjusting--the focus is now less on where humans look for meaning, but why worldview matters; what difference it makes to our actions.  Perhaps none of my students would disagree that justice is a noble, worthy goal, but the question of why we should pursue justice would almost certainly spark discussion.

The structure will remain largely intact, but my hope is that by shifting more of my class content from inside to outside the classroom through the use of flipped classroom strategies (which pairs beautifully with my Master's research), I will be able to use in-class time to push the students into a deeper analysis of how each worldview would define justice, and what that would mean for their actual pursuit of justice.

Such thinking is framing my process of revising this unit.  The truth is, I'll almost certainly do this again next year, not only with this unit but the others, as well.

Each year teaches me something new, whether about the content, about ideas for pedagogy, or realizations about the students' needs.  My curriculum may well be "up to baseline" (a checklist of requirements we worked to meet when mapping our curriculum a few years ago), but this does not mean that it's perfect.  I encourage my students to treat writing as an ongoing process: the teacher's draft is all about receiving feedback from the teacher.  Even the final draft is not truly final--students learn lessons to apply to the next essay, which will then hopefully be a little bit better.  Better, but not perfect--never perfect.

There's something of an object lesson in this process of refinement, whether in the curriculum I keep updating, or the essays my students keep revising.  We are drafts, works in progress.  We learn from trial and error, feedback and experience, and grow continually as we learn.  Our growth will never stop, so long as we live.  We will never reach a point where we can claim perfection; always, there will be some hole in need of filling or some leak in need of patching.

What a blessing it is that we serve a perfect Savior who gave His life so that we don't have to be ashamed of our imperfection! This isn't to say sanctification is unimportant--as we pursue relationship with our Savior (and well we must), we will find ourselves continually revised and updated.  What a blessing it is that we can look ahead to a day when we will cease to be works in progress and become works complete and whole, edited lovingly by The Writer who makes no mistakes!

This is of particular encouragement to me as I sit down to work on my wholly unholy and hole-y curriculum.

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