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Posted on Feb 1, 2014

Could Be Should Be

Could Be Should Be

by Bill de Jager, SCSBC Director of Learning

Who’s doing the dreaming?

Who, saturated with the Spirit, is proclaiming prophesies, dreaming dreams, and seeing visions?1

Who among us is constantly considering what could be and what should be rather than just managing what is?

Who are our irritating insisters?  Who are posing the questions and visually painting the possibilities that many of us don’t dare to hear or see?   Are they our sons and daughters?  Our old men and women?  Our school board members and students?  Our principals and pupils?

Are we hearing their voices?  Following their dreams?  Living their visions?

Or are we comfortable and content just managing yesterday’s dreams of Christian schooling, unwilling to accept the fact that without new dreamers, our schools may soon wither away?

Undoubtedly, we all want our schools to flourish. That’s why our visionary dreamers are such important initial catalysts.  Yet, initial only, for vision is not the province of the gifted few. Visions are birthed when [school communities] wrestle with the gap between the practiced and the desire, when they ask different types of questions, truly seeking greater insight and wisdom.2

Consider dreams.

Some dreams fall on the hard soil of life and never get off the ground.  Perhaps it was too much imagination and not enough initiative.

Some dreams, tenderly nurtured in the hearts, heads and hands of truly passionate people, become small seeds of reality eager to grow.  But those seeds need watering.  Providentially, money always follows the dreams and visions embedded in passionate people; it’s what money desires to do.  With impassioned followers and money, with the inexplicable meddling of the Holy Spirit, those dreams flourish and grow.  With constant care, those dreams can be sustainable for incredibly long periods of time.

Regretfully though, once the passion withers away or the passionate people pass on, dreams die.  History is replete with stories of dreams and visions that were planted, flourished and then became unsustainable.  Sometimes, all that remains are self-delusional facades or crumbling ruins of those past glorious dreams.  Yet, at times, those dying dreams continue to be managed, with the belief that such management is leadership.

Recently, my travels outside of the BC educational landscape have shaped and reinforced my understanding that some organizations (educational or otherwise, without and within BC) are entrenched in the belief that the management of yesterday’s outdated visions is leadership.

Given the unprecedented changing educational landscape across the globe, the time is ripe for new could be’s and should be’s. Our mission for our Christian schools must remain, of course, but new dreams and visions for its implementation are needed.  That is why our school boards are encouraged to be 20/80 boards with a 20% focus on the what is; 80% on the could be, rather than 80/20.

So, what could be? What should be?

Here are some starters:

Could it be that we desperately need to protect God’s gift of curiosity, delight, awe and imagination from wilting away beyond Grade 5 for some of our students?  Wolterstroff deeply believes that very much of what goes on in schooling consists of making available to students delights and satisfactions which otherwise would not be available.  …  Schooling, well conducted, expands the range and depth of delight available to a human being.3

Should it be that our schools are to be learning spaces rather than teaching spaces?

Could it be that learning should allow for a school … to be a healing experience, for students and teachers alike? What we as teachers must sadly admit is that, for many children, school is less a healing experience than what they need to heal from.4

Should it be that our Christian schools focus much more on the need for life-long discipleship – the celebration of shalom and the lament of its absence?5

Could it be that we must enlarge our learning tents, stretch our admissions wider, not hold on to exclusivity, lengthen our mission cords, and strengthen our stake in the hearts, minds and hands of many more than just the 10,000 BC students that we currently house?6

And I am sure that there are many more.

So what’s stopping us? Being afraid of being afraid.

Most of the things we avoid are avoided because we’re afraid of being afraid.  The negative outcomes that could actually occur due to speaking up in class, caring about our work product, interacting with the boss – there’s not a lot of measurable risk. But the fear … the fear can be debilitating, or at the very least, distasteful. So it’s easier to just avoid it altogether.  On the other hand, artists and leaders seek out that feeling. They push themselves to the edge, to the place where the fear lives. By feeling it, by exposing themselves to the resistance, they become more alive and do work that they’re most proud of.  The fear doesn’t care, either way. The choice is to spend our time avoiding that fear or embracing it.7

Avoiding that fear also avoids the dreaming; embracing that fear, or even just giving the space for the could be’s to be freely considered, creates the fertile ground for Christian schooling to continue to flourish.

Let’s remind ourselves of the most repeated Scriptural imperative — don’t be afraid. Over and over again, our Lord reassures us to go in faith and explore the could be’s.  He encourages us to be strong and courageous.  He provides us with the Spirit of truth [who] will guide us into all truth.8  So, let’s not offend Him with our entrenched timidity, clinging to our what is.

Our could be’s should be.

Discussion Questions:

  • How is our school community wrestling with the gap between our practice and our desire?
  • How is it evident that our school board is a 20/80 board?
  • What are some of the could be’s and should be’s our school community should be considering? What are we afraid of?


1    Act 2:17-18.
2   Elaine Brouwer, Embodying the Story in Our Schools, Christian Educators Journal, April 2002, p. 15.
3    Nicholas Wolterstorff, Task and Invitation, CSI Conference Address, Toronto, 1992.
4    Ibid.
5   Ibid.
6   Isaiah 54:2.
8   John 16:13.

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