An Integrative Education

Well, the summer is almost over. Before you start yelling at me saying it is only August, the school where I teach starts a week from Monday. I am developing new syllabi, preparing my Moodle course sites, and getting ready for welcome week. I can feel the tension already building. I do believe it will be an exciting year.

There were several events that motivated me to write this blog tonight. The first involved the August graduation on Saturday. I had the distinct privilege to provide the invocation and hood the Master students. The second involved an article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. And third, was a Parker Palmer book entitled “The Heart if Higher Education: A Call to Renewal.” Let me walk you through my thought processes.

I was discussing the number of students currently enrolled at my college with the director of enrollment. We have the largest first year class coming in next week in the history of our college. I am pretty excited about that, but I want to make sure we are going to give them an excellent education. I really agree with Palmer when he states that education is holistic and nourishing. I really like how Parker Palmer describes this, “But we also seek forms of knowing, teaching, and learning that offer more nourishment than the thin soup served up when data and logic are the only ingredients.”

As a businessperson, I understand the importance of data. However, I also believe in the importance of being thoughtful, creative, and human. Often business is viewed as a science more so than an art. I am not too sure I agree with that. Again, Palmer does a great job of exposing the human side of science. “I have long been impressed by the fact that science itself – great science, depends on bodily knowledge, intuition, imagination, and aesthetic sensibility, as you can learn from any mathematician who has been led to a proof by its elegance.”

James Smith wrote in the WSJ on Saturday about the first year students who are arriving at college, only to be indoctrinated by the time they get to their second year. The students who arrive for their sophomore year have changed. They have lost the open eyed wonder of learning, and have replaced it with a sense of enlightenment. Smith states, “ It’s not just that you’re a year wiser, you carry the air of newly enlightened. Your curiosity has hardened into a misplaced confidence; your desire to learn has turned into a penchant to pronounce, as if wisdom were a race to being the quickest debunker.” Instead of having your minds opened and thirsty for knowledge, it has been closed through the process of indoctrination. I hope this is not the case with our students. I hope we are doing what Palmer describes as “uncovering and empowering the heart of higher education in those faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and trustees who have a vision for reclaiming the unrealized potentials in the human and historical DNA that gave rise to academic life.”

Integrative education is critical for the future wellbeing of our country. Teaching students how to fill out spreadsheets and not telling them why the spreadsheets are important leads to anemic education. Teaching students how to manage an organization, and not teaching them about he ethics of Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant, or Alasdair Macintyre, will lead to a less than stellar leader. Teaching business students about how to make money and not telling them about the right and wrong of how it is done will lead to more companies failing ethically in our society. Education needs to be holistic.

For the reasons mentioned above I think a Christ-centered, Liberal Arts institution is the perfect place to teach students about business. The spiritual foundation is importance, as is the liberal sense of freedom, all of which works hand in hand with the technicalities of a discipline to produce a student that is a critical thinker, creative, innovative, and a problem solver. I think pretty highly of our students at Warner Pacific. I think our strategy of engagement, enactment, and creating strong business partnerships is a winner. One that will help us produce an incredible student that will make a difference in the world.

And that is my thought for the day!

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