OCS Appreciates the Variety of Gifts in Students

By Mr. Paul Triemstra, OCS Principal

Last week we noted that the Bible is the touchstone for all we do here at OCS.  We believe that listening to the Bible leads to this other core value that we affirm: “We embrace the diverse God-given abilities of each student and provide a nurturing environment for them to reach their individual potential.”  We believe that each student is uniquely gifted and that it is incumbent on us as educators and Christian school supporters to adopt and adapt programs and teaching styles to meet the needs of our students.  This is often called differentiated instruction.  

Even though we are never fully successful, we work extremely hard to get to that sweet spot where students are working at the cusp of their learning.  We want the learning to be neither too frustrating, nor too easy.  There will be times where students are frustrated.  For some students long division can be very difficult.  However, some of the most valuable learning can come when a student overcomes a degree of frustration.  It is essential that students learn to be resilient.  They need to understand that they can accomplish difficult tasks with effort and with support.  Note that it is with effort and support that they learn resilience, not with removing obstacles.  There will be some activities that may appear boring and straightforward, but they are necessary.  Parsing sentences in grammar lessons could be an example of this, but this grammar instruction can be extremely helpful when reviewing someone else’s writing or when learning a second language.  

What I have said in the previous paragraphs can sound very individualistic.  No doubt, the Bible teaches us to care for the individual.  One only needs to think of Christ, the shepherd, leaving the 100 sheep to find the one that is missing.  But one of the wonderful and uncomfortable truths of the Bible is that we are responsible for each other’s flourishing.  We are our brother’s and sister’s keeper.  At OCS we are creating a community of Christian learning where we feel a mutual responsibility for each other’s flourishing, each other’s success.  Insofar as any student is not succeeding we collectively are not succeeding.  And in a community for Christian learning we celebrate each other’s successes and each other’s accomplishments.

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