What is school for? Wisdom or information?
As much as it ought to be wisdom, we get the ironically less useful information. It’s right or it’s wrong. You know it or you don’t. You remember it or you don’t. It’s acceptable or it’s not.
But at the end of the day, or the course, what did you learn other than memorized facts?
Now, facts are good. and essential in some careers. However, there are others where facts are important, but not essential. In either case, wisdom and life’s lessons, are far more useful and applicable.
With information, success is getting the right answer, with wisdom, success is learning from failure.
Learning from failure means we are free to fail. Free to struggle. Encouraged to try, and keep trying, to keep learning the same lessons in different ways over and over again. What an education that would be if every course could be like that. We’d be free of pressure, we’d be free to innovate, we’d be free to express, we’d be free to discover.
It’s a paradox that I wish more teachers, mentors, etc. understood and applied. Tell students to succeed and they will find themselves failing. Tell students to fail, and they will find themselves succeeding.
It’s not about setting a low standard so that more students “succeed.” It’s about extracting wisdom from whatever situation. If you “failed” and got the wrong answer, what lesson did you learn? If you “succeeded” and got the right answer, what lesson did you learn? In that way, the grade or metric or evaluation almost comes before the lesson.
After class today, my music shuffled to Scars by Colton Dixon and the chorus was quite fitting:
Today’s another day, to learn from our mistakes, knowing that we’re not forsaken. They give life to where we’ve been, when we fall and start again, scars remind us who we are.
After discussing wisdom vs information in class, and then hearing the song, and then remembering what the song is really talking about — that is, the the gospel — a connection was made.
In my experience, the best teachers don’t care about what you got on a test or an exam, they only care that you learned the lesson they were trying to teach you. Imagine you were guaranteed a 100% at the beginning of a course – you didn’t earn it, it was given. Striving for perfection isn’t the point. Learning and a willingness to learn is the point. If you got it right away, fantastic. If it took you a few tries at first before you got it, great.
In this class, the first three important things we were given was a good grade guaranteed, an invitation to stay and a mission to learn something more valuable than facts: how to think and how to change the world.
Those who left, turned down the opportunity to wisdom and steps toward self-actualization. Those who stayed, don’t necessarily make the best looking collages or videos, but what is that compared to knowing and embracing our identity a little better?
Not only that, but the small handful of us in the course get closer to each other with every pressure-free attempt we make. We naturally want to encourage each other because we all know none of us are good at this since a lot of it is brand new to us. We don’t celebrate the product of our projects, but the thinking behind it.
Now from the outside looking in, you would think a guaranteed good grade should be incentive to not bother going to class, and yet we all keep coming back week after week, night after night, not because we have to but because we want to. We’re hungry for this “wisdom” that is so different from the unsatisfying and draining amounts of “information” we’re forced to digest everywhere else.
So where do the parallels align?
God demands perfection, but we can’t overcome our imperfection. What Christ’s death on the cross in our place is, is the free 100%, given not earned — His perfection for our imperfection. He invites us in and says if you take it and stay, you’ll get so much more than the 100%.
Those who choose to leave get nothing, those who choose to stay and learn, practice how to think about people differently, how to see through Heaven’s eyes, how to change the world because of the change within us. Of course, practice means failing and learning from our mistakes, and it’s this learning and growth toward godliness that is the real treasure.
So when we fail and sin, we’re caught in a grace that says don’t worry about your grade or your standing, that’s been covered. Just get back up and try again. Also, if you see a brother or sister in Christ, someone else in your community, fail, it becomes natural to encourage them with the same words.
And finally, why not get up and walk away? Because walking away means going back to the emptiness of what the rest of the world has to offer. Once you taste wisdom and truth like this, there’s a hunger that keeps bringing you back.
So the invitation to the cross (and THST 2450) is here: come stay and come fail. It’s worth it.