I just returned from an ACSI conference in the UK where one of the main topics was the relational school. Dr. Rob Loe, the Research Director for the Relational Schools Project, shared about the importance of relationships. He began by reminding us that relationships matter to God. God wired human beings to want to be in relationships. The focus of Loe’s study was on how schools can emulate the loving relationships that are found in a family. He made three very emphatic statements:
- You cannot learn if you are frightened.
- You cannot learn if you are unhappy.
- You cannot learn if you feel you do not belong in the classroom.
Loe’s studies have shown a direct link between the quality of the relationship between teacher and student and the ability of students to achieve academically. ICSV surveys and alumni and parent testimonies have shown that one of our strengths is our relational context. Many times, students that struggled in other schools come here and automatically improve in their studies simply because they are loved and appreciated. Relationships matter.
Dr. Loe made another important point. He reminded us that the very term “pedagogue” that we use when talking about teaching and teachers is that “when Plato wrote about pedagogy, he referred not to a discipline, but to a personal relationship. ‘Pedagogues’ were both role models and guardians; companions and mentors. Their job was literally to ‘walk alongside’ young people and support them in their journey to adulthood. Their motivation was distinctive to the teachers of his day.” At ICSV, we have pedagogues, not just teachers – people who are here because they want to do more than simply impart knowledge about a subject area to the students. They desire a personal relationship with each one, serving as a role model and mentor.
Dr. Loe affirmed what we are already doing at ICSV. He also inspired us to want to continually improve in how we relate to our students. It is wonderful that God made us to desire to form relationships with others. God especially wants us to be in close relationship with Him.
Because of His Faithfulness,
Sharon Brobst, Ed.D.