A Vision of Students Today Revisited

I have connected deeply with Michael Wesch’s work at Kansas State University. He has put together some marvelous work on the ways that students learn (or don’t learn) today and the ways that the educational system is not meeting students where they are at. On his blog, he recently posted a re-visiting of his “Vision of Students Today” video and goes into a bit more depth about how the piece was put together. Even more importantly, he examines the ways that his incredibly popular courses at KSU are subject to the same issues that he lifts up in the VST video. Before reading further, check out the video and his most recent post…

Revisiting “A Vision of Students Today”

Its not a perfect analogy, but I think there is validity to replacing “educational system” (or its variations) in Wesch’s work with “the church.” I think that many congregations and denominations are struggling with many of the same things as the educational system in trying to impart information, learnings, experiences, and so forth with emerging generations that are clearly engaging the world in very different ways than previous generations.

I personally find myself having my feet in two different generational patterns. As one born in what is considered the early days of “Gen-X”, I vividly remember the first time my Dad brought home our first computers (IBM PC XT and a Commodore VIC-20)and becoming immediately entranced. I spent countless hours playing the old text based adventure games (Colossal Cave and the many Infocom classics), early graphical games, learning to program in BASIC, LOGO, and FORTRAN, and doing anything else I could possibly find. My first year of college (1991) was the time when the Internet started entering the mainstream. I jumped on the internet with my first UNIX PINE based email address, using MOSAIC to browse the early web, and so forth. My tech experience has grown along with the growth and changes in technology and education.

Moving into the realm of the church, I have also grown to realize that I have had to create a great deal of my own ways of engaging Scripture. I find that I have to find visual cues in Scripture (either mentally or doing google image searches) to connect with the words of Scripture. I have created new ways of expressing the Gospel in my worship context in order to not only engage people differently with the life changing message of Christ, but also to try to connect the Gospel for people in new ways. This concept also became the central focus of my doctoral thesis as I recognized how seminaries are missing how to engage students in new ways not only of teaching them, but also in how to help them engage their future congregations.

I think the church would be well served by listening to the voices of people like Michael Wesch and others who are saying that its time for something new if we are going to reach future generations – whether in the academic setting or in places of worship.

3 Replies to “A Vision of Students Today Revisited”

  1. The challenge is to give a timeless message to people who see everything changing over smaller segments of time. Christian churches have the advantage of knowing the timeless message but need to find ways to present the truth of that message in different ways – without diluting the truth. What an exciting opportunity this is.

  2. Indeed that is the challenge. It is an exciting time to be a part of the church as well as a challenging one. There are some out there (Marshall McLuhan and others) who also posit that you cannot change the medium without the medium also changing the message. So, its a tough balance to find.

  3. Appropos of the message and the challenge, II Timothy 4:1-5:

    “Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom; proclaim the message and , welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching. The time is sure to come when, far from being content with sound teaching, people will be avid for the latest novelty and collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then, instead of listening to the truth, they will turn to myths; make the preaching of the Good News your life’s work, in thoroughgoing service.” (The Jerusalem Bible)

    Some things never change and Paul’s words could have been written yesterday. As always, it is up to each generation to “proclaim the message.”

    Mike

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