Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chapter Four: 100,000 Fully Engaged Tutors for Universities and Colleges, Arise!

Chapter Four

100,000 Fully Engaged Tutors for
Universities and Colleges,

“When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

— Isaiah 1:15-20 (NKJV)

The focus of post-secondary education in the United States has shifted greatly since the first American colleges were founded during the colonial era. Colleges then were mostly intent on preparing clergy to serve Christ. Even students who didn’t plan to enter the ministry received a firm foundation in the Gospel. Today, by comparison, most students will emerge from an American college or university without opening the Bible even once for an assignment. Any university-based Christian instruction is more likely to occur in a graduate school specially designated for that purpose.
How might more of today’s university students learn about the Gospel? Let’s start by considering what university administrators and professors think curricula should include, a subject of much debate. Three schools of thought predominate:

• The liberal arts approach: Require exposure to small amounts of many specific types of scholarly knowledge to encourage an appreciation for learning and society’s culture.

• The academic freedom approach: Let students study what they want among the courses that academic departments authorize and professors want to teach.

• The professional education approach: Teach skills that can be directly applied to jobs in a specific field.

From my perspective, these policies are potentially deficient in helping students to:

• Gain a sound grounding in the Gospel so that Salvation is more likely to be sought and received, and sanctification to proceed throughout the rest of the new Christian’s life. (Outside of a Christian college or university, the Gospel is unlikely to be taught except in a “Bible as Literature” course designed to teach the basis of common literary allusions.)

• Learn how to identify and to accomplish breakthroughs in many kinds of activities. (Job-related courses usually focus on teaching current or outmoded practices instead of how to improve well beyond the best.)

• Grasp and apply practical skills needed to conduct their personal lives more effectively. (Almost no one sees developing such skills as appropriate for post-secondary degree studies.)

Reading my comments about these educational deficiencies may cause some academic leaders to throw up their hands in frustration, asking questions such as:

• How can anything possibly be added to curricula that already fail to cover enough subject matter to effectively serve their existing purposes?

• For those involved with publicly owned universities and colleges in the United States, how will the constitutional separation of church and state permit adding religious instruction?

• How can students who have trouble with learning how to do simple tasks master making breakthroughs?

• Who will want to teach practical skills for day-to-day living?

As an enthusiastic Christian witness to college and graduate school students, a graduate school professor who teaches his students how to identify and implement breakthroughs, and an academic advisor who is often asked by students to provide practical advice for day-to-day problems, I’m optimistic that these forms of learning can be successfully added to or substituted for what undergraduate and graduate students are now studying. In this chapter, I explain how tutors can enable these valuable forms of learning.

Tutor Students in What They Want to Learn about the Gospel

For if I preach the gospel,
I have nothing to boast of,
for necessity is laid upon me;
yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!

— 1 Corinthians 9:16 (NKJV)

Here are some observations that those who know universities and colleges well will probably agree with:

• Many youngsters leave high school without the benefit of any religious education.

• You don’t have to be a professor to help someone learn the Gospel.

• A student doesn’t need to earn a grade to find Gospel study to be rewarding and worth spending time on.

• Gospel study doesn’t have to occur in a university or college classroom in order to be effective.

• Providing freedom to add the Gospel perspective to university and college papers and examinations can help students to learn better and to appreciate more about their course subjects.

• Students usually have lots of unscheduled time they use to watch television and movies, socialize with friends in person or online, talk on the telephone, text one another, attend parties, take trips, and meet new people of the opposite sex.

• Most schools allow students to set up any organizations they want to engage in lawful purposes.

• Someone who is walking with the Lord will have supernatural help to accomplish anything that Christ wants done.

• Tutors can adequately fill in the learning gaps concerning the Bible in typical college and graduate school curricula.

Many universities and colleges already have tutoring programs or encourage group study to help students learn. If students are spending their own money for tutoring or are meeting voluntarily with other students, why should it be any more difficult to get help from a Gospel tutor than it is to get help from a math tutor or to meet to study the Gospel rather than French or some other subject? Many of those who become part-time Gospel tutors would, no doubt, be glad to serve for no pay. What business is it of the university or college what such tutors are teaching or what study groups are working on? To deny these opportunities is to limit free speech, an on-campus privilege that most schools encourage. If campus is out-of-bounds for Gospel studies because of any legal restrictions, tutoring can occur in facilities that are near to campus instead.
There are fewer than 35,000 post-secondary campuses in the world. One well-prepared tutor per campus could serve as the spiritual seed to attract students who choose to learn about the Gospel, and to recruit and to teach others to assist in Christian tutoring. I see these campus-focused tutors being supplemented by the activities of on-campus evangelists and local churches that are providing Bible-based Gospel studies and teachings.
Where might the tutors come from? I believe that many sources are possible and desirable from among those who know the Gospel and are effective witnesses through their personal testimonies including:

• students

• recent graduates

• faculty members

• staff members

• respected local pastors and elders in the churches these pastors lead

• itinerant evangelists

How should such tutoring begin? I don’t want to suggest that there’s only one method. If you feel called to work in this area, first read the Bible and pray about what to do while waiting for directions from the Holy Spirit.
Let me encourage you in identifying the right next steps by outlining a possible approach intended to unite and to build the body of Christ:

• Locate all the student organizations that are teaching the Gospel now and find out what any other Christ-centered student organizations are doing.

• Meet with the student leaders of these organizations to see if they would like to expand whatever Gospel-related activities they are doing or to start a Gospel-based tutoring program.

• If student leaders are interested in providing some or more Gospel tutoring, ask them what assistance they need.

• Develop a program to help them.

• Cooperate with them in providing some or more Gospel tutoring.

• Visit any on-campus clergy to see what interest they have in encouraging and increasing Gospel-based learning.

• Follow the same supportive path as with the student organizations.

• Visit the pastors of local churches to see what interest they have in encouraging Gospel-based learning among local university and college students.

• Follow the same supportive approach as with student organizations and on-campus clergy.

• If no student or clergy express interest, pass out flyers or publish an advertisement in the student newspaper offering an off-campus meeting for those who want to learn more about the Gospel or to help others learn.

• At the meeting, find out what those attending most want to learn and to accomplish.

• Engage in the same supportive ways of encouraging and cooperating.

Many unsaved people have developed their own ideas about the accuracy and sources of the Bible, how academic thinking (such as the theory of evolution) and the Bible do or do not support one another, who God is, why bad things happen to “good” people, what happens to people when they die, who makes it to heaven, and whether Christianity is fair or not.
While I don’t want to discourage you from taking any approach that the Holy Spirit leads you to, I encourage you to learn from the students you want to serve what their most pressing questions about the Gospel are. With those questions in mind, you should be sure to offer loving answers in kind ways that respect the sincerity of their questions and concerns. In thinking about how to explain what the Bible says, keep in mind what Paul had to say in 1 Corinthians 13 (NKJV):

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Many university and college students believe in the validity of other faiths. Rather than ignore what they know or believe about those faiths, some effective tutors will undoubtedly expand their personal understanding of the Gospel by also learning about the spiritual foundations of these other faiths in order to better answer heart-felt faith questions.
I also suggest that university and college Gospel tutors ask the Holy Spirit for guidance about whether they should follow some or all of the witnessing methods described in Witnessing Made Easy and Ways You Can Witness. Helping develop and publishing born-again Christian students’ testimonies could provide very effective tools for opening the eyes of unsaved students to the work that they don’t know that God has done and is doing in the lives of those around them. Young peoples’ fascination with social media may also present special opportunities to attract interest in Gospel studies through sharing written, audio, and video testimonies.
On the academic front, it would be good to work with the educational institutions’ administrators to establish the principle on each campus that students and professors may agree to work with one another to consider what the Gospel has to say about the subjects that are being studied. Tutors could assist in the principle being established by developing evidence that faculty and students would like to have these opportunities and by helping to frame the requests in ways that would be more acceptable to the schools’ administrations.
After documenting the need for the expanded teaching principle, Christian professors and their assistants may wish to ask in appropriate ways for the freedom to provide extra, optional sessions for those who want to learn how the Gospel applies to the secular subjects they are studying. Undoubtedly, some unsaved students will be drawn to join Christian students in these added learning opportunities. Because of budget pressures, professors and assistants should expect that they will receive no extra pay from the universities and colleges for providing these sessions.
While making any requests of school administrations, Christians should ask one another to pray for His support. If the opposition to such expanded teaching is substantial, consider turning the problem over to God to solve through prayer rather than escalating the proposed change into a bigger and more divisive controversy.
Let’s consider next how university and college tutors can help students learn to identify and make breakthroughs.

Tutor Students in How to Identify and Accomplish Breakthroughs

“Therefore hear the parable of the sower:
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it,
then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.
This is he who received seed by the wayside.
But he who received the seed on stony places,
this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;
yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.
For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word,
immediately he stumbles.
Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word,
and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word,
and he becomes unfruitful.
But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it,
who indeed bears fruit and produces:
some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

— Matthew 13:18-23 (NKJV)

Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the sower vividly demonstrates that following Him to share the Gospel can lead to exponential increases in how many people accept Salvation. Many people read this part of the Bible as applying solely to witnessing. I believe such interpretations may be too narrow because many of God’s works encourage people to follow Jesus.
Let me describe what I mean. Be sure to test my reaction with your own Bible study and prayer.
God sometimes uses unexpected accomplishments to attract the attention of lost people so that they may be drawn closer to Him through the Holy Spirit. When Christians help create any breakthroughs that glorify God the Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the magnitude of improvements will make some lost people want to learn more.
Impressive accomplishments can be used by the Holy Spirit to attract those who don’t believe in the supernatural as well as to those who idolize various forms of success and achievement. After the attention of unsaved people is attracted, those involved in the accomplishments can witness by giving the credit to God, explaining about gaining Salvation, and being guided by the Holy Spirit.
God never indicated that He didn’t want us to be able to meet righteous needs. Rather, He indicated just the opposite: We shouldn’t worry about what we will eat, drink, and wear, or where we will sleep while we are seeking the kingdom of God and righteousness (Matthew 6:25-34, NKJV).
There’s an apparent paradox here to some when they observe that many people don’t have enough of these basics. To me, the present lack suggests that He has provided ways that are not yet being employed for His people to meet those needs in order to demonstrate His love and power.
Visit any university or college campus, and you’ll find lots of faculty and students who would like nothing better than to provide for such physical needs. What could be more natural than to take those tender hearts and to direct them toward learning ways that God has provided to make breakthroughs for righteous purposes?
I do not know the best opportunities for teaching breakthroughs on any specific campus, but let me share one potentially helpful lesson: Work closely with those who lack what is to be provided while developing and teaching methods for meeting their righteous needs. Otherwise, it will be easy to develop solutions that look good on paper, but won’t work well in practice.
Here are some of the possible needs to address with low-cost solutions:

• universal vaccination

• mosquito nets in malaria-plagued regions

• easy-to-access pure water in difficult environments

• storing and distributing enough nutritious food for immediate use in famine-stricken lands

• quickly delivering emergency supplies to tens of millions after large-scale natural disasters

• helping young people in underdeveloped countries learn to develop and operate successful businesses

• eliminating harmful government bureaucracies and processes

• establishing more links between marketers in developed countries and suppliers who humanely employ poor people in lesser developed nations

• expanding access to high quality vocational education in countries with underdeveloped infrastructures

• upgrading skills of local people required for work in higher potential industries

As I have mentioned before, it will be highly valuable for groups of tutors to share what they have learned with one another about a given practice area, particularly concerning improvements in a specific country, type of culture, or geographical environment. Typically, this sharing will help create the opportunity for one set of breakthroughs to be applied in conjunction with another set of complementary breakthroughs to establish multiplied exponential benefits.
After attracting those who are moved by idealism to learn how to make breakthroughs, plan to also gain the attention of students who are looking for personal benefits that will usually serve righteous purposes. To find the right improvements to work on, I suggest that tutors ask students about their concerns and consider using surveys on larger campuses to hear the views of more students. To start your thinking, I have put together a short list of possible areas that might have broad appeal:

• get a job twenty times faster in a helpful activity for which there is a lot of unemployment

• start a successful new business that serves needy people with a just small investment by the owners

• find many more friends who enjoy helping one another

• obtain much less expensive housing in exchange for doing helpful volunteer work

• eliminate the costs of communicating with and visiting your family and friends

• provide contributions to charities that are much more valuable than what they cost the donor to provide

• learn how to serve others in 1/20 the time, with 1/20 the effort, and 1/20 the resources

• reduce the time needed for necessary chores while decreasing any of the usual negative effects on other people

• save animals from being mistreated and train them to assist people who are experiencing physical challenges

• develop exercise routines that generate better personal health and provide services that others need but cannot easily obtain

In addition, some students will be attracted by a desire to accomplish more in some activity that is of great personal interest to them. Helping with these opportunities will probably be a lower priority for tutors except where tutoring could indirectly contribute to some useful purpose beyond an individual’s interest. For instance, many hospitals have a difficult time finding enough nursing managers. That’s because there is usually very little extra pay for the work, while much extra time and aggravation are required. Finding ways to accomplish nursing management tasks in very little time and in ways that bring more personal satisfaction might improve the quality of the health care that suffering people receive.
For those individuals who want to develop a personal capability for creating breakthroughs in a variety of areas, tutors could also offer special learning opportunities that emphasize independent study. These ways of learning could be modeled on the kind of supervised problem solving that many of my Rushmore University students do while engaged in the exponential business success major there. Hopefully, more universities will establish such majors for their degree programs in applied disciplines such as architecture, business, dentistry, engineering, government, medicine, and pharmacology.
Let’s investigate how university and college students can also learn practical skills for day-to-day living.

Tutor Students in Practical Skills for Day-to-Day Living

Forsake foolishness and live,
And go in the way of understanding.

— Proverbs 9:6 (NKJV)

Some university and college students grew up in families where only one parent was around on a regular basis due to divorce or being born out of wedlock. Others were raised in families where both parents worked such long hours that it was almost like having no parents available during many daytime hours. In still other families, the parents were more interested in their own away-from-home pursuits than in engaging with their children.
In any such instances, students may have reached young adulthood without learning many of the basics that make life joyful and a lot easier to negotiate, the kind of basics that God intended for children to learn from their parents. Despite these students having one or more parents, the young people may have knowledge and experience deficiencies somewhat like those found in orphans who are raised in orphanages. Tutors are needed to help fill important gaps in anyone who lacks the kind of understanding that family living normally provides.
As before, much of the challenge involves finding out what students already want to learn. Otherwise, tutors run the risk of offering information that no one wants.
In many cases, practical interests may differ between those who are just starting a degree program (who may often want to learn how to be more successful in their studies) and those who are about to start working (who may be more interested in career-related skills). A person’s gender may also be a factor. Some young women may be more interested in how to balance marriage, a career, and raising children than are many young men. If my hypothesis is correct about there being so many different pressing interests, tutors will benefit by cooperating with other tutors who specialize in different areas of practical skills so that more kinds of tutorials can be made available.
Needless to say, some skill needs have fairly universal appeal: Most students are going to be quite interested in how to develop a good credit rating so that they can eventually purchase cars and homes at lower interest rates. It may be possible for tutoring practice groups to develop for such commonly desired subjects.
The more significant challenge is how to interest students in developing skills that they don’t realize or don’t think that they need. My suggestion is that tutors introduce some of those subjects while helping students learn what they want to know. Tutors can point out the potential benefits of developing these unappreciated skills, and some students will undoubtedly develop an interest in learning more. After those students gain benefits from such additional learning, their experiences may help attract the interest of others.
Another useful tutoring method is to design the learning so that it will be more valuable and fun if done with a group of friends. In that way, those with an interest will be able to help recruit others who aren’t yet as interested.
I would be astonished if such tutorials ever became a credit-earning part of the regular curricula at universities and colleges. Instead, tutors should focus on picking the most attractive timing and locations for providing tutorials. For example, a tutorial in how to prepare for examinations may be of more interest if held in a study area conference room two weeks before term-end examinations begin.
Tutors would do well to provide courses that can be conducted over the Internet to accommodate recent graduates who ignored tutorial opportunities as students but who begin to appreciate their need for practical skills after graduating. A good example would be learning how to become acquainted with older people who have more powerful jobs in the organizations where they work. A student might have no interest in learning how to make such friendly connections, while a newly employed graduate might become quite interested after seeing that those with such acquaintances have more satisfying and successful careers.
In Christian universities and colleges, the possible tutorial subjects will expand to playing various roles more effectively within a Christian community of believers. For example, I would have benefited from a course in how to sing more pleasantly, making praise and worship much more enjoyable for those around me as well as for me.

Having looked at the role of tutors who will often be serving as unpaid volunteers, it’s now helpful to apply what has been discussed in the first four chapters to how tutors can assist professionals, elementary and secondary school teachers, and the unions they belong to, so that fruitfulness can be expanded through the compulsory educations that most children receive. These lessons will also apply to any situation where education can be required, such as by a government or by an employer.

Copyright © 2011 by Donald W. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

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