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New Blog Post: Shooting Hoops with Soo Chang and “KD”

February 18, 2021 by Admin

Relaunching the Recess and Rhetoric Blog

It has been a few years since a Recess and Rhetoric blog post, and we’ve missed hanging out on the playground with deep thinkers and sharing conversations with you, our readers.

We are back! We look forward to hanging out on a regular basis, inviting many voices from our community to provide their musings, experiences, insights, and practical resources for our shared mission to educate children in the ways of wisdom and character. We hope these blogs will spark conversations within our community that will encourage all of us to become even more intentional about distinctly Christian education.

So, grab a seat on a swing between Jesus and Socrates, and join the conversation on ideas of consequence. We hope these blog posts will serve as conversation starters for you, your family, and even your neighbors. Everyone is welcome on the playground and who knows?—maybe these conversations will help more people discover the compelling distinctives of Christian education.

Blog posts will be archived here on our website for easy access. If there are topics you would like to see covered, please let us know.

Without further ado, we are going to dive into the three guiding principles emanating from our mission, motto, and statement of faith: intellectual preparation, spiritual formation, and strategic influence.

Soo Chang, Providence’s new head of school, digs in first on the topic of intellectual preparation.

Next week, Rodney Meadth, Middle and Upper School principal, will share a story about spiritual formation, followed by the third installment, when Soo Chang returns to look at what we mean by strategic influence.


Shooting Hoops with “KD”

by Soo Chang, Head of School.  02.18.21

I love watching professional sports, especially NBA basketball. Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets is one of my favorite players. In my dreams, I see myself feeding him an alley-oop pass for a slam dunk in Rucker Park…and then I wake up!

Even the great Kevin Durant did not start out as an elite basketball player. He had to learn the fundamentals of the game as a young boy and then develop his skills as a teenager—at Montrose Baptist School, in Rockville, MD, minutes from where my family and I used to live in the ‘90s—and later on, as a top-ranked collegiate player, before emerging as the premier NBA star he is today. Similarly, our objective is to equip our children with the foundational tools of learning by encouraging them to press on toward the goal of reaching their full intellectual potential. It began with skills and drills for Kevin Durant, and it is the same for our students.

In many respects, intellectual preparation is no different from preparing to become a professional athlete or a concert musician: it requires careful planning, commitment to a time-tested method, and much discipline under the watchful tutelage of academic mentors and teachers. Intellectual preparation is a gradual and intentional process, one that begins in earnest during a child’s primary school years and continues throughout their college years, and beyond.

 I’m sure “KD” would agree with Thomas Edison who once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” There are no shortcuts to becoming great at basketball and there certainly are no shortcuts to becoming intellectually prepared!

Some sobering facts (we always suspected)

In his book The Global Achievement Gap, education specialist Tony Wagner shares some sobering facts about the current state of our nation’s educational system. These seem to be a stark contrast to what we are aiming for at Providence.

  • Only about a third of U.S. high school students graduate ready for college. Forty-five percent of all students who enter college must take remedial courses.
  • Sixty-five percent of college professors report that what is taught in high school doesn’t prepare students for college. One major reason is the high reliance on multiple-choice assessments for state-accountability purposes that rarely ask students to explain their reasoning or require them to apply their knowledge (skills that are critical for success in college).
  • Students are graduating from both high school and college unprepared for the world of work. Fewer than a quarter of the more than 400 employers recently surveyed for a major study of work-readiness reported that new employees with four-year college degrees have “excellent” basic knowledge and applied skills.

These troubling realities are both a warning as well as a call to action. We must recognize the unique opportunity before us and diligently pursue our passion for a distinctly Christian education for Santa Barbarans! We are a school on a mission to launch students prepared to thrive in competitive colleges and universities, and who are equipped to make a difference for Christ on their campuses. 

A healthy ecosystem for intellectual preparation

Every school has two sets of curricula. First, there is the “scope and sequence” which is the formal, discipline-specific coursework by grade level. Secondly, there is the “hidden curriculum,” which is an unwritten informal reflection of the overall “student culture.” Based on my observations after nine months at Providence, our “scope and sequence” is sound and well developed. Is it perfect? No. Even if it was near perfect, there would always be room for improvement. And as we identify areas that need our attention, we will get to work and zero in on our potential weaknesses in order to continuously improve.

In addition to a sound scope and sequence, we must be equally committed to improving the “hidden curriculum” of our school. The former leads to academic excellence and intellectual preparation. The latter impacts our students’ character development and spiritual formation. Both are essential and necessary IF we are to graduate students equipped for strategic Kingdom influence. Our job as administrators and faculty members is to continue to fine tune our scope and sequence while we lead in shaping and guiding our school culture. In order to achieve that, we will need to empower our students even more to take ownership of their school culture by encouraging them to nurture a social climate that honors Christ and fosters an authentic Christian community.

A school’s greatest strength: the faculty

Besides creating a wholesome learning environment, we cannot overstate the significant role our teachers fulfill. They are the coaches and mentors encouraging and supporting our students to achieve more than they can imagine. Biblically speaking, they are like Paul and their students are like Timothy.

As mentors, our teachers are our school’s greatest assets, and it is the caliber of our faculty that sets us apart. That is not to say that our faculty are perfected saints who sink a three-pointer every time they come down the court. Sometimes, they shoot airballs. (I’ve watched KD do that more than once!) Our teachers are humans, and as such, there is always room for improvement. And when we discover an area that needs our attention amongst our faculty, we will humbly give it the attention it deserves and devote the resources necessary to address it.

Providence teachers expertly and artfully teach English and math, but they’re also known to be prayer warriors for their students. They consider it a privilege to be entrusted with the awesome responsibility of teaching children while actively nurturing and caring for their souls. A good teacher can never replace a parent in directing, guiding, and nurturing a child’s development— a process that is a sacred trust from God—but they can be a formidable asset to have on one’s team.

Have you thanked a teacher today?

Read more: A Blueprint for a Distinctly Christian Education