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To Build a Canoe

They are going to build a canoe. They don’t know how yet. I don’t know how yet, either.

But this year, they are going to build a canoe, paddle it, invite other students to have a ride, and think about starting a Build-A-Canoe-Business. It is going to be a BRIE (Biblical, Relational, Integral, and Experiential) experience, for sure!

To accomplish this, they will need to do the following:

1. Earn the canoe kit, approximately $1,000. (economics and finance)

2. Build “the team” before they build the canoe. (social-emotional learning)

3. Build a relationship with their workshop host. (community service, character education)

4. Learn how to handle non-power tools. (used to be called “shop class”)

5. Read and follow directions. (reading comprehension, logic)

6. Build the canoe, using muscle-power. (physical education)

7. Test the canoe and fix any problems. (scientific method)

8. Learn to paddle. (physical education)

9. Plan and write lessons for teaching others to paddle a canoe. (writing, logic)

10. Plan the “Come Try Our Canoe” event and invite others. (writing, community service, social-emotional learning)

11. Conduct the “Come Try Our Canoe” event and evaluate effectiveness. (communication, critical thinking, analysis)

12. Assess the whole experience to determine whether we should ever do it again – with a kit? from scratch? to sell? (analysis, critical thinking, decision-making, economics, finance)

Look at all that BRIE! Easy to see that it is, indeed, “Relational,” and “Integral,” and “Experiential.” But exactly how is this project “Biblical?"

Redemptive Education seeks to “align with God’s design.” All throughout scripture, we see that God designed people to PLAN things, DO things, MAKE things, EVALUATE things. It is part of His plan for people (young and old) to figure things out, to work with others, to serve others, to discover new things, and to delight in the process. That’s Christian Deeper Learning, where “people of God’s story engage in real work that forms self and shapes the world”! It involves real risk because it involves real work, real people, real possibility for “failure” at every turn.

But I can guarantee that this team of Canoe Kids will never forget this experience and that it will become part of the fabric of their “learning.” They may not all learn the same thing, and that’s just fine. Some may grow in their math skills – some may develop a drive towards entrepreneurial endeavors – some may find that they love working with wood and tools – some may simply discover the altogether “other” world of a silent canoe on a silent pond. Take the risk. “Real work” does “form self.” And the power of a newly-developed interior, in one single image-bearer, or in many, might even “shape the world.”


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