Education within the United States has been focused primarily on left-brained studies. Reason and memorization have been emphasized far above creativity and innovation. In higher education, classes are taught based on a curriculum instead of allowing the teaching to be based on the needs of each student. And rewards, such as grades, credits and degrees, are based on course completion and reciting memorized facts rather than a demonstration or understanding and skill.

Even in Christian colleges, where we have Jesus and the Bible as examples of how to teach, these Bible colleges have tended to follow the same teaching tradition as their secular counterparts. I believe education should work differently. There is a better way.

Here are 12 principles of Non-traditional Christian Education:

1. Awards degrees on the basis of competencies and performance skills. It’s not enough to just get good grades. You must demonstrate competency and skill.

2. Bases degree requirements on an agreement between the student and the faculty, aimed at helping the student achieve his or her career, personal, or professional goals. Every student is different and their goals and calling is different. Their education should be uniquely designed around them.

3. Awards the degree when the student’s actual work and learning reach agreed-upon levels.

4. Assumes learning desirable at any age, and that degrees should be available to people of all ages. Education is not just for the young.

5. Sees any part of the world as appropriate for some learning. Education occurs in places other than classrooms, probably more often.

6. Believes the range of learning resources is limitless, from the daily newspaper to personal interviews; from videocassettes to microcomputers to world travel. Why limit yourself to just one book?

7. Faculty are judged on competency and personal qualities, in addition to credentials and degrees (take note: a non-traditional faculty must still be academically qualified).

8. Credits and degrees also take into consideration learning how to learn and the integration of diverse fields of knowledge. Once you graduate, you should continue to grow and learn. So, learning how to learn is important.

9. Cultivates self-direction and independence through planned independent study, both on and off campus.

10. Curricula reflect the student’s individual needs and goals and are likely to be problem-oriented, issue-oriented, and world-oriented.

11. Aims at producing lifelong learners, capable of responding all through their lives to their own evolving needs and those of society.

12. Teaches you how to fish, and feeds you for life.

I believe these principles are more effective at producing skilled leaders who are ready to go into their chosen field and follow their calling. As a professor at a Christian university that puts these teaching methods into practice, I have seen, firsthand, that they work.

Mark Virkler is with Christian Leadership University. CLU is a Christian University and Online Bible College offering Christian education including Christian counseling and Christian theology seminaries and offers certificates, undergrad, Masters, and Doctorates in the various Christian colleges of CLU.

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