What Is Our Vision of the Good Life?
Posted: 2/26/2018

Written by Nathan Stevens
“An education, then, is a constellation of practices, rituals, and routines that inculcates a particular vision of the good life by inscribing or infusing that vision into the heart (the gut) by means of material, embodied practices” (27). - James K.A. Smith in "Desiring the Kingdom"

James Smith’s thoughts present an interesting opportunity. How does Whitefield Academy create a “constellation of practices, rituals, and routines” that align to the declared vision of the good life communicated through our mission, especially considering all of the pressures of the current cultural climate? Peter Senge’s (2006) thoughts in his book "The Fifth Discipline" provide a sense of clarity as to why Whitefield Academy is uniquely equipped to address this challenge.

Although Senge does not espouse the same “vision of the good life” James Smith presents, the truth he presents clearly connects to our present reality:

“The greater my commitment to the truth, the more creative tension comes into play because current reality is seen more for what it really is. In the context of creative tension, commitment to the truth becomes a generative force…” (150).

Embracing the Challenge

The challenge is clear for Whitefield Academy. We must embrace the “creative tension” required to deal with our current cultural context. “Commitment to the truth” necessitates a level of reflective openness which will cause us to challenge our current models while holding fast to the strong foundation established from the beginning of our history.

Recognizing the challenge in front of us is an important step. Challenging our models is much harder. We are committed to maintaining the focus on the “why” behind what we do. We are committed to considering our “practices, rituals, and routines,” ensuring they create a climate that feeds the desire for a Christ-centered vision of the good life.

Colossians 2:6-8 says:

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. Rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

This generation of students faces intense pressure in their attempt to be “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith.” Without a strong foundation in truth infused into the heart of those in our care, they will be taken captive.

A Reflective Posture

We are taking practical steps to maintain a reflective posture. Our recently completed accreditation process prompted us to consider how our "why" is playing out on a daily basis. Our school improvement plan focuses on bridging the gap between the philosophical declarations of Whitefield Academy and the practical applications of these beliefs in our daily practices. Our strategic plan is focused on continuing to build a “Legacy for Christ” both now and for future generations. In all, we are reflecting on how our practices communicate a particular vision of the good life. We are committed to allowing truth to be a generative force in our area of service. 

Christ-centered preparation is a lofty ideal that inspires us on a daily basis. We will continue to consider how to most effectively provide a context through which God can work in and through the children in our care.