Headphones on, eyes glued to a computer screen, a member of Hillcrest's technology team was in a video conference on training students to be digital citizens. The headphones slipped-off easily as the seminar ended. The staff member grabbed his legal pad, poured a refreshing cup of coffee, and walked into an administrative meeting where he shared his thoughts. One could almost taste the disgust from the staff member, who unpacked the information he gathered from the seminar.
In a part of the presentation the technology director at an expensive private school in Minneapolis spoke to confusion created with fake news. His solution was to give the students a list of websites to fact check. Information is only 33% of Hillcrest's approach.
Building intellect is a primary focus of nearly every school in America. Each school, for the most part, has the same facts and uses similar text books in classrooms. As students nod heads, looking at the board, shifting their gaze to notes being taken on their desk, and then glance back to the board in a learning rhythm repeated nationwide, there is a cynical-side of administration that says we all do the same thing. However, for Hillcrest the process of learning is as important as the content.
Hillcrest has a three-tiered approach to their program: build faith, develop intellect, and strengthen character. These three distinct aspects of Hillcrest cycle in a never-ending loop, reminiscent of the recycling logo. As the three aspects spin in successive fashion in Hillcrest's student life and classroom environments a type of engine is formed, propelling a wheel that houses the three distinctives. The wheel is discernment.
With these three aspects operating in simultaneous chorus in Hillcrest classrooms there is a cultivation of discernment that is developed in Hillcrest's 24-7 program. Students can't get away from adults who plan activities, organize devotions and worship times, and structure a living environment that focuses on grace, resting on a foundation of strong principles found in the Holy Bible.
The environment at Hillcrest cultivates the fertile ground in education to develop a population of young people who think through ideas and reason together to find the best solution. Students don't need more resources, they need faith, intellect, and character functioning in unison to have discernment. Discernment was missing from the presentation on digital citizens and fake news. Partly because discernment isn't a high point of many schools. There is a growing concern with education to present intelligent 18 year olds prepared for academic challenges in college. At Hillcrest, we say our focus extends beyond graduation, considering what kind of 28 year olds come back to our halls after graduation. The focus isn't only on college preparation, but life preparation.