Understanding the Context of Our Lives

A few months ago the Be Unbound podcast team started out on a series of podcast episodes on Unbound’s unique educational model and perspective. We walked through the four pillars of education upon which Unbound stands. These four pillars can be easily summarized with four words: Ask, Understand, Do, and Live.

Each of these words represents an idea or principle that we believe should shape education. Ask refers to the importance of operating in a questions-based paradigm. Understand refers to the power of story and context in living productively in the real world. Do points to project-based education and the idea that learning by doing is usually the best way to learn. And finally, Live points to the true purpose of education: strengthening relationships and making an impact in the lives of others through leadership and personal influence.

In this article, I’d like to offer a brief overview of the Understand principle.

Understand…What?

At the core of the Understand principle is the conviction that one must understand the context of one’s life in order to live it well. The context of our lives is a story. We each have one and we also share one collectively. We are all part of God’s story and that story is found in the Bible.

As such, there are a few important pieces to the Understand pillar of the AUDL model. 

First, we believe that education should teach students how to understand the context of what they’re learning. It’s not enough to just know that Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. We have to know why that matters for us and what the context of that event was. To perceive any significance in the Normandy landings we need context. The same is true for just about everything we learn.

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Understand…Who?

We believe that each life is a story and that if we fail to view it as such we will miss out on much of what life is about.

For example, the decisions we make in high school make an impact on our life. They are not isolated events. They are contextualized by the story of our life. We are characters in our stories and in the stories of others. Other people are characters in our story. When we approach life with this story worldview, education takes on a whole new dimension.

Understand…Where?

So if story gives meaning to our lives and purpose to our education, how do we determine what that story is and what it looks like?

As Christians, we believe that the authoritative story of all of reality is found in God’s revelation through the Bible. The story found in the Bible is the story that provides ultimate context for our lives. It tells us where we came from, who we are, and where we are going. 

Not only that, but the Bible has shaped Western culture and thinking for the past fifteen-hundred years. Even if someone doesn’t believe that the story of the Bible is true, they have to understand that story to make sense of the context of the Western civilization that they live in.

Understand & Education

We don’t teach Bible classes at Unbound but we do put a high priority on teaching students how to understand the structures of stories, how to read the story of their lives, how to understand the context they find themselves in, and why understanding story (especially the story of the Bible) is essential to success in life.

Curious about the other pillars of Unbound’s education model? Take a deep dive by listening to our podcast episodes on the topic.

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