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posted Jan 8, 2010, 8:00 AM by Dan Dunbar
This is one of those entries that I start writing with only a vague notion in mind as to where it is headed. The title, Side-by-Side, was the first thing I wrote. Sometimes I don't have a title for my blog entry until after I have finished writing - the title emerges from what I have written. But today I am hoping that the reverse will prove to be true - the blog entry will be inspired to emerge from the title I have given it.

Side-by-Side suggested itself to me as a title because today I am taking delivery of a new side-by-side refrigerator. No, I am not living the lifestyle of the rich and famous in my 14 x 70 manufactured home in Essex, buying new appliances willy-nilly with my exorbitant salary and fabulous wealth from Wall Street investments and the Dunbar family fortune (my father would laugh at that notion). 

No, I am going into debt to purchase a new refrigerator to replace the old one that has mysteriously developed the personality of a stinky old crank. It has been arbitrarily deciding to shut off its freezer for hours at a time, defrosting my food and converting all my ice cubes into a solid berg that destroyed the ice maker. Both refrigerator and freezer reek with a pungent Italian dressing and pickle juice odor which has defied my ritual cleansings and ministrations of Arm & Hammer baking soda. Any foods not securely shielded by layers of plastic have been infected by this stench, and after months of this, I am tired of butter and other foods that taste like they have been sitting in a fast food condiment bar.

So, I have decided to take the side-by-side route to refrigeration happiness. I will enjoy having filtered water pour out the door and having my foods stay frozen and taste like they should. And what does this have to do with school or education? Hmmm... Amos 3:3 comes to mind. I think this verse is a key one for learning: "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Education is a meeting of two minds- the mind of the student and the mind of the teacher. The learner tries to get inside the mind and thinking of the teacher and the teacher tries to get into the mind and thinking of the learner. When there is a meeting of the minds, a transfer of knowledge and wisdom can occur. Education is difficult when the teacher makes no effort to know the minds of her students or the student makes no attempt to know the mind of his teacher. Philippians 2:5 says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." We know that God knows our minds and knows us intimately already. We know that God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9) and that He says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me" (Matthew 11:29). If I remember correctly, taking Christ's yoke upon ourselves means to come under His way of thinking, so to learn of Him, we need to get into His mind and His thoughts. And how can we do that without coming into agreement and walking with Him, side-by-side, as our teacher? 

Side-by-side, walking in agreement education...the teacher and the student having a meeting of their minds...the teacher building upon the thoughts of the student and the student receiving the thoughts of the teacher to build understanding. Teaching is a relationship, and we all know from experience that relationships work better through cooperation and submission to one another than coercion and imposition upon each other. Like a good side-by-side refrigerator, good education is cool, doesn't stink, and can be a source of refreshment. (And you didn't think I could pull off the extended metaphor...)