Bridge Builder Series

An overarching goal for Excelsior Classes instructors is to prepare students for the 21st-century world. It is an exciting time as well as a stressful time to raise children. We live in an increasingly divisive society, but the Lord calls us to minister and to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19-20). How can we do this when we are surrounded by walls put up by others and by ourselves?

If we desire to be faithful in ministry, we have to think deeply, be reflective, and communicate with others both as writers and speakers. As instructors, we want to not only model skills for productive dialog in classes but also teach those skills. Often discussions in classes become stymied due to shyness, fear, or inability to articulate ideas or even to welcome difficult discussions. Sometimes students provide compositions or responses characterized by a surface-level treatment without any deep thought provided for opinions or assertions. Unless we can overcome these tendencies, we will continue to struggle as a society and find ourselves increasingly isolated and without avenues for meaningful relationships with others to share the love of God.

To that end, we are launching a series of classes in a new product offering that we’re calling the Bridge Builder Series. Our goal for this series is simple. We desire to help students cultivate the capacity to:

  • show compassion
  • grow in empathy,
  • share love with all people, and ultimately
  • collaborate with others to provide solutions to problems in an increasingly complex world.

Like iron sharpening iron, students will be challenged but enjoy the growth (Proverbs 27:17)!

BRIDGE BUILDER DISTINCTIVES

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Dialog & Deep Thinking Foundations

Move away from the sound-byte responses and superficial treatments! Skip the ad hominem attack so prevalent in social media today. These courses will require students to wrestle with real issues, feelings, and scholarship in an effort to articulate the student’s own ideas, emotions, and responses. Interacting respectfully with others in live sessions and moderated discussions, students will learn to share and share well!
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Fresh & Current Content

These courses are deliberately curated with student interest and current events in mind. You might see or discuss issues, works, or subjects that make you squirm a little bit. That’s intentional! Students are interested in issues and topics that make them squirm too! We’ll tackle such things with respect for the subjects, presenters, and listeners so that we learn to endure that discomfort and thus achieve greater empathy, compassion, and, ultimately, respect.

Any books or materials with mature content will be noted on the course description. We encourage parents to read either before enrolling or along with the student!

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Ecumenical & Welcoming Approach

All teachers at Excelsior Classes sign a statement of faith, and our approach is and remains an ecumenical one. We hope that non-Christians will join our courses and feel welcome to do so! Assignments or work in our Bridge Builder series will not require memorization of Scripture although reading of parts of the Bible may be part of the course if it pertains to the topic covered. For example, if an author or participant mentions a biblical exhortation to help others or even “the four-horsemen of the Apocalypse,” then the teacher may ask for primary source material to be read.  

Like all of our courses, teachers do not make any assumptions of students’ faith backgrounds or Biblical knowledge.  While teachers are encouraged to let students know what they think (as instructors), we hope that the courses are a springboard for dialog at home and in the student’s circle of influence. We know parents are the ultimate teachers!

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College-Preparatory

Instruction changes as the culture changes and bodies of knowledge shift. To be considered college-preparatory, an understanding of additional authors, themes, works, and histories is also necessary. Expanding beyond the traditional textbook approaches and scope and sequence while still holding reverence for the knowledge contained therein is important for students both graduating and entering college or entering the workforce. It is our hope that the content and experience of these courses reap a harvest for students.

Special Notes

Because our goals are for a great degree of student dialog, live attendance is mandatory for these courses. While emergency absences (with parent verification) are allowed, live participation using audio and video in our class sessions is required to meet our learning outcomes.

We live in a world of -isms: feminism (which wave?), capitalism, socialism, progressivism, deconstructionsim, nihilism, and on and on ad nauseum. Regardless of which -ism you may or may not like, the topics and content of the course will be such that bashing or treating others with hostility will not be tolerated. Tearing others down does not lift others up. For example, one can celebrate women and the accomplishments of women without hating men. All class participants will treat others respectfully (in a learning environment) while still learning and exploring. This is great preparation for the student’s future, whether it be at school or at work.

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