Scheduling in Christian schools is not just about the technicalities of scheduling. It is really about the way in which we think about children, their relationship to each other and the teachers who care for them, and their relationship to God who created day and night.
Scheduling is about what happens in the day and night. It is about how the school stewards time so that its children can participate in, experience, and benefit from the school’s mission.
Light and dark are not just a happenstance convenience that we can ignore when we turn on the lights. They are God-given gifts that have deep spiritual significance and should be treated with great seriousness.
Let’s just think for a moment about the imagery of light and how it is treated in the Bible. The first creative act of God was to say: “Let there be light!” This light was a contrast to the “darkness that was on the face of the deep.” Light thus becomes, at the beginning of time, both a physical and metaphorical manifestation of God’s grace as the “light of the world” (John 1:4-5, 8:12, 9:5). Jesus is the light of the world and we are members of Christ’s Body (1 Corinthians 6:15). Jesus declares as part of the Beatitudes that we are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), an echo of Isaiah’s prophecy that we are to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6) – “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.” Being a light to the Gentiles is, of course, soteriological, but it also calls us to an ethical life of “goodness, righteousness, and truth” (Ephesians 5:8-9).
This importance of light means that the job of scheduling is as holy as any other kind of task. It is often seen as merely technical, maybe even bureaucratic. It is a hidden task that few see and, indeed, few want to do. It is not usually a compensated task, or not compensated very well. Most schedulers that CSM knows are paid in the hundreds of dollars, not thousands, for this important task. It is not esteemed very highly (unless the schedule doesn’t work for someone!). But for CSM, scheduling is a foundation block of excellent education.
One blog says about scheduling: “Good schedules are like a good motor oil. When they work well, they help the business achieve maximum performance. When they aren’t working effectively the business will grind to a halt. A good schedule is about getting people in the right place at the right time and, importantly, doing the right task. At the same time, effective scheduling allows businesses to empower their employees, become more productive and ultimately deliver a better service to their customers” (https://blog.quinyx.com/the-importance-of-a-good-schedule). In mission / academic terms, “doing the right task” is a pregnant phrase since students “do” a lot, but a lot of what they do is not the “right task.” For the schedule to allow the student to do is not enough; the schedule must intentionally seek to inspire the students to maximize their potential in embodying the school’s mission
Poor schedules frustrate our teachers. Schedules are not passive or abstract. They have real-world consequences and real-world outcomes. They determine whether teachers have “enough” time to deliver their curriculum; they dictate whether faculty will arrive at each place “on time,” and in a way that allows each teacher also to exhibit the excellence that God has gifted her or him with. Schedules mediate power within the school, giving this amount of time to this teacher and this amount to that, this kind of time to this activity and a different kind of time to another, this kind of space to this discipline and another kind of space to that. As power is mediated, teachers are brought into a particular kind of relationship with each other, and the mission-in-action can often be experienced very differently by teachers in different divisions as well as in different disciplines. While the scheduler may or may not have intentional influence, the schedule certainly does. It, along with the budget, determines whether the school will or will not be effective in its mission delivery.
CSM believes that scheduling brings “light” into a school when done well, and creates enormous stress when done poorly – brings “darkness.” The schedule acts in the same way a curtain does in the room. It can open wide, allowing the room to be illuminated and happy and warm with the sun. But it can also be darkened, as it used to be in times gone by when patients lay in their sick beds and the sun was not allowed to come in. We have personally seen the darkness of the schedule overshadow children’s lives. We have been affirmed as we helped the curtain open and saw children experience a whole new level of joy, along with their teachers, as the light entered.