Our newly graduated seniors, now officially alumni, are walking out into a world that may not always agree with their beliefs. The safety in numbers they experienced at TCS may not go with them on their journey, but the topics and life lessons learned in Room 64 definitely will.
This is Mr. Barr’s Worldview Studies class – better known as the room where they present what some consider to be the most challenging project during their time at TCS – CAR Time.
“At the beginning of the year, all I could think of was ‘this is it, I’m a senior, it’s here’,” says Katelyn Dyer, now alumna, class of 2017.
CAR Time is required of every single senior at TCS. They have to present for at least 25 minutes on an important cultural issue followed by ten minutes of questions from their peers.
“They need to provide the raw hard data and at least two sides preferably one they do not agree with. I want the class to not be able to determine which view the presenter sides with until the end,” says Worldview Studies Teacher, Jon Barr. “At the end, the students give their personal beliefs and Biblical arguments as to why we should hold to a certain way of thinking on the issue.”
Topics such as Islam, homosexuality in our culture, women’s’ roles and creation are presented.
Even some less complex topics are chosen, such as if college is a good idea. Seniors spend an extensive amount of time researching their subjects. For Mr. Barr, it’s obvious to see who has prepared.
“I see it happen every year, where there is a student that unexpectedly blows me away because they took the time to become familiar with their topic, have sought help from me in structuring it, and they have rehearsed their presentation. They knock it out of the park, and even I’m in awe,” says Barr.
CAR Time is a project that Jon Barr inherited 13 years ago when he took over the class. Although the direction of the course has changed, the name has stuck. The acronym CAR stands for: Community of Authority and Respect. Within his first year teaching this program, Barr realized it is a title quite fitting to the metamorphous that happens.
“I’ve noticed this very
unique dynamic that occurs when a student is prepared. They come in dressed professionally in business attire and right away there’s a difference – they are authoritative and command respect. Even if their voice might quiver, their peers don’t care. What they notice is this person they have been going to class with knows more than they do on this topic and they’re actually interesting to listen to,” Barr explains. “As a teacher, it’s the most exciting thing. I sit back and do not say a word. I’m not the audience, I’m an observer.”
“I was most wowed by the jokesters in our class who got up there to present their CAR Time and were very serious and turned out to be so good in their presentation,” says Angela Wildrick, class of 2017.
The class talks about many mature topics. Seniors have already taken New Testament and Old Testament Survey, but in this class they have a chance to apply what they have learned during their years at TCS to develop their own thoughts.
“They are not spoon-fed ideas,” says Barr.
At the beginning of the year, students discuss the basic questions of who are we, what’s wrong with the world and how can we fix it through a humanistic (world) perspective. Then they start looking at what the Biblical responses are to all these issues. By the time CAR Time happens, students have the tools to develop their own thoughts.
Kelcey Samuel thought she knew how she felt about her topic: Homosexuality: Nature verses Nurture, until she dug deep into her research for CAR Time.
“Choosing this topic, I thought it would be easy. After breaking it down, I became more educated. I now better understand my worldview,” says Samuel. “I’m extremely grateful because I feel more prepared to have a conversation about this topic.”
What makes their teacher proud, is when those thoughts line up with God’s Word, and they can present a case to a non-believer.
“We want to see them be able to explain to someone who isn’t a Christian why they believe that Darwinism and natural selection, for example, are not true,” says Barr. “If their parents have invested in sending them to a Biblical Christian school and they leave and hit a very hostile environment in college, in which there is no Biblical perspective, I think it is imperative that on these major issues, they are familiar with what are the reasonable, rational, Christian responses on each of these topics.”
“I’m grateful because now I understand why the things that non-believers believe make sense to them and I have better tools to present my views to them,” says Dyer.
For Barr, the greatest sign that the class made a difference on a student – a changed behavior. When a student is transformed by what is taught in this class and their entire time at TCS, then the school’s mission of equipping students to live productive, God-glorifying lives has been complete.