I teach sophomore English. Most students come to me with a preconceived idea of what English class is like. For some, it is interesting. For most, it is boring. After ten years of English classes, these kids have formed an opinion that includes me, even before they have witnessed me teach. This year, I decided to challenge their opinion. On the first day of school, I gave each student a 4 X 6 index card with two dimes neatly taped to one side. I asked them what they saw.
"Two dead guys."
Finally, a young lady said, "A pair of dimes?"
"Yes!" I shouted. "What is a paradigm?"
After the laughter died down, I wrote the word PARADIGM on the board and explained its meaning. "It's a standard or a belief that you are convinced is right. Such as, 'English is boring, or fun, or challenging, or worthless.'"I asked each student to write down, on the front side of their card, what they think about English class. I gave them permission to be brutally honest.
"I am investing twenty cents of my own money into your life, a symbol of my commitment to educate you in all the standards of the curriculum in a way that will hopefully shift your paradigm from dislike to bearable, complacency to enjoyment, or delight to passion."
I collected the cards and promised to hand them back the last week of school. It is then that they may take the twenty cents, after they write what they think about English class on the backside of the card. I will ask for volunteers to share if and how their paradigm has been shifted. My hope is that they will hold on to their card as a reminder that paradigms can be shifted. My prayer is that they will be open to this concept in their marriage, in their career, and in their relationship with Christ.
We all have paradigms—standards and beliefs—for just about everything in our lives. "Teenagers are lazy," "Church is boring," "Hip-Hop music is evil," or "Laundry is a woman's work." Paradigms can be shifted. It is not easy to do, but with determination, it is possible.
At the beginning of your next study, hand each person a 4 X 6 index card with two dimes taped to the top of one side. Ask the group what they see. Once someone arrives at the answer, "a pair of dimes," spend a few minutes discussing the power of a paradigm. Give a brief overview about the topic you will be studying for the next several weeks (i.e.: grace, obedience, parenting, marriage, addiction, etc.).Then, on the side of the card with the dimes, ask each person to write what they honestly believe about the subject. Ask for volunteers to share their answers, and then collect the cards. On the last night of the study, hand back the cards and ask each person to write what they now believe about the topic. Ask for volunteers to share the journey of their paradigm. Send your group members home with their cards and a hope and prayer that each person will be reminded that paradigms can be shifted.