Izaac Cowling

A beginners’ guide to university from two non-beginners

On Sunday I gave a talk to new (and returning) students living at Emmanuel College, a residential college at the University of Queensland. I mention this because the talk is now up on the Emmanuel Centre for Science, Religion and Society’s blog. So you can read it. If you so choose. I regret much of my approach to uni the first time around, but almost nothing about my approach to Bible College. So I have some first hand experience of being a student. I spoke on How to have a dangerous education. Which I think is important. Here’s a taste to whet your appetite.

“You’ll feel you should read the right things, and say the right things, and write the right things. By ‘the right things’ I don’t necessarily mean the good or true things, but the consensus view, or the opinion of those teaching you. This won’t be overt pressure, it’ll be the implicit pressure of staying with the safety of the herd. It’ll be the pressure of the default. The status quo.  The easy road. Your time will be pulled in all sorts of directions, and you’ll feel pressure to follow the path of least resistance, or to avoid danger.

Educational excellence is not found in walking the safe road, the well-trodden path, but walking the dangerous road; engaging with those who push you out of your comfort zone and challenge your default assumptions about the way things are.

Transforming the world requires innovation. It requires being open, not closed, to new ideas, threatening ideas. This requires embracing danger. If you want to be a real leader then you should do that, boldly, for the good of others, as an act of love for your neighbours, but you should also do it for the safety of your soul.

Danger — risk-taking – is where you’ll be tested; entering the crucible of contested, dangerous, ideas and staring down discomfort, leaving your ‘comfort zone’ is where your character will be refined and you’ll be forged into a formidable force for change.”

Also this week, my good friend Izaac (who has returned to blogging, somewhat sporadically), gave a talk to students at Griffith University called How to make the most out of universityIzaac spent almost as much time at university as I did, as a student, and since graduating (both times) has spent years working on campus, first as a trainee with AFES, and now as a student. So you should read what he says because it is edifying and good. A taste:

“As most university students today reduce their studies to a qualification it has become commonplace to mock people who consider university as an education rather than a career. We call them Arts students. And we suspect they’ll attain little practical skills (is ‘English literature’ a skill?) and in all likelihood end up working at McDonald’s. But then again according to recent reports, Law is the new Arts with only about two-thirds of law students finding work in law. In other words, there are many paths toMcDonald’s.

However when I say that university is for learning, I don’t immediately mean the type of learning from an Arts major. From my 14 years with students (including two degrees of my own) I have observed that it is the students who understand that university is for learning who will get the most out of their student years. This broader approach to your education will ensure that the job, career, and socialising will form a necessary part of university life without dominating it.

I want you to get the most out of university. And if you don’t know what university is for then you won’t get the most out of university. If university is for learning then there are three attitudes to have towards learning and three key areas to think about as you learn.”



Next year (part 2)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we’re excited about our (potential) job for next year – starting a new church at South Bank (in Brisbane’s CBD) with Creek Road. And that is a big part of what we’re excited about for next year.

Check out this video about what’s happening at Creek Road.

But Robyn and I are also excited about something bigger than what’s happening at Creek Road.

Something that’s happening in Brisbane.

Something amazing.

Our friends the Cowlings are coming to Brisbane to work for AFES. Izaac and I grew up together in Maclean – on the New South Wales North Coast. It’s such a thrill for me that several of my friends from Maclean love Jesus. It’s a bigger thrill that Izaac and Sarah are coming north to share that love for Jesus with others – at Griffith University.

Griffith is a uni of 42,000 students. Almost a quarter of them are overseas students. It’s a huge mission field. Spread across multiple campuses. We’re excited about the idea of Izaac and Sarah joining up with AFES. We’re excited about more workers joining the harvest in Queensland. We’re very much looking forward to our kids growing up with their kids. In the providence of God our daughters and sons are the same age.

If you know Izaac and Sarah – you should stop reading now – and head over to their support page at AFES, and figure out how you can help them out.

If you don’t. Then here’s my pitch for you to support Izaac and Sarah.

I don’t normally include what is called, in marketing terms, a “call to action” in my blog posts. I especially don’t try to leverage my blogging into anything like a financial benefit for myself (unless you somehow manage to find an affiliate link for an amazon book I’ve reviewed in the past – but I can confirm that I have made less than $20 from that in a few years).

I’m not on about money.

But if you enjoy St. Eutychus, or if you don’t, but you love the idea of supporting some people who want to see uni students in Brisbane getting a chance to hear about Jesus, then can I ask you to consider throwing some cash to Izaac and Sarah? Can I urge you to pray for them as they make the move, with their young family, to Brisbane?

If you’re in Queensland, and you would consider supporting these guys, but feel like you need to learn more about them – come and have a coffee with me. I’ll make it. And we can talk. Shoot me an email. Tweet me. Text me. Let’s make this happen.

Support Izaac and Sarah using this link.

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