- ethical monotheism,
- postmodernism, and
- scientific naturalism” (Kingdom Triangle, p. 22).
Grocery stores are dedicating more and more prime space in their establishments to organic produce, meats, and other items. We see changed packaging and delivery methods to reflect a better respect for health and naturally clean living. We see a great increase in farm cooperatives. And, we can’t help but see blogs and posts dedicated to clean living, organic food, and free-range meats in every aspect of social media. It was just announced that an organic or natural baby and child outfitter startup company is being sold for just over a billion dollars. Clearly, American families, especially young parents, demand that their food and lifestyle be wholesome, fresh natural and organic products and services.Undoubtedly, these same parents are looking for the same high-quality and clean natural way of educating their most precious gift, their children. These savvy parents read blogs and posts about their children’s learning styles, learning differences, methodologies, and everything they can in order to make the best choice for their son or daughter. Rightfully so, these parents want their children’s instruction to match how they were designed.A flourishing school recognizes these trends in addition to ongoing educational research. Another indicator of a flourishing school is to recognize the needs of the learner and constantly thrive to be more effective as a school system.Salem Christian School, a private Christian school in Eastern Pennsylvania, strives to be constantly improving and be a flourishing school. This school is dedicating significant time and financial resources to being sure we are attending to our students’ intellectual, physical, and social need design. Additionally, we recognize that there is a movement (we believe appropriately so) towards a natural and clean living that is more than just what we eat.Two of the action research projects at Salem Christian School are looking into how this research and trend impacts the school:The first Action Research Project asks the question, “How do we design a classroom experience, instruction, and free time to stimulate inquiry and active based learning?” Mrs. Green, the first grade teacher is piloting this action research project. Thus far there is attention being given to the second teacher in room, the classroom environment. This means that the set-up, colors, and other aspects of the classroom make a difference in the child’s ability to learn. It is fascinating to see how so many subtle and not so subtle things can make a difference in a child’s ability to learn.Developed through one of the school’s professional learning communities, the second action research project recognizes the child’s biological need for play and free-time in order to process what they have learned and spark the curiosity needed to learn more. Research has shown that this “down-time” is necessary for humans to deepen the learning. This action research is designed to facilitate this design. This project asks, “How can we create a natural and authentic play experience that enhances the classroom experience, sparks curiosity, and engages students in a natural and “organic” play environment?” The playground is being changed in order to provide a natural setting and environment in our attempt to provide an organic learning environment.
This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel throughout China for two weeks promoting Salem Christian School and American education system in general. The trip was sponsored by a company that connects Chinese students interested in international studies with American private schools. In 10 days, I traveled to 14 cities and 5 provinces in 7 flights, 4 trains, and a ferry with an additional countless hours in Chinese “Uber” service. Within each of these cities we visited anywhere from two to four schools.In each location, I was expected to provide a presentation in each of these schools. The presentation was to be 10-20 minutes. Mind you, this would cut the time in half because it would need to include English to Chinese translation. That is a short time to share the significance of experiencing the value of a Christian education at Salem Christian School. Two days before departure, they requested I teach a lesson. I wasn’t sure how I could teach a proper lesson within these parameters regardless of having no idea on what would even be a profitable lesson to teach. Initially, I declined.
I stuck to a simple presentation; at least, until my second day when I was in Shanghai. There I was relentlessly requested to teach a lesson. I had an epiphany, likely the Holy Spirit prompting. Why not share about the school through the construct of my worldview class I teach seniors? It suddenly became clear on how I could teach a lesson and share the school in such a confined time and it still be valuable.
I began sharing how Westerners think differently than those from Eastern cultures with a few anecdotal examples. I contended that we derive our philosophical thoughts mainly from Greek philosophers. An example of this is ‘The Allegory of The Cave‘ by Plato.
I shared the Allegory of the Cave by Plato. In this allegory, three men were captive and chained facing a wall. For their entire lives they could only see shadows and hear the distorted sounds of people walking by on a ledge far away and behind them. One day, a man escaped the cave to see the world as it really was. He returned to the ledge to talk to the two men left chained; but, all they could see was his shadow from the fire and his distorted voice.
The ‘Allegory Of The Cave‘ is a theory put forward by Plato, concerning human perception. Plato claimed that knowledge gained through the senses is no more than opinion and that, in order to have real knowledge, we must gain it through philosophical reasoning. Reality and knowledge takes deep thought and experience to uncover.
This allegory describes western thought of knowledge, learning, and philosophy for thousands of years. Although westerners think differently and certainly behave differently, there are certain universal truths.
Not unlike the escapee, we try to teach those universal truths and help students understand the world as it really is. Christianity is about understanding the universe as God would have us see it. We cannot fully uncover reality or entirely understand it without God. Thus, Salem Christian School endeavors to teach pupils to think in light of His Truth. Knowing the Truth will most definitely require the student to think differently than their secular counterparts.
Salem Christian School understands that every human being, no matter the cultural background, needs to transform their minds in order to understand the fullness of the universe. And, by that, we mean seeing it how God sees it. Thus, every subject taught and every aspect of the school is permeated with the Christian worldview. This school’s foundation mission is to develop a student who loves God with all his or her mind, body and soul. And, a vision for how it is done is integral to living out the Christian worldview philosophy effectively. And that describes a student’s academic life, student life, and spiritual at Salem Christian School.