Philosophy Of Our Christian Education

As we continue to look at Curran’s and other researchers signs of a flourishing school we are confronted with the question, “Does your school have an adequate and realistic philosophy of education?”   There are so many ideas on how to teach.  And, SCS continues to evolve and grow in its delivery of the program.  However, within the mix of methodology and other items, foundation underpinnings of the school’s philosophical approach needs to be present.  That fundamental philosophy is the characteristic that make a Christian school Christian.   The philosophy behind a Christian education is distinctive in itself and deserves to be specially noted.

Education has been defined as “the process by which children and youth develop knowledge, skills, and character, especially through formal instruction, training, and study.  Philosophy, according to Webster’s Dictionary is “a pursuit of wisdom; a search for truth through logical reasoning; an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs.” The Greek define philosophy as “the love and pursuit of knowledge and truth.”

Adding Christianity, the essential ingredient, our philosophy of Christian education is like an artist who steps back from his work to view the masterpiece in its entirety. How he relates the parts to each other and to the whole reveals the mastery and success of his work. The effectiveness and outreach of our ministries hinge upon the development of our philosophy of Christian education.

A common phrase among Christian educators is “Kingdom building”.  Christian education in a broader sense is a lifelong, Bible-based, Christ-centered process of leading a child to Christ, building a child up in Christ, and equipping a child to serve Christ. There are five pillars required in order to  be considered a true philosophy of Christian education: Bible-based, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-controlled, pupil-related, and socially oriented.

A Bible-based philosophy of Christian education presents the Bible as the foundation of all knowledge. Every aspect of education must be integrated into God’s truth. This would imply that the scope of God’s truth is universal. God’s truth is not dependent upon what education does.  Education uncovers that Truth and then facilitates the learning of the Truth for the student.

A living union of all aspects of education must take place. The home, church, and school must establish their precepts upon the Bible. Their premise must be that all truth is God’s truth; their communication must speak the truth in love seasoned with grace; and their conduct must speak louder than words realizing the powerful influence of godly behavior.  The hope is that  the result will be children of integrity and honesty balanced by God’s Word.  As a Christian school it is imperative to integrate the Truth in every discipline. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16).

A Christ-centered philosophy of education recognizes that Jesus Christ is our authority and Lord of Truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is our foundation. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:11). “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 3:3). Christ is to have the preeminence in all things.

Dr. Paul Kienel said:

“The purpose of Christian school education is to show children and young people how to face Christ and then with the vision of Christ in their hearts to face the present world and the world to come.” We should lead our students to salvation in Christ, build them up in their faith, and equip them to serve Him. The result will be a spiritual haven where Christ reigns and learning is paramount.

Oswald Chambers said it best:

“The sweet sign that God has done a work of grace in our hearts is that we love Jesus Christ best; not weakly and faintly, not intellectually, but passionately, personally, and devotedly, overwhelming every other love of our lives.”

This is the work of a Christ-centered philosophy of Christian education. A Holy Spirit-controlled philosophy of education acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of parents, teachers, and students. The parents and teachers must have His guidance to impart the truth to their students effectively and appropriately. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide in you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17). Parents and teachers must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to think Christianly and to effectively communicate the truth in the education of their children. Students need the leadership of the Spirit to love him with all their being. Romans 12:2 tells us, “And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The Holy Spirit correctly focuses the student’s knowledge to bring about moral conformity and wisdom

A pupil-related philosophy of Christian education focuses on what God intends every child to be. Parents and teachers understand that each child is a special creation of God (Psalm 139) and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Yet, due to sin, they are fallen and in need of a Savior. Without this circtical ingredient, the rest is for naught and hollow.   Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved by faith, that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.” Ephesians 2:10 shares that “we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus.” Christian education is to instill in a child the knowledge of God; guide him in the development of his personal faith; and help him in the establishment of his Christian worldview.

A socially-oriented philosophy of education teaches young people how to interact and relate with the world. The student understands that all of life is God’s. There is no secular and sacred. All truth is God’s truth. The parents and teachers integrate faith and Biblical values into a lifestyle reflecting a Christian worldview by example and instruction to their students. “And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:17).

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Traditions Of Teaching & Learning!

As would be expected of anyone in the throws of finalizing their doctoral dissertation, I have been reading A LOT lately about teaching and learning. Through this study, I have read again the Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayer.  She asks some very probing questions.   I thought I would hopefully burden you with the same deep contemplation on the answers to the questions.  Are you ready to go there?

“Have you ever, in listening to a debate among adult and presumably responsible people, been fretted by the extraordinary inability of the average debater to speak to the question, or to meet and refute the arguments of speakers on the other side? Or have you ever pondered upon the extremely high incidence of irrelevant matter which crops up at committee-meetings, and upon the very great rarity of persons capable of acting as chairmen of committees? And when you think of this, and think that most of our public affairs are settled by debates and committees, have you ever felt a certain sinking of the heart?

Have you ever followed a discussion in the newspapers or elsewhere and noticed how frequently writers fail to define the terms they use? Or how often, if one man does define his terms, another will assume in his reply that he was using the terms in precisely the opposite sense to that in which he has already defined them?

Have you ever been faintly troubled by the amount of slipshod syntax going about? And if so, are you troubled because it is inelegant or because it may lead to dangerous misunderstanding?

Do you ever find that young people, when they have left school, not only forget most of what they have learnt (that is only to be expected) but forget also, or betray that they have never really known, how to tackle a new subject for themselves? Are you often bothered by coming across grown-up men and women who seem unable to distinguish between a book that is sound, scholarly and properly documented, and one that is to any trained eye, very conspicuously none of these things? Or who cannot handle a library catalogue? Or who, when faced with a book of reference, betray a curious inability to extract from it the passages relevant to the particular question which interests them?

Do you often come across people for whom, all their lives, a “subject” remains a “subject,” divided by water-tight bulkheads from all other “subjects,” so that they experience very great difficulty in making an immediate mental connection between, let us say, algebra and detective fiction, sewage disposal and the price of salmon, cellulose and the distribution of rainfall-or, more generally, between such spheres of knowledge as philosophy and economics, or chemistry and art?

Are you occasionally perturbed by the things written by adult men and women for adult men and women to read?” (Dorothy Sayer, Lost Tools of Learning, 1945).

She asks these questions in 1945.  Are we still asking the same nagging questions?  Hopefully, Salem Christian School is continuing in its tradition of constant improvement.  And, through this endeavor we ensure that our students are not the topic of these questions.  Rather, we work feverishly to ensure that the generation that we influence are a different breed.  We hope that they shed the secular thought and transform to the Christ-like worldview.  Through that worldview they see the imperative to work hard, think hard, and communicate excellently.  After all, the Gospel is at stake.

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