Recommitting to a Christian Philosophy and Community, Part 2

Today’s post is a continuation from our last post.  You can read part 1 here.

Value

In the absence of truth, values have become subjective and relative. Moral absolutes have given way to the consensus of the majority in which what was good is now bad and the bad has become acceptable. A biblical worldview looks to the Scriptures to define what is good and what is valuable.

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Doing the will of God, obeying the laws of God, sharing the love of God, and thinking the thought of God bring priorities, proper conduct, motives, and beauty to life (Garrick 1985). Through teaching, discipline, and modeling, regenerated hearts are led to submit to a life in accordance with God’s moral law.

Educational Responsibility and Authority

Children belong to God, but He has entrusted them to parents. Parents are responsible to train the child as He desires. Parents are given authority to make decisions regarding an education that will align with God’s purposes and standards (Psalm 127, Ephesians 6:4, 2 Timothy 3:3-15). Christian school philosophy therefore establishes parents as having the authority for their child’s education. This is evidenced by mission statements that speak of partnering with the home; however, the home and school often fail to fulfill this aspect of mission.

In today’s fast-paced workplace where often both parents work, a consumer mentality rather than one of partnership is easily adopted.

This shift, in which parents purchase rather than participate in education, often leads to stress and strife as parents look to their expectations rather than those of the mission. Schools must seek ways in which they can better communicate, instruct, and involve the home if the parental authority is to be realized.

Objectives

Educational philosophy must ultimately align with objective – a description of the “fully taught” graduate. What will graduates know, be able to do, value, and believe? The main goal of a Christian school education is to enable the students to fulfill God’s original purpose in creation, including the fulfillment of God’s specific purpose and calling in their life (Garrick 1985). If worldviews differ, then expected outcomes are also likely to differ.

Dr. Glen Schultz at the 2014 International Institute of Christian School Educations (IICSE), described the role of the administrator as the one responsible to see that the values and expectations of all members of the school community (board, administration, teachers, parents, students, and so on) are moving in the same direction.

Unless they are one, they will likely be unable to withstand the swift and opposing current of culture.

For this alignment to happen, leaders must lead the way in determining, publishing, and marketing the school’s standards or outcomes.

Pedagogy

There are many instructional strategies that serve as the means to the school’s ends, but none more important than community. “Since the child is a communal being, the impact of persons (adults and peers within the community) is crucial to his development. Children learn best in a positive caring environment, one of peace, love, and truth. The wrong community can hinder growth and internalization of God’s truth and inculcate the world’s values, ideas and patterns instead” (Garrick 1985, 50).

During NEXUS Live 2014, Dr. Dan Egeler reminded participants of the power of relationships. As teachers, staff, and parents – empowered by the Holy Spirit – relate biblically to one another they provide a model of life in and through Christ. The apostle Paul not only invited the Philippians believers whom he loved to follow his example but they were also to “walk according to the pattern you have in us” (Philippians 3:17).

It is a given that not all students and parents are Christians, but community standards and atmosphere dare not take on the character of the culture at-large. Children come to understand truths by experiencing it firsthand. Through seeing and experiencing love and the other New Testament “one anothers,” they are nurtured and prepared to accept Jesus’s love. The challenge within Psalm 78 was that teaching should lead to knowing, and Jesus said “By this [love] all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, emphasis added). It is in and through living, caring relationships that learning takes place.

A recommitment to Christian school philosophy starts with an assessment of the “state of the mission’ within the reader’s school. This article reflects only a sampling of possible philosophical concerns. Leadership should also evaluate questions dealing with the teaching-learning process, the full scope of instructional strategies, and the school’s governance.

Herbert Schlossberg’s words as he concluded his book serve as both a challenge and an encouragement:

Even the good kings of ancient Judah, who expelled the worship of the Baals from the temple, left the Asherim and their devotees undisturbed on the hills. So rooted in communal life had these deities be come, that it was unthinkable to be rid of them. In the late twentieth century [and now early twenty-first] the West is similarly plagued with major and minor idols, some of them all but invisible. It is hard to imagine a more important or satisfying role than to embark on the spiritual, intellectual, and political adventure of working toward stripping them, root and branch, from the land (1983, 334-35).

Let us recommit ourselves to a biblical philosophy of education and to the importance of community. It is ultimately not about any one school or the movement as a whole but about God’s kingdom, mission, and glory.

Philosophy + Community = Mission Accomplished

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References

Fakkema, Mark. 1952. Christian philosophy: It’s educational implications. Chicago: National Association of Christian Schools (NACS).

Garrick, H. Gene. 1985. Introduction to Christian philosophy applied to the Christian school. Unpublished notes, Norfolk, VA. Tabernacle Church of Norfolk.

Layman, Jack. 2002. Biblical foundations for curriculum: Lecture, lesson 18. Columbia International University: Online Course.

Postman, Neil. 1995. The end of education: Redefining the value of school. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Schlossberg, Herbert. 1983. Idols for destruction: Christian faith and its confrontation with  American society. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Used by permission.  Article appeared in Christian School Education volume 18, Number 2 (2015).

Milton V. Uecker, EdD, serves as a professor at Columbia, International University and director of the Lowrie Center for Christian School Education, www.lowriecenter.com. His more than 45 years of teaching and administration have focused on the nature and needs of young children and the foundations of education.

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  • Edward Earwood

    Dr. Uecker’s emphasis on children belonging to God is refreshing in our “me”ocentric (my word) world. Indeed, Christian educators must develop strategies to involve parents in the Christian educational process if Christian education is to ever realize the goal of providing biblical education that supports parental responsibility for children.