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Amelia Jennings

Professor Van Spronsen


LBS 400
24 March 2017

Why, Who, How We Educate

In order to educate students well, it is important for Christian teachers to understand the

foundations on which Christian education stands. The ACSIs book, Foundations of Christian

School Education offers a thorough examination of this topic, illuminating the fact that the Bible

offers insight into the sources and nature of knowledge itself, the learning process and the

learner, and it equips teachers with principles regarding current issues and everyday instruction.

The Bible is clear in communicating that truth is from God and does exist. Educators and

students do not build new truth, but seek Gods unchanging truth to the best of their fallen human

abilities in the context of a world in which God has revealed himself generally and specially.

While the content of Gods truth is far more important than the method by which that truth is

sought, it is valuable to note that through a Biblical framework, both the sacred and secular

content can be understood and used for good. Because of the nature of the learners themselves,

knowledge is more than the mere content, though, rather it includes the process of discerning and

connecting ideas in the brain. In terms of Biblical wisdom, this discernment and meaning making

is part of the image of God in man which brings joy and brings the wise person in deeper

relationship with God. The purpose of any of this knowledge is to love and serve God and others

better.

To understand the nature of knowledge in a Christian worldview leads to an investigation

of the nature of the knowledge-seekers, the students and the process of learning itself. Already it

has been established that the learner has an active nature in education, that the role involves more
than just tuning in and picking up information, though the process of learning does include stages

of instruction. Students need to have direct instruction first, including modeling of what they

must know and be able to do, before getting practice with the intent of achieving mastery.

Students are created good, but are fallen and sinful, so a major part of Christian education deals

with the nature of the learner as a sheep in need of heart and action shepherding. They need their

hearts and minds to be shaped after Christ, even as they are unique in their temperament,

abilities, personality, and intelligences. One aspect of this uniqueness is how students receive and

store information. Howard Gardners theory of multiple intelligences reveals how the complex

human mind builds meaning and memories in a variety of different ways, and each student uses

all the different intelligences with preference for some more than others. In a major project of

guiding their actions, informing their minds, and discipling their hearts, teachers meet students as

the unique image-bearers they are, challenging them to own their education as well, since student

investment and motivation helps support the learning process and growth.

The task of understanding each individual student and how their learning and personality

fit in the grand scheme of how learning takes place is a large enough task as it is, but given the

global connectedness and other current issues of the 21st century, teachers also have to consider

a variety of other factors as they educate a class full of students. One such factor is the socio-

historical context of the learner. Culturally, any student has a different set of values and habits

which are stronger or more pronounced from other cultures, sometimes including the teachers

culture. This means that, to be sensitive to students framework of values and basis of pre-

knowledge or skills, the teacher must be aware of those things. Students also come to school

impoverished in many different ways -they may be traditionally financially poor, or they may be

poor with respect to emotional or social fulfillment, they may be spiritually poor because they do
not know the Lord or have a steady diet of his word, and they may even be poor in regard to

academic skills or knowledge. Even students with exceptional giftedness are impoverished in

that they do not always get the challenge they need. Whatever the poverty, students come with a

need to be understood and served, with a need to be challenged and encouraged to grow.

Teachers must consider those needs in order to best serve these students with empathy and the

right tools.

In practical terms, the outworking of these foundational aspects of Christian education is

unique for every classroom. Teachers need to listen to, understand, and meet the unique needs of

their students. Students need staged instruction that motivates them out of their inherent desire to

make meaning while giving them the tools they need to learn and grow confident in Gods

absolute truth. All aspects of how instruction takes place and how the classroom is managed must

demonstrate care and structure to direct the students hearts in obedience to and love for God.

The Bible calls all followers of Christ to greater discernment, to know and follow God more each

day. This call offers the promise that He can be known and followed with the reminder that it is a

process of growth and the force of a command. This call is the foundation of Christian education.