Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Christian School Education

One of my favorite magazines is Christian School Education published by ACSI. Volume 11 Number 1 (2007-2008) issue has many great articles. I have quoted from many of the articles below:

In the Editor’s Note by Derek J. Keenan
No work of any teacher in any classroom is a small thing. P. 4

First Things First: What Makes Christian Schooling Distinctive? D. Bruce Lockerbie says the following:

God has no need for Christian schools, unless they are intentionally different from the mass of other formal institutions also calling themselves schools. In particular, God has no need for quasi-sanctified “Christian schools” that imitate every aspect of public schooling – State-ordained curriculum, state-certified teachers and administrators, “Spirit Week,” athletic franchises whose importance dwarfs academics, marching bands, booster clubs, fund-raising sales, homecoming court, senior prom, and so on – with only a weekly chapel service and a minimum of Bible instruction sprinkled on top. p. 5

What, then, are the priorities for Christian schooling? What makes Christian schooling distinctive?

I can give my answer to these questions in three words: wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Or, in three phrases: Biblical worldview, Biblical epistemology, and Biblical integration. Or, in this one word: truth. p. 5

Therefore, believing in the great I AM – the God who is – authentic Christian schooling also believes that wisdom originates in God and with God and from God. p. 6

The boldest distinctive of Christian schooling, therefore ought to be in declaring that it is in the business of extolling the wisdom of God as its highest priority. Through the careful study of the text of the Scriptures and through the Godly example of mature and maturing Christian believers, a Christian school creates an ethos in which its highest aim is not merely having students who earn stratospheric SAT scores or admission to elite universities but ultimately helping its students acquire and live by the wisdom of God.

But God also invites us to master and enjoy the full panoply [a full set of armor] of human knowledge. Every topic, every curiosity – from astronomy to zoology – is available for us to discover, observe, examine, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate. Nothing is inhibited, nothing is shut off from our asking, and nothing is taboo. The cultural mandate of Genesis 1 and 2 summons us to take control of God’s creation, even as we respect its wonders and awesome beauty. So the Christian school, if it is authentic, honors God by the rigor of its academic curriculum in the quest for human knowledge. p. 6

. . . we are summoned to acquire a Biblical perspective on learning and teaching. In other words, we need a carefully developed and articulated worldview, a carefully developed and articulated epistemology (the science of knowing), and a carefully developed and articulated integration of the broken pieces of life into a coherent whole. For those who administer and teach in a Christian school, the common denominator for these three elements must be Biblical authority. p. 6

My personal expression of a Biblical worldview is from the foot of the Cross and the door of the empty tomb. For me, to look out and see the world from the vantage point at the foot of the Cross and the door of the empty tomb means seeing the full picture of human experience: guilt and grace, loss and gain. For from this point of view, I see first the chaos and corruption of a fallen world, but I also see beyond the tragedy of death and destruction to the glory of redemption and victory. p. 7

A Biblical worldview is the philosophical end for which Abraham Kuyper’s stunning declaration is the premise: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: Mine!” p. 7

Michelle Lundgren in her article, A Dangerous Complacency quotes George Knight:

If any activity in the Christian school comes to the place where it holds the center stage instead of Christ, we may be sure . . . that we have lost our Christian perspective. p. 9

In The Significance of Education, Milton V. Uecker writes:

Christian schooling is more than excellence plus Bible. It is schooling centered in Jesus, whereby the curriculum is transfused with truth and Biblical values that are in conflict with the world. The significant end is its unique product – students who do not fit the world’s mold. p. 16

Samson B. K. Makhado’s article, The Need for a Radical Christian School Critique in Our Educational Practice makes the following comments:

Quoting Dr. Ken Smitherman: Christian schooling is not about running or hiding from the world – rather, it is about embracing and pursuing the mind of Christ. It is about pursuing the real understanding of what it means to be salt and light, about transformation by the renewing of the mind. It is about the development of fruitful bearers of the image of Christ . . . .

It is about preparing young people for the kingdom of heaven and the marketplace of ideas. It is about preparing young people to carry out the work of our Heavenly Father, partnering with Him in His great plan, rather than being content with hunkering down in a sheltered spiritual environment and simply attempting to ward off the attacks of those who relish the demise of Godly thought, influence, and leadership.

If Christ’s call is so clear, what went wrong in Christian schooling movements? Why are we not where we are supposed to be? p. 17

In the article, Do I Belong in the Christian School? Karen Winter gives us much to consider:

Our nation is truly at a crossroad. What we do in the next 5 years could affect the next 50 to 100 years of American history. (Ron Luce in Battle Cry for a Generation: The Fight to Save America’s Youth). Luce notes that according to research, once a child turns 20 years old, “the odds of reaching that individual for Christ are nearly 10 to 1.” The Barna Research Group has used the data it has collected to draw an even more alarming conclusion: what children believe by the age of 13 is what they will die believing. p. 22

There is no greater privilege or honor than serving in Christian education. It’s not for the fainthearted but for the steadfast, visionary Christian educator who will help determine our nation’s future. p. 23

Ralph Bullard wrote in Is It Worth It?:

Noah Webster wrote, “The education of youth [is] an employment of more consequence than making laws or preaching the gospel, because it lays the foundation on which both law and gospel rest for success” (n.d.). Daniel Webster wrote, “If we work on marble, it will perish; if on brass, time will efface it; if we rear up temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds and imbue them with principles, with the just fear of God and the love of our fellow men, we engrave on those tablets something that will brighten to all eternity” (n.d.). p. 24

In the article, Spiritual Formation in an Age of Entitlement, Daniel J. Egeler about the culture and the impact it has on our children:

Why do our Christian kids want to grow up to be like our cynical and ungodly music, athletic, or even business celebrities rather than like the Godly janitor, educator, or neighborhood pastor? The reason is that we live in a celebrity culture that values comfort, wealth, and image. p. 26

Dan Kindlon is quoted as saying, “We need to teach them how to develop skills such as frustration tolerance, and more generally, how to cope with stress. Unfortunately, there is no magic in this. The only way a child can accomplish this is by actually experiencing frustration and stress, which is painful for him or her, and for us as parents, to watch. p. 27

One of the key arenas in which children today can learn to persevere and not to accept the option of quitting is athletics. Unfortunately, our culture has focused solely on winning and the self-glorification that comes from being number one rather than on the character traits that can be learned from competing valiantly. My second son is a wrestler, and he began to compete in a number of top-flight wrestling tournaments. For the first two-thirds of the season, he did not win a match, and he was being pinned consistently in the first period. As a dad, I helped him set some realistic goals; he was competing against nationally ranked wrestlers. His first goal was just to make it through a match without getting pinned. This goal wasn’t very glamorous-he ended up spending six grueling minutes fighting while on his back. I celebrated the first match in which he did not score a point and was beaten badly but did not get pinned. I celebrated and honored my son because he learned to persevere, and that lesson was far more important than what he could have learned from winning. The sport of wrestling was one of the few avenues I had to teach my son the importance of learning to persevere. p. 27

Growing one’s gratitude has a radical and transformational effect on character, because gratitude is one of God’s primary vehicles for inducing other Christian qualities. p. 28

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