Every parent is an educator and every educator is a parent – in loco parentis – a parent to their students in the classroom environment. Our theme in this edition is the intersection between parenting and teaching.
WHY CHRISTIAN EDUCATION?
Christian education is a pedagogical paradigm different from any other form of education.
All education claims to dispense knowledge; however not all education professes to deal in both wisdom and understanding. The real difference between Christian education and ordinary schools is primarily going to be the character development of the child. Christian teachers approach the subject matter from a different point of view. They come from a basic understanding that God exists, that God has created and that God has left us with revelations. Christian education deals with the morals of the faith and influences students’ total behavior pattern. Christian education brings the biblical viewpoint to bear on every subject and activity in the school programme; it is Bible based and emphasizes Biblical Worldview, Spiritual Formation, knowledge as well as skills.
The boldest distinctive of Christian schooling ought to be in the declaring that it is in the business of extolling the wisdom of God as its highest priority; but God also invites us to master and enjoy the full panoply of human knowledge – every topic, every curiosity is available for us to discover, observe, examine, analyse, synthesis and evaluate. Christian schooling is more than excellence plus Bible. It is schooling centred 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.
Christian schooling is not a refuge from the world – it is a resource for the world; 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 transforming 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 market place 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.
The overarching goal of ACSI in the global context is to lead our schools to greater effectiveness. It is our desire that Christian Schools in South Africa be viewed as essential within the Christian community as well as outside the Christian community and that they be recognized as contributing to the public good. To accomplish these matrices of effectiveness we must be seriously intentional about Christian education.
Christian schooling is a pedagogical paradigm different from any other form of educationMenu
What would this mean?Christian schooling is a pedagogical paradigm different from any other form of education
Good is the enemy of great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools.” (Jim Collins – Good to great)
One of the characteristics of a great school is the continuous effort put into curriculum development. Christian schools can become GREAT schools when prioritizing Biblically integrated curriculum as an essential part of an effective school.
ACSI Member schools integrate our curriculum into God’s Word. The 4 pillars our education programmes are built upon are:
- Knowledge/Intellectual Development – The Christian mind should be the best mind, being by the mind of Christ and having integrated God’s principles with academic pursuits. ACSI is serious about excellence in education and our schools achieve excellent Grade 12 results through the DBE, IEB and Cambridge.
- Biblical Worldview -Pre-suppositional framework that seeks to answer the basic questions of life.
- Spiritual Formation – “Spiritual formation, without regard to any specifically religious context or tradition, is the process by which the human spirit is given a definite “form” or character.” Dallas Willard, 2002. Renovation of the Heart. NavPress, Colorado Springs.p19
What is Curriculum?
“Curriculum emerges from an orientation of who and what we are, where we come from and where we are going.”(Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia, Canada 1998) “Curriculum is Purposeful: The planned instructional program that is to be delivered to the students, the course they will follow through your school. Curriculum is Intentional :A designed sequence of learning experiences and content in the areas of instruction chosen by the school. Curriculum is NOT: Bought or borrowed – a great benefit to the Christian School is the development process. It reflects your schools, your students and your mission. Curriculum also is NOT textbooks used in schools; these are only tools in the hands of the teacher and components of the curriculum.
Available through ACSI is an array of Biblically integrated curriculum material to assist teachers in the classroom. Visit the ACSI Book Room for more information
The teacher in a Christian School is the living curriculum, he/she should be a believer: Frank Gaebelein says:’The Worldview of the teacher in so far it is positive or negative, influences the worldview of the child.” A teacher in a Christian school is someone who is able to guide a child in such a way that what
has been implanted in that child by God can be drawn out with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Such a child will then be able to reach his/her full potential in Christ.
As teachers we want to allow our students to explore and discover God’s real, observable world gaining an appreciation, awe and wonder for our God and who He is. As our students’ knowledge grows and becomes more focused and detailed, so our vocabulary, skills and abilities are sharpened in an orderly way. Within our students’ hearts (moral warehouse) we have made deposits of moral values which will enable them to be good stewards of His creation (people, resources, living and non-living things).
We are all aware that knowledge without God’s heart can lead to pride, tyranny, exploitation, foolishness and death. We always want our students to have an attitude of stewardship and not ownership. God is the creator of all and He will give us the wisdom and ability to be good stewards of what he has called us to be stewards of, as we walk humbly with our God while serving one another justly and in mercy.
This is fleshed out by teaching the CAPS documents from this Biblical World View whilst nurturing the Expected Student Outcomes as outlined below. ACSI Expected Student Outcomes describe the measurable change or transformation that will occur in the students who attend an effective Christian school. ANNA-MARIE RUSSELL
EXPECTED STUDENT OUTCOMES
These expected outcomes are intended to imply age/grade appropriateness commensurate with the students’ abilities at exit grade levels.
As we strive to attain our vision, we believe it imperative that ACSI member schools develop programmes, strategies and methodologies within the context of Biblical principles, producing students with a Christian worldview and lifestyle who:
1…are well prepared in all academic disciplines and are skilled in reading, writing, speaking, listening and thinking (Academic)
2…are proficient in Mathematics and Science. (Academic)
3…have a knowledge and understanding of people, events and movements in history (including church history), and the cultures of other peoples and places. (Academic)
4…appreciate literature and the arts and understand how they express and shape their beliefs and Values. (Academic)
5…have a critical appreciation of languages and cultures of other peoples, dispelling prejudices, promoting inter-ethnic harmony, encouraging biblical hospitality for the ‘stranger (‘alien’). (Worldview)
6…personally respond to carry out the Great Commission locally and around the world in a culturally sensitive manner. (Spiritual Formation)
7…know how to utilize resources including technology to find, analyse and evaluate information (Skill)
8…are committed to lifelong learning. (Worldview)
9…have the skills to question, to solve problems and to make wise decisions. (Skill)
10…understand the worth of all humanity as created in the image of God. (Worldview)
11…can articulate and defend their Christian world view while having a basic understanding of opposing worldviews. (Worldview)
12…understand and commit to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (Spiritual Formation)
13… know, understand and apply God’s Word in daily life. (Spiritual Formation)
14…will possess apologetic skills enabling them to defend their faith. (Worldview)
15…are empowered by the Holy Spirit and pursue a life of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly (and sisterly) kindness and love. (Spiritual Formation)
16…treat their bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. (Spiritual Formation)
17…are actively involved in a church community, serving God and others
18… understand, value, and engage in appropriate social (community) and civic activities. (Skill)
19…embrace and practice justice, mercy and peacemaking in family and society. (Worldview)
20…value intellectual enquiry and are engaged in the mutual and open exchange of ideas. (Academic)
21…respect and relate appropriately with integrity to people with whom they work, play and live. (Spiritual Formation)
22…have an appreciation for the natural environment and practice responsible stewardship of God’s creation. (Academic)
23…are prepared to practice the principles (physical, moral, spiritual, social and psychological) of healthy family living. (Skill)
24… are good stewards of their finances, time (including discretionary time) and all other resources. (Skill)
25… understand that work has dignity as an expression of the nature of God. (Worldview)
WHY I’D CHOSE A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL EVERY TIME
I often get asked what families should look for when selecting a school for their child. Without mentioning specific schools, I always stress to parents to exercise a preference for a Christian school. Here are 4 reasons why I think a Christian school beats all others most of the time:
- Distinctively Christian community.
School, like church, like work, is essentially community. Where children’s education is concerned, it is a great comfort to know that they will have opportunity to make friends with other children who share their faith in the broader school community, and to know that there are families in the school who attach the same importance to Christian convictions and lifestyle. Some Christian schools do not have a requirement that parents attend a church, they nevertheless often prominently publicise their statement of belief, thus ensuring that essentially like-minded applicants are drawn to the school.
- Great adult Christian role-models.
For my own children, I cannot express in words my gratitude for the example of Godly conduct and Christ-devotion that they’ve received from their teachers. I realise that this is not something that can be bought with money, and it has an undeniably profound impact on young students. At Christian schools, teachers are the ‘living curriculum’ because they model authentic Christian lifestyle to their students every day. Not all Christian schools have a requirement that teachers should be able to articulate a living faith in The Lord Jesus Christ, but if the Christian character of the school is clearly established, then like-minded teachers will be attracted to that school.
- Uniquely Christian practices, programmes and disciplines.
Christian schools that habitually practice Bible teaching, prayer, worship and service demonstrate to students that we do not have a dualistic existence with one set of norms for Sundays and another for the other days of the week. As a result, the students’ Christian lifestyle begins to develop a sincerity and consistency rather than simply ritualistic significance.
- Biblically integrated lessons.
In a country like ours, curriculum is prescribed by government, and while some Christian circles decry this as a great evil, remember St Augustine, who says “Let every good and true Christian understand that whatever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master.” For the Christian school, nothing will be taught without first working it through the lens of a Biblical Worldview. Regardless of the ‘world’s’ content, Christian students must be taught to filter that
content through Biblical criteria to discern whether or not it is to be rejected, accepted, or transformed – this is called Biblical Integration. While some Christian schools prefer to shield children completely from certain content, others believe that it is of much greater value to expose students at age-appropriate levels to the ‘world’s’ content and then guide them through the discernment process.
Finally, a word of caution. Every Christian school, despite their best intentions, is still made up of frail and imperfect people, and will occasionally fail to meet their stated expectations. This is the nature of Christian community, and at those times, all of us need to make every effort to strive for unity and display a committed resolve to honour Jesus in every circumstance.