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Christ-centered education is NOT…

August 19, 2013

A Christ-centered education, whether at the pre-school level or the post-secondary level, is NOT…

Editing textbooks

While teaching an Introduction to Sociology course at Prairie Bible College, a chapter introduction explained how a certain concept evolved over millions of years as people as changed. Of course, I commented on the false assumption and was able to explain the concept under discussion was still legitimate, not because of human evolution, but because of God’s divine design for diversity. Even though the philosophical assumptions were different, the sociological concept was accurate, though for a different reason than the textbook presented.

Unfortunately, many people including Christians, believe that textbook editing is really what a Christ-centered education is about. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I would argue the approach that views “Christian Education” as textbook editing is dangerous. Yes, Christian education needs to comment on the false assumptions (and possibly conclusions) a textbook may set forth, yet if we only look for the explicit references that are clearly anti-biblical, a teacher has just scratched the surface.

In fact, a Christ-centered education starts the curriculum design and planning – whether for a unit on the water cycle, democracy, global poverty, or algorithms – by understanding what the Bible teaches about God’s character, His creation, and humanity’s sin and redemption as it pertains to a given subject.

Adding Bible & Chapel to the school day

Yes, Bible classes are an important part of the Christian school curriculum and chapels can be a significant part of students’ spiritual formation. Yet if a Christian education is simply the addition of these two (and/or other) elements to the school day, then at best we are simply adding work to people, young and old, and at worst, we are sending dangerous, conflict messages that help students to compartmentalize their lives into “academic” and “spiritual” topics. The growing body of lifestage development research shows this fragmentation is already as risk as children mature to teenagers and young adults, especially in our age of information overload. When we “separate” academic studies and the “Christian component” formally, we risk making that false distinction even stronger.

Having Christian teachers

There are many excellent teachers involved in various educational contexts. Yes, God has called some teachers to serve as a light for Christ in an environment that does not officially hold to a specific faith tradition (although every school teaches from a worldview, whether humanistic, naturalistic, Christian, Muslim, etc). I thank God for those individuals who God has called to serve Him in that context and pray God’s blessing on them. Nonetheless, a Christ-centered education is more than simply having Christian teachers instructing the curriculum. A Christ-centered education recognizes that those teachers lives teach as much to students as their classroom words, and as students mature, the life of their teacher either affirms and enhances their verbal instruction, or confuses or detracts, even negates, their espoused beliefs! A Christian teacher serving at a Christ-centered educational institution recognized the responsibility for their life to match their words in honouring Christ and living authentically for His Glory.

Coming next: Christ-centered education IS…

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