When elementary, middle and high schools, as well as colleges and universities, are guided by a Christian philosophy of education, there is more to daily assignments than Bible study and more to the environment than dress codes and disciplinary policies. The Christian philosophy of education encompasses all areas of the educational life of students, including core subject curriculum, character building and practical living, both now and in the future.
The Christian Philosophy of Education in K-12 Classrooms
Children who attend Christian schools have the same variety of personalities, talents, interests and abilities as children who attend public schools. The difference between a Christian school and a public school lies in the foundation of the curriculum and the way in which the social and emotional needs of the students are met. The mission statements and vision of Christian schools include many of the same academic standards and life-skill training as public schools. However, every element of the school day promotes Christ-centered learning and living.
Curriculum - The academic curriculum chosen by Christian schools is similar in rigor and complexity to that in public schools. The presentation of materials, however, is integrated with the truths of the Bible, which reaches across all content areas. Northpoint Christian School in Southaven, Mississippi, states, "We believe in a structured curriculum that has been filtered through the Word of God." All topics, from science and geography to language arts and relationship building, are explored based on a thorough understanding of Biblical teachings.
Character building - Most public schools incorporate a system of character building and disciplinary action plans based on pre-determined pillars of character, a building motto or slogan, or classroom rules that integrate behavior expectations and academic goals.
Christian schools may use a boxed curriculum as well, but the difference is the basis for the desired behavior. In a Christian school, children's behavior is based on Biblical principles, set forth in both the New and Old Testaments. Core values and daily expectations can be defined by passages of scripture, which are familiar to both teachers and students. For example, at Northpoint the core values are listed, each with a corresponding verse of scripture:
- Christ-centered - Colossians 1:18
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. (New American Standard Bible (NASB)
- Fear of the Lord - Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (NASB)
- Integrity - Psalm 15:1-2
O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart. (NASB)
- Loving and Caring Attitude - John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (NASB)
- Respect for Authority - Hebrews 13:17
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (NASB)
- Pursuit of Excellence - Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. (NASB)
Practical living - A hallmark of the philosophy of a Christian education involves guiding children as they make decisions and choices both inside and outside of school. Christian educator Charles Walker states, "The Christian values taught in the Christian home and reinforced in the Christian school enable your child to deal with a troubled world without succumbing to its troubles, another reason you send your child to a Christian school."
One of the biggest differences between public and Christian schools is how teachers interact with students. When children are facing difficult decisions, have a secret to reveal or personal problem, they often look to trusted teachers and social workers. The positions of most public school systems, however, limit even the most caring Christian teachers when it comes to offering faith-based counsel. According to Ellensburg Christian School in Ellensburg, Washington,
The difference in a Christian learning community is that teachers and parents can openly pray with students and talk about our very real God. Together, we apply Biblical thinking in response to our thoughts or actions, and with God's help, renew the mind of the child. By doing so, Christian schools have a better chance of helping parents raise young people who have been trained for godly living and thinking. When students do face these issues on their own, they'll be better equipped to handle them.
Philosophy of Education at a Christian College or University
Christian colleges, like Christian K-12 schools, teach far more than Biblical truths and the history of the church. Universities like Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, the sciences, computer science, education and the arts, to name a few. The coursework in these programs is presented with a Christian-based vision and goals. Core values such as integrity, respect, excellence and stewardship dictate expectations, and students are encouraged to engage in community service. Professors and faculty members require the diligent pursuit of knowledge and truth.
These schools provide the same quality education as other public and private secular schools, but they present every aspect of the college experiences with a Christian worldview, including academics, student life, spiritual growth and physical well-being.
The Value of a Christian School Education
Many Christian schools have a much lower student-to-teacher ratio, giving students more individualized attention.
In addition, families may choose to enroll children in a Christian school because it fosters similar spiritual beliefs and values as the family. When children hear the same moral and truth statements from their teachers as they do from their parents, it is less confusing and helps them retain important core beliefs.
The Christian philosophy of education encompasses every aspect of a student's experience, from kindergarten through postgraduate degree programs. Learning and understanding through the lens of the Bible at a Christian school gives students of all ages the opportunity to stay true to their spiritual values while receiving a high-quality education in preparation for the future.
Learn more about the MC online M.Ed. programs.
Sources:Mississippi College: Values
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