The integration of a Christian worldview in every aspect of the Eastern Christian School experience sets our school apart from other schools. Recently, we interviewed Richard Van Yperen, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, about why this worldview development is central to the education at Eastern Christian.
Christian school leaders often talk about the integration of faith and learning. What does this mean?
The traditional approach to education is often compartmentalized. That is to say, schools often teach Math separate from Science, and Science separate from Art, and Art separate from Technology, and Technology separate from Language Arts. However, when wise educators begin to integrate the big ideas, guiding concepts and enduring understandings common to each of these subjects, students see the relevancy of learning. They no longer think to ask, “Why do we have to learn this?”
As Christian educators, we know that no where is this more evident than when the universal truths of faith provide an eternal perspective on why we need to learn. Christian education that integrates faith and learning enables students to fulfill the great commandment to love God with their whole mind, along with their heart, soul and strength.
Cornelius Plantinga Jr. writes in his book ENGAGING GOD’S WORLD: “The student who examines one of the great movements of history has moved into position to praise the goodness of God, or to lament the mystery of evil, or to explore the places where these things intertwine. Further, from persistent study of history a student may develop good judgment, a feature of wisdom that helps us lead a faithful human life in the midst of a confusing world.”
Integrating faith and learning educates the entire student by engaging the mind and nurturing the spirit. The result is wisdom, not just knowledge. Wisdom produces the skill of living that helps a person know how to act and speak, enabling one to thrive.
The development of a Christian worldview or biblical worldview is often used to describe this integration of faith and learning. What is a Christian or biblical worldview?
Worldview is the lens one uses to look at the world and their experience in the world. Everyone has a worldview influenced by our culture, our family, and our schooling. A biblical worldview identifies the truths of the Bible as the lens a person would use to make sense of the world.
Eastern Christian School’s core values are informed from a Biblical worldview. For example, two of our core values, Embrace Community and Exhibit Compassion, originate with our recognition that each person is created in the image of God for a relationship with God and with others.
Furthermore, the biblical accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ provide the perfect model of how a Christian worldview informs our emphasis on pursuing the character of Christ by: Seeking Truth, Serving Others, Embracing Community, Exhibiting Compassion, Developing Responsibility, and Striving for Excellence.
At Eastern Christian these are not just perfunctory labels. We integrate our core values in all that we do in the classroom and hallways, on the stage and the athletic field because we desire for each student “to confidently and intentionally strive for excellence in every endeavor.”
In fact, our “Graduate Profile” describes our vision for how the integration of faith and learning will influence every student who graduates from ECS.
“Utilizing Biblically informed inquiry and strong academic knowledge, an Eastern Christian graduate will think critically, exhibit curiosity and develop the discernment that will enable him/her to confidently and intentionally strive for excellence in every endeavor.
Having studied the message of Jesus Christ and having experienced models of Christian servanthood in community, the Eastern Christian graduate develops a healthy self-image. Recognizing and responding to the will of God, and seeing in humanity the image of God, the graduate embraces diversity, exhibits compassion, offers respect, and is forgiving and open to others.”
What do you see as the outcome of an EC education in their development of a Christian worldview by the time a student graduates?
Christian worldview integration is not a program. Rather, it is a culture that impacts every aspect of schooling.
- Excellent Christian teachers engage students so that they are motivated to seek truth.
- Processes and policies are designed to reflect that every child is a whole person, created by God in His image.
- Nurturing is intentionally designed to mirror God’s grace and encourage each child’s unique gifts.
- Teachers, staff and administrators model servanthood, forgiveness and stewardship.
When every subject has been taught with an overarching emphasis on Christian concepts permeating and harmonizing all learning, students attain clarity about what they must know, be and do. Graduates will have a biblical framework to think critically, problem solve, and develop discernment. Consequently, they are equipped to live purposefully, competently and confidently.