EPISTEMOLOGY – Epistemology is born of one’s cosmology, and that of one’s theology. God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. This philosophy is a God-centered view that all truth is God’s truth (John 17:17, II Corinthians 13:8). The authoritative Word of God, the Bible, is the foundation of this truth (II Peter 2:20-21) and there is no derived truth about the physical world which conflicts with it.
All truth found in the natural world is contingent upon God. All people are able to recognize this derived truth found in the world (Romans 1); however, they are unable to fully comprehend this truth outside of a right relationship with Him, which restores their fallen state through the free gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 6:40). As such, the Word of God is to permeate all areas of our curriculum, not be limited to a separate Bible course (Romans 10:2-3, I Corinthians 2:10-16).
THE STUDENT – All students are image-bearers of God and thus can learn. Because of this, each student is of value, and should be treated equitably and with care. Each child exhibits common developmental traits (Piaget). They exhibit abilities to reason, and express themselves. On the other hand, each student has unique gifts and limitations. Rather than Rousseau’s tabula rasa, each student has diverse learning styles, worldviews, and background knowledge. Each one’s learning profile is as unique as their fingerprint. Their worldviews have been molded by the ethos of family, community, arts, and social conventions. Cultural mores have informed the students’ worldviews in a large measure, and it is incumbent upon Christian educators to enable them to evaluate culture based on the standard of God’s Word (Rom. 12:2).
THE LEARNING PROCESS – This mixture of influences serves as a framework that reinterprets any information received from the teacher. The starting point for the Christian teacher is to design instruction in such a way as to address these assumptions, prior learning, developmental issues, and learning style that each student brings to the classroom.
Central to this is the competent use of the scripture, integrated into the disciplines. This is God’s prescribed method of dealing with much of the aforementioned impacts from the fallen world.
The learning process should correspond to natural-law. As such, the classical method, or Trivium, is the optimum method for learning. In concert with the rapid proliferation of synaptic development, pre-adolescent students should focus on grammar instruction. Volumes of bits of data should be memorized in the respective disciplines. Instruction to early-adolescents should focus on logic and critical-analysis. Then a fundamental shift for the high school age student should occur, focusing instruction toward the development of the use rhetoric.
With the advancements in functional-MRI technology, and scientific breakthroughs in brain-mapping, it is incumbent upon the classroom teacher to be conversant in various learning differences. As a subtext to the overarching focus on the student’s development in the trivium, instruction practices should include multi-sensory approaches to instruction, and inclusion of well-researched, best teaching practices.
TEACHER – Christian teachers are the central link to integrating individual subject matter with God’s perspective. They are to incorporate best instructional practices with indepth subject-matter knowledge and insight into God’s design. It is essential for the Christian teacher to have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They should be well-versed and growing in the factual knowledge of God’s Word and have the ability to apply to their particular subject.
Accomplished teachers draw on this knowledge to establish goals and facilitate student learning within and across the disciplines comprised in the curriculum. They select, adapt, create, and use rich and varied resources to enhance learning. They have knowledge of child development, understand student needs, and foster the student’s knowledge, skill, interests, and aspirations.
Accomplished teachers employ a variety of assessment methods to obtain useful information about student learning and development and to assist students in reflecting on their own progress. They require students to confront, explore, and understand important challenging concepts, topics, and issues in purposeful ways. They use a variety of approaches to help students build knowledge and strengthen understanding.
Accomplished teachers establish a caring, stimulating, inclusive, and safe community for learning where students take intellectual risks and work independently and collaboratively. They foster the student’s self-awareness, self-esteem, character, civic responsibility, and respect for diverse individuals and groups.
The teachers employ regular self-analysis, evaluation, and ways to strengthen the effectiveness and quality of their individual progress. They work collaboratively with colleagues to achieve common goals for the education of their students. They work with families, in a partnership, to achieve common goals for the education of their children. They continue to advance their own education in subject-matter knowledge, educational tools, and biblical understanding.
CURRICULUM – The curriculum encompasses all means of instruction, both content and application. It should reflect the original intent of all truth, which is to know the One True God (Jn. 17), as well as to integrate all derived subject matter relating to knowledge of the world around us. Since God is the Creator of the universe and the Source of all truth, it follows that all subject matter is related to God and to His truth. As such, the Bible must become correlated to all that is taught at the school. It is the foundation by which all other channels of knowledge are evaluated and used. Through the Bible, the inter-relatedness of all other subjects and truths is made possible.
We may conclude therefore that the function of the Bible in the subject matter is two-fold. First, it provides content of its own. Second, it serves as guidance to the other subjects. The principles of Biblical truth should be applied to all other subjects. Claims to truth from other areas should be tested and evaluated by the philosophical and theological truths of the Word of God.
Subordinated to this conclusion is the second aspect, the curriculum should provide conveyance of the ancient wisdom. Those things that foster that which is good, true, and beautiful should be given priority. Those classic works that have advanced great civilizations and maximized the morality and freedom of the people are given weight. As such, use of anthologies or compilations which advance only a surface treatment is to be avoided. Whenever possible, the use of primary sources of substantive philosophical and literary merit are to be given priority.
The third such aspect of the curriculum is the training of the whole student. Each student is a social, emotional, physical, and intellectual being. The curriculum must address each of these aspects and thereby enable the student to be fully prepared for all of life. Our curriculum includes education in social interaction, character and leadership development, and the necessity to lead a healthy, physically active lifestyle.
LEADERSHIP – Good leaders build strong relationships with all stakeholder groups. Their primary job is to regularly communicate vision, philosophy, direction, and goals through varied means. Equally important, these listen to the stakeholder groups, then anticipate and address needs in a timely and consistent manner.
Leaders spend much of their time in problem-solving. Good leaders are adept at finding win-win solutions to most problems (Covey). They draw from the knowledge and wisdom of those around them, and make informed decisions that reflect the school’s mission and values.
Servant-leadership is characterized by bringing out the best in others. Good leaders are able to identify gifted personnel and orchestrate the structure as to maximize their abilities for the good of the school. These leaders attract other strong leaders, and are able to create synergy through a team of leaders. As Collin’s put it, a good leader is able to recognize where each person “fits on the bus (Good to Great).” As such, effective leaders work to bring about a leveling (as per Deming’s TQM). Each part of the school community perceives themselves as valued members, who are involved in identifying needed improvements and providing solutions thereto. Through creating effective feedback mechanisms, an engaged manner, and careful distribution of responsibility, productivity and effectiveness is maximized.
Good leaders are not so much characterized by charisma as character. Honesty and integrity are cornerstones to effective leadership. Those who serve with a leader must be able to trust his or her judgment and word. Great leaders have a realistic view of their own limitations, as well as often a self-deprecating humor.