The blank looks are what really scare me. As I conduct workshops across North America, I inquire what my audiences know about how to integrate faith and learning in curriculum. I probably could sort responses into three categories: 1) know what I am talking about and have thought about it and are doing it to some degree, 2) know what I am talking and know they should be doing it, but aren’t or are doing it very superficially, and 3) teachers who have little or no training, and really don’t know how to proceed. The disturbing trend over the last five years is that I am seeing the numbers in the first category decrease and the numbers in categories 2 and 3 increase. One of my next questions is if teachers have received any training in integrating faith and learning in curriculum, and again, I am seeing that teachers in Christian schools are coming from a wider variety of college settings and lack the background and foundational understandings needed.
I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but if we lose our ability to reveal God’s truth effectively through our teaching and learning, we are, as I state in the post below this, “one short generation” away from just becoming good Christian people who bring a pietistic, but not world transforming learning experience to our students. We must continue to articulate the master story of Jesus Christ and his creation in engaging ways that leads to personal transformation of our students’ lives and challenges them to a life of discipleship and engagement with God’s world! What does it take to do this effectively?
As I have observed master Christian teachers who do the best job of integrating faith and learning, I see several “astutenesses” and passions in their thinking and behavior.
- Spiritual passion – they are alive spiritually and their passion for Jesus Christ “oozes” out of them. Their students have no doubts about their commitment.
- Theological understanding – they demonstrate a deep understanding of Scripture and have personally worked through their own big picture understandings of how the master story works in our world.
- A student of their students – they know well the age of the student they are working with, what matters to them, how they think, what they believe, and what motivates them.
- Culturally aware – they understand what is going on in the world, are keen observers of how worldviews are lived out, offer a prophetic voice to challenge students about their passions and idols, and help students to not only interpret and translate culture, but to create alternative culture that reflects Biblical values.
- Masters of their discipline – they know their subject area well, are driven to learn more, know the controversies and issues connected with current thinking in the discipline, have reflected how this subject comes under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and know how to demonstrate and help students connect a Biblical perspective to the field of study.
What are you doing to articulate the master story? What are you doing to challenge others to become this kind of master teacher?