Just finished this college paper as an introductory to my philosophy of education class. I was required to write about what I believe truth is; if I believe we can discover truth; and how I view education, the role of the student, and the role of the teacher. This is what I came up with. (If the spacing on this is wrong, I apologize. Just copied and posted it from my Word document). :^)
Personal Response: Educational Philosophy
The Bible teaches that there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong – an
absolute truth and an absolute falsity. There is no such thing as a “little white lie.” I
left a “good job” just a couple of years ago because this employer encouraged the telling
of “little white lies” for the good of the company. To me, this was not ethical at all.
Satan is the father of lies. As children of God, we should strive for absolute truth.
I definitely believe we can know the truth. When we search the Scriptures, we
will find the truth. This truth is found in God’s Word alone. The world today, society at
large, tries to tell us truth is relative to each individual circumstance. This relativism,
however, is not found in the Bible, the source of all truth. The only instances that I can
find in the Bible that would hint at a relativistic worldview is (1) David eating the
showbread reserved for priests and (2) Jesus healing on the Sabbath. However, these
instances are directed at legalism, not as a question about absolute truth. These
examples, however, should reveal to us, as Christians, how careful we must be in
examining truth and falsehood. There is a fine line between legalism and truth, between
relativism and falsity.
I believe the best way to present the truth is by example. Many others believe
the best way to present the truth is by teaching and preaching. In actuality, in today’s
society, preaching achieves the opposite effect of the result we desire. When we demand
that others accept what they deem as “our way,” they will simply tune out our message,
regardless of its validity. When I think of presenting truth, I think of Jesus’ example.
Jesus did not stand on the street corner and condemn passersby. He called people to
Himself, reminding the legalistic religious leaders that none of them were sin-free
therefore they should not judge others.
Leading by example is especially important when teaching the truth to children.
All too often, Christian educators take the position that they have to drill truth into young
children in order to drive foolishness away. What educators do not realize is that
sometimes strict methods turn children away from the truth. I remember one of my
friends telling me, when she enrolled her son in a Christian preschool, that she hoped
nothing would happen at the school that would eventually turn him away from Christ.
The bad thing is that with many Christian schools who practice strictness and traditional
education (even to the point of corporal punishment in some schools), this is actually a
valid concern. Is this truly the attitude Christ would have us, as Christian educators, to
maintain? A much more effective method of presentation of the truth is to lead the
children gently into the truth by modelling and being willing to answer even the most
insignificant questions that children may have.
I believe the best educational process, if the reader has not guessed by now,
should focus on how the individual students learn best. Education is not all about what
the teacher feels the student should learn by a certain point in time or “grade level.”
Education is about teaching students to learn by following their own interests and God-
given talents. Each individual student’s learning style should be taken into account. Not
every student learns best in a traditional school setting. Some students learn better in a
less structured, more natural setting. The goal of education should not be to make all
students into traditional learners. The goal of education should be to nurture each
student’s abilities and interests. God created our creativity. Should this creativity be
sacrificed on the altar of man-made conformity? I would dare say it should not. I believe
the educational process in place in most public schools (and most Christian schools),
unfortunately, honors conformity over creativity.
I believe the role of the school needs to change. Due to No Child Left Behind,
schools are serving the role of force-feeders of so-called important knowledge. Schools
force-feed students information in hope that these children will be able to regurgitate
the information well enough to receive above-average scores on standardized tests. The
result of this system is schools full of children who are not only stressed but who
memorize “facts” simply long enough to pass a test. Instead of this testing focus, schools
should be allowed to nurture children’s God-given interests and curiosity in ways that are
most condusive to true learning.
I believe people should learn what they are interested in. As crazy as it sounds,
everything will eventually fall into place. I can say this from experience. When we first
began homeschooling, our now six-year old son, Taliesin, was three years old. I began
teaching him using traditional, teacher-directed methods. These methods only caused
frustration for my son. It was then that I discovered Home Education Magazine and
child-directed learning. Many have questioned my methods. What will children
learn if they only learn what they are interested in? What many do not realize is
children are natural learners if we allow them to be. Allowing children to explore
will naturally lead to one learning opportunity after another. And, yes, children do have a
natural curiosity about spiritual matters as well. Jesus instructed His disciples to stop
forbidding the children and to allow them to come to Him. The children had an inner
desire for spiritual things – a part of being created in the image of God, who is Spirit.
I have found this is true of both of my sons. They both yearn to learn more and more
about God if I give them opportunities to ask questions. A good example is, again,
with Taliesin. A few months ago, he had questions about why people take communion.
We had just studied the story of Jesus’ last supper, crucifixion, and resurrection using
Resurrection Eggs (one of both of my sons’ favorite manipulatives). We discussed why
the importance of communion; and he also wanted to take part. I asked him if he believes
that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. He said he did. I explained to him
that only people who have Jesus come into their hearts are allowed to take communion,
because it reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us. He understood. Now each
week before church, I ask Taliesin if he wants to take communion with the church or not.
If he answers yes, I always ask him why we take communion; and he answers. Likewise,
my four-year old son, Nathanael, loves reading about the creation story and has many
questions about sin. I always am willing to answer any questions he has, no matter how
many times he has asked them and had them answered before.
My conclusion, therefore, is that students should learn what they are interested in
in ways that are natural for them to learn by. All else will fall into place naturally. To
prove this point, for a college class last year, I was required to write about the curriculum
standards for the state of Kansas. If Taliesin were in the public school system, this year
he would have started kindergarten; therefore I chose to conduct my research over
curriculum standards for kindergarten. I found that with Taliesin, we had already
covered every concept public schools teach in kindergarten except for graphs. Of course,
when I inquired of Taliesin and Nathanael (my younger son) if they wanted to study
graphs, they overwhelmingly decided to. So we made a homemade volcano and a
homemade geyser and graphed with stickers on a large piece of brown paper sack paper
which one shot higher. Plus, we had covered a lot more that public schools,
unfortunately, deem unnecessary – concepts of art and music, which are usually a part of
our daily activities.
I believe the role of a teacher should be that of a facilitator. I believe a teacher
should provide guidance, should answer any questions the students may have, and should
be there to provide ideas and to introduce concepts. A teacher should not try to force or
coerce a student into being something (s)he is not ready for.
The role of the student should be as that of a natural learner. I am a firm
believer that children are born natural learners. They remain natural learners until they
reach kindergarten when teachers teach them that their creativity does not matter,
that the only thing that does matter is what the teacher thinks and teaches. The following
poem epitomizes what I believe about why the traditional role of teacher and student
leads to students who cannot think for themselves:
( found at http://home.bresnan.net/~cabreras/theboy.htm).
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