The Philosophy of Christian Education isn’t necessarily defined anywhere, however, the Bible does mention different spiritual and moral guidelines for both children and believers. When we think of the word philosophy, we can best describe it as beliefs, ideology, or even our view on life. I would like to say that Jesus is a role model to follow from the perspective of teaching. When we look at His life, we see that he holds the heavyweight title for the best teacher. His students, the disciples and public, sought after his lessons and wisdom. A teacher is simply defined as ‘a person who teaches.’. The definition of this word seems so plain but it has so much more involved in it. A teacher is someone who demonstrates something new and helps you learn it. A good teacher finds a way to accelerate this learning. They also have a strong connection with those they are teaching. A good teacher doesn’t only focus on bringing across the content. They will also focus on making sure their students have the critical thinking skills to succeed. Jesus has many of these qualities and much more which really defined him as the ultimate teacher. It is this type of role model that I look up to and try to base my Philosophy of Christian Education on.
When we look at the word Christianity, we immediately begin to think that this is a religious system that contains a list of rules and standards that must be followed. I believe this to be slightly misleading. We as Christians are forgiven of our sins and have found a personal relationship with God. There are some core beliefs that can be shared amongst all Christians which I believe should be applied to our worldview. Jesus is the Son of God. He paid the ultimate price for our sins by being crucified. Jesus rose from the dead. Finally, we are saved by the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” These core beliefs mean nothing, however, if you do not hold them as true. We must become “born again” by surrendering to God and repenting our sins. Jesus came into our world to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). It is this truth that we strive to teach our young ones. Luke 6:40 says, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” This verse along with others such as Matthew 22:36-40 drive my philosophy. I strive to prepare my students to live the life of a Christian in the world. Dr. Derek Keenan says that “one of the biggest challenges for teaching youngsters is getting at the truth…The purpose of Christian Education is prepare young people for a particular kind of life: Christian.” We need to prepare our students to live as Christians in the world. In agreeance with Dr. Keenan, I believe that this is one of the ultimate goals as a teacher. We are Christ’s messengers to bring forward this truth that He came to bear. This is a huge task and a responsibility.
It is important to define Christian education from a Scriptural view as opposed to a wordly one. We as Christians should be asking the question “What is the purpose or definition of education according to God?” Colossians 1:16 reminds us that all things were created in Him. Our purpose is to know that we were created for Jesus Christ and to love God with all our heart. We need to teach them that we are created in the image of God, who wants us to be in a relationship with Him, and be satisfied in ourselves, with each other, and with the world. Our students acquire knowledge and develop their own worldviews based on what we teach them. It is really my goal to prepare students to live a Christian life, that is, to follow Jesus and commit their lives to serving others and helping them get to know God. I believe the ultimate purpose is to help and guide students to find their purpose in Christ.
In order to succeed as a Christian teacher, I must learn and have an understanding of the nature of the learner. Dr. Keenan discusses this in his Philosophy of Chrisitan Education series. Human beings (the students) are made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) We are separated from God through sin. (Romans 3:23) Finally, we are redeemed through Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:8) There are many different characteristics present in that of a learner. Some of these are being active, having or showing rational thought, being creative, showing morality, and being responsible. We cannot deny these characteristics as that would be an offense to God, since we are created in his image. We want to engage our students so that they see the world from God’s point of view. We want them to see their classmates, siblings, and us as teachers in the image of God.  As a Christian educator, it is also important to not value certain attributes in our learners more than others. During his discussion about axiology, Dr. Keenan mentions that we should not give more value to certain students because of the characteristics they have. For example, showing more value in an outspoken or more intellectual student vs. one that shows little intellectual ability. We would be disagreeing with our students being made in God’s image were we to make this mistake.