An Exploration of Christian Education:
An Administrative Perspective
A Major Assignment Submitted to the Faculty of the
Regent University Graduate School of Education
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Education - Leadership in Character Education
12SP EDIP 540/ETLC 542 Phil/issues in Ed & Foundations of Ed (01) Dr. Joan Hoskins
April 17, 2012
TITLE OF MAJOR ASSIGNMENT: An Exploration of Christian Education: An Administrative Perspective
STUDENT: Donna Ivery-Little
CLASS NUMBER: 12SP EDIP 540/ETLC 542 Phil/issues in Ed & Foundations of Ed (01)
DATE: April 17, 2012 PROFESSOR: Dr. Joan Hoskins
The following paper will attempt to explore the distinguishing characteristics of Christian education from an institutional level. This exploration will discuss components of Christian education such as the Purpose of Christian Education, Educational Administrative Objectives and Secular vs. Christian Educational Philosophy Comparisons, using the ideas presented in the text, “Foundational Issues in Christian Education: An Introduction in Evangelical Perspective” by Robert Pazmino, 2008 or 1997 edition as a guiding framework for the exploration. Scripture from the Holy Bible will be used to support varied points.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
Purpose of Christian Education
The purpose of Christian Education is to direct the process of human development toward God's objective for man: godliness of character and action. It bends its efforts to the end "that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:17). Although one cannot find the words “Christian Education” or “Christian Educational Philosophy” in the Bible: Philosophy can be literally defined as “the love of wisdom.” “Christians are reminded in Scripture that it is the Lord who gives wisdom and that from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6), and that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge or wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).” (Robert W. Pazmino. Foundational Issues in Christian Education: An Introduction in Evangelical Perspective (p. 86). Kindle Edition.) In the Bible, we are instructed, to give high regard and importance to the development of the moral and spiritual character of those whom the Lord has placed in our care.
Educational Administration Objectives
Christian Educational Institutions are responsible for fulfilling the divine purpose of imparting education to the recipient, while exhibiting careful responsibility, realizing that we are a partner with the home and the church. Our curriculum content should prepare students to know the Lord and to imitate Him in character and works. Our methodology should be a means to an end and not an end in itself. The methods should be chosen for their power, accuracy and efficiency in accomplishing a set of designated goals. Our methodology should be chosen so that it reflects the example of God, with the assurance that God's methods are most effective in carrying out His will. In order to be effective, Christian methodology should reject any method contrary to the principles of Scripture. Christian Educational Administrations have the high calling of preparing its constituents for life and not merely for a temporary prize. The goal is to develop strong Christ-Centered character that will remain intact, rather than character that reflects a weak foundation, ultimately shifting and blending into the culture at large and losing focus. The development of the whole person, one who exhibits self-governance and self-discipline, is the primary focus. “24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–27) Christian Educational Institutions are responsible for, not only buffeting the body, but, the mind and spirit of those whom the Lord has entrusted, so that upon the completion of training they will be ready to run in the race of life. We are called to prepare the student to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
Secular vs. Christian Educational Philosophy Comparison
The philosophical concepts of a Christian Educational Institution should be one that fully encompasses all of the developmental aspects of the persons whom we serve. The educational experience should address the spiritual, social, emotional, physical and intellectual components with the endeavor of encouraging the development of excellence within the whole person. With this in mind, we should be concerned with the well-grounded preparation of our students before they engage in the societal influences of the secular culture. “Reformed educators emphasize that all persons are God's image bearers and therefore are to be instructed to show forth the glory of God. The task of educators is to encourage persons to fulfill their responsibilities, ultimately with respect to their relation to the Creator God.” (Robert W. Pazmino. Foundational Issues in Christian Education: An Introduction in Evangelical Perspective (p. 73-74). Kindle Edition)
Lawrence Cremin, former president of the Columbia Teachers College, aimed to trace the ever-changing theory and philosophy of education in America from 1876 to 1980. Cremin’s “definition views education as a process more limited than socialization or enculturation, though it includes these important aspects of learning. It allows for personal study as well as interpersonal instruction, thereby embracing self-education. It envisions interactions across the generations with the intergenerational education of adults teaching children or children teaching adults; with the intragenerational education of peers within or across families and cultures; and with the self-conscious coming of age, which persons experience. Finally, this definition expands education beyond the school setting to a vast variety of persons and institutions that educate. Christian education is much more than Sunday or church schooling, and Christian educators who grapple with philosophical questions can explore the contours of that more." (Robert W. Pazmino. Foundational Issues in Christian Education: An Introduction in Evangelical Perspective (p. 92). Kindle Edition. A secular education seeks to develop students who know (Greek. gnosis) about the world, seek education for the sake of knowledge and to serve self. Secular education tends to lean towards change, as this is the basic factor of pragmatism. No truth is absolute and permanent. It is always changing from time to time and from place to place. Pragmatists do not believe in fixed, eternal and absolute values of life to be followed in all times, places and circumstances. Comparatively, Christian education seeks to develop students who know Christ, (Heb. yadeh) as a vehicle to disciple, while utilizing education to serve Christ and self. From a pedagogical perspective, the secular school focuses on teaching content, uses the classroom primarily as a thinking space where teachers and students are central. Christian education on the other hand focuses on developing relationships where the classroom is the primary relational space and Christ is the pedagogical center. The “challenge for the Christian educator is to make that philosophy of education explicit and consistent with a Christian worldview while recognizing the place of paradox.” (Robert W. Pazmino. Foundational Issues in Christian Education: An Introduction in Evangelical Perspective (p. 85). Kindle Edition) Christian administration and the school staff should be concerned about the professional as well as the spiritual preparation of its teachers. Knowledge of the student and mastery of the subject to be taught as well as of the methodology of its presentation are necessary for effective teaching. Jesus Christ knew His students “He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (John 2:25) and His subject matter and was competent in every conceivable legitimate technique of imaginative, resourceful teaching. Jesus “taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law”. (Matt. 7:29) He, therefore, taught with a commanding assurance and vigor that amazed the multitudes. The administrative position of a secular setting, the curriculum choice, planning and programming focuses on the cognitive and behavioral needs of the children served. The worldviews are kept implicit and strict effort is made to separate biblical concepts from the curriculum. In a Christ-centered administration the focus remains on the spiritual and emotional needs of the children as well as their cognitive and emotional needs. Worldviews are made explicit and a sound emphasis is made to integrate biblical concepts within the curriculum, so no to “be taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” (Col. 2:8) In order for modern day Christian schools to flourish, “It is essential that Christian educators explore and rediscover those theological sources that provide a beacon of lights in the stormy waters of educational thought and practice in the world and thus glorify Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. (Robert W. Pazmino. Foundational Issues in Christian Education: An Introduction in Evangelical Perspective (p. 82). Kindle Edition.)
In closing, the Christian school administrator exercises authority over both the teacher and the student in order to serve the teacher in his or her service of the student. The chief responsibility of the administrator is to provide the most favorable environment possible for the communication of Christ to the student. The administration can serve the teacher and the student in the process of Christian education only as they submit to the authority of Christ and its rule. As a godly administration undergirds the ministry of a godly teacher to a responsive student, the goal of godliness in the student's character and action will be increasingly realized.
Pazmino, R. (2008). Foundational issues in Christian education: An introduction in evangelical perspective. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Cremin, L. A. (1988). American education: The metropolitan experience 1876-1980. New York: Harper & Row.
In our schools we trust. Washington Post Book World (1988, March 27). Retrieved from http://footenotes.net/Pages/Schools.htm