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Christian Education

13 Apr

To be clear from the outset, we are not talking about higher education here but will limit our discussion to K-12 schools so many churches have started over the years. Again, this is another topic we have not written about on this website because when it comes to education, everyone has their own opinion. When some western English teachers started to complain about the Korean Public school system, this author repeatedly told them to go and start their own schools and see if their ideas will work or not. many churches have done just that and provided an alternative to the secular public school system.

One of the things that bothers us about the western public school system is that so many secularists and atheists have sought to marginalize just who the word ‘public’ refers to when speaking of the public schools in the western countries. For them, the term public equates to secular and that those who do not opt for that lack of belief must suffer under their educational ideas.

What is forgotten by many is that Christians and other religious people are members of the public and that the word ‘public’ in public schools include them. They have a right to say what is or isn’t taught in the different public school systems around the world. The secularists do not own these schools for they are funded by the tax dollars of all the citizens not just a few who do not believe, yet that fact doesn’t stop the unbelievers from thinking that they do own the public schools.

But it seems that even in Christian private school systems, everyone has their own opinion and we are going to discuss just one of those here. Having been a professional teacher for many years now education is something that is close to our hearts but we have refrained from talking about education for the most part as the purpose of this website is not to promote our own personal views but point people to God’s way and there have been few examples where we could do this…until now.

Our quotes will be taken from the article Is Your Christian School Worth Attending? By Robert F. Davis, which is found at the following link:

http://www.christianpost.com/news/is-your-christian-school-worth-attending-161381/

Now the title of that article is good and worth thinking about. Not every christian school is created equal and not every christian school has top-notch staff filling its classrooms or administrative offices. We would like to have our children taught by the best but given the fact that some Christian schools originate from dubious motivations it is hard to find such gems.

Even the Korean nation has a hard time hiring the best English teachers because if you are in the top category you are in demand and can pick your own employer. The members of other categories do not have this luxury and often Korea finds that they can only obtain the bottom of the barrel which is an unavoidable injustice to their students. I doubt Christian schools are any exemption to this fact of life.

When people like that author asks questions like:

In some form or another, “Is your Christian school worth attending?” is being asked by parents. A second question, “Are you hiring the best?” is also being asked and should be a focus of your school leadership’s inquiry.

They are placing unrealistic demands upon the school officials as the reality is that the best just may not be available or want to work for the pay offered. This kind of pressure does not help the school in educating their students. Sadly not every teacher, Christian or not, have the work ethic and attitude to be in the classroom yet they have a diploma stating that they can so the pool where the school makes it selection may not be filled with the best candidates.

Of course the over-arching question is “What does God expect of us?” “This is good enough” is never and adequate or acceptable response at any level!

To answer the first question, God expects us to teach the truth and be wise enough to discern when our students ready for the answers to their questions or not. God also expects us to teach according to his instructions and be just in our handling of rule breakers and so on.He also expects us to teach the students his ways and laws and all of this has to be done by following the Holy Spirit not our own subjective interpretations.

While we have some freedom in methodology, that methodology should not be influenced by the secular world or bring disrepute to God. The biblical instructions of not walking in the counsel of the ungodly applies to education as well.

All of this sets a process in motion which is often elusive to the average Christian school leadership. After all is there a board committee, with faculty representation, which “audits” educational effectiveness? This committee must know the goals and measurable objectives of your parents, students, and educators alike. This is no small task, but a tall order!

We will disagree with these words because it is the school who sets the goals for its administrative and educational agenda. If those goals do not match with a parent’s then the parent should be free to move on to one that does. When a school has, for example, 600 sets of parents it cannot possibly meet the demands of all the parents and soon the school will implode trying to please everyone. The school sets the tone and the parents either agree and have their children enrolled or they don’t and they do not enroll their students. At no time can a school change its policy every week or day because some parent decides they do not like it and want something else.

Too often both sides of this equation, provider/consumer, are satisfied with, “our school is better than public schools,” more students go to college, standardized test scores are better, and the general environment is better and safer. In addition, thought should be focused on knowing if the aforementioned is true and is it sufficient to stimulate the best from students and faculty alike.

For us, the important question would be upon graduation are the students spiritually prepared to face what comes when they go to secular academic institutions or employment? Most are not thus the problem of so many promising young believers losing their faith when the first attack on their faith comes. It may be great that more students go to college or their test scores are higher than the public school students and so on but those are not criteria for entering into God’s kingdom and christian schools, churches and parents fail their students because they have not properly spiritually educated the children.

They are often left vulnerable to the deceptive tactics of those who do not believe because they have not been taught the truth but given false goals to meet.Teaching the truth correctly goes a lot further than test scores and entering college.

Here are three absolutes for teacher interviews which will lead to finding and hiring the best

We jumped ahead because this is erroneous philosophy and certainly not biblical.  Nor are the three ‘absolutes’ he gives guarantee a Christian school will get the best teachers or administrative staff. We include administrative staff for their influence can help or harm the teachers and educating the students

#1. Do you have the gift of teaching

Having the gift of teaching does not mean one is the best teacher or even one of the best. There are other mitigating factors which hinder that gift from reaching its full potential. Things like attitude, work ethic, motivation,  and other characteristics influence the quality of the teaching talent of a candidate. The gift of teaching needs development, this includes the desire to be the best God wants them to be and seeking the best for their students. One is not automatically zapped with the top quality talent. it has to be nurtured and guided by the Holy Spirit.

This question ignores biblical teaching as well as we read at the end of 1 Cor. 12

31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.

One can learn to be a teacher, even a good one. Not having the gift of teaching does not always translate into one is not a teacher. if one wants to be a teacher then they can study and let God lead them to being good teachers. To become a good teacher one needs to learn their lessons and those lessons are not always easy to learn or experience.

Sometimes people do not know they have the gift of teaching until they enter the classroom and actually start teaching so this question is very unfair and hinders people from obtaining greater gifts of the spirit.

#2. Has God called you to teach?

One does not always need a call to teach. Sometimes the desire to teach is enough and if one looks to God to help them then we should not place so much emphasis on a ‘call’. Sometimes God allows people to pursue different vocations because he has a different goal in mind for them later on and the experience of teaching will aid them in that work.

We do not see the future so we must be careful when placing this criteria upon potential teachers. We may unknowingly hinder God’s plan for a person. It is not hard to tell if a person is not in the right vocation just by looking at their work as a teacher. We had so many such people come to Korea and it is too bad that many of those not suited for teaching were kept on by their Korean employers. They were not teachers and everyone knew it but these hard-headed people would not look for another position for whatever reason they had. They made things worse for real teachers.

This is where a good administrative staff comes in and helps the person not suited for teaching find an alternative profession. They need to be tactful, wise and understanding in helping these people let go of their desire to teach and direct them to other opportunities. This is not easy and feelings may be hurt but pain comes with the territory, as do harsh comments when a teacher is rejected,

We cannot avoid doing the hard part of the job.

#3. Can you provide examples confirming your “gift” and “calling?”

Sometimes you can and sometimes you cannot. This is not an absolute because it ignores the different types of personalities that reside in different teachers. Some people may not have kept a record of their body of work or they may be new to teaching and do not have examples to show or they did not discover the desire to teach till later in life and thus they did not pursue teaching in any form until their present employment change.

We cannot be hardlined about this for we may be keeping diamond sin the rough from reaching their life’s work or God’s will.

You really cannot have absolutes when dealing with non-divine and inspired situations. The heads of Christian schools need to realize and understand that they are not God and they need to be open to the different possibilities. They are mere stewards of God of the education facility they run so they must be sensitive to these different aspects of teaching and hiring teachers. Mistakes will be made but then making mistakes is not necessarily a sin. We are human and we are not going to be perfect but how we handle those mistakes will say a lot about us and our leadership abilities.

Also, I would suggest recruiting candidates who have been educated outside of the education department of their university in order to find the best prepared (studying with better professors), educated (having more credits in their subject major), and intellectually equipped (higher SAT & ACT scores)!

This suggestion is not simply tossed out, but based on solid research. Explore it on your own.

This is good advice as a teacher needs to be educated in a lot of different subjects in order to better teach their own. How their class relates to other subjects is important for students to learn. For example, English teachers need to stress how English is used in all subjects, from math to computer science to history to P.E. Getting students to understand and realize the broad application of a given subject is vital to their learning. A teacher needs to be educated if they want to educate and this is vitally important with biblical topics.

If a Christian teacher does not know how the Bible applies outside of a Sunday school setting then they cannot properly biblically educate their students. We need teachers who know the truth and are capable of communicating that truth effectively and correctly so that the students do not misapply it (as it happens so often with pastors and their congregations).

Elusive to this process is finding the “virtue” of personal “integrity.” To discover this you will need to go beyond the interview, carefully follow up on references, previous employment experiences, and the veracity of the submitted resume

But keep in mind that people can change and if they had a prior bad display of their ‘integrity’ and so on, it does not mean that they are condemned to that behavior. Christ makes people new creatures and that fact needs to be in the minds of those doing the background checks. People do turn over new leafs and the Christian’s job is not to keep people down but allow them to grow in their Christian life and mature as God. We help them to change, not stereotype them into one particular behavioral pattern and never let them rise above it.

Hiring teachers is not easy and trying to hire Christian teachers in this day and age is almost impossible for the worldly influences that reside in so many make it hard for the students to be taught biblically and correctly. One thing that author left out is that those administrative people given the responsibility to hire new teachers need to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. They cannot let studies and research dictate whom they will hire. God has a say in this as well.

 

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Posted by on April 13, 2016 in academics, Bible, church, controversial issues, education, faith, family, General Life, Justice, leadership, theology

 

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