In her college freshman English course, a girl who attended a Christian school from K-12 was asked if education should be Christian. Her response was a 6-page paper which concluded that a biblical worldview education is “effective, life-changing, and ultimately important.” She said, “If applied and accepted, a Christian worldview can be the basis for changing a child’s life, future, mindset, discipline, responsibility and give them opportunities for future ministry. The most important thing about a good Bible-based foundation is that it should share the gospel and teach others how to share it, too.” This girl, having experienced it herself, understood the importance of a truly Christian education.
The Biblical Mandate
The Bible offers Christian parents clear instructions concerning the education of their children, as well as what Christian principles and philosophy to teach them. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, parents are given a biblical mandate to educate their children according to God’s Word, and to do so in everything they do. Simply being Christian parents or taking them to church each week will not fulfill that mandate. Children must be taught about God continually. Parents can choose assistance to help them on this journey, but they are still fully responsible to see that the Word of God is integrated into every aspect of their children’s lives.
By the time a typical student finishes high school, he or she has spent more than 15,000 hours in school, many more hours than at church. What children see, hear, and learn in school must therefore reinforce and reflect the values of the church and what parents are teaching them at home. Without careful oversight, students can become secularized by the influences they encounter in all those hours outside the home. Like a three-legged stool, the family, church, and school1 should work in cooperation with each other, forming the same ideals and principles in the children. If church, school, and family work toward the same goal, children see these relationships as a community, instead of individual entities that teach and emphasize different values. The entire community thus helps students establish a coherent, biblical worldview, and gives them direction for their lives.
What Does Education with a Biblical Worldview Look Like?
DEFINING A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW
A person’s worldview is his or her set of fundamental beliefs or assumptions that determine the way he or she lives. A biblical worldview is one based fully on the Word of God, accepting truth as objective, as well as God’s absolute standards for morality.
Parents are fully responsible to see that the Word of God is integrated into every aspect of their children’s lives.
The big questions of life are answered differently depending on one’s worldview. If the Bible is the foundation of one’s education, those questions will be answered from a biblical frame of reference. Students taught from a biblical perspective would be able to articulate biblical answers about difficult subjects, recognize non-biblical ideas when they encounter them, and know how to effectively respond to them.
FULLY INTEGRATING A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW IN CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
A school that teaches from a biblical worldview not only teaches that the Bible is true, but also establishes the Bible as the foundation from which all subjects are taught. Romans 1:20 reinforces for students that we can know and understand who God is by studying the things He created. Teaching students to think critically about the world around them and how they fit into God’s plan is an important part of education. Their biblical worldview education helps them to learn to take their place in God’s narrative of Creation, Fall, Redemption. Having the right perspective on this equips the students for service for God, regardless of their future profession. Simply having Christian teachers, prayer in the classroom, and chapel once a week is not enough. Schools where the Bible is fully integrated into both the curriculum and extra-curricular activities will provide a safe environment for children to grow, make mistakes, and develop their God-given talents.
THE ROLE OF TEACHERS AND DISCIPLINE
When Christian parents choose a schooling option that has strong biblical values, they are also partnering with godly teachers to assist them on the parenting journey. Strong, Christian teachers who have the privilege of teaching children about God have a significant influence on their lives, and play a vital role in shaping their character and decisions. Effective teachers who love God, their subject, and their students are driven to provide the quality, well-rounded education parents seek for their children.
Given the immense potential impact of teachers on students’ lives, Christian parents should look for a school with a biblically-based philosophy of discipline and classroom control. Regardless of how good a teacher is, or how many fun learning activities he or she has, discipline problems will occur and children will need correction. Teachers must have an effective plan for classroom discipline and management so they are able to run their classrooms in a well-ordered manner which promotes student learning. With a grace-based approach, Christian teachers can help children see the wrong motives in their misbehavior and then point them toward the forgiveness only God can offer. The focus of discipline found in schools based on a strong biblical worldview will not just be on a child’s behavior, but also on the attitudes motivating the behavior.
As parents look for a school for their children, they also must focus on finding one that hires teachers who have a solid, personal relationship with God. Students watch and learn by example, and need to see teachers not only loving God, but also living a consistent, joy-filled Christian life. Teachers need to believe and live the truth they teach in front of students on a daily basis.
As teachers partner with parents to discipline students with love, they will also welcome parents to take an active role in the spiritual development of their children while they have their children in the classroom. This partnership will have a significant impact on the child’s behavior and attitude.
Application of material will also shape a student’s worldview. Therefore, the entire curriculum should engage the student from a biblical perspective. It is easy to just focus on the textbooks being used at the school and not consider curriculum—the actual coursework and the content being taught. As parents search through their schooling options, they should be looking for the whole curriculum to be taught and applied from a biblical perspective.
Exposure to Non-Biblical Worldviews
No matter how protective parents are, their children will still be exposed to non-biblical worldviews—through media, advertisements, and many other sources. As children come in contact with the non-biblical ideas that permeate our culture, parents must use these opportunities as teachable moments, guiding their children to analyze each situation from a biblical perspective.
When their teachers are also approaching issues from the same biblical viewpoint, children have confirmation of what their parents are teaching, instead of confusion.
However, if children are placed in a situation where they spend a lot of time with non-Christian teachers and non-Christian friends, that exposure can have a significant negative influence on the ways the kids think and act. For example, in a non-Christian environment kids may experience objectionable language or phrases they easily pick up on and start using, therefore becoming desensitized. The daily influence of teachers who have a fundamentally different way of seeing life, may affect students negatively for life. Thus, parents need to carefully pick the schooling option for their children.
Christian schooling isn’t meant to protect children from the dangers of the world. It is meant to prepare them.
If the education system forbids the mention of God, the curriculum cannot be as neutral as it may claim to be. As Ravi Zacharias said, “it is just an illusion of neutrality.” Christian schooling isn’t meant to protect children from the dangers of the world. It is meant to prepare them. Parents should look for a school for their children that will prepare them to be educated Christians, ready to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15) in a society that is growing more and more hostile to Christians.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FRIENDSHIPS
Yet, countering the negative influence of a teacher may still be easier than that of a non-Christian friend. People at any age can feel pressured by peers to compromise their values, but children are especially at risk since they are still in a significant way forming their identity as image-bearers for God. As 1 Cor 15:33 warns, friends with an opposite value system can be destructive.
If parents can find a Christian school option, they will make it much more likely that their children will form strong friendships with a godly peer. In a Christian environment, parents, pastors, and teachers working together can assist students to form lasting and true friendships, helping children and youth realize that their true friends should strengthen their biblical values and relationship with God (Proverbs 27:17).
Questions To Help Find The Best Schooling Option For Our Children
There are many educational programs that claim to offer a biblical philosophy of education and some do. All Christian schools are passionate about giving their students a Christian education. However, not all are equipped to do so, nor are all financially stable enough to provide the education Christian parents need for their children. This sometimes makes a schooling decision difficult.
Though parents understand that finding the right school for their child is important, they do not always have the time or knowledge to sort through all the information that exists in order to make a wise decision. However, one does not need to completely rely on the recommendation of a friend. Parents can ask key questions to administrators when considering various educational options (which could include Christian schools, other private schools, public schools, homeschools and homeschool co-ops):
QUALITY OF ACADEMICS
- When thinking of a student who is a good fit for your school, what does his/her profile look like?
- What curriculum standards does your academic program meet?
- What textbooks do you use to teach the various courses?
- What standardized tests do you give and how often? How are the test scores used?
- What are your current student-teacher ratios? And if your enrollment increases, what is the maximum class size you will consider before hiring another teacher?
- What credentials must teachers have in order to be able to teach here?
- What types of professional development do teachers get to help them improve and fulfill the mission of the school, specifically in how to biblically integrate into all subjects?
- How is student progress measured and tracked?
- How often is homework given and what is the average time per evening students should be spending on homework?
- How do you deal with a child who isn’t meeting academic expectations or who has gaps in his or her knowledge?
BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW INTEGRATION
- What is your philosophy of education?
- How do the teachers carry out your philosophy of education in the classroom?
- How is your mission statement applied in the classroom and in the community?
- What does biblical integration mean to you?
- Is biblical integration a key part of each subject area? How is that specifically implemented in daily lessons?
- How is discipline handled biblically (both at the classroom and at the school level)?
- How do the textbooks support biblical principles?
- How are students taught to defend their faith against those who don’t believe the same way they do? And even those who may even have it “out” for Christians?
- When students come across those who ask tough questions, how are they taught so they don’t have their faith shaken?
- How are students taught to handle things when they come across others who have a different lifestyle than they do?
Extracurricular, Christian Service, and Parental Involvement
- What programs do you have for students to participate in outside of the classroom?
- How are biblical principles taught in sports and other extracurricular programs?
- What kinds of technological resources does the school have and in what ways do students have access to them? How are the students monitored while using them?
- In what types of service projects do the students have opportunities to participate?
- What role do you see parents playing in the education of students at your school? What opportunities exist for me (the parent) to get involved in the school?
- In what way and how often should parents expect communication from teachers?
We should be wary of answers that reflect a strong academic, fine arts, or sports focus, without an explanation of how biblical principles are integrated in those areas. Schools should be committed to a strong, biblically-integrated curriculum, as well as to a philosophy that parents have the responsibility to educate children—that the school’s role is to work alongside parents to fulfill their biblical mandate.
The school’s role is to work alongside parents to fulfill their biblical mandate.
If A Schooling Option Isn’t Ideal
However, not all families have a strong biblical worldview school in their area, and homeschooling isn’t possible for everyone. Sometimes the schooling option is not an ideal situation. In that case, Christian parents must find ways to compensate for the deficits.
Parents must equip their children to combat wrong values and influences at school through discipleship in the home.To do this effectively, they would need to know exactly what the children are being taught at school and to what negative influences they are being exposed. Not all areas of concern are obvious. For example, most people understand the fundamental differences of being taught science from a non-biblical worldview, but they may not realize that learning history and literature from that same worldview can also be damaging.
No matter what type of schooling option parents choose, they need to be aware and involved to help their children to be prepared for what they will face. Simply sending children to a school that teaches the same values at home and church will not be enough to prepare them to defend their faith. Parents still need to biblically address the tough issues with their children, so that when they are exposed to a non-biblical worldview, they will know how to react. Those who disciple their children at home and can either homeschool them or send them to a quality Christian school with strong biblical integration, (and thoroughly Christian textbooks) will have the greatest advantage. Prayerful partnership with a Christian school may be one of the most significant choices they will ever make for their children.