Sunday, July 18, 2010

How My Christian Worldview Impacts My Teaching

A worldview is a system of beliefs and assumptions one makes, either consciously or unconsciously, which shapes how they act. It has been described as a set of glasses or filters through which you look at the world around you. There are as many worldviews as there are people, though many common themes exist. As a teacher seeking to interact with many people and try to teach them, it is of utmost importance to be aware of your own worldview, but also those of your students, colleagues, and coworkers. What follows is my description of the beliefs and assumptions I live by, and how I believe they impact my role as a teacher. My belief in and relationship with God is the primary lens my worldview is built around.

What is My Worldview?

What is god?
A more appropriate question is “Who is God?” I believe in the God described in the Bible, who goes by many names. The Bible calls him Elohim, Alpha and Omega, El Shaddai and Jehovah Jireh, Yeshua, Adonai, and many others. Each of names describes an attribute of God that reveals a little of his character.

Elohim is Hebrew for creator. I believe that God created the heavens and the earth. I do not know how he did it, but I do believe he did. Whether literally in six days by speaking it into existence as described in Genesis 1, or some other way, is interesting to debate – but God created it nonetheless. As a scientist, I am aware that the earth is held together by many different forces and laws, which I believe God, set in place in the beginning. Elohim does have the power to supernaturally override these laws at times, stepping in and performing miracles.

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, the beginning and the end. This name implies that God is eternal. God has always existed, and always will. This name reminds me of other attributes of God’s too. It reminds me that he is immutable, unchanging, and everlasting. It reminds me that he is immortal. It also reminds me that like him, I too will one day live forever.

El Shaddai is a Hebrew name meaning Lord Almighty. It reminds that he is all-powerful. Jehovah Jireh is another name meaning “The Lord will provide.” These two names combine to assure me that God will take care of me. There is nothing God cannot do, and he has my interests in mind. Jehovah Jireh is the name Abraham used when his faith was tested. He trusted that God would provide a lamb as a substitute for sacrificing his son Isaac. God did provide a lamb, and he has provided for me during numerous trials as well.

God provided most powerfully for me when he gave his only son Jesus to die on the cross for me. The name Yeshua is a name which means “He will save” from which we get the name Joshua, as well as Jesus. I believe Jesus is fully God, and yet fully man. I believe he lived on the earth around 2,000 years ago. I believe he was the only perfect example of an abundant life without sin.

What is man’s purpose?
Since man, like everything else, was created, the most important question to ask is why? I believe the name Adonai provides the answer. Adonai is translated “Lord” in the Bible. A lord deserves honor. A lord deserves obedience. A lord owns the land, and the people who work on it. Likewise, our heavenly Father deserves all the honor, glory, praise, and obedience that we his people can give.

Humans, like all creation, were created to worship God. We all do that simply by existing. I believe we are created in the image of God, which means, among other things, that we all reflect his attributes and character. I believe man stands unique from the rest of creation, because God has given us a choice. Some choose to obey God, and strive to live more like his son Jesus, and worship him joyfully. Others choose to disobey, and worship him reluctantly. Man’s primary purpose is to choose to worship God freely.

What is evil?
I believe there was an initial pair of humans, Adam and Eve, into whom God breathed life. This pair worshiped God freely until one day when they chose to disobey him, eating fruit from a forbidden tree. This first act of disobedience, also called sin, ushered in a curse. The perfect life they had enjoyed was now riddled with pain, suffering, and finally would result in their death. This is evil: the natural consequence of disobeying God, of which the ultimate penalty is death.

This curse of evil tainted all areas of creation – but namely man. Every child born now was born guilty of sin, subject to it, and preferring disobedience. In fact, though our physical bodies are alive, spiritually we are born dead. Without Yeshua’s saving grace – we are without hope, and have no place with God.

What happens after death?
Fortunately, there is life after death, both spiritually and physically. God’s son Jesus lived a perfectly obedient, sinless life. So complete was his obedience, and his love for mankind, that his unwarranted death on a cross paid the penalty that we each deserved. This act restores spiritual life in us. This act reconciles us with our holy creator, removing the guilt of our sin. No longer are we dead to sin, but we can once again choose freely to obey God, and do the works he has called us to do. This is the abundant life that Jesus came to give to us all.

Finally, I believe that three days after Jesus died, he came back to life. His physical body was restored and many witnessed it here on earth. This supernatural act began the reverse of the curse of evil. It provides a promise that we who believe in Jesus’ death for our sins can trust: that we too will experience life after death. Though our physical bodies will still die, we will be born again. We will live with God, in his presence, forever.

What Effect Does My Worldview have on my teaching?
Inherent in my world views are several philosophies which shape my teaching, including elements of objectivism and perennialism. My worldview also influences my teaching methods to include elements of behaviorism. Finally, my worldview sets my goal in teaching: preparing students to know and serve God better.

I believe there is objective truth in the universe, which we can learn and study. Specifically, I believe God reveals that truth to us in two ways. First, he reveals truth in the observations we can make in nature. I believe that by studying things in nature—and this includes much more than just birds and trees and such—we can learn about our creator. Studying the stars and planets helps reveal God’s power, order, and beauty. Studying a fractal gives a glimpse of God’s infiniteness. Studying an ecosystem can reveal how well things can work together and inspire us to live in harmony with each other, as God desires.

Second, God reveals truth to us through His word, written down in the Bible. I believe the Bible contains both literal and figurative language. This language recounts what happened in the past, describes how to live in the present, and gives glimpses of what is to come in the future. A large part of education is teaching students how to read, write, and interpret writings, so they can use scripture correctly.

As a math and science teacher, I tend to teach more on nature and how one can see God there. But much of the logic and reasoning I teach my students can also be used to interpret scripture. I also find elements of perennialism in my lesson planning. That is, I believe some truths are more important than others. While certain facts like the distance to the moon are interesting, I would rather my students know what the moon reveals about its creator. I would rather they awe at its beauty, trust that God’s faithfulness is even more reliable than the moons cycle, and be inspired to reflect God’s glory whenever they recall that the moon only gets its light from the sun.

I also find elements of behaviorism showing up in my teaching. I believe that every action has a consequence, starting with the original sin and subsequent curse. Unfortunately, the curse is so rampant, that often the consequences of actions are not obvious. In fact, sometimes the consequences even seem backward. Sometimes evil men prosper and good men suffer. I believe ultimately justice will prevail because Jesus rose from the dead after dying wrongly for our sins. I believe part of teaching morals to children involves making them aware that their choices are meaningful, and do have consequences. Part of that training certainly involves arbitrary rewards and punishments at times. Part of that training also involves inconsistencies in doling out consequences. That is often followed with a discussion about how sometimes life is not fair. Ultimately, students must learn to choose the right, even when the earthy consequences are hidden or unpleasant, because justice will prevail.

Overall, my goal in teaching is to prepare students to know and serve God better. Instructionally, I try to show them who God is by showing them what he has done in creation, and teaching them deeper reasoning and observational skills. My colleagues teach other skills, like communicating and interpreting literature. Together, we teach our students to learn all they can about who God is, who they are, and how they are to live. Informally, I show them through my example how to live morally and how to seek, know and please God. I pray to God that he will open their eyes to see their creator, and strive to view their world as I do.

1 comment:

  1. Why would a merciful god create beings in his 'form' and curse them eternally for the folly of a pair who supposedly lived mns of yrs ago??? That would be like you getting whipped for something your ancestor did in 100BC!!!! would you accept that?

    It would do better to keep an open mind understanding that Bible was written by man not god himself and hence is open to errors prone to any man. Also it would serve your purpose as a teacher to learn more about ancient religions as opposed to just focusing on a modern semitic religion.


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