The Bible and the task of teaching, Chapter 3
It's taken me a while to get back to this project, but I don't want to let it completely fall the by wayside. This was such a good book, it's worth taking the time to read again slowly and thoughtfully.
Chapter 3 is entitled "The Word Became Flesh," and the basic premise is that the Bible has its first direct affect on education when the teacher himself is shaped by the Bible.
As Christians who are also teachers read the Bible, it "shapes their sense of self and of who they should be."
If these people are also teachers, then this process is likely to have some impact on who they are when they are teaching. This will in turn affect the educational experience of their students. At this basic level, the bridge between the Bible and the present day classroom is not so much a set of deductions leading to general principles as the teacher herself or himself, shaped by interactions with the biblical text. Put simply, the Bible shapes people, and it is people who educate.
So, the first step toward a Biblical education is a Christian teacher who is following Christ.
However, there are pitfalls here, and it cannot be assumed that a teacher living out the Christian virtues in the classroom is all that is necessary. Christian teachers also have the responsibility to evaluate their curriculum and information to make sure it is in line with Biblical teaching as well. The teaching of a virtuous Christian teacher could actually make the teaching of lies more effective.
This chapter also addresses the way in which modern educational techniques which view man as mechanical entity rather than a living soul can hinder a Christian teacher.
There is an interesting concrete illustration in this chapter which discusses the way in which an educational goal (speaking a foreign language) may conflict with a higher, Biblical ethic (honesty). Students are generally encouraged to speak and answer questions in the foreign language, even if the answers to the questions are not true. If the student knows the words, it is okay to say, "I live in a green house," even if the truth is that the student lives in the basement apartment of a stone building. In what way can a teacher incorporate the Biblical injunction to "put off falsehood" and still work on language development?
There is not a concrete answer in the chapter to every possible pedagogical problem, although some solutions are offered for this one. It is more of an invitation to Christian teachers to think deeply about their subject matter and consider how bringing the Bible into the classroom, in the form of their own person, should engender changes in how they teach.
I'll end with this lovely quote, that reminds me both of Charlotte Mason's maxim that "education is the science of relations" as well as the essentially integrated nature of classical education:
good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a compex web of connections between themselves, their subjects and their students...the connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts--meaning heart in its ancient sense, as the place where intellect and emotion and spirit and will converge in the human self.
If you're interested in reading a copy for yourself, here is one place to look for it.