Successful teachers must select a personal philosophy of education that will emanate through their teaching. These philosophies are crucial for overall effectiveness in the classroom. After reviewing several branches of time-tested teaching philosophies, I have discovered both biblical and secular theories that I believe are the most applicable to my philosophy. This collaboration of theories results in my philosophy on the purpose of education, how children learn, how children should be taught, and how to be a successful Christian leader in the classroom.
According to the essentialist theory, the primary purpose of education is to transmit “essential knowledge and skills (Bagley 37)” to students. Essentialism is, in essence, a conservative educational philosophy that focuses on practicality and tradition. Furthermore, in essentialism, the educational system should seek to equip students for the task of being beneficial and productive members of a society (Bagley 37).
However, as a Christian educator, one must have a deeper understanding of the purpose of education aside from essentialism. “Since God is central in the universe and is the source of all truth, it follows that all subject matter is related to God (Cates).” With this in mind, teachers must have a purpose-driven teaching style that points students to Christ, since He is the basis of all truth. Furthermore, all constructed knowledge should stem from scriptural truths, as found in the Bible. The purpose of education from a Christian standpoint should be to glorify God through the transmission and construction of knowledge among students.
Students learn best in an environment that promotes learning. I believe that when students are immersed into a setting that is energetic, while they are being encouraged to learn, is when students will be the most effective in constructing the knowledge transmitted to them. In a progressive classroom, the curriculum is incredibly child-centered. The teacher simply acts as a guide rather than a traditional classroom leader. A progressive teacher would argue, “Effective teaching takes into account the whole child and his or her interests and needs…(Dewey 38).” Although I do not agree with the whole of progressivism, I appreciate how progressive teachers attempt to make school an enjoyable experience for students. Aside from making the curriculum enjoyable, progressive teachers strive to make learning relevant to their students’ individual lives.
Students should be taught in a way that contributes to their spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical development. These attributes of a student are essential skills, often referred to as “the basics” (Bagley 37). I believe that essentialism is the best fit to provide students with a well-rounded education that meets these basic needs. Essentialism is strongly focused on being practical; by teaching timeless truths that essentialists deem elemental knowledge students must know. College and basic life preparation are also strong pursuits in an essentialist classroom. I believe that by teaching students to prepare for their future lives, it gives students a strong focus and overall reason for learning the basics.
As a Christian educator, I believe teachers must incorporate biblical principles into their teaching. Although teachers may not be able to directly preach the gospel to students in a secular setting, teachers can still lead a Bible-infiltrated career that diffuses to their students and fellow teachers. Furthermore, I believe a Christian teacher should aim to be a servant and leader of the school community. Although it seems contradictory to be a servant and a leader simultaneously, it is a direct command from Scripture. In Mark 10:42-45, Mark writes, “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” I believe this charge from the Bible can be directly applied to Christian educators. It challenges teachers to first be a servant to their students and fellow teachers in order to be an effective, godly leader in their school community.
In order to have a prosperous teaching career, I believe a teacher must have a personal philosophy of education. This philosophy will emanate through the style of the teacher and into the classroom. My philosophy on education is primarily based on essentialism, along with the Word of God. By using Scripture as a foundation for teaching, I was able to find educational philosophies on how children learn, how children should be taught, and how to be a servant leader in the classroom.
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