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Courageous, Compelling and Coherent Christian Education: Living the Biblical Story

When a Christian family is choosing a school for their child, what factors do they consider? To what do we as Christian educators invite them to participate? In this article, three common views of Christian schooling as identified by its claimed benefits are considered and critiqued against biblical priorities with the hope of encouraging Christian educators to be courageous in their vital endeavour. At the heart of the article is a belief that as Christian educators, we tend to focus on outward behaviour and too little on knowing God—relating to him, and living as participants in the metanarrative of scripture and the redemptive activity at its heart.

To establish a current understanding of common ways Christian schools make their case to potential families, the two phrases “benefits of Christian schools” and “reasons to send your child to a Christian School” were put into an Internet search engine. The analysis of the first 25 distinct results generated 150 statements which presented a benefit of Christian schooling. These were then coded and the following categories emerged.

Category

Frequency

Quality of education

31

Learning environment

31

Teachers and staff

29

Family, church, school concordance

22

Training different from non-Christian schools

18

Role of the Bible

11

Student related

8

 

150

 

There is much which could be written about the findings of this small foray into how Christian schools position themselves in the public arena. However, for the purpose of this article the focus is on the way the above categories combine to generate different approaches to education and the Christian school. For example, there is a fortress view, which claims that a secular school “can destroy what the church and home are trying to do” and where “atheists have taken over the world.” In such a view, the Christian school is a haven from the influences of the non-Christian world, and is there “to assist parents who want to educate children to resist the pressures the world offers.” Desirable characteristics of the learning environment are that it is safe from worldly influence and a good place to make friends.

A second view of Christian schooling may be described as an apologetic view, where schools argue (on the world’s terms) that they do as well or better than public schools and that their teachers are qualified or authoritative in their field. This is only part of the article. Want to read more? Subscribe to the website by choosing "Register" from the menu above. It's free!