Why I’d Choose a Christian School Every Time?

I often get asked what families should look for when selecting a school for their child. Without mentioning specific schools, I always stress to parents to exercise a preference for a Christian school. Here are 4 reasons why I think a Christian school beats all others most of the time:

 

  1. Distinctively Christian community. 

School, like church, like work, is essentially community. Where children’s education is concerned, it is a great comfort to know that they will have opportunity to make friends with other children who share their faith in the broader school community, and to know that there are families in the school who attach the same importance to Christian convictions and lifestyle. Some Christian schools do not have a requirement that parents attend a church, they nevertheless often prominently publicise their statement of belief, thus ensuring that essentially like-minded applicants are drawn to the school.

 

  1. Great adult Christian role-models. 

For my own children, I cannot express in words my gratitude for the example of Godly conduct and Christ-devotion that they’ve received from their teachers. I realise that this is not something that can be bought with money, and it has an undeniably profound impact on young students. At Christian schools, teachers are the ‘living curriculum’ because they model authentic Christian lifestyle to their students every day. Not all Christian schools have a requirement that teachers should be able to articulate a living faith in The Lord Jesus Christ, but if the Christian character of the school is clearly established, then like-minded teachers will be attracted to that school.

 

  1. Uniquely Christian practices, programmes and disciplines. 

Christian schools that habitually practice Bible teaching, prayer, worship and service demonstrate to students that we do not have a dualistic existence with one set of norms for Sundays and another for the other days of the week. As a result, the students’ Christian lifestyle begins to develop a sincerity and consistency rather than simply ritualistic significance.

 

  1. Biblically integrated lessons. 

In a country like ours, curriculum is prescribed by government, and while some Christian circles decry this as a great evil, remember St Augustine, who says “Let every good and true Christian understand that whatever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master.”  For the Christian school, nothing will be taught without first working it through the lens of a Biblical Worldview. Regardless of the ‘world’s’ content, Christian students must be taught to filter that

content through Biblical criteria to discern whether or not it is to be rejected, accepted, or transformed – this is called Biblical Integration. While some Christian schools prefer to shield children completely from certain content, others believe that it is of much greater value to expose students at age-appropriate levels to the ‘world’s’ content and then guide them through the discernment process.

 

Finally, a word of caution. Every Christian school, despite their best intentions, is still made up of frail and imperfect people, and will occasionally fail to meet their stated expectations. This is the nature of Christian community, and at those times, all of us need to make every effort to strive for unity and display a committed resolve to honour Jesus in every circumstance.

 

Ken Langley

Why Christian Education?

 

 

Christian education is a pedagogical paradigm different from any other form of education.

 

All education claims to dispense knowledge; however not all education professes to deal in both wisdom and understanding. The real difference between Christian education and ordinary schools is primarily going to be the character development of the child. Christian teachers approach the subject matter from a different point of view. They come from a basic understanding that God exists, that God has created and that God has left us with revelations. Christian education deals with the morals of the faith and influences students’ total behavior pattern. Christian education brings the biblical viewpoint to bear on every subject and activity in the school programme; it is Bible based and emphasizes Biblical Worldview, Spiritual Formation, knowledge as well as skills.

 

The boldest distinctive of Christian schooling ought to be in the declaring that it is in the business of extolling the wisdom of God as its highest priority; but God also invites us to master and enjoy the full panoply of human knowledge – every topic, every curiosity is available for us to discover, observe, examine, analyse, synthesis and evaluate. Christian schooling is more than excellence plus Bible. It is schooling centred in Jesus, whereby the curriculum is transfused with truth and Biblical values that are in conflict with the world. The significant end is its unique product – students who do not fit the world’s mold.

 

Christian schooling is not a refuge from the world – it is a resource for the world; it is about embracing and pursuing the mind of Christ. It is about pursuing the real understanding of what it means to be salt and light, about transforming by the renewing of the mind. It is about the development of fruitful bearers of the image of Christ. It is about preparing young people for the kingdom of heaven and the market place of ideas. It is about preparing young people to carry out the work of our Heavenly Father, partnering with Him in His great plan, rather than being content with hunkering down in a sheltered spiritual environment and simply attempting to ward off the attacks of those who relish the demise of godly thought, influence and leadership.

 

The overarching goal of ACSI in the global context is to lead our schools to greater effectiveness. It is our desire that Christian Schools in South Africa be viewed as essential within the Christian community as well as outside the Christian community and that they be recognized as contributing to the public good. To accomplish these matrices of effectiveness we must be seriously intentional about Christian education.

Christian schooling is a pedagogical paradigm different from any other form of education.

The Value of Christian Education

A Christ-centered education makes connections that no other type of education has the foundation to make. These connections are the key, not only for student success, but for real success in life!

 

What is Christian Education and why is it important? From much study and experience it seems that the real difference is the focus on character, the heart of the person, not just the brain or the thought processes. Character formation is integral to learning because a person of character is one that is prepared for life and finds real purpose in both learning and in serving others. As we prepare for life we need to see the big picture of what life is and how we fit in. We know that we have been created by God to be ‘image bearers’ (Genesis 1:26-27), this means we reflect the character of God; but sometimes we are able to reflect it more clearly than at other times. Rick Warren says:

God wants you to develop the kind of character described in the beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:1-12), the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), Paul’s great chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13), and Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life (2 Peter 1:5-8).

 

But how can I develop this kind of character which is a real reflection of who God is and who He wants me to be? This is the essence of the Christian life and what God is constantly working toward through my walk with Him, through my relationships, through my family, through my church, through my daily circumstances, trials and learning experiences. This is preparing for life and living out my purpose! So the calling of the Christian school is to support both the family and the church in this process of understanding and applying Truth from a God-centered perspective!

Now, why doesn’t public education develop this character in our children? First of all, this character is not the stated goal of public education. Character is simply outside the scope of an academic approach to life where people “learn to earn”, although there are schools that attempt to address character without a biblical foundation. But more importantly, there are several conflicting issues in modern society which directly impact the public education environment: a disparity between religious belief and popular belief, a secular vs. sacred concept of life, relativistic morality, and the false assumption that some people have more value than others. These concepts can be summarized in the differences between a God-centered worldview and a self-centered worldview.

In the self-centered worldview, I am my own purpose. I exist as a product of the chance fusion of genes from my parents. My character is formed by my circumstances and how I react to those circumstances based on my predisposition and my attitude. My choices are determined by what I think is best for me. Doing the right thing means doing what is right for me or maybe benefiting someone else (usually someone I value). If I am religious, I may make some choices based on how God may or may not punish me as a result, but the focus is still on my own well-being.

In a God-centered worldview, I exist for God’s purposes. I exist because God has planned for me to be born with certain genes in a certain place at a certain time. My character is formed because of the people that God puts in my life to teach and train me and I learn to recognize His hand in this process. Often my attitudes and actions do not reflect the character He desires, but I am learning to do this through the difficult things He brings my way. My choices are determined by what God says is best for me as I learn Truth from His Word and by His Spirit living in me. When I don’t make correct choices, I need to deal with the natural consequences and trust Him to use everything for His glory.

So the Christian school, ideally, has an approach to life and learning which results in beautiful and purposeful connections in the following areas:

  • God-centered education connects faith to life (God’s law is central to all learning and to all decisions because I know He desires what is best in the long term.)
  • God-centered education connects work to service and ministry (Work is a process of using what God has given me to bless and serve others, to care for His creation and to communicate a knowledge of Him.)
  • God-centered education connects morality to absolutes (Right and wrong is not determined by the limited scope of what is right for me or my community but because God is Holy and God is Good.)
  • God-centered education connects people to purpose (My life has purpose because I am part of His big plan. But, just as important, each individual around me has purpose too and our interactions need to communicate their God-given value!)

We can take a look at these connections in more detail later, because they are unique to the Christian school. But remember that we as parents and as teachers are an integral part of highlighting these connections in how we live and in how we teach. What a joy and privilege God has given us!

by Paul Madsen

 

 

 

 

Bullying – How Adults Can Help Stop Bullying

As with many issues related to growing up, openly talking about bullying before it happens is most helpful for children. Teach your child how to recognize and react to bullying, regardless of who is the victim. Also, talk about and model empathy, which is being sensitive to and understanding how other people feel. This can help prevent your child from becoming involved in bullying others.

Children on both sides of bullying incidents need help. Adults must first recognize that bullying should not be ignored. This includes the form of bullying that makes others feel excluded and shunned. No bullying behaviors should be considered a normal part of growing up.

Bullying is abusive behavior. If you witness bullying, get involved and speak up. Make it clear that you will not tolerate it. Ideally, build an alliance with a bullying child’s parents first. If you confront the bully on behalf of your child without his or her parents around, you risk putting the child on the defensive. Also, children who bully often are skilled in turning their parents against you. Don’t give them the chance to come up with a different version of the real story. And remember that parents may be the role models for a child’s bullying behavior.

Bullying

Bullying Definition

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Types of Bullying 

There are three types of bullying:

  • Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
    •                         Teasing
    •                         Name-calling
    •                         Inappropriate sexual comments
    •                         Taunting
    •                         Threatening to cause harm
  • Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
    •                         Leaving someone out on purpose
    •                         Telling other children not to be friends with someone
    •                         Spreading rumors about someone
    •                         Embarrassing someone in public
  • Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
    •                         Hitting/kicking/pinching
    •                         Spitting
    •                         Tripping/pushingTaking or breaking someone’s things
    •                         Making mean or rude hand gestures