It was Harold Titus (1974) who posits the view that, "An education that fails to consider the fundamental questions of human existenceâ€¦is a very inadequate type of education" (21). This makes sense in light of the fact that the most "fundamental and inescapable observation facing every individual is the reality and mystery of his personal existence in a complex environment" (Knight, 148). It is for this reason that philosophers are constantly seeking to discover the nature of reality, and the nature, source and validity of knowledge, in an attempt to determine those things that are of value. The startling truth is that, left in the dark wilderness of the information age, students will deplete their energies chasing mirages while reality and purpose continue to elude them. It is only as they progress along developmental paths, guided by caring and efficient Christian teachers, that they will emerge in the light of maturity as positive forces for good.
Christian teachers are therefore essential cogs in any progressive system of education that seeks to articulate deep philosophical and practical principles of learning rooted in the spiritual, social, physical and intellectual fulfillment of teachers and students alike. Their belief in a supreme being makes them better able to communicate to student the fact that man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:29), which Reinhold Neibuhr (1964) understood to refer to God's personality, characteristics, power of choice, authority over earthly creatures and resources, mental capacity and aptitudes (13). It is only when they gain a perception of their role in the scheme of things that students will find meaning in studying and relating to instruction. It is for this reason that Christian teachers can be seen as agents of change - catalysts to enhance the total development of their students in order to make them assets of society.
One essential goal of every Christian teacher therefore, should be continuous spiritual development. C. B. Eavey highlighted this point when he commented that "only one who has been made a new creature in Christ can mediate to others God's grace or nurture others in that grace" (Eavey, 61). Additionally, the atmosphere generated in a loving Christian environment helps students to understand and experience, during class interactions, how a life characterized by an integrated development of all the faculties can be used in community upliftment. It would also have helped to forge the shapes of their characters and add a valuable spiritual dimension to their lives.
Another goal of the Christian teacher is to be a lifelong learner, "continually growing in his own mental development" (Knight, 192) and seeking always to remain relevant. Christian teachers have the tremendous task of gaining and transmitting knowledge and attitudes with such enthusiasm and clarity, and in such meaningful and innovative ways that they facilitate positive changes and lasting relationships. Their example of proactive leadership is critical if students, who often seek to emulate their teachers, are to function effectively in a constantly changing world where "openness to change and diverse ways of looking at and approaching material and situations can mean the difference between success and failure" (Murray, 1999).
It is in recognition of the value of this approach that extensive studies have been conducted to determine what makes some people interested in learning throughout their lives. Government policy documents - such as the recent White Paper on Educational Reform, the Way Upward - have identified lifelong learning as a key ingredient of future national economic success.Â Lifelong learning helps students to become better citizens and to enhance their communities. Lifelong learning success is the leading intrinsic factor that motivates the caring efforts of dedicated Christian teachers.
It is maybe this thought that inspired Ellen G. White, in the book Education, to write that, ''In a knowledge of God all true knowledge and real development have their being" (White, 14). For it is the everlasting principles of the divine - honesty, sacrifice, patience, kindness, love, joy, peace, forgiveness - that will remain constant in a world where facts change and systems are outdated as quickly as they are invented.
It is also important for teachers to interact successfully with students, parents and other stakeholders in the education process. Meaningful relationships bring out valuable insights of human nature that can be beneficially utilized in the classroom to enhance learning at different levels. This is consistent with reflections of how Christ related to his students: he engaged with them socially and was thus able to use their everyday experiences in his lessons.
Consequently my personal philosophy of teaching hinges on the belief that teaching must be viewed as another dimension of loving God's children. This philosophy dictates how I carefully and prudently decide on the values worth being familiar with, the concepts important to know, and the most critical attitudes which I want to teach and then, prayerfully, design the curriculum to achieve my objectives.
I believe that training in life long learning skills is essential in any progressive classroom and when I successfully generate energy for learning in my classroom, I provide positive learning opportunities to my students. I try to design activities around the dimensions that encourage children to become more aware of, and to strengthen, their own learning ability. In so doing I create a physical, social, spiritual and emotional environment that places greater emphasis on understanding learning and the fostering of learning power.Â It is within this context that I try to achieve and maintain the health of all facets of my being. It is only when the essential life forces are in balance that the flame of positivity can glow at its best.
Â One essential component, of my philosophy of education, is therefore the emphasis that should be placed on cultivating the right attitude towards the realities of life. I believe that an attitude of submission to the will of the Almighty will enable individuals to cope with the circumstances of life and to value those things that are noble and elevating. It is for this reason that I try to teach the essential skills of coping and tolerance to students with their many diverse needs. It is for this reason that I constantly articulate the need for teachers to into consideration the general learning needs of students - handicapped, average, and gifted - in terms of their differing interests, developmental levels, aptitudes, personalities, socio-economic backgrounds, and learning styles, and address them successfully with the right choice of instructional programs.
This approach has reaped tremendous benefits, not only for the students I teach but for my own sense of personal fulfillment. I strongly believe that all teachers should be honest, enthusiastic, dedicated to the task of teaching, and should reflect honesty and excellence. They should exhibit a high level of professional and personal behaviour and should endeavour to motivate rather than discriminate.
Murray, Harry. "Teaching Behaviours Inventory". The Teaching Professor. October 1988. (p. 3-4) Retrieved April 13, 2007 from http://www.wmich.edu/
White, Ellen G. (1903). Education. Idaho:Pacific Press Publishing Association
"Effective Lifelong Learning". http://www.bris.ac.uk/education/enterprise/elli/
Eavey, C. B. (1964). Aims & Objectives of Christian Education. Chicago:Moody Press
Knight, George R. (1980). Philosophy and Education: An Introduction in Christian Perspective. Barien Spring: Andrews University Press
Niebuhr, Reinhold, (1964). The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation, Vol.1 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 13).