Didactics

Education can be reduced to one simple rule:

put the cookies on the bottom shelf.

Elementary school students with their hand raised to ask a question. Focus on boy in red.
“The teacher is the living curriculum”

Dr. James Braley

The Whole TruthBiblical Theology of Didactics [“Didactics” comes from the Greek word “to teach.”]

Students must be able to access knowledge taught, teachers are responsible to make the knowledge accessible. Communication of content is the essence of what educators do. So teaching is not separated from learning; the teaching-learning process is unified.

Answers to the questions “How does everything fit together?” and “How does life make sense?” are based on the intersection and unification of heaven and earth through Jesus who holds all things together (Col. 1:17). There is a unity of Truth (2 Kgs. 19:15). All “truth” is inclusive within His “Truth.” Since God alone made the heavens and the earth (Neh. 9:6; Pro. 30:4; Isa. 44:24) and the whole of creation gives Him praise (Ps. 69:34) Christian thinkers must answer the question “How do our studies give praise to God?” Christian teaching-learning must synthesize the source of all wisdom, Jesus (Col. 2:3), proclaiming Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom (Col. 1:28).

encyclopedia of CEGod is the transcendent Source of all knowledge and authority (1 Sam. 2:3; Num. 24:16; Pro. 2:6). By this knowledge, God created the world (Ps. 104:24) and with the wisdom still embedded within creational law (Pro. 8:12-31) the natural world operates on supernatural ordinances. 

People are responsible to this God and His Truth (Pro. 1:7; 9:10). Fearing God is premised upon relationship which is the essential component of all knowledge: to love God (Mark 12:30, 31). People simply discover—they do not create—truths resident within creation from The Creator (Is. 28:23-29; Pro. 25:2). Humans continue to discover truths hidden from earlier generations owing to unfathomable depths of God’s mysteries (Job 38-41).

Truth in the world is interpreted through the Truths in God’s Word (2 Co. 10:3-5) which are eternal and universal (Is 40:8; Jn. 17:17; 1 Pe. 1:25). Human pursuit of knowledge must be earnestly sought and granted by God (Prov 23:23) by those who are discerning (Pro. 14:6; 15:14; 18:15). Because human knowledge is skewed by sin (Ti. 1:15), Scripture is the final authority for assessing the assumptions of worldviews (1 Jn. 4:4).

schoolBiblical Philosophy of Didactics

The life of a Christian teacher is as important as the curriculum they communicate: they are the “living curriculum” (Lk. 6:40). Teachers should model their belief (1 The. 2:7-12).  Students must be trained in a holistic, cohesive Christian paradigm (2 Kgs. 23:25; Ez. 7:10; Acts 2:42-47). Knowing should affect being, producing action (1 The. 1:6-9). Teachers are accountable for what they teach (Jas. 3:1). Teachers are authorities, whose authority is given by God (1 The. 5:11-12; Heb. 13:17).

Students have worth, value, and dignity because they have been created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). Students are also inherently corrupt in their nature because of The Fall of humanity (Gen. 3; Rom. 3). Pupils need, then, direction and discipline corralling sinful proclivities (Deut. 30:11-15) through Jesus’ sacrifice; what is twisted by sin is reconciled through Christ (2 Cor. 5:17-21). The student is seen as an individual with varying learning styles and potentialities (1 Pe. 4:10-11). 

storytellingChristian instruction is distinctive. Change in method does not demand change in message (1 Co. 9:19-22). Since God is Truth, His Spirit instructs Christian authority in academic realms (Rom. 8:5-9; 2 Tim. 1:14). Christian teachers, nurtured with a Christian philosophy of education, direct students as they discover the truth of God’s world around them (1 Tim. 4:11-16). Learning is work which is adversely affected by The Fall (Gen. 3:17-19). Christian education must recognize the general rebellion against the discipline to learn (Pro. 1:1-9, 22).

Transformational learning is the goal of Christian education (Isa. 29:13; Jas. 1:22-25), best done in community (Acts 2:42-47). Skills, facts, ideas, and procedures are all reclaimed for the Christian classroom premised upon the unifying truth of Scripture (1 Kgs. 4:29-34). Because all truth is God’s Truth (Ps. 119:89-96) students are taught to discern truth wherever it may be found (Heb. 5:11-14). The latest theories, the oldest philosophies, the most recent practices in schooling are evaluated biblically to discover purloined pieces of truth and their applicability to the Christian educator’s approach (Is 28:23-29).

students heads downThere is no dichotomy between secular and sacred—the whole world and all of life belong to The Creator (1 Chr. 29:10-16; Ps. 24:1; 50:9-12; 89:11). Because of common grace—truth found within creation—can be accessed because The Creator was pleased to leave it there, intending delight and wonder for the discoverer (Job 26; 28:1-11; Pro. 25:2). Ways of knowing (epistemology) are premised upon “the fear of The Lord” (Pro. 1:7; 9:10).

The Christian Scriptures are the central organizing core of education (2 Tim. 1:14; 2:15; 3:14-17), allowing for evaluation and interpretation of all theories and data, while giving purpose to the process of Christian. The Christian scholar (2 Chr. 17:7-9; Pro. 2:1-6; 2 Cor. 10:3-5) bears responsibility to develop a theological awareness so as to employ a Christian thought process in the pursuit of true Truth .

school bibleChristian Practice of Didactics

Intentionality should be a Christian teacher’s watch word. Planning is the first step in creating a systematic approach to teaching. Interiority is the ultimate Christian education change agent. Teaching is a craft. A teacher’s gifting matters. Learning should engage a multiplicity of learning styles, modalities, and methods since people are multifaceted, yet whole. Christian scholars can learn from unbelievers because the human discoverer of truth is subservient to the true Truth. The ability to know and to grow in knowledge of the Creator and His creation is within the purview of thinking people (cf. Ps. 64:9; 65:8; 66:1-5; 67). Believers must continue to mine truths no matter where they are found or by whom they are found. Furthermore, though culture and context may condition the perceptions of different people groups, the common nature of reality is true for all people in all places at all times (Ps. 117).

Christian teachers may facilitate learning experiences but teaching is not the facilitation of experience or the construction of knowledge. Knowledge is not static. It is ever expanding.  This does not mean, however, that truth is invented or created. Truth is discovered, ordered, analyzed, and applied. Truth exists apart from the truth seeker. Teachers help students discover truth and order it in a manner that is consistent with the ultimate Truth of the Word of God.

addiction-researchHerein the learner should understand both that she bears responsibility for learning (Pro. 2:1-6) while teachers are encouraged to bring learning to the learner (Ps. 71:14-18). Understanding steps in the learning process—stages of maturation—would help instructors fine tune their methods to the learning styles of their pupils (Heb. 5:11-14). Ultimately brought to a place of ownership (Acts 17:11), students would become teachers (Gal. 6:6). In this way, the “holes” of human nature shot through with corruption can be made “whole” through the process of maturation (Ps. 119:97-100) within the scope of Scriptural principles (Ps. 119:89-91).  Children as corrupt image bearers (Ecc. 7:29), then, can acknowledge that there is Someone outside themselves to whom they must give an account.  But the process of moving children to that level of commitment is the task of the teacher elucidating and magnifying a transcendent source of truth (Ps. 71:14-18).

“Didactics” © is one of 17 articles included in The Encyclopedia of Christian Education, Rowman & Littlefield, April, 2015 by Dr. Mark Eckel.

Other Helps

Howard Hendricks, Teaching to Change Lives: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs, Multnomah Books, 2003).

Harro Van Brummelen, Steppingstones to Curriculum: A Biblical Path, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs, Purposeful Design, 2002).

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