Education : the Quest for Truth

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Ed Starkenburg

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  • I spent 16 years in Christian schools as a student and now 32 years as a teacher/professor. I am convinced that education is quest for TRUTH!All truth is God’s truth! Is a claim of Christians that goes back at least to St. Augustine in the late fourth or early fifth century. We believe that scripture tells us rather clearly that truth comes from God and His Word. So our quest for truth needs to start with God’s Word. That gives us a lesson plan for preparing ourselves for what we are about to begin doing. We need to KNOW truth in order to teach it and help our students discover it.We discover God’s absolute truth by studying His Word and fostering a close and loving relationship with Him. We don’t construct truth ourselves. We need to know and live this and we need to enable our students to do the same.
  • Sharing what we see as truth helps us articulate it and helps those we share it with.1. Gloria Steinem magnet. “The truth will set you free, but first it will p____ you off!” Finances and the economic vise grip and woes we experience. Social issues regarding family as the basis for our social structure. Personal and community health issues. Education of children: who’s responsible? Who gets to decide? And how should that truth affect the establishment and operation of schools?2. TRUTH cologne by Calvin Klein3. Conversation between Jesus and Pilate in John 18:37-38: Jesus says, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate retorts, “What is truth?”So why does truth seem to escape us? How do we apply the truth we know to situations where we want to know truth? That is a big challenge for us.
  • I fear that a traditional view of and approach to education may limit the experiences students have to help them identify and develop their gifts. For example, when pedagogy is limited to reading, writing, and discussing, which gifts become obvious and valued to students? What if I don’t have those gifts and interests but have others?Ephesians 4: 14-16: Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
  • How do we apply truth in our daily lives as teachers?I have the Dordt College logo here because these are the types of issues and questions we pose to our students to help them learn to live and think biblically.Curriculum standards: professional organizations, states, national common core standards?Education issues: length of school days and the length of the school year; professional development;
  • God’s primary call to us is to be FAITHFUL, not to be successful. So we work very hard to serve faithfully as He calls us, even if and when it seems we could be more successful if we tried other measures that don’t fit as well with our understanding of what He calls us to be and do.
  • Education : the Quest for Truth

    1. 1. Education as a Quest for TRUTHJesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31- 32 Ed Starkenburg, Education Department, Dordt College
    2. 2. Education as a Natural Quest for TRUTH As God’s children, we are natural learners. Being created in His image, we need and crave TRUTH, the way things really are! God is the source of truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” “I tell you the truth….” “All truth is God’s truth!” St. Augustine, 4th or 5th century Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. J MacArthur, 2007 Truth is the revelation of the actual state of reality, the way things TRULY are. We are here to educate the next generations of truth seekers in a world that doesn’t “get” truth. Our understanding of truth is somewhat cumulative: we discover more by wrestling with it.
    3. 3. Opportunities to learn truth and become free! We sinners have an interesting relationship with truth. We crave it and NEED it, yet we don’t always want to accept it or live by it. We often prefer our own way! Gloria Steinem’s saying is often true: The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” We hear about truth in strange places. “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth? Pilate to Jesus at his trial. Can we ever fully know the truth? Should we pursue it?
    4. 4. Biblically Based Education• This job includes training future generations for discipleship and stewardship while seeking truth, like all of life’s activities, is carried out in obedience to God’s commands and for the purpose of bringing Him glory. It involves knowledge and action directed toward truth.• Creation (general) and God’s Word (special) are revelations of truth to be studied and learned in order to foster a relationship with the source of truth.• Truth influences all aspects of the education process, in and out of school.
    5. 5. Applying Biblical Truth to Education• Recognize the variety of students and their need for a variety of instructional and assessment strategies• Be aware of a full range of the gifts God distributes: academic, spiritual, social, artistic, and athletic• Provide opportunities for students to actively develop and “grow” their gifts and abilities• Plan for learning activities that require creativity, imagination, playfulness, and different forms of expression• As students learn about the gifts God distributes and see their interests and abilities develop, they understand!• Another crucial role for us: encouragement and
    6. 6. Preparing Students for Servanthood Servanthood is the goal of this process of education (Eph 4:12) for three reasons:1) God calls us to respond to His gifts,2) The purpose of His gifts is service, and3) Servanthood is a vital part of thinking and living biblically Itseems an interesting paradox that the truth we seek and need from God tells us of our need to serve rather than be served; to be faithful rather than successful. Education based on these ideas makes initial strides at restoring wholeness to our world. Shalom, the biblical peace, justice, and
    7. 7. Questions that Guide Us- Are we developing the mind of Christ? Are the students following the truth more truly now than before? Are students seeing more clearly that our whole world belongs to God? Are the students more awed at God and His works and more discerning about the spirits of this age? Do the students understand more accurately the nature of their God-given gifts? Are those gifts better practiced in order to do God’s work in the world? (Vander Ark, 1998) Are the students more alert to the needs of others and are they more disposed to do something about those needs? Are the students more socially aware, concerned, and active in the preservation of or opposition to important
    8. 8. How does TRUTH apply to the real issues we face? “Doing” vs. “being” of  Effective textbooks our students—which is  Effective instructional really more important? methods & experiences What role should  Bullying & teasing research play in our  School uniforms daily decisions to live & teach truthfully?  State and common curriculum standards or• Length of school day our own standards? and year; year-round school?  Salary & benefits for employees• Special education & gifted education-how do we allocate resources?
    9. 9. Conclusion What I’ve described seems idealistic and easy. When we work to apply God’s truth to our daily, earthly lives, it can be complicated and difficult. REMAIN FAITHFUL Because sin and its effects hurt our world, education often looks like it’s going in a direction very different from what I describe. In faith, we continue to strive for it! God’s expectations for our response to His truth stand, and we engage in redeeming and reconciling the process of education to the degree that’s possible whenever and wherever we educate. edwards@dordt.edu
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