A Recipe for Academic Excellence

A Recipe for Academic Excellence

Is there a recipe for producing a quality Christian school? I think there is. The recipe or Philosophy of Education is founded on four ingredients. They are Academic Excellence, Behavioral Discipline, Christian Content, and Direct Instruction. These four principles can enable us to provide our students with A Better Education in Christ. Here is an overview of these four ingredients.

Academic Excellence

Academic excellence can be defined by the 3 "R's". No, I don't mean "Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmetic" although these are essential to an excellent education. Academic excellence is first of all Rigorous. It requires the student to work harder than he ever thought he could and to achieve more than he ever thought he would. It sets objective and high standards of achievement and measures each individual's work against those standards. It does not show favoritism, but requires the same assignments of everyone allowing each student's effort and ability to determine his individual marks (equality of opportunity-not equality of outcome).

Secondly, academic excellence is Respectful. It demands respect for the truth. The purpose of education is the transmission of truth from one generation to the next. That truth must be respected by both teachers and students so that it is conveyed and received in a form that is uncorrupted and unadulterated. Christian academic excellence denounces relativism and seeks truth first from the Word of God, and secondarily from the world viewed in the light of the Word of God. Accordingly, students are to respect their instructors as teachers of truth and address them respectfully (e.g. "Mr.", "Mrs.", "Pastor", "Sir").

Thirdly, academic excellence teaches children to be Responsible. Through graded daily homework assignments and dated research assignments, students learn that they are accountable for completing the work assigned to them. They develop study habits and learn to prioritize and manage their time to ensure the completion of assigned tasks. They learn to be conscientious, responsible individuals.

Behavioral Discipline

Behavioral discipline must be based on the realization that man is by nature sinful and that without proper training he is incapable of rejecting the wrong and choosing the right. A structured classroom with well-defined boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behavior is essential to the learning process and to orderly interaction within the classroom. Discipline in the Christian school must be applied without favoritism and consistently from day to day. Teachers must make sure the rules are fair, and students must never be allowed to challenge the rules or justify their violation of them. Yelling, insults, or belittling are not acceptable forms of control by a teacher. Joking, overlooking, or sympathizing must never be used to excuse or minimize the wrongness of misbehavior. All violations of the rules must be dealt with as sin - the only cure for which is confession and forgiveness. Appropriate punishment, however, should never be waved in lieu of confession.

Christian Content

Christian content means that we teach Bible and church history and Christian doctrine. But it also means that everything we teach must be taught in the light of Scriptural revelation and with an understanding that the Word of God is the only truth that endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). This means that wherever possible we use textbooks that understand the primacy of Scripture. Science texts must acknowledge the six-day creation, the young earth and universe, the marvelous design of our world by God, and the preservation of the world by God. They must also teach students to recognize the fallacies of evolution and how to refute it scientifically as well as Biblically. Language, Literature, and Social Studies texts, too, must acknowledge with appreciation the contribution of Christianity to western civilization and understand that the Word of God does impact culture positively - for the glory of God and the well being of society.

Trying to teach the truth by using public school texts or materials, which are based on evolutionary, humanistic, or relativistic presuppositions, is like trying to teach Christian doctrine by using the Book of Mormon; it simply can't be done without a gross distortion of the Christian faith. Hence, we use textbooks with Christian content.

Direct Instruction

Direct Instruction is really just a way of saying that the teacher is responsible for what is taught, how it is taught, and that the students learn it. The teacher is to identify the body of knowledge to be conveyed. The teacher is to instruct to make sure that the students learn, understand, and apply that knowledge correctly. The teacher is to evaluate his student's objectively to ensure that learning has been accomplished. His goal for the students is the accumulation of knowledge, the acquisition of understanding, and the appropriation of wisdom. He is confident that every student he passes into the next grade level has learned the material studied at the current level to a satisfactory degree so as to enable him to function and succeed at the next level. Is is a benefit to the student to have him repeat a grade rather than move him ahead if he is not capable of doing the work at the next level.

It’s as easy as "A" "B" "C" "D"! That’s the essence of a quality Christian educational institution. It is the educational recipe that makes an excellent pudding.

William C. Heine, 29 May 1997