Life and Musings of Ed

Brokenness in Education

In Christian Education, Life and living on 15 February 16 at 10:40 am

I am deeply troubled by my recent experiences teaching mathematics in a public high school.  Not only have the vast majority of students entering my classroom lost any wonder or desire to learn mathematics, they come in with a deep set disdain, even hatred of the subject and severely deficient proficiency.  Consider the following example from an integrated math 3 student [similar to algebra 2, for those used to a traditional high school course sequence].  The selected problems from a quiz follows the student’s opportunity to see examples in class and practice both by hand and with the assistance of a graphing calculator.  This is not an anomaly.

MyWorkContinues

Couple this with general class response of “yeah, we agree”  to the following quote from Mike Rowe [Dirty Jobs], and the anecdotal evidence is already very troubling!

MikeRowe_ChallengeToStudents_IsItTrue

There is no shortage of laments regarding the state of public education, and in particular, mathematics education , in the US, nor is it difficult to find any number of suggestions for “fixing” the problem.  One might hear buzz focused on “data driven” education, and “brain based learning”, etc. etc. , for example.

From my perspective, there is a serious world view clash and I will be laying out proposals and offerings for anyone interested in Christian Ed.  My heart is torn daily when exposed to brokenness in so many of my students.  The Good News is that there is Good News [the Gospel] and a real solution to this brokenness.

To start my online and public thinking process, here is a short paper about my philosophy of education, which I wrote for one of my Master’s courses at Concordia University :

Philosophy of Education

I believe the purpose of education is to transform students into the image of Christ, to equip them for every good work, and encourage them to live such that they will glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  As a teacher, I facilitate the development of a Christian worldview, guide students toward Truth and knowledge of God’s creation, love and edify them through trials and struggle, encourage perseverance and the development of Godly character, uphold hope, and foster their understanding of God’s call and will for their life.  By pointing students to Christ, I help them to understand excellence and beauty, their intrinsic worth and value, and principles for a joyous and fulfilling life — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27  ESV).  

Because I believe that parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children, I seek to partner with parents, to involve them as much as possible, and acknowledge their right to choose the best educational setting for their child.  Because I believe we are created as relational beings, incorporating collaborative learning experiences, promoting teamwork and citizenship are critical in my classroom.  Because the great narrative of humankind, the patterns of sin and redemption, of evil and heroism, of love, passion, tragedy, destruction and discovery are recorded, shared and best expressed through language, the written word, mathematics, and the fine arts, these disciplines are critical components of education.  As citizens of the United States of America, I believe we share a common heritage, that students should fully understand philosophies and ideas which led to the founding of our country, should be able to read and comprehend founding documents, the constitution, the history of our country, and the great sacrifices that have been made to establish the freedoms we enjoy.  They will come to understand that such freedom requires a moral, responsible and educated populace. To best understand America, students must be able to compare and contrast all aspects of the history and culture of the United States with the rich cultural diversity and history of other nations.  Because I believe God’s creation is worthy of study and that we are called to be stewards of His creation, the study of science, mathematics, technology, the history of their development and their effective use are critical components of education.   Because I believe all students are created in God’s image, have special gifts and talents, and a purpose or “calling”, I will do everything in my power to ensure equity in my classroom, school, and community.

Finally, the effective impartation of knowledge and wisdom in my chosen discipline of mathematics and science demands my diligence in professional development.  I will continue to stay abreast of research regarding best practices and effective pedagogy, of current understanding of the brain and implications for learning, of new technologies and their effective use, and of current discoveries in mathematics as I seek to deliver a coherent curriculum which engages students multiple intelligence, and is accessible to a diverse community of learners. I will adhere to the simple principle that students must be given a rich exposure to, a variety of ways to engage with, ample opportunities to process, and some choice in expressing mastery of new skills and their ability to use newly gained knowledge.  I will do whatever it takes to ensure every student is able to demonstrate proficiency of a common core of research based, internationally bench-marked standards.

 

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