Education is a gift. It is a gift, but it is not an end in itself, much the same as bread is a gift, but it is a means to an end, the nourishment of the body. A Christian and biblical view of education begins with God, and the recognition that He is the source and the goal of all that is. This is radically different from a secular view of education which sees mankind as the chief focus, or perhaps the preservation of the planet or species more generally. Other pertinent aspects of a Christian philosophy of education include a discussion of the foundation, the means, and the recipients.

God is. Such a statement is by no means simple. What it implies for Christian education is that there is no more essential or foundational pursuit than God Himself. He has eternally existed before He created the world. He created the world of nothing, and continues to uphold it. He loves the world, rescuing lost people from certain and terrible destruction. And He will come again. Through all this is one line which relates to education: the glory of God. All our purposes in life, including in education, are subservient to this one great goal.

But (if I may begin a sentence with a conjunction), the school is not the same as the church. The main task of the Christian school is not evangelistic, though it is a beautiful side-effect when the witness of believers within the school system, and the instruction and interaction in the classroom so speak of Christ’s love that non-believers are drawn to Him. The church’s role is to feed and equip believers and to reach out to the lost; the school’s role is to assist parents in their calling to nurture young people in a Christ- focused environment in order to prepare them for their future callings at home, church, and in the work force. Having said this, I realize that some schools pursue an evangelistic mandate, and if I were in such a school setting I would whole-heartedly support that.

The world cannot do better than a utilitarian view of education will allow. For them, study and development is limited to getting a job someday, becoming better citizens, or even self-actualization. If studying history, for example, cannot achieve those ends, then it has a lessor place if any. Not so in a Christian school. A good education will indeed make better citizens and will perhaps lead to better jobs, but only as a side effect. The main focus of education is perceiving the world, including ourselves, our society and mankind, as God sees it and has created it. The answer to the question, “Why do we have to study this?” changes from, “You will need it in your future job (or class)” to “Because it is a part of God’s creation that we love to explore.”

As far as means and methodologies go, these must never be ends in themselves. Methodologies come and go, and many are good. But a school cannot be about its methodology; it must be about communicating a biblical worldview to the students. It must be more than communicating; it must do what it can to help students understand and embrace this biblical worldview. As well, wherever possible, schools should comply with the requirements of the jurisdiction in which they are.

For this reason, having teachers who are committed to these principles is essential. Christian teachers cannot be simply Christians who happen to teach in a Christian school. No, they are talented, gifted, professional individuals who are committed to exposing the glories of God’s self-revelation in all disciplines, and in all aspects of school life. The administrator is a person who recognizes the gifts God has given to these teachers and does everything he or she can to make them successful in their task.

When, then, has a school been successful? Academic excellence is important, but not to the exclusion of students who are not academically gifted. The challenge for Christian educators is to assist every student to achieve his or her God-given potential. The school is successful when it has biblically represented God’s truth, when every individual within that school system and the surrounding community have been touched by the love of Christ, and when the gifts have been developed to their fullest. The truth will then set us–students, parents and educators–free as Jesus, the Bread of Life, said it will.

Richard Sommer, Principal