We use the word “Christian” a lot. But what does the word really mean when we apply it to education? And to Classical education no less. My answer is that Christian education is Christ-centered education, both in content and method. I have discussed Christian content. But what about method? What about how we go about educating?
Once again I quote my good friend Justin Hughes as he briefly answers that question.
An important part of any education in a public setting is order. A teacher cannot teach if students are lighting fires in the wastebasket, talking over the teacher, and stealing answers from each other on tests. That’s why education students learn classroom management in college.
But a Christian educator is concerned with much more than managing a classroom. If our concern is educating the whole person, we desire not just to teach minds, but we want to shepherd hearts. Discipleship must be the driving force of a teacher’s interactions with his students. It is important that a student remains quiet while others are speaking so that he can hear him, but it is more important that he learns to love his neighbor as himself. If he does love his neighbor, he will want to hear what his neighbor has to say.
As Moses spoke God’s Word to Israel, he commanded them to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (Deut. 6:5-6). God’s instruction for his people was not merely that they offer him external obedience. He wanted their love. His commands that they not make carved images and not use His name in vain were not the essence of his desire for his people. Behind those laws for their behavior was His desire for their heart. He wanted them to love Him with every part of their being, and He wanted His words to inhabit their hearts. If we are to follow our God and disciple as He does, we are to aim our instructions at the hearts of our pupils. Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount that sins like murder and adultery begin in the heart. He taught that the man who hates has already murdered and the man who lusts has already committed adultery. He taught that true obedience to God is obedience from the heart.
To be like Jesus, our discipleship of our students must be like His. We can’t simply make laws for our classroom and enforce them with an iron fist. Like Jesus, we must teach our students to obey from the heart. We must teach them to love the Law of the Lord. We must disciple them with grace and love. We must disciple them like Jesus.