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Posts Tagged ‘philosophy of education’

The following text comprises the notes used to deliver an address to the Bethel College community at the opening convocation of the 2015-2016 academic year on August 19, 2015.

 

Students, you are at Bethel College to receive an education.

Teachers, you are at Bethel College to provide an education.

Today, the first day of the academic year, we convene to dedicate ourselves, as a community, to provide and receive an education.

 

An intelligent dedication requires that we first define “education.”

 

Education is an

action or process of

formal teaching

by precept, example, or experience

that results in

the knowledge of information and skills,

and mental, spiritual, and aesthetic development.

 

I would like to repeat that definition:

 

Education is an

action or process of

formal teaching

by precept, example, or experience

that results in

the knowledge of information and skills,

and mental, spiritual, and aesthetic development.

 

From this definition we may isolate five essential components of education, each identified with a word beginning with the letter “a”:

Education is made up of (1) actors, (2) an aim, (3) actions, (4) an avenue, and (5) assessment.

 

The actors: teacher and student

The aim: the outcome in the student desired by the teacher, i.e., that which must be learned and that into which one must develop

The actions: teaching by the teacher and learning by the student

The avenue: the curriculum or course of study taught by the teacher to achieve the desired outcome in the student

The assessment: the evaluation of the desired outcome, curriculum, teaching, and learning in order to maximize the fruitfulness of each of these components

 

Everything we do as teachers and students, if it is to be called education, must in some way relate to these essential components. Anything that does not do so is peripheral to our task, and it is questionable that we should be involved in it.

To illustrate: Why do we build state-of-the-art buildings and use technology like ThresherConnect? In answering this question, it is important to note that buildings and technology are not ends in themselves. They are not essential to education. In fact, in some cases, they may distract from or impede education, e.g., when in class we tap out texts on our phones and check out email and Facebook on our laptops. In reality, education can take place on a log with a teacher on one end giving instruction to and asking questions of a student at the other end. However, we employ assets like state-of-the-art buildings and technology, because we believe they contribute to education when used to advance the components, e.g., teaching and learning.

Ultimately, though, effective education depends upon the extent to which each of the actors, teachers and students, understand and fulfill their roles with respect to the other essential components of education. Since the opening convocation is the occasion at which we, as a community, dedicate ourselves again to these roles, it is fitting that we briefly consider and then commit ourselves to them. (more…)

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This “Vision for Christ-centered Higher Education” is an extended treatment, from a different point of view, of the same subject treated in “A Philosophy of Christian Liberal Arts Education.” “Vision” was first published in 2007, when I was employed as the Academic Vice President at Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio.

Cedarville University is a Christ-centered learning community equipping students for lifelong leadership and service through an education marked by excellence and grounded in biblical truth. This mission affects our philosophy of education, including the way faculty members conduct research, practice collegiality, and carry out instruction.

As a university comprised of multiple schools, containing a variety of academic disciplines and areas of research, Cedarville will carry out its mission through a conversation involving a mutual sharing among the various disciplines, both on Cedarville’s campus and within the academy at large. For example, those engaged in biblical and theological studies will gain hermeneutical insight to exercise more critical discernment for biblical interpretation and theological reflection from conversation with those involved in the study of human communication within and across cultures and social strata, the study of artistic expression, and the study of literary forms and theories. Furthermore, those preparing students for professional careers such as those in nursing, business, and education will seek to educate their students as complete persons through collaboration with colleagues in the humanities and social sciences.

As a Christ-centered university with a commitment to the authority of Christian Scripture, we recognize the following principles: (more…)

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Inasmuch as a college student’s education is to prepare him or her for life outside of the classroom, it seems reasonable to conclude that the student should be diligent to give the professor what I call “happy thoughts.” After all, don’t we all want “the boss,” (i.e., the professor) to have happy thoughts when our name runs through his or her mind, especially at significant career moments like professional reviews, budgeting, downsizing, or, in the case of the student, grading.

The student, like the employee, however, must be careful when seeking to impart happy thoughts. Happy thoughts are not the same as flattery or apple polishing. These crude, insincere, surreptitious attempts to find favor in the eyes of another are obvious to all but the most obtuse, stretching the truth for the obvious and singular goal of self-promotion. Consequently, they have a high risk of backfiring. Despite what is often thought, flattery will not get you everywhere.

In the case of happy thoughts, however, the professor eagerly anticipates the student’s engagement in what amounts to a game, since he or she has instructed the student on the power of happy thoughts and on what it is that will bring to him or her those small moments of warm, glowing feelings. By playing along, then, the student causes happy thoughts to illuminate the bleak life of the professor, not only by means of the content of his or her remarks, but also as a result of the respect shown to the professor by engaging in an activity that, to the uninitiated, may be mistaken for the crass imitation.

To illustrate: On a recent test I added the following exercise to the end of the exam. I awarded no points for this item; it primarily was instructional. But, Ah! To answer at all, and then, to answer correctly, had the potential of imparting happy thoughts on-the-spot, at the crucial time when I was grading the exam. Furthermore, the student is now better equipped to act accordingly in the future.

So, here we go (and, by the way, all the options, in the case of this professor, are correct answers):

In order to give the instructor “happy thoughts,” which of the following items should the student be eager to affirm continually in the instructor’s presence:

  1. The correct pronunciation of Minnesota is mi΄- ni- SEW΄- tŭ
  2. The North American equivalent to Mecca is Green Bay, Wisconsin
  3. The joy of every boy and girl is not a cola or a root beer, but the most original soft drink ever in the whole wide world, Dr. Pepper
  4. The greatest popular music band in human history is U2

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Education may be defined as an action or process of formal teaching by precept, example, or experience that results in the knowledge of information and skills, and mental, spiritual, and aesthetic development.

This definition includes five essential components of education that each may be identified with a word beginning with the letter “a”: (1) The actors of education are the teachers and students. (2) The aim of education is the outcome in the students desired by the teachers, i.e., that which must be learned and that into which one must develop. (3) The actions of education are teaching by the teachers and learning by the students. (4) The avenue of education is the curriculum or course of study taught by the teachers to achieve the desired outcome in the students. (5) The assessment of education is the evaluation of the desired outcome, curriculum, teaching, and learning in order to maximize each of these components. (more…)

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