a bible sits in a window sill next to a cup of coffee

Developing a Mindset for Christ-Centered Instruction

I was sitting on the front porch of our Kentucky farmhouse, doing my morning Bible reading and study.  As I paused to ponder the words I had just read, I looked across our front yard to the field across the street. There she was. A doe strolled across that overgrown field as she does every morning with her two almost grown fawns.  She stopped and turned her head in my direction as if to say, “Hi Annie, nice day today.”

I smiled back at her and said, “Good morning, sweet girl.”

My mind then got lost in the magnificence of the morning. What seemed to be a vibrant symphonic performance filled my ears as the birds called each other and the insects chirped and hummed. A palette of green and yellow trees, tall tan grasses, pink, white, and purple wildflowers, and a blue sky overwhelmed my eyes.  

“Thank you, Lord, for not just creating a place for us to live but a world that is so pleasing to look at. I’m in awe of how you perfectly created the world so that plants live and grow without any person needing to tend to them or help them along. I’m in awe of how the doe knows how to take care of her young without lessons. I’m in awe of how the communication patterns of birds and insects sound like music. You made a place where my life is sustained, and yet it is beautiful to look at! Thank you.”

I cannot look at the world around me and not see God’s hand. Romans 1:20 says, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse (NASB 1995). I am in awe of how God’s benevolence, creative genius, attention to detail and precision, and beauty can be seen in life.  

Interestingly, as I have been teaching others about Christ-centered instruction, I have developed the same awareness and awe of God’s benevolence, creative genius, attention to detail and precision, and beauty revealed in various subject area content.

I see God’s character and creative genius in math. I see his consistency and wisdom in science. I see his hand in spreading the Gospel through migration and immigration patterns of people in social studies. I see the image-bearing characteristics he has gifted to humans through language so we can build relationships and have community. I see his standard of beauty in the fine arts. On and on it goes. His invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature can be seen in the concepts of the curriculum.

A Mindset for Christ-Centered Instruction Requires Looking

To be honest, up until about 10 years ago, I didn’t see any of that…because I wasn’t looking. Since I have intentionally focused on Christ-centered instruction, I see the world differently. I more easily see how biblical principles established by God and presented in Scripture show up in the concepts taught in K-12 curriculum.  I’m developing a worldview mindset.

You see, Christ-centered instruction, or biblical integration in the classroom, as some call it, involves planning learning activities that allow students to discover the biblical principles revealed in the concepts they are learning in their classes. The term biblical integration is actually an inaccurate term for labeling the type of instruction that guides students to think biblically about what they are learning. Integration involves combining or blending two separate things. Likewise, the term biblically integrated instruction implies that a teacher combines the Bible’s ideas with the curriculum content. Yet Colossians 1 teaches that God is in all and through all.

Teachers don’t need to blend or combine the Bible into our content. Biblical Truth is already there. Teachers, instead, need to create learning opportunities for students to see how God and biblical principles are revealed in the content.  

Develop a Worldview Detective Mindset for Christ-Centered Instruction 

At first, the process of creating Christ-centered units might seem difficult. Often this is because we are not practiced in identifying worldview ideas, and we may not know how to articulate the worldview ideas we recognize. It is helpful to develop a worldview detective mindset. This mindset involves intentional anticipation that you will discover worldview ideas in every source of information encountered. That’s sort of how things go for teachers focused on providing Christ-centered instruction in the classroom. Once teachers are intent on teaching, so biblical principles are revealed in their content, they begin to see worldview ideas pop up in ways never noticed before. 

I liken the worldview discovery to searching through the children’s magazines found in just about every pediatrician’s office. Upon entering the doctor’s office as a little girl, I’d quickly scan the room for children’s magazines. Once found, I’d immediately grab one and turn to the page with the hidden picture game. First, I’d examine the page to see what I could find without looking at the list of hidden objects. Then after finding all that I thought was there, I’d check the list to see what I missed. I was usually pretty good at finding about half of the hidden objects that were part of the artwork without the list.

Planning for Christ-Centered Instruction

Planning for Christ-centered instruction is very similar to looking for hidden objects in the hidden picture magazine activity. As teachers look over the curriculum content and standards they are required to teach for a given unit, they must think about how God and his ideas can be seen. What ideas related to God’s design for things, his character, his standards for right and wrong, and his intentions can be seen in the learning material? 

For some, this worldview detective mindset is not easy.  I know it wasn’t for me.  Explaining a biblical worldview or discerning worldview principles in ideas required lots of effort on my part. I needed help recognizing the biblical principles. I wished I even knew what I was looking for. Too bad there wasn’t a list of hidden biblical principles available like the hidden pictures had a list of hidden objects. I needed to know what I was looking for, so I decided to learn more about it.

Growing Your Christ-Centered Instruction Mindset

Several other Christian educators helped me begin recognizing the biblical principles in ideas. Christian Overman, James Sire, Mark Eckel, and Marti MacCullough are educators/authors who provided a framework to guide the worldview detective work. They provided worldview questions that serve as a magnifying glass to uncover worldview ideas. Each of the educators/authors used a slightly different set of questions, but questions were the key for me. 

I have settled on the questions offered by James Sire to guide my worldview detective work. 

1. What is prime reality? the really real?

2. What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

3. What is a human being?

4. What happens to a person at death?

5. Why is it possible to know anything at all?

6. How do we know what is right and wrong?

7. What is the meaning of human history?

As I approach the content I’m to teach, I go through each question to see if any of the ideas in the content provide an answer to one of the worldview questions.  Then my next step is to plan a series of learning opportunities so my students can discover the same worldview principles.  Students then should consider the ramifications of those worldview principles in relation to the content. 

Sometimes the answer to the worldview question provided in the material is not a biblical answer because the author does not have a biblical worldview, or the information has been tainted by the sinful world in which we live.  Nonetheless, a worldview answer is there.  If the worldview answer in the content represents a nonbiblical perspective, then my job is to create learning opportunities for students to identify the worldview idea and compare it to the biblical perspective.  

As I have spent time trying to learn more about worldview ideas and have developed a worldview detective mindset, my view of curriculum content and the world have changed. I habitually consider the information presented to me to discern the underlying beliefs promoted in the messages. I also experience joy as I see God’s design and character shine through messages others may overlook. I’m still not an expert by any means, but I’m enjoying the journey.

Transformed PD can Help Develop a Mindset for Christ-Centered Instruction

Christ-centered instruction is defined as the process of instructional planning and teaching that allows kids to think in such a way as to develop the habit of connecting and comparing all knowledge to a biblical worldview. The instructional planning for Christ-centered instruction requires that teachers are intentional in planning learning opportunities where biblical principles can be discovered in the content.

At Transformed PD, our trainers work with teachers in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade to understand how to plan instruction and teach so that their students can discover the biblical Truth in the content. Check out our website to learn more or contact us for more information on the professional development training we offer for educators. 

One Response

  1. Annie, what a challenging and powerful discussion on Christ centered instruction. as I read this I kept saying to myself, “she is stating what I believe and tried to share with my students with such clarity that I believe it is God inspired.” It is amazing to hear your haeart and passion restated here. I have a request . is it possible for me to use this narration as a reading for my PhD students taking History and Philosophy this spring? I need some more current articles that express this philosophical perspective. I can’t think aof a better statement of what I believe should be a cardinal principal of curriculum development.
    Thank you for having my contat information so that I can share in the joy of your discoveries.

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