Many educators seek to lead with biblical integration in the classroom but find themselves at a loss on how to do that effectively. The mission of Transformed PD is to nurture the thinking and expertise of Christian school educators through relational teaching. Educating teachers on successful biblical integration in the classroom is a key part of our professional development.
Biblical Integration Defined
Most Christian schools will claim to provide biblical integration in the classroom. However, when asked to describe or define biblical integration, the language becomes muddy and vague. A quick survey of book titles, web pages, and blog posts also reveals a promotion of varied ideas about what biblical integration is and how to do it. All can agree that biblical integration is important, however.
In order to describe or define biblical integration, a framework for faith development is necessary. As humans we all have faith in something, or in other words, we believe and trust certain things to be true. Our faith or belief about what is true is developed through three dimensions: head, heart, and hands as described by Dennis Hollinger. These three dimensions are inseparably interdependent.
Head, Heart, and Hands
The head dimension involves how we think about ideas. The ideas we are exposed to and think about affect what we believe to be true and how we make sense of life experiences. How we think, however, is influenced by our emotions. Thinking, in turn, influences our behavior.
The heart dimension involves our emotions and affections. Emotions and affections arise from relationships we have and experiences we engage in. The relationships we maintain with people and the experiences we have with others also influence our thinking about what we believe to be true. Likewise, what we experience through our behaviors influences how we feel and ultimately think.
The hands dimension involves the choices we make to act a certain way or take part in an experience. Our actions are in response to how we feel about something and what we believe to be true. Ideas, affections, and actions (head, heart, and hands) work together to influence how we see the world while revealing our worldview beliefs.
Applying Biblical Integration in the Classroom
Knowing that the head, heart, and hands dimensions work together to influence and reveal one’s worldview, it makes sense that efforts to influence worldview development would include intellectual, emotional, and behavioral elements. What does this look like in the classroom? How can a Christian educator intentionally include head, heart, and hands dimensions within the educational program?
The easiest of the three dimensions to attend to in the classroom are heart and hands. A teacher who seeks first and foremost a relationship with Jesus Christ as a follower will naturally overflow from the heart with the love and wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit. This Spirit-filled relationship will foster Christ-like relationships with students, creating a spiritually and cognitively safe classroom environment. Additionally, establishing classroom routines such as daily devotions, and prayer and praise sessions that foster the right relationships with Jesus, classmates, family members, and other adults help to foster biblical heart dispositions.
Modeling how to live as a follower of Jesus Christ, problem-solving aloud with biblical solutions, and testifying about the work of the Holy Spirit in one’s life help to foster a biblical perspective on life. Establishing classroom management practices, outreach programs, and grading policies that reflect grace, truth, and a redemptive path serve to demonstrate the biblical model of objective standards of right and wrong with grace-filled accountability.
The head, or intellectual dimension, is where Christian schools tend to fall short with efforts to influence the formation of a biblical worldview in students. Thinking is core to the head dimension. Thinking is more than restating or memorizing facts and ideas. Thinking involves analyzing, organizing, and consolidating ideas.
The Results of Biblical Integration in the Classroom: A Biblical Worldview
Most Christian educators would agree that the end result of biblical integration, no matter how they define it, should be that students see the world from a biblical worldview. Therefore, classroom instruction needs to involve kids in analyzing, organizing, and consolidating ideas using a biblical framework. Applying the head, heart, and hands framework will help educators to foster a biblical worldview within their students.
At Transformed PD, we acknowledge the importance of the head, heart, and hands. We emphasize the importance of teachers fostering Christ-like relationships and emotive experiences in their classrooms. We support schools’ efforts to implement programs and policies that guide the development of Christ-like living. Our core focus, however, is to equip teachers with ways to influence students’ thinking. Teachers are coached to understand an observable definition of biblically integrated instruction, and a procedure they can use to prepare and teach lessons that engage kids in thinking biblically.
Biblically integrated instruction is defined as the process of instructional planning and teaching where students think through the subject matter and skills to connect and compare all knowledge to a biblical worldview. Biblically integrated instruction involves both the teacher and student in the process. Teachers are responsible to plan and teach learning opportunities that foster biblical thinking about the content. Students are responsible to engage in biblical thinking and present evidence of their biblical understanding. The coaching and training we provide at Transformed PD focuses on the head dimension of worldview development while being considerate of the heart and hands dimensions.
Partner with Transformed PD to Enhance Biblical Integration at Your School
Transformed PD travels all over the country and internationally teaching professional development courses for educators who wish to strengthen their biblical integration in the classroom. Conversation is key; by engaging in modeling, small group discussion, and large group interactive learning, your team will receive informed and friendly training that can be implemented quickly. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an event with us.
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References: Hollinger, D. (2005). Head, heart and hands: Bringing together Christian thought, passion and action. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press.