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The Education that is Christian

Christian education must be based in a Christian worldview, the way a person interprets and interacts with the world in a Christian way. The Christian worldview was explicitly personified by Jesus Christ and demonstrated through his works, then His person and His works constituted in the cornerstone to the teacher, to the learner and to the educational process.

The gospels are the library of Jesus’ philosophy of education. As an example we will examine the history of de first brad and fish multiplication, as it is written in the Gospel of John, through which we will excerpt some aspects of His philosophy.

Quote from the Gospel of John Capter 6 verses 1 a 13; 26 a 35
Source: http://www.ibs.org/bibles/portuguese/index.php

1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Feast was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages[a] would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 9 "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" 10 Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" 26 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." 28 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" 29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." 30 So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'[c]" 32 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34 "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." 35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.

Visualize the unfolding picture of the history in the text. First, we have the description of the human and physical environment in verses 1 through 3. Second, the gospel register in verses 4 and 5 the source of Jeus' inspiration and decision about the subject on which He would teach. Third, verses 6 through 9 give the explanation about Jesus' intention about doing a miracle and the disciples' opinion: it is impossible. The text continues describing the process of bread multiplication and the care with the lefover. Finally, in verses 26 through 35 we have the speech made in relation to the event of the multiplication.

Jesus' education methodology is very interesting. First, He composes his lesson using surrounding elements such as a crowd of followers motivate by the miracles that had seen, disciples that He especifically called to be His followers, and a basic human need... hunger. Second, he finds his educational inspiration in an important social-religious event for His students... Easter. Third, reflection on the problem "Where will we buy bread?" Should be followed by the action: "order the people to sit down and give them food". Fourth, the master is a model... I say, I do, and you would do what you saw me doing. Fifth, the content of his lesson is double: solves a problem... hunger, and teaches a spiritual principle that is "prayer followed by works(faith in action) bring solution.

Here are some implications of Jesus' philosophy that we discovered throughout the analysis of the text:

  • The teaching process is student centered.
  • Teacher is a facilitator of the learning process.
  • The educational process is experimental.
  • Education, more than just delivering content, should develop the power and sensibility of students' minds.
  • Education should promote alternative visions of the world and strenght the students' will to explore them. (Jerome S. Bruner)
  • We should not have a banking education, but conscientization. (Paulo Freire)
  • The interpretation of the meaning of a previus personal experiences should be used to build a new or revised one to guide students toward future actions. (Jack Mezirow)
  • Education should promote in the students new habits and attitudes conducive toward developing their solving problems capacities. (John Dewey)

João Carlos Nunes of Rocha, PhD.


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