Education is a key determinant of self-awareness in individuals. The desire to seek knowledge is inherent in every human being, thus there is a need to structure the school system in a way that it can meet societal expectations by shaping intellectuals filled with high moral values and occupational competence.
In this study, the teacher’s role has been identified as facilitating an effective learning environment where students can overcome their individual differences in pursuit of common societal goals. Religion is also found to moderate how teachers relate with their students as well as their expectations from these students.
To live a happy life, one must be able to find their God-given purpose. This requires an individual to be aware of self as well as others. Education provides an individual with the opportunity to acquire knowledge that helps make decisions on various societal concerns.
True knowledge of reality in metaphysics, acquisition of values in axiology, and validation of all knowledge in epistemology are only possible through education. Earlier learning occurred in churches, for example, Jesus spent three days in the temple gaining knowledge from teachers, and through the family. However, due to the absence of common religion and the inability of a family to act as a learning institution, formal schools were created.
Teachers, therefore, play a critical role in ensuring that individuals are prepared not only to develop but also to contribute to societal progress. Various theories have been developed to aid teachers in imparting knowledge to individuals within a society. Idealism, pragmatism, and constructivism are a couple of viewpoints that can be used in designing different elements of the education process. This paper, therefore, seeks to determine the role of teachers in education and identify how their religious faith affects their views on engagement with students.
Worldview and Philosophy of Life
Interestingly, it is impossible to define a truly meaningful life due to the subjective nature of every person’s existence. In fact, one person can define his/her life as good, while another may view the same life as bad.
According to Shand, the meaning of life is defined similarly to the meaning of an artwork. A piece of art draws its meaning from the wholeness of the work rather than from the small parts. To tinker with the different parts of the artwork would therefore distort not only its meaning but also its value. Such an analogy is also true for human life, and an individual should be allowed to trace his own life purpose.
According to Christianity, it is believed that every life is created with a given purpose. God, the Supreme Being, is believed to have created every individual with a defined destiny and plan as indicated in Jeremiah 29:11. In fact, the Scripture says that for every person God has created, He has a plan to prosper him/her. Each person should therefore seek God to gain the knowledge of his/her purpose in life to actually generate meaning and value out of his/her existence. Therefore, Christians are called to abandon their individualistic selves in pursuit of knowledge to seek the glory and riches of the Kingdom of God.
Self-awareness and environmental consciousness are necessary for an individual to understand the meaning of life. This can only be achieved through education. Education, according to the Christian faith, brings man closer to his Maker. It makes an individual able to realize his/her full potential in different dimensions, including spiritual, physical, mental, social, and political. It is only through education that an individual can partake in any actions aimed at changing the environment.
The desire to learn is inherent in human beings as they seek to enrich not only their spirits but also their minds. This is akin to what is described in Luke 2: 46-47 when Jesus decides to go to the temple to seek knowledge from the Jewish teachers. One must therefore attain some level of education to establish standards for his/her decisions, thoughts, and feelings. I would wish for my students to use education to develop their values in a society that seems to be immoral, filled with corruption, racism, terrorism, and anarchy.
The world is increasingly becoming interconnected. There is no consistency in society, as technology is eliminating both physical and cultural boundaries that exist in the modern world. As a result, postmodern society is filled with hyperreal experiences, as humans are substituting personal relations with technological experiences created through advancements in digital devices, thus the students need to understand themselves adequately to survive in the current world.
As a teacher, I tend to lean towards the pragmatist school of thought. Pragmatists acknowledge that there are constant changes in the reality of the world today. Therefore, the curriculum should be flexible to cater to the psychological needs, thus I have to follow a tendency towards learner-centered education. In a constantly changing society, it is important to customize education to meet the unique needs of students.
Education and metaphysics have similar goals through determining the truth. To seek knowledge implies acknowledging the existence of it, thus schools teach only things that exist. In Mathematics, for instance, students first listen to the problem, then identify facts that are given in the question, then by using this information try to deduce new knowledge that is not self-evident from the problem.
Education, therefore, like metaphysics involves working from the known (what exists) to the unknown. However, since an individual cannot leave himself to get into their external reality, the reality is only a product of the interaction between the individual and his/her environment. Since reality is derived from experience, education in metaphysics serves the purpose of adding meaning to these experiences. Reality is therefore non-existent in a natural sense but is a product of human-environment interactions. Ultimately, education helps people deduce real things, which can influence their actions and reaction towards different stimuli in their environment.
Values are essential in determining individual decisions on things that are true, right, or wrong. Axiology, a dimension of philosophy that emphasizes the origin and nature of values, enhances education, as it seeks to enrich individuals with moral standards that are acceptable in society. The teacher is essential in developing the personality of students, as he/she can interact and influence their views on various value systems.
For a teacher in the world of self-centered individuals, it is important to ensure that his/her students can go through a value-based education system that will teach them to treasure peace, tolerate each other, be just in their decisions, and promote intercultural understanding. These values must be generated by the students through interaction with others and their environment without any imposition of the teacher. In fact, values help individuals generate a sense of identity, thus giving them an ability to know themselves hence their God-given purpose of life.
Philosophy of Schools and Learning
The role of the teacher is to ensure that students when engaging in the education system develop high values. Moreover, this role and its relevance to education have been emphasized in axiology. This fact raises the need to identify the role of schools and education in society. Initially, schools were created to propagate a sense of commonness in an increasingly heterogeneous society. The two fundamental institutions carrying the responsibility of education were the church and the family. However, with the collapse of these two institutions, it was necessary to create an establishment that would enhance social control.
In fact, the idea of formal schools was accepted as a solution to societal needs. The education system is therefore supposed to fill the void of various societal necessities, such as the need for a competent workforce or intellectual citizens. Schools and education, therefore, serve the role of socialization through the transmission of social skills, values, knowledge, and morals to the young members of society. This leads to the question of how knowledge is passed on to students in the school system.
Epistemology provides an answer as to how students learn. Epistemology is concerned with the origin, nature, and validity of knowledge. For something to be considered as knowledge, it must have been justified as the truth. In this regard, epistemology is the continuation of the philosophical processes of metaphysics. Education and epistemology are so intertwined that they both deal with the problem of knowledge. Epistemology seeks to determine the truth as well as the nature and extent of knowledge.
We had identified in metaphysics that students learn through experiences during interactions with their environment. To learn, therefore, students may follow the subjectivist view of epistemology, which advocates a scientific method of interaction with the environment. This involves confrontation of a problem, defining the problem, determining alternative solutions to the problem, making conclusions based on the consequences of the solutions, and testing these consequences. The students, therefore, learn through collaborative efforts, according to which each student follows this scientific method for various problems in class, and then the results are discussed collectively to come up with a common solution to the problem that is accepted by the majority.
To achieve effective knowledge transmission, my teaching will be based on two theories; Jean Piaget’s cognitive development theory and the constructivist learning theory. According to Piaget, learning should be an exploratory event where learners can discover concepts on their own instead of listening to the constant explanations of teachers. The teacher, therefore, refrains from dictating the learning process by insisting on abstract or unfamiliar topics to the learners, instead of letting the learners participate actively through interaction with the various teaching and learning.
The constructivist theory assumes that a world is independent of the learner’s mind; in fact, knowledge transfer is based on the mental construction of the learning process rather than preconceived ideas. The student, therefore, learns through exploration just as in cognitive development theory, only that this theory encourages a greater number of practical exercises.
Students often refer to their previous knowledge to draw the meaning of new concepts. In this regard, a universal mode through which students generate meaning is inexistent, as the knowledge base differs from student to student. It is therefore imperative for me as a teacher to apply methods that ensure active involvement of students in the learning process, so their various ideas are incorporated into the education process. This will be achieved in my classroom through the implementation of the theory of variation. The theory of variation argues that the learning process should be tailored towards a particular learning topic or concept.
These objects ought to be derived either through the syllabus that the students follow or through teacher analysis of student needs. Once identified, the teacher should consult with the students on the objectives of the learning process. The consultation is important to ensure that the perception of the learners is incorporated into the teaching material. Moreover, it gives the teacher an ability to preconceive the students as novices to the learning process as opposed to the teacher, who is an expert. This ensures that the delivery is tailored to meet the unique needs and capabilities of the students. The comparison with other topics or concepts is meant to help students in the learning process by contrasting features of different learning objects, thereby improving their ability to discern the characteristics of the main topic.
Given my inclination towards the pragmatist view of the world, this teaching method would serve to ensure that learning occurs in a democratically negotiated environment where student participation is encouraged. Moreover, many practical activities, where students perform experiments with their environment aimed at drawing meaningful conclusions, will be encouraged to ensure that learners construct their own view of the world. Therefore, two instructional strategies will be implemented, such as cooperative learning groups and experiential learning. Students will be required to use cooperative groups to generate ideas and to complete various class assignments. This is to ensure the participation of students in-class activities. Experiential learning, on the contrary, will allow the students to apply course information, experiential learning activities as well as observe and share their experiences on the outcomes with their teacher and peers. These strategies aim at ensuring student participation in the learning process, which is paramount when creating experiences that encourage retention and challenge the student’s previously constructed view of life.
To achieve positive learning outcomes, positive teacher-learner relationships need to be inculcated. This relationship is characterized by several traits that are unique from other conventional relationships. The relationship is constrained by various policies established by educational institutions that result in a great imbalance in power between the teacher and the student. However, this relationship is critical in the learning process, as it directs engagement between the student and the teacher and is a key to the personal development of students. A positive teacher-learner relationship creates a friendly learning environment that invites students to participate in the learning process.
Good communication, mutual respect, and commitment towards the learning of the students and a teacher are essential for positive relationships. In school, the teacher plays the role of a parent. In fact, according to the Christian faith, a child is expected to obey their parents to live a longer life. Similarly, I expect my students to obey me throughout our relationship to enhance the learning environment. In Ephesians 6: 4, the Bible asks parents to train their children in the ways of God and not to anger them. Therefore, I will ensure I allow my
students to lead a fulfilling life regardless of their beliefs or opinions by respecting their diverse backgrounds and treating them equally.
The role of the teacher therefore will involve the following. The first goal is instructional delivery. The teacher is responsible for sieving content and organizing learning activities to ensure that desired learning outcomes are achieved. Secondly, the teacher is responsible for building positive relationships with students by adopting a learner-centered approach in the classroom, showing respect for diversity as well as providing feedback for the students.
In addition, the teacher should support the students by offering mentorship programs that involve peer mentorship and counseling to build not only professional but also personal relationships. Moreover, the teacher should provide effective feedback to the students through active communication. The teacher is also responsible for challenging creativity and innovation in students by creating a stimulating class environment. The roles of the learner involve taking responsibility for their academic performance to ensure that they are solely accountable for their outcomes in the learning process. The learner should also work towards building positive relationships with the teacher through respect and active involvement in various class activities. The learners should also work cooperatively with other students to enhance knowledge sharing among them with one taking a leadership role whenever he/she feels that his/her knowledge permits.
The effectiveness of the learning process can be identified by the achieved learning objectives. In fact, factors that may undermine the effectiveness of the educational process must be countered. One such factor is diversity. Diversity refers to the state of being different, unlike others. This unlikeness can result in discrimination in the classroom, thus can hamper any attempts towards creating a stimulating class environment. Such biases can appear either through the teacher or through other students. Diversity in the classroom can be divided into cultural diversity and functional diversity. Cultural diversity deals with differences in beliefs, norms, values, and languages among different communities in society. Functional diversity involves the inability of students to undertake certain activities due to physical disability. God in James 2: 1-9 commands Christians to treat each other with respect regardless of their physical or economic appearances. Moreover, the doctrine of Christianity teaches us that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In this regard, the Christian faith teaches that all people should be regarded as equal irrespective of their differences. For me, as a teacher, Christianity can help me appreciate diversity as a source of new knowledge and strive as much as possible to eliminate any biases in my classes.
This respect towards diversity will be achieved through self-evaluation, an awareness of differences, and my positive attitudes towards it. This should then be followed by a deliberate attempt to enrich my knowledge of diversity through appropriate books and participation in various community activities geared towards enhancing differences. These actions will ensure that the knowledge of diversity is positively reinforced. Furthermore, I can engage in a deliberate review of various instructional strategies to ensure that diversity is incorporated into the learning process. For example, when forming the cooperative learning groups that had been initially highlighted as one instructional strategy, the teacher will ensure that students from different backgrounds are places in one team to enhance interaction among the students, thus improve tolerance of diversity among the peers. In addition, the different roles given to learners will aim at maximizing their functional strength. Diversity, if treated well has the capability of improving academic learning, as students and teachers can learn from the different perspectives of different groups or individuals.
The Bible recognizes that human beings are born with intrinsic knowledge as shown in the creation story when God has made animals and has given Adam the honor of naming them despite not having any formal education. Therefore, a teacher has to be able to acknowledge that humans have their own perspectives or prior knowledge from which they learn. Thus, in my classroom, I will be able to engage my students by enhancing their decision-making capacity within the classroom. This active involvement in the decision-making process is meant to empower students and help them feel like part of the classroom, thus giving them the motivation to actively participate in activities. Different instructional styles will be incorporated to ensure that students can learn, as different students have different learning styles. Creating a proper environment for learning activities will also be prioritized through the elimination of any behavior that may be disruptive. I will implement the four Cs in my class, such as content, which involves the determination of the subject matter of classroom activities, consistency, which entails formulating rules and consistently following them, communication, which comprises giving feedback to students, and commendation, which implies recognizing and appreciating positive behavior. The implementation of these Cs will require an input of parents at different levels, such as reinforcing disciplinary measures for rule-breakers, assisting learners with homework as well as creating a conducive environment for the continuation of learning at home.
Concerning the subject matter, effective learning requires an integrated approach where new concepts are combined with prior knowledge and other subjects within a given curriculum to ensure that the student learns and can apply his/her knowledge in diverse fields. The curriculum has to be flexible to allow creativity, innovation, and improvisation where possible. Thus, while following the course content, a teacher has to attempt to involve the learners, assess their needs, evaluate the effectiveness of instructional methods and improvise to improve possible drawbacks.
Schools emanated from a need to replace the collapsing institutions of family and religion to exercise some element of social control. In the current world of technology, the mobility of humans and information has been greatly enhanced ensuring that cultural exchanges are taking place at a very high level.
The interaction between a man and his environment, therefore, needs to be moderated to establish high moral standards and value systems within the society. In fact, teachers play a critical role in ensuring that students are well engaged in the learning process and that their views are incorporated into the education system.
My faith, Christianity, also helps to ensure that I appreciate each irrespective of his/her cultural or functional differences. Moreover, it enables students and teachers to learn from one another thus offering positive reinforcement for academic results. Moreover, the values instilled in me, through Christianity, help ensure that I promote high values amongst my students through different interactions.
About the author: Stephany Lorens always wanted to pursue writing as a career. Her educational background in journalism and theology has given her a broad base from which to approach many topics. She currently works with the essayswriters (essayswriters) company and is happy to help new generations to succeed in their academic careers and education in general.