GPCC Philosophy and Practice of Christian Education

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Philosophy and Practice of Christian Education 2020 version 9b




Green Point Christian College

Philosophy and Practice of Christian Education _________

2020 version 9b

Introduction: This document outlines the foundational philosophy of GPCC and aims to provide guidance to teachers, administration and support staff regarding our purpose and thinking in relation to our task as a Christian school. Established in 1982 to serve primarily the families of Green Point Baptist Church, the school has grown significantly to its present number of 1,000 students across Kindergarten to Year 12. It now opens its doors to any family who wishes to have their children educated by Christian teachers in a Christian educational community. This document consists of four parts: 1. Purpose and Focus of the School a. Core Purpose b. Mission Goals c. GPCC Graduate Profile d. Motto 2. Philosophy of Education of the School a. Philosophical Foundations i. Metaphysical ii. Epistemological iii. Axiological b. The Purpose of Education c. The Nature of Personhood d. The Process (Pedagogy) of Christian Education e. The Role of the Teacher f. The Role of the Student/Learner g. The Role of the Parent 3. Pedagogical Practices Prioritised at GPCC 4. Profile of a GPCC Teacher Appendices A. Definitions and Explanations of Graduate Profile Characteristics B. Statement of Faith C. Bibliography and Recommended Reading


Part 1 – Purpose and Focus of the School Core Purpose: The purpose of GPCC is to equip students for a life of redemptive action through a holistic education grounded in a Biblical perspective.

Mission Goals: Students: Staff: Parents:

The formation of students who display the attributes of the GPCC Graduate Profile (see below). The development of quality staff who serve our students well. The support of families as the cornerstone of a flourishing society.

GPCC Graduate Profile:

Motto: Equipped for Life Definitions and Explanations: See Appendix A


Part 2 – Philosophy of Education of the School A. Philosophical Foundations Any philosophy of education must first address three significant philosophical issues – what is real (metaphysics), how do can we know anything (epistemology), and what is valuable (axiology).

a) Metaphysical We must all deal with the very real issue that, following Sartre, “something is there, rather than that nothing is there”. If Christian education is to be of value, we must deal with the question of reality. When we examine the world in which we live we cannot escape the fact that it appears intelligent, friendly to human existence in the main, purposeful, personal and yet infinite. While we cannot prove that God is behind all this, the evidence seems to point that way. George Knight 1 suggests that: • • • •

An infinite universe postulates an infinite Creator An intelligent and orderly universe points to an ultimate intelligence A basically friendly universe points to a benevolent Being The personality of the individual leads to a concept of a Personality upon which individual personalities are modelled.

Any metaphysical position rests upon an act of faith on the part of the knower. One either has faith in the possibility of a Creator God or one must believe in something else – perhaps infinite time plus infinite chance plus nothing. Christians believe not only in a Creator God, but a God who reveals Himself and His purposes to humankind. Revelation comes through a study of the creation itself, (Romans 1:20) through our own conscience (Romans 2:15), through the Godhuman, Jesus Christ and through the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Christianity provides a reasoned explanation of the existence of the world and its inhabitants and an explanation of why there are problems in the world. On this 1

Knight 2006, page 173

basis then we can establish a Biblical framework of reality 2. A Biblical Framework of Reality: 1. the existence of the living God, the CreatorGod; 2. the creation by God of a perfect world and universe; 3. humanity’s creation in the image of God; 4. the “invention” of sin by Lucifer, who forgot his own creatureliness and sought to put himself in the place of God; 5. the spread of sin to the earth by Lucifer, and the Fall of humanity which resulted in the partial loss of God’s image; 6. the inability of human beings, without divine aid, to change their own nature, overcome their inherent sinfulness, or restore the lost image of God; 7. the initiative of God for humanity’s salvation and its restoration to its original state through the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; 8. the activity of the Holy Spirit in the plan of restoring God’s image in fallen humanity and His work in the calling out of the community of believers, the church; 9. the return of Christ at the end of earthly history; and 10. the eventual restoration of our world (and Its faithful inhabitants) to its Edenic condition. A Christian metaphysic demands that God be central to all thinking and activity, so education must be grounded in the centrality of a belief in a Creator, Sustainer God, revealed most fully in the person of Jesus Christ. All that the school teaches must arise from this understanding of reality.

b) Epistemological Philosophers have long been intrigued by the question, “How can we know anything?” While we can acknowledge various methods for knowing anything eg sense perception, reason, intuition, language, emotion, memory, faith etc, most 2

Knight 2006, page 177

5 epistemological systems are grounded in a method that is the foundation and the criteria by which all others are judged. God’s revelation of Himself through the Scriptures forms the basis of an epistemology for Christian believers. We believe that all other sources of knowledge must be tested against the Scriptures as God’s revelation of Himself, and His purposes for the creation. The Bible does not contain all the world’s knowledge but leads us to a relationship with the One who is all knowing and in whom all knowledge originates. We reject, for example, extreme constructivism; a philosophy that proposes all knowledge is a construct of a particular human or cultural group and is neither true nor false. Knowledge may bear no relation to reality but is the perception or experience of an individual or group. As Christians, we believe God is the source of all knowledge and that we discover this knowledge through various means such as those suggested above. Foundationally for us is God’s revelation of Himself as Creator and Sustainer in the Christian Scriptures. George Knight 3sets out for us several assumptions related to this view: 1. Humans exist in a supernatural universe in which the infinite Creator-God has revealed Himself to finite minds on a level they can comprehend in at least a limited fashion; 2. Human beings created in the image of God, even though fallen, are capable of rational thought; 3. Communication with other intelligent beings (people and God) is possible in spite of humanity’s inherent limitations and the imperfections and imprecision of human language; 4. The God who cared enough to reveal Himself to people also cared enough to protect the essence of that revelation as it was transmitted through succeeding generations; and 5. Human beings are able to make sufficiently correct interpretations of the Bible, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to arrive at Truth. On the basis of such foundations, we can confidently set out to learn about the world and 3

Knight 2006 page 179

each other and even ourselves. As we set out to fulfil our purpose of stewarding the earth, we need to learn much about it in order to both care for it and utilise its resources to build flourishing societies. God’s revelation of himself and his world to us who are made in his image, enables us to learn and to live purposefully.

c) Axiological These views of reality and knowledge lead us to a position on values. A Christian ethic (how to behave rightly) and a Christian aesthetic (what is good and beautiful) flows from our growing understanding of the nature and character of God. Unlike many other worldviews, the Christian one understands and accepts that things are not as they should be in the world. As a result of the first human’s disobedience, sin entered the world and we now suffer the consequences. People are born into sin and so fail to discern what is right and good. The Christian life calls us to a radical reversal of common human understandings, back to the original template for humankind – God’s order grounded in his very nature. Ethics – the most heinous human sin is the sin of pride – a desire to see oneself as God. All humans are tainted by this and so the Scriptures constantly call us back to an other-centeredness expressed clearly in Jesus’ Old Testament quotes in Matthew 22: 37 – 40. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Christian ethics is not grounded in a self-help philosophy of our efforts to live according to God’s way, but in the grace of God that reaches down to us and gives us a new beginning with God’s spirit to live in us and transform us into His true image. A true Christian ethic is grounded in relationships: us to God, us to each other and us to the creation.

6 All of these relationships had been broken by the Fall, but God’s grace in Christ gives us a way to return to right relationships and living. Christian education is not about teaching students to obey rules to live by, but teaching them to live in right relationship and to serve others and the creation.

Education, the discipling of the next generation, is focused for Christian believers on teaching our children to love God with all their being and to live according to His ways. This involves equipping them to fulfil His original mandate for them (Genesis 1:28).

Aesthetics – being made in the image of God means we are drawn to the beautiful and the creative. We love beauty and order, truth and goodness. Again, we recognise that sin distorts these things in our broken world, but the Christian faith speaks of restoration and hope. The Christian co-creates with God to restore something of this brokenness and give a glimpse of a redeemed future world - a return to Eden.

That is why through the Scriptures (Psalm 78 for example), God reminds His people of their history and the part He has played in rescuing and restoring them, giving them purpose and hope. In Romans 12, we are challenged to renew our thinking so that we too, may live rightly.

Christians however, are not bound to only express beauty but to reveal sin for what it is. Christian artists will write, compose, act and design in such a way that they expose the awfulness of sin while pointing to the glory of the redeemed creation. The Christian educator will be conscious of the importance of beauty in their classroom layout and decoration, in the tasks they give students that draw out their creativity, in their selection of resources etc. The Christian school will encourage students to consider how they can use their talents to benefit society and bring beauty into an ugly world. A Christian philosophy of education speaks into the important part beliefs and perspectives play in shaping learning; and through learning, the person of the student.

d) The Purpose of Education In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we see laid out for the Israelites God’s desire for each generation to be taught about life’s chief purpose – to know and glorify Him as Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. The story of Scripture is the story of the creation of humankind and their placement in a world designed for them, their subsequent rejection of the authority of God their Creator and His plan to provide a way for the restoration of humankind and their fellowship with Him and their return to God’s original purpose for them.

Christian teachers have the task of helping students to learn about the world, themselves and others and to help them see their need to worship and follow God. We do this through the unveiling of His glory in the examination of the creation and the development of human ability; that is what education is about. This work must involve the Gospel, as no true transformation of understanding or lifestyle can take place until the sinner becomes the saint through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. But even the unregenerate student can grasp something of the desirability of living a certain way in order to appreciate and engage in a purposeful, meaningful and ordered life. Thus, we recognise that throughout the Biblical narrative, the Gospel is much more than just a story of personal salvation from judgement; it is also a revelation of nature and humanity, their purpose in existence, their fallenness and God’s plan for their redemption. It is through the story of God that we can help students become lifelong disciples equipped to live as God intended, glorifying Him and bringing redemptive service to a now broken world. The purpose of the Christian school is not just to create a safe environment or to bring students to a place of personal salvation; it is a truly discipling agent that helps students learn how to live life God’s way, equipping them for a life of action and service for good in the world. The goal of Christian education is the restoration of humanness to each person so that they may fulfil their ultimate purpose.

7 e) The Nature of Personhood The Christian school approaches its work on the basis of a particular understanding of the nature of the students entrusted to their care. This is a Biblically guided view that accepts God as the Creator of humankind and acknowledges the effects of the Fall – the first humans’ act of disobedience and its consequences. We rejoice in the fact that we are made in the image of God (imago dei – Genesis 1:27) and that this image, although marred by the Fall, remains the central feature of who we are as people and gives us hope for restoration. We acknowledge also, that as teachers and support staff, we share these characteristics. Worshippers We accept that every person is by design a worshipper who chooses, thinks, feels and works. It is widely recognised that human beings seem designed for worship. We either worship God, ourselves or something else. Mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal wrote – “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each person which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” The task of Christian educators is to help students see that they are only fully human, reaching their full potential, when they worship only God who designed them. Our image-bearing can be seen in terms of both: Structure: the way we are (creative, rational, emotional, relational etc); and Function: what we do (co-create, reason, feel, relate etc). Image Bearers As God is holy, so we are called to be holy. St Augustine taught that true freedom is not choice or lack of constraint but being what you were designed to be. Humans are created in the image of God and true freedom is not found in moving away from that image; only in living it out by conforming to it. The Scriptures tell us a lot about who we are. For example, Psalm 139, Ephesians 4 and Romans 1 remind us that we are made by God, that we are made for a purpose but that we are broken people

with a misguided sense of who to worship and in need of re-direction and restoration. Teachers keep these characteristics in mind as they seek to teach students. Sinners with Hope Genesis 3 tells the story of the Fall of humankind into disobedience, separation from God and the introduction of hardship and purposelessness into the world which no longer functioned as originally intended. Humans were now alienated from God and left to their own devices – a pathway Adam and Eve had chosen. The prophet Jeremiah speaks God’s words when he says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” All subsequent humans are born into this disordered state and are in need of saving from it. But we are not lost forever in this condition. God had a plan to provide a way of redemption for sinners! We are all with hope, should we accept His conditions of repentance and turn to worship and proper obedience of Him again. However, the effects of sin remain with us while on earth, and so with the Apostle Paul we struggle with living rightly and breaking old habits and dispositions (Romans 7). Neither students nor teachers are yet perfect but are on the journey towards that together. We can understand the sinful human condition and the hope of future restoration in this way in this way: • • •

In Eden – image bearers without fault with the possibility of sinning; After Eden – image bearers now tainted by sin with a bias to selfishness, destruction and disobedience; After Christ’s resurrection – image bearers with the possibility of sinning but with a renewed heart for obedience and service for God; and After Christ returns – image bearers without fault and without the possibility of sinning.

Active Choosers We are also active choosers: people with moral responsibility, a built-in sense of right and wrong and a sense of justice. We are in fact called to choose. This was the issue in Eden.

8 Just as Joshua challenged the people of his day to choose whom they would serve, so we are called to choose whom we will serve. Whatever the choice we make, we cannot escape responsibility and will be held accountable for it. Students make choices every day – to obey their teacher or to disobey. Our sinful disposition is to disobey, so we should not be surprised at the disobedience of students but rather work to help them know how they can make better choices. Relational Beings As God is a Being in relationship (The Trinity), so we as humans are designed for relationship. The first humans needed each other, and we continue to need each other. We are most fully human when we recognise our need of God and each other and gladly embrace the opportunity to serve God and each other. The Apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians that we are made for “works of service” that strengthen our togetherness and ultimately lead us to unity. Today we face the great danger of individualism, where the worship of self has led people to think they do not need each other. The result is extreme loneliness and self-centredness, both of which are destructive of wholesome community. Meaning Seekers In all this we are meaning seekers, hard-wired it seems to ask the question “why”? The book of Ecclesiastes is the findings of someone who searched after meaning and discovered that, without God, life was essentially meaningless. There are three things that help us make meaning: Story – helps to shape our existence; the story we live from makes a difference to our understanding and experience of life. Living out of God’s story helps us rediscover our purpose for being. Work – helps give our lives purpose, because we are designed for work and given it as the first responsibility in the Garden of Eden. Although it is now often burdensome, it is still in work that we can find purpose and fulfillment when we do it for God. We try to work to live rather than living to work. It is leisure that restores us for further work; work is not designed to release us for leisure. Worship – takes us beyond the routine to the sublime if what we worship is worthy of our worship. If I worship myself, I will be disappointed

because I cannot measure up to my own expectations. If I worship God, I find fulfilment because that is what I was designed for and He will always exceed my expectations. Evaluative Thinkers We know that our actions and behaviour are intrinsically tied to our thinking. We are what we think. And so, it is important that we know what we believe and why we believe it, and also know what we do not believe and why we do believe it. Human beings spend a lot of time evaluating things. Modern education is very focused on developing critical thinkers, recognising the importance of those who can weigh up evidence and come to wise conclusions. Positive change only comes from sound thinking, and as Christians, we look to God as the source of wisdom for us in our thinking. The fear (proper respect for) and worship of God is described in the Scriptures as the foundation or the beginning of human wisdom. Without a proper foundation, our thinking will be futile and lead us in wrong directions. Purposeful Beings The old catechism taught us that the “chief end” of humankind was to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. We have seen that we are made in God’s image and given a purpose; we live most fully when we live within our original purpose. We are called to worship God, steward the world and serve others. Modern society will offer many alternative purposes, most of which involve us centring on ourselves. But it is only when we turn our attention back towards the Creator that we discover true purpose and find fulfilment. Helping students to discover their true purpose is a great service the Christian school can offer. Conclusion: GPCC’s motto, Equipped for Life, gives us our main purpose as a school. This is to work with our students to equip them with everything they need to live the purposeful and satisfying life God intends for them as they steward the earth and build flourishing societies. As recorded by Luke, we want our students to develop as Jesus did – growing in wisdom, growing well physically,

9 growing in positive relationship with both God and others (Luke 2:52). In this way, they will be able to contribute to God’s redemptive purpose in the world by showing his ways to others and drawing them, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to a renewed relationship with their Creator.

f) The Process (Pedagogy) of Christian Education The book of Proverbs reminds us that wisdom comes through learning from and about God and obeying Him. In writing to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul desired that they might come to a full understanding of God and His purposes in Christ because this was a treasury full of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2: 2 - 3). There must be no teaching by default; we should choose our approach deliberately to achieve the purpose of the school through Christian education. This involves remembering that to teach means to learn; indeed, we say that, without learning, there has been no teaching. We recognise three interrelated aspects of learning: • Knowledge – the what; • Understanding - the why; and • Wisdom – the how. We are often very good at passing on knowledge; we are often competent in training in understanding; we are often poor at instilling wisdom. Consequently, we must choose pedagogies that enable the development of understanding, skill and faithful character through which students may bring glory to God. This will require a wide range of strategies and approaches, from didactic to discovery, in order to produce wisdom. Teachers are called to be role models of what it is to be a student, not just role models of the final product. We must be role models of what it is to be on the discipleship journey, not just what the finished product might be like. 4

In Christian education, we consider the Creation and the Creator. Education should be focused on helping students to understand the physical and cultural world in which they live and to understand themselves and others. If we leave God out, we may educate in a limited sense; but when we put God in, we educate in a complete sense. Christian teachers need to be wary of seeing the Scriptures as a handbook for pedagogy. It contains many examples of good teaching, but that is not its main purpose. We can note over 25 different pedagogies used in Scripture, but common grace also allows us to learn more about learning and so be even more effective. Christian pedagogy will rely on prayer, knowing God’s Word and knowing His Creation. In this way we can help students to learn and direct their attention towards the One in whose image they are made, drawing them back to Him. And to His purpose for them in the world.

g) Role of the Teacher A teacher is sometimes described as “… a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.” 4 We usually think of a teacher as someone who passes on to a student or helps them to gain, knowledge, skill or experience in something. Teaching is often defined in metaphorical terms. Harro van Brummelen, the great CanadianChristian educational theorist, suggested a number of metaphors for the teacher: facilitators, storytellers, stewards, priests or shepherds 5. A teacher may be any one or more of these at any time, depending on the circumstances, the student and the content or task involved. John Amos Comenius, sixteenth century philosopher and theologian, proposed we think of schools as “gardens of delight” in which teachers and students work together to cultivate a garden from the wilderness left from the effects of the Fall. He saw this as part of our commission to tend the garden of Eden and, after the Fall, to work the ground and to care for the creation, including Van Brummelen, Harro: Walking with God in the Classroom 3rd Ed, Colorado Springs, Purposeful Design Pubs. 2009.


10 human society. Teachers are gardeners leading students into the same profession. In the context of GPCC, we see the teacher as a guide, directing students towards what constitutes the fulfilment of their purpose and helping to equip them for a fruitful and purposeful life as set out for us in the Scriptures. We look to education to give knowledge, understanding and wisdom to students and so our starting definition has some value. Teaching is more than just passing on knowledge and skills; it is also how we shape a young life towards his or her destiny. The teacher’s role is to pass on knowledge or help students acquire it, to enable students to grow in competence in a range of areas, and finally to live a life of virtuous wisdom out of this newly acquired knowledge and skills. Their role is to equip the student with what they need to live life as God intended. We do this in partnership with parents and the Church.

h) Role of the Student/Learner A student or learner can be described as “… a person who is trying to gain knowledge or skill in something by studying, practicing, or being taught.” 6 We explored earlier the nature of personhood in relation to the student, so here we want to focus on the learner’s role in their own learning. There is a responsibility we all have as learners to engage in the opportunities we are given for learning to take place. A learner should not simply be a submissive receiver but an active participant in the process. We are given a purpose by the Creator and will be held to account for what we have or have not done to fulfil that purpose. The GPCC graduate profile sets out key elements that we consider essential for a student to live well both now and in the future. While the school and the home will provide environments conducive to learning and growing in these areas, the learner must take up their responsibility to learn and grow. And so, the role of the student is to commit themselves to becoming a good learner.


Firstly, this means to willingly submit to the authority of the home and school to receive instruction, correction, and encouragement towards effective learning. Secondly, it means to engage in and seize on the learning opportunities with a view to making progress in one’s own learning. Thirdly, it means to work co-operatively with others in learning, both as a means of serving others and progressing oneself, recognising that we can learn individually but learn better when we learn with others.

i) Role of the Parent The Christian Scriptures teach us that God places children in families as a means to nurture and grow them. Parents are in fact given priority in Scripture as those who have responsibility for teaching their children and helping them to grow to maturity in accordance with God’s design. Schools are a late development in human history. They came about largely due to the growing specialisation in societies that placed the scope of learning required by children beyond the ability of most parents. A Christian school in particular seeks to work as a partner with the parents (and preferably, also the Church) in the education of a child. It remains the prime responsibility of a parent to choose a school wisely and then to work with the school in the education of their child. Parents should not abdicate their responsibility but fulfil it as best they can, using the resources of the school to support them. Any partnership like this is bound to involve some differences of opinion at times as to what is best for the child. Mutual respect for each other’s roles and a commitment to working together to find a positive solution, a good dose of humility and a willingness to try new things can all lead to a successful partnership. The school, through its teachers and staff, commits to its role to provide a service in the development of the learner and seeks to work cooperatively with parents to see this goal accomplished.


Part 3 - Pedagogical Practices Prioritised at GPCC The Quality Classroom Profile: A key aspect of teacher practice is what actually happens in the classroom. At GPCC, we have selected a profile of practices we want to see all teachers using in our classrooms from Kindergarten to Year 12. The Quality GPCC Classroom Profile is connected to the AITSL 2018 Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework and focuses on three key elements. Effective teachers will: 1. Plan carefully and implement the plan via effective instruction; 2. Create a supportive and safe environment for students; and 3. Provide regular and timely feedback on student progress. The 11 Quality Classroom Profile points (set out below) pick up on practical ways we can assess whether effective instruction is taking place in our classrooms. They assume that good unit and lesson planning has already taken place and that all the other elements of the Teacher Standards are being done well. Our goal is that in every GPCC classroom, recognisable best practice is taking place to ensure we are being effective Christian teachers, helping students to grow strongly and understand the world from God's perspective.

GPCC Quality Classroom Profile: 1. Lesson focus is clear Students know the aim/goal/focus of the lesson taking place, even if several class periods are used to deliver a single lesson. The lesson focus will usually be visually evident to students. 2.

Linking to prior learning/ work/ knowledge Lessons will generally begin with a reminder of where the class is at in the learning continuum, or

by linking to prior knowledge at the start of a new unit or topic. 3. Clear Instruction This usually occurs through the method of explicit direct instruction (you do, we do, I do) to limit teacher talk and to ensure learning is clear to all students. The focus is on student learning, not teacher talk. Visual aids are just that - they aid the learning and should consist of a variety of elements. Learning should be active rather than passive. 4. Practise New learning needs to be practised and this will regularly take place together, as a class or subgroup, and alone as a student when necessary. A variety of activities will aid practise and help to scaffold the learning. 5. Checking for understanding Regular and varied checks for understanding take place to ensure every student is learning. 6. Feedback This will be regular and focused on student improvement rather than just praise. It may be individual (best), group or whole class, but must give specific knowledge about areas of development and how to improve. 7. Differentiation Ensuring all students can and do learn in our classes requires us to offer a range of ways of learning and of demonstrating learning. This will not necessarily mean personalising a lesson to an individual, but rather giving opportunity for all students to access and demonstrate ability in the knowledge, skills and values we are teaching. 8. Reference to learning skills Every opportunity should be taken to help students become better and more self-aware/selfdirected learners. Opportunity will be given regularly to help students with metacognition and to learn and practise specific learning strategies. 9. Supportive and safe relationships The classroom must be a safe place for every learner. Taking learning risks must be the norm

12 and no student should feel unsure or afraid to share their ideas or feel intimidated by a fellow student/s or a teacher. A caring and supportive environment in which the teacher knows their students well is vital for learning success. 10. Biblical perspectives All of the above can be done without any reference to a Christian Biblical perspective, but some evidence should exist that we are offering a different view of the world. This may be in the attitude and approach of the teacher as role model, in the material chosen, in the strategies selected, in the way students are treated and in occasional specific references to a Biblical view. The unit plan should clearly demonstrate the worldview we want students to grasp from this material and outcomes for the lesson must include items that demonstrate a life change in students’ thinking, beliefs and behaviour.

11. Closure Closing a lesson is also important and will include (among other things) a review of the lesson goal, or a check for understanding, or an alert for students of what is to come in order to whet their appetite for the next lesson and so on. Conclusion: Classrooms in which these are regular and observable practices will be places in which quality teaching and learning is taking place. While we know teaching is a very complex activity (more art than science), paying attention to these proven best practices will give us a sense of purpose and contribute to all GPCC classrooms being places of quality learning.


Part 4 – Profile of a GPCC Teacher In order for our students to be shaped in accordance with our Graduate Profile, our teachers (and staff) must model what this looks like. Thus, a Teacher Profile will include all the elements of the Student Profile plus more that are specific to the task of teaching.

The Qualities and Practices of an Effective GPCC Teacher: 1. Godly in Character – growing in faith, engaged in a local Church, Biblically literate; 2. Collaborative – works well with colleagues, students, and parents; 3. Strong Presence – listens actively, shows empathy, is patient, engaging, dynamic, enthusiastic, manages the classroom well, is adaptable, organised and clear, sets high expectations, instils confidence, and is well prepared; 4. Life-long Learner – practices self-regulation, knows the content and how to teach it, engages in regular professional learning;

5. Creates a Supportive and Safe Environment – provides quality feedback, knows students and how they learn, displays pastoral care and concern for student welfare; 6. Uses a Range of Strategies – plans for and implements effective teaching and learning tools; 7. Values Real-World Learning – applies it through learning opportunities 8. A Creative and Critical Thinker – reflective, innovative, discerning, encourages new ideas and innovative approaches, fosters risk-taking in student learning; 9. Socially Engaged – with students in cocurricular activities, mission and service opportunities, has their own commitment to social engagement outside of school Whatever the Year level or subject area they teach in, each GPCC teacher will be helped to develop the characteristics above.


Appendix A: GPCC Graduate Profile Characteristics – Explanations This paper sets out a brief explanation for each of the Graduate Profile characteristics. These characteristics are not meant to necessarily be fully formed in a student by graduation; instead we identify these characteristics as those which each student is challenged and encouraged to pursue, embarking on a personal journey towards matching this profile as a life goal. It is our hope that GPCC graduates will be recognised generally as having these characteristics even long after they have left the College.

Godly Character:

Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26 – 27) and so are most complete when we reflect His characteristics. There is some discussion about what being made in God’s image might actually mean, but theologians often think of it in two ways: firstly, we are, in essence, like God – we can reason, have personality, free will and self-consciousness; and secondly, we function like God, in that we rule over the creation even while being under God’s rule. We are not divine, but we do reflect what God is like to other human beings. This image or likeness is not just contained in each individual, but rather God’s image is reflected throughout humanity, and his work is to be undertaken by humanity as a whole. Godly character is our goal, although it will take a lifetime and beyond to achieve it. It consists of those qualities that represent the goodness and perfection of God himself: love, joy in all things, being at peace and peace-making, patience in all circumstances and with others, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol (Galatians 5:22-23). To this list we may also add qualities such as humility, purity, modesty, integrity, contentment, diligence and so on. While we often talk about “good” character, we at GPCC want to go further than the usual definition of what a good character might be like and re-

connect back to the Creator’s perspective. God’s Word, the Bible tells us that no human being is good and that even our apparent goodness (our righteousness) is like filthy rags to a holy and perfectly good God (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23). This is the problem of the human condition – we are “fallen” from the sinless state we were in at the time of Creation and have now been infected by the sin virus, such that all of us are born into sin and cannot have the Godly character we were designed to have. The good news is that through God’s plan of redemption, Jesus makes a way for us to reconnect with God, have our spirts renewed and begin a life journey of growth and movement towards Godly character as we deal to the sin in our lives with the help of God’s Spirit. Christians call this process sanctification. While all students can seek to become people like this, it is really only possible to make permanent change when they accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, turn from their previous way of life and commit to follow Jesus, dealing to the old bad habits in their lives and asking God to re-shape them into his likeness again. In this way we begin to return to what God intended us to be – perfect people, serving Him in caring for the world and living together in harmony with nature and with others. The other graduate profile characteristics are most effective and most easily developed when we get this one right.


We are designed for togetherness and flourish when we determine to work well with others. Being made in the image of the God who is three persons in one (the Trinity), it should not surprise us that we are better together. God knew that Adam could not and should not work alone in caring for the world and so He created Eve to be his helper and companion. Theologians remind us that it is not just each individual who reflects the image of God, but humanity as a whole. We are called to co-operate

15 together to care for the world, develop its resources and shape society. The mandate to care for the world and develop it was given to humanity as a whole, and so co-operating in this task in and of itself, is an outworking of our God-given purpose and our belief that God has given each person gifts designed to serve and equip others. As Western culture has moved towards a more individualistic approach to life, we have lost something of the power of co-operation in bringing good to society. At GPCC, we want to recover something of this and teach our students that working well with others is far more effective than working alone. The Christian faith has always emphasised the metaphor or image of the body – many parts working together to enable the body to function well. Each part must co-operate with every other part for the body to function according to its purpose. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26) Co-operation is a natural part of God’s design for humanity.

Life-Long Learner:

Given the complexity of the Creation and of human beings, it is not surprising that there is an almost infinite amount of knowledge to be gained from their study. In Western culture, we have somehow fallen into the false thinking that, because of our formalised approach to learning and the granting of qualifications, we can almost stop learning once we have achieved a qualification. We serve a God who is infinite in complexity and He has created a world of incredible variety, filled with details to be discovered and understood. A lifetime of study still only gives us a small measure of understanding of any aspect of creation. Our lives should be a journey of discovery as we explore the material creation and seek to understand humankind itself, including ourselves. This can be a daunting prospect at times, but we need to help students see it also as an exciting and rewarding challenge. We must model to them the importance of continuous learning as the means to a flourishing life, as it opens up more opportunities for us to try different things and use our gifts and abilities more effectively.

The Apostle Paul in writing to the Colossians said, “… live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” This is an instruction with no time limit on it. We are expected to grow in knowledge throughout our life. Knowledge of God is gained as much through general revelation (the study of creation and humankind) as it is through the study of the Scriptures.

Creative and Critical Thinker:

We turn to the origins of humanity for a reason to develop these abilities in students. Being made in God’s image, we expect that there lies in each of us a creative urge and a desire to make, to rearrange, to construct; that there will be an aesthetic element to all we do. Theologians tell us that we actually co-create with God because he continues to be intricately involved in the operation of the universe and sustains it by His ongoing word of power (Hebrews 1:3). Living in the 21st century, we are being told of the vital importance of graduating students who can think critically and creatively. This stems from the increasing complexity and diversity of our society and is seen as essential to solving the many problems and issues that modern society has generated and highlighted– pollution, social injustice, inequality etc. It also stems from the fact that we now live in a “global village”, with travel and communication opening up and creating opportunities for people from all over the world to live, work and interact together in ways unimagined in previous centuries. We all stand amazed at what humans can do, and this has often led people to the worship and exaltation of humanity rather than a recognition that our abilities stem from our connection to the Great Creator. The Cultural Mandate of Genesis 1 calls us to use the resources of the world to develop it and sustain it and to use them for humankind’s benefit. This will involve fixing the problems created by humanity’s misuse of resources, whilst also finding new and more effective ways to utilise the earth’s resources for the good of humanity. We are also thinking beings who can imagine and reflect and make connections intellectually in

16 ways that far exceed that of the animal kingdom. Our thinking is (of course) affected by the Fall, so we do not always think well or constructively. Nevertheless, we are designed for thinking and so need to hone this ability well.

He expended himself on serving the demanding crowds of his day and did so, not looking for reward from them, but simply living out of his own character. Ultimately, He gave his life for his enemy.

Thinking critically means developing the ability to assess a situation or problem from various perspectives, to work out the implications of various solutions, proposals or ideas and to do so objectively, recognising our own biases and being able to identify those of others. It means coming to an appropriate solution and involves us thinking about our own thinking processes to ensure we are reaching a suitable solution or perspective.

If each of us takes the view that we need to be doing things to help others, then all will be helped. We want a generation of students who see opportunities to use their abilities, their gifts and their education to be a blessing to others.

Critical thinking is not about attacking the ideas of others or tearing others down. Instead, it is working to get to the truth of a thing, to establish our views or perspectives on reasonable grounds and being open to our minds being changed and our thinking re-shaped as we discover new material and consider other perspectives. It also requires the skills to communicate logically, rationally and reasonably, avoiding defensiveness and pride whilst maintaining integrity and surety. We want our students to be creative in all they do, being willing not only to try new things but to ensure that all they do is aesthetically pleasing. We want them to be quality thinkers who live wisely. Creative thinking allows students to bring new perspectives and unique ideas to complex problems; to confidently explore alternate solutions and to think laterally and innovatively.

Socially Engaged:

Our core purpose calls us to develop students who are engaged in redemptive action in the world. This means they will have a desire to engage socially and for the good of others. We are not designed to be selfishly individualistic, only looking out for our own interests and not for others. In fact, the balanced view of the Scriptures is that while we need to care for ourselves, we must also look out for others. If there is a clash of needs, Scripture would lean towards putting others ahead of ourselves (Philippians 2:1-11). Jesus’ example is the one we are called to follow.

Our materialistic and individualistic culture calls us to do only those things that benefit us. It teaches us not to get involved with others unless we see a direct benefit for ourselves. Yet, humanity is full of examples of selflessness; how powerful and lifechanging it is when someone chooses to do something for others even at their own risk and expense. The challenge is to deal with our inherently selfish nature and become other-centred. Only a life transformation can accomplish this, but this is what we want for our students. As they discover the value of a living relationship with God through Jesus, they will begin to desire to engage in society in redemptive ways and to bring healing and wholeness where there is brokenness. This is what can transform a society: when a group of people engage in the issues of the day with a view to bringing wholeness and restoration to each situation. For Christians, we look again to the beginnings of the world to understand our purpose and role in creation. Adam and Eve were created and placed in the Garden of Eden to serve God by working in His garden and extending it throughout the world. Their service was to be of benefit to the world and an act of worship to God. Just as Jesus came to serve and not to be served, so we are called to acts of service in society that will benefit it. This may be through our regular work or through special acts of service and giving. At GPCC we want to graduate students who act on opportunities for social engagement and service through the abilities they have that are being developed through education.


Summary: Godly in Character We are designed in God’s image and are most human when we reflect His characteristics. Collaborative We are designed for togetherness and flourish when we know how to work well with others. Life-Long Learner We are designed for ongoing discovery about ourselves and others, the world and the Creator. Creative and Critical Thinker We are designed for thinking and given responsibility to be co-creators with the Great Creator. Socially Engaged We are designed to serve and help others and to redeem the brokenness of the world.


Appendix B: GPCC Statement of Faith God

There is one God and He is sovereign and eternal. He is revealed in the Bible as three equal divine Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God depends on nothing and no one; everything and everyone depends on Him. God is holy, just, wise, loving and good.

God created all things of His own sovereign will, and by His Word they are sustained and controlled. God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is also Father of all whom He has adopted as His children. Because of God’s faithfulness and His fatherly concern, nothing can separate His children from His love and care. The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternally existing, only begotten Son of the Father. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, truly God and truly man. He lived a sinless life and died in our place. He was buried, rose from the dead in bodily form and ascended to heaven. Jesus is King of the universe and Head of the Church, His people whom He has redeemed. He will return to gather His people to Himself, to judge all people and bring in the consummation of God’s Kingdom. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. He convicts people of their sin, leads them to repentance, creates faith within them and regenerates them. He is the source of their new sanctified life bringing forth His fruit in the life of believers. He gifts believers according to His sovereign will, enabling them to serve the Lord.

The Bible

The Bible, which is comprised of the books of the Old and New Testament, is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God, and the only absolute guide for all faith and conduct. It is indispensable and determinative for our knowledge of God, of ourselves and of the rest of creation.

God’s World

Adam and Eve, the parents of all humankind were created in the image of God to worship their Creator by loving and serving Him, and by exercising dominion under God’s rule by inhabiting, possessing, ruling, caring for and enjoying God’s creation. Consequently, the purpose of human existence is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience, because of which all people are alienated from God and each other and, as a result, they and all creation are under God’s judgement. All people have sinned and, if outside of Christ, are in a fallen, sinful, lost condition, helpless to save themselves, under God’s condemnation and blind to life’s true meaning and purpose. God holds each person responsible and accountable for choices made and actions pursued. Human responsibility and accountability do not limit God’s sovereignty. God’s sovereignty does not diminish human responsibility and accountability.

19 Salvation from the penalty of sin is found only through the substitutionary, atoning death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the sinless One, He took upon Himself the just punishment for our sins. Through His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus has destroyed the power of Satan, who is destined to be confined forever to hell along with all those who reject Jesus as Lord. Out of gratitude for God’s grace and in dependence on the Holy Spirit, God’s people are called to live lives worthy of their calling in love and unity and in obedience to God in all spheres of life. They are responsible to ensure that the gospel is faithfully proclaimed. Christian parents are required to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and to diligently teach them the truth of God’s Word.

Bibliography and Recommended Reading a. Bibliography

i. Knight, George: Philosophy of Education – an introduction in Christian perspective. Andrews University Press, Michigan. 2006

b. Recommended Reading

1. Beech, Geoffrey and Elizabeth: Transforming Elephants. G. and E. Beech, Pitt Town, Australia. 2019 2. Berkhof, L. and van Til, Cornelius: Foundations of Christian Education. Edited by D. E Johnson. Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., Phillipsburg, New Jersey. 1990 3. Brueggemann, Walter. The Creative Word: Fortress Press, Philadelphia. 1982 4. Van Brummelen, Harro: Steppingstones to Curriculum. Purposeful Design Pubs. Colorado Springs. 2002 5. Van Dyk, John: The Craft of Christian Teaching. Dordt Press, Sioux Centre. 2000 6. Etherington, Matthew (Editor): Foundations of Education. Wipf and Stock, Eugene, Oregon. 2014 7. Freire, Paulo: Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Penguin Books, London. 1996 8. Goodlet, Ken., Collier, John., George, Tony, (editors): Better Learning. St Mark’s NTC Pub., Barton, ACT. 2017 9. Graham, Donovan: Teaching Redemptively. Purposeful Design Pubs., Colorado Springs, 2009 10. Kienel, Paul: A History of Christian School Education. Purposeful Design Pubs., Colorado Springs, 1998 11. Knight, George: Philosophy and Education. Andrews University Press, Michigan, 2006 12. MacCullough, Martha: By Design. Cairn University, Pennsylvania, 2013 13. MacCullough, Martha: Undivided. Purposeful Design Pubs., Colorado Springs, 2016 14. Postman, Neil: The End of Education. Vintage Books, New York, 1996 15. Schultz, Glen: Kingdom Education. Adult Ministry Pubs., Nashville, 2002 16. Smith, David: On Christian Teaching. William B. Eerdmans, Michigan, 2018 17. Smith, David and Shortt, John: The Bible and the Task of Teaching. The Stapleford Centre, Nottingham, 2002 18. Smith, David and Smith, James K. A: Teaching and Christian Practices. William B. Eerdmans, Michigan, 2011