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What are the distinctives of a Christian School?

What are the distinctives of a Christian School?

Thursday, 13 September 2018  | Narelle - Principal

As we finalise enrolments for the coming year and beyond, I have a full diary of enrolment interviews. In these conversations, it is always important to explain what makes a Christian school distinctive to our prospective parents and students. However, as present parents and friends of the school, could you provide a comprehensive answer to the above question? The following is a refresher of some of the key ideas you will find in our Transformational Education book.

Provides a supportive, caring, relational context for learning

The Christian school is a community of grace. When many past students reflect on their years of schooling, what they remember is not the interesting topics they explored, or the scintillating lesson a teacher took hours to prepare or the carefully constructed curriculum. Without fail it is the friendships they formed; the special teacher who took an interest in them; the second chance they were given; the quality of the relational environment. However, community is hard work. We live in a destructive culture. The understanding of boundaries and appropriate behaviours varies widely between families in the school. It is essential that students, teachers and parents work hard at creating a good relational environment to be in.

Presents a coherent, rich, integral view of knowledge and the world, and values the diversity of knowledge

The Hebrew world, the world of the Bible, has a rich integrated understanding of knowledge. Knowledge is not just information but understanding, wisdom and experience. To know something is to engage with it and embrace it in all its diversity.

We tend to fragment knowledge – biology, chemistry, maths, history, psychology – and students find it difficult to bring it together into a coherent understanding and to transfer it from one context to another.

Christian schools try to work hard at integrating knowledge while recognising the need for depth and specialisation in a complex world.

Reflects seriously the way different students learn as image bearers of God

We know our kids are different. Classrooms need to reflect that some students are more visual learners, others aural, some more tactile, others kinaesthetic; some are intuitive, others logical analytical. There are very few schools which would dare to ignore these insights today. However, for the Christian school it is especially important that we celebrate this diversity as a recognition that each child is a unique image bearer of the Creator, with different gifts and talents.

Aims for a rich and diverse range of learning responses

Of course it is the task of the school to help students to know more than they know now; but it is equally important for the child to BE more than they are now. A Christian school will structure its curriculum carefully to deliver a rich range of learning responses. There will be many occasions for the AHA! response of exploration, discovery, curiosity and insight when the penny drops. Equally Christian education looks for the response of AHH! of awe, wonder, delight, admiration, praise. It will provide experiences that encourage students to be worshippers in the context of their everyday studies. Then some learning is for sheer delight, HAHA! the response of playfulness, celebration, fun, aesthetic expression, creativity, imagination. For its own sake; not for any product or result it might deliver, except perhaps a happier spirit, a more interesting person. There will be the response of HA! of enterprise, action, service, industry, I’m getting into this; I’m going to make a difference; I want to leave my mark for God; develop student’s interests and skills for stewardship and service. 

Encourages a journey into owned faith and responsive discipleship

The Christian school provides an environment and activities where students can experience how faith works, can doubt and struggle and test faith in a safe environment and then come to a valued, committed, owned faith that moves on into maturity.

Poses significant problems and explores meaningful content

The curriculum is never trivial. It deals with real issues. It doesn’t avoid the difficult questions but engages honestly with them.

Engages realistically with prevailing culture through thoughtful analysis and honest critique

We live in a dangerous and difficult world. We want to shelter our children from the worst effects of human rebellion, false philosophies and dangerous experiences. At the same time the Christian school is not a hothouse. It is the best place for children to explore the messages and issues they are going to be exposed to when they hit work and tertiary studies.

Promotes and nurtures biblical values

It is interesting that Australian parents are turning to independent schools not just because they want an excellent education for their children but also because they want character development and a sustaining set of values. Together with the home, Christian schools are proactive in providing a community and experiences where students learn compassion, justice, honesty, integrity, generosity, humility, patience, gentleness, joy and the fruit of the Spirit. Not necessarily the values that are recognised as important by culture; but those that reflect the character of God and are exemplified in Jesus.

If the above summary sounds right to you, and is something you value and desire in your partnership with us, why not let your family and friends know? Perhaps partnering with a Christian school is just what they are looking for too!


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