CONTRASTING

CHRISTIAN APPROACHES

TO TEACHING

THE SCIENCES

 

 

By Russell Maatman, Professor of Chemistry, Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa, and Gerald Bakker, Professor of Chemistry, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana. These two papers, which developed from the Colloquium of a Christian Approach to Curriculum, have been edited by Donald Oppewal, Professor of Education, Calvin College.

 

 

 

A CALVIN COLLEGE MONOGRAPH - 1971

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN

 

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Contents

Editorial Introduction, - Donald Oppewal

Christian Education Through Science Studies, Russell Maatman

Teaching God as Creator and Guide

Curriculum Application

Physics

Chemistry

Other Sciences

Guidelines for Method of Teaching Science

General Approach

Basic Assumptions

Use of the Student's Environment

Limiting Subject matter

Conclusion

On Placing Limits on Christian Education, Gerald Bakker

Using Multiple Approaches to Science

Guidelines to Science Education

Objectives in Science Teaching

The Value Dimension

 

This document has been reproduced for the world wide web by the Calvin College Education Department in June 2000 thanks to a grant from Calvin College. If you have any questions about this document or others in the Calvin College Monograph Series please contact Dr. Robert Keeley at rkeeley@calvin.edu.


Editorial introduction

In January, 1970, Calvin College was host to a group of Christian educators participating in a Colloquium on a Christian Approach to Curriculum. A number of curriculum areas, science studies being one of them, were selected for extended discussion in this three-day conference of educators from various segments of the Reformed academic community. A major paper was presented in each area with each one having two respondent papers. Each formal presentation was followed by a panel discussion. Both at this Colloquium and since then there have been requests to capture the best of that dialogue in more permanent form so as to make it available to a wider audience.

This monograph has arisen out of that dialogue, both written and oral, both at the Colloquium and since then. Two writers of papers, representing divergent views within the Reformed academic community, were given opportunity to revise and adapt their papers in the light of not only the Colloquium discussion but of a further exchange of communication between them. They were asked to address themselves to the same educational questions and to so arrange their essays that the reader might easily sense the differences in approach of each.

The Table of Contents will reveal to the interested reader the degree of parallel structure in the two following essays. The text itself will reveal the degree to which the writers have provided contrasting answers to the same scientific and educational questions. The editor wishes to express his thanks to the writers, Professor Russell Maatman of Dordt College and Professor Gerald Bakker of Earlham College for their cooperation and for allowing him to provide the editorial comments on their essays.

I am sure that the writers join me in assuring the reader that these two alternatives set forth here by no means exhaust the Christian approaches to science or the general theoretical frameworks within which one may teach Christianly. They would be the first to express appreciation for each other's viewpoint, however contrasting they have made them for the benefit of the reader. Teaching, being the art that it is, proceeds not only out of a relatively conscious theory of the role that scientific thinking should play in the life of a Christian but also out of the total personality of the teacher. Thus, the writers and editor would agree that the actual classroom teaching act does not usually exhibit unambiguously any stated ideology concerning the best way to teach Christianly. The writers have here exercised discipline in exhibiting in their respective curricular implications not the richness in method of which they are capable but merely selections that clearly and consistently represent their priorities in objectives. They both would readily admit, I believe, to some eclecticism in classroom method, but would wish to demonstrate here that different emphases tend to flow from different primary objectives in teaching science. The careful reader will observe the degree to which they have demonstrated the relationship between objectives and teaching strategies. I believe that careful analyses and comparisons of the two major approaches will enable many teachers to identify more closely with one, while benefiting from the insights of the other.

The views expressed in these essays represent those of the writers and not necessarily those of either Calvin College or their respective colleges. They are being published as part of the Calvin College Monograph Series so that a wider audience, both of those within Reformed educational circles and those in evangelical Christianity generally, may benefit from this clarification of the creative tensions over education which exist among practicing Christian educators. It is offered in the hope that it may stimulate Christian teachers of science at all levels to rededicate themselves to teaching with more deliberately Christian goals and practices in mind. May it provoke many a faculty room discussion, many a department meeting resolution, and many a curriculum committee recommendation concerning teaching more Christianly.

Donald Oppewal

Education Department

August, 1970