It was not until after beginning my career as a public school teacher that, at age 29, I became a Christian. Feeling inspired by the Holy Spirit, I wanted to see if Christian education—and Christian teachers—really were any different! I did not expect to discover any “secret curriculum or assessment” to be at the core of this difference. Skills would be the same, but I mused that surely the worldview that impacted their teaching must not be. From that question, I began listening for God to guide me in ways that enlarged my passion, wisdom and understanding of how my vocation is informed by faith.
Current culture can be found lacking in conversations, questions, or frameworks that reflect a Christian perspective. My research interests — emerging from a passion about the Word, from words in language and how we use them — have probed me to further emphasize worldview and its place and purpose in culture and Christian higher education. It is what led me to undertake a Master of Worldview Studies at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto and continues to guide my professional interests.
My current research investigates authentic ownership of a worldview. Dr. Beverley Norsworthy, Dean of Education at Bethlehem Institute of Education in New Zealand, and I are exploring data from 120 teachers on their understanding and perspective of Imago Dei—what it means to be made in the image of God. We want to see how that worldview guides, or fails to guide, how they see themselves and their students. It is work that explores perceptions of how teachers apply the principles of Scripture in schools. Does understanding of a personal worldview and knowing one’s purpose in a relationship with God become evident in “faith-fully” teaching?
At this stage of the research, we have made two conference presentations and have a publication on our findings in the next ICCTE journal.
What kind of graduate does a Christian education produce? If the goal is indeed to equip the mind to live for God and cause a culture to flourish, the question is crucial for educators. I and my colleagues look forward to continuing this conversation through further research in a variety of ways and forms.
Dr. Christina Belcher is professor in the Department of Education at Redeemer University College.