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Choices are a big part of each day. They begin the moment our alarm goes off—do I hit the snooze button or not? Eggs or oatmeal for breakfast? To floss or not to floss? (FLOSS!) The choices continue through the day. Most are not life changing, but sometimes we are faced with choices where we have to make moral and ethical decisions. Sometimes, it is not an easy task, especially in today’s world where truth is often relative, and apathy abounds—even in the world of Christian education.

Helping students become wise, discerning individuals is a big part of what we do as leaders of Christian schools. We do not exist to isolate our students from the world, but to give them biblical “insulation” so they are able to discern biblical wisdom and defend their faith while they love God and others well. We partner with parents to teach children at all levels what the Bible calls discernment: thinking clearly and choosing wisely with a sharpened conscience that is rooted in God’s Word. It’s a skill that is as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Here are some ideas of how we can do this together as we (parents and teachers) fully integrate a biblical worldview for our students*:

Open the Bible early. What does God have to say about the language we use? Any help in Scripture about what to do if a classmate is being bullied? Anything about money, giving, caring for things and others?

Use questions more. If an answer to a question is general or not specific, ask in the gentlest of tones, “What do you mean by that?” or “How did you come to that conclusion?” Ask their opinions and ask them to defend them. Have students ask questions. The more you ask, the more the kids think and discern the truth.

Use case studies. Case studies are real life dilemmas within events that happen, from as recent as recess (conflicts on the playground) and as old as whether a certain war was right or wrong. Talk, discuss, debate. Listen to your student!

Look at language. Help students understand what words mean. Make distinctions. For example: What’s the difference in meaning between private and alone? What do slang words really mean: is awesome the same as cool?

Talk about current events. There are a lot of cultural and social changes these days. As appropriate, discuss today’s topics by using the above numbers 1-4. We should not avoid the news, but contextualizing it within a biblical framework, allowing each other’s thoughts, opinions, and ideas to flow freely and respectfully is important.

Christian schools provide rich opportunities for God’s children to learn to discern in a safe environment. I am personally grateful for teachers who prodded and poked my children to think about hard topics in class and then charged them to bring it up at home. They did, and boy did we have some conversations around the table. Christian education should boldly invite families to take some responsibility in teaching discernment to students. There has to be intentionality of time and purpose to do this, both at home and school. A God’s people who, the reconciliation of ideas, thoughts and God’s Word can surely take place as together we, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) If we do this, what an example to our sinful and broken world we can become; Christians who are well spoken about social and cultural issues who understand those things in a biblical context.  Listen well, speak slowly and then go do the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

*Thanks to Voices 4 Christian Ed. from Christian Schools International for some of these ideas.

Author Jenn Thompson

Jennifer Thompson has served in Christian education for almost twenty-five years in various roles from basketball coach to science teacher, elementary principal to head of school at schools in both Florida and California. A native of Vermont, Jenn has an undergraduate degree in Sociology from Wheaton College and a master’s in science in Educational Leadership from Florida International University. She completed the Fellows program at the Van Lunen Center for Executive Management in Christian Schools at Calvin University and currently serves on the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) board. Jenn is the chief executive officer of Christian Schools International.

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