One of the things I love about teaching at North Shore Christian School is the opportunity to teach through the lens of a Christian worldview while challenging students to think critically about the world around them. Establishing a Christian worldview is foundational to teaching children well in the 21st century.
But students need to be taught more than just the basics of their faith in relation to academics – they need to be taught how to look at something closely and carefully and to critically analyze and evaluate what they’re learning. My students enjoy employing critical thinking strategies and skills to their academic learning.
We have been honored to have been taught the art of Paideia Seminar, from Dr. Donna Robinson a professor from Gordon College and former teacher at NSCS. We have been able to appropriate these seminars in class based on novel studies. Our class was selected to be filmed engaging in a Paideia Seminar and has been featured at Gordon College for use in their undergraduate and graduate teacher training programs.
Continuing this year in my language arts curriculum, I’ve been focusing on close reading strategies. The 3rd and 4th graders are getting up close and personal with each and every novel we read! This means we’re taking a real close look at the novel as a whole, and much of this work is done before the book is ever even opened. Building background knowledge of the setting, the author, and the pictures and words on the cover and back jacket are essential to understanding the novel better as a whole.
When we have a basic understanding of the whole, we can more easily (and authentically) understand and appreciate each part of the whole. Students feel successful before reading based on their prior knowledge, which is key! Then as we read, we’re answering questions that go further beyond basic comprehension – they’re questions that are conceptual, self-reflective, and analytical.
I love hearing the students’ responses to these questions, whether individually or in small groups, as they often lead to further discoveries and challenging debates amongst peers. New ideas are born, new questions are raised, and a greater understanding is gained.
Developing this type of critical thinking deepens our faith and our understanding of who God is and what He has done. If students know how to analyze, evaluate, and interact with a text, they’ll be better equipped to become not just readers of the Word of God, but doers of the Word. This is what the world needs – young people who are eager not just to know about God but to really get at what He’s asking us to do and how He’s enabling us to change the world through his love, peace, justice, and truth.
I love being a part of this life-changing work and I’ve seen firsthand the value this type of education has in a child’s life. Would you be willing to partner with us at NSCS as we work to raise up a generation of children who will change the world when their critical thinking skills and careful attention to detail take effect? Please prayerfully consider how you can be a part of the great work like this that God is doing at North Shore Christian School.
By Liz MacDavitt