Friday, June 13, 2008

As I'm lounging in bed... the mornings (because, you know, I'm a teacher on summer break), I tend to think about how I'll teach my classes in the fall. Now, DON'T TELL ADAM this! He really hates the way I can hardly enjoy the moment I'm IN, because I'm too busy dreading the moment that's coming. Sigh. It's one of my biggest flaws. I go through the summer thinking, "I've only got 11 weeks left." Then later, "I've only got 7 weeks left." You get the idea.

I have a love/hate relationship with teaching. I moan and groan about it all school year long, but when I'm not teaching, I spend my spare thought-time THINKING about teaching. I've always been a mental planner; I dread not being prepared. Anyway, right now I'm thinking worldview thoughts. I teach at a Christian school, and I'm constantly challenging myself about how I can teach high school English from a Christian perspective. Over the years, I've added and enhanced how I approach it.

Even for Christian students, it's important to begin with a lesson on WHAT a "Christian World and Life View" is - they really don't know. Their parents don't know. Nobody taught it to them in Sunday School. And it's REALLY not on Cable or Facebook, y'know?

I also constantly reinforce that each writer, in each piece of fiction, is creating a world. And each world, each culture, (even the fictional ones) has a worldview being presented. It's our job as literature students to figure out the writer's worldview, from the world he has created for us. But if the students cannot deduce the worldviews around them in their OWN teenage world, they won't be able to do it in a fictional world. So, we first evaluate worldviews found in America, in our school, in the church - cultures familiar to them.

This summer my 9th/10th graders are reading "Robinson Crusoe" for their summer reading. It's on my list too, because I'd never read it - it's a "BOY BOOK," and I carefully avoided such things. I was busy reading all of Jane Austen's. Anyway, the introduction to the book is by Virginia Woolf. And Woolf makes some very astute comments about writers' worldviews, in this introduction:

"Until we know how the novelist orders his world, the ornaments of that world, which the critics press upon us, the adventures of the writer, to which biographers draw attention, are superfluous possessions of which we can make no use. All alone we must climb upon the novelist's shoulders and gaze through his eyes until we, too, understand in what order he ranges the large common objects upon which novelists are fated to gaze: man and men; behind them Nature; and above them that power which for convenience and brevity we man call God." Man, Nature and God. That's a nice tidy list of criteria. I like that. She continues, "...these objects can be made monstrous and indeed unrecognisable by the manner in which the novelist relates them to each other."

She's talking about worldview. Now, as far as I know, Woolf was no Christian. But she can hardly escape the fact of what the writer does - "he inflicts his own perspective upon us." We readers either accept or reject the world, and the worldview that necessarily accompanies it. As Christians, we reject or accept, based on how closely that worldview conforms to God's view of the world HE has created. He is the ultimate writer, the first and foremost maker of a world.

{It gets a little trickier when a writer presents a culture & worldview with which even HE disagrees, and the reader must evaluate narrative perspective to figure this out. Anyway...}

I'm often asked why a Christian school would teach its students material by thoroughly pagan writers. My answer is, because of the fall. It's the same situation that these kids will face every day of life: they are placed in a pagan culture, a fallen world. They must have the ability to evaluate accurately the worldviews thrown at them. I want them to be skilled at evaluating cultures and worldviews. I want it to be second nature to them to step back and critically analyze these things. What better way to practice, than to repeatedly evaluate "pretend" cultures and worldviews? Literature gives us an almost endless source of material to practice upon.

For any non-Christian readers in the blogworld out there, I'm really sorry if all this stuff kind of gives you the creeps. But I'm not trying to brain-wash my students, or force them to adopt my opinions. I want them to be critical thinkers, and that criticism extends to my worldview also. If they profess to be Christians, then it's their job to use Scripture as their standard. If they are not Christians, then at least they're learning good critical thinking skills.

Okay, now I've gotten that off my chest, it's time for breakfast, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. One of the main reasons our children attend the school they attend is so that they can get an education with a "biblical worldview". It is worth every penny it takes to send them there.

    I want them to look at this life of theirs through the Word and see how they are to apply the Word to all areas, be it science, literature, law or raising children -whatever the Lord calls them to. That is one of my prayers for them.



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