Secularisation and Christian Education

Secularisation and Christian Education

How can we create fresh norms for Christian research and practice in this field that reflect more biblically-informed principles of life, via a different conceptualization of ‘persons’? Steve Fyson hopes that exploration will contribute to the theology of the discipline of education, such that Christians can grow in confidence of Godly discernment within their vocational calling to teach.

As someone coming back to a more scholarly environment, I am captured by what we mean when we say we undertake ‘research’ within the discipline of education, as Christians. Large data set information gathering, based on natural science assumptions and methods, seems to be the unstated – or in some cases explicit – ‘golden mean’.

Yet at a colloquium last year, visiting scholar Professor Trevor Cooling from Canterbury University reminded us that there is, theologically and philosophically, many more options. Other scholars such as Christian Smith (Notre Dame) and Mary Poplin (Claremont Graduate University) have been challenging mainstream social science – again – about its inherent reductionism and shallow focus in the way it usually does research. They believe that the usual materialist and physicalist norms reflect a deeper issue of unexamined presuppositions about the nature of persons.

This paper investigates this dynamic in a way that may apply to those wanting to explore theological education (as per Oslington’s “theological economics”)as a platform for engaging in the field of scholarship about and practice of Christian education. The proposition is put that we may have an opportunity to create fresh norms for Christian research and practice in this field that reflect more Biblically informed principles of life, via a different conceptualization of ‘persons’. That is, by clarifying the reality of what we are wanting to better describe (persons), we can review what methodologies and practices are permissible within that scope of exploration.

Therefore, it is hoped that exploration will contribute to the theology of the discipline of education, such that Christians can grow in confidence of Godly discernment within their vocational calling to teach.

Full Title : Responding to the Secularization of Religious Knowledge within Education

Biography

Stephen J Fyson BA (Hons), MHPEd, DipCS (post-grad), PhD, MACE, MCAPS is Senior Lecturer in Education at Alphacrucis College, and Special Projects Officer for the St Philip’s Christian College group of schools. He has published in education and psychology journals and books for over 30 years, and is author of Serving God in the Classroom (2014).

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