The Athenian Academy

On The Issue of Faith

When homeschooling parents explore curriculum and class opportunities for their children the question of faith becomes significant. The homeschooling community is diverse and includes families from broad faith backgrounds and many who do not profess any faith at all.  For this reason, I feel like it is important for me to address the question of faith as it relates to the classes I teach from the outset.  

Personally, I am a Christian.  I attend church and am very active in the Christian community.  I am currently in the process of working towards a career in vocational ministry hoping to earn my Masters of Divinity degree as well as a Masters in Rehabilitative Counseling (I expect to be in school for awhile).  It is important to me that people understand my personal beliefs because they do guide my values and life view.

However, I have strong a good relationships with people of many faith backgrounds and those who identify as atheists and agnostics.  I have been fortunate to be able to develop healthy relationships where we have been able to have honest conversations about faith.  This is huge to me.  I understand I live in a diverse world, and I believe that it is important to share and have authentic relationships with people who are not like me.  To be honest, it is through these relationships that I find my own beliefs strengthened.  

Having the background that I do, it is important to me that my classroom serves as means of sharing knowledge on the subject being taught, whether that is literature, global issues or science.  I work to teach in such a way that it does not run contrary to a Biblical perspective HOWEVER I also do not promote a Christian perspective or any other faith perspective.  There are times where academics intersect with faith topics.  The way this is handled depends to a large extent on the age/level of the students and the subject being taught.  Classes taught to younger students may exempt topics that may run contrary to a family's faith perspective.  When this happens, I will mention that this topic has many points of view and encourage students to seek direction and guidance from their parents.  In classes with older students, typically this means classes targeted to teens, we will present the material as it is represented in the curriculum with the caveat that some people have alternative points of view.  

Overall, the question of faith in the classroom, as it relates to the classes I teach is essentially a non-issue.  There are very few, and in some classes no instances where the issue of faith needs to be addressed.  For example, people of all faith perspectives recognize covalent and ionic bonds, the basic functioning of the cardiovascular system, how a sentence is diagrammed, the location of Madagascar, the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hallow.  more than 99% of the time we are addressing undisputed information.  Further, it is very possible to thoroughly cover each subject I teach with little or no reference to faith.  The greatest and most prevalent exception to this is the discussion of evolution in high school biology.  In this case, we do teach the theory of evolution.  I do comment that some do not subscribe to this theory.  I do not teach Creationism, however I do encourage families to discuss both theories and consider why the do or do not support the alternative point of view.  For those who land on the side of Creationism, I would argue that a solid understanding of the theory of evolution is essential in order to engage others in discussions on the origin of life.

As a Christian and a student of science, I reject the "either/or" paradigm that is perpetuated in our society.  I believe that the study and observation of the world we live in, from the vastness of the universe to the microscopic world of the molecule and cell, serve as a form of worship and glorifies God.  As a scientist we do not need to remove faith in order to have scientific integrity, the scientific method offers a systematic approach to discovering all of creation.  As a person of faith, it is not necessary to set your beliefs aside.  As a Christian, I find God's fingerprint in all of creation (think Fibronacci Sequence/Golden Ratio).  

If you are a person of faith OR someone who is concerned about faith being promoted within the classroom, I am happy to get you in touch with parents who represent every aspect of the faith spectrum (atheist to those in ministry) who can share their perspective of my classes.