Guest Blogger: Mrs. Kerry Singleton, ECA Junior High Teacher and Administrator
As any parent or teacher of a Junior High student knows, this particular age is unique and filled with joys and challenges. So what does it look like at ECA to “educate, equip, and empower students of this age to pursue their purpose in Christ?” In Classical education, this age and stage is called the dialectic or logic stage and is defined as “the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions,” transitioning from the Elementary grammar level and working with information in new and different ways. And so at ECA, our Junior High classrooms are places of ideas, investigation, discussion, asking and answering good questions, and finding what unites the facts and leads to an understanding of the truth.
As Christian educators, helping our students understand Truth as revealed in Scripture is the most important work of education. Since Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we as teachers at ECA are committed to helping our students apply the facts they have learned and recognize, understand, and walk in the Truth. Biblical education is about more than just learning factual knowledge; it is about transforming hearts and minds and “training up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6).
What then makes the ECA Junior High classroom so strong when it comes to helping our students grow in their understanding of the Truth? Students of this age naturally ask questions, and one of the hallmarks of education at this level is asking questions such as “how?” and “why?” In each of their class es, our students take facts and find the relationships between them. When they look at history or literature, they analyze the texts and critique the authors’ purpose and themes. They ask, “Why were the wars of history fought?” or “Why did the people of the Bible act the way they did?” or “Should this character have acted as he did in this situation?” Additionally, they look for these connections by comparing and contrasting, examining cause and effect, reading classic texts, and having group discussions on questions and ideas which challenge them to think deeply. They create flow charts, diagrams, timelines, and science projects using the scientific method which helps them see relationships and develop their dialectic skills.
Since students of this age desire to debate and discuss the truth of opinions, we teach our students to argue effectively and with wisdom by including the study of logic. We teach them to avoid common fallacies, such as personal attacks and, instead, argue persuasively by using sound evidence to support their position. Our students construct and analyze arguments in the writing of essays, the art of debate, the reading of literature, the investigation of history, and the study of math and science. As our students grow in their discussion and debate skills, we teach them to listen and consider one another’s ideas; to speak clearly, persuasively, and kindly;andtoleaddiscussionthoughtfully. Weteachthemtodefendtheirpositionsbutalsobewillingto change their views when presented with proof from the text or evidence they had not considered in their initial argument. We teach them to examine motives, themes, actions, and events in light of the Truth of God’s Word and the universal nature of human beings; and we teach them to think critically and not be afraid to disagree while maintaining respect for the person. Because each student is made in God’s image, we believe they are capable of engaging with material in deep and meaningful ways which lead not only to a greater understanding of God’s Truth, but also to recognizing and convincingly handling opposition to the Truth.
Above all, we teach our students that truth, God’s Truth, is real and knowable, and that He is worthy of praise and glory because “by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). At ECA, we work to develop in our students a Biblical worldview which is consistent with God’s revealed Truth and through each subject help them learn to love God and others more, as well as to redeem His creation and bring about restoration in this broken world. We do this believing that, though our students are finite and fallible, they are created to know the Truth, to engage with the Truth, and to be transformed by the Truth into worshippers who respond to the Lord in spirit and in truth.
This is what our Junior High teachers at ECA are uniquely engaged in on a daily basis in their Christian, Classical, Logic-level classrooms: helping students grow in wisdom and understanding of the Truth by using tools which specifically engage, educate, and challenge them to pursue their purpose in Christ.