Recently, I sent out a short, anonymous survey to the some educators. My goal was to collect information on how real teachers and administrators are perceiving their growth and struggles—What’s working? What continues to be a burden or weight? I will use that valuable insight to shape some of the articles and resources that I point teachers toward in the future. (Please know that you can reach out to me with any thoughts or questions! I am excited to serve you as you serve the kingdom of God.) This post is part one of a short series that interacts with a few of the successes and struggles that came through in the results.
I was encouraged to see some responses that said something like, “Working on biblical integration is changing the way I (the teacher) think.”
This is great news! In a few years, few students remember the specific lessons from our classes, but many will remember what we are like. They are impacted by our character and our way of thinking more than anything else. Therefore, if you are a biblically-integrating thinker, they will learn to be biblical integrators too.
Academic disciple-makers, like all people, have limited time. They may wonder, “How do I find the time in class to integrate without limiting other important content?”
Time is a valuable resource; we don’t want to waste a moment of our precious in-class time. Therefore, we need to integrate wisely. However, I would encourage all educators to recognize that quality, tight integration should enhance your students’ understanding; it should never detract from it. “A tightly integrated course, unit, or lesson is one where course objectives (not just content) and integration objectives overlap significantly.” I often say that it would be hard to teach MacBeth without mention of Shakespeare. Talking about the author helps students grasp his work. Likewise, it helps students understand the natural world, humanity, art, science, and more when they grasp more about the Author. So I would contend that integration should help teachers manage time better in class because it is a tool for deep understanding.
However, since time is especially limited in the classroom, I would encourage you to thoughtfully plan how your integration will work within your assignments, assessments, and reviews. If you planned for the students to write a paper, ask them to integrate in the paper. This will take no additional time. And, since we want them to be thinking biblically, this is logical. If you are playing a review game, include review questions about the biblical ideas that you have discussed. This helps students see that the biblical worldview that informs and directs your subject is as important as anything else that they could learn. If you are going to have a discussion, include some biblical prompts or ideas. Ultimately, if there are learning activities that you think cannot be used to help students think biblically, you may want to consider replacing those activities with others that will help the students more.
Part two of this series will interact with survey responses like, “I love hearing and interacting with what the students think and feel about God,” and “How can I make integration feel more natural?”