Education for the Common Good

Dr. Barry Shealy, FPD Assistant Headmaster

Recent studies have demonstrated the positive impact of Christian schools and their graduates on their communities.[1] This theme of education for the community was also foundational for my calling as a Christian educator and helps answer for me the “Why?” of Christian schooling. While in college preparing to teach, I asked the question, “What is a Christian philosophy of education?” All I could find in my college’s library on that topic was from the works of Martin Luther. Luther was concerned that all be able to read and study the scriptures and to understand the Gospel.

However, he also believed citizens who were well-educated with a biblical world and life view and Christian virtue were necessary to a well-functioning society.[2]

Creation-Fall-Grace-Glory Framework for Teaching

Christian schoolsAt FPD, our most common perspective on teaching from a biblical world and life view is the “biblical story” framework of Creation-Fall-Grace-Glory.[3] This framework follows the Gospel – humanity was created in fellowship with God, we were separated from God through sin in the fall, God provided a solution by grace through Jesus Christ, and then we have an eternal relationship with God in glory.

As a general educational framework, this leads us to look at any situation by asking four questions: 1. How should it be? (Creation) 2. What is wrong? (Fall) 3. How do we fix it? (Grace) 4. What is the vision for the future? (Glory)

For example, in my Calculus class, I tell my students that mathematics is a way of thinking about the world (Creation) so that we can identify problems (Fall) and seek solutions (Grace) for broad future benefit (Glory).

We don’t just memorize equations to score well on a test. Instead, we discuss actual problems and use calculus-based methods to discover new opportunities. This gives focus to real situations, conceptual understanding, and problem solving.

How This Translates into FPD’s Community Service

Christian schoolsThis framework is the foundation for our classroom education as well as our community service initiatives. Our community service emphasis is not just giving time without payment. We take it a step further. We allow students to explore how things should be, what is wrong, how they can be a part of the solution, and how that benefits the community as a whole.

FPD students are regularly in the community working with over 100 agencies on living issues such as poverty, homelessness, hunger, and other tough topics. Our faculty is committed to developing graduates who are sensitive to the needs of others and the community and challenged to participate in meeting those needs. To do so, students come face-to-face with those issues and find ways they can help make a difference.

So, when we say we are “educating and equipping students to change the world for God’s glory,” we really are educating for the common good.

We are concerned about our students coming to faith in Christ and their spiritual formation. We are also concerned about their walking in the good works God has prepared for them (Ephesians 2:10).

Our prayer is that the Middle Georgia community, and communities beyond, benefit from the service and leadership of FPD students and graduates who meet needs, solve problems, and advance the Gospel and God’s kingdom.


Slideshow: FPD Intown Mission Trip

Video: Senior Service Day

Interested in learning more about FPD’s educational experience. We invite you to take a tour.


References

[1] See The Toughest Question about Christian Education and studies from Cardus like Creating Generous Citizens.

[2] F. V. N. Palmer, Luther on Education (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1889).

[3] Philip Graham Ryken, What is the Christian Worldview? (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006)