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A Philosophy of Christian Liberal Arts Higher Educaton

A Philosophy of Christian Liberal Arts Higher Educaton

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Published by robertmilliman
A brief essay (slightly over two pages) giving a concise philosophy of Christian liberal arts higher education
A brief essay (slightly over two pages) giving a concise philosophy of Christian liberal arts higher education

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Published by: robertmilliman on Jun 29, 2010
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Philosophy of Christian Liberal Arts Education
Robert MillimanEducation may be defined as an action or process of formal teaching by precept, example,or experience that results in the knowledge of information and skills, and mental,spiritual, and aesthetic development.This definition includes five essential components of education that each may beidentified with a word beginning with the letter “a”: (1) The
of education are theteachers and students. (2) The
of education is the outcome in the students desired bythe teachers, i.e., that which must be learned and that into which one must develop. (3)The
of education are teaching by the teachers and learning by the students. (4)The
of education is the curriculum or course of study taught by the teachers toachieve the desired outcome in the students. (5) The
of education is theevaluation of the desired outcome, curriculum, teaching, and learning in order tomaximize each of these componentsEffective education depends upon the extent to which each of the actors, teachers andstudents, understand and fulfill their roles with respect to the other essential componentsof education. Teachers have the primary responsibility for successful student outcomes.Furthermore, this responsibility of teachers is the one over which all educators, not onlyteachers, but also administrators, have the most control.Teachers initiate education by establishing desired student outcomes: the desiredknowledge of information and skills, and mental, spiritual, and aesthetic development.Next, they create the curriculum in the form of programs, and the courses of which theseprograms consist, to accomplish these objectives. They then teach the curriculum withmethods designed to elicit learning. Finally, they assess the learner for the achievementof outcomes, and they also assess their teaching for its effectiveness in obtaining theoutcomesThe curriculum utilized to accomplish student outcomes in Christian education willcenter on the liberal arts. The liberal arts are comprised of those disciplines that seek todescribe and interpret the cosmos and human existence. Therefore, they deal largely withmetaphysical issues, matters that have the greatest significance for life. For example, theliberal arts equip one to make judgments about ideas and values, answering suchquestions as the following ones: What is the meaning of life? What is true? What is just?
Philosophy of Liberal Arts Education 2 Robert Milliman
What is moral? What is beautiful? Consequently, they also concern themselves withrelationships.The disciplines that historically have comprised the liberal arts overlap. Therefore, thedisciplines ideally should not be taught discretely, but holistically, with teachers workingacross disciplines in dialogue and collaboration with one another. These disciplinestypically have included the humanities, which are more subjective in their orientation(e.g., theology, philosophy, literature, rhetoric, music, art, and history). They also includethe more objective sciences, both the natural (including mathematics) sciences and socialsciences.The desired outcome of a liberal arts education is the development of fully integratedindividuals who are able to think critically and soundly about ideas, values, andaesthetics. Christian institutions of higher education refine this goal as the integration of faith, learning, and life. In constant collaboration with one another and with their keydiscipline, theology, instructors in the liberal arts begin with an understanding of God’srevelation and humanity’s relationship with Him. By so doing, proper instruction in theliberal arts models biblical integration and provides students with a biblical world viewfrom which they can interpret all of life. Thus, instruction in the liberal arts gives studentsthe lens through which they can clearly see and understand life. In other words, liberalarts instruction at a Christian university seeks to cultivate people that are truly human, thefull expression of what God intended in the
imago Dei
. And part of the
imago Dei
iscreative expression. Therefore, the liberal arts both critique and give expression to humanexistence. And, both this critique and creative expression enable students to influence theculture in which they find themselves.One also may view the goal of liberal arts instruction as the creation of the contextthrough which the hermeneutical spiral that characterizes all learning is traveled. At theChristian university theology is both the spiral’s starting point (orthodoxy) andconclusion (orthopraxy). In other words, the desired result of a liberal arts education isthe formation of what once was called an educated person. A liberal arts education,particularly at a Christian university, seeks to teach students how to live, not just how tomake a living.It is crucial to note that a successful liberal arts education cannot simply relegate theliberal arts to the components of a general education requirement. Rather, the liberal artsmust form the foundation of a Christian education on which the entire curriculum must bebased. From another perspective, they must form the core of the entire institution’scurriculum. Therefore, this core curriculum in the liberal arts must cohere with itself andthe entire curriculum. The educational objectives and assessment of both the core and

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