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Integrating Faith and Mathematics

Brilliant Young Mathematician Approaches Big Blackboard and Finishes writing Sophisticated Mathematical Formula/ Equation.When it comes to seeking and creating opportunities to connect students with the Word of God, Christian teachers are not shy. Our ability to use curriculum as the vehicle to carry out this biblical mandate (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) is the distinguishing feature of our ministry. Any document presented to a learner occasions the opportunity to include a Bible text. But if you have ever wondered how to choose a text that relates to a mathematics topic, consider these five approaches.

ApproachExampleComment
1. Offer encouragementFocus: Always do your best (Ecclesiastes 9:10).This is not topic-related and can be used as a default when it’s difficult to find a direct math-Bible connection. However, it is to be followed by a discussion of why this is important.
2. Reference the topic’s useTopic: Counting. Can you count the stars (Genesis 15:5)?Search for biblical instances when someone counted, calculated area or volume, etc.; discuss why to make a Jesus connection.
3. Do a word play or studyTopic: Multiplying. What might ‘multiply’ mean in the context of Deuteronomy 8:13?Search for biblical instances of the word that might have a different or the same meaning; discuss why to make a Jesus connection.
4. Make an applicationTopic: Finding Volume. Calculate the volume of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 37:1).The students use the mathematics they learn to solve problems or explore phenomena present in the Bible. Discuss the phenomena itself to make a Jesus connection.
5. Make an analogy or other figurative connectionTopic: Commutative Property. Just as the commutative property allows numbers to switch places, Jesus switched places with us, taking our sin, giving us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Especially as the mathematics becomes more complex, this can be a most useful tool. Jesus used it extensively when making parables. It is particularly useful for the middle and upper grade levels which are expected to be able to grapple with figurative language.

Your chosen approach should be guided by the goal of delivering an organic connection, one that is unforced because it easily relates to the topic at hand, using it to ultimately give insight into God’s character or salvation work. A variety of approaches is needed since not every topic lends itself well to any one approach.

Although focused on using graphic organizers to activate prior learning, this Appendix also illustrates the incorporation of biblical material. Each graphic organizer of the Appendix concludes with a Bible text, but that text can be presented in a variety of formats. It can be partnered with a teaser question, a fill-in-the-blanks prompt, a puzzle, or other creative means. The key is to keep within the mode of engagement, stirring wonder and interest as age-appropriate. Getting students to reflect on their faith and learning is not at all a unique goal of mathematics instruction; the methods proffered here can be adapted to graphic organizers of any content area.

Elvis Agard

Elvis teaches Grades 6-8 at Berean Christian Junior Academy, South Atlantic Conference, USA. He has served as a teacher or administrator in four schools since 2000.

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3 comments

  • | 7 months ago

    Good morning, Sir!
    I am Jean Peterles. A theology student of the Adventist University of Haiti. I am also doing a mayor in social sciences. I am in my l last year. I am writing my research paper to graduate.
    The subject is “the degree of intégration of faith and learning in the teaching of social sciences “.
    My greatest problem now is to find a theory that shows me how to integrate faith in social sciences.
    Can you please help me find one on social sciences?

    Thank you for the document offered to the Seventh Day Adventist Community.

    Now

  • | 7 months ago

    Hello Jean Peterles,

    I’m glad to hear of your studies and will pray for your success.

    I do not currently know of a study that measures the degree of faith integration in social studies (or any other content area), but I do think it is intriguing and possible to create such a measure, if that is the direction you wanted to go. I also do not know of a theory for such integration. As a practitoner, I have been more focused not the theoretical aspects of integrating faith and learning (IFL), but rather its practicality. There is already much documentation regarding the theory of IFL in general (http://christintheclassroom.org/), much of it for high education, but little in the way of the practical per specific subject areas, especially for primary or secondary levels of education.

    I offer this:

    Towards developing a theory of faith integration in social studies, I would ask
    (1) what are my goals, i.e., what does the outcome of IFL look like in social studies (personal response, doctrinal foundation, social engagement, etc)?
    (2) What does the practice of IFL look like in social studies?
    (3) What extant theories support my goals and practice?
    (4) How will the nuances of social studies modify the application of these thoeries?
    (5) What innovations or practices arise from the modified application of these theories to social studies?
    (5) To what extent are teacher already using these practices?
    (6) What is the current intersection of these proposed practices and education best-practice?
    (7) What measures of effectiveness will accompany the proposed practices?

    In terms of classroom practice, I do not know the level you intend to address, but here are some suggestions for how IFL in social studies may be enacted in a middle or secondary classroomthat may spark new ideas of your own:

    Graphs are usually involved in social studies. The topic of the graph can be a springboard for IFL. For example, consider the graph at this link (https://www.statista.com/statistics/187478/death-rate-from-suicide-in-the-us-by-gender-since-1950/). IFL may consider
    (a) the need to spread the gospel to people who are in despair
    (b) an opportunity to deal with the doctrine of death and the resurrection,
    (c) or an opportunity to consider principles of mental health given in the Bible

    An editorial or political cartoon as in this link (https://www.usnews.com/cartoons/economy-cartoons) may lead to a discussion of how God handled wealth disparity in the Bible in comparison to how current society addresses it.

    Timelines offer opportunities to look at what was happening in or with the church during the time period of interest.

    Essays can provoke students to include their biblical perspective on the topic at hand.

    The following questions might also be useful:

    1. What are the elements of a biblical worldview? How can the content of social studies address these elements?
    2. How can social studies content be used to educe worship?
    3. How does the dominant interpretation of a historial event compare with the biblical worldview?
    4. As it relates to the historical topic, where in the Bible do we see the same pattern acted out?
    5. What were the motivations behind the laws that were enacted, positions that were taken, or other rationale behind a historical event for which Biblical doctrine addresses?
    6. How does the Bible address the social conditions that exists at the time or in the region of study?
    7. How would conditions be different if God’s laws were followed?
    8. What has God been doing in this region to counteract the negative impact of the event?
    9. Write a personal response to an event of history that integrates your knowledge of God’s will or your worldview.

    I found this quote insightful:

    “Chiareli contends that the principle outcome of Christian integrative social science teaching “is active and reflective, and thus valuably praxis based” (260-261). The formation of future leaders via a Christian vocational perspective should be the future result (261). And so it is that transformational learning has been acknowledged as the Christian educational model to pursue (Wilhoit; Fogarty, Perkins, and Barell; Richards and Bredfeldt)” https://warpandwoof.org/a-standard-for-faith-learning-integration-in-the-academy/

    These links may offer more ideas

    https://www.acsi.org/resources/cse/cse-magazine/the-bible-christian-theism-and-the-integration-of-social-studies-51

    http://christintheclassroom.org/vol_08/08cc_001-016.htm

    http://yca-cc.org/Academics/Curriculum-Philosophy/Social-Studies

    Hope this helps!

  • | 6 months ago

    How can teaching of perimeters and areas be integrated in to faith and values.

    Please i need it asap!

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