The integration of faith and learning (IFL) provides an opportunity to share our faith in all classroom disciplines. However, this endeavor has been largely left to classroom teachers. But according to Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, Editor-in-Chief for College and University Dialogue, “all teachers need to develop their capacity to achieve the redemptive purpose of Adventist education and to model Adventist values and lifestyle.” It is my belief that everyone, Adventist and non-Adventist, working in an Adventist’s educational institution is a teacher.
Integration of faith and learning is not an isolated activity belonging in a classroom alone. Learning takes place both in and outside the classroom. It is, therefore, an understanding that each school employee, both faculty and staff, needs to have and apply it daily in his/her area of work so that what students learn in the classroom can also be observed and experienced outside. It’s about integrating both faith & learning and faith & working. An unknown writer once argued: “If you don’t practice what you preach and don’t practice what you teach, then what you preach and teach will not reach; it’s just a speech.” Thus, the Integration of Faith and Learning should go beyond an individual’s efforts to encompass the entire institution’s workforce.
The administration should not only support the practice of faith and learning, but also should apply the very principles of the Bible in their operations; rules and regulations should be fair, just, and applied equally and consistently. Both employees and students should be treated without discrimination or favoritism. Disciplinary situations should be redemptive and equitable. The administration should also be responsible to create a faith-learning integration-friendly environment. The décor of all building facilities and the campus landscape should reflect our faith in such areas as cleanliness, order, harmony, etc.
As good as praying, reading a Bible passage, or properly sharing our faith in all classroom subjects is, this will not go far enough in the lives of students if faith and learning is not integrated and lived in the faculty and staff’s own lives. Therefore, our work ethics and lifestyle matters a lot. Both faculty and staff are open books that all readers, including students, read. They see what we do and try to imitate them. According to Randall Sorenson, “The integration … is caught, not taught.” That is, students catch more what we do than what we say.
The big challenge we face is the increasing number of students who are not Adventists. This in itself would have been a good opportunity to share our faith through learning if the number of non-Adventist faculty and staff were not increasing as well. As Knight has once asked: “What is Christian education without Christian teachers?”; “What is Adventist education without Adventist teachers?” Beardsley-Hardy argues that “The data shows that we also need systems and deliberate efforts to increase, where needed, the percentage of Seventh-day Adventist teachers who work in the system. The past 14 years show a clear downward trend for primary, secondary, and tertiary teachers. We increasingly employ people of other faiths or no faith at all.” Unfortunately, even among those who profess to be Adventists, some of them, in reality, are by name only.
So, what is Adventist education with employees, including teachers, administrators, principals, etc. who do not practice Adventism? Integration of Faith, Learning, and Working begins with hiring employees who espouse the Adventist faith or are trainable in the same.
What are some ways you can practically integrate the role of faith with your teaching?
- Hardy, L. (2017, February). Adventist World-NAD, 26