It is possible to integrate faith and learning in institutions of higher learning, schools and colleges. However, there must be some level of commitment from all the parties concerned that is the professors and students. The administrators in either colleges or in these institutions should be ready to allocate these sections in the curricular so that students have a clear understanding of the need of integrating faith and learning. The success of this integration is dependent on the student understanding of God’s creation and the role faith in one’s life and in education at the same time.
There should be focus on incarnation mode where faith commitment informs teacher’s dealings with students evidenced by deep care and concern for their well being both in and out of class and modeling the highest moral standards and aspirations for spiritual growth (Migliazzo, 2002). It is important for professors in colleges to have expressions of faith commitment and need to be prominent in their interactions with students. Migliazzo (2002) continues to say that integration of faith and learning is to preclude the possibility that such integration can actually affect the academic subject matter being studied.
Migliazzo advocates that professors must seek coherence in the worldview beliefs which means that there is a need to discover connections or interrelationships between the biblical and theological understanding and academic disciplinary knowledge (2002). In these attempts of articulating the contours of that one piece and to examine and refine this worldview is the scholarly aspect of the integration of faith and learning. The perception that academic disciplinary knowledge is unrelated to the biblical and theological understanding of the Christian scholar should not be taken for granted by professors.
In many Christian traditions we are socialized into being intellectual dualists. Migliazzo (2002) continues to say that colleges and professors should encourage students to formulate coherent relationships among these multiple sources of knowledge about their fundamental faith. Wolterstorff, Joldersma & Stronks (2004) says that Christians in all the academic disciplines have expressed the concern for integrating faith to learning. Wolterstorff, Joldersma & Stronks (2004) noted that they submit that the fundamental reason Christians in academic scientific psychology begin to talk about the integration of faith and psychology is that when they work in contemporary psychology, they bump up against development that make them feel uneasy.
The growing concern for integration is not the result of the writings of theorists neither is it the result of calm concern to bring integration where previously therewith a segregated coexistence (Wolterstorff, Joldersma & Stronks, 2004). There is a need for professors to understand the learning objectives when preparing the curricular in higher learning institutions so as offer a better integration between faith and learning. The main objective of this integration is to ascertain and to develop integral relationships between faith and human knowledge.
On the other hand, Cosgrove (2006) says that the integration of faith and learning means the relating of one’s biblical worldview to the learning that is taking place in the academic on cultural arenas. There are several ways of integrating faith and learning and at the same time there is a strong connection between the approaches to faith and learning integration (Cosgrove, 2006). The first model is known as sole authority model which is faith against learning which says that faith and learning are antagonistic to one another and faith stands against learning. Faith against learning recognizes that there is much in the world of learning and culture that is wrong or even anti Christian in its bias (Cosgrove, 2006). In reality it must be said that whatever approach students take to integrating our faith with learning and culture leading them to find themselves against some things in the modern secular culture.
The second model of integrating faith and learning is known as separate authority or the parallel. Cosgrove (2006) says that in this model students understand that faith and learning are not enemies but are contemporary sources of truth for students and their professors. Cosgrove (2006) also says that God expects us to learn about spiritual things from the Bible and about the things of the world from the academic disciplines. It also implies that on Sunday students can learn about spiritual truth in church about their spiritual life and on Monday to Saturday they can learn the world’s truth in the classroom. For professors or teachers this model seems to work best in the natural sciences where there is less overlap with the subject areas of one’s faith. For example Cosgrove (2006) says that the bible contains chemistry, therefore we learn chemistry from our class textbooks.
The third model according to Cosgrove (2006) is known as the equal authorities or the integrate model. This model of integrating faith and learning is also labeled as faith plus learning. It indicates that there is an overlap between faith and the content of academic subject areas and therefore it says that faith and learning correlate with one another. Cosgrove (2006) says that “students are brought to the understanding that the Bible or their faith and human subjects areas are equal sources of truth and therefore they should combine them to come up with more truth than if we had used either alone” (p. 57). He continues to say that each source of truth either implied by the professors contributes to our understanding of certain topics such as human nature or ethics.
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There is little controversy about this model because students often confuse the idea of mixing these two very different forms of truth. Cosgrove (2006) says that when we look at the Bible or other books related to our faith as students we do not see many details of knowledge as we do in the sciences or the social sciences. Students articulate that human learning on the other hand is filled with details of knowledge in millions of books and journal articles. This implies that mixing a few Bible verses with several secular journal articles results to a product or knowledge that is very secular because students are looking to the Bible only for details in certain subject areas (Cosgrove, 2006).
The fourth model is known as the foundational authority model in which faith supports learning. Cosgrove (2006) says that “under this model the major contribution of the bible to our academic and life pursuits is that it gives students and the professors a worldview foundation from which to do their studies in science, social science and the arts” (p. 58). It also implies that student faith does not matter when one engages in the learning process hence a student’s belief affects the subject areas he or she takes interest in studying and the methods they use to study anything. In addition Cosgrove (2006) comments that it also affects the interpretations of or meaning we bring to the accumulations of facts hence the learning process at school is never an academically unbiased process. A student learning is therefore always affected by ones faith beliefs which seek to transform culture and ideas rather than reject, ignore or just mix with culture and ideas.
There are several ways in which a good integration model for faith and learning such as the worldview model can be of help to students and professors at the same time. Cosgrove (2006) says that the connection between faith and learning is a two way growth process meaning that a good integration model allows for the fact that faith should affect learning and that learning should affect faith. Cosgrove (2006) further says that faith can be .professors and student’s worldview filter to help them to choose what is correct or incorrect in thinking and acting. At the same time he says that faith can also change us and how we think so that we develop new and better ways of thinking in the academic disciplines. Cosgrove (2006) continues to say that knowledge of grammar; logic, history and current events often make faith come alive for us.
The most important thing is that faith matters should not be removed from world thinking and learning because for students they act as guidelines. Cosgrove (2006) argues that “faith without learning ends up unquestioned and as a result anyone’s faith becomes okay and truth in faith matters becomes relative to each individual” (p. 65). Stevenson (2007) says that our faith should function as guide and critic in our practice of psychology and other disciplines in learning institutions. Therefore when sometimes there is a felt tension between psychology and faith the tension is genuine and what should give way is not our understanding of the Christian faith but our psychological convictions. Stevenson (2007) thus says that sometimes the struggle toward integration should take the form of psychological revisionism.
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It is important to understand that the holistic vision of education cannot be achieved if it remains the work of administrators and curriculum committees, the animating spirit of the whole must be found in each of its parts. Dunaway (2005) says that the integration of faith and learning in the classroom is a critically important aspect or else enterprise. This is so because genuine Christian faith permeates the whole life of the believer at work, at play when busy and every aspect of his or her life (Dunaway, 2005). He thus says that to be Christian is an identity not a role so it will affect professional lives of professors and teachers hence our most basic commitment permeate all we do.
Dunaway argues that the attempt to integrate faith and learning in the classroom guards against some divisions that is it positively affords us the opportunity to live as whole, integrated people whose academic work has something to do with our love of God (2005). The first implication that students should note is that to integrate faith and learning in the classroom means that I must be a person of both faith and learning. Dunaway (2005) continues to indicate that “underlying this notion is the belief that faith and learning work together which implies that the light of faith illumines the intellect and the cultivated mind penetrates more deeply into faith” (p. 121).
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Studies show that some Christian teachers claim that the more they cultivate the spiritual life the more open they are to the wisdom of their discipline and to sharing what wisdom with their students; likewise the more faithful they are to scholarly work. Dunaway (2005) found out that professors should seek to incorporate faith into the course material. The advantage of this integration is it includes broadening the scope of questions raised and the range of resources drawn upon in addressing the subject matter of a certain course (Dunaway, 2005).
An example of this integration as indicated by Dunaway (2005) will be a professor of political theory integrating faith and learning by challenging students to penetrate the heart of thinker anthropology and by inviting them to assess its adequacy in light of religious wisdom. Besides these arguments, Wilson (2009) says that the integration of faith and learning must be done skillfully and well. It thus requires teachers who themselves know the faith they profess.
Wilson (2009) continues to say that “teachers become apprehensive when it comes to thinking about faith and learning” (p. 168). What makes it even more difficult is that not everyone who instructs on faith and learning will see it the same way as some people or professors will complicate the whole matter further while others will simplify it until it does not mean much (Wilson, 2009). He therefore comments that the easiest way to understand the integration of faith and learning is that it is the way the reasonably well instructed Christian person sees life.
The integration of faith and learning will address the big questions of life and will enable the student to understand the world of which he or she is a part. An important aspect in the whole process is to bear in mind that effective integration of faith and learning will deal with the great facts of the Bible, with God, with creation as it consist of seen and the unseen (Wilson, 2009). On the other hand, Moreland (2007) argues that evangelical institutions of learning from elementary school to Christian colleges and universities are rightly concerned with integrating scripture and Christian theology with other fields of study to help students form a faith worldview. Moreland (2007) mentioned that although “the language is considered ubiquitous it implies that insights gained by students from various disciplines from chemistry to literature deserve the cognitive label learning while biblical assertions are named faith” (p. 93).
The academic discipline question will carry greater cognitive authority than biblical teaching which conveniently will be placed in some complementary upper story of meaning and value, while the factual intellectual labor will come from the academic discipline (Moreland, 2007). He also argues that theistic evolution is the classic expression of this intellectual pacifism that results from depicting integration as a task of relating faith and learning. Henry & Agee (2003) determined that educators seek openness to learning and personal growth to the world of ideas, the arts and sciences, the heritage of the past, the problems of the present and the promise of the future. Faith in this context takes a central role because it keeps believers focused.
In student development work, faith must be integrated with developmental psychology while the management theories and styles that administrators in a particular institution adopt should be deeply affected by ones faith concepts of stewardly service, of equal justice for all together with love. Students should realize that moral decisions require more input than an awareness of the facts in a case plus some overarching deontological principles hence for the integration of faith and learning it is crucial that they be overt and explicit.
This integration should apply to the presuppositions on which student’s higher education rests, to our institutional and departmental objectives and to the objectives of the courses as a teacher. Henry & Agee (2003) continues to say that it should apply to curricular development and content and therefore to faculty development expectations and programs. It is important also to note that if science is not presupposition less and learning is not value free then integration of faith and learning affects the methodology of the disciplines and it influences the methodology of the teacher as well as his or her manner with students (Henry & Agee, 2003).
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Faith and learning should go beyond the loose conjunction of education and piety or simply education. Henry & Agee (2003) says that integration is obviously an ideal that is fully achieved in perfect understanding and in the faithfulness of our activities as students. For the schools, colleges and universities it should be a goal, for professors, teachers and administrators it should be a lifelong struggle to see things whole to think to become more consistently what they profess. This means that students should not settle for less than the possible or settle for looser of faith and learning.