To offer a philosophy of education is to engage in critical and constructive introspection. It includes an appreciation of the past, an assessment of the present, and a will to dream, even to dare, respecting the future. The Lee University Philosophy of Education has been a commitment-in-process since 1918. At whatever stage in institutional development, those engaged in the enterprise have sensed a common calling, i.e., our community is a discipleship of equals, our work is a kind of sanctification of the ordinary, and our disposition is doxological in nature. A philosophy of education necessarily considers teachers, students, and the creative engagement of the two. Furthermore, a Christian philosophy of education presupposes the integration of faith and learning. The following represents a corporate commitment in these regards. Teaching, to this community of Christian scholars, is a calling to serve the Kingdom of God through scholarly discovery of truth, dissemination of appropriate knowledge, and development of effective constituents. This mission requires a commitment to invest the time necessary to prepare students intellectually and spiritually to be productive citizens in the twenty-first century. Effective teachers challenge and inspire succeeding generations to discover gifts, to discern callings, to formulate life plans, and to begin to implement all of these for excellence in service. Furthermore, they lead students toward personal excellence by modeling the goals and values of the learning community, by facilitating student learning of discipline knowledge, personal skills and Christian perspectives, and by inspiring students to reach for transformational growth. Effective teachers are characterized, most notably, by commitment to lifelong learning. Lee University faculty members are committed Christians who believe in being led by the Holy Spirit as they fulfill their professional roles in scholarship, teaching, and service. Those teachers support collegiality and accountability with respect for academic freedom within the bounds of the Christian faith. Effective relational and communication skills, disciplinary expertise, care for students, and a strong work ethic are viewed as essential qualifications for a community of Christian teacher-scholars. As members of a teaching-learning community, Lee faculty contribute to life beyond the classroom through involvement in campus organizations and events, service on faculty committees, civic and church responsibilities, and scholarly accountability. Aware that an intentional teaching-learning community significantly impacts the growth and development of students, members of the Lee University faculty share these distinctive educational commitments: the integration of biblical truth with the disciplinary knowledge of academic specialties; the promotion of the Lordship of Jesus Christ through all that is done in the classroom, on the campus, and in the full scope of living; the encouragement of students to strive for excellence in mastery of subject knowledge, in critical thinking, in skills development, in moral and spiritual growth, and in social development; the importance of service learning experiences for all students; the fostering of global perspectives through cross-cultural interaction and multi-cultural experience; the holistic development of students through collaboration with other institutional partners; and the mentoring of students as their academic and spiritual role models. The learning experience at Lee University includes the development of critical thinking skills and the challenge of creative thought issuing from and empowered by a Christ-centered approach to education. Working in partnership with faculty who are grounded in the integration of faith and learning, students are empowered and encouraged to discover and investigate the facets of their disciplines as they learn to adapt to a constantly changing landscape. Each student is regarded as a product of God’s design, distinctively gifted to learn and to grow. The faculty’s role is to help students, God’s workmanship, to understand the call that God has placed on them and to challenge them to examine and to use their gifts in discharging those callings. The centrality of the classroom with designed educational activities is a given in the formation of students’ intellectual habits. Therein the life of the mind is nurtured and students become more than merely passive recipients of information. Even so, to embody this process requires a level of faculty responsibility outside the classroom whereby to build personal and collegial relationships that enhance the learning process. Desiring for students an integration of faith and knowledge, Christian teachers in that external context also mentor and counsel students to the fullest engagement of Christian discipleship. Engaging students in the learning process, then, whatever the venue, is integral to the educational mission. While acknowledging that not all students may be challenged successfully and that ultimate responsibility for learning rests with the students themselves, Lee faculty do believe that efforts at such engagement must be intentional, aggressive, and thorough. Students must not be treated as passive consumers; rather, because of their created dignity in the image of God, the faculty proposes to challenge them by ennobling intellectual and scholarly endeavors sufficient to fulfill their distinctive vocations in life. Sensitive Christian educators intend to approach all students as worthy of time, care, and attention. While acknowledging varied levels of academic preparation in their backgrounds, Lee faculty do maintain that all students who meet university admission standards and are placed before them are worthy of the best efforts, which include teaching techniques that are flexible and accommodating in order to meet the needs of a diverse population. Far from relaxing standards in the face of such differentiation, faculty commit to engage students in such ways that each one might realize his/her highest potential, all to the glory of God. In retrospect, the principals, i.e. teachers and students, involved and the process undertaken may be characterized succinctly in this way: The positive engagement of the passionate intellect and the inquiring mind represents the intersection of calling, the sense of divine vocation; of commitment, the belief that the arts and sciences represent the core values of one’s academic identity; of confession, the concurrence of Christian faith affirmations and transcendental values; of confidence, the challenge that academic faithfulness does make a difference in the development and expression of one’s own character and contribution; of competence, the amalgam of academic integrity and quality assurance so essential to any Christian enterprise; and of community, the holistic and relational perception of the teaching-learning paradigm. These matters have not been consigned to the vagaries of chance but have been decidedly intentional. Indeed, the energizing Geist at Lee University is that academic engagement is a spiritual discipline.
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