By Marlane Druckenmiller, AiM, St. Paul, Douglassville
Science, education, and faith are three distinct disciplines.
Will these three
disciplines ever work together as one? Can — do — they
impact each other in Christian education? Or should we work
to keep the three disciplines separate from each other?
and faith all study the impact of learning. Through the scientific
method, we learn how the brain takes
in information and how it then relates this information
to new skills.
Education studies methods of how we teach to learn new
skills. Faith stories tell about interactions between humanity
God and teach new skills to relate to each other.
I believe in God
the Father ... creator of the universe.
What do God, the
Wizard of Oz, the Continuum, the Universe, and the Brain have in common?
They are entities we
search in order
to find answers to complex questions. We believe each
of these has magnificent power.
Eric Jensen, in Teaching with the Brain in Mind, lists
the top 10 scientific discoveries of brain research
in the last
Among these discoveries is the fact that the brain
does not remain as it is created at birth. It changes as we
the brain can disconnect or reconnect neurons. Active neurons — brain
cells — number about 30 to
50 billion. Some neurons are not connected in
our early years and may become connected as we learn new skills. One
study says “we are born with 150 to 200
billion neuron cells and keep about 100 billion
of them.” Music
(especially classical music), exercise, emotions,
stress, and hormones
all affect the connection or disconnection of
our brain cells.
The human brain is
an amazing and complex work of creation still being explored. Brain
tells us things
to which we need
to pay attention as educators.
I believe in Jesus
Christ ... the great teacher, mentor, and role model.
Jesus told stories
in different ways to different people. To the farmer he talked about
To the fishermen
about catching fish. To the housewife he
talked about yeast and coins. To the women
well he talked
Jesus gave us a model for education. The
kingdom of God was the theme. Stories and
were the method.
Howard Gardner, in
Frames of Mind, identifies multiple intelligences, different ways
we learn. Some of us
can get to our destination
with written instructions. Others need
a graphic map. Some need a few landmarks
us along the
may be fine with oral directions.
We all have our best way to get to a
destination. Teachers need to keep in
mind that we all
learn in different
ways. For students
to learn, the teacher needs to consider
several different ways to teach the same
as Jesus did when
he spoke of the
kingdom of God.
I believe in the Holy Spirit ... the
means to spread the faith.
comes to us in baptism — the
community of the Church, in communion,
in promises of the forgiveness
of sins and everlasting life.
Faith continues as we share our understanding
of God from generation to generation.
in Will our Children Have Faith?, offers ways children
connect us with God. As we
mature in faith, we gain broader understandings
with God and
We begin our faith development
with stories learned from Mommy
we encounter more adults in
our life we hear more stories. We learn
as we hear
the Word preached and the sacraments
administered. We learn through
we ask about
God, Jesus, and the
Church. Our experiences
may be different, but at some
point we take on their stories as our
joining the Body
actions of faith.
Teachers of Christian
education can enhance the educational
experience of their students
- how the brain
functions (scientific research)
- how to prepare
a lesson (pedagogical methods)
- how we know God
These are basics
for good teaching. Understanding and learning more about each of
these areas (science: research on brain functioning, education: methods of
the development of faith) adds to the experience
of both the
The three disciplines
can work together
Reading the books
of these authors
will help with
- Teaching with the
Brain in Mind by Eric Jensen
- Frames of Mind by
- Will Our Children
Have Faith? by John Westerhoff
Indeed, the three
disciplines — science, education and
faith — can