The World View of the Christian
As a Christian my world view is founded on the Bible and my faith in God. I like to integrate my faith into my teaching, especially with those students who I know share my faith in God or who are being brought up in this faith at home. I think it is important to support parents in this most critical area in their child’s life.
There are areas of my teaching and in my philosophy of education that while not overtly Christian, point to my faith in Christ and God’s Word. While not all Christians or non-Christians will share the same philosophy of education, understanding what their world view is and how this affects their teaching is imperative for parents and students interested in getting instruction that aligns with their beliefs. I was made keenly aware of one of these areas just this week in two different circumstances.
The discussion arose with a colleague about the balance between teaching technique and creativity. While I think most teachers fall between the two extremes of teaching only creativity or only technique there is a large continuum between these two extremes. This separation of teaching styles and approaches can vastly affect what a student learns.
For me, I see students as being naturally creative. The Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God. We are different from the animals and all the rest of creation. We are unique, and possess a reflection of who our Creator is. I believe one of these reflected attributes is creativity. We come out of the womb with an inherent need and desire to create. We take pleasure in making things and expressing ourselves through creative endeavors. Our creative spirits and the things we produce give evidence of our Creator God.
Now, let us not think that we create in the same way as God. The Bible tells us that God created ex nihilo (out of nothing). We create with only what God has given us to use. Even our intangible ideas and thoughts would not exist were it not for God giving us the ability to have them. God took nothing, and with a word spoke into existence our reality. We use the elements of the created earth to make, build and create.
Our World View in Action
In the sphere of intellectual discussion on teaching there arise many different ideas about creativity. Many teachers believe creativity needs to be taught to students, and spend great amounts of lesson time trying to do this. Many “skills-oriented” teachers are criticized by “creativity-oriented” teachers who say that they should not be so focused on technique, posture, and learning to read music because these things hinder a student’s creative process. They argue that if a student spends most of his time learning technique he will become a robotic and boring player who only knows how to execute exactly what’s on the page and will never truly create music of his own.
However, if we come from the world view standpoint that students are naturally creative we will approach lessons much differently. I believe creativity should be a part of lessons and a student’s experience musically, but we do not need to try to teach them something they already possess. Instead we ought to be taking their natural creative spirit and giving them opportunities and tools to be able to express this through their instrument and through music. Therefore skills and technique must be paramount in a teacher’s instruction when considering how to best tap into a student’s creativity.
I think it’s also important to note that technique and skill instruction does not inherently squelch creativity. On the contrary it encourages it!
Creativity Comes to Life
We know from the Bible that God created us to be interpersonal beings, learning from one another and being influenced through relationships. When we talk over ideas with others, study the creative works of the masters, hear professional performances, and are taught how the pros do what they do, our minds begin to spin with possibilities! Our creative natures open up to a world yet undiscovered and we see possibilities that were previously undetected.
Learning technique and skill helps our creativity in another way as well. Remember that I said that students will only be able to use their creative nature to express what’s inside to the degree that they are proficient in the medium with which they seek to create? A student may have the most imaginative mind on the face of the planet; he may possess an innumerable number of ideas which have yet to be exhibited; he may spend all the time in the world working to make these ideas become reality; but, without technique and skill all he will achieve is a trite and simplistic version of what he sees in his mind’s eye. However, the student who has been instructed in the intricacies of his art and has spent the time and effort it takes to master his discipline; that student will be the one to succeed. That student will be able to make his ideas become reality.
The difference between this success or a succession of frustrated attempts is technique and skill. There is no substitute and there is no shortcut. Our world view directly affects how and what we teach and the results that ensue.
I hope this post challenges you to think more about your own world view, where it comes from, why you hold to it, and how it affects your teaching or the teaching of your child.
Emily Williams is the creator of Strategic Strings: An Online Course for Violin and Viola Teachers