Monday, April 27, 2015

Whole Person Integration

We had the lovely opportunity recently to host an alumnus over our spring break who has become a teacher, a colleague in a different country. I (Suzanne) just love it when that happens... it is also a pretty strange feeling initially. 

"How do you do biblical integration?" he asked from the couch across our living room. "I remember discussing 'what is the purpose of music' in piano class."

Oh yeah... I used to ask that question. What did they do - respond in essay form? I think so. Do I tell him I am pretty sure I still have his paper on that topic from five years ago?

We shared various ideas and methods we have used from how we may approach the subject at large to minute ways of managing our class. "Informal integration is certainly the easiest," one of us says, "but the tricky part is making it assessable. Do we know the student has learned it?" This is made especially difficult when we are trying to assess character or attitude change - the internal changes that are necessary before an external difference can be seen.

It's an ongoing conversation in the educational circles in which we find ourselves, and in concentric collegial places as well. I personally know believing colleagues here in Germany, in the UK and Australia who are wrestling with what it means to be and teach as whole, integrated people. We are still asking and answering questions like, "Why does [insert subject here] matter? What is influence and how do I wield it well? Why am I here? How does sin play into the history and structure of my subject? How has it been redeemed? What is still in need of redemption? What does it mean to love God with my whole mind in academics?"

One of my greatest integrated joys while studying piano performance in graduate school. I became silent and smiled wide as I listened to believing colleagues discuss the Son of God and the sons of J. S. Bach in the same conversation.

When have you most clearly seen or experienced the connection between who God has made you to be (identity) and your chosen subject area?