The central mission of the Online Christian Consortium is “to dedicate ourselves to Christ”. To that end founding member school, Oaks Christian Online, uses the term ‘Theological Engagement” to describe Christian, online teachers’ pedagogy, theological perspectives in Christian curriculum, and the deeper and broader Christian truths that ground and illuminate all educational subject areas.
Ideally, whether a student is taking algebra, American history, biology or any other class, the consortium program would strive to give students an academically free opportunity to explore the broader truths and meanings behind, beside, and beneath what they are learning. We believe that each academic subject emerges from the mind of the compassionate, generous, and living God described in the Bible. Although constantly a work in progress, each online course and online teacher endeavors to provide opportunities for students to think, grow, and process. Please watch this 30 minute video from Spritual Life Advisor, Samantha Farinacci, to further help explain our program. Key aspects of the program are also outlined below.
COURSE VOICE: FOUR TYPES OF THEOLOGICAL ENGAGMENT
Courses are intentionally designed to rigorously invite students into a lifelong pursuit of complexity of thought and understanding. And yet, as students step into these high levels of thinking we hope our courses also model and encourage gentleness and generosity through the witness of a God that stepped down from his heavenly realm in order to live ordinarily among us as Jesus Christ. To accomplish this we present each subject’s scope as well as its limitations so that students are able to see knowledge as a humble quest for service rather than a pursuit of power for personal gain.
Critical thinking weaves together every class not only for its academic value but also for its intrinsic value. The Judeo-Christian tradition found in scripture at its best is a prime example of a religious community that is able to challenge its own presuppositions and admit its missteps in order to move more deeply into the pursuit of ultimate truth. Countless times in the Bible the Hebrews and later the Christians are unabashedly presented as “a work in progress.” Joining this tradition, our courses provide ample space for students to question and dispute the worldviews that emerge from each discipline (science, history, and others) and to decide how these perspectives on life, goodness, humanity, and truth can inform their own worldviews.
Sincerity in Empathy
Great education unpacks the wisdom and information that scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, historians, poets, and other great minds have explored, discovered, and articulated. This process of negotiating the knowledge of others provides students with an opportunity to practice putting on the minds of others in order to learn from them. Our courses hope to highlight for students how their education is always an invitation to step into worlds and experiences that are not their own in order to practice the art of empathizing with others.
As students are learning, each course provides a way of seeing ideas as fitting in with the grand narrative about what God has made. As a maker, God makes us in his image, hoping that we would treasure that humanity and in turn reflect that image in our own expressions. As a school that values not only academics but also athletics and art, our courses are designed to communicate the beauty and delight in all true and good things so that students can see that what they are learning can fuel the creativity and joy that comes from seeing the Spirit of God abundantly among us.
TEACHER VOICE: FOUR CONVICTIONS THAT DRIVE OUR PEDAGOGY
We celebrate and honor the living and dynamic personality and nature of the one true God, who is revealed in three distinct and inseparable persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who made all things and holds them together through his love.
What does this mean to our teachers in terms of relational prioritization? Because our staff and faculty believe that even God himself is comprised of a loving fellowship, they in turn value authentic relationships with students. Online teachers actively support students in educational and personal ways in order to create a hospitable learning environment.
We admit that although God was a perfect Creator, the world and all of its inhabitants are no longer perfect because of the effects of sin. Our hope for freedom from sin’s bondage of death is found in the life, death, and resurrection of our God who humbly came down to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ.
What does this mean to our teachers in terms of a humble mindset? We ask our teachers to model their teaching style after Christ, who came down from his high position in heaven in order to live among us. Likewise, teachers see their knowledge as an opportunity for service and are trained to make content and standards accessible for each student.
Recognizing both the Old and New Testaments, we accept the ideas, stories, mindsets, witnesses, messages, and trajectories found in the Bible as the supreme voice on matters of faith.
What does this mean to our teachers in terms of informed inquiry? As teachers teach their courses, they are able to highlight for students the ways in which their subject fits into the larger questions that matter most: What does it mean to be human? Does life have meaning? Is there a God? What is moral? What is just? What is true? How can we know what we know?
We delight in the imaginative and creative collaboration that comes from living a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—all of which are generous gifts God’s spirit offers to those who come together in order to bring him honor and glory. We see this life lived in community as one of abundant joy in the midst of compassionate service.
What does this mean to our teachers in terms of good company? We realize that the best learning happens in the midst of friendships. Because of this, our teachers actively create spaces for student-to-student interaction that is safe, genuine, engaging, and even, fun.