Creator = Creation

The Bible teaches us that God created the heavens and the earth and all that is on and in them.

By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. ~ Psalm 33:6

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. ~ Psalm 33:9

For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. ~ Psalm 139:13-14

We live in a day and age where all of this is questioned, and not only questioned, but if you believe this you are thought ‘backwards.’  Our culture teaches that evolution is the only way to believe, the only theory that is credible, and that those espousing creation science are not ‘real’ scientists.

Sunset

As a Bible believing Christian, one of my goals in teaching my children is for them to understand that all learning starts with an understanding of God’s Word. The Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that God is our Creator; God as the Creator flows throughout the pages of Scripture.  If we deny this vital aspect of God then we are not adhering to the whole of God’s Word; we are picking and choosing what we want to believe based on societal norms rather than the absolute standard of God’s Word.  There is an absolute truth, everything isn’t relative, and what we believe about God and His Word should affect every aspect of our learning and our teaching.  It is important that we instill in our children an understanding of who God is, in all His majesty and magnificence.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”  John1:1-5

As we see in these verses, God’s light shines forth brightly, but the darkened world does not see it.

Why would we believe the word of man over the Word of God?

Not only has God revealed Himself to us in His Word, but He has also revealed Himself to us in His creation.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful. ~ Romans 1:18-21a (You can also read the Psalms where David praises God over and over for His magnificent works and Job where God questions Job about all He (God) has done.)

Again after these verses, the question looms forth “Why would we believe the word of man over the Word of God?”

This brings us to the question of Creation vs. Evolution.  Where is the truth in this issue?  Creationists are sometimes mocked as not being ‘true’ scientists, so let’s start with the definition of science.  Science is:

  • The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena. ~ dictionary.com
  • knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through the scientific method and concerned with the physical world and its phenomena ~ merriam-webster.com

BeeIn other words science is observing things, processes, etc. and trying through observation and controlled experimentation to understand our world and our universe.  As a scientist observes, he postulates different hypotheses as to why things are as they are.

Philip Stott in his book Vital Questions says:  “Science, as Mendeleyev, Mach and Einstein pointed out, deals with what can be measured, everything else is speculation.  Recorded human history goes back approximately five thousand years.  No scientist can go back in time to take measurement of what happened before that, so when scientists make statements about anything that happened more than five thousand years ago they are dealing inevitably with speculation.”  ~ Philip Stott

When a scientist postulates his hypothesis, he then begins testing in a controlled manner and this testing either finds the hypothesis true or false or finds that more testing is needed.  Once a hypothesis is thought to be proved true, it still doesn’t become a theory until much testing is complete.

“If the data continue to support the hypothesis, it eventually becomes a theory.  If it does not, it must be altered or discarded.”  ~ Wile, Jay L., and Durnell, Marilyn F., Exploring Creation with Biology

With Evolution you have several different hypotheses and theories that you are dealing with. Following are a few examples and some key issues surrounding them.

In the 1800’s, Charles Lyell came up with a theory that basically says the present is the key to the past. 

In this theory, we look at what’s happening today and project these processes back through time to understand our beginnings.  Part of this idea is the theory of gradualism, which is:

 ‘Slow processes gradually going on through immense spans of time are assumed to be the only cause for virtually everything in nature and in the universe.’

With this belief comes the idea of evolution, i.e. given enough time anything is possible.

The truth is gradualism is true, but only in part.

CreationThere are other ways things happen besides the slow change over time method.  Think of Mount Saint Helens.  With the eruption of that volcano, scientists were able to observe geological phenomena that were supposed to take millions of years to occur, happen in seconds.  This view, where geological phenomena occur in seconds, is the catastrophic view of how things came/come about.  We see both of these processes occurring around us today.  Some creationists would attribute most of the geological structure we see today to a catastrophic event, such as a great flood, where a gradualist would attribute most of what we see today to change that has taken place over vast amounts of time.

Next we have Darwin, who in his study of animal life noticed amazing similarity between animals.

As he observed, he came up with what to him was a plausible idea, creatures adapted to their environment by changing their characteristics and over time due to the survival of the fittest theory, the ‘new’ animal would be better suited for the new environment and the old would pass away.  For example, given like species, those in a desert climate would learn to adapt and be able to survive with little water, where those in a rainforest would need more water to survive.  When you compare the two you would see many similarities, but at the same time many differences.

The truth is there is truth in Darwin’s observations and ideas.

Animals do change over time, they do adapt to their environment.  God has created this magnificent ability within them; it’s programmed into their genes.  This process is called micro-evolution and we can observe it and verify that it does indeed happen.  The thing is it happens within a species; a species doesn’t become a whole new species.  Look at all the variety of dogs, cats, horses, frogs, and even people you see in the world today.  (If all mankind came from Adam and Eve, then all the races had to come from them too – amazing huh?)

Where Darwin’s theory goes haywire is with the idea of macro-evolution.

Macro-evolution is the theory that says one species brought forth another.

colorful birdDarwin, in his speculations assumed that if a species could change within that species then, given enough time, species could change into a whole new species.  He believed that as scientists researched this idea, they would find in the fossil record many transitional species, which would show the slow gradual change of one species into another (i.e. back to gradualism – over enough time anything is possible), but to his dismay, in his own studies he could not find the numerous intermediate links he believed would be there.

“Geological research, though it has added numerous species to the existing and extinct genera, and has made the intervals between some few groups less wide than they otherwise would have been, yet has done scarcely anything in breaking the distinction between species, by connecting them together by numerous, fine, intermediate varieties; and this not having been affected, is probably the gravest and most obvious of all the many objections which can be raised against my views.”  (The Origin of Species, 6th ed, 1962, Collier Books, NY, p. 462)  (Wile, Jay L., and Durnell. Marilyn F. Exploring Creation with Biology, 286)

Scientists have continued to search the fossil records for these transitional species, but still haven’t found the proof they seek.  With the lack of evidence, you would think that the ‘theory of evolution’ would be called an unproven hypothesis rather than a theory. Today, scientists have come up with a new theory/hypothesis to explain how evolution can be true given the lack of fossil proof, it’s called punctuated equilibrium.

“… in 1972, evolutionary scientists Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge proposed another explanation, which they called “punctuated equilibrium.” That is, species are generally stable, changing little for millions of years. This leisurely pace is “punctuated” by a rapid burst of change that results in a new species and that leaves few fossils behind.” ~ PBS Evolution Library 

Basically, punctuated equilibrium says that there are no transitional species, but that one species births a totally different species without all the intermediate steps.

Scientist in their desire to prove that creation did not happen, have sought many ways to prove evolution true.  So far they have failed, and yet they hold on to their beliefs and come up with new hypotheses and then test and research.

As Christians, we need to set the precedent in the study of God’s truths and do so with a vigor that rivals the evolutionist in his search to prove there isn’t a creator. 

Scripture teaches us about God but so does His creation. We need to hold fast to God’s Word while learning the truths that are around us.  In Darwin’s day, many denied Darwin’s theories and threw out the good with the bad.  In their defense of the Bible, they were unwilling to look at any scientific evidence that would contradict their view of Creation.  It was widely believed in that day that God created each animal unique. Today we have learned much about genetics and can see how God created the ability to change and adapt within the genes.  Does this mean God did not create?  Of course not, it just means His creation is much more complex than those in Darwin’s day thought it was.

As a Christian, I believe that God’s Word is true and that I cannot pick the parts I like from it and throw out any that I may have a hard time grasping.  When modern science and the Bible seem to conflict, I need to take a harder look at what science is actually teaching.  We must never fear to glean all the truth we can from the scientific community, but we must look at all we glean in light of God’s Word to us and make sure we are getting the truth.  This principle holds true for all aspects of our study, science is just one example.

By Tami Munden 

An excellent site for more information about Creation and Science is Dr. Jay Wile’s blog:  http://blog.drwile.com/ .   He also has a helpful list of websites/blogs for people who want to delve more deeply into the subject.

Teaching Styles

As I was preparing to write about teaching styles, I was thinking about how homeschoolers teach and wondering what kind of information would be useful. After a bit of research, I found that regardless of which curriculum we use, we each have a method of teaching, a philosophy of education, a view of how and what our children should learn and a style that is unique to us. Thus, despite the fact that we teach in a different environment than most teachers, the classical definitions and information about teaching styles are still relevant.

Reading about the various styles, made me think about my teaching style and I realized it varies from subject to subject, child to child, as well as environment and audience. As you look at some of the definitions and styles below, remember, your style will and should vary and it may not always be the best one for your child. You may have to adapt to another style. Hopefully by learning the different methods that can be employed in teaching, we can become more competent and flexible teachers.

One of the sites I found on learning discusses five different styles of teaching.

  • Direct Instruction
  • Indirect Instruction
  • Discussion
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Self-Directed Learning

These styles deal with the way we interact with our students. Do we lecture (direct instruction), do we give some information then expect the student to continue the process (indirect method), do we discuss or allow discussion to occur, do we let our children work together to research and explore a subject, or do we allow self-directed learning where the student researches and learns on his own? Hopefully, to allow the most benefit to our child/children, we use a combination of styles, evaluate their effectiveness, and make changes as needed. It’s also important to remember that what works for one subject or one child may not work as well for other subjects or children.

Teaching Style/Learning Hierarchy

One school of thought in learning is Blooms Hierarchy of Learning. Bloom breaks learning into three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. Each of these domains addresses a different aspect of the child’s learning. While I believe we need to be teaching the ‘whole’ child, I will focus only on the intellectual/cognitive domain for now.

The Cognitive Domain deals with the way we take in and process information, our intellectual ability. Understanding these are critical to teaching style, because we want to make sure we are teaching so the child will develop in all of the following areas:

  • Knowledge – recall of data
  • Comprehension – understanding information
  • Application – applying knowledge to a new situation
  • Analysis – separates information into parts for better understanding
  • Synthesis – builds a pattern from diverse elements
  • Evaluation – judges the value of information

Your child can develop all these abilities from your teaching with any of the styles listed above, but some are more conducive than others towards the various intellectual abilities. As you use the direct method of teaching, lecturing and informing the student, he/she will learn to recall and understand. With the indirect method, you will be helping them apply knowledge they have to new situations. By discussing and working in cooperative groups, they learn to analyze information, and come up with questions, independent thoughts and ideas (analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). Through self-directed learning they learn to put all of their learning abilities to use in a constructive manner.

Off subject a bit, but relevant…

When I was taking classes on education at FSU and UNC Charlotte, one thing that was discussed was the value of teaching children to think. One professor lectured that when we teach children to answer questions, fill in the blanks, and succeed in tests, we are teaching them to answer questions, fill in blanks, and be good test takers, but we are not teaching them to think. After the class, it was interesting listening to the students comments on the lecture, most were ‘what in the world was he talking about.’ As homeschool parents, we have the unique opportunity and responsibility to make sure we are raising thinkers, not just children who know how to give the right answer.

The other thing I heard discussed was the lack of writing assignments given to a child. There is a quote I like, though I’m not sure who it is by, that says ‘When I write, I learn.’ I think this is true, but there is more to it. Writing makes a student formulate ideas, think through and logically order information, it helps them remember what they have learned, and can do much more if the student is challenged to write a variety of types of writing. Writing can take us from the lowest form of learning, the basic knowledge about a subject, to understanding, applying, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It can do this because it requires thinking about the subject and coming up with ways to express oneself. But, what if your child hates to write?

Homeschooling offers many answers for this too. Since we have so few to teach, we can take time to listen and discuss issues, topics, subjects and so on, with each of our children individually or in a group. Computers offer the ability to write without having to use a pen to do so, and tape recorders can be used to tape thoughts and ideas when we don’t have time to sit and listen at the moment. The idea here is to get the child to think about what he is learning, to be able to express him/herself in a logical, concise manner, to be able to rationalize their thought process, and to push them into deeper thinking skills and abilities.

Take some time to reflect on how you teach – your teaching style.  Is it working for you and your student?  Being aware of how our teaching styles effect our students, setting goals for different types of learning to take place, along with learning and trying new teaching styles can help us become more competent teachers.  As we learn what works and doesn’t work with our children, we will be better enabled to help them in their quest for knowledge.

By Tami Munden

Learning Styles

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The secret of education is respecting the pupil.” Part of respecting the ‘pupil’ is understanding them; learning their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, the way they learn… their ‘style’.

Think of how frustrating it is when someone wants you to understand something, but they don’t take time to explain it in a way you understand. Our children can get frustrated when we expect them to learn, but aren’t communicating in a manner they can grasp.

feet in water - Psalm 139God created us that way, so we can’t all be expected to think, learn and process information in the same way. There are many different studies, tests, and philosophies of learning that discuss various aspects of learning. The bottom line though, boils down to the fact that we are all unique individuals, with a myriad of different ways we learn. In teaching, our goal is to learn our child’s ‘style’ and encourage them in their strengths, help them in their weaknesses and develop them into the person God created them to be.

As we seek to understand how our child/children learn, it helps to have an understanding of some of the different philosophies of learning. One way of understanding learning is ‘how do we best take in information?’ The auditory/visual/kinesthetic approach says that most of us will learn best in one or a combination of these styles.

When children are young, most will be kinesthetic learners, they want to touch, feel, experience the world around them. As they grow they can continue to be kinesthetic learners, which means they will learn best by doing and experiencing, others will develop into more auditory or visual learners. The auditory learner will learn best when they hear what they need to learn and the visual needs to see it.

Beyond this though are many varied ways people learn. Think about it, do you learn best by reading, having someone explain? Do you need to take notes as you read or listen? Do you learn best in a quiet place or in a busy, noisy place? Do you learn best sitting up straight at a table, lying on the floor, sitting under a tree outside? Watch your child, how does he/she seem to learn best?

Processing information involves how we take in information, how we file it, and then how we use it. I always thought it was interesting how one of my daughters liked to have the ‘big’ picture first, then the details would fall into place. She could make the jumps from the steps almost intuitively once she understood the whole. On the other hand, my other daughter didn’t want to know the whole, she wanted the steps. She liked to know how to get from step one to step two. If I tried to show her the large picture, I would just end up frustrating her, whereas my other daughter would get frustrated by the steps if she didn’t ‘see’ the large picture first.

The way we learn effects the way we teach. We tend to expect our children to learn in the same way we do. If we were in a classroom situation with 20 to 30+ children it would be hard to give each child individual attention and to attempt to learn his or her unique strengths and abilities as well as weaknesses and disabilities. Our situation is different though, thankfully. We have the opportunity to get to know our students style and not only that, we have the joy of getting to know our child/children and see them flourish in an environment that supports their uniqueness and cherishes their God given strengths as well as their God given weaknesses.

There are many sources and resources out there to help you determine yours and your child’s learning style. Do a search on the internet or go to the library and check out some books that will help you understand some of the various philosophies. Most importantly though, take the time to respect your student, learn his/her style, and watch them flourish.

By Tami Munden