We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
II Corinthians 5:20 (NIV)
Spiritual Development of Students - English Department
Time travel, epic battles, cultural exploration, and inspirational truth are just a few of the vast experiences that come with literature and writing. Here at Norfolk Christian, the English Department strives to offer opportunities for exploring all that the world of literature has to offer. Whether we are studying novels, short stories, dramas, essays, or poems, students are encouraged to analyze and critically engage with the piece. While viewing each work of literature through a biblical lens, students and teachers are able to engage in meaningful conversation that provides opportunity to practice conceptualizing the world the way God intends.
In the Middle School, Mrs. Richter's 6th grade recently studied several novels celebrating Black History month. They were not only exposed to rich cultural history and truth, but the students also conducted a socratic seminar which required them to prepare critical thinking questions and answers before engaging in discussion with peers. In order to encourage the students to view the novel through a biblical lens, the students were prompted to find Scripture that represents their book - this gave them a reason to seek out the Bible and look for connections between their characters and our Christian faith. Another question/prompt that they addressed is how they saw stewardship in their novels. This is the core principle of 6th grade. It is our goal as an English department that even our youngest middle school students are given the chance to begin developing the skills necessary for viewing all of life and the real world through a Biblical worldview.
Mrs. Schoenrock's freshman recently completed a unit of different short stories. While each story provided a different adventure and experience, one thing remained consistent; the students were always drawing conclusions based on what is taught in Scripture. One example comes from the cryptic story "The Most Dangerous Game." This short story intensely focuses on the value of human life and causes the reader to consider his or her own values. The students engaged in dialogue with one another about how sinful society's value of human life clashes with God's value of human life. For several of the short stories studied, the students wrote essays that discussed the views and motives of the characters in contrast to the views presented in the Bible.
In 10th grade, Mrs. Robison makes it a point to Biblically integrate several times within the unit. One of these times is when she begins discussing The Lord of the Flies. There is so much evil and darkness within the text, so they discuss Jeremiah 17:9 which says, "For the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?" Romans 3:23 provides another avenue of discussion as it says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." The author, William Golding, saw the sin problem and illustrated it throughout his whole book, but he had no life changing answers like 2 Cor. 5:12, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come." Exposing students to literature that illuminates the sinfulness of our world allows them to engage with Scripture as we work through the hopelessness of man and the hope that only God provides.
Another time of scriptural integration comes when we study grammar. It is important to use language well, and the Lord Himself tells us this in Daniel 1:4"...showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the Lord's palace. He was to teach them in the language and literature of the Babylonians." Imagine-no other subject was taught (at the beginning)...because the language was the basis for all understanding! Having an appreciation and understanding of the syntax of our English language provides the opportunity to read and write.
AP Literature and AP Language also provide a plethora of opportunities for our juniors and seniors to read exciting fiction as well as poignant non-fiction. Additionally, these AP students are required to consider how and why the author wrote the piece. However, the most rewarding part is seeing the students critically analyze the philosophies and actions of the authors and characters. Such great discussions have ensued, and the students are not only gaining much academic knowledge of classic works of literature, but they are putting into practice the worldview skills they will need to employ daily as they enter college in the coming years.
Mrs. Carter has taken on the unique role of teaching Bible and English to international students, so she seamlessly integrates English skills into Bible and Bible into English. Recognizing worldview is a readily available and nonthreatening way of teaching Christian principles to international students who are not familiar with the Bible at all. This also develops critical thinking skills. When they read chapter one of Andy Andrews' The Noticer, the students discussed how important perspective is and how that comes through the lens by which we view the world.
Thank you for entrusting us with your children’s education. Each member of the English department truly loves the subject matter, but even more so loves Jesus and desires for His truths to be evident in every area of study.