This education-themed issue of RP was first conceived of at least seven years ago. That’s when the editor and assistant editor began looking for someone who knew how Mathematics could be taught from a Christian perspective. We didn’t think it would be an easy topic to write on – in fact we picked it because we thought of all the school subjects, Math was probably the most difficult to teach in a distinctly Christian manner – but we never thought it would take us this long to find our man.
As the years went by the search did get… discouraging. Not only could we not find our man, we couldn’t even find a sympathetic ear. Most of the people we talked to – parents and teachers – didn’t seem to understand why we would bother with such a search. Teaching Math from a Christian perspective? What a silly notion! Biology, English, History, Social Studies: these are subjects that can be taught with a textbook in one hand and a Bible in the other. But Math? Doesn’t two plus two equal four, whether you’re a Christian or an atheist? It does indeed.
So in this issue we delve into just what it means to have a Christian perspective on Math. John Byl, a Mathematics professor at Trinity Western University, takes the lead with an article that is both fascinating and intimidating. He packs a lot of material into it and if you don’t remember much of the Math you learned in school there may be parts you won’t fully understand. I want to encourage you to skip those parts but to keep on reading. Whether you understand it all, or only some, this will be an article you’ll be glad you read. Dr. Byl has also included a smaller article with specifics on how to teach Math from a Christian perspective.
A couple book reviews follow, including one on James Nickel’s groundbreaking math text. His book is so good it’s hard to find the proper words. Mark Sonmor, a blogger, put it this way: “to simply say that Mathematics: Is God Silent? is a good book is like saying Michael Jordan is a good basketball player. Even though the statement is true, it falls woefully short of conveying its full meaning.”
We conclude with an article by Dan VanderArk on the broader topic of Christian education, and how important it is to revisit just why we’re doing what we’re doing. In our Reformed community we are very involved in our Christian schools, but it is still easy to lose the vision our parents and grandparents had when they first started these institutions. If we focus too much on marks, on the schools’ sports programs, on the number of course options available, or even on what the Devil is doing, we can easily overlook the real reason for these schools: to equip our children to have ears to hear and eyes to see God’s handiwork in all areas of life.
Click on the cover to download a PDF file of this complete issue. Files are 5-10 meg large, so the download may take a few minutes for those with dial up internet service.