As Christians and educators, we throw the term “worldview” around a lot these days, but what is the big deal with this word and why should we teach worldview? Our worldview is the way we see the world. Our background, beliefs, and presuppositions cause us to interpret the things we see around us in certain ways. As believers in Christ we desire to interpret our world in a way that lines up with the Bible.
For example, viewing a natural disaster on the news is going to elicit a response in us. Will that response be fear? Apathy? Is the mayhem and destruction too much to process so we block it out? Will our response be compassion that drives us to open our wallets? Inspiration to collect diapers and canned goods?
Every communicator has a worldview, too. Every artist, producer, author, and musician unconsciously crafts from their core beliefs about whether there is a God, right and wrong, life after death, and their purpose in life (The Avengers, for example).
Take The Giver, an award winning book made into a movie a few years ago. Lois Lowry, in creating a dystopian world where relationships and human life is devalued to avoid suffering at any cost, she tells us that life is valuable, not random chance; that suffering has meaning, and that relationships are key to happiness. Whether she did that purposefully or not, her story told us what she values and what she believes.
St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that ordering things rightly is wisdom. We should have a framework for thinking about ideas that we come across. Without a way of categorizing information it will never become knowledge, understanding, or wisdom. Teaching Biblical worldview is teaching a framework centered on truth, beauty, goodness, purpose, and something greater than ourselves.
When we see a movie or read a book in our house we start a discussion: What seems to be the main point this artist or author is trying to communicate? Next we ask: what they are saying about God? Who is the higher power, if anyone, in this work? Is he or she all powerful, loving, distant?
Is man basically good? Corrupted? Fallen? Does man have a purpose in this work? Does man answer to a higher power? Teaching worldview means providing a framework for sorting the information and opinions hidden in everything we read and view.
These questions are usually enough to get us started on an interesting dialogue about the author’s apparent views. Of course, often a deeper look is required. There are many more questions to be asked. I have two favorite resources that teach a framework for examining the worldview of any author or artist.
Designed for 7th and 8th graders but very useable for high school, David Quine has designed a very complete curriculum that walks students through each worldview question and applies them to well known books and movies in Starting Points. Obvious and Biblical worldviews are identified at first (Chronicles of Narnia), then he begins working through others, starting with movies, like The Wizard of Oz.
Our favorite parts are the careful literary analysis of Frankenstein and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The comparison and contrast of these two “monster” themed novels provides rich material for understanding contrasting worldviews as well as your own personal worldview and whether it lines up with the word of God. Don’t be afraid of these books. They are not like scary movies. Our minds create images that we can handle when reading.
We have been taking two years to slowly work through this curriculum. The difference in our students’ ability to articulate a worldview, their own or someone else’s, from the first week to the sixteenth week (the first year) has been remarkable. I highly recommend this for twelve to fourteen year olds.
Starting Points World View Primer
By David Quine / Cornerstone Curriculum
If you do not have time for a full year’s worldview course, I recommend Center for Lit’s Worldview Detective. Adam and Missy Andrews, in four video segments and two short stories, teach highschoolers and adults (though my middle schooler did just fine with it) to dig deep for truth in any piece of literature. The concepts and questions are applicable to movies, too, though this DVD seminar focuses on the worldviews of literary movements.
|Worldview Detective: A Socratic Method for Investigating Great Books (DVD Seminar & Workbook)|
By Adam & Missy Andrews
This was a terrific program to do with our co-op. The list of questions is so valuable that I have our students keep the questions handy for use with all works of fiction that we read together.
If the above two options are budget busters for you, no worries. Analytical Grammar’s Robin Finley wrote an excellent, very accessible book on determining worldview in literature that also teaches quite a bit about literary movements, called The Eternal Argument. She teaches us why we read the classics in the first place. They even offer a sample chapter on their website.
|The Eternal Argument|
By R. Robin Finley / Analytical Grammar, Inc.
There is a lot of garbage out there and only one way to help your children sort through it: talk about it. Do not let a movie go by without at least asking what ideas were being conveyed. Do not blindly accept whatever Hollywood is dishing out. Ask questions about it. What makes it “good” or not? Is there a creator figure? What is the relationship between any creator and his creation?
Encourage your children to be not just consumers of artistic communication and expression, but producers as well. Nothing makes you think through the process of any discipline or art form so much as creating it yourself. The reward are life-long. Teach worldview through everyday, real life discussions.
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