Van Til’s Vision for Education 3

Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn advances another philosophical idea that denies the Trinity as the unifying center in the learning process.[63] His view of science is unconventional. He contends that it is not true that scientists start with “brute factuality.”[64] They made use of “models”[65] and “paradigms”[66] in explaining the facts of this world. By doing this, scientists start not with particulars as they claim but with universals. Kuhn’s analysis gave priority to the universals rather than the particulars. In his perspective, universals are original and particulars are derivative. From the point of view of Van Til’s philosophy, both Kuhn’s universals and particulars cannot insist on priority or originality simply because both of them are still in the realm of temporality. Both the universals and the particulars of created reality can only determine their derivation from the being of God where both universal and particulars co-exist. Kuhn’s alternative does not solve the crisis in human thinking for even though he affirms that particulars are derived from universals, he also admits that there is no such thing as universal authoritative framework in science.[67]

William Blake claims that in the philosophy of Van Til, there is a proper place for both the universals and the particulars in education. Both have their own significance in God’s created order. Emphasis on the universals at the expense of particulars will result into irrelevance of education. On the other hand, emphasis on particulars at the expense of universals results into the absence of lasting appreciation of plurality due to the lack of integrating principles provided by unity. Further benefit of Van Til’s framework equips an educator with a capacity to assess and evaluate educational books influenced by humanistic perspectives. His vision for education opens the avenue for development in educational enterprise.

However, Van Til’s outlook calls for a reconstruction in education. It requires a great amount of energy to work out the details of this principle. He discerns the need to issue this challenge for he is convinced that the survival of learning is in the hands of Christian schools, which are regulated by the principles of the Bible.

Evolutionary Theory

Blake mentions another philosophical view that greatly shaped the mode of existing educational process, which is the evolutionary theory. In this educational philosophy, it is perceived that the mind and personality of the child were shaped by his surroundings. Man is perceived as passive in relation to his environment. On the other hand, the other face of this conception is the strong desire of man to change his environment by taking control of the seats of power and thereby change man also in the process. This control may assume various forms such as technological, managerial, and as socialistic revolutionaries. In this way, man plays God. In this evolutionary process, man is the master of his environment independent from God. Again, in Van Til’s thinking, the position of man as master of his environment is confirmed but such confirmation is due to the fact that he has received an assignment from his Creator, and therefore he is under obligation to rule his environment under God.

John Dewey

The last educational philosophy dealt by William Blake in this essay is John Dewey’s. The latter conquered the modern educational scene by his emphasis on the practical side of learning that tends to undermine the academic side of learning. This one sided emphasis has brought benefits in terms of bringing education in coordination with the realistic demands of society. However, this unhealthy emphasis produces incapable laborers in the society due to the inability to integrate the discipline of the intellect with that of the vocational exercise. In Van Til’s theory, such separation is not necessary. Knowledge is prerequisite to vocational efficiency. Van Til is against the idea of academic isolationism. For him, the discipline of the mind equips man to perform his cultural responsibility. By affirming the co-existence of these two goals in education, the Christian school then endeavors to impart both “meaning” and “calling” in one’s profession.[68] Seeing learning from this perspective makes education a relevant exercise in the changing of times and in cultural development.

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