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Connecting Faith & Learning: High School Mathematics

November 28, 2011
By Terry Kok

In past blogs I have shared ways Faith and Learning are connected in counseling and in drama.  In this blog I would like to talk about how that happens in a particular subject area at the high school level.  In this case the subject area is mathematics and the teacher is Deborah Boonstra. 

Deb talked with me about general ways in which she connects faith and learning that could be true of all teachers at Calvin and she also shared some specific ways faith and learning are connected in mathematics.

Deb started our discussion by saying she teaches in a Christian school so that she can tell the truth about herself and her students.  We are all children of God, uniquely gifted, and created to be like our Father.  She also appreciates that she can share with students about her need and their need for saving grace and daily grace.

Telling the truth about our world and our place in it, and about how the world belongs to God and we are its caretakers are also essential to Deb’s teaching. 

Miss B, as she is affectionately known, introduces students to important mathematical concepts in light of God as creator and sustainer of the universe.  She points out that our Creator is far more complex than even the most complex math problems.  She regularly reminds students that the infinite God has made humans able to grasp and use the concept of the infinite, which is so important in the study of mathematics.

Mathematics is the language of science.  Science explores God’s creation.  Ms. B communicates to her students that they are learning the language they will need to describe what they see in God’s creation and perhaps even to extend their observations to new discoveries.

Students are reminded that they will need mathematical skills not only for science, but also for careers in carpentry, electricity, plumbing, landscaping, finance, etc. 

However, mathematics is taught, not just as a tool, but also for its own beauty and elegance.  Deb probably talks with students more about order and chaos than teachers in other disciplines.  Mathematics gives students the ability to think logically, and therefore to be more intelligent consumers and better stewards of God’s gifts.

Finally, mathematics students at Calvin are reminded that math, like music and language, separates us from the other creatures God has made.  Truly mathematics not only can but needs to be connected to a life of faith by a Christian teacher.