Constructivism And Biblical Worldview

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As educators it is important to study and learn about child development in order to gain a better understanding of how children learn, and what we can do to help them grow into successful adults. School safety plays an important part in a students academic achievement. Teachers and school administrators have a responsibility to set appropriate rules and expectations for classroom and school wide behavior while also modeling the appropriate behavior themselves. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity and seriousness” (Titus 2:7—New International Version). This paper focuses on the impact that school safety has on academic achievement, while also looking at areas in need of further research. Violence in schools is significant to teaching and learning because academic achievement is steadily declining. Children are afraid to go to school and are paranoid and preoccupied about what could happen rather than feeling safe and welcome in an environment that is inclusive for all.

Over the years, violence in schools has become an increasing issue for our children. Your barely able to turn on the news without hearing about bullying, out of control behaviors or school shootings. Having a safe and nurturing environment where students can explore and learn is crucial to their academic achievement. When students feel safe they are better able to focus on learning, which in turn leads to increased academic achievement (Readiness and Emergency Management for School Technical Assistance Center, n.d.). Violence in schools is significant to teaching and learning because it can play a part in whether or not a student is making sufficient academic progress. Students are afraid to come to school and are paranoid when their here, neither provides a foundation upon which to build. I reviewed many journal articles from the Jerry Falwell Library relating to the connection between school climate and academic performance, factors that contributed to academic performance, and the affects of a negative learning environment on the social, emotional, and educational development of a child. The learning theory I looked at was Constructivism, this learning theory is important to the field of education because it believes that people learn best when they actively construct their own meaning of new content presented to them (Clark, 2018). Education is more than simply learning to read and write, I believe that students must also be able to take what they’ve learned and apply it to everyday situations in order to function and be successful in today’s world. Education and knowledge, though they sound similar can have very different meanings. Education makes us capable of interpreting knowledge and allows us to analyze and consider all aspects as we come to a final resolution. A safe school environment can lay the foundation for learning and significantly impacts how a student performs and achieves in school. A 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center was conducted just two months after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida and showed that 57 percent of students are worried that a shooting could take place at their own school (Litvinov, Alvarez, Long, & Walker, 2018). School administrators have taken action throughout the years to implement programs and policies designed to curb school violence (Cuellar, 2018). Surveillance cameras and security officers are on virtually every campus in the United States, educators are designing instruction-based programs that address bullying and conflict mediation and school counselors have been utlilized to profile and counsel potentially violent and at-risk students. School shootings and school violence incite fear into the hearts of parents and students alike, they send their children off expecting and often times praying they will return safely hours later. Some say teachers and staff should be armed, others say better services should be provided for students and families i.e. more psychologists and counselors. The bottom line is there is a significant problem in our country with violence, and that problem is being felt on every level thus creating a gap in education that is becoming increasingly more difficult to close. So the question I pose is this, “What impact does school safety have on academic performance?”.

Literature Review

Many of the books and journal articles I used in researching the connection between school safety and academic performance looked at the factors that contributed to academic achievement. Authors like Maxwell, Arum & Velez, and Reynold, Lee, Turner, Bromhead, & Subasic all found that the school environment directly influences a student’s academic performance. Furthermore, schools with an authoritative climate had lower levels of bullying, fighting, gang activity, and suicidal thoughts and behavior. Authors like Cuellar, Goleman, and Reyes, Brackett, Rivers, & White focused on the impact that parental support, student engagement, and student attendance had on their academic performance. Findings showed that while all of these factors play a role in a students academic performance, parental support could be linked to whether academic performance was negative or positive. When students had a support system in place outside of school, a foundation was laid for teaching and learning to build upon. The books and journal articles reviewed relate to the research question because they all focus on the factors that contribute to academic achievement, information gained could then be used to develop a side-by-side comparison of the contributing factors, and to what extent they impacted academic achievement. Many of the studies used cross-national, cross-sectional, and cross categorical models to collect data and compare findings as they related to academic achievement. The “big picture” I was looking for was what factors influenced academic achievement, and to what extent. Parental support and attendance definitely play a role, however the biggest factor I saw, in reference to the impact on academic achievement, was related to the school climate and learning environment. The key fundamental element in human development is learning and it is important to remember that not every child learns and reasons the same. Not every child may be capable of learning like their peers, but every child is capable of learning (Schmid, 2018). The learning environment should provide opportunities to practice exploration, while also being structured and well managed. Students should be motivated to actively participate in classroom discussion and be encouraged to ask questions without fear of criticism or embarrassment. A safe school environment is crucial to the healthy academic and social development of students. (Readiness and Emergency Management for School Technical Assistance Center, n.d.). When students feel safe and accepted, they are more engaged in classroom activities, they are less likely to miss school, and they generally perform better on tests and assignments.

Learning Theory Association

Learning theories are conceptual frameworks that describe how students absorb, process and retain knowledge (Slavin & Schunk, 2017). Cognitive, emotional, and environmental factors all influence and play a part in how understanding is acquired and retained. Constructivism is the learning theory that serves as the foundation for my topic on the link between school safety and academic achievement. Constructivist learning theory is based on the works of Dewey, Montessori, Piaget, Brunner and Vygotsky and represents a paradigm shift from education based on behaviorism to education based on cognitive theory. How does learning take place and to what extent are students actually retaining what we’re teaching? Students develop knowledge for themselves by being active learners and using interactions with the world. Having a dialectical viewpoint means believing that knowledge is derived from interactions between a person and their environment (Arum & Velez, 2012), which is exactly what I am implying when looking at the impact of school safety on academic performance. The constructivist approach proposes the belief that children construct intuitive theories of the world and alter and revise those theories as the result of new evidence (Gopnik & Wellman, 2012). The constructivist approach is designed in such a way that, by rational use of it’s principles, elements, and provided forms of work, the possibility of violent behavior is reduced to a minimum. A school climate that is characterized by strict but fair discipline and supportive teacher-student relationships is conducive to lower risk behavior for students, greater academic achievement and increased student well-being.

Define Key Terms

Academic performance or “academic achievement” is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has attained their short or long-term educational goals (Reyes, Brackett, Rivers & White, 2012).

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School climate deals with the quality and character of school life. School climate refers to the social aspects of the learning environment including school members’ interactions and relationships, shared values and norms, and the personal development and growth of the members (Lee, Reynolds, Subasic, Bromhead, Lin, Marinov, & Smithson, 2017).

Learning Theory deals with how students learn information and the process used in absorbing and retaining that information. Prior experiences as well as cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed and knowledge and skills retained (Slavin & Schunk, 2017).

Gaps in the Research

Missing parts of research that lead me to explore this problem further is trying to understand not only why violence in schools happens but why, despite the best efforts of administration does it continue unabated. The effects of school violence is detrimental to the lives of students. Some develop anxiety-related illnesses, depressive disorders, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and others may turn to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain (Daily, Mann, Kristjansson, & Zullig, 2019). Sadly, some may consider, or even commit suicide feeling so overwhelmed and desperate for a way out. Over the years, administrators have taken action to address often-ignored problems threatening school safety. Security policies and practices have been implemented across the country, school security has been updated with the use of surveillance cameras and security officers, efforts have been improved to prevent violence and bullying, and staff are being educated on the importance of having a safety plan in place should a threat arise. Some of the main factors contributing to school violence could be both a lack of parenting and a decrease in the value of human life. Teachers and parents play a significant role in the lives of student’s, and it is vital that healthy relationships are being fostered. In his book Emotional Intelligence (1994), Daniel Goleman wrote, “As a society we have not bothered to make sure every child is taught essentials of handling anger or resolving conflict positively- nor have we bothered to teach empathy, impulse control, or any other fundamentals of emotional competence”. Future studies would benefit from inclusion of data regarding staff perceptions as it would make more statistical and theoretical sense. Also, future studies should employ data from a larger number of schools to cross-validate the current findings. Similar to most of the school climate research, most studies were neither longitudinal nor experimental. This caused a problem because causal inferences were not possible, future studies examining causal relationships with interventions or a longitudinal design would be warranted (Maxwell, 2016).

Biblical Worldview

An issue with constructivism as it relates to a biblical worldview is the requirement of some kind of epistemological (or learning) framework to be able to receive from and value alternative perspectives (Goleman, 1995). The worldview from the Sire text that I feel is most appropriate to the influential founders of the constructivist learning theory is the postpositivist worldview. Postpositivists hold a deterministic philosophy in which causes probably determine effects or outcomes (Sire, 2009). Alternative ideas which incorporate a solid biblical worldview perspective are instilling respect, integrity, and a fear of God in our children. A biblical worldview refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which a Christian individual interprets the world and interacts with it. A biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God and by diligently learning, applying and trusting God’s truth in every area of our lives we can capture, embrace, and trust it with unwavering faith. When schools, colleges and universities are guided by a Christian philosophy of education there is more to daily instruction than simply studying the Bible and more to the environment than strictly enforced dress codes and authoritative discipline policies. If education is to produce something good, then there must be an inclusion of morality (which good emerges from) in that system. Students will not seek to preserve what they do not cherish, and they will not cherish what they do not understand. A positive school environment can be an effective way to decrease school violence. “Schools with easily understood rules of conduct, smaller class sizes, and fair discipline practices will reduce bullying and victimization” (Cuellar, 2018). It is important to instill in our children not only a love for God but a love for each other. We were created in His image (Genesis 1:27—New International Version) and are instructed to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31—New International Version). God needs to be brought back into our schools because only then can we begin to heal and move past what has brought violence in the first place. Effective teachers strive to motivate and engage their students in learning, rather than giving up and assuming that some students are not capable of learning (Johnson, 2016). Jesus is the perfect example of an effective teacher. Scripture shows repeatedly how he was patient and kind and how he took advantage of teachable moments using them so people could relate to what he was talking about. “And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching” (Mark 4:2—New International Version). A biblical worldview is not escapism, but is an energizing motivation for godly and faithful thinking and living in the here and now, it also gives us confidence and hope for the future. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6—New International Version).

Conclusion

As an educator I believe it’s important to study and learn about child development so we can gain a better understanding of not only how children learn, but how we can take that knowledge to help them grow into successful adults. Children learn best when they enjoy learning and are actively engaged and participating. Violence in schools is increasing at a staggering rate, and the affects are being felt across multiple settings. Students are afraid to come to school and are paranoid when their here, neither provides a foundation upon which to build. Increased violence in schools has led to the decline of academic achievement. Safety at school allows students to look forward to being in an encouraging environment where they can learn and grow. If their safety is not met, students are at constant risk and may stop coming. Research continues to illustrate that students who feel unsafe at school perform worse academically and are more at risk for being influenced by drugs and delinquency (Van Eck, Johnson, Johnson, & Bettencourt, 2017). Determining what led to an increase in school violence is not an easy task. Many would agree that access to weapons, media violence, cyber abuse, personal alienation and the removal of God from our schools play a major role in the increase of school violence. Regardless of what the cause or who is to blame, one thing is constant. Violence in our schools is becoming more prevalent and I dare to say “normal”, something needs to change if our children are going to have any future worthy of recognition. Violence in schools is significant to teaching and learning because academic achievement is steadily declining. Students are afraid to come to school and are paranoid when their here, neither provides a foundation upon which to build.

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Constructivism And Biblical Worldview. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/constructivism-and-biblical-worldview/
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