As students learn about faith and science they are presented with, and influenced by, various kinds of models. These include:
- personal models, such as the attitudes and priorities displayed by the teacher and by fellow students or the images of scientists and people of faith that are used in the classroom.
- intellectual models, such as models of the atom, or representations of faith and science that present conflicting ways of understanding the world.
- practical models, such as templates for completing lab reports or explicit strategies for problem solving that can be reused in new contexts.
The teacher plays a role in all of these models. We provide students with a model for relating faith and science through our choice of words, demeanor, examples, and illustrations. Teachers can model:
- excitement and wonder.
- respect and care in how we treat students and other staff, as well as in how we speak about views with which we disagree.
- honest puzzlement, fascination, and confusion so that learners feel free to express their own uncertainty and to seek better answers.
- being challenged by what we teach and wrestling with how it impacts our faith and our lives.
- making connections, for instance, by relating virtue language to science or by addressing science in a Bible class.
In contrast, priorities that are only stated and not modeled may come across as more distant and less compelling.
Teachers also provide students with models that serve as tools to build their own thinking and problem-solving capacity. We have the opportunity through our teaching to reinforce or challenge students’ mental models of the world and to give them tools that will serve them in future study and learning about faith and science.
FASTly activities include attention to various kinds of models. Different activities approach personal, intellectual, and practical modeling in unique ways, for instance:
- by focusing on what is modeled through the teacher’s speech, tone, and behavior when asking students to consider how to treat others when disagreeing about contentious issues. Activity: Miracle Survey Revisited
- by providing repeated practice in applying a simple framework for thinking about applications of science in a way that makes the connections with faith and ethics visible. Activity: Evaluating Ethical Issues
- by providing alternatives to the conflict model of faith and science that can reorient the way students imagine the relationship. Activity: Natural Processes as God’s Tools
As you explore other activities, look out for the implicit and explicit models—human models, intellectual models, and practical models. How can you develop your own teaching and serve as a model to your students?