Worldview Integration: A Key Teaching Tool
Activities, Sample Plan & Resource List
by Dr. Marti MacCullough
Illustration One: The Scarlet Letter (Literature)
During a unit on The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of my student teachers created an activity that required students to chart the three worldviews developed in the novel: romanticism, represented by Hester Prynne; legalism, represented by the Puritan group Hawthorne described; and Christian theism, represented by Reverend Dimmesdale. The chart organized quotations that indicated worldview beliefs related to the story line. Students were asked to study the chart and draw conclusions. This was both correlative and corrective because students compared their own worldview to one of the three. Students also determined which worldview was in line with the perspective of Joseph in Genesis 50 and why they thought so.
Illustration Two: Entropy (Science)
In a high school science textbook, I found an interesting rendition by an artist of a box of scrambled letters being converted over time to a box of ordered words. The artist was attempting to show that disorder can result in order if given enough time in a system open to the energy of the sun. The artist felt it necessary, however, to include a hand organizing the letters in the box. The text commented that regardless of the appearance by the hand of some outside force directing the process, not many scientists believed in this supernatural component. I used that one picture and text to create an activity designed to explore why some scientists do not believe in design or direction by an outside force—God—to explain life. Why, then, did the artist sense a need to illustrate that point by providing a hand in the box? Creator—Designer—God! Information theory and design theory were the target connectors.
Illustration Three: Indian Boy (Second Grade Reading)
One of the stories in our second grade reader was about a little Indian boy who had been born sickly. He could not go to regular school. He was homebound. In the story, his grandfather tells him that his Indian name means “strength,” and he tells the boy to repeat his name over and over and all will be well. It was a beautiful story of a grandfather’s love. However, at the end of the story, the classroom teacher was encouraged to have the students take note of the last line: “Isn’t it wonderful that we have the gift of language to talk to ourselves in the time of need?” I asked the kids what they thought about that. This was planned integration! One little boy raised his hand and said, “When I get hurt or when I am sick, I don’t talk to myself. I talk to God.” A good discussion on prayer followed.
This activity was a corrective! To correlate, I asked the class what they might do to encourage and show love and care for a child who was homebound. Their suggestions were implemented with a real child who had been ill for several weeks. Compassion and care are key characteristics of Christlikeness.
Illustration Four: Dinosaurs (Science)
An experience that led my class and me to a very interesting investigation illustrated continued study. In the course of my discussion with gifted middle schoolers, one of them said, “This book says that 70 million years before man walked on this planet, dinosaurs died out. The Bible says that on the sixth day of Creation all beasts and creeping things and man were created. How do you explain that?”
I did not have an answer, but I challenged my group of gifted students and myself to study the reptile family and the Bible. What a surprisingly wonderful month of activities followed! These activities were continued study. I wanted my students to appreciate that God created dinosaurs and that they are among His great creative accomplishments.
Beane, James A ., ed. 1995. Toward a coherent curriculum: The 1995 ASCD yearbook. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum.
Kessler, Rachael. 2000. The soul of education: Helping students find connection, compassion, and character at school. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum.<.p>
Moreland, J. P. 2001. The integration of worldview and vocation. Paper presented at the ACSI Leadership Academy, 23–27 June, in Portland, Oregon.
Sire, James W. 1997. The universe next door. 3d ed. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Worldview Integration: Integrating Core Model
(This is not a complete lesson/unit plan. It is an example of integrative activities to weave into a lesson.)
Age Level: This concept is taught in a variety of ways at many levels. These are just examples, some at the elementary level and some at the secondary level.
Subject Area: Science
Unit: Photosynthesis—the food-making process in plants
- Concept—food for the planet
- Includes a review of the water cycle and the gas (air) cycle
Unit Concept: All life (human and animal) depends on plant life for food. Plants make their food using both the provisions found in the creative order provided by the Creator and the process He designed.
Unit Skills: various, depending on
- age level
- using a control plant
- operational definitions (What will be the test or criteria we use to prove that food is present or not present in the plant leaf?)
- making and testing hypotheses
- drawing conclusions and predicting
- using conclusions “in society” (authentic situation)
Unit Objective: The student will be able to explain how human and animal life depends on plant life for food by connecting the water cycle, the gas cycle, the energy source (the sun), and food. He/she will be able to defend why we owe God thanks for life.
The Four Elements of Worldview Integration
Element One: Biblical worldview presuppositions, or beliefs, related to science and thus to this concept
- God exists.
- God designed and created the process of photosynthesis.
- God sustains the source of food, which sustains life.
- His creatures owe Him thanks for their daily provisions.
Element Two: Interactive, engaging lessons
Element Three: Planned student activities—ongoing processing of new information by using prior knowledge and belief system
A. Correlation: Correlation is a connecting, fitting in, relating process. What do we know about the source, the design, and the sustaining function (laws of nature) of the sun, the rain, and the exchange of gasses in the air? Humans breathe out carbon dioxide for plants, while plants breathe out oxygen for humans.
From science we know: Your lesson or unit as prior knowledge fits here.
From God’s Word we know:
- God made the sun, and He holds it in place by the “word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).
- God provides the process and sustains the water cycle (He sends the rain).
- God provides the process and sustains the gas cycle (He gives us breath).
- We owe Him thanks for food and therefore for life. (Can you find Scriptures to affirm these beliefs?)
Next: Design an activity to “correlate.” The teacher plans an activity to allow students to connect the above.
- Draw or show on a paper plate several items such as meat, vegetables, and bread.
After the experiment and observation, write the elements necessary for photosynthesis on the chalkboard or overhead transparency (sun, rain/water, air/CO2).
- Ask the students: Where do we get our food?
- Some possible answers: (a) plants, (b) plants and animals, (c) farmer, (d) store
- Ask the students: Where do plants get their food? (Listen for misconceptions)
- Answer (will be developed in your lesson): Plants make their own food.
- Ask the students: How? Let’s find out now.
- Follow with experimentation (an engaging lesson).
- Key question this activity introduces: Where do we ultimately get our food?
- Ask students to read Isaiah 55:10 to find out who or what is responsible for providing the resources for plants to make food. Require them to give evidence from the reading.
- Research activity: Using the Bible, a concordance, a Bible dictionary, a CD-ROM, and other sources, find references to the sun, rain, and air as they relate to food. Have students draw a conclusion. Write an explanation, develop a chart, create a bulletin board, or make a mobile depicting God’s involvement in the essential elements needed for photosynthesis. Examples could include the sun (Genesis 1:16), rain (Matthew 5:45), air (Acts 17:25), and connection to food (Psalm 65:9–11 and Isaiah 55:10).
Try integration yourself: Select a grade level and create a student processing activity for this topic at that level.
B. Correction: Conduct ongoing evaluation (critique) that is based on some standard, in this case the Word of God. What do you do when there is a clear contradiction between a biblical worldview answer and a source such as a text or film?
One example follows:
- The textbook material for this lesson at the sixth-grade level says that the sun “is the ultimate source of energy.”
Ask the students to define ultimate. Discuss ultimate.
Ask the students: Can you think of any reasons for not calling the sun the ultimate source of energy?
Correction: The God who made the sun is the ultimate source of energy, or power.
- What might be the result of the incorrect belief that the sun is the ultimate source? It may lead to worshiping the creation—the sun—as the ancient Egyptians and some groups of American Indians did.
Next: Design an activity to “correct.”
You may use subject-to-subject integration to foster worldview integration:
- Social studies: Find a paragraph in a social studies book that describes the ancient worship of the sun god RA. Have the students read the paragraph you have copied and answer the question, Why do you think that these people worship the sun?
- Possible answer: They knew the sun was essential for life, but they did not know the God who made the sun and who keeps it in its path (Psalm 19).
- Try integration yourself: From the above seed idea, design an activity for your grade level.
- Language arts: Use a poem in which the moon is given credit for rain and for food.
- Ask the students: On the basis of their poem, what do you think these people believed? (The moon is responsible for rain and food.)
- Poem: New Moon
New moon come out, give water to us
New moon thunder down, give water to us
New moon shake down, give water to us
Hunger is bad
Hunger is like a lion
Hunger is bad
It makes us eat locusts
Notice the integration of literature and social studies with science. Subject-to-subject integration is a very important part of worldview integration. It opens many doors.
Activity: Have students read Romans 1:25: “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie [they had known the truth] and worshiped and served the creature [creation] rather than the Creator.” Write a sentence or two that clearly tells why a Christian does not worship the sun or the rain.
Tell the students: Many people who rain-danced, or worshiped the sun, did so because they did not know the God who made the sun or sends the rain. Many intelligent people do not know God. (Do you see an opportunity here to discuss world missions and/or the importance of understanding people who do not hold to a biblical view of the world?)
God forbids His people to worship the sun, the moon, or the stars. That practice was detestable to Him, as we can see in Deuteronomy 4:19 and 2 Kings 21:2–3. (Do you see an opportunity here to create an activity to contrast astronomy and astrology?)
C. Continued Study: If applicable, explore a question not explicitly answered in God’s Word or by science. Leave the question open and continue to investigate and learn. Such questions were not identified in this lesson unless the integrative activities created questions.
Element Four: Assessment of Internalization
The following demonstrate integration:
- The concept of photosynthesis and related facts are stored in the memory and connected to other subjects and to the student’s integrating core beliefs—a biblical worldview. Knowledge is unified and whole.
- Photosynthesis is connected to the water cycle. Students appreciate rain, and they are thankful for God’s design.
- Photosynthesis is connected to the exchange of gasses in the air. Students are thankful for and care for plants that breathe by giving oxygen for humans and animals. They are also thankful that we contribute carbon dioxide, and they are thankful for God’s design. As stewards, they know they need to take good care of plant life and the environment.
- Photosynthesis is connected to the food on students’ plates (real life—authentic integration).
- Photosynthesis is connected to sustained life and God’s role in it all. Students believe they owe God thanks for food that keeps them alive. They are thankful to God, “who gives food to every creature” (Psalm 136:25–26).
Next: Design an activity to promote and assess internalization, connection, or integration.
Activity to respond to the following situation:
A new boy in our school does not give thanks to God before he eats his meal. He doesn’t understand why we do. Explain to him (in writing) how the food we eat is related to the Creator and why we owe Him thanks. Use your science knowledge from this unit. The new boy really loves science.
Junior high or high school example: Poem or Psalm (song)
Write a psalm, poem, or song that begins this way: “Give thanks to the God of heaven, who gives food to all.”
The poem must include the scientific details about the process of photosynthesis. Use the water cycle, the gas cycle, and the energy source in order to show your understanding of how these relate to the process and the giving of thanks to God (at least three verses).
With younger children you can write a class song to the tune of “God Is So Good.” Ask the children to create verses that go with the unit. A picture chart that allows them to draw the elements will help them relate each part.
God is so good
God is so good
God is so good;
He’s so good to me
Examples: He give us food ... (verse one)
He sends the rain ... (verse two)
He made the sun ... (verse three)
He gives us air ... (verse four)
... He’s so good to us.
Print the song and use it as a reminder before lunch on several days.
Notice the integration of language arts, art, and music with science as you develop a view of knowledge as a whole with the integrating core, biblical answers to life’s biggest questions. Worldview integration! That’s what it looks like!