November 16, 2012 — A teacher asks her students to bring flowers to science class and instructs them to count the numbers of sepals, petals, stamens, stigmas, and seeds in each bloom.
She then demonstrates that the numbers the children arrive at invariably correspond to the Fibonacci sequence. This famous number sequence displays unique mathematical properties that make it useful in seeing connections between things, furthering understanding in fields as diverse as astronomy, botany, and even financial markets.
“Is it just an accident,” the teacher asks, “or does it suggest . . . that there is a Creator with a plan and purpose for everything, even something as small as a seed?”
This “lesson in wonder” is one of more than 100 examples of ways teachers can connect their faith with their teaching that are described on a Calvin College website launched this year.
Calvin’s Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning developed and maintains the site, Whatiflearning.com.
Each example leads off with a question: What if a grammar lesson challenged selfishness? What if success in math depended upon forgiveness? What if history could inspire students to love their city?
“What we think we’ve done is create a fairly revolutionary new resource that provides concrete ways of showing teachers how to make their teaching more Christian—without having to read the theory first,” said David Smith, director of the Kuyers Institute.
“The website helps teachers ask key questions and make strategic decisions, not only about what to teach but about how to teach,” said Matt Walhout, Calvin’s dean for research and scholarship. “It relates specific topics like language, history, and math to the overarching Christian principles of faith, hope, and love.”