On Saturday May 5, 2018 Anglican EdComm welcomed Dr Donald Guthrie of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Chicago to deliver the keynote addresses at the Christians in Teaching Conference which focused on ‘Resilient Teaching’.
We need to talk about resilience. The term’s been around for a long time, well, at least for a couple of decades in education. Perhaps it has been around long enough to be taken for granted. The focus of the recent EdComm Conference was on Resilient Teaching. I asked some of the attendees how familiar they were with the term. Some said they’d been thinking about it as an individual but it was not a topic that had received much attention at their school. Others said they were having lively debates with their fellow teachers about the relevance of resilience (and wellness) and had registered for the conference to find out what Dr Donald Guthrie had to say about it. In fact, three respondents from different schools said that their principals had sponsored up to a dozen staff to attend the conference with a view to promoting informed discourse and practical action with the rest of the staff on their return.
The Richard Johnson lecture, an activity of the Centre for Public Christianity (CPX), was delivered on March 14th, 2018. The lecture series ‘seeks to highlight Christianity’s relevance to society and positively contribute to public discourse on key aspects of civil life’.
What do teaching and pastoral ministry have in common?
Neither teaching or pastoral ministry are just a job. Both are a vocation or calling for the Christian. Both embrace a big picture that requires the person to have vision and expertise that can put that vision into practice, whether in the context of the church or the school.
It is my hope that the services and support provided by EdComm will equip teachers and schools in their mission to deliver biblically-based teaching and pastoral support for the students and families in their care.
The most powerful marketing tool we have for encouraging young Christians and career-change Christians to consider teaching as a vocation for the gospel is ourselves- the educators! We are modelling our faith each day and we have opportunities to speak about why we love our work (mostly!) What opportunities do we have each day? How we can positively advocate for our students to thoughtfully consider training as a teacher?
Trust is a concept that we do not often discuss in the context of the school environment but it is a concept that is fundamental to both the good functioning of a school and the relationships within it. The Webster dictionary defines trust as “an assured (or confident) reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
The combination of these two words has fascinated me for some years. And after meeting Jamie Smith and reading “Desiring the Kingdom” I became hooked on what seemed an obvious proposition: that every teacher whether they recognised it or not, was contributing to the moral, spiritual, social and cultural formation of their students. Jamie’s focus on rituals and liturgy as outcomes of the process made a lot of sense.
Around the world educators and philanthropists, for a multiplicity of reasons, seem to be taking a fresh interest in devoting time and resources to what is variously called ‘character development,’ ‘character education’ or ‘positive psychology.’ In the United Kingdom, the wealthy businessman, Sir John Templeton has declared that character, and specifically its neglect, is the number one issue of our age. A society that is not grounded in deep values, that doesn’t know who are its heroes and which lacks commitment to the common good, is one that is failing. Such we have become.’
What an amazing opportunity schools have, to build into the men and women of tomorrow. To speak into their character development and to equip them with the skills and tools to think and to contribute. To hold out to them the existence of ‘truth’, and training in the tools to pursue and find it. At a time when our culture is moving quickly towards uncertainty and relativity, a place where there is no one truth, but many truths, we have a great responsibility.