He has been described as a ‘guru’ by Professor John Hattie. No matter what you think of him, Pasi Sahlberg definitely has some helpful insights into education globally. His experience as a teacher and then system leader in Finland, alongside his international work means that people sit up and take notice when he speaks.
When I began reading ‘The Heart of Education’ I was unaware of the extensive leadership experience and influence of Rod West. Like many others, I knew that he had been headmaster of Trinity Grammar School for 20 years. What I discovered, as I read Rod’s life story, was that he was an inspirational teacher and headmaster whose faith was pre-eminent in every aspect of his life. He transformed several schools as he concentrated on relationships with staff and students rather than the process of education. Under Rod’s stewardship 33 teachers have become headmasters.
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.
“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done…” Judges 2:10