Our opportunities to reveal God’s truth in all creation, to explore Biblical perspectives, and to nurture faith in students are core distinctives of Christian education. Yet, if the truth were told, it cannot be assumed that new graduates or even teachers with some experience have had the kind of background or training to make faith-learning connections or to teach the Bible effectively. This latter concern led Dr. Johanna Campbell, retired British Columbia Teachers’ Association leader and former teacher, to write a book entitled How to Profit From the Word: A Handbook for teachers of Bible in Christian Schools just for that purpose. From her website, she offers the following description of the book: “The first three chapters discuss the basic tenets of our Christian faith, using the Apostles’ Creed as an overall guide. Chapters 4-10 discuss curriculum frameworks, Christian methodology, pedagogy, learning the Bible in community, and what role the Holy Spirit plays in the classroom. There are five helpful appendices which give ideas on how to assess the subject ‘Bible’, how to journal through a Bible book, how to do a passage analysis, sample outlines on how to ‘camp’ around a Bible book, and a page listing some helpful resources for the Bible teacher.” The book is available on her website.
Johanna has also put together another inexpensive booklet called Bible Q & A: From Creation to New Creation. While this booklet is designed for children under 12, it could also be used effectively with new believers, for evangelism purposes, or for ESL students. These are “the basics” – in Johanna’s words – “a benchmark of biblical knowledge for both children and adults.” The booklet is now available in Spanish also and is being used presently by EduDeo in Honduras and Nicaragua. It is available in French as well.
Any Christian schools that teach French or Spanish could use the Bible Q & A for their high school students to give them a basic Christian vocabulary in the language they are studying. Study one Q & A (or a small related section) per lesson–5 minutes.
Kudos, Johanna – thanks for making these excellent resources available for teachers and students and thanks for your heart and passion to do this not for profit, but to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. For more information, please visit her website.
I first heard of, and then peeked, at Seth Godin’s manifesto, “Stop Stealing Dreams,” via Twitter. I was reminded of it again by one of the regular readers/commenters on this blog – thanks, Jim P.! This manifesto is one of the more thought provoking works I have read in the past year. The manifesto/book is available free for download – the link is at the end of this post.
I want to highlight some of the ideas as an inducement to get you to read the entire manifesto – well worth an hour or two to read through this provocative and thoughtful writing. The manifesto consists of 132 short paragraphs in large print spread over 191 pages – so I will list the paragraph number and the page number as dual references to particular ideas or quotes.
- 4/12 – What is school for? To his points I would add – what are the distinctive goals of Christian schools?
- 8/21 – “Does the curriculum you teach now make our society stronger?” To which I would add – does it produce a passion in kids for the kingdom of Jesus Christ?
- 11/24 – “Do we need more fear? Less passion?” ; 29/45, 46 – fear and passion as the two tools that educators have to work with
- 14/27 – Seth’s question for school boards: “What are you doing to fuel my kid’s dreams?”
- 17/29 – A dozen ways to reinvent school
- 22/37, 94/128 – Scarcity and abundance
- 39/61 – Assemblers or linchpins/artists?
- 40/62, 63 – Why school needs to be more like FIRST robotics
- 57-60/82-88 – The problem of small dreams and dreamers
- 73/105 – Slader – Cliff Notes for math – see any problem worked out
- 74/107 – The role of the teacher in a post union era
- 90/124 – Average American’s annual amount of reading and high student expectations
- 92/127 – Do kids achieve because of or in spite of schooling?
- 95/130, 116/161, 124/175, 127/180, 129/183 – The coming melt-down of colleges
- 106/146 – Why not teach these topics instead?
- 113/156 – What is the value of advanced math?
- 121/169 – Why homeschooling isn’t the answer for most
- 123/174 – The new role of libraries
I hope you take the time to read this manifesto and reflect on what Godin is saying. He is making a significant contribution to the discussion how school needs to change and focus on different kinds of things with kids. Here is the link to access the material.
As a educator who began my career in special education, I was trained in the diagnostic-prescriptive approach: identify the problem, find an effective strategy, and try to remediate the deficit. A focus on deficits can become a problem – we are trained as educators to always be on the lookout for deficits, for problems, and not for the larger picture of abundance and possibility. My question then is: is it right for us as Christian teachers to always be focusing on what is wrong, finding flaws, identifying misunderstandings, and critiquing performances? Will we ever be happy anyway? Are we monitoring ourselves so that we keep this in balance with seeing gifts, possibilities, and focusing on the good, the lovely, and the true?
Many of the professions are trained to deal with problems: dentists with cavities in teeth, physicians with disease and malfunction, social workers with emotional scars, and attorneys with sins of omission and commission. Teaching is unique in the amount of time that can be spent in focusing on encouragement and possibilities. As Christian teachers, we need to intentionally point out to students the abundance of God’s great creation, as well as the abundance of his grace and love to us. We will also want them to know the possibility and promise we see in them as image-bearers, and in the lives and opportunities they have been given.