As teachers, much of our teaching is shaped by our own experience of school, what we have done before and what our particular school expects of us. If we are to design teaching and learning shaped by love for God and others, then we need the Spirit of God and our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us develop “sustaining stories, habits, routines and patterns of practice of which to live and teach.” (D Watson)
If the classroom is imagined as a home, then it can be understood in terms of hospitality and fellowship. In one of Jesus’ parables (Matthew 13:52), He likened the teacher to a host who brings out the old and new treasures of the Kingdom. The Lord Jesus invited his disciples into the upper room where he broke the bread and drank the wine. This practice embodied the Gospel story and God’s people throughout history have participated in this practice. It enables us to reflect on the imagined world where “all things are made new” (Revelation 21:5) and live toward this vision in the present.
“Our social imagery feeds us with an unquestioned sense of what is normal and how things are supposed to be. The cultivation of a Christian Imagination, one rooted in the Scriptures and a communion of saints that stretch beyond the bounds of our own social and historical context, can help us to see our tasks and contexts anew.” (D Watson)
Bernard of Clairvoux (12thCentury abbott) likened teaching to an act of breaking bread in a fellowship of learners. The teaching comes from the cupboard of one who is their shepherd, the teacher. As image-bearers of God, all students are welcomed into the school community to belong and be loved. The learning is nourishing and the learners not only take responsibility for their own learning but that of their peers. Their learning shapes their character and equips them to bless God’s world.
For our reflection:
- If we think of teaching as an act of hospitality and our students as our guests, how might this frame the way we design our teaching and learning? How do we relate to difficult students?
- In what ways can you build a shared imagination around the purpose of learning in your subject and link it to the wider concerns of humanity?
- It is important for each of us to reflect on the kind of home we are making in our classroom. Does it resonate with the priorities of God’s Kingdom?
“We need to become people capable of imagining in Christian ways of seeing our classrooms through the lenses of grace, justice, beauty, delight, virtue, faith, hope and love.” (D Watson)
Grace and Peace
The Excellence Centre