In our culture, education is often seen as a means to gain mastery and control and independence that will enable students to maximise their own personal opportunities. However, to embrace a way of teaching, learning and knowing that is shaped by a true understanding of love, is the way of Jesus.
The Bible teaches us that God is relational-Father, Son and Holy Spirit- with love defining His nature. As God’s image bearers, we learn about our personhood and purpose through our loving relationship with God and with others. To love is to know.
Wandel wrote about how the Reformers, such as Augustine, understood self and others – “…sin consisted in valuing oneself above others. … it was to conceive of God in terms of one’s own experience…. it was to measure others in reference to oneself, to enter social relations out of self-interest…. The worship of God was the movement of the soul, from self-love, self-orientation, to God and outward to others, honouring them, according humanity equal value to oneself, and according God greater value than oneself.” God’s people are to embody the stories, practices and patterns of life that resonate with this reality.
How does the love of God and neighbour shape our teaching and learning practice? How does it orientate our students’ minds and hearts to their Creator and His purposes?
David Watson in his book “On Christian Teaching” uses the illustration of language teaching. Much of the images and content in the textbooks are around international tourism, staying in good hotels, eating in nice restaurants and understanding their hobbies, clothing and customs. Here the practice of the language classroom was offering students an understanding of language learning as a means of social mobility and economic utility. It is about the consumer-self. In the study of a language, there is not a rich narrative context to depict the world of the people whose language they are learning. “…they do not pray, suffer, die, celebrate, face difficult moral choices, lament …… tell meaningful stories, work at relationships.”
What if the teaching of Language was a counter-action of self-love, honouring others and treating them with dignity? What if our pedagogy in language learning could assist to breakdown cultural barriers and help our students to understand the rich stories that have shaped that culture? How might our students communicate in the language to understand these people more deeply?
- 1. Consider a subject you teach. How can you use resources and activities that lead students to love God and others?
- 2. In what ways does the learning lead to students serving others sacrificially?
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Grace and Peace
The Excellence Centre