Talk 4:  Passing on the Baton

“Faster, Higher, Stronger” (Citius, Altius, Fortius)[1] is the motto of the Olympic Games where the greatest athletes from around the world compete to obtain the ultimate prize of a gold medal.

In 2008, at the Beijing Olympics, no American relay team, either men or women, were on the medal podium for the 4×100 events.  The USA had never lacked a medal winner in these events since the relays were introduced to the Olympics in 1928.  Why did this happen when they had some of the world’s fastest runners in their teams?  If you had been a spectator in the arena you would have heard the hollow metal tube hitting the ground.  Despite having speed and strength, the US runner did not have the art of passing on the baton.  This story encapsulates the deep problem we have in our culture of passing on our story to the next generation.  Once upon a time our understanding of generation was rooted in biology and referred to parents giving birth to children who were the next generation.  But increasingly in our advanced modern age it refers to an age group who are shaped by the same cultural experience.

For example, children born 2010-2024 are called the Alpha generation and are characterised as the ‘digital’ generation.

With the loss of the authority in human institutions and the rise of the autonomous individual has seen a disregard for the wisdom passed from one generation to the next.

The possibility of social change is seen as wiping out the past and youth are the catalyst for this revolutionary change.  But this runs counter to God’s way.  The reality is that no generation starts with a clean slate.

The passing of God’s story from generation to generation is at the very heart of the Christian faith because of the character of God Himself (Exodus 3:13, 14) “This is my Name forever . . . to all generations” and “because children are the heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3)

“In the grand Biblical view, generations are the pulse beats of humanity, and every generation is close to God and responsible to God for its own time, and crucial to the people of God as it is to humanity at large.”[2]

At its heart, education is leading students to a way of seeing the world and their purpose in it.  The stories and visions of the good life that shape the school curriculum and culture will reflect the beliefs, values and learning priorities that form students into certain kinds of people.

Psalm 74:4-7 says “we will not hide from their children, we will tell the next generation, the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done . . . . He established the law in Israel which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them.  Then they would put their trust in God”.

As the famous author GK Chesterton said, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”. [3]

As Christian teachers, we have the noble task to be storytellers in the City of God.  An education for transformation anchored in the Gospel calls each of us and our colleagues back to our true mission, “lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.  For it is important that awake people be awake . . . the signals we give . . . should be clear, the darkness around us is deep”.[4]

May God richly bless you in your vocation to teach the story of God’s Kingdom.


“To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”  Colossians 1: 29



Grace and Peace

The Team @ The Excellence Centre



[1] Guinness, O. Impossible People.  pp.169

[2] Guinness, O. Impossible People.  pp.174


[4] Stafford, W. (1998) Ritual to Read Each Other. Graywolf Press



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