The students are excited. Bags in hand and chattering incessantly, they line up ready to board the bus for their 'Big Day Out', alias a class excursion. You, as their teacher, struggle to match their enthusiasm. The planning is done and you have made sure the learning will be worthwhile, but the memory of the risk assessment form and its potential hazards lingers, increasing your awareness of the duty of care you have for your precious charges.
There are many risks associated with a school
excursion. Every teacher’s worst nightmare is that
someone may be left behind somewhere. Other
hazards, both minor and major, wait to trip up
unsuspecting students and their teachers.
Schools are diligent in identifying risky situations.
They assess potential hazards and the severity of
these hazards according to a risk code. However,
identifying the risk is not enough. Schools must
demonstrate that they have implemented measures
to control the risk and minimise the possibility
of harm to any student. Are we as diligent and
intentional in identifying spiritual hazards, assessing
spiritual risk and implementing strategies to ensure
our students’ eternal health and safety?
Below is a spiritual risk assessment activity that
may be done individually or collectively by teachers.
For each of the following characteristics of Gen
Y (children born between the early 1980s–late
1990s) and the upcoming Gen Z (children born in
the 21st century or late 1990s), answer the following
1. What are the potential hazards this
characteristic poses when it comes to the
spiritual development of this generation?
2. How great are the risks?
3. What can Christian educators do to minimise
Each generation (Builders, Boomers, X, Y, Z) is
the product of social and global issues of a particular
era. The four characteristics that follow are broadly
indicative of students in our schools. They apply
to Gen Y, but are even more characteristic of Gen
Z, who have reached primary school but are yet to
make their presence felt in high schools.
Gen Y has grown with information and
communication technology. Almost every year of
their lives, a new application has hit the ICT market,
and Gen Ys have embraced them enthusiastically.
Linked closely to time spent with technology and the
protectiveness of parents is the lack of connection
that today’s children have with the natural world.
Children may have knowledge of rainforest habitats
and threats to the environment via the virtual world
of the internet, yet have never experienced the
sounds, smells and sights of a rainforest first hand.
As a result, they lack empathy with nature, and have
increasingly less or no experience of the wonder
of God’s creation and the mysteries of the natural
We are witnessing the demise of childhood, and
the rise of the ‘little people’ generation. Children
and even toddlers, listen to adult music, play adult
games, watch adult television shows, wear
scaleddown versions of adult clothing, engage in adult talk
and are being increasingly pressured by society
and educational curriculum to think, behave and
make decisions like adults. As a result of pressure to
prematurely deal with adult issues, anxiety disorder
and depression are on the rise among pre-teens.
Michael McQueen (2008), social researcher,
indicates that later Gen Y and in particular Gen Z,
unlike their confident older sibling Gen X, are more
averse to taking risk. These children have been
born into a society that fears everything from global
warming, terrorists, neighbours and strangers to the
unknown, failure, and litigation. The consequences
of this fear are becoming increasingly apparent in
the inhibitions of young children.
We cannot change the characteristics of the
generations we teach, anymore than we can change
who we are. It is, however, our responsibility to
understand the forces in society that have shaped
Gen Y and are shaping Gen Z so that we can
interact with them in appropriate ways and build
authentic relationships that will lead them into a
saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. TEACH
EH&S issues are a joint initiative between the
Adventist Schools Australia Curriculum Unit and