Christian Schools and Chocolate Cakes: An 'excursion through my heart-space
TEACH Journal of Christian Education
Christian Schools and Chocolate Cakes: An 'excursion through my heart-space'
Avondale College of Higher Education
Follow this and additional works at: http://research.avondale.edu.au/teach Part of the Education Commons Recommended Citation
part of God’s
Christian schools and chocolate
cakes: An ‘excursion through
Education Student, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW
Why do we teach?
Why do you teach, Christian teacher? Have you
ever stopped to ponder why? Maybe you were
inspired by a really good teacher. Maybe you really
love kids and enjoy hanging out with them. Maybe
you like the pay and all those holidays! (Wait,
what holidays?) Maybe you had a terrible teacher
in school and want to make it better for the next
generation of students.
These are some of the many reasons I’ve heard
as to why people get into teaching. Trust me, I’ve
thought all of these myself! However, I seem to
think we don’t really become teachers for any of
these reasons. I believe there is a far greater and
grander reason why we teach. I think, however,
many of us have missed it or at least misplaced it.
We’ve lost the true meaning of why we Christian
teachers teach in the first place. We are being
seduced by how education is ‘done’ elsewhere.
I didn’t always know that (after the fall of the
Roman Empire) the first schools were church
run. Christianity and education have been closely
associated for a long time. But now, when I peek
inside Christian schools I see stressed teachers,
piles of paperwork, and a plethora of programming.
In this blog I want to rediscover the reasons why
we teach. I suspect they are nothing to do with
ourselves, but everything to do with our Creator
My “Ah Ha” moment
Today I learnt something that no textbook could
ever teach me. I’ve been doing a school placement
and one of my lecturers was scheduled to visit me.
As I prepared for the visit, questions about how it
would result filled my head like a swarm of bees
buzzing around a beehive. I was so busy planning
to impress that I forgot my God-predestined
purpose in being there.
That afternoon, the children in my class had
written stories about their families. One student
bullied another student about their story and
right then the Holy Spirit urged me to bring these
precious children back to the everlasting promises
of their Heavenly Father. I pointed out the beautiful
promise of Jeremiah 29:11 and assured them
everyone’s story was God-ordained and wonderful,
because God had created it. The child responsible
for the bullying then asked, “So my dog dying was
part of God’s good plan?” Whoa! My heart was
beating and I had a gospel moment lurking right
in front of me. I assured the children of God’s
sovereignty when we face difficulties.
Then other children spoke about deaths in their
families. I struggled with what I was hearing. Like
water from a tap, these kids were pouring out their
hearts to me. I realised that they were dealing with
real heart-wrenching issues and they were only in
Year One! I also recognised the remedy. It was for
them understanding and accepting God’s love and
salvation and being resurrected from spiritual death
I discover the real purpose of teaching
This is the lesson I learned that day: Teaching,
foremost, isn’t about being impressive. It’s not
about getting a good grade or being judged a “great
teacher” by The National Standards for Teachers.
It’s neither about making children “good and
competent” citizens for society and the workforce,
nor is it about the pay check. It’s not even about
fulfilling our passion of working with children. It’s
not actually about us. It’s about helping every child
realise they are created in the image of God and
understanding that they have a God-given purpose.
It’s about helping them discover their
Godgiven abilities and talents. Most importantly, it’s
about helping them to discover God’s eternal and
1 This is an adaptation of a free choice Blog that was written as part
of an English unit in the Bachelor of Education (Primary) program.
beautiful salvation. It’s about helping them come
face to face with the Saviour of the world, Jesus
Christ, made possible when they can see Him as
soon as they look directly at you. It’s about serving
and honouring God.
We tend to joke as teachers that we are nurses,
doctors, counsellors, cooks, mothers, and fathers.
Realistically we are servants. God’s servants. The
children in our classrooms need us to tell them that
there is something grander than themselves. I was
ever so wrong that day on my school placement
when I tried to impress. I lost my focus on Jesus,
but God through his mercy helped me refocus, so
the twenty something little children in front of me
could experience the grace and love of Jesus in the
midst of their tragedies.
Exploring a higher purpose for education
God has placed each of our students in front of
us. He wants us to teach them about Him. Do they
need to be taught how to count? Absolutely. Do
they need to be taught how to read? Absolutely.
Do they need to learn about our world and how it
functions? Again, absolutely. However, they also
need to be taught about the One who ordered the
numbers. They need to be taught about the One
who created words and about the One that brought
everything in our world into existence. Just by
speaking, He created!
Our students need to learn because God
inspired the writer of Proverbs 1:7 to proclaim, “The
fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” These
children need to trust us but at the end of the
day we are only human, not God. I’m not trying
to diminish the importance of what we are doing
because we endeavour to do worthwhile and
sometimes even accomplish wonderful things that
are making a difference. However, we cannot save
our students from everything. Only God can save
a child from their sin and perform a miracle. God
is the one working through us doing all the work.
So when our students look at us we must have
them thinking that we can’t do it all but that’s OK,
because we, with them, are trusting in the God of
the Universe. God is the one who is really behind
all the wonder.
The Christian classroom
What does the Christian classroom look like?
I guess most of us think of displayed Christian
posters with nice Christian sentiments and truths.
While these are helpful and admirable things we
should have in our classrooms for our students, the
Christian classroom is more than this. Ultimately
it is our mission field. Also, we cannot just save
the ‘God stuff’ for our Bible classes. In Matthew
10:33 Jesus says, “But whoever disowns me before
others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.”
When we save God for the set ‘Bible times’ in
our classrooms, it is as if we are denying that
He exists when we are teaching any of the Key
Learning Areas. God should be at the centre of
our classrooms and at the centre of each subject.
Because He created everything, He deserves first
place in our life.
Once when I was on placement at a Christian
school, I was teaching my students about the
different properties of materials in a science lesson.
We discussed why God made different materials
with different properties. One student intelligently
spoke about how God had made different materials
with different properties because He made them for
different purposes. He said “It’s a good thing God
made cornflakes brittle and not stretchy so we can
Our lecturers consistently challenge us on the
topic of worldviews, what they are, and how our
worldview impacts everything we do! My worldview
is impacting on the words you are reading right
now! So, how are you bringing Christ into your
classroom? Is all our lesson material supported by
a Christian worldview, or does it ignore a Christian
worldview or promote another?
One of our lecturers taught us that every
storybook has a worldview and how to identify
them. Are our storybooks teaching a Christian
worldview or neutralising it? Are we giving our
students the wrong ideas or the right ones? It
actually frightens me how important the Christian
teacher’s role is. I thought for the first two years of
my course that all I had to do was teach students
how to write, spell, and count and all that other
Then we discussed how some Christian schools
might be like a chocolate cake; immaculately
decorated on top but when you cut into the middle,
it is bland. These schools have the Christian
name attached, but do they integrate the Christian
worldview throughout their curriculum? Our
schools need to be like a chocolate cake where
both the outside and inside are delightful and
where a Christian worldview needs to be evident in
everything we plan and do. To do all this, however,
we need to be equipped with an understanding of
God’s word, regularly attending Church, praying
daily, reading the Bible, reading inspiring Christian
literature and speaking with other Christians.
These are spiritual disciplines that will enable
us to effectively teach God’s Word. If we don’t
might be like
top but when
you cut into
the middle …
“do we want
to mould our
of a dog
begging for a
treat or into
the image of
understand it, how will our students? Thus a
teacher must also be a learner.
Reward and punishment
One of the ‘fierce’ debates we often have in our
teacher education classes is about rewards and
punishments. I have formed my own personal
opinion about these. I have realised that many of the
behaviour management systems used in Christian
classrooms are not biblical because we are bribing
instead of teaching the children to do the right thing.
Observe any classroom that uses behaviour
management systems and what you will identify is
children doing the right thing the instant their teacher
offers an incentive. I once had a boy cry because
he didn’t get a ‘Happy Ticket’ from me. When
students do the wrong thing, rebellious and cheeky
reactions may occur. Shouldn’t they obey, I ask
myself, because they respect us and because God
commands it? As Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone
be subject to the governing authorities, for there is
no authority except that which God has established.
The authorities that exist have been established by
God.” It then continues, “those who don’t obey will
Now here is what I am not saying. I’m not
saying that we cannot reward children. Rather, I am
proposing we should reward them when they don’t
know it is coming. Tokens and little merit awards
need to be destroyed. I know that sounds tough, but
do we want to mould our students into the image of
a dog begging for a treat or into the image of God?
If you reverse the letters in ‘God’ you get the word
‘dog’. I think some of us may be guilty of this.
Warfare in the classroom
Let me finish. Every year we are going to have
twenty plus children sitting in front of us. It’s up to
us to be Jesus to them. You may get tired from the
workload. You may get frustrated with that one child
who always calls out or with the one who is out of
their seat, refusing to work. In those moments you
may want to give up and wonder why you began this
journey. In those moments remember that Satan
is attacking you because you are trying to expand
God’s kingdom in your classroom. Jesus won on the
cross and so you can win in your classroom for Him
because He is the chief cornerstone that holds you
up. God uses and sustains you in the process.
Imagine if you gave up just before a child
decided to commit their life to God! I know all the
stress will be worth it when I see just one child come
to Christ. One Christ-like word or action is all it can
Teaching is a 24/7 calling. Those twenty plus
students, every year, are relying on you and me ─
us ─ to be God’s faithful servants. In the bad times
remember, “Why do we teach?” But, but … “How
do we do it to achieve our why?” Pray and keep on
praying that God will use you mightily and help you
do what He wants you to do. Is it impossible? No,
it certainly isn’t. Luke 1:37 declares, “NOTHING is
impossible with God.”
I think reflecting on why we teach is a valuable
exercise for Christian teachers. Perhaps we do it
too infrequently. On such excursions through our
personal heart-space we may often come face to
face with the One who first inspired us to join Him
and who continues to accompany us on every step
of our journey as His servants.
I still have so much to learn. So much has
to take place as I commence my final school
placements. Yet, when I am a qualified teacher,
learning will still continue. Through reflection comes
value for every teacher. Values emerge, confronting
our practice. So, every day, through the guidance of
the Holy Spirit in our excursions in personal heart
spaces, we will continue to learn and change our
thinking, choosing to walk in step with our Lord.
Then the One who first inspired us to join him will
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You
have been faithful with a few things; I will put you
in charge of many things. Come and share your
What eternal fulfilment if I could also see
Him turning to each student to share the same
2 Matthew 25:23 NIV
Daniel Reynaud presents a copy of his book, The Man
the Anzacs Revered, to William McKenzie’s
greatgrandson Stephen Hansen and partner Josephine Bibby.
Photography: Etienne Reynaud.