The following is a printable document containing all 24 strategies for seeing anew.


1 …toward connecting faith with all of life

What does this mean?

This sacred-secular divide is the idea that there is a secular world that is the setting for our public lives and is guided by reason, and then there is personal religious belief, which is viewed as a private hobby. This view implies that religious belief does not affect public life or any parts of the curriculum except Bible or religion classes. Some would say that faith cannot critique economics, politics, art, or education since they are out of its field, and many assume that faith and reason or faith and science are opposed to one another. This attitude has led to a fragmentation of knowledge into parts often seen as unrelated to each other and God. Such a division of knowledge is a comparatively modern idea. As a result, sometimes learning can feel impersonal and disconnected from the rest of life, and faith can become detached from our everyday teaching and learning practices and life choices. Ultimately the Christian faith is not about an abstract set of beliefs, but about a relationship with God that makes a radical difference to all of how life is lived.

Until about a century and a half ago, scientists and scholars commonly assumed that knowledge formed a coherent whole; more precisely, they assumed that all parts of knowledge ultimately could be connected because every area of knowledge focused on some aspect of one single divine creation. J. Turner

The Bible sees things very differently. The entire world is God’s and can reveal him (Psalm 24:1), and all of life can be lived to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). The musician and the artist as well as the engineer and the physicist are all engaged in the same work—exploring God’s world—even if they do not know it. Jesus was called Emmanuel, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). He was involved with our world (John 1:14 ). Faith and reason are not opposed; we are to love God with all of our minds (Matthew 22:37). Many prominent scholars have been and continue to be Christians. Being curious about the world and asking life’s hard questions are part of a robust faith.

The Bible does not only deal with religious issues; it deals with families, food, work, and politics (1 Timothy 2:1-2 ), as well as trades and farming (Leviticus 19:10 ). It also gives us a basic way of seeing all of life out of which we can explore and think through each issue we face. All of life comes under God.

For the Christian the material world can be a door to the sacred and God can be glimpsed through the things of this world: math, science, music, poetry, politics, and art. An experience of God is not restricted to religious settings. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins talked of the world being “charged” with God’s glory: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like the shining of shook foil.”

What does this mean in school?

The false division between sacred and secular and between faith and reason are an issue for all subjects:

  • Teachers can foster this oneness of knowledge by making connections across subjects and bringing these to students’ notice, showing how faith plays a role in history, science, or literature.
  • Questions of belief and values can be asked in subjects other than Bible or religion class. Why not ask whether numbers go on forever in math, and why; or ask questions of ethics and meaning in science; or consider faith in other cultures in modern languages or geography?
  • We can draw on religious sources. Why not canvass the local church on an environmental issue? Or present the work of a prominent Christian scholar?
  • We should represent Christians as working in all spheres of life, not just as pastors, seminary professors, and missionaries but also as poets, engineers, and scientists.

When have you experienced knowledge being divided into “religious stuff” and “other knowledge”? Did this come from the students, or from other teachers, or is it just something people take for granted? Identify a lesson or unit where you could develop more integration using some of the suggestions above.

2 …toward honoring the wonder of God’s world

What does this mean?

The world is extremely complex, and the more we know the more we are aware of what we don’t know. Mystery is the acknowledgment that there are things in all areas of life—including science—that we do not fully understand or that still provoke a sense of wonder even when we have seen something of how they work. Scientists such as Albert Einstein and Max Planck said that science comes up against the mystery of the universe.

Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve. Max Planck

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. Albert Einstein

In the Bible this mystery and depth are acknowledged: there are some things we cannot understand fully. We can speak intelligently about the doctrines of the Christian faith, but faith and experience of God stretch beyond this, and most doctrines end in mystery (Romans 11:33-34).

Reductionism is a way of understanding and explaining complicated things by reducing them to their parts. It can (but does not have to) result in the mistaken idea that we can explain everything in simple terms. But the world is too deep and complex for that. Reductionism can lead to undervaluing, and students can end up thinking that human beings are “nothing but chemicals,” that sex is “nothing but bodies,” or that the materials of nature are “nothing but natural resources.” To be able to name, classify, label, or put to pragmatic use does not mean we have understood the true nature of something. To quote Aristotle, “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” It is very easy to accidentally lose the mystery in life by using analytical exercises in isolation and unintentionally leave students feeling that this is all there is to it.

We say nothing essential about the cathedral when we speak of its stones. We say nothing essential about Man when we seek to define him by the qualities of men. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What does this mean in school?

There is a lot of naming, labeling, classifying, and analyzing that happens in education, and this is helpful, but appreciating a poem is more than analyzing its words, structures, and techniques. Understanding a flower is more than labeling its parts. We can guard against reductionism and foster wonder

  • by balancing analytical/naming exercises with fuller experiences (Students can label the parts of a flower with a real one on their desks. A display can include both diagrams and images of flowers and attend to what flowers can mean in certain circumstances, such as “I love you” or “We remember”);
  • by presenting things in ways that bring out their beauty and mystery, not just their properties and uses; and
  • by explicitly raising awareness of reductionism (is a Van Gogh really just chemicals on canvas?).

Think of a lesson or unit that involves labeling or analyzing parts. How could the teaching and learning be planned to give a fuller experience? In a science lesson on labeling the parts of a human being, for example, you could display photographs or portraits of people.

3 …toward curiosity about life’s big questions

What does this mean?

Apathy is a lack of interest, involvement, and curiosity in the world. Such an attitude makes it difficult to ask big questions, feel the needs of others, or be moved to do anything about them. Apathy is related to laziness; it is sleepwalking through life, not being fully alive. Jesus said he came to bring fullness of life (John 10:10).

Apathy is the acceptance of the unacceptable. John Stott

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people. Peter Marshall

Curiosity and questioning are not the opposite of faith; rather, they grow out of faith and feed faith by sending us in search of answers. Big questions can be asked not only from outside but also from within a relationship with God. Curiosity is not necessarily idle speculation, and questioning does not have to be doubt; they are part of being alive to God’s world. In the Bible, people ask big questions such as why the wicked prosper (Job 21:7).

Another barrier to genuine questioning is reductionism. This is a view of the world that expects all questions in the end to boil down to physics or biology and uses those branches of knowledge to explain away questions about meaning, purposebeautyhope, and justice. Faith can actually open up the mind to engage with the richness of creation and give the full range of questions about life their due.

The glory of God is a man fully alive. Irenaeus

What does this mean in school?

Curiosity can be encouraged in any subject:

  • Pose the big questions, and encourage students to ask them (e.g., “How did the pattern get into numbers?”).
  • Create time and space for the questions (e.g., create space for student responses on displays).
  • Use big questions to guide your planning and frame your lessons. Objectives can be written in the form of questions.
  • Reward wrestling with hard questions in students’ work, not just right answers or answers arrived at too quickly.
  • Discuss with students the limits of different disciplines in terms of the kinds of questions they can effectively answer.
  • Use local believers when teaching subjects in which they have expertise. Students can prepare questions for them. If you do not have access to a local expert, try e-mailing students’ questions to relevant specialists.

Think of a time when a big question was asked in a subject other than Bible or religion class. Did you feel able to follow it up? Or did students show apathy and have to be stimulated to ask such questions? Identify a lesson that has potential for big questions, particularly relating to faith and values. How could you teach this in a way that stimulates students to engage with it? You might display the objective, in the form of a big question, at the beginning of a science lesson, structure the lesson around it, and then come back to it at the end.

4 …toward meaning, significance and purpose

What does this mean?

Life has been described as “one thing after another” with little meaning—just a collection of events and facts. Human beings have seldom been satisfied with this. Every generation has asked, “What is the purpose of life? What does it all mean?” Human beings are people in search of meaning. In the Western world people are more affluent than earlier generations, but life still seems empty for many. The Bible recognizes the struggle to find meaning in life. The book of Ecclesiastes is about a man trying to find purpose in it all; he has tried money, sex, and power, but all are meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Only after a long struggle does he find some purpose in life.

Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for. Viktor E. Frankl

There is within every soul a thirst for happiness and meaning. Thomas Aquinas

St. Augustine described the search for meaning as being restless until we find our rest in God. Faith in God gives purpose to life, and meaning is there to be discovered; we do not have to create it. Purpose and meaning come through a relationship with God and others: people were made for love (Ephesians 2:10 ; Philippians 3:8-9). Humanity’s purpose has been summarized as glorifying God and enjoying him forever.

Belief in a good Creator assures Christians that he has not created a meaningless universe. The pattern and complexity in the world point to a designer who created with a purpose and who gives life significance. That purpose is expressed as history moves toward a goal when wrong will cease and there will be a new heaven and earth, with no sorrow or sin and where nothing comes between God and his people. For Christians there is a personal sense of purpose that is expressed as a belief in God’s “calling.” This calling is to serve God and others using our gifts. It may be expressed within a person’s family, friends, or work. It may be volunteering or a calling to a specific ministry.

The questions of what our vision is and should be are in fact the most crucial and most basic questions that we face. . . .Fundamentally, the language of this vision belongs to the moral and religious family of language, for it is the function of moral and religious language to provide the essential dimension of education—a language of meaning. David Purpel

What does this mean in school?

It can be tempting in any subject to concentrate only on the skills, how something works, gathering data, and doing research and not take the time to discuss what it all means and its significance. Or we could teach differently.

  • Asking Why?-questions is appropriate in all subjects. Meaning is not just for subjects such as English and religion or Bible class; it applies in science, design, math, and computing technology, Ask these questions in a way that signals they are weighty and worth grappling with.
  • Learning, say, to create and read graphs can be presented as a skill that could be used for a range of good purposes.
  • Drawing attention to pattern and complexity can be done in most subjects; there are patterns in music, art, language, and science. This does not mean that we only look at what is good and ordered in life. Christians explore God’s world and face the depths of sin and the heights of love, all within the awareness that God has created a world with meaning.
  • Use examples of people who felt a sense of God’s calling, from famous figures such as Florence Nightingale to ordinary Christians living out their calling in work and family life.

Think of an instance when a good discussion about purpose or meaning arose in a lesson. How did it come about? Identify a lesson where you could emphasize meaning, significance, and purpose. Very few lessons are limited to “raw” facts; there is usually scope for developing meaning. For example, history is not just events—those events have significance for the larger questions we ask about life.

5 …toward seeing people holistically

What does this mean?

People are not just minds or bodies. The Bible sometimes refers to people as “body and soul” or as “body, soul, and spirit,” with soul and spirit including the will, emotions, and thoughts and our relationship to God (1 Thessalonians 5:23, Psalm 31:9 ). The Bible is not precise in its terms; “soul” can stand for the whole human being and take on the meaning of “person,” or it stand for an aspect of our make-up (Genesis 2:7).

People are not like hand puppets, with the soul inside the body. The two are intricately connected and affect each other—they describe different facets of what we are as whole people. Worship involves the whole person as do most activities. The Scriptures say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind” (Luke 10:27).

“Flesh” is not the same as “body” in the Bible. It can refer to “flesh and blood,” as we use the expression (Ephesians 6:12), but it also is used to describe any aspect of human nature that veers away from God, so it can apply to mind and emotions as well as bodily behaviors that turn away from God (2 Peter 2:10). The Bible does not see the soul as good and the body as bad; both can be redeemed, both can be spiritual. The Bible talks of the mind being renewed by God and of our bodies being offered in worship (Romans 12:1-2 ).

There is no use trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it. I know some muddle-headed Christians have talked as if Christianity taught that sex, or the body, or pleasure, were bad in themselves. But they were wrong. Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body — which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, and that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty, and our energy. C. S. Lewis

There is a spiritual dimension of life that helps us to connect with God, but it is intricately interwoven with our bodies and minds.

What does this mean in school?

Education can easily drift into seeing students only in terms of their minds rather than as whole beings. Resisting this need not mean that teachers see themselves as social workers or parents. It means that we can only do justice to who students are by seeing them holistically.

  • A problem with learning may not be just intellectual; be aware of other possible causes, such as bodily, emotional, and spiritual.
  • Design a lesson so that students become aware that they are complex beings. For example, draw attention in gym class to how exercise of the body can help us emotionally and intellectually.
  • Raise questions that address various aspects of who students are.
  • The spiritual aspect of humanity can be included in many subjects: history, English, drama, geography, and science. Scientists are also complex beings; explore how their emotions, faith, and thinking may affect their findings.

Think of a time when you became aware of your students as complex beings and not just minds to be taught. Could you have developed that so that students became aware of it?

6 …toward being challenged and changed

What does this mean?

Laying ourselves open to being challenged and changed by what we learn means making ourselves vulnerable. It means asking, What does this have to say to me and to my community? This way of viewing learning makes both knowledge and the learner active, drawing them into a relationship. In the Bible, knowledge is linked to wisdom, which is practical learning for living well in God’s world, and that wisdom derives from an all-wise God (1 Kings 3:9). It calls for us to be challenged and changed not only in terms of intellectual curiosity but also in terms of our wider way of life. When openness to change leads us through God’s help to turn away from wrong choices and patterns and toward God’s intentions for us, it becomes repentance.

Please make me wise and teach me the difference between right and wrong. Then I will know how to rule your people. (1 Kings 3:9King Solomon

One way in which we resist vulnerability is through focusing only on mastery. “Mastering” information makes us active while the information is passive. Information can become one more thing we consume and collect, to see who has the most. This attitude can go with an unconscious position of superiority and may leave us untouched by what we learn.

We are well-educated people who have been schooled in a way of knowing that treats the world as an object to be dissected and manipulated, a way of knowing that gives us power over the world. Parker Palmer

Learners can exercise restraint and humility rather than jumping to judgment, recognizing that some information can change us and make us wiser (Proverbs 17:27; Proverbs 1:5) and that we need to grow in compassion, not just power and control.

Hasty conclusions are the mark of a fool; a wise man doubteth; a fool rageth and is confident; the novice saith, “I am sure that it is so”; the better learned answers, “Peradventure, it may be so; but, I pray thee, inquire.” Jeremy Taylor

What does this mean in school?

In school, teachers and students can cultivate an attitude that is not superior or consumerist or only about mastery. Strategies might include the following:

  • Looking at what we reward and examining the questions we ask—do they focus on the challenging elements of the lesson or only on recalling information?
  • Thinking carefully about how we introduce what we are studying.
  • Modeling being challenged and changed: “When I first read this poem it made me angry, but then I thought about it some more …”
  • Allowing thinking time rather than immediately asking for students’ opinions, to let students gain appreciation before offering comments.

Younger students can create agreed-upon “rituals” that remind them to stop and consider before giving opinions, such as using the American Sign Language gesture for humility. Recognizing that we can be challenged and changed by what we learn puts a duty on teachers to present material wisely and fairly.

Think of a time when learning changed you. It may have been a story, a poem, a work of art, a piece of information, or a learning experience. What caused the change? Think of a lesson in which it is particularly important that students be open to being changed or challenged in some way. How could you introduce that material to communicate a different attitude?

7 …toward celebrating grace

What does this mean?

God loves people as they are, but he does not want them to stay as they are. Neither does God just give rules and tell people to get on with it. The Christian life is about who we become as we are inspired, enabled, and changed by the person of Jesus (1 John 2:6). It is also about becoming part of all that our world could be, inspired by the vision of the new heaven and earth where God’s peace, love, and justice reign (Revelation 21:4 ; Micah 4:3). Our vision of the future can be anticipated in the way we live now.

Truth lies in character. Christ did not simply speak the truth; he was truth; truth, through and through; for truth is a thing not of words, but of life and being. Frederick W. Robertson

Rules have their place. They are like the fence around a playground: they mark the boundaries, but God wants us to play on the swings not hang around the fence. Rules alone will not make people act ethically; rules may curb bad behavior, but they also uncover our inclination to rebel without necessarily changing our desires. Faith is about much more than that. Just keeping the rules will not make you a good football player. Similarly, just keeping the rules does not make a person a good Christian.

Grace is the free, undeserved love, goodness, help, and favor of God. A champagne bottle being opened is a good image of grace, as is laughter. It is an outpouring of goodness that we did not earn or create. It is God’s measure: full, patted down, and running over (Luke 6:38). It creates delight. Grace means living in remembrance that all is a gift and that no one is good enough. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can the Christian life be led and people changed. The Christian life is joyous grateful living—a very different attitude from just “keeping the rules.”

Once more, never think that you can live to God by your own power or strength; but always look to and rely on him for assistance, yea, for all strength and grace. David Brainerd

Laughter is the closest thing to the grace of God. Karl Barth

What does this mean in school?

Teachers can put rules in the proper place in their subject and highlight moments of grace.

  • Point out that you can’t produce a masterpiece in art just by following certain rules. The same applies to poetry and design. Sports, too, are more than rules. Discuss what this “more” might involve.
  • Draw attention to lives that capture grace—lives that are overflowing and generous. Consider how people draw upon resources beyond themselves to live well.
  • In civics or health class, talk in terms of students’ visions for the future and what informs those visions and whether those sources are helpful. Work backward: what sort of people would we need to be to live that vision? What can we do now? What help would we need? Can we achieve our visions alone?
  • Explore the role of vision and rules in English, history, and other subjects. What inspired people?
  • Help students to consider how the common perception that Christianity is mainly about trying to be good differs from the core Christian emphasis on grace.
  • Explore character in English and drama in relation to the question of how people change and when they experience grace.
  • Create some moments of grace for students by the way you organize teaching and learning, such as an unexpected gift in terms of learning, fun, or time that will fit with the subject you are teaching.

Think of moments of grace in teaching, times when people have done far more than they were required to or maybe than you felt you deserved.

8 …toward appreciation and gratitude

What does this mean?

Thankfulness is a response to life as a gift from God; it is the opposite of seeing life in terms of what we deserve or what we control by our own efforts. Gratitude involves a reorientation of life with thankfulness as the default setting. Being thankful not only raises awareness of our own situation; it also brings to mind the situation of others. Thankfulness is expressed toward God (Psalm 92:1) and others (1Timothy 2:1). Martin Luther saw gratitude is the basic attitude; it is like a mold that shapes life. When someone does something for you, there is a sense of thanks that are due, and thus Luther said that unthankfulness is theft. Thankfulness often involves taking time out from our striving to just appreciate what we have received. Too easily, a consumer culture can slip into ingratitude.

Throughout the Bible, people give thanks to God in prayer, song, worship, and dance. Saying thank you is the most basic form of prayer but one that is never grown out of.

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. Meister Eckhart

Jesus gave thanks for food and to God for answering his prayer over Lazarus. Jesus commended the one leper who came back and said thank you for his healing. Paul starts many of his letters with thanksgiving and tells the Christians to give thanks in all things (Colossians 2:7; [61 Thessalonians. 5:186]). The term Eucharist (Holy Communion or the Lord’ Supper) means thanksgiving; it is a thanksgiving for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that opened up a new relationship with God through the forgiveness of sins.

What does this mean in school?

Gratitude and expressing appreciation can change the atmosphere in a classroom.

  • Teachers can model and encourage appreciation and thanks, both in relation to students and by expressing gratitude for the things in creation that are studied.
  • Set up a classroom ethos of expressing gratitude as a habit (e.g., use the American Sign Language gesture for “thank you” as a quick way of expressing thanks).
  • Draw students’ attention to things we can be thankful for using focusing activities. This can be done by organizing teaching and learning without an element that usually is taken from granted, such as electricity or books.

Think of a time when students expressed gratitude to you. What difference did it make? Create opportunities for students to feel the effect of gratitude by being intentional about thanking them. Identify a lesson where you can focus attention on something we take for granted, such as water.

9 …toward delighting in God’s world

What does this mean?

The word Eden means delight (Genesis 2:8). The biblical Eden was a garden of delight, and it offers a way of looking at our world: the world was meant to be a garden of delights to be explored. Christians through history have often talked about learning in terms of being in God’s garden of delight, and that is part of the history of the word Kindergarten. It is easy to drift into seeing knowledge only in terms of usefulness and to neglect delighting in it. In the Bible, God tells people to “take delight” in the things he has given them (Deuteronomy 26:11). Delight is akin to joy; it is consciously taking pleasure in someone or something. It involves a raised awareness, taking notice, reveling in something, whether that be the beauty of math, the pleasure music creates, the joy of giving, or the simplicity of a design. The Bible describes God as delighting in his people (Psalm 149:4 ).

Our only business is to love and delight ourselves in God. Brother Lawrence

Delight does not mean ignoring the darker side of life. It means fully acknowledging the difficulties of life while remaining determined to celebrate what we can and trust the underlying goodness of God.

This world is so full of care and sorrow that it is a gracious debt we owe to one another to discover the bright crystals of delight hidden in sombre circumstances and irksome tasks. Helen Keller

Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture. . . . The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as poetry. Bertrand Russell

As a believer, I see DNA, the information molecule of all living things, as God’s language, and the elegance and complexity of our own bodies and the rest of nature as a reflection of God’s plan. Francis Collins

What does this mean in school?

We can organize teaching and learning to bring delight and to show that delight can be a proper response to the world.

  • Allow time to revel in sounds in music and poetry, to enjoy textures and color in art, and to be enchanted by the structure of crystals, the elegance of DNA, and the beauty of numbers.
  • Model taking delight by the language used in class, the ways in which things are spoken about.
  • Make delight a part of the lesson plan when appropriate. Find opportunities to show the beauty and intricacy of things.

Think of a time when you experienced a moment of delight in the classroom, when what was being explored became a joy. Locate a lesson or unit that you think has potential for delight. How could the teaching and learning facilitate this? You might supply images of DNA photography and DNA portraits in a science lesson. You could create a tactile display in art and allow time for touching. You could devise a task that encourages students to delight in sounds in poetry.

10 …toward focused, loving attentiveness

What does this mean?

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

It is easy for students to go through life glancing at the world and seldom stopping to listen, giving their surroundings and other people only superficial thought and attention. This casual glancing and listening can be the result of our overly stimulated environment, but self-absorption, superficiality, and a lack of respect also can lead to paying scant attention. We need to cultivate a deeper way of viewing the world so that we look away from self to the object or person seen. We need the attentive, loving gaze and the listening ear.

Christians believe that God can speak through his world (Psalm 19:1) and through the things people make: poems, ideas, stories, paintings, and music. We need attentive listening and wisdom in order to discern how God’s voice can be heard in what we learn.

The first duty of love is to listen. Paul Tillich

Loving attention starts with humility. This is an attitude that considers that others deserve to be heard (Philippians 2:3). The Bible describes the world as God’s and people as his creation. In some way people reflect a little of God, and this gives them an inherent worth. It is not up to us to assign worth to some people and withhold it from others (Genesis 1:27).

If we value others, we give careful attention to their lives, ideas, and what they produce. A poem takes time, skill, and creativity, and the writer gives something of him- or herself; the writer hopes for a careful reader. The Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to dwell upon good things (Philippians 4:8), using a word that means “carefully reflect on.”

What does this mean in school?

Teachers can use a range of strategies to encourage loving attention as an expression of respect:

  • Read a text slowly aloud together in English class or modern foreign languages.
  • Draw attention to close-up images or images seen through a microscope in science.
  • Listen with closed eyes in music.
  • Use a series of questions that focus attention, or allow time for silent reflection before soliciting answers to a question.
  • Rearrange the room for some sessions to focus attention on an object that is to be studied.
  • Consider the aesthetics of science presentations and encourage wonder.

Think of a time when you were frustrated by students’ superficial attention. What teaching strategies did you use to encourage respectful, loving attention? Think of a subject where you need the students to pay focused attention. How could you teach to encourage attention that encourages respect? You could cover up most of a painting and only reveal a little at a time, giving students a series of things to look for so that they discover for themselves the skill that went into the painting.

11 …toward respect and reverence

What does this mean?

Dismissing people and things with a “So what?” is showing a lack of respect for God’s world and its people. It is an attitude that refuses to be impressed by the splendor and complexity of humanity and creation and never rises above the mundane to marvel and wonder. Such an attitude can lead to a carelessness of both the planet and its people. In contrast, an attitude of respect and wonder can lead to praise of God and care for creation (Isaiah 12:5 ).

If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life. Albert Schweitzer

The Bible locates human worth in being made by and mattering to God. In Ephesians 2:10 we are called God’s masterpiece. Masterpieces are treated with respect. People do not have to wait to earn our respect; respect should be our basic response, and all deserve to be treated with dignity as God’s children (1 Peter 2:13-17). Jesus said that what we do to others he accepts as done to himself (Matthew 25:40 ).

There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in — that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible. Mother Teresa

We can stand in awe of people’s creativity, thinking, achievements, and the quality of their life and relationships without ignoring their flaws.

The psalmist in Psalm 19:1 sees the heavens, and for him the stars speak of the glory of God. They are not “just stars.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning talks of the earth being “crammed with heaven” for those with eyes to see. God is in the ordinary and the extraordinary; his fingerprints are all over the world for those who wish to see. Such looking can lead to reverence.

Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes of his shoes, the rest sit ’round it and pluck blackberries.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

What does this mean in school?

How we teach can lead people toward respect and reverence.

  • We can help students to see the beauty in the ordinary and the extraordinary: in the pattern of numbers, the structure of a chemical, the smell of cooking. It can be an experience that suddenly intensifies and becomes something deeper, beyond the mundane.
  • The challenge of lives lived well in hard places can be explored in English, history, and geography.
  • The way artifacts are handled can foster respect.
  • We can teach the language of respect in modern languages, as well as how to practice respect across cultural differences.
  • We can explore the body language of respect in drama and in our own body language in class.

Think of times when there have been moments of wonder, respect, or reverence in your class. How could you plan for such opportunities? (That does not mean they necessarily will be taken up.) Sometimes it does not take much, just a few images to show the complexity of a snowflake in science or simply allowing time and not rushing on to the next point. Sometimes nothing different has to happen and we just have to be intentional about it.

12 …toward trust and affirming faith

What does this mean?

Distrust is an actively negative attitude. Cynicism is a deep distrust allied with pessimism and suspicion. All aspects of life involve trust at some level, and distrust can hamper learning. We place trust in doctors, nurses, architects, and teachers, the people we work with. Gullibility is not a virtue, but without some level of trust we could not function or form relationships.

It is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself. Graham Greene

The cynic puts all human actions into two classes — openly bad and secretly bad. Henry Ward Beecher

Faith is closely related to trust; it involves a trust that reaches beyond the immediate and everyday. To disregard faith in any aspect of the curriculum is to ignore an aspect of life that has been a significant for most of humanity through the ages and remains so today for people around the world.

For a Christian, faith is about assurance, confidence, and trust. It is a growing trust in God that is based on evidence of God’s character and experience of him (1 Corinthians 1:9; Psalm 22:5). Faith in Christ is a means by which people come into a close relationship with God (John1:12).

Reason is not the opposite of faith. Reason and faith can go hand in hand; in fact, all reasoning has to start from somewhere, something trusted as a starting point. Faith cannot be proved by reason (Hebrews 11:1), but that is not to say that reasoning is not part of faith. Asking questions and probing issues can be a sign of a growing faith.

If a man fights his way through his doubts to the conviction that Jesus Christ is Lord, he has attained to a certainty that the man who unthinkingly accepts things can never reach. William Barclay

Trust in one another is built by honesty and kindness ([6Luke 16.186]). Learning to trust appropriately can be difficult when we have been disappointed, but hope and faith in the underlying presence of God’s goodness can motivate trust. Trust makes us vulnerable and requires wisdom. Jesus told his followers to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves ([6Matthew 10.166]).

What does this mean in school?

Trust can be nurtured by an emphasis on honest and caring relationships within teaching and learning and by how we teach and learn.

  • Ways of learning that require mutual trust and depending on each other can be built into lessons. This experience of learning to trust others can open the way for reflection on what it means to trust God.
  • Faith in God can be nurtured, as appropriate, by asking questions of faith, creating stimulating contexts where questions of faith arise, and responding to such questions in faith-affirming ways.
  • Issues of trust and faith can be highlighted in discussions of curriculum content, such as in the lives of historical or literary characters.
  • Opportunities for worship, prayer, and (in some schools) the sacraments or ordinances, can nurture faith. Insights from various subjects can be shared as part of worship.

Think of a time when students asked questions about faith. How did you respond? Does the nature of the response depend on the subject? Identify a lesson or unit where questions of faith often are not asked (e.g., music or sports). Are there ways such questions could arise? How could teaching and learning signal that asking these questions is acceptable? For example, you could have a faith-related quote from a person connected to the subject as part of a display: a famous musician, scientist, athlete, or artist.

13 …toward humility and hospitality

What does this mean?

Western culture often works from a series of implicit assumptions:

  • The West is superior to other cultures; modern times are superior to the past.
  • Youth is superior to age, and the new is superior the old.
  • Civilization is only counted in terms of technological advancement.
  • Material poverty counts more than other types of poverty.
  • Western scientific thinking is superior to all other ways of knowing.
  • The individual’s choices and opinions matter most (i.e., individualism).

These attitudes can make it difficult for students to learn from peoples of the past and from other cultures. In contrast, biblical prophets condemned advanced societies that ignored justice. In the Bible, respect for the elderly and listening to the wise matter.

If the wealthy seek only to assist the poor, looking only to give and not also to learn from them, their assistance can be rooted in condescension and pride. The Bible recognizes a variety of riches: wealth in terms of relationships, wisdom, faith, love, good deeds, and in relationship with God (Proverbs 16:16; James 2:5; Psalm 145:8; 1 Timothy 6:18; Luke 12:21). Wealth is something to be thankful for, but we are not defined by what we own (Luke 12:15). Similarly, people in the West often underestimate what they can learn from members of other cultures.

It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has. Henry Ward Beecher

Humility is essential if we are to learn from others. Humility is not grovelling self-abasement; it is the opposite of pride and arrogance, not being untruthful about our abilities. True humility is a generous attitude of mind that values others and sees oneself realistically. Jesus modeled humility throughout his life. Differences in culture, age, or material wealth are not be seen as grounds for pride.

Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self. Charles Spurgeon

The Bible teaches that we should love both neighbors and strangers as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Leviticus 19:33-34), and calls us to exercise hospitality toward strangers (Matthew 25:34-35; Hebrews 13:). Be aware that it is still important to teach children about safety when approached by strangers—the biblical teaching is about attitudes and behavior toward people who may be different from us, not about abandoning appropriate caution.

What does this mean in school?

Fostering humility and raising awareness of learning from others is something that can cross all curriculum boundaries. We can

  • seek to model humility and a stance of openness to learning from diverse others, and draw attention to the achievements of other times and cultures;
  • encourage students to look beyond the lack of modern technology in some settings to see other strengths, and acknowledge ways of learning other than scientific reasoning (through symbols, art, etc.);
  • encourage students to learn other languages and cultures not just because of their pragmatic benefits (e.g., knowing French will yield a better job) but because of the call to love those who are from other cultures; and
  • use personal narrative examples (especially when teaching about other cultures and languages) that can help students go beyond facts and create personal connections.

Think of an instance when you experienced students’ failure to see the riches of another culture because they could not see beyond the lack of technology and material wealth, or because of an implicit attitude of superiority. How could you teach that lesson differently? For example, you might focus on the quality of community life or use a narrative to create a stronger sense of personal connection.

14 …toward seeking the good of others

What does this mean?

Humanity is capable of extreme selfishness, but we also display acts of selfless love. The Bible cites the root of selfishness as humanity’s choice of self over God and others, which in turn leads to the sin that warps our world. However we interpret Genesis 3 and Adam and Eve’s decision to go their own way, the reality is that we have shifted the focus to our wants and needs, and we see ourselves in competition with others. Adam and Eve’s choice reflects humanity’s.

Selfishness is the making a man’s self his own center, the beginning and end of all he doeth. John Owen

Selfishness leads to other sins; for example, stealing is a way of one person demonstrating that they think their wants are more important that someone else’s. Selfishness often arises from insecurity and viewing experiences such as love as finite commodities, as if there is only so much to go around (if you get love, praise, etc., will there be enough for me?). In such a situation people look out for number one. Jesus ranked loving others as second only to loving God (Mark 12:28-31) and taught us to treat others as we want to be treated (Luke 6:31). This does not mean that Christians have to be doormats, but it does mean that it’s not selfish to want to be treated with dignity.

Self is the root, the tree, and the branches of all the evils of our fallen state. William Law

What does this mean in school?

Teachers can help students see the devastation that selfishness causes in society past and present and encourage love of others.

  • Highlight examples of selfless behavior in different subjects; also highlight examples of how sin has colored human choices.
  • Draw attention to the mind-set that views life as a cake, with only so much to go around. Explore whether this is true of love.
  • In health, civics, and drama, explore alternative behaviors (but these should be realistic; the idea that selflessness comes without cost is fantasy).
  • Examine role plays and examples used in different subjects; are they all about personal needs, feelings, and opinions? Create alternatives that help students to move beyond self.
  • When learning about the lives of others, discuss how they put God’s call and others needs ahead of their own wants.

Think of a time when selfishness manifested itself in class. Find a lesson where you could encourage students to be unselfish. You might encourage students to elicit others’ opinions before contributing their own. You might start by changing a topic from “our world” to “God’s world” or use strategies to help them see an issue from someone else’s point of view.

15 …toward finding worth through love

What does this mean?

Loving ourselves appropriately matters. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). To do that, we need to find a way of sensing our worth without becoming self-centred.

Our deep-felt need to know that we matter can result in low self-esteem if we are not affirmed. It also can result in an inappropriate sense of our own importance if we bolster that need by status, power, and a misuse of relationships. If we raise self-esteem but ignore the negative parts of our characters, we will create a fragile sense of worth that does not face reality (Romans 3:23).

Jesus underlined human worth by welcoming the sinners and outcasts of his day (John 6:37). Christians find a deep significance in being created, loved, and forgiven by God. This gives us the freedom to face our sin without our sense of worth crumbling (Romans 5:8). Salvation is grace — the gift of God. We cannot earn it, and it does not rely on achievements, which gives us a deep sense of security.

A sense of worth should be enhanced by loving relationships within the community of Christians, in order to turn outward and serve others. The Bible often describes this as encouraging and building each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). We can be honest about our abilities without boasting; we can thank God for them.

What does this mean in school?

This view of worth will affect the planning of lessons and the people we select to focus on in subjects such as English, health, and history:

  • The heroes we select can have flaws but still be models and people whose actions were worthwhile.
  • We can choose some unsung people or groups who made a difference in the world.
  • In literature we can include a focus on the characters whose integrity stands out and who made a difference to their neighbors but did necessarily do anything conventionally heroic. We also can look at characters who are despised and ask what effect that has.
  • In health class, teaching about self-esteem can be done from within a Christian framework.
  • We can look at the message our testing and assessment are sending and at what we reward and respond to in school. Are our systems undermining students’ sense of significance and worth?

Think of occasions when students’ low or inappropriate self-esteem has been a problem in school. Identify a lesson/unit where the teaching and learning could reinforce a different message. An English lesson can explore various characters’ significance and worth. The teaching and learning can supply a means of engaging with the content that does not allow students with inappropriate self-esteem to dominate.

16 …toward interdependence and community

What does this mean?

Many modern societies tend to stress the individual: individual decisions, lifestyles, and tastes. Although this has brought a certain type of freedom, it can lead to loneliness and a lack of connection with others. The lack of a sense of belonging makes it difficult to make choices with others in mind. The Bible stresses the connection between people, since God is the father of all (Malachi 2:10 ).

We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community. Dorothy Day

Christianity puts relationships at the center: Jesus encouraged people to call God “Father” when they pray, indicating a close relationship (Matthew 6:9). Within the Trinity there is a relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which means that relationship is at the heart of the Godhead. The Christian faith is about people living out their relationship with God as a community (Romans 14:7 ). When speaking of the church, the Bible likens Christ to its head and the people to its body, such that all the parts depend on each other (Ephesians 4:15-16).

We can be human only in fellowship, in community, in koinonia, in peace. … We are not made for an exclusive self-sufficiency but for interdependence. … A person is a person through other persons. Desmond Tutu

As members of the same family, all Christians are brothers and sisters regardless of gender, nationality or status (Galatians 3:28). There is a sense of mutual responsibility that is taken for granted in the Bible. When Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?,” he already knew the answer was yes. The Apostle Paul compares the church to a body, where the parts are dependent on each other ([61 Corinthians 12:12, 276]) and where people bear each other’s burdens and share their highs and lows (Galatians 6:2; Romans 12:15). This creates a strong element of belonging both to God and each other.

Christian community is based on all being one in Christ and expressing that oneness in a compassionate lifestyle (Romans 12:9-10), shared worship and a shared meal (the Eucharist, or communion). It is lived in supporting each other, working together for others, giving of time, wealth and self.

The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a Eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. John Stott

What does this mean in school?

A community emphasis can make a difference to teaching and learning in many subjects:

  • When studying people in history, explore the communities they belong to rather than presenting them as lone individuals. For example, William Wilberforce was part of an active group and a wider grassroots movement.
  • Help students to connect with the local community. Get the church community involved in student learning; people in churches have a broad range of skills and gifts.
  • Nurture interdependence in learning by having students bring their different skills to a project.
  • In subjects as such as drama, English, history, geography, and civics, emphasize the connections between people and follow up with the consequences of one’s actions for others.
  • Occasionally ask students to work together and come up with a group statement rather than just individual opinions. Engage students in more personal interaction as part of their learning when this is suitable.
  • Have students reflect on what it means to belong to a community and on how one belongs to a Christian community.

Think of a lesson or unit where you already emphasize communities, belonging, and interdependence. Now think of another where there is potential for reducing the emphasis on individualism. For example, a geography lesson might highlight a community’s role in environmental change. Think of a lesson where you made learning more relational, perhaps inviting someone in to be interviewed in history or linking a painting to the story of the artist. What was the students’ response? Are there lessons where you could extend the approach?

17 …toward love and forgiveness

What does this mean?

Love, in biblical terms, is a strong attachment to others and also a commitment to a way of behaving and thinking about others that does not depend on feelings alone. The Apostle Paul lists its characteristics in (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). This attitude of love is kindpatienthumbleforgivingselfless and hopeful .


Hatred is an opposite of love, an intense feeling of hostility that can become a prolonged resentful feeling of bitterness. The two can lead to wanting revenge, which in turn is the opposite of mercy. Probably more common than hatred is apathy, a general failure to care and to respond to others with love.

God’s character is defined as love (1 John 4:8). The Bible says God as slow to anger but quick to forgive, since forgiveness is central to his character (Micah 7:18). Forgiveness is ceasing to carry resentment toward an enemy, and mercy is ceasing to demand full punishment. Note that forgiveness does not mean evil is allowed to continue; sometimes justice and making amends still need to happen. Forgiveness often is the first step toward reconciliation in a relationship. Even if a reconciliation does not follow, Jesus taught that hatred is not the Christian way; he called for people to love their enemies as well.

For Christians, forgiveness is a response to being forgiven by God and was modeled by Christ, who forgave his enemies (Luke 23:24). Asking God for forgiveness should lead us to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15; Colossians 3:13). Forgiveness is not just a feeling; it can be an act of the will.

Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. Corrie Ten Boom

What does this mean in school?

We can explore love, forgiveness, mercy, and their opposites across the curriculum.

  • We can include stories of love, forgiveness, and mercy (or their opposites) in history, civics, drama, English, and other subjects. Both negatives (hatred, bitterness, and revenge) as well as positives (love, forgiveness, and mercy) can teach us something.
  • We can be intentional about introducing these terms and their definitions and highlight them as they occur, relating them to students’ lives and culture.
  • We can make sure students have the language of apology and forgiveness in modern foreign languages and use it in class.
  • We can review the way people relate in our classes and our own ability to apologize when necessary.

Think of a lesson where love, forgiveness, mercy, and their opposites are relevant to the subject matter — for example, apathy toward the environment in geography, and love or revenge as a motive in literature. How could you draw attention to these in teaching and learning?

18 …toward hope and joy

What does this mean?

Both anxiety and hope are future related in different ways. The anxious person has the present ruined by their fears for the future; Christian hope lets faith in God and his future change the present. Hope is a deep knowledge that evil does not have the last word, because Christ was victorious over sin on the cross. One day the world will be made anew, and it will be a place of justice, joy, love, and peace. Biblical peace is about wholeness and things being right in our relationships, bodies, minds, and world. Having peace and hope does not mean that life will be easy (John 16:33). Faith is living in a way that points to that future now. Faith in God’s goodness can allay worries and allow people to live with hope even if life is difficult (I Peter 5:7). Jesus points to God’s care of the birds and the flowers — how much more will he care about people (Matthew 6:34 )!

A Christian’s freedom from anxiety is not due to some guaranteed freedom from trouble, but to the folly of worry and especially to the confidence that God is our Father, that even permitted suffering is within the orbit of His care. John Stott

Joy often surprises us, just as the shepherds were surprised by “glad tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). Some of the biblical words for joy are about movement and sound. Joy may seize us and leave us wanting to dance or shout. Christian joy is not dependent on what happens to us, since it is founded on hope in Christ (Romans 15:13). Joy can persist in a quieter form through difficult times; it is a taste of heaven.

Joy is the serious business of Heaven. C. S. Lewis

What does this mean in school?

It is easy for students to feel overwhelmed by the bad news they hear on the media as well as by negative experiences in their own lives and contexts, because they might not have the experience of life to put it all into perspective. This is particularly true of young children, who may find it hard to distinguish between what is happening far away and what is nearby. Teaching and learning can change this:

  • Many parts of the curriculum look the negative side of life: environmental concerns, economic problems, war and poverty in history, and evil. Check your teaching and its overall story and tone. Are you putting the negative in the context of the Christian message that evil does not triumph in the end? Are you providing moments for celebration and thankfulness?
  • Balance the negative by providing positive examples when possible and appropriate.
  • Are joy and hope expressed in teaching and learning through dance, music, art, and language?
  • Is a broad understanding of peace communicated, or is it just seen as the absence of war?

Think of a time when you became aware of students’ worries in class. Identify a lesson where teaching and learning could help with this. For example, in modern foreign languages, do students learn the forms they would need to express comfort to those who are worried? Check your own language: Do you need to change how you present material? Do you need to balance examples?

19 …toward self-control and peace

What does this mean?

Self-control is a societal issue (Proverbs 16:32): lack of self-control leads to people not accepting limits on their behavior and harming others through their choices. Patience is one of the keys to self-control. Patience is actively experiencing the time we are in and not rushing onto the next thing. It is not a passive virtue.

Self-control is listed as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:6-8). Self-control is the right use of our power to direct our will with God’s help. The Holy Spirit works within us as individuals and as a Christian community to develop self-restraint, self-discipline, and self-control in what we think, feel, and do. Self-control restricts some things in order to let other things flourish. It is a form of strength, and the Bible views a person lacking self-control as vulnerable, like a city with a hole in its protective wall (Proverbs 25:28).

Self-control is the exercise of inner strength under the direction of sound judgment that enables us to do, think, and say the things that are pleasing to God. Jerry Bridges

One area in which we need to exercise self-control is in relation to anger and frustration. Anger is often born of frustration: things don’t happen quickly enough for us. Anger itself is not necessarily wrong, since it can focus on injustice and be the engine of change once channeled correctly. Jesus was angry with the money changers, with the disciples when they sent the children away (Mark 10:14), and with religious leaders who made rules more important than healing (Mark 3:5). But anger also often occurs when our self-interest has been challenged.The Bible is full of advice about anger: deal with it quickly (Ephesians 4:26 ); speak gently, and you will calm people down (Proverbs 15:1). Dealing with selfishness cures much anger.

The first thing to understand about anger is that it isn’t always a bad thing. Many people, especially Christians, have the mistaken notion that anger is intrinsically evil. As a result, they feel needless guilt. … The issue of self-control is the question of how we deal with anger. Violence, tantrums, bitterness, resentment, hostility, and even withdrawn silence are all sinful responses to anger. R. C. Sproul

Self-control also curbs other vices, such as greed, lust, slander, and gluttony. Jesus’s life and teaching embodied God’s peace (shalom), which is about wholeness and just relationships and not just a lack of conflict. Biblical peace comprises harmony in relationships, minds, bodies, and in the wider world. It is a positive peace in which people flourish. That experience of the peace of God is a foretaste of his peace to come (John 14:27). Having peace does not mean that life will be easy—sometimes we have to disturb an unjust false peace to create a just one. But having received peace from God, we are called to live in peace as far as it lies with us (Romans 12:18).

Contentment is the opposite of dissatisfaction and discontent, which are about wanting more and more (Ecclesiastes 5:10). Contentment is not complacency; it is shifting the focus from what we don’t have to what we do have (1Timothy 6-7), and from our desire for more to appreciation and thankfulness. Contentment has its roots in believing life is a gift and not a right.

What does this mean in school?

Anger, peace, patience, and contentment are issues that arise in many subjects, from history and geography to science and design.

  • In English, draw attention to stories, poems, and drama that explore patience, contentment, anger, and peace.
  • Create a peaceful atmosphere for teaching and learning about peace, patience, and contentment.
  • There are big questions to be explored, such as “Should we design ads that create discontent and more and more consumption?” and “Does this peace treaty create peace in biblical terms?”
  • Look at the role of self-control in history, writing, civics, and sports.
  • Draw attention to different understandings of anger and peace. For example, you might give a range of examples and ask students to create criteria for distinguishing between the different types of anger and peace.

Does some of the material you teach sometimes stir righteous anger? Think of a time when what was being taught made students angry; was it because it highlighted injustice or because it challenged their self-interests in some way?

20 …toward embracing responsibility

What does this mean?

Behavior sometimes is blamed on our genes or our environment, and this can lead to an implicit or explicit assumption that it’s not our fault. Without denying the influence of genetics or environment, Christianity maintains that we are responsible for the decisions we make, though in some situations our choice and responsibility are reduced. Christians believe that the gift of freedom to choose was given at creation but weakened by sin, so that it is now harder to make good choices. One of the early church fathers, Augustine, likened it to a scale, with the pan labeled “Bad Decisions” already loaded. The scale still works, but it is biased. This bias can be corrected by God’s grace — his love and help. Throughout the Bible people are called to make right choices with God’s help (Joshua 24:15; Matthew 7:13: “Enter through the narrow gate,” Jesus urged, “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it”).

Ultimately, people are called to account before God, which assumes a degree of responsibility for making choices (Romans 14:12). If people had no capacity for making choices, they would not be responsible.

Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will — his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals. Albert Schweitzer

God never forces men to act against their wills. By workings of outward providence or of inward grace, the Lord may change men’s minds, but He will not coerce a human being into thoughts, words, or actions. Walter J. Chantry

What does this mean in school?

In school, teaching and learning can be organized in a way that gives students responsibility and allows them to make choices within the planned framework set by the teacher.

  • We can give responsibility to students and hold them accountable for the choices they make. We can give students responsible choices to make in their learning.
  • In a variety of subjects, students can explore how free or determined characters’ choices were and what alternatives could have been chosen. Examples of both more- and less-free choices can be used.
  • Freedom, determinism, and the influences on behaviour can be explored in both science and literature.

Have you experienced people denying responsibility and blaming it on circumstances or the way they are made? Could they have made different choices? Identify a lesson where you could highlight issues of choice and responsibility — for example, in history or English.

21 …toward Christian values and virtues

What does this mean?

How we live matters, but a lack of consensus in the world concerning values leads some try to sidestep this issue by labeling certain areas of life as “value free.” As Christians we recognize that there is no such thing. There is no neutral ground. All of life is God’s, and Christian values affect every area of life.

This is a moral universe, and you’ve got to take account of the fact that truth and lies and goodness and evil are things that matter. Bishop Desmond Tutu

The term values is used in many schools, but it can be a bit abstract. Virtues are values expressed in character, and character affects how we treat those around us. Character is as much for the sake of others as for our own sake. The perfect expression of this was Jesus, whom Christians are called upon to imitate; he is the “measure” of what humanity could be (1 John 2:6). It is all about the people we become.

The fruits of the Spirit are examples of Christian virtues (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; see Galatians 5:22-23). 2Peter 1:5-7 is another list of Christian virtues.

The safe landing of flight 1549 on the Hudson River on January 15, 2009, was the result of the pilots’ long training that made certain actions second nature ( Similarly, virtue and character involve acting out of habits of heart, mind, and life. Virtue is not just natural goodness; it is the result of a thousand small choices that require effort to begin with until they are second nature.

As we pursue growth in virtues, we discover that we fall short and need God’s grace to transform our character. We pursue virtue not to impress God or declare ourselves good, but to seek to live as God intends in response to his grace to us.

Character is made in the small moments of our lives. Phillips Brooks

What does this mean in school?

Values create our context for teaching and learning across the curriculum. We communicate values in all subjects by how we teach and learn, usually without knowing it. We can choose the values we communicate by our pedagogy, and all subjects can be part of character formation. In teaching and learning we can

  • think about the issues and values/virtues each subject raises and design teaching and learning to highlight them (consider with students how the skills and knowledge that they gain from a subject area need to combine with virtues for them to serve others well);
  • use stories of people who pursue the virtues in their lives in subjects such as English, history, modern languages, art, and drama;
  • model the pursuit of virtues and honesty about falling short ourselves;
  • look at the structure of lessons we teach (do they encourage the exercise of virtues such as patience?); and
  • look at what we reward.

Think of a time when a values issue arose in class. Who initiated the issue: was it you or the students? Did you feel able to discuss it, or did something stop you? If something inhibited discussion, was it an internal factor or sometihng exterior (such as curriculum pressure)? In light of this, what could you do to make discussing values across the curriculum possible?

22 …toward healing brokenness and seeking justice

What does this mean?

By chapter 3 of Genesis there is brokenness in God’s good world when Adam and Eve decide to go their own way and assert self over God. However we understand the story of Genesis, one thing is clear: the world is not now as God intended. We now live in a Humpty Dumpty world, full of brokenness and sin. Sin in the Bible is not just breaking the rules; it is breaking a relationship. The various words used for sin express its different aspects, for example, missing the mark, disobedience, twisting (as in bending the truth). When he started his ministry, Jesus outlined his role by quoting from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1), who talks of the coming One who will heal the brokenhearted. Jesus came to bring good news, to heal the brokenness of our world, and to deal with human sin—all this he did by his death and resurrection (Matthew 1:21).

The word salvation means wholeness, healing, and restoration. Jesus healed broken minds and bodies, making people whole again. Christians are called to carry on the work of Christ by the help of the Holy Spirit, bringing healing and wholeness to broken bodies, minds, relationships, and communities.

God calls people to follow “justice and only justice” (Deuteronomy 16:20). In her song, Mary reflects on a God of justice who humbles the proud and lifts the poor (Luke 1:51-52). Jesus welcomed the marginalized, mixing with the poor, the rejected, people labeled “sinners” (Matthew 9:10-12). God’s justice shows itself in acting on behalf of the powerless (Psalm 72, Psalm 7, Psalm 12), often represented as the orphan, the widow, and the stranger—those who have no one to defend them and who often are treated unfairly. God expects his people to be just, making justice and redressing wrongs their aim (Isaiah 1:13-17, Micah 6:8).

Charity is no substitute for justice withheld. St. Augustine

In the moral sphere, every act of justice or charity involves putting ourselves in the other person’s place and thus transcending our own competitive particularity. C. S. Lewis

Injustice angers God. The prophet Amos thundered against the injustices of his day, where the vulnerable were oppressed and the rich just got richer. He called for justice to roll like a river (Amos 2:24). People seem to have an innate sense of the need for justice and are rightly outraged at the injustice they see in the world (Malachi 2:17). When we resist injustice, we acknowledge the opponent as a responsible moral agent. To resist is to pay people the compliment that they are responsible for their actions.

What does this mean in school?

Justice can be highlighted across the curriculum by the way a subject is taught and the topics and actions chosen, as can brokenness and healing. The healing can be of relationships, communities, minds, and bodies.

  • Plan to use justice as part of an objective where it fits the material (e.g., when looking at some abolitionists).
  • Be intentional and focus on brokenness and making whole in a text, in a period in history, within communities, or in relationships.
  • Use these two concepts as ways of understanding certain art works and texts; let them frame the whole lesson or unit.
  • Create dissonance by putting two situations together so that the contrast shows up the injustice.
  • Give students the opportunity to take part in creating justice (e.g.,by taking part in a campaign or running a fair trade stall).

Think of a lesson where justice was an issue or where brokenness was part of the content. Think of ways in which you could make more of this.

23 …toward encouragement and working for change

What does this mean?

It is easy to become discouraged and give up trying to change things for the better, but Christians are called to be encouragers so that change does happen. God is called “the God of all encouragement” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ). The Apostle Paul called on people to encourage each other and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Encouragement means focusing on others and being unselfish in praise. Sometimes, when what people do or what type of person they are goes unnoticed, people who exercise a ministry of encouragement make a point of noticing.

With the news often being about war, disasters, and economic failure, it is easy to give up. Christians are not immune from this feeling, but the eye of faith sees things differently. The decisive battle with evil was won by Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection. Evil is still active, but the outcome is not in doubt: evil does not triumph in the end. The cross is not just about personal faith in Christ and God transforming individuals; it’s about hope for the whole world (Colossians 1:15-20; [6Romans 8.21-226]). Faith brings both hope and realism. We live in a broken world, and things will be difficult, but with God they will not be impossible. This is not “fixing” things; it’s about Christians living a communal way of life that says to our world, “It does not have to be like this. Another way is possible.”

Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Bishop Desmond Tutu

Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. St. Augustine

Discouragement often comes from trying to do things in our own strength and as individuals. Being an agent of change on your own is not the Christian ideal. In the Bible the emphasis is on Christian communities acting in the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:32-34). Barnabas, an apostle along with Paul, had a name that meant “son of encouragement,” and students and teachers can exercise this same ministry of encouragement (Hebrews 10:24), helping to bring about change.

The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everything they had with each other. In a powerful way the apostles told everyone that the Lord Jesus was now alive. God greatly blessed his followers, and no one went in need of anything. ([6Acts 4.32-346])

What does this mean in school?

Encouragement can be something practiced across school life, and being agents of change relates to many subjects, including history, geography, health, civics, information technology, and science.

  • Look at change-making communities and their effects on others. The English village of Eyam stopped the plague spreading in Derbyshire in the 17th century. Quakers such as the Cadburys and Rowntrees practiced business in a very different way and affected general business practice.
  • Explore small community groups such as those organized by A Rocha (, which bring about change in local environments.
  • Think carefully about the language you use: do students get the impression that things are hopeless and will never change? Or are you overly optimistic? Neither attitude presents a Christian view of reality.
  • Look for the cumulative effect in your teaching, by which lots of small things—images, tasks, and resources—can create an overall effect.
  • Look for ways in which students can appropriately work for concrete changes in your school or community.
  • Use examples of people with vision. What visions of a different type of world did these people have? What informed their vision? Did their vision become reality? How? What was the effect of their vision on others? Was it positive or negative?

Think of a lesson/unit you teach that involves change, perhaps in geography, history, or civics. What overall story does your teaching give on this issue? Do you and your students feel discouraged or realistically encouraged after it? How could you change the teaching and learning to give a more Christian balance? It might involve changing some resources or how the session is introduced and summed up.

24 …toward giving and serving others

What does this mean?

Servants were the hired hands and slaves of Jesus’s time. Jesus took this word and gave it a new and radical meaning. He took a word that described a person under the authority of others and used it to redefine leadership and greatness. Christians call Jesus the “servant King” because he washed his disciples’ feet and expected his followers to be willing to act similarly (John 13:14-15). Jesus made it clear that in the kingdom of God those who are greatest are those who serve God and others.

One of the principal rules of religion is, to lose no occasion of serving God. And, since he is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve him in our neighbor; which he receives as if done to himself in person, standing visibly before us. John Wesley

Giving is a strong motif in the Bible. John’s gospel says that God loved the world so much he gave his only son (John 3:16 ). God gave the world to humanity and provides for them; in return, God calls for generosity to others. Giving to the poor and needy is accepted as done to Christ (Matthew 25:37-40). Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Wealth is seen positively in the Bible when it is matched by generosity and not put before others and God. The Bible does not say that money is evil; it says people should not “serve” it or love it (I Timothy 6:10). Riches should be gained honestly and justly and are for sharing. With wealth comes a  responsibility for others (Deuteronomy 16:17). The attitude of the Bible is summed up in Luke’s gospel: we are not defined by what we own (Luke 12:15 ).

What does this mean in school?

Students can look at different forms of giving in a variety of subjects: giving of wealth, self, time, and skills, and the difference this giving makes.

  • Use examples of giving and serving where you can (e.g., in math).
  • Create giving and serving role-play possibilities in play areas for young children, supplying gift bags and boxes.
  • Create opportunities to give and serve in different ways as part of learning. A student might give of their skills or time to another student as part of learning.
  • Use examples of people who serve (e.g., scientists who use their knowledge to serve others).
  • Explore local projects that serve the community and relate them to student learning (e.g., an environmental project).
  • Find appropriate ways to give status to serving in the school.

Think of a time when you experienced a student giving to you or serving you in some way. Identify a lesson or unit where you can change the framework to giving and serving: For example, a lesson on railroads can look at how transportation serves the community. Or, a geography survey of the local area can look at the services provided for a range of needs (physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual).