“Seeing anew” is about being open to new ways of looking at our teaching and what goes on in our classrooms, ways that can let connections with faith, hope, and love come into focus. Shifting from looking at a learning activity just in terms of the information conveyed, for example, to seeing it as at the same time a chance for moral growth or spiritual challenge can open up new possibilities. The following list is not intended to offer a complete compendium of Christian themes, but rather to point to various ways that Christian faith might lead us to see anew. Each example that follows starts with the word toward, indicating that it is about moving in a particular direction. You may also wish to think about where students are coming from. For example, are they moving from apathy to love of from something more negative? Are they moving from loving sporadically to a compassionate response being more consistent? You can add your own “from” before the “toward” and fill in the “…” to suit your class—for example, “From being quick to anger toward self control.”
1. …toward connecting faith with all of life
Some people believe 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 that does not affect public life or any parts of the curriculum except religion classes. Many assume that faith and reason are opposed to one another. This attitude has led to fragmentation of knowledge into parts often seen as unrelated to each other and to God. As a result, learning can sometimes feel impersonal and disconnected from the rest of life and faith. 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 a relationship with God that makes a radical difference to how life is lived. The Bible talks of the entire world as God’s, and God may be glimpsed or encountered through the all aspects of this world: math and science, music and poetry, not just religion class. Faith and reason are not opposed—believers are called to love God with all of their being, including their minds. Being curious about the world and asking life’s hard questions are part of a robust faith.
We can remake lost connections by connecting learning with faith and life, asking questions of belief and values in any subject, using religious sources, as appropriate, in a range of subjects. We can make sure we represent Christians as working in all spheres of life, not just as pastors, saints, and missionaries.
2. …toward honoring the wonder of God’s world
Mystery is the acknowledgment that there are things in all areas of life—including science—we do not fully understand, or that still provoke a sense of wonder even when we have seen something of how they work. The Bible acknowledges that there are some things we cannot understand fully and that our knowledge now is partial. Reductionism is a way of understanding 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. At its extreme it can lead to students thinking human beings are nothing but chemicals or economic units. To be able to name, classify, label, or put to pragmatic use does not mean we have understood the true nature of something. It is easy to accidentally lose the mystery in life by using analytical exercises in isolation, unintentionally leaving students feeling that is all there is to it.
We can guard against negative 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. We can communicate that a poem is more than words and techniques. We can present things in ways that bring out their beauty and mystery. We can explicitly raise awareness of reductionism. Is a Van Gogh really just chemicals on canvas?
3. …toward curiosity about life’s big questions
Apathy is a lack of interest, involvement, and curiosity about the world. With such an attitude it is 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. Curiosity and questioning are not the opposite of faith—they can grow out of faith and feed faith by setting us off in search of answers. In the Bible, people ask the big questions, such as, Why do the wicked prosper? 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.
Curiosity can be encouraged in any subject by posing big questions and encouraging students to ask them (for example, How did the pattern get into numbers?). Create time and space for the questions, perhaps by leaving space on displays for student responses. Reward students when their work wrestles with hard questions, not just when they get the right answers or arrive at their answers quickly. Discuss with them the limits of different disciplines in terms of the kinds of questions they can effectively answer.
4. …toward meaning, significance, and purpose
Human beings are people in search of meaning. In the Western world people are more affluent than earlier generations, but still life 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. Only after a long struggle does he find some purpose in life. 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 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 this gives life significance. This purpose could be summed up thus: we were made to love God and others.
It can be tempting in any subject to concentrate only on the skills, how something works, gathering data and doing research, and not to take the time to discuss what it all means and what its significance is. Or we could teach differently, asking why-questions as appropriate in all subjects and giving skills a purpose, such as learning to create and read graphs 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.
5. …toward seeing people holistically
People are not just minds or bodies. The Bible sometimes refers to people as body, soul, and spirit (with soul and spirit including the will, emotions, and thoughts and a relationship to God). 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.” The Bible does not see the soul as good and the body as bad; both can be spiritual. The Bible talks of the mind being renewed by God and of our bodies being offered in worship.
Education can easily drift into seeing students only in terms of their minds rather than as whole beings. A problem with learning may not be just intellectual, so be aware of other possible causes: bodily, emotional, and spiritual. Design a lesson to help students become aware that they are complex beings. For example, in physical education, draw attention 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, and one can explore how their emotions, faith, and thinking may affect their findings.
6. …toward being challenged and changed
Being challenged and changed by what we learn takes humility. 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. The opposing attitude is mastery. “Mastering” information makes us active while the information is passive, and information becomes one more thing we consume and collect. This attitude can come with an unconscious position of superiority and may leave us untouched by what we learn. In the Bible, knowledge is linked to wisdom, which is practical learning for living well in God’s world and which 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.
Teachers and students can cultivate a humble attitude in their class. Strategies for this might include 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? Teachers can model being challenged and changed: “When I first read this poem, it made me feel annoyed. Then I thought about it…” Learners can exercise restraint and humility rather than jumping to judgment; allow students time to think rather than immediately asking for their opinions, since this will let them gain appreciation before offering comments. With younger students, come up with agreed-upon “rituals” that remind them to stop and consider before giving their opinions. Sign-language expressions for humility could be used.
7. …toward celebrating grace
Grace is the free, undeserved love, goodness, help, and favor of God, an outpouring of goodness that we did not earn or create. It creates delight. Grace is living in remembrance that all is a gift and that no one is good enough to merit it. Only with the help of the Holy Spirit can the Christian life be led and people changed. God loves people as they are, but he does not want them to stay as they are. Nor does he just give rules and tell people to deal with it. The Christian life is about the people we become as we are inspired, enabled, and changed by the person of Jesus. It is 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, a vision that can be anticipated in the way we live now. The Christian life is joyous grateful living, not just keeping a set of rules. Rules have their place—they mark boundaries—but by themselves will not make people act ethically. Just keeping the rules does not make a Christian any more than keeping the rules makes a good soccer player.
Teaching can celebrate grace by pointing out that you can’t produce a masterpiece in art, poetry, or any subject just by following rules. Draw attention to lives that capture grace—lives that are overflowing and generous. Explore students’ visions for the future: What informs those visions? Are they helpful? What sort of people would we need to be to live those visions? 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.
8. …toward appreciation and gratitude
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 reorients 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 often involves taking time out from our striving to appreciate what we have received. Too easily a consumer culture can slip into ingratitude. Throughout the Bible people give thanks to God, and saying thank you is the most basic form of prayer. The term Eucharist (also called Communion) means “thanksgiving” for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that opened up a new relationship with God through the forgiveness of sins.
Expressing gratitude can change the atmosphere in a classroom, and 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. One way to draw students’ attention to things we can be thankful for is by organizing teaching and learning without an element that is normally taken for granted, such as electricity or books.
9. …toward delighting in God’s world
Eden was a garden of delight, and 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. It is easy to drift into seeing knowledge only in terms of its usefulness and to neglect delighting in it. In the Bible, God tells people to “take delight” in the things he has given them. 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 is 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. 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 to trust the underlying goodness of God.
We can organize teaching and learning to bring delight and to show that delight can be a proper response to the world by allowing students time to revel in sounds, textures, and color, to be enchanted by the structure of crystals, the elegance of DNA, and the beauty of numbers. We can model taking delight by the language we use in class to speak about things.
10. …toward focused, loving attentiveness
It is easy for students to go through life glancing at the world and seldom stopping to look and listen, giving their surroundings and other people superficial thought and 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. Loving attention starts with humility. Others deserve to be heard, for they are people made by God with the capability of reflecting a little of God into the world. 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 poet gives something of him or herself and hopes for a careful reader. The Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to dwell upon good things. People are also fallen, and their lives are marred by wrong, so wisdom is needed in deciding what we take from what we study.
We can organize learning so that a text is read slowly and in different ways in English, literacy, or modern foreign languages. Draw attention to close-up images or to images seen through a microscope in science. Use activities in music to encourage careful listening. 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.
11. …toward respect and reverence
“So what?” is a phrase that reflects 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. Such an attitude can lead to a carelessness in how we treat both the planet and its people. In contrast, an attitude of respect and wonder can lead to praise of God and care for creation. We can marvel at human creativity and lives lived well in hard places. The Bible locates human worth in being made by God and mattering to him. The Apostle Paul called us God’s masterpiece. Respect is our basic response, and all deserve to be treated with dignity as God’s children even if we do not respect what they do. The psalmist sees the heavens and declares that the stars speak of the glory of God. They are not “just” stars. God’s fingerprints are all over the world for those who wish to see. Such looking can lead reverence.
We can help students to see the beauty in the pattern of numbers, the structure of a chemical, the smell of cooking. Explore lives that inspire respect 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 even in how we move and stand in class.
12. …toward trust and affirming faith
All aspects of life involve trust at some level, and distrust can hamper learning and relationships. Gullibility, however, is not a virtue. Faith is closely related to trust and involves a trust that reaches beyond the immediate and the everyday. Faith, for a Christian, is about a growing assurance, confidence, and trust in God that is based on evidence of God’s character as seen and experienced in Jesus. Reason is not the opposite of faith; rather, it can be part of faith. All reasoning has to start from somewhere, something trusted as a starting point. Faith cannot be proved by reason, but reasoning is part of faith. Asking questions and probing issues can be a sign of a growing faith. Trust in one another is built by honesty and kindness. Learning to trust appropriately can be difficult, but faith in 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.
Trust can be nurtured by an emphasis on honest and caring relationships. Ways of learning that require mutual trust 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 were 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 all nurture faith.
13. …toward humility and hospitality
Modern Western cultures often work from a series of implicit assumptions such as the superiority of modern Western culture to other cultures and the past, the superiority of youth over age, and the importance of technological advancement over other achievements. Material poverty is deemed to count more than other types of poverty, and Western scientific thinking is seen as superior to other ways of knowing. The individual’s choices and opinions are deemed to be what matters most. Such attitudes can make it difficult for students to learn from other times and cultures. In contrast, the Bible condemns advanced societies that ignored justice and advocates respect for the elderly and the wise. The Bible recognises a variety of riches and poverty: riches of good deeds, poverty of love, riches of faith. We need humility to learn from others, humility is a generous attitude of mind that values others and sees oneself realistically. Jesus modelled humility throughout his life. The Bible teaches love of neighbours and strangers and calls us to exercise hospitality towards strangers.
Teachers can seek to model humility and openness, drawing attention to the achievements of other times and cultures. We can 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 symbol, art, community). We can encourage students to learn languages as part of the call to love those who come from other cultures and use personal stories to help them create connections to people from other times and cultures.
14. …toward seeking the good of others
The Bible names the root of selfishness as humanity’s choice of self over God and others, which leads to the sin that warps our world. However we interpret the account of Adam and Eve, the reality is that we have shifted the focus onto our wants and needs, and we see ourselves in competition with others. Adam and Eve’s choice reflects humanity’s. Selfishness leads to other sins as we seek to accrue things and people to ourselves. Selfishness often arises from insecurity and from viewing experiences such as love as finite commodities, as if there is only so much to go around. Jesus ranked loving others as second only to loving God, and he told people to treat others as they wanted to be treated. This does not mean that Christians have to be doormats. Being treated with dignity is not the same as being selfish.
Teachers can help students see the devastation that selfishness causes in society, and highlight examples of selfless behavior in different subjects. We can draw attention to the mindset that views life as like a cake, with only so much to go around. We can examine role plays and examples used in different subjects; are they all about personal needs, feelings, and opinions? We can create alternatives that help students to move beyond self.
15. …toward finding worth through love.
Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” To do that, we need to find a way of sensing our worth without becoming self-centered. Jesus underlined human worth, welcoming the sinners and outcasts. If we raise self-esteem but ignore the negative parts of our character, we will create a fragile sense of worth that does not face reality. Christians find a deep significance in being created, loved, and forgiven by God; this gives them the freedom to face their sin without their sense of worth crumbling. Salvation as a gift of God does not rely on achievements and therefore gives a deep sense of security. A sense of worth should be enhanced by loving relationships within the Christian community, giving people the strength to serve. The Bible describes this as encouraging and building each other up. We can be honest about our abilities without boasting, thanking God for them but not staking our worth on them.
This view of worth will affect the people we select to focus on in subjects such as English, religion, and history: the heroes we select can have flaws but still be models and people whose actions were worthwhile. In civics or health classes, self-esteem can be taught 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?
16. …toward interdependence and community
Many modern societies stress the individual, and although this has brought a certain type of freedom, it can lead to loneliness and a lack of belonging, which makes it difficult to make choices with others in mind. Christianity puts relationships and belonging at the center; Jesus encouraged people to call God “Father,” and a relationship of love exists at the heart of the Godhead between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All Christians are brothers and sisters regardless of gender, nationality, or status, and there is a sense of mutual responsibility that is taken for granted in the Bible. The church is compared to a body, in which all the parts are dependent on each other and on Christ the head, and in which people bear each other’s burdens. The Bible calls for this oneness to be expressed in a compassionate lifestyle and shared worship.
We can stress this community aspect by exploring the communities people belong to in history and English rather than presenting them as disconnected characters. We can help students to connect with the local community, getting the church community involved in student learning and sharing their skills. We can nurture interdependence in learning by letting students bring their different skills to a project. In subjects like drama, English, history, geography, and civics or health, the connections between people can be emphasized, and the consequences of actions for others can be examined.
17. …toward love and forgiveness
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. Hatred is intense hostility that can become bitterness and lead to wanting revenge. Apathy is a general failure to care for and respond to others with love. God’s character is defined as love, and forgiveness is part of that. Forgiveness means ceasing to be resentful, but this does not mean that evil is allowed to continue: sometimes justice and making amends still need to happen. Forgiveness can be the first step towards reconciliation but even if reconciliation does not follow, Jesus taught that hatred is not the Christian way; he called for people to love even their enemies. For Christians, forgiveness is a response to being forgiven by God and was modeled by Christ. Asking God for forgiveness should result in forgiving others. Forgiveness is not just a feeling; it can be an act of will.
We can explore love, forgiveness, mercy, and their opposites across the curriculum by including stories that demonstrate these attitudes in various subjects. 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 relationships in our classes and our own ability to apologize when necessary.
18. …toward hope and joy
Biblical peace is about wholeness and things being right in our relationships, bodies, minds, and world. Faith in God’s goodness allows us to live with hope, but that does not mean life will be easy: hope and peace can exist even in difficult times. Hope is a deep knowledge that evil does not have the last word, because Christ was victorious over sin and death on the cross. One day the world will be made anew and will be a place of justice, joy, love, and peace. Faith is living in a way that acts as a signpost to that future now. Jesus points to God’s care of the birds and the flowers—how much more does he care about his people! Joy often surprises us, for it is not dependent on what happens to us but rather is founded on hope in Christ. Joy can persist in a quieter form through difficult times. It is a taste of heaven.
Students can feel overwhelmed both by the bad news they hear on the media as well as by negative experiences in their own lives. Teaching and learning can change this. Check your teaching and the overall story and tone: Does it help put the negative in context of the Christian message that evil does not triumph in the end? Are negative examples balanced with positive ones? Are there moments for celebration and thankfulness? Are joy and hope expressed in teaching and learning through dance, music, art, and language? Is a broad understanding of peace communicated, or is peace just seen as the absence of war?
19. …toward self-control and peace.
Lack of self-control leads to people not accepting limits on their behavior and harming others through their choices. Self-control restricts some things in order to let other things flourish, and patience is needed alongside it. The Holy Spirit helps people to exercise self-control, which is needed to deal with anger. Anger itself is not necessarily wrong if focused on injustice and channeled correctly. Jesus was angry with the money changers and with the disciples when they sent the children away. However, anger most often occurs when our self-interest has been challenged, and the Bible advises people to deal with it quickly. Jesus’s life and teaching embodied God’s peace (shalom), which is about wholeness and harmony in relationships, minds, bodies, and in the wider world. It is not just a lack of conflict. Having received peace from God, we are called to live in peace as far as it lies with us. Contentment not the same as complacency; rather, it shifts the focus from what we don’t have to what we do have, and from our desire for more to appreciation and thankfulness.
As teachers we can draw attention to stories, poems, art, drama, and historical events that create opportunities to explore self-control, contentment, peace, and their opposites (for we can learn from negatives as well as positives). We can create a peaceful learning atmosphere and look at the role of self-control in writing, health/civics, and sports.
20. …toward embracing responsibility.
Without denying the influence of nature and nurture, Christianity maintains that we are responsible for the decisions we make, though in some situations our choice and responsibility may be reduced. Christians believe that the gift of freedom to choose was given at creation but weakened by sin, so that now it is harder to make good choices. St. Augustine likened it to a set of scales where the side labeled “Bad Decisions” is loaded. The scales still work, but they are biased. This bias can be corrected by God’s grace—his love and help. The Bible calls people to make right choices with God’s help. Ultimately, people are called to give an account before God, which assumes a degree of responsibility for making choices.
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. In history and English, students can explore how free or determined characters’ choices were and what alternatives could have been chosen. Were they free to make other choices? Drama can be used to role-play alternative choices and their consequences. Freedom, determinism, and influences on behavior can be explored in science and civics or health.
21. …toward Christian values and virtues.
How we live matters: no area of life is value-free, and Christian values affect every area of life. Virtues are values expressed in character, and the perfect expression of this was Jesus, who is the measure of what humanity could be. Virtue is about the people we become and the way that affects our treatment of others. The fruits of the Spirit are an example of Christian virtues (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). Virtue and character involve acting out of habits of heart, mind, and life. They are 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 communicate values in all subjects by how we teach and learn. We can provide opportunities to explore the issues and values that subjects raise, and consider with students how the skills and knowledge they gain can be combined with virtues in order to serve others. Use stories of people who have pursued the virtues in their lives in subjects such as English, history, modern languages, art, and drama. Look at the structure of lessons we teach: Do they encourage the exercise of virtues by their structure? For example, does the structure encourage patience? Look at what we reward.
22. …toward healing brokenness and seeking justice
However we understand the story of Genesis, one thing is clear: the world is not now as God intended. We now live in a 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: missing the mark, disobedience, twisting (as in bending the truth). Jesus came to heal the brokenness of our world and to deal with human sin, which he did through his obedience, death, and resurrection. 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 for justice to “roll like a river,” and God’s justice shows itself in acting on behalf of the powerless. Jesus welcomed the marginalized and rejected, whom others had labeled “sinners.”
As teachers we can highlight justice, sin, brokenness, and healing across the curriculum. Plan using justice as part of an objective where it fits the material, such as when looking at some nineteenth-century abolitionists. Be intentional and focus on these concepts in a text, a period in history, within communities, in relationships, or in a work of art. Let them frame the whole lesson or unit. Give students the opportunity to take part in creating justice, such as taking part in a campaign or running a fair trade stall.
23. …toward encouragement and working for change
Christians are called to be encouragers so that change happens. God is called the “God of all encouragement,” and the Bible calls people to encourage each other. Encouragement means focusing on others, being unselfish in praise, and making a point of noticing what others do. We are also called to be agents of change, but it is easy to be become discouraged if we try to do things in our own strength and as individuals rather than as a community working in the power of the Holy Spirit. Far from giving up on the world, Christians believe the decisive battle with evil was won by Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection. Evil is still active but will not triumph. The cross is hope for the world, not just individuals. This faith brings both hope and realism; we live in a broken world, and things will be difficult but—with God—not impossible. The gospel message is about a way of living that says to our world, “It does not have to be like this.”
Encouragement can be something practiced across school life, and being agents of change relates to many subjects, including history, geography, civics or health, information technology, and science. Explore small community groups that bring about change in their local environment. Think carefully about the language you use: Do students get the impression that it’s hopeless and things will never change, or are you overly optimistic? Look for ways in which students can appropriately work for concrete changes in your school or community.
24. …toward giving and serving others
Jesus took the word servant and gave it a new and radical meaning, using it to define leadership and greatness. He made it clear that those who are greatest in the kingdom of God are those who serve God and others, and he demonstrated this by washing his disciples’ feet. Giving is a strong motif in the Bible, and John’s gospel says that God expressed his love for the world by giving his only Son; in response, God calls for generosity to others. Giving to the poor and needy is accepted as done to Christ, and Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Wealth is seen positively in the Bible when it is gained justly, matched by generosity, and not put before others and God. The attitude of the Bible is summed up in Luke’s gospel: we are not defined by what we own.
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 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. Students might give of their skills or time to other students as part of learning. Use examples of people who serve, such as scientists; many use their knowledge to serve others. Find appropriate ways to give status to serving in the school.