“In The Beginning Was The Word” from the album His Story recorded by Ross Gil
Being a teacher I obviously believe that teaching is of the utmost importance; apart from anything else it influences what we believe and what we believe affects what we do and how we behave. This is a massive area but I’ve been thinking of something in particular – how what we are taught affects the type of Christmas card we send. Now this may seem really petty but it may have more significance than one would first think.
There are cards that depict snowy winter scenes, presents around Christmas trees, Santa Claus and reindeers. Some are not really connected to Christmas at all (I had one of the face of a horse!) and of course there are the “religious ones” portraying the Nativity, the Angels, Shepherds and Wise Men. I would suggest that the majority of people who choose to send cards relating to the birth of Christ believe that this is the most important of the Christmas messages. So if beliefs surrounding Christmas are, indeed affected by what we are taught then from whom is the teaching received? The answer could be parents, other members of the family or friends. It could be the Church by way of, for example Sunday school. But what about those places which are specifically responsible for teaching – our schools?
In my job I visit Primary schools all over Hampshire and our diverse educational system always intrigues me. In 2011, about one third of the 20,000 state funded Primary schools in England were faith schools – approximately 7,000 in total, of which 68% were Church of England schools and 30% Roman Catholic.
When I walk into a faith school I am normally greeted with a Christian symbol such as a Cross or a large copy of the Lord’s Prayer. Immediately I can sense I am entering a learning environment in which teaching and learning will be based on Christian principles, with the birth of Jesus naturally central to Christmas celebrations. However in non -faith schools it would be politically incorrect and teachers could get into serious trouble if they say or do anything that could be interpreted as proselytizing.
So children in faith schools will still know all about snowy winter scenes, Santa and his reindeers and the importance of family but they will also be taught about Jesus, His birth at Christmas and His death and Resurrection at Easter. In non -faith schools, however children will know all about snowy winter scenes, Santa and his reindeers and the importance of family but they will hear no mention of Jesus – how sad, how very sad.
I appreciate the advantages of a diverse educational system but wonder if they are outweighed by the personal, social, emotional and spiritual experiences provided by schools underpinned by principles drawn from the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth? Teachings can, of course be rejected or accepted but it is surely important that children, in fact everyone, is given the opportunity to make informed decisions. I would suggest that making informed decisions relating to issues of faith is less likely for children attending non- faith schools. In addition which school a child attends seems to have little to do with choice but everything to do with the catchment area in which the child’s family lives.
This is one reason why I am so passionate about Risen! The Musical – if people don’t know the facts of Christ’s Resurrection then how can they make informed decisions as to whether or not to believe?
Anyway all at Mustard Seed Songs and Risen! The Musical wish you a most wonderful Christmas as we celebrate the birth of God’s Son.