During the last day of the ECCEN conference in Apeldoorn lector Bram de Muynck presented a new publication for Christian teacher. In his speech, he gave some thoughts about the importance of Bible study for education.
It is my privilege to offer you a present, which will be given to you after the concluding session of this afternoon. I am talking about a little book which we published specially for teachers. It contains 40 Bible studies. The book is written by staff members of Driestar Christian University and is edited by the Christian teaching lectorate of Driestar University. The idea behind this publication is simply expressed by its title: A light for our path (Psalm 119:105). We believe that the Word of God can be a light for the professional path of a Christian teacher. Reading a few words and meditating on it, can guide you through the day or through the week.
We initially published this book in Dutch. However, we received such a positive response, that we decided to publish an English edition. Teachers have said that the book is useful for several practical reasons.
Firstly, the texts are short, which is appreciated because the time teachers have is limited. Every meditation consists of about 500 (max. 600) words, which means it can be read in 5 minutes. Secondly, each meditation is followed by questions for meditation or for discussion if used in groups. And thirdly, the usefulness of the book is enhanced by the inclusion of a list of key words for when you are looking for a specific topic. For the first day at school, for instance, you will find a Bible study about 1 Samuel 1, which tells the story of Samuel being brought to the tabernacle in Shiloh. If you look for a meditation about excellence in teaching, you will find a Bible study about Daniel.
A school principal
The short length of each meditation does not mean that the texts are superficial or simple. We all tried hard to write with solidity and profoundness. Last Monday I interviewed a school principal who used the Dutch edition of this book and I asked him whether he believed this was achieved. Is it true that using such a book is like following a light on your path? Or is the title of this little book just an aspiration, a desire? I asked him how he used the book and how it was received. He said: ‘Well, to be honest, I can’t really measure that, because the work in the Kingdom of God can’t be measured. But I can tell you something about what I have observed.’ I would like to share a few of his observations.
Connection within the school team
First of all, reading the Bible and meditating upon it with the help of a guide fosters the connection in the school team. When people speak about the Bible they open up their hearts to each other. This enhances the atmosphere in the team. While doing so, they learn that there is no danger in showing vulnerability. When one member of the group is open to the others, other group members are invited to join and to share their feelings. This also affects the way people learn from each other in different situations, such as in peer consultation, a method by which teachers observe each other’s lessons. Once they realize they can be open to each other during Bible study, they find it easier to be more open and honest in the classroom too.
Bible reading for your vocation
We should not underestimate the significance of the consequences of studying the Bible within the school. The example of the school principal shows that the Holy Spirit is working in its own way. The Spirit cares for the impact of the Word in classroom practice. I also asked this principal about the difference of doing a Bible study with your team compared to a Bible study in your church congregation. His answers unveil something about spirituality and professionalism.
’We are professionals with the same background. We have the same experiences in our job and the same understandings. We share the same professional interest. In a Bible study with your school team you don’t speak about the congregation, the difficulties you experience with your own prayers, the preaching in your church or the practical affairs in your family, but you speak about problems on how to deal with a stubborn pupil, for instance, or how to manage your class with patience, how to be hospitable to parents, and all that within Christian values.’
The focus of interest differs. The difference is that you are not speaking for you own spiritual well-being, but about the well-being of your pupils. You have a societal task: the future of your pupils is at stake’.
Who can use this book?
The book can be used by teachers individually or in groups. It is not only suitable for teachers working at Christian schools, but also for Christian teachers working at other schools, where sharing the gospel is not permitted. May the Lord bless the reading and reflection.