A challenge that we face as a Christian school is developing and maintaining a shared understanding of what it is to be a Christian school. Often, and by this I mean weekly, I encounter people who speak of Christian schooling as though there is one universal approach across Christian schools. My experience of the Christian church is that there are shared beliefs, but different practices. One church may express a part of the Christian faith slightly different to another. One church may focus more on the Holy Spirit, for example, than another. Yet despite diversity of Christian expression, there is one Church. Likewise, Christian schools vary from each other in their practice. Our type of Christian school, that is a Christian Education National school, has foundation beliefs that include God’s sovereignty or Christ’s Lordship over all of life, and a strong emphasis on parental partnership (hence parental governance through the Association). A few comments in the Community Health Audit last year suggested that we, as a College, too readily connected learning with God. While the connection of our Christian faith with a particular part of the curriculum may at times be a little less developed than it should, our belief in Christ’s lordship over all of life means that the curriculum (a part of life) should be connected to God.
At the end of last term, I sat in on a Secondary School Staff Meeting where Ms Cloherty was illustrating how she was connecting her Year 10 Mathematics Probability unit with the Biblical Story. As I sat there I was thinking, “this is exactly what we need to see!” Learning is more than imparting abstract facts that are part of a rational scientific humanistic world that looks to exclude God. To our College, God is not a God of Sundays. Rather, through all we do we are to encourage our students to understand what it is to live a life before God… a life where everything matters and can be understood as acts of worship to our Creator. When a teacher speaks and teaches about our Christian faith outside of our Biblical Studies program, some students and some parents do not understand why. What I was pleased with the Year 10 Probability Project was that in one home when a student spoke to his/her parent about the assignment, they looked at it together and that parent reinforced the importance of connecting faith in learning… it was their reason for a Bayside Christian College education!
Developing practice consistent with our beliefs is not easy. In an Australian academic paper entitled Models of Christian Education it states:
A staff development program therefore needs to consider the ongoing support of staff as they grapple with what it means to be a Christian educator… Many are dualistic. They form a false distinction between what is sacred, that is ‘church’, reading the Bible, praying and other forms of church and para-church Christian ministry, and the rest of functioning in God’s world, which they see as a secular domain. Staff need assistance to integrate their thinking such that they live all of life in the presence of God and in active service of Him. (Collier, 2013)
To support our teaching staff in their Christian teaching, we are training them through one day workshops, conferences and curriculum meetings, as well as offering them an opportunity to study a Master of Education with our national training arm, the National Institute for Christian Education.
A sign of authenticity in Christian schooling for Bayside Christian College is when our practice matches our beliefs. Purpose 2 states: "nurturing in students the development of a Biblical understanding of the world and of life". We achieve this through a curriculum which bears the marks of a Creator God who loved us so much He sent His own son to be sacrificed for us all.
A curriculum which points to Christ requires work and understanding. We’d appreciate your prayers and support.