Grade 3 students at a Christian independent school in British Columbia regularly clean the lanes of the school’s neighbours.
At Immanuel Christian School in Oshawa, students have adopted a portion of the nearby road. They make sure to keep it free of trash.
Dutch university student Anetta Scheurwater says it’s these sorts of activities that surprised her most about the two Canadian Christian schools she has just finished studying.
Through interviews with teachers and students, studying the school curriculum and observing various classes, Scheurwater was looking to find out if and how the schools are teaching responsible citizenship.
She discovered they are, and not just on paper.
“There are quite some community service projects at the schools,” she says.
“It makes the students aware of the fact that wherever you are, you can start changing a tiny bit of the world, and your actions can help,” she says, adding she hasn’t seen a similar focus in the Dutch schools she has visited.
Scheurwater says she believes other schools can learn a lot from these two Canadian schools.
“I mean, in science you can talk about taking care of the Earth and recycling as much as possible but honestly, what effect does it have on students if you throw all your paper leftovers away?” she says.
“Projects like an environmental club, cleaning lanes of the neighbourhood (and) gathering food for the food bank would make a good addition (to other schools).”
Scheurwater also says she would like to see other schools weaving Christian values into their curriculum, as she was excited to see Immanuel Christian School has done.
“I found the curriculum of ICS very exciting, which is funny, because I hate reading through unit books and huge binders with information,” she says.
“But the course outlines for science studies and social studies just amazed me. From the very first grade on, it had objectives like making students aware that we have to take care of God’s creation and the earth.”
She was also intrigued to see the students “having fun and being excited about what they learned.”
“The lessons at ICS were just fun and interesting,” she says.
Scheurwater says she would love to see her study inspire principals and schools in the Netherlands to think about how they could tweak their curricula and attitudes to focus more on serving the local community.
“I’d love to go back to Holland, get some principals to arrange a visit to ICS and (the B.C. school), and get some perspectives changed,” she says.
Whether or not that happens, the research has definitely changed her own life, says Scheurwater.
“I want to try and be a better community member,” she says, noting her dream is to work with recently formed schools in developing countries.