Paul Marshall’s book by the same name and “Work, Play, Love” by Mark Shaw are the two books that have inspired this column.
One of the reasons that I am so excited about schools moving into the direction of projects, expeditions or connecting learning to ‘real work that serves a real need for a real audience’ is the match between that kind of learning and the hope that we have for this good earth. Some Christians seem to believe that our hope is actually beyond this earth….a place we call heaven, a place somewhere other than the world. This belief seems to suggest that we have been created for something other than the earth. In reading Scripture however, it talks about a new heaven AND a new earth when our Lord returns. Our work on this good earth is to be agents of God’s Kingdom just as the Lord’s Prayer states….”your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are called to cherish God, his good creation, our neighbours and ourselves.
If our focus is on an escape from this life….this earthy existence…then we really wouldn’t be overly concerned with justice or mercy or hoping to bring shalom. We would be concerned about our own purity/sanctification rather than on the collective work of being agents of God’s purpose through institutions/organizations and movements. However, if we have been called to act as God’s agents, we are all (children and adults) called to DO something. This doing must be something that is done with humility and with hope. This doing would not be done in a triumphal way or with ego. Our call as educators would be to live as creative agents of formational learning experiences or creative constructors of projects/expeditions/learning with our students; and these ways would challenge us to re-think and re-imagine the “what” and the “how” of education.
Our work in the classroom matters and so must our students’ work. Can we imagine work as play and play as work? Can we imagine loving this good earth and our neighbours (no matter where we find them) as the most important embodiment of our love of God and Jesus Christ? Can our learning in schools be faith-formational by connecting what we learn to how we serve? Can the hard work (the 10,000 hours of apprenticeship in whatever area of life) of our students be imagined in ways where students take leadership (of their own learning)? These are the questions that continue to intrigue and move me forward in my own thinking about Christian education. I invite you to revisit Paul Marshall’s book and pick up Mark Shaw’s and perhaps put them on your Christmas book wish list!