Formerly the principal of St Andrew’s Secondary School and St Andrew’s Junior College, Mrs Belinda Charles is no stranger in the education sphere. Today she continues to mentor school leaders who mould the nation’s future.
My Christian faith has enabled me to see every student and every teacher as a human being created by God – each with special gifts from Him.
It wasn’t easy however, coming as I did with all the prejudices and perspectives the world had clothed me with. Taking these lenses off so I could see things a bit more like how God sees, took a long time and a lot of heart work.
But of course, not everyone sees things from a Christian point of view. Pushback comes when perspectives clash.
As I formerly ran a mission school, I always found it sad when people valued the good work done by the school – respected its traditions and missionary heritage – but could not bring themselves to acknowledge God’s hand in all of it.
That always brought me back to the wise Chinese saying of always remembering the source of one’s water: 饮水思源.
One of the clearest instances of pushback I recall was when there was a lot of public pressure not to insist on students attending chapel as part of the school experience.
I always found it sad when people valued the good work done by the school, but could not bring themselves to acknowledge God’s hand in all of it.
But besides that, there were no other huge objections. No one objects when in our daily prayers, we ask for God’s protection and God’s blessing on all our students.
Every student as far as I know appreciates the school prayers for the student population during examinations and many, not necessarily Christians, will even ask for such prayers.
When teaching about sexuality, we hold to the Christian belief in the sanctity of marriage and also in abstinence. As these are conservative tenets we encounter no pushback from parents, especially since the students are still so young.
The emotions of infatuation or falling in love are difficult enough to manage as a teenager, and parents agree that these crucial years are not helped by a sexual relationship which would impact the student’s psyche. Furthermore, there is a high chance it will impact the student’s studies negatively.
Ultimately, every student and every teacher is a valued human being created by God. His grand design was that all mankind should live in love and harmony with God and with each other.
This was marred when Adam made the choice to want to be as wise as God. That birthed a spirit of competition and comparison.
This is mirrored in the world today where mankind believes in the survival of the fittest. Getting grades as good as or better than others is a symptom of this.
Yet researchers, not necessarily Christian, have found time and again that people can thrive, and thrive even better when they work together.
This spirit of collaboration is made much of today, but if the headway is not much, it is because it has been ingrained into mankind that one must look after oneself first.
Researchers have similarly found that the student who helps another student finds himself learning better. As Christians, this is what we too need to espouse – the need to build community and to care for each other.
In schools, this takes the form of building a sense of belonging so that students feel they are part of a school community that gives them identity and gives them an opportunity to give back.
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