Why Teach in a Christian School?
We recently posed a few questions to some current and former teachers of our school in Glasgow. Their responses highlight both the joys and challenges of the work, while emphasising the great need for more teachers in Christian schools today. Thanks to Samuel Markoff, Michelle Snell, Anna Stewart and Stephen McCollum for their participation.
What is it like teaching in a Christian school?
SMa: It is very rewarding because it offers a unique opportunity to see children grow in their faith in God and the Bible and provides a safe space for them to express their faith. I also find that I benefit in my own life from reading over God’s Word and reflecting on how I will teach it to the children as I prepare my lessons and help to develop the curriculum.
AS: For me, as a Christian, teaching in a Christian school is a very fulfilling experience. The truths of the Bible underpin all the teaching, discipline and relationships in the school. Prayer is central to fulfilling all the responsibilities, which includes private prayer with other staff and with pupils.
SMc: Teaching in a Christian school is a tremendous opportunity to shape young lives, to teach a Christian worldview, and to impart wisdom and understanding. Christian schools have the opportunity to show that God is not irrelevant to life. Practical atheism (believing God exists but is irrelevant to the curriculum) is a poor alternative to a Christian education. Teaching from a Christian perspective is exciting!
How does teaching in a Christian school compare to a state school?
MS: In a Christian school, you can live what you believe, being honest and open. You do not have to be as guarded as you would be in a state school. You also share common principles, based on the Word, with the parents.
SMc: Although the same subjects are taught as in state schools, they are taught in a different way. Our curriculum starts from a Biblical foundation and builds up. Not only is there a difference at a curricular level, but also in the school’s ethos. Is the ultimate goal of education that the children would get good exam results, an ideal career, and succeed in life? Or should we be teaching them from P1 onwards to be working for God’s glory? I believe this makes a real difference to every day education.
SMa: In a Christian school, we can pray with the children and parents and approach any problems or issues in the light of God’s Word, which makes a big difference.
What are the challenges of teaching in a Christian school?
AS: Lack of funding and, as a result, lack of resources can be a challenge in a Christian school when fees are kept to a minimum. However, it has to be said, God always provides when we pray and has never left us without the necessary means for the school. It could be that confusing our wants with our needs leads to this challenge!
SMc: Teaching in a Christian school has its fair share of challenges. Sometimes people think that because the school is Christian this means there are no behavioural issues. That is a wrong assumption. Every school has pupils who misbehave or don’t want to learn. The Bible teaches us that all of us are born with sin, whether from a Christian family or not. The great thing about a Christian school is that we can use Scripture to work through such problems, which is something I have seen done very effectively.
MS: In a Christian school in Scotland, there are sometimes different opinions amongst the various denominations and as the teacher you need to be impartial. Also, often when children are sharing precious insights, there is an unexpected interruption or challenge, and you need to be resilient and rescue what it seems the enemy is trying to rob from the lesson.
What is the best thing about teaching in a Christian school?
SMa: I find satisfaction in knowing that we are helping parents achieve their desire to have their children taught and brought up in the ways of the Lord.
MS: It is wonderful to be able to discuss God in all aspects of the curriculum, drawing the children’s attention to the love, nature and beauty of God in all subjects. It is also exciting to hear the children’s responses to open-ended questions when they reflect on Bible stories. They are so perceptive and share such spiritual wisdom.
AS: The best thing about teaching in a Christian school is being able to work freely with other Christian staff and volunteers to teach a Christian curriculum and to train and encourage children in the ways of the Lord. This brings encouragements on a daily basis through pupil responses and development.
SMc: The best thing is when we see the instruction coming together in a pupil’s life, where they begin to make connections between what they think and the Bible. You can see their little minds working out a Christian worldview, which gives us hope that whatever career they work towards they will be able to live for Christ.