“As Christians, we’re all educators,” noted Dr Phillip A. Towndrow, a teacher-educator and educational researcher, at the 14 July launch of his book, Education and Society: A Christian Vision of Public Education in Singapore, the first in the ETHOS Institute™ engagement series.
The series addresses pertinent issues in church and society from biblical and Christian perspectives, producing booklets as a resource for pastors, church leaders, and Christians in general who wish to reflect more deeply on current pressing issues.
Education happens not only at school but at home, in churches, etc. Dr Towndrow asked: “Is the Church able to provide a wider perspective of education? A different way of thinking about knowledge?”
As Christians, there are distinctives that will affect our vision of public education. For example, knowing that we are “created in God’s image gives us a basis for self-worth and an inherently positive view of ourselves and others”, instead of basing our identity on “idiosyncratic human systems of earned merit”.
The challenge, then, is to consider how we can “participate in positively influencing society from a Christian educative perspective”.
Ms Victoria Woo, a trainee teacher at the launch, had questions about how Christian teachers can integrate their faith while educating students in such a results-driven system. For her, the launch was a reminder of how it is the little things done by the teacher, such as in their response or actions to the students, that can nurture relationships which help children see value in themselves beyond the academic pressures that exist.
Mr Timothy Cheong and Ms Mak Moo Theng, who are passionate about working and volunteering to raise awareness of social issues among students, felt more churches and church leaders should be aware of the issues discussed at the book launch. They said: “Churches should listen to and look at what’s going on in schools and offices, and think about how we can do things differently. Let’s not narrow our vision of church to what goes on inside the church’s walls!”
Dr Towndrow’s booklet on Education and Society is available from The Bible Society of Singapore’s Bible Resource Centre at $15 per copy. Visit bibleresource.net/ educationandsociety to order it online.
Photo courtesy of The Bible Society of Singapore
Grace Toh is Assistant Editor of Methodist Message and has been a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church for most of her life.