“…Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these…” Mark Chapter 10, Verse 14 NIV.
If you’ve read my bio, you’ll know I’m studying to be a teacher. These past two weeks, I have been on what we call ‘prac’ (practicum experience). Essentially, I have been at a school and, under the close eye of a mentor, teaching students. During this time, I have kept my eyes open and watched children and, with a Christian perspective, had some thoughts on the nature of children and education in general.
The exception proves the rule
One crisp morning, I had a bit of time to myself on the school grounds. I chose to spend this morning simply walking around and listening. What I heard was chatter, jokes, laughter, joy, and a few choice swear words. At the last, my eyebrow raised and my upper lip curled in disgust. ‘Just where do children learn these words?’ I wondered.
The answer is from us, but I’m not here to analyse the problem on a macro scale. What I realised is that, in the case of children, the exception proves the rule. When we see a group of trees, and one of them is an unhealthy, oozy, disgusting colour, that one tends to stand out. When children are born, they are pure and good (we can argue original sin some other time), and just like the ill tree produces unhealthy sap, so too does it stand out when a child is producing unhealthy life.
Nature and nurture
“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” Proverbs Chapter 22, verse 6 NRSV.
Let’s keep thinking of trees. When a tree is planted, if everything is as needs be, the tree will grow to a good state – that of health and fruitfulness. However, should the tree encounter opposition in its growth – say it is planted in an unideal environment, something hinders its sunlight, or someone accidentally steps on it when it is young, this tree may fail to grow into the state it was meant to become.
You no doubt see what I’m getting at. My belief is that when a child is born, they are, in some sense, on a path to become the person they will become. But when they are hindered, when they are in an unideal environment, they are twisted and corrupted and their nature is never grown.
I asked specifically this prac to be sent to a state school – I had never experienced one from an educational perspective – and I have learned so much in the past few weeks. My mentor and I were walking and talking when she made an observation.
In a private school, there is a sense that the children are ‘taken care of’ at home; for the parents to be able to afford private education in the first place, they are clearly in a steady socio-economic place. For children in a public school, in a majority of cases, there are a lot of problems at home. This means for these children, one of the most consistent things they have is school. A lot of these children don’t have anyone on their side or to speak into their lives; their parents send them to school to be babysat.
What are we as teachers then if not farmers? A lot of these children are not in soil that will see them grow into their potential state, so I believe that we should be out in the fields; watering the seeds, killing the weeds, and nurturing their nature.
Josiah Gray lives in Logan City, Australia. He is currently studying teaching at Christian Heritage College and is committed to telling the story of Jesus to the next generation. Josiah’s previous articles may be viewed at: https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josiah-gray.html