'' W I T H G O D A L L T H I N G S A R E P O S S I B L E ''
A SPECIAL NOTE ON CHRISTIANITY AND EDUCATION
Donnette A. Norman
-Wolmer’s High School for Girls.
Dr James Kennedy (1994), in his book “What if Jesus had never been born” reminds us that:
The idea of education for everybody grew directly out of the Reformation.The word of God reveals that He is not a respecter of persons. In His sight, all men are equal, and should to be treated with love and respect and given opportunities to fulfill their potential.
The Sunday School movement, for example, was founded by Robert Raikes in Glouchester, England was to provide Bible-oriented schooling for poor children who otherwise would not have received it. Thus, the first Sunday school began in 1780 amidst much opposition. This movement began with children from the lower-class in a kitchen and has spread throughout the world. Vacation Bible School has also helped significantly, to educate our youths about their Creator, impart needed values and harness their energies for the glory of God.
Christian missionaries around the world have made significant contribution to the codifying of languages to help people to develop reading skills. Today many Missionaries continue to educate people all around the world.
Almost every one of the first 123 colleges and universities in the U.S. had Christian origins. They were started by Christians for ministerial training and to equip their students with a clear understanding of theological concepts. Harvard, Yale, William and Mary, Brown, Princeton, New York University, North Western University to name a few. Every collegiate institution founded in the colonies prior to the Revolutionary war, except the University of Pennsylvania was established by some branch of the Christians church.
Here In Jamaica, many of our schools were started by God-fearing men and women, who led the way in the establishment of a solid foundation for our education system in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Wolmer's being the oldest school in the West Indies (founded on May 21, 1729) had among its headmasters in the early years Anglican priests who as servants of God addressed helped to provide solutions for many of the social ills of their day. The school was the battleground on which many victories for the deliverance of our nation were fought and won. This was in the midst of much social turmoil. We are all aware that the social history of our nation evolved into a classical slave plantation society with its class, colour and anti-Semitic prejudices. For Wolmer’s as for so many of our schools it was our God-fearing teachers who stood up for truth, equality and justice; and who still need to stand up today in a country that is being described as a paradise gone wrong.
The following is an excerpt from The Legacy of a Goldsmith- A history of Wolmer's Girls’ School (1929-2003, 89) written by Patrick E Bryan (2004), Stephenson’s Litho Press Ltd.
The education offered by Wolmer's in 1837 when Latrobe wrote his report was such that students could continue without difficulty to England. It has been observed that much attention was devoted to Religious Knowledge at Wolmers a feature which was also reflected in the appointments of the Church of England and well affected by the Protestant succession. In fact, of the 26 principals at the school during the 18-19th century 13 were ordained ministers of the Anglican clergy. Occasionally lay persons were hired to teach Psalmody. In 1857, it is recorded that students had to attend school on Saturdays between the hours of 9 am- 12 noon for catechetical instructions. Much of the values taught to our children were from the word of God.”
Unfortunately, many schools moved away from the light of God, as education became public and eventually secularized. Today, we see the effect of this in many of our educational institutions in Jamaica and around the world. We see much lack of resources, negative attitudes, homosexuality, pornography, drugs, teenage pregnancy, pervading lawlessness, hostility, and violence present in many schools. These are all signs of the times. However, in the midst of this, it is still God’s will that the knowledge/experience of the truth in all areas of our lives will positively affect our productivity and free us from these ills. Our youth need more examples of truth, love and consistency. The answer lies in wholeheartedly turning to God for more creative strategies to empower us and our children to maximize their potential and fulfill their destinies. This is imperative, as true fulfillment only comes from a discovery of and agreement with God’s intelligent design for our lives. Our sincere prayer is that, God would graciously give us vision and true wisdom as we continue to serve in the field of education.
A Passionate Call To Teach
By Verona Williams-Thompson
“To teach is to change a life forever”. These were the boldly written words that my eyes were fixated on, as I walked toward my faculty to begin what would become a four-year journey of meticulous training and development. As I walked along the corridors of the Faculty of Education at the University of Technology, my mind reminisced on the day the first spark of a God-given dream was ignited in my heart, from a childlike perspective. I was only seven years old, playing with my dolls and with a passion so real I ran to my mother and told her “Mom, I want to be a teacher!” Of course the added influence to this was a wonderful teacher I had, whom I loved and admired and who reciprocated the sentiments by showing love and care to me and taught with such excitement, confidence and excellence. This dream was held dear to my heart and as I moved through each stage of my educational development; I always came in contact with some special teachers who exemplified the traits that I admired.
The thoughts that bathed my mind as I continued along the corridors were also of the challenges I encountered along the way to realizing my dream. The dream was tested. The detours I made in terms of other academic pursuits brought challenges that tested the authenticity of my call. The successes and failures experienced taught me the wisdom encapsulated in this one thought: “Never give up on a dream that God has planted in your heart – if you pursue it, it will come to fruition”.
Four years later, sitting in my graduation ceremony, my heart was enthralled by all the experiences of the journey and the milestone achievement that opened up another chapter of my development. I knew the task would be great and so would be the challenges, but my heart rested in the beauty of the fact that I was dedicated to realizing a God-given dream.
Today I am a working in the field of education as a teacher. There are challenges and every day there is room for growth and development in the gift that I have given myself over to, but it is worth it. To be graced with the responsibility of shaping and molding lives is not only a sensitive call and a gift, but the calling that has rewards attached to it that surpasses natural accolades. If done with a God-type excellence it will reap rewards now and in eternity.
My encouragement to persons with the same dream is that there are limitless avenues to explore in the education field. Whether you teach for a season or on a long-term basis, in whichever area or aspect you teach, never give up on the dream that God has planted in you. The challenges that are existent in the call are just the ‘weights’ that will cause the ‘muscles’ of your gift to grow and be strengthened. When we allow Christ, the Master Teacher, to teach through us, there is no natural thing that can match the internal satisfaction of positively touching lives. Keep your calling to teach a rich passionate one!