Tag Archives: Christian school

Combating Racism in the Christian Classroom

I am always disappointed when I hear negative comments about the Christian community ignoring social issues such as racism. It happens in our churches, but we ignore it. It happens in our culture and in our world, yet we do not necessarily equip our youth to see it for what it is and do something about it.

Christian school teachers, in my opinion, are even more called to train their students to understand racism in all of its ugly forms, not as an outside entity (It happens “over there” to “some people” in “other places”), but as a continuous process of stereotyping, negative attitudes and discriminatory perceptions. Why is this part of our mission? It is an issue that it NOT political; it is a matter of ethics. Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, we can appreciate the fact that a black American has finally made it to the Presidency and celebrate that fact by encouraging our youth to take advantage of education opportunities. We can take it upon ourselves to motivate our students to develop positive identities and role models within the African American community.

As a little white girl from rural Western NY, it is difficult for me at times to believe that I have a voice in helping to stop racism. I’m tempted to just say, “What do I know about racism? I’m one of the privileged majority. What right do I have to draw the attention of my multicultural students to the dangerous mindsets that perpetuate racism? Don’t they already know more than I do about these issues?” In this sense, it is not about white or black–we all have a part and a duty to train students to see clearly. Yes, my students may have had more personal experiences concerning racism. But it doesn’t necessarily make them mature thinkers in terms of how to react to these experiences and how to pinpoint how they affected their identity and their responses to society.

The interesting part is that in one of my very multicultural classrooms, where each student comes from a different ethnic/regional background, I found my students making blanket statements such as, “Black people create their own stereotypes” or “If they don’t receive a quality education, it is their own fault.” Now that my students have opened the can of worms dialogue, how can I guide them toward appreciating African American culture? These discussions came as a result of reading Zora Neale Hurston’s book Their Eyes Were Watching God and I found myself growing discouraged. What is the point of introducing such a beautiful, lyrical, important multicultural text if my students just aren’t “getting” it?

The solution to this problem that I am pondering right now is to get together some of the variety of women from the U.S., Panama and other Latin American countries who have successfully established themselves in a career field. My preference would be to choose a variety of women who come from different economic brackets, who can not only speak on the African-American female experience in a way that is relevant to the novel, but can also open up dialogue from personal experience concerning racism and how it has affected them. Will this work? I certainly hope so. Feel free to respond with your own ideas or comments.

One thing is for sure in my mind. Whenever students believe that racism is dead in their particular area of the world, or that it is someone else’s problem and not their problem, we cannot in good conscience permit that mindset to go unanswered. The danger lies in pretending that simply because we do not perceive aspects of racism or that it is not as visible in certain regions as in others that it has simply erased itself from society. How can we motivate students in the black community to rise above racism and believe in their own achievement? How can we encourage students to take advantage of educational opportunities offered to them instead of thinking, “That’s not for someone like me.” How can we show that we believe in our students, regardless of their racial background?

Let’s make our Christian school students aware of the issues around them, instead of just ignoring them because we believe they might be outside of their personal experience. We don’t stop teaching the Holocaust simply because we don’t happen to have any Jewish students in the classroom, so let’s not take teaching multicultural literature for granted.


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Why Teach in a Christian School?

For some of us, teaching in a Christian school inspired a variety of reactions from friends and family. Some accepted it and supported us in our decisions. Others thought we were crazy and trying to brainwash children. For those of us who traveled overseas, the responses were even more varied. Believe it or not, an African-American man in a bi-racial relationship actually told me that he didn’t believe in American teachers going overseas because “we had plenty of kids that needed teachers in the U.S.” It definitely made me think of the values of a multicultural and international education. I will clarify that this site is for supporting ALL Christian teachers, including those who do teach in the public school arenas. There is, indeed, a need for Christian teachers in our public schools, and it is a calling in an of itself that deserves respect. However, it wasn’t necessarily the answer for all of us.

So why did you make the choice to become a Christian school teacher? And why do you continue teaching in a Christian school? What is the draw? What are the pros and cons? Feel free to share your thoughts here to inspire others who may be thinking about a career in Christian school education.

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Members of the Same Body–Teamwork in a Christian School

Today I had the immense privilege of participating in a Volunteer Appreciation Night at my school. I know that in public schools, the PTA help out in many ways through fundraising activities and other volunteer work. Our parent association is brand new and definitely fledgling. However, I have been so impressed with how much our parents give of their time, money and energy simply out of love for their kids and dedication to our school. We held two major fundraising events this year–one was a fall fair that included games and activities, and the other was a Walkathon held in a local park. Due to the money we raised, we were able to project the purchase of a laptop and projector for every single classroom. I am stunned at the generosity of our parents in terms of participation in these events, considering that THEY were the ones who organized them both! In the past, we teachers have had more responsibilities in these events. We had to come up with games, force our classes to participate and stay really, really late at night to clean up. But all that changed, and it turned out that they did an even better job than we have ever done! In a short devotional, I expressed to them my understanding that we as educators, administration and parents are all members of the same body–blessed with different functions, but united together in the same goal.

So, in this blog, I would especially like to focus on the fact that as Christian school teachers, whether in public, private or homeschools, we are all “members of the same body,” so to speak. We all fulfill very important roles in the education of kids and in society itself. It is time for those who are Christian educators to stop focusing on their differences and divisions and to start uniting together toward a common goal. It is time for public school teachers to stop insulting homeschooling as an option. It is time for public school teachers to stop denigrating the education that a Christian school might offer. It is time for Christian private school teachers to stop generalizing about the “evils” of all public schools. The truth of the matter is that we all have chosen our particular path for a reason and we all have an opportunity to fulfill God’s purpose. Let’s begin praying for each other to only increase our dedication for the academic and spiritual success of our students. Let’s begin helping each other by sharing our knowledge, our expertise and our experiences. Let’s encourage one another to keep trying to change the world, one student at a time.

When I first began writing this blog, it was simply as a way for me to connect my love of writing with my love of teaching in a wonderful Christian school. I never planned on becoming a Christian school teacher. In fact, I assumed my sophomore and most of my junior year in college, that I would eventually choose a public school. But God knew where I belonged and changed my plans. I feel as though this blog is the same way. I originally wanted it to be a networking site where we can share the nitty-gritty day-to-day stuff of teaching and bring each other the resources that we may not be able to find elsewhere. But in the end, I want it to be more than your average “Find-A-Lesson-Plan” website. I want it to be a place where we can safely and openly discuss our faith and how it applies to our teaching. I want it to be a place where we can feel less isolated from each other and realize that there are more of us out there than it may seem upon first glance. I want it to be a place where we can bind together differences and make the most of what God has given us. Idealistic? Perhaps. But what are Christian teachers if we are not idealists? If we do not continually hope in Christ’s ability to transform lives, we have become cynics. And the world already has plenty of those.


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