John Pritchard, the key author of this book, is the former Chair of the Church of England Board of Education. He retired as Bishop of Oxford in 2014. The core of the text is his talk at the launch of the National Institute for Christian Education Research, in which he examines the contribution that Christians can make to shaping contemporary educational values. Following chapters are written by a range of educational practitioners, all of whom are engaged in the debate, and the chapters are bookended by thoughts from Trevor Cooling, Professor of the Institute.
Common to each writer is the view that education is becoming a narrowed exam-passing activity in which each child is merely, but simultaneously, a trainee economic contributor and also a trained consumer. John Pritchard calls for Christian teachers to adopt a distinctively Christian approach to what they do, focused clearly on the narrative of the life of Jesus. He offers definitions of a human child in a Christian context and of community as seen from a Christian education perspective.
Successive contributors offer insights into how this can work in practice, as well as sounding a clear warning about the fragile position of the Christian faith in a national context which continues to embrace its values whilst systematically divorcing them from the faith in which they should be centred.
John Pritchard ends his chapter by pointing out that as Christians we are fortunate to have both a clear rationale for what we do and also a clear point of reference in Christ. He exhorts us to ‘seek human flourishing for every child of God through holistic educational practice’ knowing that the means of achieving it is through Jesus who said, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10 NIV).
Other writers consider the purpose and function that underpin our church schools, making them inclusive and distinctive; the role of church schools in developing character, and the role of Christian educators in creating communities which nurture wellbeing.
Although only 26 pages in length, this book provokes a great deal of thought about what it means to be distinctively Christian teachers and schools in an education service dominated by individualist and materialist ideologies.
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