As mentioned in a recent post, some of our grandchildren are enrolled in the State education system and others in a school managed by local and committed Christian parents.
At dinner with the latter family last week my wife asked our grandson who has just started Year 7, “Who is your favourite teacher this year, Brad?” His answer came back without hesitation: “Mrs Jones!” (not their real names).
My wife has given a lot of paid and voluntary time to this school over 16 years as a former teacher, classroom assistant, tutor and Board member, but had not heard of Mrs Jones. “Who’s she?”
Our daughter and son-in-law told us that she was a new staff member, and a noteworthy one at that. Mrs Jones is a medical doctor whose children had been enrolled at a nearby “church school”, but last year she and her husband had enrolled their youngsters at “our school”. And when a part-time secondary position became available at the end of last year she had applied and been given the job. She had reduced her clinical work to Fridays only to maintain her skills and accreditation.
We could only say, “Wow!”
It soon became clear that Mrs Jones might well have been a very good GP, as she had managed to wow Brad, his classmates, and Brad’s parents – in just two weeks of school term 1. Stories about her relational and teaching skills started to tumble out – from two generations.
I was thrilled to hear of someone who was setting aside much of her long and demanding professional training and its associated benefits to teach in school run on the basis of a truly Christian set of beliefs, educational principles and ethos.
Whenever I visit a doctor I am grateful for the generally excellent medical training and service availability we have in Australia, especially when I compare my and other locals’ stories with others I hear and read, mostly from far away.
I have also been satisfied and sometimes deeply grateful for the help I have received from GPs and the occasional specialist. Working with the human body and mind is challenging and can be rich and rewarding.
But it has also saddened me that most of the doctors I have seen are less human than technocrats. Does their training, the system or the practice demand this? Does this bother them? I sometimes test them, but never do they seem able or know how to respond. And because I read many others’ stories about doctors, I’m afraid that my own observation seems to be representative. How sad. And not only for relational people like me.
Which makes me even more thankful to God that some of God’s best people have recognised medical practice for what it all-too-often is, akin to a sophisticated human sausage machine, and have chosen to work for less money and prestige in what might be termed “the school workplace”.
By any measure a school is far more than a machine, and even more so when it’s run on well-considered Christian lines. It’s hardly ever in the doctor’s surgery but in our homes and schools where lives are shaped and generational differences can be reduced, undergirded by long-term goals, educational progress, life-coaching and relationships.
Schools are special! Gifted teachers change lives!