Impacting Education in Kolkata
In 2014, YWAM Perth’s Christian Education ministry conducted several teacher training seminars in Kolkata, India during the Megacities outreach to that city. Later, a Catholic school invited our ministry to come back and run additional seminars for the teachers. Approximately 350 teachers, as well as students from the teacher training college, showed up!
The Catholic schools in Kolkata employ many Hindu teachers. But the school administrator told us to be open in sharing the gospel. She encouraged us by saying, “Don’t apologise for Jesus”. She even checked up on us halfway through the week to make sure we really were sharing the gospel.
In the seminar, we taught on how to use biblical values and beliefs as a foundation for the classroom. Some of our questions to the teachers were:
1. What is the goal of education?
2. Do we have a healthy view of ourselves and the students?
3. Are we dealing with our own wounds from education?
4. How can we value students as Jesus would?
One teacher, Dominica, talked about her primary school math teacher. She claimed that he discouraged and degraded her because she didn’t do well with that subject. The teacher even grabbed her math book and threw it across the room. So she sat in the back of the class attempting addition, subtraction, and multiplication to get the right answer but she couldn’t do it. Dominica realised as an adult that she still hates math because of the negative experience she had with that teacher. She realised as we spoke, that now she has to deal with that attitude in order to help her own daughter with math homework.
The teacher seminar was also designed to help teachers discover the uniqueness of each child and to make God the centre of all learning. By following Jesus’ model of the servant teacher, we provide an example for our students so they can develop a Christ-centred attitude. Keeping in mind the story of the good shepherd, teachers need to be the shepherd looking for the lost student. Jesus welcomed the children and us as teachers should create an atmosphere in the class where children feel welcome and want to be there.
Setting the example
If we want to see a change in our students, we also must first set the example. Just as solid roots are important to have a strong tree, so too, must teachers first incorporate Christ-centred principles into our own lives, before expecting to see them bear fruit in our students.
After the seminar, some of the teachers commented to us how we might have met opposition in speaking so freely about Jesus if we had been confrontational in our instruction. But through our relational approach, bridges of connection were created so that they could openly receive the gospel. It was great to see them receiving the truth and to be so excited about applying it in the classroom.
Dominica had this to say about the seminar:
“We’ve had a lot of workshops from professionals, very educated people, but this was different because you incorporated the Bible into every aspect of teaching. It was clear and simple, easy for me to understand. You hit the nail on the head.”