Despite having half-term in the last fortnight, and Nicky Morgan going off on one about turning failing schools into academies (again!), plus a vast amount of thinking about the direction of this current government, the role of goodness in schooling and what it means for humans to flourish in an economically just society, I don’t seem to have found time to write. I have been re-reading, as part of all this, Bringing it to the Table and What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth, both by Wendell Berry, and Towards an Economic Democracy by DJ Davies, written in 1949 as an exposition of Plaid Cymru’s post-war economic policy. This latter work is absolutely captivating, full of good sense about the role of a nation’s culture in its economic life, and one of the best expositions of cooperative economics that you could wish for. I have also been re-reading some of the stories in That Distant Land by Berry – and I need to write about a new slant on the role of good work again. This theme is not going to go away and may become a major part of all of our thinking at Christ the Sower in the future. In addition to all this, I am still re-drafting the first two chapters of what I hope will be a useful Grove Booklet in the next year or so, and trying to flesh out the theological parameters that I believe the teaching of Jesus has for the schooling of children. The impact of what Jesus meant in John 10:10 on the economic life of a nation and on the economic expectations of the gospel for the way that man behaves or could behave in community has for too long been dominated by the doctrine of orginal sin, and has not allowed the scope for man to grow under God with a different view of repentance from that usually touted by evangelical thought. We must return to this later too.
Right now I am in northern Holland, with 25 other teachers from across Europe, guests of the Openbare Basis School (OBS) Fugelflecht in Franeker, Fryslan. We have spent the evening as guests of Anneke Sinnema and her family, the most wonderfully hospitable group of people you could imagine. Anneke has been a stalwart of our project since it began in 2012, and to meet at her lovely home with 35 others in the sunshine of a June evening was really special, and something that got this particular Project Visit off to a lovely start.It has been an interesting and challenging day – watching the articulated attitudes of young people, hearing the love of teachers here for their land as well as for their children, and just enjoying the culturally varied debate around language (Nederlands v Fryske), curriculum (maths and English/Dutch v the rest), art and faith.
This visit marks the final time we will be together to plan and work on the project we began back in 2013. However, it does not mean the end of the work, and there will be some hard talking needing doing if all partners are going to contribute in the way we need each other to do. The deadline is September and there is much work to be done to round off, complete and write a final report that will summarise the learning and progress we have made with and on behalf of the children.