It was wet and cold, and the power was out at home because of some wild Victorian weather as I wrote this. My laptop battery kept going for three hours. Earlier that Thursday morning I was able to send you all an SMS about school being interrupted because of the electricity being out at MECS. That was possible because I used the power system I use when I’m camping to get my home IT systems going. Working from home that morning I kept warm because of our wood heater. And as I wrote it was the last day of lockdown four (well, the last day of the most severe restrictions keeping kids away from school), but the wild weather damage was preventing our return. Many others of course have had their homes and lives completely up ended.
All this got me thinking about the idea of house and home and how a school community is like a house. So, what might that mean for us? In the New Testament the biblical Greek word for house and home and household are a single word (“oikos”). The Apostle Paul wrote, “You are God’s building. Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-10). And in 1 Timothy 3:15 he refers to Christians as God’s household (if you’re interested you can also take a look at Hebrews 3:1-6 for a bit more on this idea). If a Christian School is like a home/house/household, perhaps there are some ideas that will help us to think with fresh clarity about MECS.
Well built houses have the right foundations. We aspire of course to have biblically grounded foundations at MECS. We work toward letting the scriptures shape our worldview. But good foundations can’t simply be set and forget. Stumps can get rotten, termites can invade and before you know it, the house can begin to crumble. So, from time to time we’ll need to check those foundations.
Great houses are well designed. Their layout enables effective living. The floor plan of the house has a significant impact on life and organisation in the home. In my way of thinking through this metaphor, the floor plan and design is like our curriculum. Occasionally families have no choice about the home they live in and they have to do the best they can if that’s in a home that doesn’t quite suit. That’s perhaps a bit like having to use a mandated curriculum that creates both unwanted challenges for learning at MECS, and amazing opportunities for creative responses.
Houses that are homes are full of life. The everyday living in the home; the fun, the chores, the play, the food; I see this as our pedagogy. There are parts of teaching and learning that aren’t necessarily much fun, but like chores, they are essential. And there are aspects of teaching and learning that we love to do all the time, but if that is all that happens then like a home that is never cleaned and maintained, school can become chaotic and ineffective.
Homes are also places of romance and familial love. In my metaphor I think this is our spiritual wellbeing because it is about focused time with the loved one – Jesus. A home fully planned, organised, regimented even, may be highly efficient and the model of perfection, but if it is one that lacks love and romance it will be a dreary place that family members will resent or leave. Think the von Trapp family before Maria in The Sound of Music. Or if familial love or romantic love is experienced as a chore the impact is deadening. e.g. if devotions in class with students are imposed with rules and strictures then it will seem like a chore.
I hope my image of the House of MECS has got you thinking. I’d love to hear of any further ideas this triggers for you. And stay tuned for part two of this reflection because there is more to ponder.