After my last post about Small Group Communication class working with Mission Marshall, I got some questions about what communication has to do with a service project, and why we would count that as a class requirement.
So that got me thinking… an easy answer would be that the point of Small Group Communication class is to learn how to effectively work in groups, be a leader, and make your group stronger. Therefore you need a group project, and what’s better than applying your skills in a real life situation?
But that doesn’t speak to why I felt I could write about this project and class in a blog focused on integrating faith an learning in the classroom.
I’ll admit, I’m very new to the idea of talking about faith at school. You might know that I got my PhD, and a lot of my teaching experience, at the University of Kansas. Great school, but public. There was absolutely no room for religious views of any kind at school.
But, we did have Small Group Communication class, and my adviser developed this idea of connecting the class with an outside organization so that we could also make it a service project.
You did not have to teach the class that way. A board game creation project would also fit the bill.
But thinking back now, those of us who adopted the service project model all had something in common… I think we were all Christians!
We just did not talk about it. Ever.
For me, the connection between doing a service project and integrating faith and learning is clear. Didn’t God teach us that every helping hand we extend is the same as helping Him?
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’” Matthew 25:34-36
At ETBU, we talk a lot about faith in the classroom. Professors are encouraged to share their own faith stories, pray with students, and involve Bible verses as they are relevant.
We do a great job of talking the talk in the classroom.
I think all of us are also walking the walk with God, but maybe in a more private manner. How often are classes involved in feeding the hungry, or clothing the naked?
How often do we help students walk the walk in public?
When I was at KU, I was involved with a great church and felt that I was doing my best to serve others… on Sunday. Then I would return to work, where I was forbidden to share my religion in class, and leave it all behind. A good idea? Of course not, but I caved to the pressure.
The one place where I could broadcast my Christian values clearly and reach out to help others with my students was through the service project in Small Group Communication. And I think we were all doing that, we just didn’t talk about it in those terms.
Moral of the story? I think it’s threefold:
- I am so happy to have the freedom at ETBU to talk about our Christian walks openly with students!
- Serving others IS serving God.
- Doing more than talking about faith may be a better measure of the integration of faith and learning.