Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

19 June 2020

The Daily Examen as your prayer for anti-racism

All images from https://unsplash.com/


As the poet Rupi Kaur says in her book, “The Sun and Her Flowers”:

“To hate is such a lazy thing

But to love
Takes strength
Everyone has
But not all are
Willing to practice.”

Maddie Murphy in her blog, An Examen for White Allies, on the Ignatian Solidarity Network website, challenges us to acknowledge that racism still exists and that those of us who are white need to look at our hearts. Do take time to read the work of Maddie Murphy. I think her ideas can be used in classes to encourage students to think and reflect.

“It has felt spiritually overwhelming to be faced with the racism that some of us may have convinced ourselves was long gone,” writes Maddie Murphy.

As a teacher, you may have some opportunities to discuss this with your class. Maybe reflect with your students on the words of Maddie Murphy.

“While it is a privilege for white folks to be able to “check out” of some of these difficult and challenging conversations, actions, and movements, it is essential for us to lean away from apathy, cynicism, and passive, complicit ignorance—and lean into a vocation that we as human beings and people of faith and justice are called to become: racial allies in a society steeped in white supremacy.”  

*     What ways have people used their power, privilege or resources to benefit themselves?
*     What way have people abused their power?
*     What ways have people not used their power to help others?

Maddie Murphy has reworked the Ignatian Examen to help her reflect on the way her whiteness supports or challenges racism.

This could be a powerful way to work with your students and help them to process all that they hear about anti-racism.

The Examen prayer is a peaceful daily reflection prayer and may look like this:

  1. Become aware of God’s presence
  2. Review the day with gratitude
  3. Pay attention to your emotions
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it
  5. Look forward to tomorrow.



The Daily Examen – Your Prayer for Anti-Racism

 Here is a summary of Maddie’s version of this prayer, which you might wish to use with your students. Maddie has provided you with a structure or a framework that is drawn from the Ignatian Daily Examen prayer.

Become aware of God’s presence.


Think about the God of the oppressed, the true and loving God.

Reflect on the poor and marginalized of today’s society—who do you see?

Remember God’s love for them by seeing them.

Remember there is no room for racism in love.

Review how you used your white privilege today.


If a person of colour was telling you their experience, did you listen with openness and compassion? Or did you argue, ignore, or interrupt?

In your class did you use all available resources to make things culturally sensitive for your classmates, or did you assume whiteness as the status quo?

Did you reflect on the land you stand on, or the rights you have that our justice system sees as racial privileges?

Did you speak up when a white friend said or acted in a problematic way, or did you choose silence over action?



Pay attention to your emotions.


In reflecting on how you utilized your privilege today, what are your feelings?

Is there shame, anger, discomfort, fear, or hatred?

Are there prejudices you hold that you are becoming aware of?

Are there parts of your day where you felt confused, not sure whether something you said, did, or heard was problematic or oppressive?

However uncomfortable, sit with the discomfort; lean into it and begin to educate yourself from the actions of the day.

Write down things you wish to learn more of, or journal about the challenges of allyship.

Choose one moment of the day where you used your privilege to either make or take space from people of colour—reflect on that moment.


Find one moment from the day where you can find your white privilege at school in either an oppressive or just way.

 If it was something you are proud of, then take the moment to recognize and hold gratitude for the improvement and the opportunity you took to choose love and unity over divisiveness.

Pray for the courage, insight, humility, and self-awareness to continue to grow as a white ally for racial justice.

Recognize the need and call for more growth and education.

Brainstorm ways to work towards restorative racial healing in the future.

Pray for guidance, perseverance, and awareness for the future.

 

Look forward to tomorrow.

Reflect on ways you can move closer towards ‘allyship’.

Are there social justice groups or organizations asking for white allies that you can join or give support to?

Are there books, articles, or other forms of media on race that you can turn to for education?

Make conscious, practical, and intentional action plans to use your power to help dismantle racism.

Be prepared to translate this spiritual work into concrete, physical actions.

As St. Ignatius says, “Love is shown more in deeds than in words.”

"Racism is a violence that manifests within minds, souls, actions, institutions, and systems—making itself a place within our history, present, and unfortunately in soon-to-be-seen ways, even our future. It is a penetrative, infectious violence that, even after years of social justice actions, protests, and victories, continues to persist. There is much to be done to resist and dismantle racism.

Part of that as white folks is to make space within our moral and spiritual lives for continuous reflection, honesty, and self-improvement. 

It is on us to put in the work—physically, mentally, and spiritually—to educate ourselves and position ourselves to be better allies, and, most importantly, to help us love better. The root of racism is ‘hate’, and we are not called to hate, but to love."

From “An Examen for White Allies” by Maddie Murphy, June 3, 2020


A Class Divided. Frontline.
The story of Jane Elliott's 3rd grade class as they learn about discrimination. 

Here is an excellent documentary that may be worth watching. There are certainly sections you could share with your class. 

Would you do a similar thing with your class? Ethically, maybe not - but this is powerful.

Thank you to Stewart from the ASC for suggesting this film.
I am sure it will prompt lots of rich discussion in your classroom!  








You will find other resources from the Catholic Church about Racial Justice here





15 June 2020

Can you teach students to be angry in a smart way?

Photo by Jason Sung on Unsplash

So, how can we be angry in a smart way?

The Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman must be two of the wisest people on the planet. I recently saw a post by Daniel Goleman on Linkedin, published June 9 2020. It is so worth reading and I thought it would make a great lesson for your students.  Here are three of my ‘go to’ books from my bookshelf if you are interested in Emotional Intelligence. 


Goleman describes ‘constructive anger’ – a concept that maybe you could explore with your classes as we daily navigate more violence and destruction in the form of protests and unrest across the world.
The Dalai Lama says that well guided anger can be useful, and that moral outrage can drive positive action.
Daniel Goleman wrote a book – “A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World” and references the Dalai Lama, explaining:

When we are outraged by an injustice, marshal the “gifts” of anger: a strong focus, extra energy and determination. All these can make our response to that injustice more effective. If we can analyse the situation clearly we are more likely to take the most effective action- to hit the target directly. But anger becomes destructive when we lose self-control, get too agitated to think clearly and are obsessed rather than focused. In that state we can easily act in ways that will lead us away from our real goal.

Maybe explore this idea from the Dalai Lama – and then compare and contrast with relevant Bible Verses.

Did Jesus ever display anger? Certainly – in the Temple. Is it appropriate for followers of Christ to get upset over racism, slavery and other dreadful sins? Of course!

In  her article, What is Righteous Anger, Lisa Harper states, “But no matter how reprehensible the people or activities we're condemning, we still aren't justified to sin in our responses: "When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day" (Ephesians 4:26, NCV).” However, Lisa Harper goes on to say that Christians should lead the charge against hatred, oppression and cruelty.

Some Bible verses you may wish to consider with your students.


Ephesians 4:26
“If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day.”

Proverbs 14:17
“People with a hot temper do foolish things; wiser people remain calm.”

Psalm 37:8
“Don’t give in to worry or anger; it only leads to trouble.”

Proverbs 29:22
“People with quick tempers cause a lot of quarrelling and trouble.”

Ecclesiastes 7:9
“Keep your temper under control; it is foolish to harbor a grudge.”

Matthew 5:22
“But I promise you that if you are angry with someone, you will have to stand trial. If you call someone a fool, you will be taken to court. And if you say that someone is worthless, you will be in danger of the fires of hell.”

Ephesians 4:31
“Get rid of all bitterness, passion, and anger. No more shouting or insults, no more hateful feelings of any sort.”

Proverbs 15:1
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Romans 12:21
“Don’t let evil get the best of you but conquer evil by doing good.”

James 1:19-20
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

Proverbs 29:11
“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

Please take time to explore the website – 


Here is the video that I shared with teachers last week – in case you missed it.

A Force for Good Campaign Film




8 June 2020

Healthy Minds with the 5-3-1 Practice


Try the 5-3-1 Practice

Here is a wonderful practice from the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin- Madison, that was presented by Richard Davidson, scientist and Center Founder and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Shilagh Mirgain.

This is a secular practice - but if you wish, replace the meditation with prayer - and you have a wonderful spiritual practice as well. 

This practice will remind us to be kind and thankful. It is simple and easy to teach to children of any age.

Look at this website for more great ideas. As the website asks ... 

What if the world were a kinder, wiser, 

more compassionate place? 


5...
Meditate or pray for 5 minutes a day.

3...
Write down 3 good things that happened today. 

1...
Do one act of kindness.

Here is all you need to know about this powerful practice to promote well-being.
Watch this video.


I would explore ideas for the meditation with your students. 

I wonder what their prayer would be? 

I wonder what your own prayer might be?

"Be kind to one another ... " Ephesians 4:32

"Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness and honour." Proverbs 21:21

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18


2 June 2020

When did you last mention Empathy?



Empathy

 It was this reflection from Andy Wolfe, Deputy Chief Education Officer Leadership Development for the Church of England in the UK, that made me think about empathy today. I am a huge fan of everything that Andy writes! I had the absolute pleasure to meet him when I was in the UK once – he is brilliant, wise and utterly inspirational.

Leaders in education recognise that hope grows in the fertile soil of positive relationships, and show empathy, humility, grace and forgiveness in their interactions. Leaders take time to understand the past, and pursue transformative futures for the children, families, colleagues and communities they serve.

A Christian understanding of relationships seeks healing, repair, forgiveness and renewal, but not without acknowledging problems, dealing with them and creating conditions for fresh starts. Situations can be turned around, people can change, and hope refuses to let bad situations or actions have the last word. In the light of Christ there is always a way back, even if it is hard; there is always the offer of newness and fulness of life, even if it may be costly.



As we all journey through these strange and somewhat worrying times, it might be a helpful to revisit ‘empathy’ with your students. The world is witnessing violence and riots in the US, while many countries are still in the grip of the pandemic. How can we help move forward? Maybe teaching students about empathy will pave the way for more prosocial behaviour and actions in the future.

According to the Greater Good Science Centre, the term “empathy” is used to describe a wide range of experiences. Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.

If you are not sure where you stand in relation to your own level of empathy – try the Greater Good Empathy Quiz. 




Most of you know that I also spent time at the University of California, Berkeley, to attend the Summer Institute for Educators at the Greater Good Science Centre. I am a huge fan of their work – and the wonderful people that I met there.


Brene Brown also helps us to understand empathy. I have  been a Brene Brown fan for ages and find her books inspirational.



So, if you are seeking some clarity around empathy as you teach this in your classroom, this video might help you.

The RSA – Brene Brown on Empathy


Some Practical Ideas for Your Classroom


 Shoes
Have a collection of shoes in your classroom. I bought the biggest pair of gumboots I could find at Bunnings. Sit the boots in the middle of the floor. When you want children to try to understand things from the point of view of someone else – ask them to put on the Empathy Boots. 


 Empathy Glasses

In the past, I have made class sets of these wonderful 'Empathy Glasses'. Such fun. The older students made them for the younger students. We created a range of templates designed by the students. We then decorated and laminated them. They were adorable. 

There are plenty of ideas online – try Twinkl. https://www.twinkl.com.au/resource/t-t-15189-glasses-template

When you are reading a story or discussing an event, invite the children to wear the ‘Empathy Glasses’ to look at things through the eyes of another. How do they think the character or person might have felt? Encourage the students to look more closely at the emotions that people might be feeling. Wearing the glasses helps the students to stop and think.



Empathy and the Bible


Teach you students how to read Bible stories with empathy. Jesus is our perfect role model. A great article for you to read from Cornerstone for Parents written by Laura Kuehn can be found here

“Jesus was the Master of empathy.  
He was able to instantly connect with and understand the heart of the person or people with whom He was conversing.  
People who met him felt understood and loved.”

Look for examples of empathy in every Bible story you teach. Encourage the students to reflect on the emotions and feelings of others in Bible stories.

Here are a few Bible verses, chosen by Laura Kuehn, to help you get going.

Matthew 9:6: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 15:32:“Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.'”
Philippians 2:3:“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,”
1 Peter 3:8: “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”
Matthew 7:12:” So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

28 May 2020

My Favourite Pentecost Video Today

This just makes me smile - and I have been singing the song all morning!

For a bit more - there is always this video.
And for great resources, hop on to the Illustrated Ministry website.  A fabulous place to visit!

Lots of ideas and resources. 
So much to find on the website
For more wonderful resources, please visit the Strandz website. It is truly amazing - an absolute treasure trove of creative ideas -  and comes from our dear friends in New Zealand! You will find so much here!

On the Strandz website you will find stunning art work by  Reverend Andrea Lukin. So do have an explore of this website.
Enjoy all the teaching, learning and creative fun you can have using these resources. 

22 May 2020

Read It! Pray It! Write It! Draw It! Do It!




I first taught Religious Education at Garden House Preparatory School for Girls in London in the early 1980’s. I was teaching Middle School 1 – in those days that was about year 4. We had no computers, no videos, no internet and I had no resources for RE at all, except one class Bible. 

Nevertheless, the girls and I had a lovely time. I simply read a story each week – straight from the Bible. We chatted about it, rewrote the story in our journals and the girls illustrated their work. I can still remember how simply beautiful their work was. They took great care to write neatly and their artwork was divine! 

We would then do something on Assembly – again – another simple retelling of the story, a role play or a prayer. It was very simple, yet the girls were engaged, positive and we all really looked forward to the lesson.

So, when my dear husband bought me this beautiful, faith building, interactive journal to use with students, I thought you also needed to see it. It costs $16.99 at Koorong – but today it is 20% off – so a fabulous bargain! (And no – I don’t work for Koorong – I don’t even get a discount!!!)


In this beautifully bound book, you will find enough for a semester or more. It will help students to develop a reflective and thinking approach to their studies. Students may develop a lifetime habit that will bring comfort, joy and hope throughout their lives.



















I would so encourage you to have a look at this journal as something you could give to your students to guide them as they make choices about how they live their lives.
 I think this faith based journal is inspirational.
 Maybe this journal could transform your classes and the way you teach!

The pages I have included are all from "Read It! Pray It! Write it! Draw It! Do it! A Faith Building Interactive Journal for Kids, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission." 



21 May 2020

What does Ignatius of Loyola have to do with Inclusion in the Religious Education Classroom?


Having been a Special Needs teacher and a Learning Support teacher at different times, I know how challenging life can be for those of you who are catering for a wide range of needs in your classroom.

Here is something that might be of great help. Have a look at inclusionEd. https://www.inclusioned.edu.au/

Last week, I was so delighted to be able to attend – via Zoom – the launch of the new website – inclusionED


The launch featured an impressive line up of outstanding educators and those committed to seeing all students flourish.

  Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Federal Minister for Education
  Professor Robert van Barneveld, Autism CRC Chair
  Professor Suzanne Carrington, Autism CRC Program 2 School Years Director and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Education at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  inclusionED research team: Associate Professor Michael Whelan, Dr Keely Harper-Hill and Dr Jeremy Kerr at QUT

  Trudy Bartlett, Senior Inclusion Coordinator at Marsden State High School

“inclusionED is an online professional learning community, co-designed with educators, for educators. It provides free evidence-based and research-informed teaching practices and tools to support diverse learners in inclusive classrooms.
In the average Australian classroom, at least three children have a learning difficulty or neurodevelopmental disability. The support and scaffolding these children receive during school can set the trajectory for the rest of their lives, but many teachers don't feel equipped to effectively support the learning of all students in their classrooms.”
“The teaching practices on inclusionED are underpinned by the principles of Universal Design for Learning. They don't provide a single one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customised for individualized learning. The platform also facilitates a national community of practice, enabling social sharing, comments and reviews of the experience implementing specific practices. During the co-design and development of inclusionED, educators reflected on the value of being part of an active, ongoing conversation to share good ideas that work in real classrooms.”

A Great Book to Read 

I would also recommend you take a look at book The Adaptive Teacher by John E. Barone and Charleen Katra.

This book is available to borrow from the Roscoe Library at St Francis Theological College at Milton. Eve James is the wonderful Library manager there and is most generous in her support of Anglican teachers, so do join the library at Milton. 


I am not sure of the statistics here in Brisbane but in the US, 26% of the population have a physical, intellectual, emotional or behavioural disability.   I would imagine that is reflected in Australian classrooms too. 

“Our gospel values call us to welcome and include all persons, especially those who are marginalized and vulnerable. The Gospels are filled with instances of Jesus encountering people who had disabilities. He intentionally chose to spend time with them, to be in their homes and to break bread with them (Barone and Katra, 2019).”

A Unit on St Ignatius Might be Just the Thing!

If you are seeking to encourage your students to be inclusive, why not teach a unit on Saints for People with Disabilities. There is a list of just such Saints in the book on page 171 of the book - The Adaptive Teacher! I would start with Saint Ignatius of Loyolaa Saint with a Disability caused by an Injury. This is a great story to share with your students. Saint Ignatius (1491-1556) was wounded by a cannon ball. With you students, you may wish to research this fascinating story of how St Ignatius founded the Jesuits and built the framework for Ignatian spirituality.

You will find plenty of great resources. Here are a few to get you started.
This video is from the Catholic Church.




This video - which really appeals to me - is the story of St Ignatius - told by an Olive! I thought it was hilarious - but I do have a bit of an unusual sense of humour!



Ignatian Prayer

After you have explored the life of St Ignatius, do take time to explore Ignatian Prayer.  Introduce your students to special practices such as The Daily Examen.
Ignatian prayer is imaginativereflective, and personalSt. Ignatius Loyola encouraged people to develop an intimate relationship with a God who loves them and desires the best for them.

Examen for Teens with Anxiety 

As we are all travelling through uncertain times as the COVID-19 Pandemic continues to impact upon our lives, it might be worthwhile reading this article on using the Examen with teens to help their anxiety.  Examen for Teens with Anxiety, by Stephanie Clouatare Davis, reminds us that the mental health of all students in our care is so important at the moment. Anxiety affects one in four teens. These statistics are quite worrying. Prayer and meditation are known to ease anxious minds.

I have copied a few sections – but do read the entire article to fully understand this practice.

Step by Step Guide


"The first step in the Examen is to become aware that the Holy Spirit is with us. Teens, especially those struggling with anxiety, are oftentimes unable to quiet their minds and be present to the existing moment.

The second step is gratitude. Ignatius invites us to savor the good that God has given us. The Examen begins with focusing on, relishing, and giving thanks for the many ways in which God is present in all things. Teenagers are people in transition. Their great metamorphosis often gives teens a feeling of quick movement and change. By pausing for gratitude, time slows and allows savoring of the changes of adolescence.

After naming moments of gratitude, review the last 24 hours, and notice where God was present. This practice encourages growth in understanding and awareness.
This step is the heart and soul of the Examen.

Continue reviewing the last 24 hours and notice the seeming lack of God’s presence. Noticing the places where God did not seem present in the last 24 hours is essential in deciding how to move forward into the next day. Were there moments in the last 24 hours that felt restless or tinged with anxiety? If so, when and where?

Awareness of these moments in which a teen might feel a decrease in faith, hope, and charity gives a name to the parts of her or his day that should be addressed. Can this situation be avoided or changed in the next 24 hours? Can a change in this situation shed light? Is this the place to request God’s grace and accompaniment? This can help young people avoid spiralling into negativity."



Your Class

May you find peace in your classroom as we remember that each person is a reflection of God's love and grace in our midst. We all have abilities and disabilities, just as we all have strengths and weaknesses - and as John E Barone and  Charleen Katra remind us, "We are more alike than we are different."