During the first weeks of October, Dr Stephen Fyson travelled to Sri Lanka and Poland to assist in the development of Christian schools. The trip was sponsored by Pacific Hills Christian School’s Christian Education Development Program, which facilitates such development relationships.
The King’s International College in Ja Ela, Sri Lanka, has a pioneer team of young Christian educators, who love their children and love learning. Dr Fyson spent a week exploring the theme of ‘Starting Points for Teaching as a Christian’, part of a program under development as part of the Alphacrucis Continuing Professional Learning program. His colleague, Colin Lees from Pacific Hills Christian School, provided creative opportunities to explore alternative models of teaching in the classroom.
“Sri Lanka is such a beautiful place, and so were these people”, noted Dr Fyson. “It has been a real pleasure returning to support them and to see what God has done and continues to do.” Dr Fyson also acknowledged their help in the ‘Starting Points’ course development: “The interaction and feedback with the course material was also a real help in working to shape this program – it will be better because of their involvement!”
Poland is a country still undergoing reform after being released from Communist rule in 1989. It was amazing to see how churches are working through Christian schooling to bless their nations. Dr Fyson took workshops with representatives from five Christian schools (including one about to open its doors for the first time) and ran leadership and development sessions for teachers and school leaders:
“These people are so warm, open to new ideas, and compassionately committed” Dr Fyson reflected. “It will be exciting to watch how God continues to bless their work into the future”. And of Poland generally, Dr Fyson gave this reminder:
“We must continue to pray for these Christian pioneer programs and the people implementing them – there is still much to be considered as they work out how to more freely express their Christian hope across their nation.”
Left: Teachers in a “Starting Points” workshop in Poznan, Poland;
Right: Dr Fyson, Colin Lees and teachers from King’s International College, Sri Lanka
AC recently welcomed well-known religious historian Prof. Michael McClymond of St Louis University, Missouri, to the College, in part as a speaker at the AC-Western Sydney University sponsored conference on Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianities in Oceania. Prof. McClymond shared his research into why the vast spread of Christianity in the majority world has taken a pentecostal/ charismatic form. He suggested that the historiographic implications of the Irvingite-Dowieite movement should be considered as an alternate lineage for contemporary Spirit-filled Christianity. His argument is that the early-twentieth-century Pentecostal revivals were ensconced between charismatic revivals on both sides—an Irvingite-Dowietie movement that stretched from the 1830s to the early 1900s, and a Latter Rain movement that significantly reshaped the trajectory of global Charismatic Christianity from the 1950s to the present. The most startling conclusion one might derive from this is that classical Pentecostalism is best described not as a “first wave” but rather as a “second wave” movement. Moreover, the commonly described “second wave” of the Spirit in mainline Charismatic Christianity might better be described as a “third wave.” This extended period of preparation for later 'waves' and the resultant indigenization of Christianity through charismatic encounters in scattered and mobile realities, provides a new wave of looking at the dynamism of the twentieth century. As CFS staff work with the tens of thousands of Christian schools and churches in Africa and Asia, this dynamism remains a remarkable part of the story.
Brian Stiller hands a copy of Stiller, Stiller, Johnson and Hutchinson, Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century, to Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations.
In July, two CFS staff members (Assoc. Prof. Jennie Bickmore Brand and Dr Stephen Codrington) travelled to Uganda and South Africa to further ACs ‘global teacher development’ program. Dr Codrington spoke at the Africa Renewal University campus in Buloba, on the Alphacrucis Educational Model and the future of Christian learning in higher institutions. The academic audience expressed their appreciation of the AC Hub model and its potential, and for the work the Centre is doing on the Critical Thinking for Humanity approach. The next day, he presented a full-day (8 hour) workshop on “The role of a board in growing a national association” to the ACSI Uganda board. The workshop comprised four components: (1) Christian Leadership, (2) Governance and Management, (3) Mission and Strategic Vision, (4) Managing Change. Feedback from the day indicates that the workshop was extremely well appreciated and valued. ACSI is keen to support better training for the boards of Christian schools and parachurch ministries in Uganda. Both Drs Codrington and Bickmore Brand spoke at the ACSI Leadership Summit, before numbers of leaders from all over East Africa, and some key tertiary developers based in Ghana and Nigeria. One leader concluded by saying their discussions had been “a breakthrough for me, an answer to prayer”, and projecting a number of other activities into 2019. There were numerous expressions of appreciation for AC’s long term and clear expression of the priorities of Christian Education, the explicit statement of Christian Worldview, and the central importance of mission and vision. AC now has a significant profile among Christian Schools in East Africa and beyond.
The next week, Drs Codrington and Bickmore-Brand travelled to South Africa to speak with a number of impressive Christian schools around Polokwane and Brits, who are seeking AC assistance in teacher development. This work has been developed in connection with Samson Makhado, who has been an enthusiastic supporter of AC activity in Africa. Dr Codrington spoke on “The Alphacrucis Approach Towards Christian Education”, and Dr Bickmore Brand on "May we be the fragrance of Jesus to those who are being saved". The next day, at another school, our staff did a 'double act' presentation over 3 hours to staff, with the school cancelling classes at midday so staff could spend the afternoon with them.
Such international cooperation in teacher training is consistent with the global vision of Alphacrucis, which seeks to be a ‘Global Christian University, changing neighbourhoods and nations’.
“Working on ways to deliver quality, sustainable and locally authentic approaches to Christian education is part of the missio Dei”, noted the Dean, Professor Mark Hutchinson. “There is enormous opportunity for assisting others in Australia’s region and beyond, and it is particularly apposite that it should be Australia’s leading Christian liberal arts college which is seeking to do so. In a global age, our schools, teachers and students should all have the opportunity to engage more deeply with those of common faith elsewhere in the world.”
If you are interested in walking an extra mile or two with the AC Global Education Program, please contact:
Assoc. Professor Jennie Bickmore Brand (email@example.com)
Co-Director, Centre for the Future of Schooling
Jennie Bickmore Brand has been training teachers in worldview integration. The two day seminar saw more than 50 educationists appreciate the need to embed and embrace a rigorous biblical worldview in their teaching practice. Dr Bickmore Brand and Dr Stephen Codrington are working with the Association of Christian Schools International to expand the availability of quality, biblically-inspired teacher training and continuous professional learning.
On Thursday 17th May, Alphacrucis College was honoured to welcome Mr Samuel Davis Hiire, Director of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) in Uganda. Mr Hiire was accompanied by Ms Sue Skuthorpe, CEO of New Hope International.
ASCI has 170 affiliated schools in Uganda, a country where 90% of the population are committed Christians who attend church regularly. Although relatively small by African standards, Uganda is about the same size as the United Kingdom. Within its 241,000 square kilometres, 42 million people live, of whom 48% are aged 14 and under.
This situation poses immense challenges for educators in Uganda. The current educational situation in the country has been described as ‘dysfunctional’, largely because of short-sightedness in planning, weak infrastructure, poor governance and the lack of challenging training provided to teachers.
During his visit to Alphacrucis’ Parramatta campus, Mr Hiire met with three senior members of the Faculty of Education, Arts and Social Science: Professor Mark Hutchinson (Dean), Dr David Hastie (Associate Dean) and Dr Stephen Codrington (Director of School Governance and Leadership Development).
The meeting represented a fascinating exchange of ideas, knowledge and insights as the challenges of Christian Education in our two continents were discussed.
Associate Dean of Education, David Hastie, reports on working with Austrade in Indonesia, where there is a remarkable work among Christian schooling organisations.
To read more, see: http://www.cfs.ac/cfs-newsletter/ac-and-austrade-meet-in-jakarta
Dr Stephen Codrington, who joined Alphacrucis’ Parramatta campus in January this year, is undertaking several overseas fieldwork research trips this year to collect material for use in six new Geography courses being developed for our new BEd(S) degree, and to update ten books he released in 2017 to support the new International Baccalaureate Geography syllabus.
In late March and early April, Stephen spent nine days in Bhutan, the tiny nation sitting between India and China that is the last kingdom in the Himalayas. Stephen’s research was focussed on two specific areas – the country’s distinctive approach to sustainable tourism, and its unique concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH).
Initially developed by the fourth King of Bhutan, Jingme Singye Wangchuk, GNH was designed to be a measurable alternative to other indicators such as Gross National Product (GNP), replacing the traditional emphasis on material values with a focus on values, morals and human welfare.
It is wonderful to see what is being achieved in Christian education around the world. On a recent trip to Indonesia, CFS staff Professor Mark Hutchinson and Dr David Hastie visited a number of theological colleges and universities in the Christian tradition.
“It is amazing to see what Indonesian Christians are doing through school education”, noted Dr Hastie. “The Pelita Harapan Foundation’s model of developing sustainable Christian schooling cultures is astounding in terms of the promise it has for Indonesia’s development.”
Imagine a group of high level international grammar schools which exist to support a group of middle ranking schools, which in turn exist to help resource and extend schools for the poor in some very remote places of this vast archipelago. It is a bracing vision, which sees Christian teachers serving all levels of society in an entirely authentic, local way.
“We in Australia can learn a lot from this sense of strategic educational vocation”, noted Professor Hutchinson. “Imagine Christian schools working together to deliberately extend ‘educational lift’ through regional Australia in a systematic way. As an historian, there are great parallels to this in the medieval and early modern period, but the Teachers College at UPH bleeds a daily commitment to the good of their people which is hard to match in contemporary times.”
In addition to this, Professor Hutchinson and Dr Hastie visited STT Intheos Surakarta and SBBTI Jakarta, which have similar (if smaller) approaches to combining pastoral and teacher training. Founded by an AC graduate, Pontus Pardede, to walk around the STT Intheos campus is to be reminded of the tremendous work done by Australians and our friends in the region. Invited to speak at a Student Camp some 90 minutes away from the main campus, the joy and enthusiasm of young Indonesian initial teacher trainees was infectious, and well worth supporting.
“We would love to see greater interaction between Indonesian and Australian Christian schools,” noted Dr Hastie. “Teaching occurs in communities of practice. We could learn a great deal from each other in terms of our common calling under God for the formation and training of the young. To meet the Rector of Universitas Pelita Harapan, Jonathan Limbong Parapak, and realize the continuing impact of a program such as the Colombo Plan for Indonesians, is to stretch towards what might be possible if there were a Christian program with similar aims.”
The Centre for the Future of Schooling will be seeking to develop student and staff exchanges, and pathways programs, with Indonesian colleges and schools. If you are interested, please contact the Centre: firstname.lastname@example.org.