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Is Mary's Math as Sacred as her Prayer?

We had come to the end of Mbeu Deo (Seed for God) Course Two. In the first session, 12 students who attend full-time at various Zambian Teacher Colleges and who were now on a three week break, were taught by Dora Stroobosscher and Karen Gerritsma. The second session, a somewhat older group of 11, were distance students at these same colleges. They were taught by three Zambian facilitators who presented under the mentorship of Dora. During both courses, new ways of thinking about God, His covenant with creation and with the people He created, how to teach “through the heart to the heart”, and how to be co-workers with God had generated a lot of questions.

At the end of each session, they were presented with the following question: Is Mary’s math as sacred as her prayer? The first group of students responded individually with their personal thoughts. The second group took a different approach. Four students quickly gathered at the front and a spontaneous debate began:

• Prayer is a way of communicating with and being in relationship with God. Math also communicates characteristics of God to us, things like orderliness and faithfulness. It therefore also strengthens our relationship with God.
• Mathematics (logical thinking) and praying (using language) should all be used in service to God.
• These two courses on Teaching for Transformation have changed the way I view the whole world. We should not separate Math from prayer.
• Like a church, the building is a holy place. It is the hearts of people who believe in Jesus that make the church a holy thing.
• Since the whole Zambian syllabus is really about all aspects of creation, we have learned that all subjects in that syllabus provide an opportunity to point students to the Creator. There are no “ordinary” subjects and that includes devotions and Mathematics.
• Math is sacred because it is a part of God’s creation.

The young man on the far left was still not convinced. Wasn’t the Bible still holier than a text book? Wasn’t it still more important to teach pupils how to pray instead of teaching them how to do algebra? It was very hard for him to let go of a deeply ingrained sacred/secular divide.

A student in the audience had listened to the lively discussion without saying anything. At the beginning of the two week course, he had been openly skeptical about the fact that God had something to do with every subject. Would “adding God” just not take up a lot of valuable teaching time? How would the Teaching for Transformation approach help pupils pass the state exams? As the days passed, a change had been observed in his thinking, even though he still asked probing and sometimes difficult questions.

Now, he finally spoke up. “If every square centimetre of this creation belongs to God, then everything is holy ground. We as teachers do not have to “add” something to a subject to make it holy. It is already holy, because it is God’s. Our calling is to do all we can to help our pupils unwrap that subject so they will see God in it.”

The debate was closed.

There are times when the student has more impact than the teacher!

(Story of transformation shared by Dora Stroobosscher)

Mbeu Deo (Seed for God) is a sequence of three 2-week summer courses for CCAP teacher education students. The program is centered on Teaching for Transformation and thoroughly immerses students in teaching and learning with a Biblical worldview for CCAP schools.

Mbeu Deo Course #2 focus:
-what does it mean to teach?
-who are the students we teach?
-what does it mean to learn?
-why don’t things fall apart?
-how now shall we live, and learn, and teach?

The students completed Course #1 in August 2014. They are currently enrolled in Zambia teacher colleges and when they graduate will be fully qualified according to the Ministry of Education standards. Mbeu Deo Course #3 is planned for August 2016.

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