Advent is not a time of preparation for a festival, but for a person. Christmas is not just about the birth of Jesus two millennia ago, it is about us making room for Christ in our hearts and lives today, in the here and now. By doing so we can allow God to break into our lives, just as he broke into history. The result, if we allow it, is for us to be made new, different, changed.
As educators we are used to seeing change and growth in others. We are blessed by the privilege of seeing young people form their personalities and characters, establish their hopes and ambitions and develop their values and their philosophies of life. St Peter’s works alongside families and church communities in supporting our young people in this process.
Of course, the process should not stop at the end of childhood or adolescence. Adults must recognise that further development or change is not beyond them. I read recently of Lucy Kellaway, a highly respected and well-paid journalist working for the Financial Times. At the age of 57 she decided to make a significant career change – and became a teacher. She has thoroughly enjoyed the new challenge, despite being told that it would be difficult. “I knew teaching would be hard,” she wrote. “My mother was a teacher and my daughter is too.”
“I couldn’t see why teachers wanted to claim a monopoly on hard jobs. My fellow trainee teachers had done even harder things. One used to run an NHS hospital trust, one was a hostage negotiator and another worked for NASA. Eleven weeks in and I’m changing my mind. Teaching is hard in so many ways. There are at least a dozen roles you need to master – including performer, marshal, counsellor, clerical worker, mathematician, role model and nag – and you need to know exactly when and how to be which.” Lucy believes, however, that she has made the right decision, despite the early mornings and late evenings she claims, “…I am in a permanent state of agitation that is oddly reminiscent of being in love.”
In a recent meeting of some of our middle leaders at St Peter’s, we discussed what makes what we do, exceptional. Two recurring ideas in our discussions were that we are passionate about what we teach (in terms of curriculum content and subjects) and have a deep care and concern for the children and young people we teach. That perfect blend makes for a wonderful education and one where our young people can love to learn and learn to love. Whatever age we are, we always have something to learn, so this Christmas may we welcome the King of Love into our lives again and look forward to the changes and challenges of the year ahead, trusting in his providence.
I pray we may all be blessed with peace and joy this Christmas and view the New Year with confidence.
David Todd, Headteacher