This article is part of a series from the writings of Martin Hanscamp, a friend and partner in Christian education. Martin faithfully served Christian Schools and Christian Education National (CEN) in Australia, but passed away in 2020. Michelle Dempsey, CEN’s CEO, set the stage for this series in her introductory post. In her words “If we are going to honor Martin’s legacy, we will need to put Jesus front and center in our lives, our work, and our play.” Enjoy some of CACE’s favorite writings from Martin.
A long time ago, I had the opportunity and the blessing of taking a “sabbatical” to finish a Masters of Christian Education through the Institute for Christian Education (ICE). Dr. Doug Blomberg had been the Principal of ICE and was a regular tutor/supervisor of mine whilst I was travelling around Australia with my young family.
I cannot remember which particular assignment it was, but I had cause to read the book, A Vision with a Task: Educating for Respective Discipleship. I was so blessed by the clarity and capturing of what Christian schooling could be. I wrote to Doug about this blessing and to express my thanks to him and his team for their collaborative venture.
A similar thing happened a few years later whilst on a trip to Europe. My wife Anita and I spent a day at the Reformation Wall Park in Geneva (including an uplifting service in the rebuilt Berliner Dom- Lutheran cathedral, where statuesque fathers of the reformation look down on the congregation) and I had cause to ponder- Who were, or are, my Reformation heroes? I bought the ‘Reformation Wall’ postcard and sent it to Doug with the affirmation to him that he was on my own wall of heroes because he’d brought me so much insight and meaning about the interweaving of faith and education.
After completing my ‘year in the sun,’ enjoying what we Aussies oftentimes refer to as ‘this wide brown land’, I took up the role of Principal at Mt. Evelyn Christian School (MECS) where Doug had been a long-term staff member, in between numerous other academic and overseas roles. And I note again, with gratitude, that on many occasions over the past 37 years I’ve gone to him, whether through his writings or as my lecturer, colleague and friend, to be guided, gain understanding and clarity on a particular challenging matter.
We must continue to be the re-articulators of the vision, particularly in the everyday life of our schools.
One of the dangers of sitting at the feet of a legend, however, is that you can develop feelings of inadequacy. You do not understand and discern complexity as well as them. You cannot express yourself with such poise. You feel you have so much more to learn before you should contribute.
It is important for me to remind myself though that I shouldn’t start and considerations of a topic by thinking ‘what would Doug say?’ If we started to compare ourselves to the great ‘standard bearers’ of the Christian schooling movement, none of us would ever ‘pick up the pen’ or ‘stand out the front.’
Over time and through God’s gracious patience, I have come to realize that there is a strong and vital role for ‘disciples’ to be expressers of the same Christian educational vision, but with their own touch and in their own words. we must continue to be the re-articulators of the vision, particularly in the everyday life of our schools.
Expressing the impact that faith has in all areas of the school and articulating a vision for Christian education in the everyday life of the school is certainly one of the Principal’s most significant duties. The school newsletter is an excellent forum for school leaders to open up the full range of issues that students, staff and parents encounter in the life of the school.
Now on Tuesday nights (when the editorial is due) I challenge myself to say, ‘What would Martin say?’
Martin Hanscamp was a Christian school teacher, principal, and Executive Officer for the Australian Association of Christian Schools. Martin spent many evenings behind the keyboard writing about Christian education and what it means for the life of the Christian school.