Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Sapientia

I took time out yesterday evening to go up to Kenilworth and watch my grand daughter Rhiannon take part in the Reception Class nativity pageant, dressed as an angel this morning. The Parish primary school is the nearest school, just a short walk from where they live. My daughter Kath remarked how glad she was that Rhiannon had been able to get a place there, and experience the church's story telling as part of their learning. Rhiannon's friends in state schools don't have nativity plays or carol services like this.

It was an enchanting experience, worth the journey - both ways in the dark, but it was just slightly strange to me, as the children in a middle England middle class church school are less diverse than those in our Tredegarville church school - not a hijab in sight. Having worked in multi-racial and inter-faith settings for thirty five years, this is what I'm used to and take great delight in. The standards of teaching and pastoral care are similar in both schools, thankfully. But, there's something special about children growing up in an environment where experience of the world outside the local community starts, not on the classroom walls, but in the faces at desks around you.

There's no doubt that it can be challenging and difficult teaching children to live together with their differences, especially where one of the key differences is the deprivation some experience, where others don't. How good it is that there are so many church schools, well placed in multi-cultural settings, to be at the forefront of building community in diversity, open to the world. In a way that's what the catholicity of the church is all about in real practice

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