The Big Picture: Some Ideas Informing the Approach

This website is intentionally built around concrete examples of teachers connecting Christian faith with their teaching. However, the examples were not chosen at random. Informing the examples, as well as the broader approach and its suggested strategies, is a coherent way of thinking about the relationship of faith to education that emerges from existing work in educational theory and curriculum development. While this site does not attempt to be a theoretical resource, you can explore below a video and summaries of some of the key ideas underpinning the approach and some key questions that are raised by it.

What are the key ideas informing this resource?

What particular views are we appealing to when we say "Christian"?

  • The examples described on this site consistently relate teaching to Christian faith in terms of faith, hope and love. Why was this framework chosen? What particular Christian views does it represent? This cluster of articles looks at why faith, hope and love were chosen as a focus and how we understand them.

Can teaching be "distinctively Christian"?

  • This website focuses on a Christian approach to teaching and learning. But are the teaching examples in this site uniquely Christian? Should they be? This article explores what it might mean for a teaching approach to be "distinctively Christian".

Why focus on seeing anew, choosing engagement, and reshaping practice?

  • The threefold focus on seeing anew, choosing engagement, and reshaping practice grounds all of the strategies suggested on this site. This article outlines some of the main ideas that led to the focus on these three starting points.

What was learned from previous curriculum development?

  • A number of those involved in developing this site have worked together on previous curriculum development projects. This article explores some lessons learned from a six-year curriculum development project designed to foster spiritual and moral development across the curriculum.

How can education contribute to spiritual and moral development?

How do we understand spiritual growth?

  • When we look at spiritual development in educational contexts, what difference does a Christian approach make?

Where does spiritual growth happen in learning?

  • What should we look for in the classroom in order to address spiritual growth?

How does subject teaching relate to character development?

  • How does subject teaching contribute to the formation of students' and pupils' characters? In particular, do subject teachers promote Christian virtues?

Research report

The report from a recent university research project investigating the use of What If Learning by teachers in Church secondary schools in England is available here.

Further reading

Here you can find a list of books and articles that explore some of the ideas underpinning the approaches suggested on this site.

You can also find a list of periodicals, both staffroom-oriented and academic, that focus on Christian approaches to education here.

To enquire about the research and scholarly work that underpins What If Learning, contact Professor Trevor Cooling ( at the National Institute for Christian Education Research.