Example #27 Faith and Poetry
What if a poem about ducks connected with God’s creativity?
Alison wanted to change the way she did her 'show and tell' on creativity. She was exploring poetry in English so she decided to connect the two in such a way as to help students appreciate creativity as a gift from God and part of being made in the image of God.
"We had our usual 'show-and-tell' session, but for this particular day I’d asked the children to bring along something they had created, such as art and craft work or pieces of writing. I brought in something I had made. We talked about the different things we had made and created a display. I commended all the children for their creativity.
"At the time we were doing a theme on poetry in English (literacy) and I wanted them to see poetry as a way of expressing creativity. I read the poem “Ducks' Ditty” from The Wind in the Willows, and asked the children to close their eyes and imagine the scene. When they opened their eyes, I asked them to return to their desks to draw and colour what they could see in their imaginations. When they came back together as a group, they shared their pictures and talked about them. No two were the same.
"We looked at what made Duck's Ditty such a good poem and how Kenneth Grahame had done a good job of writing it because it lets us see pictures in our heads of what’s going on in the duck pond. My school is a Christian school, so I explained that the Bible says God is brilliant at creating things, which we can see all around us. God’s creativity has given us a beautiful world. I referred to their creativity and the display and explained that people were made a little like God and he is very creative. Our creativity can enhance our world and make it more fun for ourselves and others."
What’s going on here?
Alison saw that connecting 'show and tell' and English provided an appropriate context for looking at creativity from a Christian perspective and demonstrating that issues of faith were relevant outside of religious education. She saw her students holistically, connecting faith, creativity and delight.
She engaged students in making connections, harnessing their own creativity and experiencing moments of delight and personal investment (link show and tell and English; bringing in their creative pieces to show).
She reshaped her practice by using objects and display choices as well as a particular poem and closed eyes to shape the atmosphere she created, by her choice of questions, and by modelling creativity herself.
What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?
God, out of love, has blessed people with creativity. People are made in his image, called to carry out God's work on earth, though our creativity is a pale reflection of his. God’s creativity is all around us, but we need to be conscious of it and take time to revel in it, whilst acknowledging its source. Faith in a God-given creativity means that human beings need to use that creativity responsibly to reflect its source. People can use their creativity to bring hope to those around them, creating beauty out of desolation and glory out of the ordinary.
What difference does it make?
Alison says: "I wanted students to enjoy the poet’s God-given creativity in an atmosphere of fun and appreciation created by the 'show and tell'. I wanted to move them toward delighting in poems and I wanted to shift from seeing creativity as just personal achievement to seeing its source in God.
Where could we go from here?
Explore other examples of creativity in poems, these can be poems for fun such as Jaberwocky (Lewis Carroll); The Tale of Custard the Dragon (Ogden Nash) or serious poems. All reflect different aspects of creativity. The responsibility that goes along with creativity can be followed up in many subject areas, from design and food technology to art and music. For schools that do not have a Christian foundation, putting up the question 'I wonder where creativity comes from?' could be an alternative. See where the discussion goes.
Appreciation is expressing our thanks, respect and praise. For Christians, thankfulness and appreciation is a response to life as a gift from God and for all that God gives and what others do. Thanks can find expression in connection with appreciation of poetry and art, music and science. Expressing appreciation and thanks raises our awareness of the ways in which we benefit from the creative work of others.
There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread. Mother Teresa
Martin Luther saw gratitude as the basic attitude; it is like a mould that shapes life. When someone does something for you there is a sense of thanks that are due, hence Luther’s saying that 'Unthankfulness is theft'.
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. Meister Eckhart
The Bible talks of the entire world as God's (Psalm 24:1). Creation can reveal him and all of life can be lived to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). The poet and the engineer can both reflect God in what they do. Scholars differ in how they understand what 'being made in the image of God' means; it could be our creativity, reasoning, our role in bringing order in the world, our ability to make moral decisions and our social relationships. It is a complex idea; the image of God cannot be reduced to one thing. The image of God is marred in humanity; we do not reflect God well – like a cracked mirror. Only Jesus perfectly reflected God.
Explore similar examples:
This example draws on:
- Strategies for Seeing Anew #1
(...towards connecting faith with all of life)
- Strategies for Seeing Anew #5
(…towards seeing people holistically)
- Strategies for Seeing Anew #9
(…towards delighting in God’s world)
- Strategies for Engagement #4
(…to experience delight, reflection and wonder)
- Strategies for Engagement #5
(…to experience God’s world in its wholeness)
- Strategies for Engagement #6
(…to extend their ways of participating)
- Strategies for Engagement #9
(…to reflect carefully on ideas and experiences)
- Strategies for Engagement #10
(…to consider contrasts and dissonance)
- Strategies for Engagement #11
(…to explore possibilities for active commitment)
- Strategies for Engagement #14
(…to trace connections between faith and learning and life)
- Strategies for Engagement #15
(…to explore the coherence of God's world)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #1
(Change the layout of the room)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #2
(Make tangible changes to the environment)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #3
(Change or create displays)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #4
(Embody the class ethos and outlook in concrete forms)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #5
(Use body language)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #6
(Create the appropriate atmosphere)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #7
(Give opportunities for practice)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #22
(Ask big questions / change your questioning)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #23
(Provide contrasts and set up dissonance (clashes))
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #26
(Model a new emphasis)
- Strategies for Reshaping Practice: The habits of the classroom #27
(Add the personal touch)