Example #7 Book Week

What if Book Week were about gratitude and giving?

Marius had responsibility for organising Book Week. He wanted the pupils to appreciate what a privilege it is to have books and how we take books for granted. He found out about the camel travelling libraries of North Eastern Kenya and chose this as the special focus for Book Week. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/
) (http://camelbookdrive.wordpress.com/2005/04/06/about/)

“On the first day of Book Week the students arrived to find all the classroom books had disappeared or were covered and the library was closed. For most of the day we worked without books or a smart board. In some parts of Africa only the teacher has books and he or she writes on the board or talks and the students make notes. We worked like this for a day doing our normal subjects but based around Kenya and the camel library. We looked at the geography of the area, found out about camels and calculated distances. It was all quite difficult without the web or books. We discussed what it would mean to work with no books or web access:

a) What would we miss if there were no books or web access?
b) What would be difficult without books?
c) How would our learning be affected?

“Books and web access were reintroduced towards the end of the day, so we saw some pictures of the travelling library and the area. As a result the students suggested some Book Week activities to make other pupils aware of the situation and raise money for the camel library and nomadic schools. Some pupils designed an assembly for the whole school in order to share what they had learned. Some wrote a thank you prayer for books. Across the school there were book-related activities to raise money, for example, sticking coins on a camel shape as part of a camel book display. Enough money was raised to buy books for the camel library and Kenyan nomadic schools.”

What’s going on here?

Marius saw Book Week as a way of encouraging gratitude and giving.

He engaged students by encouraging them to adopt an outward focus through engaging with another community and cultural context using books as a resource for learning about NE Kenya. He changed how students accessed information and raised questions to help them reevaluate their relationship to learning resources and other learners (learning without books/web access).

He reshaped his practice by withdrawing access to certain resources (covering/removing books and web access) and so changing his teaching style, and providing information after experiences and questions that might help his class to be more grateful and outward-looking (seeing pictures of the travelling library after learning without books/images was experienced).

How do I do this myself?

What does this have to do with faith, hope and love?

Faith sees all life as the gift of a loving God. Thankfulness is a response to this insight. It is refusing to see life in terms of my demands. Gratitude involves a reorientation of life with thankfulness as the default setting. Being thankful raises awareness not only of our own situation but also brings to mind the situation of others and makes us outward-looking.

What difference does it make?

Marius wanted his students to grow in gratitude and saw Book Week as a natural contribution towards this. By being intentional and focusing on the issue, he was raising their awareness and creating opportunities for growth.

Where could we go from here?

This strategy can be used in many parts of the curriculum to help raise awareness of what many in the western world take for granted. For instance, a discussion of poverty could be preceded by doing without some food or comfort item (with appropriate accommodations for individual students). This can begin to move pupils from assuming that certain things are theirs by right to one of gratitude for what we have. Students can also be made aware of what people in other communities (local or global) take for granted that they may not have. For example, other communities may have a joy and contentment and level of community support that many western children do not experience.

Digging deeper

A sense of gratitude has been identified as good for our health, something the Bible said many years ago (Proverbs 15:30). Throughout the Bible, people give thanks to God in prayer, song, worship and dance. Saying thank you is the most basic form of prayer that is never grown out of. In the Old Testament, gratitude is an integral part of worship and life (Psalm 136:1). Jesus gave thanks for food and to God for answering his prayer over Lazarus. Jesus commended the one leper who came back and said thank you after he healed them. Paul starts many of his letters with thanksgiving and tells the Christians to give thanks in all things (Colossians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Thankfulness can be towards God (Psalm 92:1) and others (1 Timothy 2:1). 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”. Too easily a 'rights' culture can slip into ingratitude.

The term ‘Eucharist’ (Holy Communion) means thanksgiving; it is a thanksgiving for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that opened up a new relationship with God through forgiveness of sins.

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. Meister Eckhart

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted … Albert Schweitzer

Gratitude is a counterpoint to the problem of suffering. When we suffer we often ask the question ‘Why?’ because we feel it is not deserved. Gratitude is learning to see pleasure and the good things of life as undeserved but freely given and part of God’s bounty.

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with the tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
G. K. Chesterton

Explore similar examples:

What if a topic on ‘People who help us’ became ‘Serving the community'?
What if making pie charts were connected to giving?
What if learning Spanish were about giving, receiving and respect?

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1A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up. 2Words of wisdom come from the wise, but fools speak foolishness. 3The Lord sees everything, whether good or bad. 4Kind words are good medicine, but deceitful words can really hurt. 5Don't be a fool and disobey your parents. Be clever! Accept correction. 6Good people become wealthy, but those who are evil will lose what they have. 7Words of wisdom make good sense; the thoughts of a fool make no sense at all. 8The Lord is disgusted by gifts from the wicked, but it makes him happy when his people pray. 9The Lord is disgusted with all who do wrong, but he loves everyone who does right. 10If you turn from the right way, you will be punished; if you refuse correction, you will die. 11If the Lord can see everything in the world of the dead, he can see in our hearts. 12Those who sneer at others don't like to be corrected, and they won't ask help from someone with sense. 13Happiness makes you smile; sorrow can crush you. 14Anyone with good sense is eager to learn more, but fools are hungry for foolishness. 15The poor have a hard life, but being content is as good as an endless feast. 16It's better to obey the Lord and have only a little, than to be very rich and terribly confused. 17A simple meal with love is better than a feast where there is hatred. 18Losing your temper causes a lot of trouble, but staying calm settles arguments. 19Being lazy is like walking in a thorn patch, but everyone who does right walks on a smooth road. 20Children with good sense make their parents happy, but foolish children are hateful to them. 21Stupidity brings happiness to senseless fools, but everyone with good sense follows the straight path. 22Without good advice everything goes wrong it takes careful planning for things to go right. 23Giving the right answer at the right time makes everyone happy. 24All who are wise follow a road that leads upward to life and away from death. 25The Lord destroys the homes of those who are proud, but he protects the property of widows. 26The Lord hates evil thoughts, but kind words please him. 27Being greedy causes trouble for your family, but you protect yourself by refusing bribes. 28Good people think before they answer, but the wicked speak evil without ever thinking. 29The Lord never even hears the prayers of the wicked, but he answers the prayers of all who obey him. 30A friendly smile makes you happy, and good news makes you feel strong. 31Healthy correction is good, and if you accept it, you will be wise. 32You hurt only yourself by rejecting instruction, but it makes good sense to accept it. 33Showing respect to the Lord will make you wise, and being humble will bring honour to you. The Lord has the final word
1Praise the Lord ! He is good. God's love never fails. 2Praise the God of all gods. God's love never fails. 3Praise the Lord of lords. God's love never fails. 4Only God works great miracles. God's love never fails. 5With wisdom he made the sky. God's love never fails. 6The Lord stretched the earth over the ocean. God's love never fails. 7He made the bright lights in the sky. God's love never fails. 8He lets the sun rule each day. God's love never fails. 9He lets the moon and the stars rule each night. God's love never fails. 10God struck down the firstborn in every Egyptian family. God's love never fails. 11He rescued Israel from Egypt. God's love never fails. 12God used his great strength and his powerful arm. God's love never fails. 13He split the Red Sea apart. God's love never fails. 14The Lord brought Israel safely through the sea. God's love never fails. 15He destroyed the Egyptian king and his army there. God's love never fails. 16The Lord led his people through the desert. God's love never fails. 17Our God defeated mighty kings. God's love never fails. 18And he killed famous kings. God's love never fails. 19One of them was Sihon, king of the Amorites. God's love never fails. 20Another was King Og of Bashan. God's love never fails. 21God took away their land. God's love never fails. 22He gave their land to Israel, the people who serve him. God's love never fails. 23God saw the trouble we were in. God's love never fails. 24He rescued us from our enemies. God's love never fails. 25He gives food to all who live. God's love never fails. 26Praise God in heaven! God's love never fails. A prayer for revenge
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1I don't need to write to you about the time or date when all this will happen. 2You know that the Lord's return will be as a thief coming at night. 3People will think they are safe and secure. But destruction will suddenly strike them like the pains of a woman about to give birth. And they won't escape. 4My dear friends, you don't live in darkness, and so that day won't surprise you like a thief. 5You belong to the light and live in the day. We don't live in the night or belong to the dark. 6Others may sleep, but we should stay awake and be alert. 7People sleep during the night, and some even get drunk. 8But we belong to the day. So we must stay sober and let our faith and love be like a suit of armour. Our firm hope that we will be saved is our helmet. 9God doesn't intend to punish us, but wants us to be saved by our Lord Jesus Christ. 10Christ died for us, so that we could live with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. 11That's why you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing. 12My friends, we ask you to be thoughtful of your leaders who work hard and tell you how to live for the Lord. 13Show them great respect and love because of their work. Try to get along with each other. 14My friends, we beg you to warn anyone who isn't living right. Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone. 15Don't be hateful to people, just because they are hateful to you. Rather, be good to each other and to everyone else. 16Always be joyful 17and never stop praying. 18Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do. 19Don't turn away God's Spirit 20or ignore prophecies. 21Put everything to the test. Accept what is good 22and don't have anything to do with evil. 23I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 24The one who chose you can be trusted, and he will do this. 25Friends, please pray for us. 26Give the Lord's followers a warm greeting. 27In the name of the Lord I beg you to read this letter to all his followers. 28I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind to you!
1It is wonderful to be grateful and to sing your praises, Lord Most High! 2It is wonderful each morning to tell about your love and at night to announce how faithful you are. 3I enjoy praising your name to the music of harps, 4because everything you do makes me happy, and I sing joyful songs. 5You do great things, Lord . Your thoughts are too deep 6for an ignorant fool to know or understand. 7Though the wicked sprout and spread like grass, they will be pulled up by their roots. 8But you will rule over all of us for ever, 9and your hateful enemies will be scattered and then destroyed. 10You have given me the strength of a wild ox, and you have chosen me to be your very own. 11My eyes have seen, and my ears have heard the doom and destruction of my terrible enemies. 12Good people will prosper like palm trees, and they will grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. 13They will take root in your house, Lord God, and they will do well. 14They will be like trees that stay healthy and fruitful, even when they are old. 15And they will say about you, The Lord always does right! God is our mighty rock. The Lord is king
1First of all, I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. 2Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honour God. 3This kind of prayer is good, and it pleases God our Saviour. 4God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth, which is, 5There is only one God, and Christ Jesus is the only one who can bring us to God. Jesus was truly human, and he gave himself to rescue all of us. 6God showed us this at the right time. 7This is why God chose me to be a preacher and an apostle of the good news. I am telling the truth. I am not lying. God sent me to teach the Gentiles about faith and truth. 8I want everyone everywhere to lift innocent hands towards heaven and pray, without being angry or arguing with each other. 9I would like women to wear modest and sensible clothes. They should not have fancy hair styles, or wear expensive clothes, or put on jewellery made of gold or pearls. 10Women who claim to love God should do helpful things for others, 11and they should learn by being quiet and paying attention. 12They should be silent and not be allowed to teach or to tell men what to do. 13After all, Adam was created before Eve, 14and the man Adam wasn't the one who was fooled. It was the woman Eve who was completely fooled and sinned. 15But women will be saved by having children, if they stay faithful, loving, holy, and modest. Church officials