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A Refreshing Change April 26, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Young people.
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Two great stories in the Saturday paper very close to each other. PD*28384537The first was about a young person who has raised £30,000 to buy and rebuild an orphanage in Tanzania after spending time there. Amy Lambert just wanted to do something to help so she came home and did something amazing! Read more about Amy Lambert here.

In contrast there is a story about the misbehaviour of senior citizens at a cinema in Leicester. Their behaviour included reserving seats for friends who hadn’t arrived and stuffing their Tupperware boxes full of the free biscuits.

It’s so good to see stories that buck the media trend – young people are not all bad – in fact the majority are simply working hard to do what they can. In contrast their role models whether they be celebrities or the older generation often set such bad examples. They expect from others what they are unwilling to model. Perhaps the MP’s expenses promises to be the worst example of that – time will tell!!

Youth Well-being April 21, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Youth Work.
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A report today reported on BBC news shows that the UK is ranked 24th out of 29 on Youth wellbeing. This follows on from the Good Childhood inquiry which expressed concern about the wellbeing of children.

This is really interesting since we already have significant emphasis on Children and Young People through the goverments Every Child Matters and the Youth Matters agenda.

So what part does today’s youth worker have to contribute to this debate? As the church is now the largest employer of youth workers, in what ways are we getting involved in making a difference to these stats? It would be easy to complain about what is happening – the key question for me is what are we going to do about it? I’d love to see examples of youth work that does make a difference to these issues.

Of course teaching the Bible is part of the answer but how much of what we do takes the broader agenda of youth wellbeing seriously?

Faith Schools and Neutrality April 20, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Education.
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The 5live phone in this morning did it’s normal trick – got me cross!  The subject was faith schools and apart from  Nicky Cambell being provocative ( I know it’s his job) I found the quality of contributions mediocre.

We had the ‘I don’t want my taxes to pay for religious schools’ – because of course religious people don’t pay taxes!. We had the children are being indoctrinated comment – as if the alternative to a faith school is some sort of neutral value free education.

When are we going to wake up to the fact that the alternative to faith schools is not neutral but a set of other values altogether. The choice is between a set of values – some influenced by a faith perspective – others equally influenced by a different set of values – often unspoken secular ones. We need to be honest and open about our values – at least that’s what faith schools are doing.

I think ‘Indoctrination, Education & God’ should be compulsory reading for all in Education. At least then we’d begin to be alerted to the reality of what lies behind our approach to education.

When Christians have worked out why being involved in education is a good thing for all the students in their care, when they can articulate why the values that underpin their approach to education are not just about passing on faith but about helping all to reach their God-given potential, then the dialogue can really begin. Let’s do that and speak out firmly because to keep quiet is to ignore the needs of the young people we supposedly care so much about.