Talking about faith so students won’t tune out

Owning and Grounding when Talking about Faith

Talking to students about faith related matters can be tricky when there is a wide range of perspectives in the classroom. In this video Jonathan Sargeant, Lay Education Office at St Francis College in Brisbane talks about the skill of owning and grounding, which can be very effective in keeping dialogue open.

As Jonathan identifies in the video the main error that we can fall into when speaking about faith in Anglican Schools is that we incorporate the students and others into our set of beliefs. This could be by saying things like: “our Lord” or “we believe”. If students don’t hold a particular belief and the speaker assumes they do, it may cause them to switch off because their ideas are not accepted or acknowledged. This is where owning and grounding can be helpful.

The skill of owning is about the speaker claiming the idea or belief as their own. For example: I believe Jesus rose from the dead. Grounding occurs when the speaker identifies others who own the idea or belief. For example: Christians believe…. or Some Christians believe. Speaking this way may seem to reduce the power of the statement because the teacher is acting in a way that allows the truth they believe to be disputed. In fact doing so increases the likelihood that students will engage with the ideas being presented and the opportunity for dialogue is maintained.

Stephen has a passion for exploring mission and ministry. He has worked for the Anglican Church for the last twenty years mostly in the area of youth and children’s ministry. In this time he has worked for two churches, two Anglican schools, as a university chaplain and for the Brisbane Diocese as the Youth, Children’s and Families Officer. Currently he is the Director of Mission for the Anglican Schools Commission. He has degrees in Science, Theology, Community Welfare, Education and has completed a Doctorate in Ministry, focused on the church’s mission in Anglican schools.

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