Archive for the ‘teaching’ Tag


I’ve decided not to go along to the interview at the Catholic school tomorrow. This may not be as big news to you as it is in my head, but it will nevertheless raise eyebrows and possibly even see a few brickbats swung my way. After all, I’ve been noisy about my desire to change job for a few years now and this job was at a great school with a significant reputation. The fact that I turned it down due to it’s Catholic ethos (and I’m not going to lie about the fact) should effectively upset 

  • The at least 3 practising Catholics and at least 2 lapsed Catholics (ie Irish) among our small school staff
  • Those who deem religion a waste of time and merely a charade for the sake of tradition… they will now see me as borderline insane for taking it so seriously
  • Those Christians who see Catholicism as a valid part of the church community and would see my views as arrogant and divisive.

Do they have a point? My brother-in-law works in a Catholic school and seems to reap nothing but benefit as a result – there is an agreed Christian morality, a forum for open prayer and a daily declaration that God is real. Am I being, well, stupid? Let’s look at my reasoning and find out.

  • It would be unfair to parents at the school for me to work there. This is not just a nominally Catholic school; after applying I read that it’s ethos is explicitly designed ‘in accordance with the Canon Law and teachings of the Catholic Church’ and that its syllabus, in particular it’s religious education, ‘is in accordance with the rites, practices, discipline and liturgical norms of the Catholic Church’. Indeed, overall, ‘at all times the school serves as a witness to the Catholic faith’. A parent who chooses this school does so on the basis of this promise. I can’t get on board with that and would therefore be representing the school under false pretences as a member of staff. By way of application, if a lad in my class was to ask about the Pope’s special status and I answered that he was a sinner like anyone else, not to be idolised, then parents would have every right to complain about me. That’s not what they signed up for. But I can’t in good conscience answer any other way. Therefore I shouldn’t be at the head of his class. Admittedly the idea of such subversion does appeal, but I’m not sure it’s the time or place.
  • It would require me to regularly attend, and presumably participate in, ceremonies troubling to my conscience. I don’t want to overplay this – I’m sure I nightly sit through TV programmes and songs that offend more than the Mass. However, it is different when my mouth issues the words, and I don’t want to ascribe any aspect of God’s glory to Mary, saints or the Pope – each of them idols if seen as above the rest of humankind and each of them saved only by the work of Christ.
  • History is a particularly sensitive subject to teach. A standard Year 8 curriculum sees teaching of the Reformation and Luther’s role, of Henry VIII’s ‘Great Matter’, of ‘Bloody’ Mary’s burnings, of the Spanish Armada, the Gunpowder Plot, the English Civil War, the Puritans, Cromwell in Ireland and the Glorious Revolution. Imagine navigating your way through that lot whilst staying onside with the Catholics!! As it is, I aim to teach without overt bias, but I do honestly report as a starting point that Luther rediscovered the teaching of the Bible, particularly regarding justfication by FAITH. Perhaps I am doing my would-be employers a disservice, but I should imagine they’d want things depicted somewhat differently…
  • If I know I’m going to turn down the job then it’s dishonest to my current employer to take a day off for the interview (particularly given I’ve been off the past two days due to a spectacular burst of sickness!), not to mention the staff who must cover me and the students missing a proper lesson at this crucial stage of the year.

Now, I’m aware, on prior performance, that I may well not have got the job. However, we’ll now never know. Am I right to bail? Would there have been any merit in my witnessing as an employee within the Catholic community? What do you reckon?? (Always risky to end with a question as I look silly if no-one answers… if no-one has, presume they’re letting me know in person!!)



Wow that was tough… I just returned from a job interview and I feel kind of beaten up. I had to teach an observed lesson, complete a marking sample exercise and was interviewed twice by senior management. It’s only right that they screen thoroughly, given the quality of the school involved, but all the effort can seem slightly soul-destroying given that there were 7 candidates selected for interview – meaning a huge amount of time and effort given for a 14%ish chance of success.


How did it go? Well, my lesson went pretty badly, my interviews well. That should be the end of that really – 7 candidates selected from 60 applications should leave little room for anyone messing up the lesson part and retaining any semblance of hope. However, being honest, I think I’ll at least be considered. Call me over-optimistic, but I don’t believe they’d have worked me quite so long or hard if they’d already written me off!


And so what? This isn’t meant to be my diary, after all. Well no, it’s meant to be charting my difficulties and challenges in living as a Christian, and that makes all this very relevant. I want this job a lot, after all, and am I willing to retain my trust in God, to thank Him for His good plans, if I don’t get the gig?? Am I willing to retain a sense of joy if I continue into a 6th, or a 7th year in my current role, bored, listless, unchallenged and with little hope of promotion given the permanence of those occupying all senior roles? Am I willing not to bemoan myself and my lot if, for the third time in the past year, I give my all to a day of interview and get told no, I haven’t sufficiently impressed?


It IS tough and these thoughts must be vastly amplified when being asked by someone who has actually lost their job – someone who is applying for work from a position of desperation, beset by fear that mortgage payments can’t be met. In these Credit Crunch times, are we each willing to place our faith in God’s sovereign will? Are we still able to state with firm certainty that He knows best? That will be my challenge if the phone call does bear bad news this evening. However, it would REALLY be my challenge if the film industry gets to a stage where PR is deemed unnecessary and my wife was thus next to lose her job. Then we wouldn’t be able to pay the mortgage, keep the house, make debt repayments etc… Being honest, it feels like it would be the end of the world!


But it wouldn’t be the end. All over the world, Christians live and witness in the midst of collapsed economies, in grinding poverty, fixing their eyes on the next world, not this one. We are saved through grace, and nothing compares to that gift or the price paid to give it. My breathless fears are based on the idolatrous faith I place in my lifestyle, my social standing, my career, my comfort, my desire for CONTROL… We can’t abide anything – be it the collapse of financial markets, or the snow that has shut down my school for half of this week – that reminds us of how powerless we actually are.


So yes I will endeavour to keep trusting in God’s sovereign control; I will put my faith in the creator, not in what’s created. I will thank Him even if I don’t get this or any other job any time soon… Who else am I going to trust instead, after all? Certainly not myself, after the mess I made of today!

PS Nope – didn’t get the job…