I sat in the Market Cafe after a Hemp Growers meeting chatting about the state of the economy, the condition of the (Welsh) Nation’s youth, the way we prepare young people for (un)productive life, and the sorts of things that 50 year olds come up with when they feel the cold hand of the uncertainties unearthed by mortality and change.
The search light of our razor sharp analysis (your choice whether or not to buy into that last bit) fell and played upon the issue of classroom management and how the best means of achieving an orderly working environment has changed in the last few years.
I used to control classes … in those distant days when I made a few ‘bob’ from pedagogy … by dint of force of character and power of voice. Seriously, that’s how it used to be. But chatting with my 15 year old daughter a few days ago about the best teachers in her school, it had become evident that the teachers with most control now exercise it by demonstrating good stockmanship skills rather than a facility in verbal martial arts. Her classmates respond best to people who hear them, take them seriously and CARE for them and the weak amongst them.
I was able to reflect in the Market Cafe on the wisdom of God preparing his Old Testament leaders by taking them into the desert early on in their lives to learn to lead by caring for the flocks and the herds. Abraham, Moses, David … they all learned their craft of spiritual leadership by caring for flocks and herds.
So my Market Cafe thesis was that the way to manage classroms of prospective NEETs (people not in employment, education or training) was very similar to the way we’ve learned to handle boistreous young rams and stroppy down-calving heifers. You feed them. You care for them. You keep your own boundaries showing discipline and consistency and expect your boundaries to be respected, but you shepherd them, you exercise good human ‘husbandry’, you feed and you tend them like a flock. And in Wales … these are the powerful role models amongst this nation’s youth.
And my market cafe focus group must now reflect on the idea that this is quite simply the way God also manages us …