We are all affected in some way by the beginning of a new school term.
Teachers preparing timetables, parents buying uniforms and arranging haircuts for their offspring, governors organising themselves for inspection, caretakers polishing the assembly hall floor and stacking the chairs, catering staff writing up their menus and, not least, the children asking why do they have to go back to their lessons.
For the rest of us, although not directly involved, we notice the increase in weekday peak time traffic on the roads and try to remember to set out ten minutes earlier.
A school I visited some years ago was experiencing quite a lot of changes, so it made a pleasant break for a bunch of staff and pupils to have a tour of a local farm.
On arrival everyone was given a plastic punnet and told they could help themselves to most of the fruit and vegetables left in the fields.
As my half-dozen charges and I wandered along, we discussed, among other things, God’s creation and provision of food.
“My dad doesn’t believe in God”, said one youngster. “That doesn’t make any difference”, responded another, “God is still there!”
We picked strawberries, sweetcorn, raspberries, beetroot (confused by one boy for rhubarb), apples, beans and plums. We learned how to recognise the crops from their leaves, we learned to watch where we were putting our feet, we saw a few goats, pigs and sheep in their homes.
At the end of our tour, we were able to ply the farmer with questions, based on what we had been doing.
“Why does sweetcorn have so many wrappers?”, “Can you make a jumper from goat hair?”, “Why do strawberries have such small seeds?”.
It was an entertaining occasion, as well as informative, when the girls and boys became the teachers through their chatter, misunderstandings and arguments. And they had their part in reminding me of what to include in this article.
The compiler of the Old Testament book of Proverbs had sound advice to give: ‘Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it’ (22, 6).
Instruction and encouragement go together and we must not, even in these days of apathy and contempt, forget the need to make our faith known to the up and coming generation in our care.