With two bachelor’s degrees, two graduate diplomas and (almost) two masters degrees to her name, you might think Jacqui Stok is the queen of further study, but she says that to begin with, she was just going through the motions.
“That workshop switched on a real love of learning and academic engagement,” Jacqui said. “Perhaps it was partly spiritual—God meeting me in that moment. But also, it was the way that David Smith taught.
Smith’s teaching strategies drew the participants into a deeper experience of learning. For Jacqui, it turned on a passion for learning that has never been turned off.
“Before the workshop, I didn’t read books at all,” she said. “Since then, I have not stopped reading.”
The weeklong workshop, looking at liturgical practices in Christian education challenged the prevailing idea that Christian education was only about worldview.
“David challenged us to think more broadly about pedagogy. He said that it was not enough to consider the Christian ideas in what we taught. Rather, how we taught, and the daily practices in our classrooms, contribute to the formation of our students,” Jacqui explained. “He was practising what he preached, and it was thoroughly engaging.”
Jacqui was enrolled in a Master of Education at the time but the workshop inspired her to finish it more quickly. Her next foray into study was a Graduate Diploma of Divinity at MST.
In her new role at Eastern, Jacqui has switched her focus from high school students learning maths and physics, to adults learning about education. She has a passion to help them think through what it will mean for them to be Christian teachers and educators.
“When I went into teaching, I thought that ‘Christian education’ was about being a Christian while also being a teacher,” she said. “Then I worked in a Christian school and realised that it is so much richer and broader than this. God is sovereign over all things and that includes quadratic equations and high jump. We can’t split life up into the sacred and the secular.”
After the workshop, Jacqui began to think more deeply about Christian practices in learning.
“For example, rather than saying we want our kids to have humility or courage, how can we design classes and lessons and school culture so that these things are taught, modelled, and practiced?” she said. Her aim is to engage students in developing those practices and to inspire them to intentionally embed them within subjects, classes and schools.