Religion director David Wells tells teachers to pack joy in their lunch bag.


Religion director David Wells tells teachers to pack joy in their lunch bag.

March 4, 2013

Catholic school teachers in danger of losing their passion for teaching need a dose of joy, says David Wells.

“Are we in danger of missing the point?” he asked the Catholic Educators’ Conference Feb. 15.

Wells, director of religious education in Plymouth, England, said the problem many teachers face is forgetting the purpose of their work in the midst of preparing for classes and marking assignments.

“The gods of performance indicators so take over our lives that one day we need to be gathered like this to remember our purpose,” said Wells. “Don’t turn teaching into an exercise about results.”

The energetic speaker gave some tips for going to work enthusiastic and coming home happy. Those included looking at the bigger picture, being grateful, welcoming change, and spending time in reflection.

“More than anything else,” he said, “we need you to love children and enjoy your job.”

The former high school teacher quoted Pope John Paul I, who said joy was the most needed virtue in the life and work of the Church.

“In one of the bleakest developments of modern times, Christians have suddenly become a people seemingly without humour. By a singularly unhappy chance, followers of Christ in particular have lost — please God, only momentarily — the gift of laughter,” the pope said.

He also emphasized the importance of humility in teaching. “If you want to devote your life to being the best, it might work on a football pitch, but actually as a mantra for education, it produces victims.”

The litmus test for Catholic education, he said, is how we treat the smallest, most vulnerable child.

“The future of humanity lies in the hands of those who are strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping,” said Wells. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is why we build Catholic schools. It’s about human dignity and endeavour.”