The apostle Paul used an analogy of the human body to demonstrate the functions of the church as an organization. He emphasized that every church member is important, as each part of the human body is important (1 Corinthians 12:12-28). Schools are educational institutions and the same analogy can be applied. The question is how to have a healthy school. For the purposes of this article, I’m limiting my question to the Adventist educational framework.
Fitness for the human body includes physical, mental, spiritual and social aspects of life. When any one of these is affected, the body is unable to function normally. Three tips are discussed for healthy schools.
- Spiritual exercise: Regular physical exercise keeps the body active. Occasional exercises may cause muscle pain and feebleness. Similarly, regular staff and faculty worship strengthens a school’s spiritual muscles. When spiritual activities are only rituals within a framework of the ‘Week of Prayer’ in a semester or special religious events, rather than a regular part of the educational life of the school, they become only a celebration rather than spiritual enrichment to the souls of the staff and students.
A school’s spiritual atmosphere molds the Christian character of the students, which is the fundamental goal of Adventist Education. Teachers are role models at school (White, 1913). Administrators, faculty and staff members are expected to be vibrant in spiritual activities at the school. They should set an example by attending and participating in midweek prayer meeting, Friday vespers, Sabbath worships and other religious and evangelical activities. Deficiency in regular spiritual exercises of the school administrators, faculty and staff causes spiritual lethargy in school health.
- Social Activities: Social acceptance elevates self-esteem and dignity and improves work performance. Thus, in Christ, there is no race, cast, religion, nationality and gender discrimination (Galatians 3:28). A school’s mental and emotional health is negatively affected when discrimination is common among students and employees.
A “discrimination virus” would be avoided in two ways: (a) Avoid compartmentalization of course offering plans for general studies. Encourage students to take general requirement courses with other departments. This creates social bonding among students. (b) Social activities. Involve the maximum number of people in indoor and outdoor games, hiking, camping, picnicking, and small group and club functions. Involving people in activities helps to break class, color and race barriers.
- Balanced diets: Balancing diets for healthy bodies is a complex phenomenon because quantity and quality of food varies from person to person. It is also different in varied geographical locations and occupations. However, basic diet principles must be followed to maintain a healthy body.
A balanced diet for a school includes: remuneration, benefits and promotion policies and guidelines. When these policies are absent or intentionally neglected, employees become malnourished and school health gradually deteriorates. The primary issue is not the amount of funding but how it is used. When the lion’s share of the school operational budget is used for administrators’ allowances and other related benefits, while the basic needs of other employees are overlooked, resentment breeds. Promoting and hiring employees shaded under nepotism and favoritism, while dedicated and qualified employees are ignored, demoralizes the serving spirit and encourages unhealthy competitions and grouping among the employees and students.
The remedy is to practice servant leadership, and avoid oppression and power games.