The pedagogy of peace on Earth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 20, 2005

As we approach this Saturday, it is easy to forget the message brought by the “holiday” season

don’t want to offend the ACLU here by mentioning the rudimentary underpinnings of what we will celebrate on Sunday this year.

But, after all, as Charles Schultz would remind us in his “Peanuts” series, Christmas is the time for peace and good will to everyone!

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And I thought that there truly is a kind of Christmas “pedagogy” at work for those of us committed to solid education, as well as to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

That pedagogy has to do with approach to the student and to the subject-matter being encountered in any given lesson.

As we so often hear during this time of year from pulpit after pulpit, the message is one of “hope” and of “promise”.

I personally know of no teacher with any depth who is not committed to these notions – and it is they who are the true “pedagogists” in my humble opinion.

They always offer “hope” to their students because they believe in the promise of student achievement.

Have you ever noticed that it is those teachers who are deemed “successful” who seem to have a sense of calm in their methods of teaching, who seem to find the best effort in each student, and who make a lesson out of every experience?

Sound like a “teacher” we all know who was born on Christmas?

With Him, every encounter held within it a seed of “hope” for the enhancement of the human condition.

And every parable of His is a lesson of simple truths, common discoveries, and universal applications.

Any severe judgmental lessons were presented in a rather “soft” but solid cloak of human dignity.

The judgments of His parables were always uplifting, constructive, and positive.

The “lesson” was in the individual application to each of our lives and how we choose to synthesize it into the fabric of our being.

I am going to quote from St. Luke’s rendition of Our Savior’s birth, Chapter 2, verses 8-14, because it seems to me to be the most illustrative of the Gospel accounts of this event which changed the history of the world.

And I note the calm reassurance of the angels as they seek to inform and to comfort the shepherds in announcing the birth of Christ.

In short, they say, “Do not fear this great event, for it brings a new element to the human condition, one which will change the world as you know it.”

It was important to have the shepherds understand that this is nothing to fear because it would have been they who first witnessed the exciting astronomical configurations in their skies.

And it was they initially who needed to understand the impact of this event.

So St. Luke reports, “And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among all with whom He is Pleased.'”

Taking a phrase from a recent popular song, “I can only imagine” what my response might have been.

Still, the pedagogical approach of the angels with their message was one of calm “hope” and assuring “promise” in their announcement.

“Don’t fear,” they repeat.

“This is a good and wonderful thing you are witnessing, and it brings to the whole of the human condition a new vision of how our world must be.”

Its pedagogy, then, is one we see repeated in more mundane elements of teaching and learning.

Teachers who reach the souls of their students instinctively offer hope and promise, not only in the given lesson, but in the application of that lesson in a practical, but often cynical, world.

No secret here to my inclination – Christmas for me, brings a message of how we must teach those who would take the promise of this event and yield “hope’ for the entirety of the human condition.

Hence, it is Christmas which secures the effectiveness of a teacher who keeps hope alive in the classroom and who makes the promise of this season last a lifetime.

In other words, those teachers whom I have known over the years who are the most effective are the ones who instinctively and innately apply the message of Christmas in their pedagogy

and how “Christ-like” to do so.

Merry Christmas, everyone! And may the light of this season shine for you the whole year through.

-Dr. Arthur G. Ogden is the Demopolis Campus Director of Alabama Southern Community College.

All his degrees are in philosophy.

He can be reached at