Skip to main content

Teaching and Christian Imagination

David I. Smith and Susan M. Felch


Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Eerdmans
Publish Date: January 15, 2016
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802873235
ISBN-13: 978-0802873231

“The authors provide catalysts for teachers of any discipline in religious institutions to rethink, reignite, and recommit to their vocation.”

–Karen E. Eifler, University of Portland

This book offers an energizing Christian vision for the art of teaching. The authors — experienced teachers themselves — encourage teacher-readers to reanimate their work by imagining it differently. David Smith and Susan Felch, along with Barbara Carvill, Kurt Schaefer, Timothy Steele, and John Witvliet, creatively use three metaphors — journeys and pilgrimages, gardens and wilderness, buildings and walls — to illuminate a fresh vision of teaching and learning. Stretching beyond familiar clichés, they infuse these metaphors with rich biblical echoes and theological resonances that will inform and inspire Christian teachers everywhere.


David I. Smith

David I. Smith started his career teaching French, German and Russian in secondary schools in England before moving into higher education. He currently serves both as Director of Graduate Studies in Education and as Director of the Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has published extensively in the field of Christian educational theory and travels widely to speak at educational conferences and work with groups of teachers in both higher and K-12 education. He is editor of the International Journal of Christianity and Education, and has been involved with a variety of curriculum projects.


Susan M. Felch

Susan M. Felch received her undergraduate degree in music from Wheaton College and also earned her MA in theology from Wheaton. After teaching high school music and English, she entered a doctoral program in literature at the Catholic University of America. She received her PhD in 1991 and joined the Calvin College English department in 1992. She has served as a mentor for the Lilly Graduate Fellows program, is the Executive Editor of the Independent Works of William Tyndale, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops.


Table of Contents



Part 1   Journeys and Pilgrimages

Part 2   Gardens and Wilderness

Part 3   Buildings and Walls

–An Ending, An Invitation



“Those who take the time to read Teaching and Christian Imagination may feel like they have experienced refreshment from some kind of retreat or even perhaps from a kind of spiritual pilgrimage. They will have had occasion to step back and see the vocation of teaching in new and imaginative ways.”
–Christian Scholarship Review
“Imagine this, teachers, and experience it through reading this book: Set aside, for a moment, the fast pace and quantitative judgments that shape so much of contemporary education. Encounter biblical texts, poems, and works of art that help you to see what you do every day with new eyes. Hear down-to-earth stories from other teachers. Let your imagination of what it means to teach and to learn deepen and expand. Find renewal in the indispensable, beautiful, and difficult vocation to which God has called you.”
–Dorothy Bass, Valparaiso University
“Deftly unpacking their three central metaphors for teaching — pilgrimage, gardening, and building — the authors provide catalysts for teachers of any discipline in religious institutions to rethink, reignite, and recommit to their vocation. Wending my way through this text, I found myself invited and equipped to cultivate a hermeneutic of wonder as a bracing, life-giving complement to the hermeneutic of suspicion that tends to dominate so much of the landscape in higher education today.”
–Karen E. Eifler, University of Portland
“I have never read anything quite like this delightful book. The authors both nourish your soul and draw you along the path toward teaching excellence. They offer colorful meditations on the imagery of pedagogy while also rooting these ruminations in the soil of practical teaching experience. While reading these pages, I repeatedly found myself inspired to rebuild not only my classroom practices but also my own life. Every kind of Christian teacher will find this book life-giving.”
–Perry L. Glanzer, Baylor University