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You Gotta Have Faith

Senior Lecturer Irvin Scott talks about why faith leaders can be key players in educational outcomes for children in their communities.
Irvin Scott

Irvin Scott believes there’s a place for faith in education. Now, he’s trying to find that place by looking at how faith leaders can help improve educational outcomes for children.

“If you are in the business of serving children and communities from the perspective some might call spiritual, I think it’s a great thing to know how they are doing in other ways academically,” he says. “That academic performance is a good indicator of how they will do in other parts of life.”

If we aren't taking children’s faith into account, says Scott, we are missing a big opportunity to tap into their worlds. “Faith traditions, particularly in vulnerable communities — African American, Latino, Native American, vulnerable communities economically, rural white communities — play a pivotal role in the support and sustaining and political engagement in those communities," says Scott. "No matter how vulnerable a community becomes, usually in this country — no matter how blighted it becomes in spite of economics — there are two institutions that remain: schools … and faith institutions.”

During the first meeting of the Leaders Institute for Faith and Education (LIFE) this fall, Scott will pose the simple, yet complex work of bringing these two worlds together for the betterment of kids. With nearly double the number of expected participants enrolled, it is clear that Scott isn’t alone in his quest to figure out how to do this, perhaps indicating that people aren’t as fearful of education and faith mixing as one might think. In fact, Scott insists that the most common reaction to his quest is curiosity and excitement. “I have very little visceral, emotional negative reaction,” he says.

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Scott imagines what education might look like if we involved faith leaders to help improve educational outcomes of kids.

About the Harvard EdCast

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly podcast featuring brief conversations with education leaders and innovative thinkers from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Jill Anderson, the EdCast is a dynamic space for discourse about problems and transformative solutions in education, shining a light on the compelling people, policies, practices, and ideas shaping the field. Find the EdCast on iTunes, Soundcloud, and Stitcher


An education podcast that keeps the focus simple: what makes a difference for learners, educators, parents, and communities

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