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Take off your ‘teacher hat’ and think about you

Sarah Brangwin is a primary school teacher in Bathurst, New South Wales. She graduated from the Master of Theology from The Broken Bay Institute and The University of Newcastle in 2015. BBI asked Sarah what inspired her to study theology.

“I was teaching a religion lesson at a Catholic School outside of Bathurst and one of the kids asked me a question and then said ‘I don’t believe in Jesus.’ I’d read some children’s literature, responded as best I could but there was a moment where I just thought, I feel like I owe it to the kids I’m teaching that I should be better informed.”

Sarah BrangwinInitially disheartened by the idea of doing several years more study so soon after graduating from her four-year teaching degree, Sarah firstly researched online about the one-year (part-time) Graduate Certificate in Theology. “I decided firstly to do my Graduate Certificate because I grew up Catholic and religion was always a big part of my life. I also thought if I am going to be a really good teacher, I have to be as well-equipped as I can.” She was also encouraged by the improved job prospects a theology degree could offer.

After completing the Graduate Certificate, she realised she wanted to keep studying. “I got an email about the Masters so I looked up the units and they sounded really interesting, especially the one about Liturgy and I thought ‘Why not’. I’m really glad that I did. It’s helped me grow as a person, prepare for teaching and form a better understanding of my faith.”

One of the unexpected benefits Sarah found with studying theology was the way it challenged her to get out of her comfort zone. “One of the most challenging parts of the course was how it made me take my teacher hat off and think about myself. I found it hard to talk about my faith or challenge other people’s ideals in the discussion forums, as we were encouraged to do. I’ve definitely learnt from being able to discuss things with people who have totally different ideals and beliefs.”

Sarah said the favourite part of her course was being able to pass on objective knowledge within the classroom setting. “For me, studying theology was about getting that tool box and knowledge so I could give my students the information and resources to guide them to find their own belief and faith.”

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