As noted by Steven Garber in his introductory acknowledgements, “One gift of this study has been a deepened understanding of the role that my own teachers have played in my life” (11).
The impact of teachers and their leadership within the craft of learning is significant to the education of the next generation. Steven Garber’s book The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief & Behavior During the University Years offers a collection of chapters in which learning for life, care, and competence—within the context of educating from a Christian perspective—can be explored, while also providing useful reading for personal or interdisciplinary research ventures.
Through a tapestry of eight chapters, the author presents a variety of perspectives across three main themes: the relationship between ideas and responsibility, the moral need for a purpose for education, and the ability to connect learning to life. All of these themes flow from the common precept that Christian education is significant and offers a great deal more to students than mere cognitive expertise.
This review will explore each of these themes briefly, discuss how each adds to the literature already written, and conclude with other considerations that make the book a significant addition to a teacher’s professional library.
Theme One: The Relationship Between Ideas and Responsibility
With experience as a teacher himself, Garber does an exemplary job of exploring the haunting questions behind the teaching life—for example, “Why do I teach every day and what makes teaching worthwhile?” Any teacher, on a bad day, will consider this a pertinent question. The thesis of Garber’s book is that for moral meaning to form, students must have a vision of integrity that connects belief to behaviour personally and publicly, and that only a deliberate and solid worldview connection can address the challenge of coherence and truth in our current society. It is from this premise that the first theme, the relationship between ideas and responsibility, becomes grounded.
The relationship between ideas and responsibility requires an intentional connection between what is believed and how that belief is lived out in “habits of the heart.” Of course, Garber is not the first writer to form such a conclusion. He does have some subtle nuances to add to the work of others (Bertrand, Bauman, Hollinger, Bartholomew & Goheen, Buford, Postman) in his emphasis on habit and intentionality as being essential to educational practice that fosters life skills extending “after schooling.” The authors mentioned above focus on faith and its resilience, but not to the same extent on the need for education to train for resilient faith to be possible.