Faculty Spotlight: Matthew Blake

Matthew Blake, an Upper School Theology Teacher at Sacred Heart, brings to the classroom an innovative approach to teaching theology and philosophy. With a focus on making the complex topic of theology accessible, Blake's classes provide students with a practical and relatable understanding of these disciplines.

His 11th-grade course, Interdisciplinary Theological Research, exposes students to a wide survey of contemporary Catholic theological frameworks. During the spring semester, students explore a specific question related to these frameworks, fostering critical thinking and research skills. Notably, the course integrates art as a means of understanding the theological significance of visual imagery.

"We use logical thinking in theology and we conduct a critical analysis of the biblical text, but imagination and creativity are also important," says Blake, adding that emphasizing creativity helps his students understand theology’s more abstract concepts. 

Blake also teaches a 12th-grade Philosophy and Ethics course in collaboration with two other faculty members. In this class, students explore fundamental philosophical themes such as epistemology, the philosophical study of knowledge, and ontology, a branch of metaphysics dealing with the philosophical study of the nature of being. 

A key part of Blake's teaching style is fostering a dynamic dialogue with his students. He acknowledges the reciprocal nature of learning. "Teaching is really a dialogue where I am delivering content and instructing, but I am also learning from my students,” he said. “I’ve been impressed by the ways in which students have confidently shared perspectives in class, and I feel like I’m learning from them just as much as they’re learning from me."

Blake's dedication to relevance and engagement is evident in his choice of topics and teaching methods. Currently, his students are immersed in the study of eco-theology, a contemporary theological field that explores God’s relationship to the Earth community and the spiritual roots of the climate crisis. By encouraging students to explore the practical implications of their theological studies, Blake empowers them to critically examine the world around them and envision paths toward positive change.

As Matthew Blake continues to inspire and challenge his students at Sacred Heart, his innovative approach to education serves as a testament to 91st Street’s commitment to academic excellence and intellectual exploration. Under his guidance, students not only deepen their understanding of theological and philosophical concepts, but also cultivate the skills and perspectives necessary to navigate an ever-changing world with compassion and critical insight.