She got tired of asking me the question after a while.
I began teaching in 1983. Robin would ask me when I got home how my day went. Four out of five days a week she would get the same response, “I hate my students!”
I had just graduated with a Masters of Theology degree, 128 semester hours of wonderful teaching. I was teaching in a Christian school to Christian students in a Christian atmosphere. I assumed as a Christian instructor that my students would be anxious to learn. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
My methods were innovative. My teaching was full of questions. My passion was obvious.
I soon learned that the best teaching must be matched with the best learning. There can be no “and” between teaching-learning. There should be no separation between either commitment. The teacher and learner must be committed to the same task with the same ardor.
But my students, on the whole, were not receptive to the teaching.
And here is where I made the greatest teaching discovery. My greatest discovery in teaching came when I realized I am not The Holy Spirit. I do not coerce or change anyone. I point. I direct. I say, “Look! See!”
Once I realized I do not coerce or change anyone, I was free to love—not hate—my students. The problem was not theirs, the problem was mine.
One of the Hebrew words for “wisdom” is “instruction.” The word does not mean one who stands behind a lectern delivering a lecture. “Instruction” is the Hebrew word torah or “law.” We tend to think “law” is restrictive or regulatory.
Not true for the Hebrews nor should it be for us. To follow “the law” means literally to follow “the teaching.” When we speak of God’s “law” the focus is not on regimentation or compliance. No, the teacher does what the word “instruction” means: I point, I direct. I am the traffic cop at an accident waving people in a certain direction. The root word for “instruction” is to point or direct.
Over the years I have used multiple methods for teaching people to “see.”
Here are my top five:
- Never Let ‘Em See You Comin’. Always start class a different way. Change it up! Not knowing what to expect creates expectation.
- Use Humor. I would often begin high school classes with “funny stuff,” humorous anecdotes about people that would lead into teaching.
- Case Studies. Create a paragraph scenario of any topic or idea combined with three questions that get students to ponder, discuss, and collaborate solutions.
- Video Clips. Showing 2 – 5 minutes pieces of a news report, commercials, movies, TV programs, you-name-it was something I was doing with VHS tapes since the early 1990’s. Little did I know that “clips” would become common place 25 years later.
- Questions. Ask “Why?” then “How?” The first gets after meaning & purpose, the second says, “Find a solution.” Then teach students to ask questions. Questions teach people how to think, not what to think.
Teachers, keep pointing, keep directing, keep saying “Look! See!”
And remember, teachers, we are NOT The Holy Spirit.
Dr. Mark Eckel began his first teaching “job” in 1983. Mark is President of The Comenius Institute.