Never

I have never been taught how to teach.

diploma

But I had been a high school teacher for 16 years

when I received the email.

silohetteDr. Gary Bredfeldt, then chair of the Educational Ministries department at Moody Bible Institute, had read an article I penned on teaching subjects Christianly. He wrote to inquire if I would be interested to interview for a college position to teach future teachers how to do the same.

I jumped at the opportunity.

teacherDr. Bredfeldt had me teach a class so that the professors could see how I taught. The department went out to lunch to get to know me. We returned to campus where my colleagues had more intensive discussions about my biblical philosophy of instruction.

After meeting many professors and administration Dr. Bredfeldt and I personally met to discuss possibilities.

teachingWhen he was finished with his questions, he asked if I had any. I said, “Why do you want me? I don’t know any of the philosophies, theories, or methodologies of teaching. Why would you want me to teach about teaching?”

I wondered if my honesty would cost me a job prospect.

I will never forget what happened next.

educationHe smiled and said, “You already practice the philosophies, theories, and methods of teaching. You can easily learn the names of theories and theorists. I want someone who can do teaching. I watched your exceptional teaching today. And by all accounts you have been doing high school teaching quite well for 16 years. Now you need to teach others what you have learned.

I was stunned. Not only was I being offered a position to teach at one of the most prestigious Bible colleges in America, my new department head and soon-to-be friend had just verified what is true: professional instruction does not always prepare someone for work for which they are already gifted.

Don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t believe teaching was important my work would have little meaning.

learnHere is what the encounter reaffirmed in my thinking.

  1. Giftedness is given to us. Our passions, desires, and delights are God-directed.
  2. Skills can be learned, vocations come from who we have been created to be.
  3. Study can expand, deepen, and elucidate anyone’s craft.
  4. Experience is not the best teacher but it is an essential teacher.
  5. Foresight to see who others are, what they can become, is visionary leadership.

MoodyI went on to teach for six years at Moody. Since that time Dr. Bredfeldt has asked me to teach in other programs he has led. I will be ever grateful to him for bearing the earmark of #5: foresight.

teacher1Now, I look forward. I actively direct young men and women who have obvious gifts, great experience, and who can teach Christianly. They are the next generation.

What matters is the answer to the question, “Can they practice the craft of teaching?”

And I never ask them if they have an education degree.

Nate, Amanda, Tim, Nate, Brian, Kevin, Lachelle, & Claude are just a few of those in the next generation with whom it has been my honor to contribute to their growth as educational leaders. Dr. Mark Eckel is the president of The Comenius Institute.

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