They never saw it coming.
I was teaching my first class at Moody Bible Institute.
I handed out the syllabus. Faces around the room fell, jaws dropped as they read.
I had created a horrendous curriculum. The requirements were beyond the reach of normal undergraduate students. The expectations of time would allow little sleep. The assignments could have tested professors.
Tears turned to smiles. Delighted, students dumped the classroom horror into the waste basket.
I could have taught them anything after that.
And I did.
I do not believe in “same-ol’-same-ol’.”
I believe in never let ‘em see you comin’.
Here are a few of the suprises I have used over the years to create student interest and enjoin student discovery:
Jolting the class with a statement “Over the weekend I have come to the conclusion that there is no basis for historic Christianity,” then taking startled students through the process of listening for the assumptions of others’ beliefs.
Creating a crossword puzzle for teaching the ascension of Christ, encouraging students to dig for the knowledge on their own.
The way students learn is just as important as what they learn.
Method without content is empty. But content without method is dead.
Approach to a subject adds to the appreciation of a subject. If students are enlivened by a hook into the curriculum it will be easier to read the book, take a look, and see what they took away from the learning experience. [See my essay on “Didactics” here.]
They complained. They called the assignments busy work.
On the fourth week, the students were required to hand in the first three pages of the assignment.
They stopped complaining.
Music, case studies, poetry, guest speakers, panel discussions, Q&A, agree-disagree statements, compare-contrast assignments, project-based assignments, current events, visuals, cartoons, stories, or making the classroom floor the geography of the Old Testament created surprise for my students.
The surprised students in my first undergrad class still recount their response to that first syllabus.
I am not surprised.
Mark is ever thankful for the opportunity to have taught junior high through PhD students over 30 plus years. This essay is written toward Dr. Eckel’s anticipated book Up Against the Lockers: Teaching-Learning as Christian Practice due out at the end of the year. Dr. Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute. [See our 1 minute video here.]
Picture credits: wikipedia