The Role of the Teacher

I am reading Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987) for my BMA Seminary class, Introduction to Christian Teaching and it is amazing.  I’m learning so much. 

I always thought to teach is to go over the answers.  I filled in for the Sunday school teacher one day and went over the answers and I realize now that I did a terrible job.

“The true function of the teacher is to create the most favorable conditions for self-learning…True teaching is not that which gives knowledge, but that which stimulates pupils to gain it.  One might say that he teaches best who teaches least.” (John Milton Gregory)

Dr. Hendricks states “The way people learn determines how you teach.” Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987).  It’s true we all learn differently.  Me I’m slow.  It takes me a while to get something.  I joke that my favorite lolly pop flavor is Windex (window licker).

In the book, he also says “the concept behind John Milton Gregory’s laws (The Seven Laws of Teaching) calls the law of the Teaching Process, it involves stimulating and directing the learner’s self-activities – that’s the key expression.” Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

He elaborates and states “the teacher must excite and direct the learner’s self-activities, tell the learner nothing – and do nothing for him – that he can learn or do for himself.  Therefore, what’s important is not what you do as a teacher, but what the learners do as a result of what you do.”  Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

“The teacher is primarily a stimulator and motivator, not the player, but the coach who excites and direct the players.  The learner is primarily an investigator, a discoverer and a doer.  So again, the ultimate test of teaching is not what you do or how well you do it, but what and how the learner does.  Good teachers can’t be focused on what they do, but on what their students are doing.”  Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

Dr. Hendricks goes on to say “do you settle for the fact that they can give you all the right answers and mouth all the Christian truths?  Does that satisfy you?  I’m never impressed with how much they know.  They’re always throwing in Greek and Hebrew here and there to impress me, and I say Big Deal.  How does it work in your life?” Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

That’s true if we can relate to what the Sunday school instructor is saying, we can gain a lot more out of it.

Finally, Dr. Hendricks says “teachers are interested in how much a student can cram into his head and then regurgitate onto a piece of paper.  In a hallway at the seminary I once met a student on his way to an exam.  He seemed to be in a trance, and I started to put my arm around him and talk to him.  Prof, he joked, don’t touch me!  I’ll leak everything I know.  That’s not education.”  Teaching to Change Lives (Dr. Howard Hendricks 1987)

A few weeks ago, our Sunday school class went over The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25 – 37 and we learned that the road between Jerusalem and Jericho is about 18 miles long and it’s a treacherous place, oftentimes people get robbed and beat up on that road and in this particular instance someone in fact did get robbed and beat up by bandits.  He was stripped of his raiment or clothes and wounded or beaten and left there. 

In those times there were three levels of Jewish hierarchy: the high priest, priests, and Levites.  And in New Testament times the priests were the ones who made sacrifices in the Temples.  A Priest passed by, but he made sure to pass by on the other side of the road and did nothing.  A Levite also saw the beaten man and also passed on the opposite side of the road and did nothing to help the man. 

However, a Samaritan, a stranger, saw the beaten man and choose to stop and help.  He poured in olive oil and wine on the wounds, bandaged his wounds.  He put the man on his own beast (animal), He brought him to an Inn, in doing so, provided a place for him to recover, and he paid for more care to be given, and promised to pay for the remainder of the bill, if needed, when he returned. 

In our Sunday school lesson we were engaged and thought about what we would do, or what would Jesus do if her were in that situation.  There is no doubt that Jesus would help the beaten man left on the side of the road.

We even talked about homeless people, or people we see on the side of the road and why we don’t just get out and ask if we can pray with them, even if you don’t have money to give them, what if we just prayed with them and for them.

We got more out of that discussion and interaction that just going over the material and being given the answers.  The goal should be to inspire change in one’s life, not to just go over the answers.