What Do You Want?

How central to a teacher’s thinking is the ideal graduate they are seeking to cultivate?  Over and over the teacher should return to a contemplation of what a formal school is hoping to grow.  We need to see the end in order to choose the best means.  The following questions are something of the type that I am thinking will keep us true to our calling.

contemplation

  1. What sort of student will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, knowing that all else will be added to him as he pursues such?
  2. How does the Gospel inform my teaching? What specific aspects of teaching are directly related to Christ’s work in His Church?  By Whose authority do I teach?
  3. While it is necessary and good to fill my student with knowledge, how do I encourage that knowledge to lead him to understanding and carry him on into wisdom (Proverbs 2:6)?
  4. What kind of lesson will integrate in my student the knowledge, abilities, and heart of a true learner?
  5. In a world increasingly deceived by the notion that “knowledge is power” how do I cultivate virtue in my students, especially the virtue of humility?
  6. Of what influence is the atmosphere, the ethos, of my classroom upon my students? Is it too busy?  Is it too noisy?  Is the pace conducive to deep thought?  How to I consciously order this ethos so that it unconsciously molds the right heart in both myself and my students?
  7. How hierarchical is my teaching? Do I demonstrate a right ordering of my own loves in my teaching that my student might learn to order his?  Are the best things given prime time and lesser things lesser emphasis?
  8. How often are my lessons developed around a question or questions that breed contemplation rather than completion? How often are the questions ones I still want to think more about?
  9. How much of my “lesson planning” is simply my own further learning? Am I a student in my own classroom?  Does the content I am teaching still captivate me?
  10. How much coaching in the skills of good thinking, reasoning, reading, writing, listening, and speaking do I display in an average hour with my students?
  11. Are my lessons a display mostly of my own learning, or an arena for my students to add to their learning? How do I know this?  What are the criteria for my judgments?
  12. How does my student relate to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty? Are they real to him; do they actually exist in his world? Can they be known?  Can they be communicated to others?
  13. How permanent are the things taught in my classroom? If I assessed what I have taught to a student years later, how much would remain?
  14. How do I assess knowledge well? Can understanding or wisdom be assessed?  If so, how?  Are these the assessments I use in my own teaching?

I am sure there are many more, but just thinking about these questions as I have written them down have again brought me to that paradox of teaching: fearful expectation.  I fear all my weakness and inadequacies, but I hope and expect God’s grace to bring about great lessons for both my students and myself.  Think on these things.

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