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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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)?
- What kind of lesson will integrate in my student the knowledge, abilities, and heart of a true learner?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.