Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SOME RAMBLINGS ON TEACHING

“Dad, I just LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching.  It is so much FUN!!  I never knew!!  Well, that’s not quite true – I knew you and many others love it but I didn’t know I would love it and think it was such a blast.  And such a learning experience for me.

Do you still think it’s fun?
Was it always fun when you taught at college?
Which is more fun:  Bible studies, Sunday school, college, whatever?
I would imagine anything where people WANT to be there is better than when they HAVE to be there.”


Sherry, I’m so excited that you’ve discovered the gift and joy of teaching.

I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me questions like this before, so I’ll take advantage of the opportunity to ramble a bit.

Yes, teaching is still fun, though I feel that “fun” is too mild a word to describe the feeling.  I’ve done many, many things in my life, but teaching is the one thing I’d rather do than anything else (well almost anything).  I think I experience a real high when I teach.  I can’t explain it, but one of the closest feelings I can compare it with is reaching the top of a long steep hill on my bike and then tearing down hill at 40 to 50 mph.  In both, there is the possibility of crashing, but so far none of my crashes have been fatal.

As far as which is more fun, teaching at the Bible college was the most, perhaps because of the amount of time I got to spend at it.  Imagine doing what you love for hours at a time, day after day – and I got paid for it!

For years, the College of Biblical Studies provided free tuition to anyone for the three-hour credit Bible Study Methods’ class.  It was a great draw for new students as well as a ministry to the Christian community of the Houston area.  And for years, I was the principal instructor for the class.  I usually taught at least three classes a semester and the classes often numbered in the 60s.  I actually had a few of over 90 students.  Of course, as you can imagine the dropout rate was quite high.

Most of the students were older adults, “churched” people, and some were quite knowledgeable, but most had at best a patch-work knowledge of the Scripture.  It was exciting to see the changes in the lives of so many.  I could almost see the light bulbs flashing on over their heads as they dug in to study the Bible on their own for the first time.  I strongly suspect there even may have been more than a few conversions.

I also taught New Testament classes (my major when I attended seminary) and theology, as well as ethics, spiritual life and Greek.  Teaching helped clarify my thinking in all these areas.

As far as teaching Bible studies or Sunday school classes, I enjoy them all, though to me what makes teaching most exciting is when I have young or untaught students who are eager not only to absorb information, but to think it through on their own and see how it applies to their lives.

To me probably the greatest compliment I ever received was from a student who came to me after class and said,
“I’m on to you – I know what you’re trying to do to us!”
“What?” I said.
“You’re trying to make us think?”
“Oh, darn!  You are on to me!  Sshh!  Don’t tell anyone else.”

Another area, which you didn’t mention, was mentoring.  I can honestly and sadly say that I had no teachers in elementary or high school who inspired me, though there were a few in college and seminary.  Perhaps that was because I was older when I went on to college and had myself been teaching for many years.

But I had plenty of mentors – men who took the time to give me “on-the-job training,” who could say, “This is how you do it.” and then show me.  There were engineers and preachers, and of course, especially my father-in-law.  And they taught me to do the same with others.

Another area of teaching is preaching.  While teaching is a gift and has always seemed to come naturally, what is known as preaching, in my case, had to be learned in a classroom.  Actually what is called preaching today is, I believe, really lecturing with a little exhortation thrown in.  Though I believe I learned to preach reasonable well, I have always felt uncomfortable doing so because of the lack of immediate feedback.

Anyway, congratulations on your newly discovered gift.  Gifts are given to be enjoyed!  Enjoy it!

See also:

3 comments:

Sherry said...

You're right - it is a high. I know a lot of artists who are incredibly generous with their techniques and others who hoard them. I've always felt like I could share what I knew cuz I didn't exactly make it up.

But now to teach other people is exhilerating - you're right, it's almost a high. I'm downright giddy after class - especially when I know I've "converted" someone else to the particular art form.

I love to create new addicts. And if the whole arting community learns it and loves it and is selling it, well that's just a good reason to go learn something new!

Sherry said...

I started that new blog for that reason too - I just feel like I have some stuff that others could maybe learn from without going thru the yucky parts first.

gary said...

bill, i am one who came to saving faith in jesus christ while at CBS.I am grateful for the teachers there. I am sure that the main reason more people have not come to faith in christ is because of liberalism(apostasy) in the churches today and the gospel by which we are saved is being perverted by every way possible.