Wednesday, November 28, 2007

School thoughts

I'm reading portions of Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis) to my seniors for our morning devotions. It is difficult because they are rather unresponsive. To be more precise, my seniors are academically asleep. This state demonstrates itself in 2 ways. A few girls are asleep but diligent; they complete all assignments and worry about their grades. They have no interest in the material itself. The boys are more honest. They just don't perform, or they perform only the minimal amount to get the grade that will satisfy graduation requirements, parental requirements, or their own pride, whichever is lowest. I know this sounds rather bitter, but honestly they are sweet kids. It's just that NO teacher they ever had ever woken them up to the joys of learning, of having mental muscles that are quick, adept, imaginative, flexible, and strong. I don't know, but I think perhaps it's too late for these kids to wake their minds, at least in high school. At this point, they only want to graduate.

My juniors are much more awake. I taught them last year, and the awakening process was painful for them and their parents. They longed to sleep. But this year quite a number of them are enjoying the exercises of developing literary muscles in particular. And my 9th and 10th graders (well, again, some of them) are already showing signs of shedding somnolence. I am looking forward to teaching these kids for a couple more years.

What kind of teacher wakes a child's mind? I don't know. I know that I don't always do it. But I think my enthusiasm for my subject matter, and the joy of being freed to teach by my administration, contribute greatly. We rarely have meetings. I rarely fill out forms. When I hear tales of what public school teachers must do these days to satisfy government red tape, I know that I couldn't do it.

My discussions lately about worldview with my students, and the essays they've written on the subject, have been enlightening. As I suspected, many did not know what worldview is. They think that, for teachers to teach Christian worldview means that they will study the Bible in the classroom. I had the painful and tricky task of explaining to them my opinion, that the Bible is like the pair of glasses (God's glasses) that you put on, in order to view the world. The glasses must be properly made (the lenses ground accurately), but that usually occurs in church, family or personal devotions, or Bible class. In other academic classes, we place the glasses on our noses (so to speak); we don't examine the glasses themselves, but we use them instead, to look at the world. I told them their teachers' job was to show them the world. They looked somber at this announcement. I told them that when they study science, all nature is God's nature. The world of science is God's world; the world of math is God's own design and reveals his mind. When they study history, they study God's history, because it is all his - his plan. But... in literature, we study the world of ideas. Are all ideas, God's ideas? Of course not. So, in literature we study things that are don't belong to God. They can be redeemed by him, for his use, but just because they are genius, just because they are well-crafted, does not make them God's. In this view, I know I differ from some other believers around me. We spend our time picking out the gold flecks from our panning of the streams of literature.

I would rather spend my time on these things with my students, that filling out the government's reports on how the populace is learning. However, I know that education of the general populace is important; I'm just glad I don't have to do it. I can't imagine teaching in any other setting than a Christian school. I just wish I were teaching in a small school, say 15 students, who were all fully awake. That would be wonderful.

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