Teaching

10 Lessons on Teaching from the Experiences of Students, Part 2

In the first article we looked at the first five of ten lessons learned from fifteen students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who wrote a response to published essays in the New York Times and Slate, which focused on approaches to lecturing. Now we look at the last five.

6. Teachers and Administration Must Be Accountable

Students: “We expect to be held accountable, but we would hold our professors accountable as well.”

2015 was a tough year for the University of Missouri. With escalating racial tension, student protests began, culminating in a strike by the entire football team. By that time, the call was for the president’s resignation, as it was perceived by many that he hadn’t done enough to address the racial divide. By that time, even the president seemed to see no other feasible resolution. On November 9th, he resigned, highlighting a major failure at multiple levels in the university’s administration and student body.

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10 Lessons on Teaching, from the Experiences of Students - Part 1

Recently at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, fifteen students in a writing course taught by Professor Catherine Prendergast wrote a response to published essays in the New York Times and Slate, which focused on approaches to lecturing.

The response of these students is enlightening especially for those who would be effective teachers and communicators. I observe (at least) 10 lessons from their brief letter that are helpful not just for those who are delivering education in the classroom, but also for those in leadership and administration.

“[I]t is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and he who hurries his footsteps errs ” (Proverbs 19:2).

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Brothers, We Are Not Chefs - On the Necessity of Skill in the Biblical Languages

I recently presented a paper (Integrating Exegesis and Exposition: Preaching and Teaching for Spiritual Independence) in which I asserted that if the literal grammatical historical hermeneutic is warranted, then we must apply it not only in the exegetical process (the process of interpreting and understanding the Bible), but also in the process of applying and teaching the Bible.

One important implication of this assertion is that if the biblical languages are necessary for exegesis, then they are also necessary for application and teaching.

The paper and the following discussion raised some excellent questions and observations worthy of response. In this context I take opportunity to address some of these so that we can consider the role of biblical languages in application and teaching, and so that we can also consider some the inherent challenges of such a role.

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Principles of Teaching - Effective Illustrating

Every good craftsman has a toolbox—perhaps more than one. When there is a job to be done, a skilled craftsman does not assess the job primarily based on what tools can be used to get the job done. Instead, the focus is on what tools are needed in order to get the job done.

Of course, every now and then, the craftsman might acquire a new and wonderful tool that he can’t wait to use. Perhaps on those joyous occasions the craftsman might slightly depart from the most efficient path in order to add and enjoy the new wrinkle. In those instances, often the goal has changed from accomplishing a task to personal enjoyment.

If the craftsman is astute, he might be thinking with the long term in view—“If I learn how to incorporate this new tool now, on a project for which it is not really necessary, then when I really do need it, I will be comfortable and practiced, and will be better able to use it.” In either case, there are reasons that particular tools are used, and the skilled craftsman should be deliberate in those reasons.

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Serving Students Stay - Part 3: A Plan for Teaching the Word

From VOICE, May/Jun 2015. Used with permission. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Some youth leaders leave youth ministry too early because they don’t have a plan. Without a plan that recirculates (yet leaves room for current and various studies throughout each year) the youth pastor continues to grow and grow, and brings kids with him, and then it becomes harder and harder to “start over” with a new group of kids.

Choosing topics to study month-to-month or week-to-week is an exhausting way to plan and teach, and it is impossible to duplicate. This kind of haphazardness (that we all have experienced to some degree as we figured out who we are in ministry) needs to be addressed so we don’t keep losing good leaders.

For some, youth ministry is just a stepping-stone to another ministry; I am not addressing those men. I am addressing the young man who is just starting out in youth ministry, with goals to change the world or at least the next generation, and plans to stay in youth ministry until God changes his passion. I am also sharing ideas with those who have been in youth ministry for years, yet struggle with continuity or structure and that fact is sapping their enthusiasm for the ministry they feel called to.

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“As I Ought to Speak” - Biblical Dynamics for Preaching and Teaching (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1.)

Speak with Purity

In Colossians 3:8 believers are told to put aside obscene speech (aischrologion). While there is no such thing as an inherently bad word, the speech of the believer is always to be seasoned as with grace (Col 3:6) to be able to meet the need of the moment.

Some practical implications

  • Deliberately choose words for their impact, avoiding words that would detract or distract.
  • Use questionable or culturally taboo terms only when necessary, especially if the text employs such terms (e.g., Zeph 1:17, Gal 1:8-9).
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"As I Ought to Speak" - Biblical Dynamics for Preaching and Teaching (Part 1)

Just as we seek to discover our hermeneutical method from the pages of Scripture and to apply those principles consistently, we also need to recognize that Scripture has much to say regarding how we should communicate God’s word to others. These principles even go so far as to help us think through the appropriate dynamics of communication.

Keep it as Simple as Possible

In John 16:29 the disciples acknowledged that Jesus was speaking plainly or boldly (parresia), rather than with figures of speech, and they responded, “Now we know…” They were not confused about His message, and understood what He was telling them. While certainly there are appropriate uses of figurative language and illustration, it is generally better to communicate simply and straightforwardly in order to ensure the point is not lost in translation through the use of too many rhetorical devices.

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