Monday, October 17, 2011

The Gift of Students

I have a feeling that I am hard on my students - just like, I imagine, my father was before me. I was very humbled to have a student say to me the other day, that I push her harder that any other teacher does. Of course, this particular student, because of her exceptional abilities and commitment, deserves to be pushed. Teachers are blessed to have such students... But she is not your average student.

Yet, for as as often as I get frustrated with my 'average' students, I am greatly blessed to have them. It is frustrating to ask a question only to get static. It is frustrating to have a quiz and have the results turn out so poorly, on account of nothing more than their failure to do the assigned readings. It is frustrating sometimes to have to push them to think about things more than you feel you ought. Nevertheless, once you get the ball rolling, and they finally have caught on to the issue you are attempting to present, and good things begin to happen - it is then that the magic happens, the magic that makes the whole thing well worth the while. For, in the midst of the midwifery, when it seems you are doing more of the pushing and feeling more of the pain than the woman who is delivering (Plato's image), something eventually, almost always happens - the baby begins to show... what a rewarding moment it is. And, you know what, I never know what the baby is going to like like until it arrives. So often I am surprised. I always come away the richer for it.

One cannot control the outcome. I learn so much from these young people. God inevitably uses them to show you something you would have never seen on your own. I think all teachers are aware of this.

Teaching is - should be - an experience that yields invaluable fruit.

This is what Socrates realized long ago, that the very process itself is all-important. It is not that it can be manipulated into a method that will always get you where you want to go. It depends in part upon the realization that there is something greater in truth than can be pinned down. Have I, as the teacher, nailed down the process in such a way that excludes any other outcomes than the one I want? That's a big mistake. God will lead us, if we let Him, where He wants us to be.

So, thank you to my students who occasion my greatest insights.

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