Teacher of the Year
I love Facebook. Me gusta mucho Facebook. J’adore Facebook!
That might sound strange if you’ve barricaded yourself against the election year zombie virus infecting your friends. Hide your brains, and enjoy this laugh if you have a strong stomach.
I am grateful for the way social media connects me with friends who inspire me, entertain me and pray. Friday night, I watched one friend play the blues from 1,000 miles away. Saturday night, an amiga I haven’t seen in 15 years posted a prayer request.
Three hours on the phone wasn’t enough. We must talk more often. Sunday morning, my Bible reading reinforced something we’d discussed, so I’m passing it on to you.
James 1 ESV “3You know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
My friend’s tear-stained post had asked, “When your heart is broken over and over, how do you know when it’s safe to hope again?” There is an educational style called “Experiential Learning.” The idea is that we learn best by experience. Would you be able to ride a bicycle if someone had handed you a manual? No, you were pushed. You were pushed by someone who probably loved you, but you ended up on the ground. With your knees still stinging, they pushed you again. To an observer (or a 6-year-old with tender knees) this might have seemed cruel. Today, if you haven’t been on a bike in years, you could grab those handlebars and pedal with a mere moment of wobble. The lesson lasts.
A good teacher is always trying to implement this brain-changing technique. It can be a challenge if the lesson is on taxes or spelling, but we want our students to retain and use what they’re learning. God has been Teacher of the Year forEVER.
With that in mind, my friend described what she was going through. We pondered whether suffering the same heartache time and again might be a sign of important training. If the lesson didn’t matter, the Teacher wouldn’t keep reviewing it. In The Art of Changing the Brain, James Zull says, “Even if we experience something that has happened to us before, it is hard to make meaning of it unless it engages our emotions.” God knows that. He made us that way. Experiential learning requires us to cooperate—to try, reflect and try again. If heartache leaves me wondering when it’s safe to hope again, I should examine where I’m placing my hope. If I have a dream I want to come true, do I need everyone to love it? No. I need to reach the people the dream will help. Others can love what’s in their own hearts. Do I wish that certain people loved my idea? What makes them important? Is there truly no way to accomplish this without them? Am I wrapping my dream around an unresponsive tree and tugging? Can I release others of the pressure to come with me, so I can run free with my flag held high?
When I stop depending on someone and start doing what I love, I may be surprised to see them run to catch up to me. Even when they don’t, if I am meeting a need, I am never alone.
I’m excited to watch my friend’s dream unfold.
God isn’t mean. He knows how awesome it feels to have the wind in your hair and explore the countryside, so He’s not afraid to push your bike a few times. In her book Reflection in Learning and Professional Development, Jennifer Moon seems to describe God’s method exactly. She says teachers should use tasks which encourage reflection. Those tasks involve:
- Messy, real-life situations
- Asking questions for which there aren’t always clear-cut answers
- Challenging the learner to integrate new learning with old
So many times, we fall to our knees howling “Why!” We doubt the importance of the lesson, the love of our Teacher, the goodness of others or our own common sense. In order to learn well, it’s good to question our common sense. We might need to examine our How and Why and When. But if we wake every day asking God to lead us, and the days start feeling like Groundhog Day, let’s ask God to show us what this lesson is about. “Let steadfastness have its full effect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James continues with the verse upon which my company, 1 Moment Wiser LLC, is founded:
James 1: 5 NIV If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
What are you waiting for? Ask.