Wherever it may come from—a mind given over to Yahweh, in defiant denial of Him, or anywhere in between—all wisdom is Yahweh’s. When we see the intersection of wisdom from the Sacred Scriptures and educational theory we observe the Kingdom among us teachers and students, cultivating shalom.
One such principle is known in second language acquisition as comprehensible input or i+1. The concept, when viewed from the perspective of meaningful learning, supposes that every learner is coming at the task at hand from somewhere (i), that there is a base of knowledge that informs how new material (+1) is learned and whether it becomes a part of the knowledge base or slides right through the ear and past the eye. The trick is discovering what iis so that +1 is an incremental step beyond a student’s current level. Students have to have the ears to hear in order to acquire new concepts.
Stephen Krashen, the author of the five hypotheses that includes i+1, also put forward that language is either acquired or learned and that acquiring language is the ideal. Dichotomies, sharp uncrossable lines between concepts, are now out of fashion in both educational theory and faith. Instead they are reinterpreted as points at the opposite poles of a continuum, holding seemingly contradictory states in both/and tension.
For example, the rules governing a language function (like explaining a process) may be learned and comprehended but not yet be producible by the learner. When it is acquired, it is useful language perhaps before the student can articulate the rules that govern it. Both are valuable parts of the language learning process. In faith, a believer is both sinner and saint. The making new process, like learning another language, is a long one. While we are still in the body and in the wilderness, we are ignorant, weak, in danger, and in need of aid. We incrementally acquire and live the good news in all of our moments. This is the integration of grace and truth perfectly modeled in the Master.
When the Master taught, it was puzzling for some, it heightened awareness in others, and a mere word changed a few ripe lives. The Master repetitively challenged his students to have ears to hear. You don’t have to scratch me deep to find my inconsistencies, my hypocrisy. In moments of clarity, I can see that He has begun a good work in me and that +1 by +1, I am making incremental steps towards the ideal, living fully human in likeness to the Master. With Paul, I declare that I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but I press on toward the goal.
Perhaps one of the best practices we teachers can model is tenacity, perseverance, eyes fixed. A goal, like fluency in a second language or likeness to the Master, may yet be unattainable but it is a worthy pursuit and the step-by-step from i to +1 and onwards will take us and the students who follow us into territory flowing with good things like increasing ease of language output and a heart more knit to Yahweh visible in an integrated life.
Arthur Bennett (editor), The Valley of Vision, “Lord’s Day Morning