(This readers’ favorite comes from our Yahweh’s Wisdom series. May it refresh your purpose and reflect meaning into and out of your teaching!)
Today’s world is rife with advice for the Kingdom. Books and websites abound that present a Biblical approach to, among other things, worship, prayer, leadership, weight loss, the workplace, voting, relating to in-laws, and living debt-free (God’s Budget is the Only One You Will Ever Need). You can explore God’s way to stress management, doing business, and success; finding a mate, romance, and motivating your man; cooking, running a political campaign, and becoming a millionaire. And if you’d like to write your own book of advice, try How to Write a Book in 90 Days God’s Way.
In the midst of this myriad advice for life, spirit, and profession, can we discover a Biblical approach to teaching? Can we find God’s way to managing a class, grading, designing lessons, and interacting with students?
As He is in all the areas listed above, the Master Teacher is an expert in the realm of education. As the Creator of the brain, He understands its capacities for learning, making connections, constructing meaning, and creating. He also knows human beings and how their learning, emotional, social, and spiritual needs combine in the classroom. Moreover, He knows both educational principles and the subjects we teach. Fill in the blank. He’s written the seminal work on how ___ is learned, a book filled not with conjectures and theories but with facts.
More specifically, Yahweh is an expert in methodology and has a toolbox overflowing with techniques to ensure His students learn. He has used poetry, songs, and stories to get His message across. He’s often engaged students in auditory and visual learning. And the ebb and flow of battle while Moses’ arms were braced seems both tactile and kinesthetic to me. Jonah’s sojourn in a fish is a good example of experiential learning, and Ezekiel and Hosea were both used to present (a model of Jerusalem under siege) or live out (Hosea’s marriage) object lessons.
Personal experience suggests Yahweh has a penchant for discovery learning and allowing His students to figure things out on their own. Yet, He has often engaged in direct teaching. He has sometimes used repetition and encourages imitation, and as Israel’s 7 day march around Jericho suggests, He’s not afraid of the occasional pattern drill. Moreover, as Abraham might point out, He gives exams.
During His time on earth, the Master Teacher lectured, used metaphors, and told stories. He employed both deductive and inductive reasoning. He led discussions like the one that began with “Who do people say I am?” He engaged his students in problem-solving activities such as how to fill 5000 bellies and gave them assignments like planning a Passover meal. He also sent them out for a practicum, in pairs.
To this day, as we sit in the Master Teacher’s classroom, we can be assured that His methodological choices, though varied, are not random. They’re based in His wisdom, have purpose, and bring results especially when we surrender to them. Though they may not make sense at the time, they refine us, develop perseverance, and produce a harvest of good fruit.
If anything, Yahweh’s various educational practices seem to illustrate that there is no one-size-fits-all manner of learning. His classroom applications of His wisdom seem to suggest that there is no Biblical approach to teaching. Rather, teaching His way means mining the treasures of His Word such that we can measure human knowledge through His lens. Teaching the Master’s way means steeping ourselves in His wisdom such that His way is our way. Of life and profession.