Saturday, August 12, 2006

Teaching Deficiencies

Reflecting on my teaching career, I think there were quite a few thigs I got right. One of the things I think I probably should have done much better is use positive feedback towards the kids / young people - encouraging then when they're doing stuff well, etc.

There are many and complex reasons for it, largely tied in with stuff like self-esteem, perfectionism, wanting to be honest, etc. But I guess it raises a difficult question. Given that most of these people are mixed up, suffering from low self-esteem and so on, how can I be communicating to them a healthy self acceptance?

Given that they aren't Christians, to what extent should I be shoring up their falsely placed self acceptance that's always going to be too fragile? Yes, the ideal psychologically is that they come to see themselves as God sees them, as more wicked than they'd ever feared but more loved that they'd ever dreamed. But if they aren't going to come to that stage, where's the best place for me to leave them? Where they're comparatively safe, or where they are staring into the brink?

It's something I never really got to grips with, and I ended up with some kind of compromise. Do I go down the whole making them feel good about themselves line, because I care about them and want them to be able to function effectively in society? Do I push them nearer the edge and hope and pray that they will see that their position isn't tenable and that their only hope is Christ, because I care about them and don't want them to face judgement for their pride?

What I ended up doing was encouraging people that they could do the subject, but also pointing out that being good at Physics or maths doesn't make you any more (or less) valuable as a person.

When I was doing teacher training, I joined the Association of Christian Teachers. I quit as soon as I could, because they obviously weren't even beginning to realise that kind of question existed. I wish I'd had a good chance to chat through that sort of thing beforehand with more experienced, more thoughtful, Christian teachers. Ho hum - guess that means I should be thinking through it and supporting Christians I know in teaching now.


Anonymous said...

Just started this whole blogger thing and saw your post. I'm asking the same questions and not finding many people willing to engage in that discussion. I'm working on a PhD in Educational Psychology and find a lot of ideas that are completely inconsistent with my faith, but I still see a lot of value in simply loving kids. Yea, I gotta teach math and I love math, but something powerful happens when I pray for my students and love them with the love that only Christ offers. Anyone who asserts that you have to preach in order to impact the lives of students doesn't understand the power of the Holy Spirit and His ability to work in their lives...sometimes through my words, but most of the time, in ways that I cannot even define. Romans states that is is the kindness of God that leads us to repentence. James says that mercy triumphs over judgement. I'm just saying that there've been plenty of times that God works in people's lives completely independent of our words. That's not humanism. That's just good teaching.

John said...

Yeah - well said....

I think there's a big different between preaching / loving but still being clear about your faith / saying nothing about your faith.

If we love the kids, but don't tell them we're Christians, then how does that help turn them to Christ?

Maybe it's different in the UK - here far fewer people would claim to be Christians voluntarily, though most people if asked for "religion" would put "Christian".