Following Jesus’ Example

What is the difference between a Christian teacher and a secular teacher? Is it just that we tell the children stories from the Bible and pray with them? Or should it be reflected in the way that we do things and the way that we teach? How did Jesus and the rest of the godly people in the Bible teach and learn? Should we be following their examples? These are all questions that we have been thinking about and discussing with the teachers that we are working with in the mountain villages of South Asia.

8597009314_b21446f329How did Jesus teach his disciples? They sat before Him and listened to the things that he had to share.[1] He demonstrated for them how they should do their ministry.[2] They then worked alongside Him trying out the things that He talked about while He watched and gave them feedback.[3] When Jesus saw that they had a strong enough understanding to try this on their own, He sent them out to do just that.[4] They went out and tried it, but sometimes failed.[5] They returned to Jesus and asked why some of their healing didn’t work and He again gave them feedback.[6] They went out and tried again.[7]

As we look at this, we are amazed at how closely it resembles the progression from a teacher-centered teaching method to a student-centered teaching method that we have worked so hard to teach our teachers. Teacher-centered teaching is what Jesus did with His disciples at the beginning. However He didn’t stay there. He pushed them to actually do the things they’d seen Him do. In some things they were successful, but they also had their failures. However, because of their relationship with Jesus, they felt free to come and ask Him for further advice on the matter and He was able to give them feedback reminding them of the things that He had taught. They then eagerly went back out and tried again.

14452549825_c48bcaaa9aIf this is how Jesus taught, then shouldn’t we be following His example? How much time do we spend in lessons that are teacher-centered? Do we allow students to put their skills to use on new problems—even struggling through them and failing occasionally? Or would we rather rush on to the next lesson so that we can finish the curriculum? Have we learned to distinguish when to back off and when to step in with the scaffolding necessary to help students succeed?

Taking time to think through and apply the answers to these questions will force us as teachers to move from teaching about a Christian worldview to teaching within a Christian worldview. Our students will experience what it means to encounter the world as image-bearers of Christ. I believe that this is how the Creator designed learning to happen.

Sue Rollins
Teacher Mentor & Educator

[1] Luke 6:20-sermon on the mount
[2] John 13—washing the disciples’ feet
[3] Mark 8—the feeding of the 4,000
[4] Luke 10—Jesus sends out the 72
[5] Mark 9—the demon possessed boy
[6] Matthew 17:14-21—the demon possessed boy
[7] Acts 3—Peter & John heal the lame man

Photo Credits: via Compfight ccStained Glass Disciplesjpellgen via Compfight cc, Students Experimenting.  Pioneer Library System via Compfight cc.

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