Monday, September 13, 2010

Teaching Children is a High Calling

Found this gem in my weekly Teaching God's World News email. Had to share.

Each Christian teacher has a high calling to teach children the law of God as a way of life (Deut. 6:5-7). How can we best fulfill this calling within our respective academic disciplines? How can we educate the whole child--his heart, mind, and behavior--in light of God's word?

Teach Children the fear of God.

This is the starting place for every teacher and class. A typical secondary school is departmentalized, so the math, social studies, or English teachers could tend to leave discussions of the Bible to the Bible teacher. However, Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Whether or not you teach Bible, your first priority is to teach reverence for the Lord.

Because much of what children learn is by example, you must set an example of godliness and consistency. Teach them by your example of reverence for God. And teach them to respect your God-ordained authority over them.

Instill in your students a belief that all knowledge begins with the knowledge of God, and that academic disciplines further our knowledge of him, since math, science, history, and language are a study of his creation (Rom. 1:20).

Teach children to discern truth from error.

Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." Using the word, we can teach all subjects in a biblical and truthful way. There is a critical need for this perspective in social studies.

For example, sit down with a child and have him read from a history text or a newsmagazine. When he finishes, ask him if what he just read is true. He may tell you, "I don't know," or "yes," or give you a puzzled look. He probably has never had that question asked of him before.

Most children accept anything in print as the truth. It never occurs to them that what they read in history books, biographies, or magazines and newspapers could possibly be distortions of the truth.

They also accept most of what they see on TV as truth. But they are constantly being bombarded with lies--blatant or subtle--about the nature of man and what his goals are to be. And they are untrained to recognize and reject those lies. We must teach them to discern truth from error, to judge everything they see, read, and hear in the light ofGod's word.

Colossians 2:8 warns, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of thisworld rather than on Christ." In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are commanded to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." And finally, 2 Timothy 2:15 commands us to "do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

To heed these admonitions, teachers must begin with textbooks and current events resources. Explain on the first day of school, and many times thereafter, that the material was written by a human being and his own beliefs are in it. What he writes may be fact, or it may be opinion. Point out the author's bias wherever it appears. And compel your students to use the word of God in the classroom to test the word of the author. Teach them to use the same methods of testing and proving what is true while they are at home watching television or listening to the radio.

I once gave seventh graders this assignment: Watch a television show and write out its message. They were required to analyze each character and decide whether that person projected godly or ungodly attitudes and behavior. They were to look for violations of the word of God and anything else they felt was questionable.

Some of the students immediately saw problems in the ways characters dressed and acted, the language they used, their attitudes. It was more difficult for them to recognize the underlying pervasive message of many of the shows: "God doesn't exist, so I can do whatever I please." For many of those students, this was a turning point in their attitude toward television viewing. They realized the power of TV to influence and deceive them.

I have repeated this exercise, using similar questions to train them to analyze in the light of Scripture books and periodicals they read and entertainment they seek.

If we are consistent, our students will learn to apply the word of God to all areas of life. By God's grace, they will "by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil" (Heb. 5:14).

Our faithfulness will yield blessings as the Lord has promised, "So that you, your children, and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life" (Deut. 6:2).
-- Debra M. Mian

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