Sunday, July 20, 2008

The qualities of a good teacher

Everyone has had, or should have had, at least one good teacher. Did you ever wonder why some are better than others? What makes some stand out?

Why and how can teachers with similar backgrounds and qualifications be so different?
Its so important to show interest in people; having a sparkle in the eye really counts, and even on bad days, simply letting the joy of teaching spill out with a smile.
Alternatively, allowing the drain of daily life without seeking replenishment, experiencing discouragement in early career and giving up inside, forgetting or neglecting to quit, or perhaps just never being suited to the task to begin with: these things become obvious to the student.

The most curious truth is that the ones who did well, the ones we remember, probably would not have thought themselves special. They just did their best.

Remember discipline.
Detention! The punishment imagined in having to stay in school after hours.
And, in bygone days, wayward students, and sometimes the innocent, being hit by the strap or the cane.
But there were a few who could control a whole group of otherwise unruly kids, or at least most of them, just by the look in their eye. Amazingly some were respected such that even when they had to leave the classroom for a few minutes, a sense of mischievous peacefullness prevailed.

In the Holy Book, James says that faith without works is dead. He even said that one is justified by works and not by faith alone. This truth is illustrated in all good teachers.

All the intellectual and spiritual faith of every teacher in the world will not produce well-educated citizens without hard work, and a few well-chosen words of correction, instruction or encouragement! This offsets all the negatives that the not-so-good teachers inflict on their inmates.

Scripture says that the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. That's the key. The law is a harsh taskmaster. Its purpose is not primarily to teach, but rather to restrain the unruly. What makes a great teacher? The ability to impart enthsiasm is just as essential as wisdom in the use of rules and regulations. Knowledge of their subject matter must be matched with awareness of the interests of the student.

In the early seventies, Canada was swept by a wave of liberal socialists who sought to destroy or belittle anything they could not control. Good teachers refused to allow political manipulation to quench their spirit. Their faith infused their life-work. They seemed to instinctively know that they were justified in their faith. Salvation both for themselves and their charges is the Lord's work. They trusted that their work would eventually pay off.

It is often only in looking back that we recognize their contribution to our lives as we allow ourselves to be fully taken up by our own callings.

Thankful to God for good teachers,
Richard Alastair

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