I am preparing to become a secondary teacher, and I was asked to respond to the question, “What is teaching to you?” I don’t feel like I have a lot of experience as a teacher. But then I remember I do have experience as a teacher — if to no one else, I have been a teacher to my four younger siblings.
I remember the times I played school with my little brother before he was even old enough to do “real schoolwork.” I planned out an entire school schedule, illustrated on a piece of paper decorated to look like an old-fashioned schoolhouse. I taught him how to sound out words. I taught him about the solid, liquid, and gas states of water by doing “science experiments,” in which we looked at ice cubes and running water, and I guess we heated some water up too. My mom still gives me the credit for teaching Noah how to read his first words.
One explanation of teaching is the transmission of information from one person to another. This could be, as in the case above, showing someone how to read, or it could be sharing a different perspective on a subject, or countless other things. But teaching reaches farther than that.
In the classroom, the teacher makes a conscious effort to teach, but teaching happens even when we are unaware of it. Without realizing it, we teach others by the words we say and by those we don’t say, by the things we do and those we don’t do. This is one reason why it is so important as figures of authority that we model the behavior we expect of our students.
Communication is not only oral, and if we say one thing and do another, we contradict ourselves and send a confusing message to students. If we want students to treat others with respect, we cannot react emotionally to students who make our job frustrating at times, and if we ask our students to be honest, we should admit when we do say something we regret. Teaching is communicating, and what we teach, whether it’s grammar or the way we conduct ourselves, can inspire students to learn more and live well.
It makes me smile when I look back at the message I was unknowingly sending to my brother in the example above. I showed him through my passion and creativity that learning was fun and exciting. But I know I’ve inadvertently sent other messages as well.
For instance, as I’ve gotten older, that passion and creativity seem to have gotten pushed aside by all the responsibilities and cares of life. At some point, though I still enjoyed learning on my own, schoolwork wasn’t exciting anymore — it was something to check off a checklist.
I look back on that memory of teaching my brother, and it’s bittersweet. Of course it is sweet, but the bitter part is because I don’t see that same passion and creativity in me anymore, and I want to find it again.
Sometimes words just aren’t enough to convey the expressions of our emotions, our hearts, our spirits. Art has the power to touch those deep places in our souls in a way words can’t fully explain; it speaks a language of its own. This is the wonder of Art.
Although countless studies confirm its extraordinary effects and benefits, the vast number of people who devalue the importance of art is saddening. For many, it goes like this: they associate art with artists, and artists with financial instability, and financial instability with being unsuccessful. Thus, art is less important than all these other things that make us so-called “successful.”
First of all, money is a tool, but not the measure of success. Also, art need not be associated with those who rely on art for financial sustenance. But most importantly, those who think this way have missed the whole point. Art is so much more than a painting or black and white notes on a page.
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines art as “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas and feelings.”
Art isn’t just something found in silent, cold museums. It’s all around us, and it communicates to us in ways spoken language cannot.
I cannot imagine a world without art. In this fallen world in which we live, God’s own art whispers hope into our souls.
Some days I feel as though I’m going in circles, my world revolving around responsibilities and duties that seem to have no real purpose. But a blue sky or a tiny flower along the sidewalk can catch my eye, and when I let myself admire it, my focus gets clearer, and I remember life is more than what I’ve let it become.
There’s an invigorating, refreshing power in creation. Through His own art, God shows us a part of Himself; He gives us a glimpse of divine goodness. Art is revealing and wonderful and dangerous in that way—part of the artist is revealed through the work, and this revelation runs deeper than surface-level.
God is the ultimate Artist, and since we were made in His image, He granted us the ability to create as well. The least we can do is glorify Him by admiring His work and also by admiring His beauty revealed through us as we create.
You may or may not consider yourself an artist, but everyone can benefit from admiring art. Our world, so full of vanity and injustice, can seem a lonely shade of gray, but when you begin to open up your eyes to the beauty in the world around you, you’ll find that the world isn’t all rainclouds. It’s actually quite beautiful, bursting with color.
While I want to enjoy them, I know in the back of my mind these candles are melting away, just like time is always ticking away in the back of our minds. All we can do is make the most of it all before it’s gone.
Especially in music, there will always be critics who would analyze and assail the song rather than sing. But do not be afraid of the pragmatist or the math. These rest only on the surface of the immense ocean of life and death beneath. Poetry runs deeper than prose, it’s bursting into song.
Music is deep. Powerful. Important. Love Jon Foreman’s insight.
Becoming a father has made me a softy. I mean, I was a crier even before I had kids, but now? Dang. I was choking up watching a Subaru commercial last night. A Subaru commercial?! Seriously? I know, I know. My man point stock is crashing with every key stroke, but before you condemn my…
What is worth my time? I stress over this stuff that all my life I’ve thought was important, but when I think about it, maybe it’s not that important after all.
Teach me Lord to number my days. Show me wisdom; give me prudence to know what deserves my time.
My heart aches for every moment to be full of purpose. I know my purpose is found in simply worshiping God and living for Him, but, well, I guess it’s just my own ideas of what purpose is that I long for.
I want only the truly important and lasting things like love, family, nature, beauty, and none of the commonplace, like oceanography homework.
But life is made up of them both together— the wheat and the tares— and I suppose sometimes we don’t recognize which are which until later down the road of life.
I guess we have to choose to focus on the beauty, on that which is pure and lovely, to seek and find it among the dullness of everyday life.
Surely there is beauty in today, but how can I find it when I must write a five-page comparative analysis? Must I ignore that which is lasting and beautiful until I have time for it?
If I do, I shall never give it time, because there is always something else that “must” be done.
What’s more worthy of my time? Perfecting my assignment for an extra thirty minutes or helping my little sister pack to go to Mimi’s house? Was I right to tell her I was busy?
In the end, it’s about priorities. Which ties this back to the beginning of this entry. Are all these assignments worth the time and energy I devote to them? Would I be irresponsible, lazy, and foolish to say “no” to such a question?
Perhaps my angry, apathetic feelings toward homework are skewing my perception. I know education is important, and I am thankful for it. But I need balance in my life, and sometimes it is hard to find.
I don’t want to waste my time, but I’m just not sure exactly what that means anymore.
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12