The What and Why of Teaching

I’ve been mulling over how to articulate the goal of teaching and what exactly it is that I am trying to do every day. I don’t think this is the best or only way to say it; it’s just my way at the moment.

In short

A teacher must be distinguished by two qualities: a passion for the subject matter and a desire to help students move toward conformity to the image of God in Christ.

The front-facing focus points that can be appreciated by all students, regardless of their religious affiliation, can be stated in three words: the true, good, and beautiful.

These three words are abstract characteristics of our subject matter — whether world language, math, history, or the arts. We believe the reality of these abstractions are embodied in Jesus Christ. As teachers exalt the subject matter and lift the heads of their students towards what is true, good, and beautiful, they must also be ready to point students toward the embodied reality of which these things are a mere reflection. We would do well to ponder exactly how and where we see goodness and beauty in our subject matter. I need to work on this.

Students can reject our thesis concerning Jesus as the goal and the true reality of it all, but we will serve them well by daily pointing them to truth and goodness and beauty in this broken world. Their heads will be lifted, and who knows when the Lord might open their eyes to see his glory in Christ.

In shorter

The task of teaching is a two-sided coin. On one side, we are passionate about our subject matter because the things we teach are remnants of truth, goodness, and beauty in a broken world. Math, history, language, science, and art are good in and of themselves. On the other side of the coin is the reality that God is good.

The two sides of the coin have a therefore/because relationship. God, the creator, is good and therefore his world, though broken, is filled with things that are true good and beautiful. Or to go the other way: There are good and beautiful things in this world because God, who created all things, is good and beautiful.

In shortest

The absurdly counter cultural, alternate reality thesis that teachers strive to prove and support and nuance and qualify day in and day out is this:

Life is good.