Learning - a Life-Long Adventure
A young child learns much by exploring the world through sight, sound, taste and touch. We can help him or her see that the beauty of creation is a gift from God. We can share our faith through words that increase understanding, “God made the beautiful world of butterflies, birds and flowers, and he also made you special.” When a mother kisses a bruised knee, or a father changes a diaper, a child learns about the love of a parent.
Learning continues throughout a lifetime. In 80 years of living I’ve learned much through interaction with people outside the classroom. We learn by participating in sports, music, and other activities where team work is important. We learn through informal conversations in coffee shops, and we learn as we expand our horizons in traveling. Involvement in a movie or a drama can be a transforming experience. When teaching or leading worship, I share a few introductory comments to facilitate involvement. When asking a question, it’s good to allow some time for reflection instead of moving on to my next thought. Key words in creating an environment for learning are intrigue, interest, inform, and inspire.
The good Lord designed us to live in community. In Psalm 133:1 we read, “How good and pleasant it is for people to dwell together in unity!” John Newton, the author of “Amazing Grace” paraphrased in rhymed verse words of aspiration from 2 Corinthians 13:11,14:
May the grace of Christ our Savior and the Father’s boundless love,
With the Holy Spirit’s favor rest upon us from above;
Thus may we abide in union with each other and the Lord,
And possess in sweet communion joys which earth cannot afford.
In recent conversations with a fellow retired teacher we’ve discussed the ways we’ve changed over the years. If someone asks a beginning teacher what he teaches, the response is likely to be, “I teach American history”, or “I teach music”, or “I teach math.” Teachers with more experience realize that they’re teaching children or young people. I remember an account of a person who had taught many years. As she sat at her desk looking over the empty seats in the classroom, she recalled the names of former students. Some had done very well in life and were remembered with satisfaction. Others had chosen paths that were destructive. However, she consoled herself with the thought that she had done well in teaching all of them how to diagram sentences. Or perhaps this was a moment when she reflected on something that was lacking. A quality teacher, like a good coach, is concerned about what is learned in the classroom or on the playing field. As we write our goals and behavioral objectives in our lesson plans, we should include the development of their integrity and character in and beyond the classroom or playing field.
Our perspectives can change as we journey through the many decades of life. Learning is a life-long adventure. As a young teacher and professor I was often caught up in the subject matter I was presenting. As I grew older and wiser, I realized more and more the importance of what a song, or the playing of an instrument, or handling of a ball does to enrich the life of the student. My words and questions that are well chosen can enrich their lives as they learn. Parents, teachers, and others who have the privilege of leading by example, are rightfully concerned about the legacy that we leave. May the memories that linger with family, friends and former students, inspire them to live, love and learn till their journeys end. Personally, I’d like to be remembered as one who “leans into life” with heart, soul, mind and strength. I’d also like to be remembered as one who listens and cares.