A Godly Teaching Philosophy
I had to write out my teaching philosophy for a class I was taking once. For my philosophy, I tried to honestly focus on what was important to me as a teacher and on what I wanted students to take away from any class I taught.
Shortly after writing my philosophy, I revisited the end of Ecclesiastes and saw what reads like a teaching philosophy ordained by God.
“Because the teacher is wise, he taught the people everything he knew. He collected proverbs and classified them. Indeed, the teacher taught the plain truth, and he did so in an interesting way. A wise teacher’s words spur students to action and emphasize important truths. The collected sayings of the wise are like guidance from a shepherd. But, my child, be warned; there is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting!” (Ecclesiastes 12:9-12)
As a Christian teacher, regardless of the topic being taught, I certainly want to live out this philosophy. Doesn’t matter if I’m in the college classroom or a Sunday school class. In fact, these verses really reflect what God desires of every teacher, from a parent teaching a child to a trainer in the workplace to a formally-educated teacher.
Eight Actions of a Godly Teacher
These verses provide a lot of practical application for any teacher, even if not formally one.
- Learn to be wise. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Wisdom is a choice. No one has to remain ignorant.
- Teach what you know. I must deliberately tell myself to stick with what I know. In fact, I had to learn that it was okay to say “I don’t know. I’ll get back to you.” People respect that sort of honesty. I learned a lot following through with that response too.
- Teach the plain truth. Don’t need to be the most original or creative person. Just teach the necessary information. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.
- Be interesting. For me, this means collecting stories to tell. It means connecting teaching points with the movies I watch and the books I read. Everyone has interesting applications they can make just from what is already going on in their lives.
- Spur students to action. This begins with being a person of action myself. Then, I try to encourage students to always do their best. We connect what they’re learning with their lives, and they hopefully leave with a motivation to apply what they learn.
- Emphasize important truths. With every lesson taught, there are certain “if they learn nothing else” sort of points. In other words, students must learn these truths even if they remember nothing else. Because they are so important, teachers usually emphasize these truths in multiple ways.
- Guide like a shepherd. A shepherd protects and leads his sheep to refreshment. He’s both gentle and firm. A teacher can find a lot of success simply from applying the approach a good shepherd takes with his sheep.
- Keep it simple. I tend to over-complicate just about everything and must deliberately tell myself to keep things simple. There’s even a sign on a wall in my house that says, “Simplify” to continually remind me to do this. Simple doesn’t mean easy or trivial, but it does involve focusing on clarity.
An Over-Riding Philosophy
If we take these ideas one step further, into the next verse in Ecclesiastes, we find an over-riding philosophy that brings focus to all these actions.
“Here is the conclusion of the matter; fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
When a person respects God and seeks to obey him, all his attitudes, actions, and words line up with what God desires. We see that doing so is not even an option; it’s a calling and a commission for all of us.