OceanSide church of Christ
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THE DIFFICULTIES OF TEACHING
Victor M. Eskew
“And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets, and some, evangelists, and, some, pastors and teachers” (Eph. 4:11). One of the God-given roles within the church is that of a teacher. The one willing to assume this task assumes a “rewarding burden.” Each class session can be filled with the spoils of teaching, but the heavy demands upon the teacher are never lifted. It is a difficult assignment.
In this article, some of the difficulties of teaching will be addressed. One of the difficulties comes in having to prepare a lesson. Many teachers have never been instructed as to how to study. Most are handed a booklet, then hear the words: “Thank you for teaching.” Once in the position, the teacher finds that merely reading the lesson to the class is very boring. Trying to teach without some adequate preparation can cause one to have too much time remaining at the end of a 45-minute session. Some teachers use coloring time, puzzle time, or visiting time to fill these precious moments that could be spent in teaching. Many teachers would like to be shown what to do to actually feel ready to enter the classroom to teach.
Another trial for some teachers involves presentation. They have a difficult time standing in front of a crowd. Their voices grow weak. Their palms get sweaty. Their hearts beats with rapid speed. Sweat breaks out on their foreheads. Then, if the worst has not happened, they begin to forget their lesson. They see their students begin to drift. The symptoms first described triple. Finally, the bell rings. They are glad to have made it through the period. In their minds, they are already dreading the next class session.
Another difficulty the teacher faces involves the questions from the students. There always seems to be one in the class who is the “thinker.” The moment something is said, his mind races with questions. His hand flies into the air. The teacher dreads the inquiry. He knows that he may not have an adequate answer. He has not yet learned that sometimes one can say, “I don’t know.” He has not come to understand that one can write the question down and come back to it next week with a well-researched answer to the question.
Another type of student also brings the teacher a great amount of difficulty. This is the child who likes to disrupt the entire class. He will not sit still. He talks out. He is up and down in his seat. He is disrespectful to the teacher. He talks when others are talking. He aggravates the other students around him. The teacher learns this child’s name on day one. Each Sunday she dreads seeing his “shining” face. It is a taste of heaven the day this pupil is not in class. (NOTE: This type of student can also exist in an adult class. They talk out without raising their hand. They try to show the class how smart they are. They dominate class time. They constantly challenge the teacher. They seek to stump the teacher with their questions. They will often make rude comments about the character of the teacher. They make their classmates very uneasy).
The weekly grind is another teaching difficulty. Sunday and/or Wednesday seem to roll around very quickly. A thirteen-week quarter can feel like an eternity. There does not seem to be an opportunity for a break. One feels guilty for leaving town when he is assigned to teach. By the tenth week, one cannot wait for the quarter to end. When that last session comes to a close, one breathes a sigh of relief. It is at this time that the educational director comes to you, and asks: “Will you help us teach next quarter?”
Another difficulty involves pupil interest. It seems that interest in spiritual things is very low in some populations in the church. Fifth grade through college age can be very challenging. These youngters are involved in a fast-paced, high-tech world. This is what they seem to expect in the Sunday school classroom. The teacher who cannot excite their interests is quickly turned off. Even though the material may be some of the most needful for their young lives, they either act out, or, act as knots on a log.
A final difficulty for teachers involves “sharpening the ax.” A teacher needs to have her batteries charged from time to time. She needs to be introduced to new material and new approaches. She needs to have someone teach her so she can share the information with her students. Several things make this difficult. First, many elderships do not see the value in teacher training workshops. Second, a teacher must give up precious time, often on weekends, to get the training that is offered. Third, workshops are often conducted far away and come with some expense to the teacher. For these reasons, teachers do not sharpen their axes. They continue to try to wield the sword of the Spirit with a dull blade.
These challenges can cause the weak of heart to give up. They can cause those who are even weaker to never begin to teach. It is easier for them to remain a pupil than it is to enter the ranks of teachers. The inspired penman wrote to some with this mindset in Hebrews 5:12. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” Those who will not rise to meet the challenges of teachers are babes. On the other hand, those who do volunteer for the service of teaching exhibit spiritual maturity.
Elderships need to address as many of these difficulties as possible. They need to let the teacher know that they support them in their diligent efforts. The teachers also have a responsibility. They need to learn about the difficulties of teaching and take measures to overcome them. Teaming up with a more seasoned teacher can help. Reading and studying about the subject of teaching can be valuable. Attending as many workshops as possible is also valuable.
We are thankful for our teachers at OceanSide. May God bless your efforts as you strive to implant the Word of God into the hearts of your students. Remember two verses as you labor in your teaching efforts. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). “And let us not grow weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).