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Educational Practices

April 30, 2007

To be successful in education – preparing students to fulfill their divine purposes – the operations or processes involved should be understood.  “Teaching is arousing and using the pupil’s mind to form in it a desired conception or thought.”  This is a skill and a study, an art and a science.  In order to present the concept, it must be known.  One cannot teach unless he has knowledge.  The teacher must know the subject he is teaching and methods to arouse the student’s mind to grasp the subject.  He should study his topics and his students.  He should also practice.  As he does, his skills of expression and explanation will be developed and he will be learning the art of teaching.  Because the teaching involves the student, the student must be a willing participant for effective teaching to occur.  Admittedly, many have been taught by experiences for which they did not volunteer.  Someone can be a “student” and learn something unwillingly.  But more is learned from the teaching when the student anticipates and desires to gain from it.

Learning occurs when someone grasps with his own understanding the concept that is taught.  This involves much more than regurgitation.  If the student can repeat the lesson but does not understand it, or know how to apply or creatively use it, he has not truly learned anything useful.  Useful knowledge or productive learning involves comprehension of the subject and purposeful applications of the knowledge.

There is a reciprocal arrangement between teaching and learning.  While different individuals do each action separately, neither is present without the other.  Teaching cannot be given without someone present to learn, and learning cannot be acquired without someone present to teach.  Teaching must be present for learning to be accomplished; learning must be accomplished to substantiate the claim of teaching.  If no one has learned, no one has taught.

In this arrangement of teaching and learning, there must always be a teacher and a student.  The teacher is someone who knows the lesson.  It is important to point out that teachers must be knowledgeable.  Teachers should attend to their own education seriously.  Not only do they need to know principles and skills of teaching, but they also must know the foundational and graduated concepts of the subject they are teaching.  The student is the one who attends to the lesson.  If the student has no desire to listen or learn, the teaching and learning interaction will be unsuccessful.  This means that the student must be serious about his own education.  This does not take all responsibility off of the teacher.  While the student must attend, the teacher must grab the student’s attention and instruct him in the importance of the subject so that the student wants to attend to the lesson and be serious about his education.

The language medium and the lesson content are also important aspects of teaching and learning.  In order for the teacher to communicate his knowledge and for the student to attend to the lesson, the language used must be common to both the teacher and the student.  This is an obvious statement if taken only to mean that if the teacher is speaking French, then the student must be able to understand French.  But the principle goes further than this.  Even if English is the only language spoken by the teacher and the student, and the words of the lesson are not foreign, communication will not take place unless the vocabulary is common to both.  The student must have the same definition of a word in his mind that the teacher has.  If the teacher uses a word, phrase, or concept in a sense that is “foreign” to the student, the teacher may as well speak in a totally different language.  One of the teacher’s responsibilities is to ensure that there is effective and efficient communication between him and the students.

Not only should the language and vocabulary be common, but also the lesson must begin with common knowledge.  The student will have no place to categorize the lesson if it does not begin with some known concept.  Because all knowledge originates in God, the lesson should always be able to be related to something that is already known.  If not, a disjointed body of knowledge and a disorderly perception of God are portrayed.

The subject matter, what most think of first when they think of school, is the ground of the interaction between teaching and learning.  While God is honored and glory is brought to Him through learning all about His creation, each subject is a means to accomplishing the primary purpose in education more than an end.  The subject matter is where the teacher and the student interact.  In a sense, it is a “tangible” that is taught and learned in the overall scheme of education.  It is the individual lesson the teacher communicates to the student, and it can be a barometer of how well the student attends and learns.  While it is only a means to an end, there must be subject matter to accomplish the ends.

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Categories: Education, Voegtlin
  1. April 30, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    “No one has learned, no one has taught.”

    Yes.

  2. April 30, 2007 at 9:10 pm

    Let me say this study of education has really been helpful. I am not a teacher, but I am required to teach everyday in my occupation with patient’s and families.

  3. May 1, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Brothers Kent & Jeff,

    I agree with the importance of the right philosophy of education. I disagree with a cliche that was mentioned. “No one has learned, no one has taught.” That just “ain’t necessarily so”. The Lord Jesus taught His disciples several times that He would be crucified, buried, and resurrected, but they didn’t get it. The fault was not with the Teacher.

    Having said that, the motivation for our teaching ought to be to teach, not fill time. Thanks to both of you.

  4. May 1, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Legitimate point, Art.

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