Thursday, October 10, 2013

Passion and intellect

Last night I led a biblestudy on the Great Commission, which is the command to make disciples in the name of the triune God. My opening question is something I think is more broadly related to life in general, and teaching in particular.

One of the things about having a religious faith is that it is meant to be accompanied by an enthusiasm - a lukewarm faith is no faith at all. After all, if one believes in something very important, then surely one is motivated by that belief, inspired and impassioned. Of course, faith without understanding is also potentially disastrous. The longer end of Mark's gospel for example features mention of snake handling, but this ending is not understood as being original. Imagine in faith handling poisonous snakes and dying, thinking all along such behaviour was prescriptive rather than (at best) descriptive. Faith is not blind, neither is it uniformed.

The relationship of the Great Commission to life in general is this, we share with people what we are passionate about, and what we know about. Teachers should be content matter experts, but they should also care about their topic. As a teacher, I try to inject passion and emotion into my teacher. Teaching meteorology to me is important because it serves a public good, and the atmosphere is fascinating. When I teach about climate change, it isn't simply because I find the science fascinating (though I do, 4.5 billion years of change, development and now our impacts) but because of its moral significance I teach with a sense of urgency. None of this is apart from a careful study of the science.

And this isn't just about ideas. When I teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I actually love the sport and love to share techniques that I use.

More than this, and subsequent to my thinking last night - wanting to share knowledge, ideas, techniques whatever can't simply be about me, how smart am I? How gifted a communicator am I? I struggle at times when people praise my presentations, especially the more important, urgent or spiritual - since I want people to change and take on the ideas, not be distracted by me per se. If someone comments on how smart I am, does that mean I've failed to be clear and understandable? If we have something to share with passion (what we love) and intellect (what we understand) then we also really have to want others to understand and share out passion - we love them as well.

So what do you value in life, what is important to you? Do you share it with students, friends, colleagues? If you are well informed, thoughtful AND passionate AND care about people, you will be a good teacher.

No comments: