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Can Secular Educators Learn From Jesus?

I spent four years studying mathematics at a state university. While I was there, I took enough education courses (The American Teacher, The Teaching Process, Educational Psychology, etc.) to be "qualified" as a teacher in the state of Maine.

One of my most memorable moments from an education class was when my professor gave a lecture on "monitoring students" (observing, encouraging, correcting students while they are involved in individual or group activities). After lecturing for about forty-five minutes, she said, "Now I have an activity I want you to do with a partner for the remainder of this class..."

After explaining the activity, she sat down at her desk, buried her face in the newspaper, and we didn't see or hear her for the rest of the class period.

She had a perfect opportunity to model appropriate behavior, and she passed it up. How can we take her seriously, when she doesn't practice what she preaches?

Honestly, I came out of that experience woefully unprepared for the educational profession. Ironically, though my training was for teaching in a secular institution (public school), my most valuable lessons in effective teaching came from my religious studies, examining the words and teachings of Jesus, as recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Jesus was known as one of the greatest teachers not just of his time, but of all the ages. Certainly, he was deeply despised by those who disagreed with him (specifically, the religious and political leaders of his culture), and those who despised him despised him deeply enough to see him executed as a criminal.

But those he inspired, he inspired with such a depth of passion and understanding that many of them devoted their entire lives (and deaths) to teaching his message.

We would be naive to think that only the "religious" would benefit from a reading of Jesus' teachings; secular educators who take the time to study his teaching techniques will discover a wealth of wisdom which can be applied in many educational situations.

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