As an elementary school teacher, I knew the world was a big place for a small child. So big for some that they can't take it all in and make sense of it.
When I found out that all the classes in our school were to spend a day at the New York World's Fair in Queens, I knew I had to do something to prepare the students. English wasn't their first language, and they were used to keeping very close to their families. Some had never traveled among the boroughs of New York and didn't know what a fair was. Many had never ridden a subway.
I talked about it with them for several days. But their beautiful faces remained blank. This was March, and our trip was to be in June. At least I had some time to plan.
And pray. One day I saw - maybe for the first time - these words from the Bible: For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little (Isa. 28:10).
I thought about this again the next day. And the next. And I decided God was telling me something that I should listen to.
Reading a prophet's message to his people, and praying with it, I began to see that I could use this idea about progress in learning with my class. I could solve my problem of getting the students to understand what they were going to see in June by going slowly, step by step. Country by country. Building by building. Industry by industry. "Here a little, and there a little."
At the time, I was volunteering at the World's Fair on Tuesday nights. Because I was out on the fairgrounds every week, I started collecting pamphlets from the exhibit buildings. Also maps of all sizes depicting the international area, the business and industry sections, the religious exhibits, the food pavilions, and the small but attractive amusement park.
I showed all this to the class and explained it briefly before posting it around the classroom. The kids were at first curious. Then they began to study enthusiastically every piece of printed matter I brought in. Sometimes several children would put a large map on the floor and sit or lie around it.
Every Wednesday morning, when I'd walk into the classroom with a shopping bag filled with new materials, the kids would crowd around me and empty the bag onto our large table.
"This all you got?"
"We already got this map!"
"Can I have it?"
"Wow, Jose, look at this building!"
As a teacher, I couldn't have drawn up a better lesson plan. And the best part was yet to come.
When our day at the fair arrived, we were ready. The laughter and yelling, which were especially loud when the subway became an elevated train, stopped when we arrived at the last station. When we walked out of the train and crossed the platform - still high above the ground - you couldn't hear a sound. I looked around and saw each face filled with wonder. Every child looked down through the iron fence, to the right, to the left, straight out ahead, in total silence.
Then it started:
"There's the General Motors building!"
"See that, that's the Spanish exhibit!"
"Look over here ... the Kodak place!"
And on and on. We must have stood there on the platform for 10 minutes, everyone picking out the buildings he or she knew. I had to drag them away with a "Well, let's visit them!"
Carlos looked at me and smiled. "It's just like the maps we studied. It's all there!" I hugged him and his friend, Ricardo, who just kept smiling.
We had quite a day. The enthusiasm never let up. In fact, it lasted for the rest of the school year.
"Precept upon precept ... line upon line ... here a little ...." The Bible teaches much about life and how to live it.
The Bible is the
learned man's masterpiece,
the ignorant man's dictionary,
the wise man's directory.
Mary Baker Eddy
National Bible Week is November 19-26.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society