The Better Teacher

SUCCESSFUL learning requires good teaching and good listening. It's not sufficient for a teacher to know many facts. It's not enough to have students who want to learn. The ability to share knowledge and a desire to acquire knowledge must come together to form a constructive teacher-student relationship.

Concerned citizens and educators are striving to improve the education of children, but many feel stymied in their efforts to help. Lack of funding, parental apathy, drugs, gangs, and so on, often seem to be insurmountable obstacles to progress. But this discouraging scene isn't the end of the line. Christ Jesus assures us in Luke's Gospel: "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (18:27). Where human effort fails, spiritual solutions succeed. The contrast can be striking, as my daughter and I found!

When our daughter wanted to learn how to play the piano, I decided I could teach her the basics. I was an accomplished pianist myself. We held our first lesson. It was disastrous. She wouldn't sit still. She wouldn't do what I told her to do. Her attention span . . . well, I'm not sure there really was one. I became frustrated, discouraged, despondent. We tried a couple more sessions, but they were just as hopeless. Piano lessons came to a halt. I turned to God for a solution.

It was easy to rationalize our lack of success. I was her dad, she was too young, piano just wasn't for her; these excuses, and more, came to mind. At first, I accepted these justifications for failure. After all, they lifted the responsibility for finding a healing solution off my shoulders. But my sense of right rebelled. It is more natural for parent and child to get along with each other than to be at odds. What did I need to do differently in teaching? I wondered.

As I prayed for a better understanding of how to teach, I saw what I'd been doing wrong. I had put myself in God's place. Christ Jesus reminded his followers, "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God" (John 6:45). God was the one Teacher. Teaching His children was His job, not mine. God is the source of all intelligence, and He ably imparts what He knows to man-His offspring. But how would this divine teaching take place? What was my role in it all?

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote, "Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way" (p. 454). I could see that while I still had a definite role in the teaching process, I needed to follow more of Love's way in my teaching methods and be less willful about the "right way" to do things.

My daughter and I both needed to let divine Love determine how to proceed with the lessons. So I dropped my preconceived notions.

A few weeks later I asked our daughter if she'd like to start lessons again. She agreed to the suggestion eagerly. This time when I sat down beside her, I prayed: God show me what to teach, I am following Your direction. At first, we had little success. But I didn't become concerned. I continued to know God would teach me what I needed to know to do a good job.

It occurred to me to change books and use a different teaching method. I did, and the results were dramatic. We were on our way to Carnegie Hall! Piano lessons have continued to be a happy learning experience for both of us.

The ability to teach and learn are not functions of funding, environment, socioeconomic background, or brain-power. They are freely available from God for all to express. Man-all of us-is the perfect child of God. He has inherited his disposition and capacity for expressing intelligence and wisdom from God-the one Father-Mother of all. Teacher and student alike can rely on God for the inspiration and guidance they need to provide and receive a good education.

When we let divine Love lead the way, our thought stays open to new and better possibilities for learning and teaching. God always knows what's best, and when we humbly listen to Him, we'll know what's best too. There's no better way to educate or learn.

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