When children are taught to learn by rote, repeating phrases over and over again, sadly that does not mean that they necessarily understand what they are saying. Albert Einstein wrote, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
I like the idea that the Latin word “educo” means “to draw out,” implying that teaching is a matter of drawing on the capacity of a student to understand more.
In my time as a teacher, I particularly enjoyed giving confidence to students who were slow to respond to questions in class. When I spoke directly to them and encouraged their response, they began to relax and find answers that had not come to them at first. They lost a sense of self- consciousness, particularly in relation to those around them, and began to find the confidence to speak. They demonstrated a greater capacity to understand more.
I find that teaching from an understanding on my part that everyone has God-given ability helps students overcome a lack of self-worth and move beyond the limitations that set them back.
When Moses lacked the confidence to plead for the freedom of his people before Pharaoh, God encouraged him with these words, “Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say” (Exodus 4:12). Here Moses was being asked to recognize his capacity to listen to God and share God’s words with his people, but it was not a personal capability apart from God. Each one of us has, as God’s children, the capacity to excel beyond mere human expectations, because God, the divine Mind, expresses the full capacities of intelligence in us.
Christ Jesus recognized man’s completeness as the child of God, and we see this when he taught his followers, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). He showed that perfection is not a temporal, human quality, but a spiritual, eternal quality. His statement acknowledged that everyone in his or her true nature is created in the image and likeness of one, infinite God (see Genesis 1:26, 27). This likeness is not found in a finite, physical form but in the reflection of God, who is Spirit. Being spiritual then, what we reflect or express is limitless and cannot diminish or decay.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains that when we strive to acknowledge the infinite basis of our divine source, God, we can overcome material limitations and find our capacity to do more: “When the human mind is advancing above itself towards the Divine, it is subjugating the body, subduing matter, taking steps outward and upwards” (“Message to The Mother Church 1902,” p. 10).
How encouraging it can be to those of us who find ourselves feeling limited in some way to realize that our capacity does not depend on human ability but on our growing understanding of our inseparability from God.