Some of you may know that I recently became an English education major. If you want to know the story about that, I would encourage you to look through my blogs from November or December, and there is one written specifically for your curiosity about this particular facet of my life. 🙂
But this blog has a different story to tell. I’ve been learning some “stuff”, but it’s kind of a long story. Earlier in the month, I heard some news that really rattled my soul around. Someone I deeply respect and learned from in high school is no longer in the teaching profession. I can’t really explain it without sounding like a creeperish weirdo, but I started to feel that if she wasn’t teaching anymore, that my inspiration was gone–somehow suggesting that I couldn’t teach, or that maybe I didn’t want to anymore. I’m not really sure why I reacted the way I did to that news (I suppose this is a topic for my journal or something. Better not get into that.), but I seem to be slowly overcoming it. More importantly, I seem to be taking ownership of my journey to become a teacher. I find myself asking the question, “why?” often in my life, and this questions is certainly asked in the context of my major. I am of the mindset that teaching is a lifestyle, and whether or not I stand before a classroom, I will still always have the desire to inspire other people to think. In this respect–no matter what the future holds–I will always be a teacher.
Yesterday, I sat with my English advisor for two hours while we drank coffee talked about everything from chapel, to the life of the mind, to teaching, and yes…we did mention squirrels once or twice. He looked at me through his cool “I’m working on my doctorate” kind of glasses and said to me, “I can already tell you that you are going to be an excellent teacher. You are thoughtful, articulate, and you care. We need teachers like that.” The thing I loved about those words is that they weren’t pinning me down or sucking the life out of me. He wasn’t telling me where to teach, what age level, or what kind of school. He didn’t tell me that thinking about higher education is ridiculous (something I often tell myself). His words simply gave me a picture of the teacher inside me. This was refreshing. I didn’t feel the way I normally do–panicky and sweaty. I walked away more curious about why I want to teach and what would motivate me.
As with most of my conversations in life, the visit with Almost-Dr. Esh remained in my mind throughout the day today. In American Education class, we were discussing the main philosophies of teaching. Some of the main ones were progressivism, behaviorism, essentialism, existentialism, and probably some others that I’m too lazy to look up. It was becoming clear from the dialogue in class and the thoughts I was having in my own mind that I had some different philosophies than some of my classmates. There was a separation between me and them, and I rather liked it. I didn’t feel afraid, or that I wasn’t as good as they were. Instead, I felt strong and confident (at least, mostly) when I rose my hand and said that I was leaning toward existentialism. One of the things that made this a little bold to say was the worldview (a word I’m sick of hearing about) through which we were examining these philosophies. I think my professor really wanted us to view them objectively but we just couldn’t quite do it. During Monday’s lecture, we had been grouping them into Biblical or Humanistic categories. Something inside of me was like “WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!!!!” That isn’t fair. No way. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to get up in front of a classroom and teach everyone a lesson (pun. haha). When we separate Humanism in its entirety from Biblical ideas, we are being foolish. I believe in absolute Truth: Jesus Christ is the son of God and is my salvation. BUT, I think it is very, very dangerous for us to make little Bible boxes and start throwing potentially great ideas into the “sinful and wordly” box. This is one of the reasons I swing over to the Existentialist viewpoint of things. The Bible IS absolute truth, but let’s be honest; we can study it through and through and still never fully comprehend God’s awesomeness (or the intricate ways in which He meets with each of us). This is what my notes said about existentialism:
- The individual being is of utmost importance
- the universe is indifferent
- the subjectivity of reality
- the lack of predetermination (or fate)
- Life has no inherent meaning
- individuals assign meaning to their own lives.
I know what you’re thinking. I must be a heathen. No, relax. There’s more.
Theistic Existentialism (this would, in some ways, include me):
- emphasis on the individual and personal responsibility–but the individual is before God
- the existence of a moral system give to us by God in no way limits our responsibility and necessity to live our own lives with intelligence and volition.
- recognizes the chaotic and ferocity in man, and presents it to God for forgiveness, healing, and strength
- God require us to make choices, and He honors them.
I know. You’re still thinking I’m a heathen. Cool it and pay attention to what I’m about to say. (These are my thoughts, not from my notes.)
- A relationship with God is incredibly nuanced and personal. We ARE a part of the Body of Christ, but we are also uniquely designed individuals. We DO have a responsibility to take ownership of our beliefs. No one can force us to read the Word and strive to know God better. However, the individual is NOT before God. I just think we need to take great care not to stomp on the power of a deeply personal journey with the Lord.
- I do believe that God’s Word serves as our moral guidelines. HOWEVER, this does not excuse us from thinking for ourselves and searching for deeper knowledge about “things”. What would be the point in obeying God if we don’t even know why we’re doing it? We need to think! This is not emphasized enough in the church, and I’m glad a “worldly” viewpoint can at least allude to it.
- The bullet point in my notes that talks about God requiring us to make choices…I don’t know where I stand on this one, except that God absolutely gives us the power to choose. I believe the most demanding thing God has done is lead His son to the cross on our behalf. This act has a beautiful demand to it: death and resurrection. BUT, God won’t force us into this death. A relationship with God is–just that! A relationship. You choose your friends. In the same way, we choose whether or not to walk with Him. In regards to the statement about God honoring our choices…hmm…we need to be careful. God is Holy and we are not. I believe He is pleased when we make choices in an attitude of surrender to Him. But He will not honor a defiant or rebellious choice.
So, what’s the verdict? Heathen? I don’t think so.
I know this has been rather lengthy and sporadic and terribly written. But I’ve just been thinking about all of this and how this relates to my future. In my class notes, it says that Existentialism as a teaching philosophy is all about helping students find meaning. Now, I know this can be dangerous. I already know that the meaning of life is to know the Lord, but knowing the Lord is so intricate and specific to the individual. If I’m going to be a teacher one day, I want to help students think about things, and hopefully that can help them discover this great Meaning of life. I have a lot to learn, so I hope I haven’t said anything to make myself look too foolish. My main point is that we need to learn to think about why we’re doing things. If I’m going to be a teacher, I need to know what my motivation is. And I think the meeting I had with my advisor and the philosophies I’m learning have empowered me to discover the first true glimpses of that motivation….my motivation. Oh, the things we learn when we think.